By His own grace and at His own will Lord Swaminarayan manifested (born) Himself for the protection of religion and devotion in Kaliyuga for the welfare of numerous embodied souls. Lord Swaminarayan is the direct incarnation of Narayan Himself, at Whose will infinite universes create, sustain and destroy.
Thus His biological manifestation (birth) took place on 9th day of bright half of Chaitra month in V.S. 1837, known as Ramanavami in Chhapaiya, a village near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. His father Dharmadev was Samavedi scholar Brahmin and mother was called Bhaktidevi owing to her devotional virtues and sacred qualities. After the passing away of His parents, when He was only eleven, the ascetic minded Neelkanth Varni later called Lord Swaminarayan, renounced His home with all its wealth and comforts and set out as a pedestrian pilgrim visiting Indian pilgrim spots and holy sites.For the period of several years of His pilgrimage He performed severest penances for His devotees. As a part of His pilgrimage through Gujarat He happened to arrive in Loj village, situated midway between Somnath and Porbunder in Saurashtra. There He met Muktanandji, the chief disciple of great master Ramanand Swami; and later He came to have a face-to-face meeting with Ramanand Swami in a village called ‘Piplana’.
Having taken birth in material body Lord Swaminarayan, too accepted Ramanand Swami, as His preceptor (Guru) and as per set religious rules got initiated, receiving Diksha at the hands of the great preceptor. Then the great preceptor handed over the control and management of entire Uddhava Religious Discipline to Lord Swaminarayan, Who inspired people to have Darshan of their family God instance without practising the Ashtang Yoga. Many people became His-words and His disciples after properly checking and testing the meditation process by the Lord. Without giving much importance to mysterious performances and miracles He engaged Himself in enriching the society by teaching them purity of thought, food, conduct by removing bad habits, addiction, blind faith, suspiciousness, immorality, corruption, luxury, inertness, theft, dacoity etc. Some scholars believed that there can be no incarnation of the God in Kaliyuga, He convinced them through proofs from the Geeta, the Bhagawat and other scriptures that Lord Swaminarayan is the Supreme incarnation and made them His wards and disciples. Lord Swaminarayan is the Supreme Brahman and the proof to this fact is found in ancient scriptures e.g.
Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan established five (5) Vows Panch Vartaman for people in Ghruhashram i.e. house-holders and five (5) Vows for people in Tyagashram (Swamis/Saints).
The followers were increased in a large number. Only devotion and worship is not enough for salvation. The virtuous moral and devotional human life is absolutely necessary. So He (Lord Swaminarayan) preached the five basic Vows compulsory for all.
- NOT to drink wine, liquor or any intoxicating drug of any sort in any form in any case, NOT even as a medicine.
- NOT to eat meat in any form in any case. NOT even as the offerings of evil deities or sacrifice or as a medicine to save one’s own life.
- To abstain from adultery. NOT to look at a lady passionately. NOT to keep close contact with ladies except the nearest relatives.
- NOT to steal even a smallest thing. Even the worthless flowers should NOT be taken for offerings to deities without the permission of the owner.
- NOT to take food and drinks from improper persons and by improper sources.
Whosoever wants to become the follower of Lord Swaminarayan has to take an oath in presence of a great Saint keeping water in his right hand to abstain from these five. If anybody transgresses any of these five is not called a follower of Swaminarayan. He is excommunicated. These are the five basic Vows for house-holders. These are known as Panch Vartman.
Saints of Swaminarayan have to observe strictly their special five vows listed below as well as the five basic vows listed above. They are given them at the time of their initiation as Saints. They are initiated by either Vadtal or Ahmedabad gadi’s Acharya.
- Lustless: Desireless:- He has to observe Naishthik Brahmacharya i.e. eight-fold celibacy strictly. He has to observe a fast if he has seen a face of a lady. Not to expect any remuneration even of his good deeds or must not have any desire of anything.
- Greedless:- He should not be attached at all to the worldly objects. He should keep clothes and things only permitted to him. He should not accept, touch or possess even any sort of currency of his own.
- Tasteless:- He should not be allured or tempted at all to any taste. Not to eat anything which is not offered to God, that also mixed togather with water.
- Prideless:- He should not have any sort of pride of renouncement, penance, knowledge, efficiency religious austerity, devotion, etc. If anybody beats him, abuses him or insults him, he should endure patiently, not to be angry at all, should forgive, not to oppose, not to keep any grudge or any ill feelings for him, but to wish good for him and to pity for his ignorance.
- Affectionless:- He should not have any affection at all towards his body, his relatives, his disciples or anything except Almighty God Supreme.
- Hinsa na karvi (Be non-violentby any means)
- Parstri no sang na karvo (Do not have any kind of relationship with other woman other than your wife)
- Mansh na khavu (Do not eat meat, i.e. including seafood, poultry products, eggs)
- Daru na pivo (Do not drink products that contain alcohol, i.e. wine, beer, medicine that contains alcohol)
- Vidhva stri no sparsh na karvo (Never touch widow woman whom you do not know)
- Atmaghat na karvo (Never commit a suicide in any circumstances)
- Chori na karvi (Do not steal things that belong to others)
- Koi ne kalank na devu (Never blame others for something that you may not know about)
- Devo ni ninda na karvi (Never bad mouth about God, Goddesses, or any religion)
- Jenu na khaptu hoy tenu na khavu (Never eat someone’s food who does not follow these eleven rules established by Lord Shree Swaminarayan in Shikshapatri)
- Bhagwan thi vimukh hoy tena thaki katha na sabhalavi (Never listen holy stories from a person who does not believe in the existence of God, i.e. a person who is an atheist)