There are only three works in the Sampraday written by Lord Swaminarayan Himself. First is the summary of six Shastras- namely Bhagvat, Bhagvad-Gita, VidoorNeeti, VishunusahastraNaam, VasudevMahatmya, YajnavalkyaSmruti, which was prepared by Him for His daily reading, when He was only ten years old. Second is a letter He wrote to Ramanand Swami on the fifth day or dark half of Falgun of Samvat year 1856 and third is His Shikshapatri.
Shikshapatri means Hit-tam Updesh. The word Hit-tam means ultimate real well-being in life here and in life here-after. It is a gross mistake to treat Shikshapalri as merely a book of Does and Don’ts for the followers of the Sampraday. Satangis even today treat Shikshapatri as direct orders from the divine mouth of Lord Swaminarayan. They look upon it as an idol of Lord Swaminarayan depicted in words. They follow the dictates as coming directly from the Divine personality of Lord Swaminarayan. For instance, Shikshapatri requires all the followers to rise before sunrise. A true Satangi always rises before sunrise, not because it would keep him healthy, but because it is an order from Lord Swaminarayan for him. While following the dictates of Shikshapatri the question of personal likes and dislikes does not arise. All their actions, major or minor, therefore, become devoid of ego and selfishness and, therefore are all Bhaktimaya and Nirgun. It is not possible here in this brief life sketch to give details of Shikshapatri but some outstanding directions are summarized:
It forbids performance of Yajnas (sacrifices) which involve offering of living beings. It forbids partaking Prasad of any Yajna or deity where living beings are offered to propitiate any deity. It asks all the followers to speak truth only, but at the same time not to speak truth if it involves loss of one’s own tire or other man’s life. Some persons commit an act of stealing not for themselves but for the sake of performing religious duties or good acts; Shikshapatri asks the followers not to indulge in such acts. He laid down that Bhakti of God Supreme should always be performed with Dharma. Under no circumstances, Bhakti should be divorced from Dharma. It asks the followers to accept and follow the good acts of great persons, but if they have done any act which is bad and against Dharma it should be left alone. Followers of the Sampraday have been asked to hear eight Shastra – Vedas, Vyas Sutras, etc. eventhough they are not Sampradayik Shastras with love and respect; but, should accept and follow only those words of these Shastras which support and promote Dharma, Jnan, Vairagya, and Bhakti of God Supreme.
Members of the Sampraday should not try to draw a line of superiority or inferiority between Narayan and Mahesh but should look upon them as one form or Brahmn. They should also respect the Panchaytan Devas-viz. Vishnu, Shiva Ganesh, Surya and Parvati. They should also celebrate Vritas and birthdays of Shri Pam, Shri Ganesh, Shri Shiva, Shri Krishna, Shri Hanuman and of all Avtaras of God Supreme. A male member should not hear even religious or philosophical sermons from female, nor should any male deliver any such sermon to a female. The gates of the temple should always remain open for the thirsty and the hungry. There are about 15 verses which are entirely philosophical; but each of these verses speak volumes. One will find directions only in Shikshapatri that no body should ever draw a line of distinction between the various forms and names known as Shri. Radha-Krishna, Shri Laxmi-Narayan, Shri NarNarayan and so on because they are all forms and names of God Supreme.
Shikshapatri directs that all the followers should also live and act within the limits of their Dharma and according to the rules of their Varnas and Ashramas but thereby should never look upon the other Varnas and Ashramas with a feeling of inferiority. It also directs that the followers should always take Diksha from the Acharya and should worship only those idols which are given to them by the Acharya himself. In the temples of the Sampraday only those idols of God Supreme should be worshipped which are installed by the Acharya himself. Before closing Shikshapatri. Lord Swaminarayan has clearly given a warning to all concerned that anybody, however great he may be, if he lives and acts against the dictates of Shikshapatri should be deemed to have been ex-communicated from the Sampraday. Shikshapatri tries to cover social, civil, educational, political, religious, philosophical, all aspects of life. It Is a practical encyclopedia and ready spiritual reference for all wise persons.