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Spread of Swaminarayan Sampraday across Globe

Swaminarayan Sampraday: Wikimedia Commons
Swamainarayan Sampraday
Swamainarayan Sampraday: Wikimedia Commons

By Pragya Jha

Swami Narayan’s faith is followed in India and some other parts of world. Swami Narayan Sampraday which began as Uddhav Sampraday initially is a Hindu sect which was led by Ramanand Swami. The Sampraday is based on the Vedic Hinduism.

Guru Ramanand Swami handed over Uddhav Sampraday to Swami Narayan in 1802 to propagate the teachings and philosophy of Vishishtadvaida. After the death of Guru Ramanand Swami, it was renamed as Swaminarayan Sampraday. The movement gained popularity under the leadership of Swaminarayan. At the time of his death, it had 1.8 million followers worldwide. Apart from Hindu scriptures the sect has more than 3,000 works written by its member. The most important are

Shikshapatri: Written on February 11, 1826 in Vadtal, this dharma text strictly prohibits the devastation of animal life; consumption of animal food, liquors or drugs; suicide, theft, and robbery or other activities which may antagonize the effect of founder’s teachings. It has been translated into various languages like Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Urdu, Vraj, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian,Portuguese, Russian .One of its copy is put up at Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

Vachnamrut: It is a compilation of 273 spiritual preaching, divided into 10 sections. The book consists of the dialogues between the master and his adherent. The preaching was delivered by Swaminarayan which answers philosophical and religious questions and explains doctrines.

Followers of this religion are called Satsangis. They are expected to follow certain rules and regulations laid down by Swaminarayan. According to Swaminarayan Sampraday, there are certain vows (niyams) which have to be followed by the Sadhus, satsangis and the followers of this religion.

Five vows (niyams) for sadhus of Swaminarayan Sampraday:

  • Lustless
  • Tasteless
  • Greedless
  • Prideless
  • Affectionless

Niyams for the householders-

  • Not to consume wine, liquor or any drug even in a form of medicine.
  • Not to consume meat in any form.
  • To refrain from adultery.
  • Not to steal anything, even a flower without owner’s consent.
  • Not to accept any food and drinks from improper persons or source.

The above niyams are for the householders  are also called as Panch Vartman.

Niyams for Satsangis

  • One should be non-violent.
  • He should not have any relationship with other women except his wife.
  • He should not consume meat like seafood,egg, and poultry.
  • Should not consume alcohol or any drug which consist of alcohol
  • Not to commit suicide in any circumstance.
  • Never steal anything which belongs to others.
  • Not to blame others.
  • Never utter wrong about any God, Goddess or any religion.
  • Never listen holy story from a person who is an atheist.

A glimpse into the life of Swaminarayan

India is a country which follows different culture, religions, and traditions. Swaminarayan was born on 2nd April 1781 in Chapaiya, a village 20kms away from the north of Ajodhya (Ayodhya) in Uttar Pradesh. He was born in a family of Brahmins and was named Ghanshyam. At the age of 5 years he started taking oral lessons from his father Hariprasad Pande and at the age of 10 he was mastered in all four Vedas including their branches. From his childhood he was fond towards a life of tyag (self sacrifice),tap(austerities) and Atmasanyam (self-control). When he was 10 years and 7 months old his mother Bhaktdevi left the world and 7 months later his father Hariprasad too.

Ghanshyam left his home in the year 1792 at the age of 11. He adopted the name Nilkanth Varni on his journey. He travelled across India and Nepal in search of Ashram. Nilkanth visited several temples like Jagannath Temple in Puri, Badrinath,  Dwarka, Rameshwaram, Nashik and Pandharpur. Nilkanth travelled as a yogi, resided in Loj and met Muktanand Swami , a senior disciple of  Ramanand Swami. While on his journey Nilkanth wanted the answers of five questions which he got from Muktanand Swami. He was satisfied with answers and thus decided to stay there. After a few months, he met Ramanand Swami, who gave him the name Sahajanand Swami. At the age of 21 he was appointed as the leader of Uddhav Sampraday by Ramanand Swami. On June 1,

On June 1,  1930, Swami Narayan took his last breath and was cremated in Gadhada , Gujarat according to Hindu rituals. Before his death he split his Sampraday’s administration into two parts for his two adopted sons: Laxmi Narayan Dev Gadi in Vadtal and Nar Narayan Dev Gadi in Ahmedabad.

