- Swaminarayan Faith
Swaminarayan Faith or Swaminarayan Sect is a modern tradition of
Hinduism, in which followers offer devotion and worship Swaminarayan as the final manifestation of God. In this particular tradition Sahajanand Swamiis respectfully addressed as BhagwanSwaminarayan or Swaminarayan by his followers. India, Britain, and the United Stateshave a large percentage of Hindus which are followers of Sahajanand Swami. cite journal
author = Werbner, P.
year = 2003
title = Multiculturalism and minority religions in Britain. Krishna consciousness, religious freedom and the politics of location. By Malory Nye. Richmond: Curzon Press. 2001. xii+ 331 pp. Hb.:$ 75.00. ISBN 0 700 71392 1.
journal = Social Anthropology
volume = 10
issue = 03
pages = 395-399
doi = 10.1017/S0964028202210253 ]
Succession of Sahajanand Swami
Prior to his death, Sahajanand Swami decided to establish a line of "
acharyas", or preceptors as his spiritual successors. [Harvnb|Williams|2001|pp=34] After his death several divisions occurred with different understandings of the succession of leadership.
Swaminarayan Sampradaywas established by Lord Swaminarayan himself. During his life Lord Swaminarayanhimself believed to establish two leadership posts, called "gadis" (seats) — one in Ahmedabad (Shree NarNarayan Dev Gadi) and one in Vadtal (Shree LaxmiNarayan Dev Gadi) — on Tuesday, November 21, 1825 CE (Kartik Sud 11 Vikram Samvat1882, Ekadashi). Bhagwan Swaminarayan then appointed an acharya, a leader, to each of these two "gadis" to pass on his message to others and to preserve his fellowship, Swaminarayan Sampraday. These acharyas came from his immediate family; he formally adopted a son from each of his two brothers, Rampratap and Ichcharam, and appointed them to their respective offices. Ayodhyaprasad, son of his elder brother Rampratap, was appointed Acharya of Ahmedabad Gadi, and Raghuvira, son of his younger brother Ichcharam, was appointed Acharya of the Vadtal Gadi. Swaminarayan Sampraday maintain that Bhagwan Swaminarayan himself decreed that the office should be hereditary and that acharyas would maintain a direct line of blood descent from his family. [Harvnb|Williams|2001|pp=35] However this position was later disputed and was a subject of a court ruling, confirming the position of the original party.
The institution of a hereditary line of religious specialists is common in Hinduism, but what is believed to be unique in Bhagwan Swaminarayan's institution of this office is that he designated an administrative division of the followers into two territorial dioceses, as per his will. This administrative division is set forth in minute detail in a document written by Sahajanand (Bhagwan Swaminarayan), called
Desh Vibhaag Lekh. [http://www.swaminarayan.info/shastras/dvlekh.asp?scode=4] . [Harvnb|Williams|2001|pp=36]
Hence, followers of the mainstream
Swaminarayan Sampradayaccept the acharyas as spiritual successors. The ShikshapatriSlokh 3 [ [http://www.swaminarayansatsang.com/library/scriptures/scriptureexplanation.asp?IDProduct=683&idcategory=2 Shikshapatri English] ] [ [http://www.swaminarayan.info/Shastras/dvlekh1.asp?scode=4 The Desh Vibhaag Lekh Slokh 10 – Acharyas as my Spiritual Successors] ] [ [http://www.bhuj.swaminarayansatsang.org/Bhujsatsang/granth/NiskulanandKavya/purushottamprakash.pdf Purushottam Prakash - Glory of Acharyas] ] provides what followers of the Swaminarayan Sampradaybelieve to be direct references in which Bhagwan Swaminarayan recognizes acharyas as the rightful spiritual successors.The current Acharyas of the Swaminarayan Sampradayare Acharya Shree Koshalendraprasadji Maharaj, of the Ahmedabad Gadi, and Acharya Shree Rakeshprasadji Maharaj, of the Vadtal Gadi.
Followers of the "
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha" (BAPS), on the other hand, believe that Gunatitanand Swami was the spiritual successor to Bhagwan Swaminarayan. They point to several occasions in which they believe Bhagwan Swaminarayan revealed to devotees that Gunatitanand Swami was Aksharbrahmmanifest. These instances claimed by the devotees of BAPS have come to embody the philosophy known as Akshar Purushottam Upasana. This philosophical difference led to the creation of BAPS in 1907, by Shastriji Maharaj, who was believed by the devotees of BAPS to be the third spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, when he left the Vadtal Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampradayand was excommunicatedpost hoc. [Harvnb|Williams|2001|pp=54] The current leader of BAPS is Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
At the time of
legal disputebetween Aksar Prushottam group and the Swaminarayan Sampradaythe judge summarised his understanding of the root of the schism. He confirms that the "new group, now know as BAPS, "they have put Sahajanand Swami, an ascetic, over Shri Krishna, who admittedly enjoyed the pleasures of human beings. That is why the new sect has set aside Golokaas the supreme heaven, because there Krishnais supposed to be enjoing himself with his gopis. This I think one of the fundamental differences between the two sects and the schismcannot be bridged." Harvnb|Williams|2001|p=59]
Followers of the
schismatic Swaminarayan Gadi believe that Gopalanand Swami was the spiritual successor to Bhagwan Swaminarayan. This difference in belief of succession led to the creation of Swaminarayan Gadi in the 1940s. Sadhu Muktajivan, who is claimed to be the fifth successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, left the Ahmedabad Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampradayand was excommunicatedpost hoc. The current leader of the Swaminarayan Gadi is Acharya Swamishree Purushottampriyadasji.
It is important to note disputes in successorship have not ended with the formation of BAPS and Swaminarayan Gadi. Many other
schismatic groups have been formed from BAPS and Swaminarayan Gadi due to differences in belief or leadership. Another prominent schismatic group is The Gunatit Samaj. The Gunatit Samaj was formed out of four factions - the santos, benos, bhaios and grahustos.Fact|date=May 2008
title=Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism
publisher=Cambridge University Press
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