Bhagawan SwamiNarayan was born on 2nd April 1781 in the village of Chhapaiya, near Ayodhya. He left home at the age of 11 to embark on a seven year piligrimage of India. At the age of 18 he arrived in Gujarat where he was intiated by Ramanand Swami and named as Sahajanand Swami. At the age of 21 he was appointed as the head of the Sampraday. Thereafter Bhagawan SwamiNarayan launched his ministry for the establishment of Ekantik Dharma and service to the society. He instructed his sadhus to uplift society socially, morally and spiritually. In times of famine and catastrophe he opened alms houses and dug wells to provide succour to the afflicted. He uplifted the downtrodden classes by unshackling them from vices and addictions. He campaigned against and abolished the henious customs of Sati and female infanticide prevalent in Gujarat, and also eradicated violent yadnas in which animals were sacrificed. He educated the masses to take refuge in God and give up false practices and superstiotions. He reformed lawless elements like Joban Pagi and others into God-loving people. He inspired the women devotees to conduct discourses among themselves and thus promoted literacy.
Bhagawan SwamiNarayan preached the loftiest wisdom of Hindu shastras in the most down to earth manner. His spiritual discourses were compiled into the Vachanamrut. He preached that the ultimate purpose of human life is to attain moksha by realizing oneself as atma. This realization is attained through the grace of God or a God-realized Sadhu. He also wrote a moral code of conduct called Shikshapatri, and built 6 mandirs for the promotion of upasana and bhakti. Bhagawan SwamiNarayan passed away at the age of 49 on 1 June 1830.
Prior to his departure, for the perpetuation of the Sampraday and its aims and ideals, Bhagawan SwamiNarayan declared his ideal disciple, Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami as his successor. He was succeeded by Bhagati MAharaj (1829-1897), Shastriji Maharaj (1865 - 1951), Yogiji Maharaj (1892-1971) and today , Pramukh Swami Maharaj is the present Guru. He has furthered the ideals of Bhagawan SwamiNarayan through more than 160 socio-spiritual activities, and 650 mandirs in India and abroad.
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