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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

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Young People Afraid for their Futures Protest around the Globe to Implore Leaders to Tackle Climate Change

Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to New York. More than 100,000 turned out in Berlin

Futures, Globe, Leaders
Jeff Quinlan-Galper, a software engineer for Google, holds a sign with a quote from climate activist Greta Thunberg during a Climate Strike walkout and march in Seattle, Washington, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Young people afraid for their futures protested around the globe Friday to implore leaders to tackle climate change, turning out by the hundreds of thousands to insist that the warming world can’t wait any longer.

Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to New York. More than 100,000 turned out in Berlin.

Days before a U.N. climate summit of world leaders, the “Global Climate Strike” events were as small as two dozen activists in Seoul using LED flashlights to send Morse code messages and as large as mass demonstrations in Australia that organizers estimated were the country’s largest since the Iraq War began in 2003.

“You are leading the way in the urgent race against the climate crisis,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres wrote in a message to the young protesters on Twitter. “You are on the right side of history. Keep pushing us to do the right thing.”

Futures, Globe, Leaders
Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg testifies at a Climate Crisis Committee joint hearing on “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis,” on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 18, 2019. VOA

In New York, where public schools excused students with parental permission, tens of thousands of mostly young people marched through lower Manhattan, briefly shutting down some streets.

“Sorry I can’t clean my room, I’m busy saving the world,” one protester’s sign declared.

Thousands marched to the Capitol in Washington, including 15-year-old high school sophomore A.J. Conermann.

“Basically, our earth is dying, and if we don’t do something about it, we die,” Conermann said.

Also Read- Denmark Hopes to Set Example for World with Ambitious Scheme to Cut Carbon Emissions by 70%

Thousands packed the streets around Seattle’s City Hall, following a march where tech workers from Amazon and Google joined students demanding an end to fossil fuel use.

Demonstrations came in smaller cities as well. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who recently abandoned his climate-focused presidential run, addressed a rally in Spokane, and a crowd chanted inside the rotunda of the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.

“It’s really unbelievable and really startling to know how little time we have to reverse the damage,” said Maris Maslow-Shields, a high school student from Santa Rosa, California, who marched in San Francisco.

In Paris, teenagers and kids as young as 10 traded classrooms for the streets. Marie-Lou Sahai, 15, skipped school because “the only way to make people listen is to protest.”

Futures, Globe, Leaders
Young people afraid for their futures protested around the globe Friday to implore leaders to tackle climate change, turning out by the hundreds of thousands to insist. Pixabay

The demonstrations were partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly “Fridays for Future” demonstrations for a year, urging world leaders to step up efforts against climate change.

“It’s such a victory,” Thunberg told The Associated Press in an interview in New York. “I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen, and so fast – and only in 15 months.”

Thunberg spoke at a rally later Friday and was expected to participate in a U.N. Youth Climate Summit on Saturday and speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit with global leaders on Monday.

“They have this opportunity to do something, and they should take that,” she said. “And otherwise, they should feel ashamed.”

Also Read- Artificial Intelligence Creating New Possibilities for Personalisation This Year

The world has warmed about 1 degree Celsius since before the Industrial Revolution, and scientists have attributed more than 90 percent of the increase to emissions of heat-trapping gases from fuel-burning and other human activity.

Scientists have warned that global warming will subject Earth to rising seas and more heat waves, droughts, storms and flooding, some of which have already manifested themselves.

Climate change has made record-breaking heat twice as likely as record-setting cold temperatures over the past two decades in the contiguous U.S., according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.

Nations around the world recommitted at a 2015 summit in Paris to hold warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius more than pre-industrial-era levels by the end of this century, and they added a more ambitious goal of limiting the increase to 1.5 C.

But U.S. President Donald Trump subsequently announced that he would withdraw the U.S. from the agreement, which he said benefited other nations at the expense of American businesses and taxpayers.

Trump called global warming a “hoax” before becoming president. He has since said he’s “not denying climate change” but is not convinced it’s man-made or permanent.

New York protester Pearl Seidman, 13, hoped the demonstration would tell the Trump administration “that if they can’t be adults, we’re going to be adults. Because someone needs to do it.” At least one Trump supporter waved a large “Trump 2020” flag as the demonstrators marched in Manhattan.

In Florida, high school students shouted “Miami is under attack” in Miami Beach, where some worried about losing their homes to rising water. On the West Coast, student-led protests drew in some Google and Amazon employees.

Amazon, which ships more than 10 billion items a year, vowed Thursday to cut its use of fossil fuels, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the Financial Times in a story published Friday that eliminating the company’s carbon emissions by 2030 did not seem “unreasonable.”

Friday’s demonstrations started in Australia, where organizers estimated 300,000 protesters marched in 110 towns and cities, including Sydney and the national capital, Canberra. Demonstrators called for their country, the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack – filling in while Prime Minister Scott Morrison was on a state visit to the United States – said Australia was already taking action to cut emissions. McCormack called the climate rallies “a disruption” that should have been held on a weekend to avoid inconveniences.

Many middle schools in largely coal-reliant Poland gave students the day off so they could participate in the rallies in Warsaw and other cities. President Andrzej Duda joined school students picking up trash in a forest. German police said more than 100,000 people gathered in front of Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, near where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet thrashed out the final details of a $60 billion plan to curb Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions .

Thousands of schoolchildren and their adult supporters demonstrated in London outside the British Parliament. The British government said it endorsed the protesters’ message but did not condone skipping school – a stance that did not sit well with some of the young protesters.

“If politicians were taking the appropriate action we need and had been taking this action a long time ago when it was recognized the world was changing in a negative way, then I would not have to be skipping school,” said Jessica Ahmed, a 16-year-old London student.

In Helsinki, the Finnish capital, a man dressed as Santa Claus stood outside parliament holding a sign: “My house is on fire, my reindeer can’t swim.”

Smaller protests took place in Asia, including in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong and India. In the Afghan capital of Kabul, an armored personnel carrier was deployed to protect about 100 young people as they marched, led by a group of several young women carrying a banner emblazoned with “Fridays for Future.”

“We know war can kill a group of people,” said Fardeen Barakzai, one of the organizers. “The problem in Afghanistan is our leaders are fighting for power, but the real power is in nature.” (VOA)