There were six temples built in lifetime of Lord Swaminarayan namely Nar Narayan Dev mandir at Sheerpur Dham (Ahmedabad),Shree Nar Narayan Dev Mandir ath Bhuj Dham,Shree Laxmi Narayan Dev Mandir at Vadtal Dham,Shree Madan Mohanji Maharaj Mandir at Dholera Dham,Shri Radha Raman Dev Mandir at Junagadh Dham and Shree Gopinathji Maharaj Mandir at Gadhpur Dham. Swaminarayan had good relations with British Raj and had followers from Islam and Zooastrians religion too.

Organisations emerged from Swaminarayan Sampraday

Bochanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS): Bochanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Sanstha was formed by the formers of Swaminarayan Sampraday who left the Sampraday because of differences in philosophy.

Narnarayan Dev Yuvak Mandal (NNDYM): It is a youth organization founded by Acharya Shree Koshalendraprasadji Maharaj to help young people to face challenges of life. It was founded in 1994 and is headquartered at Swaminarayan Temple in Ahmedabad.

Shree Swaminarayan Aygna Upasana Satsang Mandal (SSAUSM) :Formed on the command of Acharya Maharajshree Ajendraprasadji Pande to perform Satsang in the area of New Jersey, Chicago, Scranton and Virginia.

International Swaminarayan Satsang Mandal (ISSM): The organization is based in the United States under Laxminarayan Dev Gadi.

International Swaminarayanan Satsang Organisation (ISSO0: It is a charitable oraganisation that looks after the satsang held abroad. Its objective is to follow the teachings and priciples of Swami Narayan Sampraday founded by Sahajanand Swami. Its motto to the youth is “One God, One Leader, One Vision” to boost its objective.

Activities led by ISSO:

Gurukul: Every Friday, evening classes are held in London where the principles of Swaminarayan are taught.

Religious Camps: These are religious camps that take place annually in UK and U.S.A in the presence of hundreds of youth.

Religious Publications: Audio and video cassettes are available in temples.

List of Swaminarayan Temples across the Globe

Neasden Temple: Built in Neasden, North America and is considered as masterpiece in craftsmanship and stonework

Swaminarayan Mandir Complex in Bartlett, Chicago: The masterpiece was put up within 16 months of workmanship.

Swaminarayan Mandir in Houston: It is the first Hindu traditional temple of its kind built in North America. Its architecture includes 136 marble pillars, 12 domes and, 5 towering white pinnacles.

Swaminarayan Temple in Atlanta, U.S: It was inaugurated in August 2007 and took 17 months in construction. The temple consists of 3 types of stones namely Indian pink sandstone .Turkish Limestone and Italian marble.

Swaminarayan Complex, Toronto: Constructed in 18 months it is marpeice of Indian art, philosophy and, tradition.

Swaminarayan Mandir, Nairobi: First Hindu temple to be constructed in Africa. The material used in the construction of the temple was transported from Rajasthan.

These above temples and many more were built to teach and worship the proceedings of Lord Swaminarayan. According to a report, there were 20 million followers of this sect worldwide in 2007. In general, Swaminarayan’s followers believe that he was the avatar (incarnation) of Lord Krishna.

Pragya Jha is a student of Journalism in New Delhi. Twittter: @pragya1527

Next Story

Facebook Plans Its Own Globe-Spanning Currency for 2 Billion-Plus Users

Facebook is launching with partners including PayPal, Uber, Spotify, Visa and Mastercard

Facebook, Globe, Currency
FILE - An address sign for Facebook Way is shown in Menlo Park, Calif, April 25, 2019.. VOA

Facebook already rules daily communication for more than 2 billion people around the world. Now it wants its own currency, too.

The social network unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday to create a new digital currency similar to Bitcoin for global use, one that could drive more e-commerce on its services and boost ads on its platforms.

But the effort, which Facebook is launching with partners including PayPal, Uber, Spotify, Visa and Mastercard, could also complicate matters for the beleaguered social network. Facebook is currently under federal investigation over its privacy practices, and along with other technology giants also faces a new antitrust probe in Congress.

