In the central sanctum, the 'Garbhagruh', one has darshan of the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830 CE), to whom the Akshardham mandir is dedicated. He is accompanied in the central shrine by the succession of divine gurus of the fellowship, each depicted in a posture of service and devotion. The spiritual succession includes Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Surrounding the garbhagruh are special shrines for the great avatar-and-devotee pairs: Shri Sita-Ram, Shri Radha-Krishna, Shri Lakshmi-Narayan, and Shri Shiv-Parvati. As a vibrant, active mandir, Akshardham is truly home to these deities, and devotees offer prayers on a regular basis as per traditional practice. Visitors are welcome to join in the arti rituals at 10:00am and 6:00pm.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan has been hailed by contemporary civic leaders and modern historians as a great social reformer and inspirational leader. Nineteenth-century figures –Indian and British; Hindu, Muslim and Christian – praised his contributions to the abolition of vice and superstition. Among other reforms, he preached the equality of all as atma, the soul; he empowered women with education; he stopped female infanticide and the ritual of sati; he forbade violent sacrifices; and he preached a life free of addictions.
But Bhagwan Swaminarayan did not simply reform society; he spiritually transformed it with faith, spirituality, virtue, and integrity. He re-established 'ekantik dharma' - faith founded on the pillars of bhakti, dharma, spiritual knowledge and detachment from worldly ignorance. From his own lifetime until today, millions have recognized him as the manifest form of Parabrahman Paramatma- supreme God himself. Swaminarayan Akshardham is dedicated to him.
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Gunatitanand Swami was the first spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Like all the gurus that have followed him, he was the incarnation of Aksharbrahman, the eternal servant and foremost devotee of Parabrahman. He was the ideal of saintly virtues and the greatest exponent of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s true identity and philosophy. After Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s return to his divine abode, Gunatitanand Swami continued his work of liberating individuals from spiritual ignorance and granting them eternal bliss. His teachings and discourses have been recorded in the sacred text 'Swamini Vato', read daily by thousands of devotees around the world.
As God’s eternal servant, Gunatitanand Swami kneels before Bhagwan Swaminarayan, ever ready in his service.
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Bhagatji Maharaj was the second spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan after Gunatitanand Swami. His life, a shining inspiration to all seekers of truth and liberation, is a story of ultimate devotion and unconditional surrender. His birth in a humble tailor family in a caste-bound society did not stop Gunatitanand Swami from recognizing Bhagatji Maharaj's divinity and revealing him as the next spiritual successor. Bhagatji Maharaj preached Swaminarayan's true philosophy of Akshar Purushottam despite great difficulties. He followed the dharma of a celibate renunciant and was respected by lay devotees and renunciants even though he had not been initiated as a sadhu. To those who accepted the Swaminarayan Akshar Purushottam philosophy, he promised, "I shall take away your robes of illusion and give you robes eternal.” In honour of his fearless preaching of the truth of Akshar Purushottam, Bhagatji Maharaj stands in the central sanctum with scripture in hand, extolling the greatness of God and Guru.
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Revealed as Bhagwan Swaminarayan's third successor by Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj exhibited extraordinary intellectual and divine powers from early childhood. There seemed to be no field which he could not master, ranging from Sanskrit and scriptures to mandir architecture. Behind his warm smile lay a spirit of fire - never compromising on truth nor yielding to unfair opposition. Ordained as Sadhu Yagnapurushdas, he emerged matchless in spiritual disciplines. He left comfort and security to propagate the philosophy of Akshar Purushottam as revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Although he faced scathing abuse and opposition, his saintliness refused to answer insult with insult. To him, animosity was alien.
In 1907 CE, he established the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha and erected five beautiful mandirs with the sacred images of Akshar Purushottam installed in the central shrines.
Shastriji Maharaj stands offering hands full of flowers as a symbol of his total sacrifice for the cause of propagating the faith. Learn More »
Yogiji Maharaj was the fourth spiritual successor. He was initiated into the sadhu-fold at the age of 16 and named Sadhu Gnanjivandas. But so transparent was the mystical joy within him, that he was fondly called Yogiji. Devotion, service, tolerance, penance, humility and countless such virtues flowered within his fragile frame. He lived singularly on the word of his Guru Shastriji Maharaj, winning the love of one and all. He witnessed abundant divinity in everything and everyone – he even blessed those who censured him and praised those who persecuted him. With a vision set far into the future, Yogiji Maharaj established children and youth centers. He inspired Satsang activities in every town and village he visited, repeatedly writing words of guidance and encouragement to groups of devotees near and distant. The mandirs and centers he created resounded with the energy of youth. He encouraged music, art and literature. Scores of youths regularly traveled with him, savoring his selfless love and knowledge.
Yogiji Maharaj was always seen in service or in prayer, chanting the ‘Swaminarayan’ mantra. Here, as in life, Yogiji Maharaj stands forever praying, “May God do good unto all.” Learn More »
PRAMUKH SWAMI MAHARAJ
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Swaminarayan Akshardham was created and inspired by his desire to fulfil the vision of Yogiji Maharaj, to build a mandir on the banks of the Yamuna. Even today, his message, “In the joy of others, lies our own” is a clarion call for the fellowship of a million followers around the globe to dedicatedly offer service to God and society. In the last half century Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited more than 250,000 homes in 15,500 villages and cities. He personally counselled and comforted more than 810,000 people. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity touched many religious and national leaders. But most important was his quiet, undisturbed love for God.
The image of humility, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was most often seen humbly folding his hands before one and all. Learn More »
Shri Radha-Krishna are a celebrated divine pair within Hinduism and more particularly Vaishnavism. They grace a special shrine at the Akshardham, reminding all who visit the power of devotional love or bhakti.
Narayan is the name of Vishnu and the Lord of the abode Vaikuntha. Lakshmiji is his consort and embodies love, beauty and prosperity.
Bhagwan Shri Ram is worshipped as an avatar of Vishnu and role model of virtuous living. His consort Sita is an eternal ideal of devotion, loyalty, virtue, tolerance and firm faith in God’s divinity.
Shivji and Parvatiji together form the central deity of Saivism. They are spoken of both separately and also as one. Shivji is known an integral third of the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiv). Parvatiji is the goddess embodying love and fertility.
HOLY RELICS OF BHAGWAN SWAMINARAYAN
As reminders of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s time on this Earth, the rearmost alcove of the Akshardham mandir is home to the 'Smruti Mandapam' in which the holy relics of Bhagwan Swaminarayan are preserved for darshan. His footprints, hair, mala, clothes and other relics remind us of his incarnation on this planet just a little more than 200 years ago.
ENTRY AND TIMINGS
Entry:Free and open to all..
Timings: 9:30am to 8:00pm.
Time to See: 10 to 20 minutes including a walk through Mandapms.