Creating its own globe-spanning currency — one that could conceivably threaten banks, national currencies and the privacy of users — isn’t likely to dampen regulators’ interest in Facebook.

Facebook, Globe, Currency
Facebook already rules daily communication for more than 2 billion people around the world. Pixabay

The digital currency, called Libra, is scheduled to launch sometime in the next six to 12 months. Facebook is taking the lead on building Libra and its underlying technology; its more than two dozen partners will help fund, build and govern the system. Facebook hopes to raise as much as $1 billion from existing and future partners to support the effort.

Company officials emphasized Libra as a way of sending money across borders without incurring significant fees, such as those charged by Western Union and other international money-transfer services. Libra could also open up online commerce to huge numbers of people around the world who currently don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.

“If you fast forward a number of years, consumers all over the world will have the ability to access the world economy,” Facebook executive David Marcus said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Facebook also could use its own currency to drive more people to make purchases from ads on its social media sites, said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan, who based her comments on press reports about Libra that preceded Facebook’s formal announcement. “This is about fostering more sales within an ad to get more business from advertisers to make ads more interesting on Facebook,” she said.

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Backing by familiar corporations might also make Libra the first Bitcoin-like currency with mass appeal. Such “cryptocurrencies” have generally failed to catch on despite a devout following among curious investors and innovators. Bitcoin itself remains shrouded in secrecy and fraud concerns, not to mention wild value fluctuations, making it unappealing for the average shopper.

Libra will be different, Facebook says, in part because its value will be pegged to a basket of established currencies such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen and others. Each purchase of Libra will be backed by a reserve fund of equal value held in real-world currencies to stabilize Libra’s value.

To be sure, recent history reminds us that many big Facebook announcements never really take off. Two years ago, for instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised that “augmented reality,” in which phones and other devices project digital images into real-world surroundings, would be a major focus for the company. Such AR applications remain all but invisible today. Same goes for the online shopping chatbots that Zuckerberg unveiled a year earlier, saying they would revolutionize e-commerce in its Messenger app.

Facebook won’t run Libra directly; instead, the company and its partners are forming a nonprofit called the Libra Association, headquartered in Geneva, that will oversee the new currency and its use. The association will be regulated by Swiss financial authorities, Facebook said.

Facebook, Globe, Currency
The social network unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday to create a new digital currency similar to Bitcoin for global use. Pixabay

“No single company should operate this,” Marcus said. “It should be a public good.”

The company has also created a new subsidiary, Calibra, that is developing a digital wallet to allow people to buy, send and use Libra. Calibra pledges that it won’t share transaction data from details of Libra user’s financials with Facebook unless compelled to do so in criminal cases. Still, if people are using Facebook products to buy things and send money, it’s possible Facebook will be able to track some data about shopping and money transferring habits.

Calibra won’t require users to have a Facebook account to make a free wallet. And it will allow people to send Libra back and forth on two of Facebook’s core messaging apps — WhatsApp and Messenger. Instagram messages won’t be included, at least at first.

Libra partners will create incentives to get people and merchants to use the coin. That could range from Uber discounts to a Libra bonus paid when users set up a Calibra wallet, although the companies haven’t laid out specifics.

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Many privacy questions remain unanswered, though. Cryptocurrencies such as Libra store all transactions on a widely distributed, encrypted “ledger” known as the blockchain. That could make the Libra blockchain a permanent record of all purchases or cash transfers every individual makes, even if they’re stored under pseudonyms rather than real names.

Facebook said that if people use Calibra or similar wallets, their individual transactions won’t be visible on the Libra blockchain.

Earlier this year, Zuckerberg announced a new privacy-focused vision for the company after months of backlash for its treatment of personal customer information. Zuckerberg’s vision — which has mostly not been detailed publicly — will rely heavily on privacy-shielded messaging apps in an attempt to make the services more about private, one-to-one connections.

Many analysts believe Zuckerberg wants to create a U.S. version of the Chinese service WeChat, which combines social networking, messaging and payments in a single app. Libra would take Facebook a step closer to that end. (VOA)