When evil dominated over good, and the pious people, without rhyme or reason were harassed by the impious ones and when darkness and disorder prevailed in all walks of life, Lord Shree Swaminarayan manifested Himself at Chhapaiya village 20 km far from Ayodhya on Ramnavmi Chaitra Sud 9th VS 1837 (2nd April 1781) at 10.10pm. His childhood name was Ghanshyam, but was given the names of Hari, Krishna and Hari-Krishna. The name of his father was Hariprasad (Dharmadev), and mother Bhaktimata. His elder brother was Rampratapji, married to Suvasinibai, and his younger brother was Ichharamji
His family name was Pande and was a Savariya Brahmin by caste. He stayed for 11 years, 3 months and 1 day at home in Chhapaiya and Ayodhya. He performed penance in forest and purified places of pilgrimage for 7 years, 1 month and 11 days. While in forest, he was known as Nilkanth Varni. After completion of sojourn, he settled in the ashram of Sadguru Ramanand Swami at Loj, Gujarat. Nilkanth Varni accepted Sadguru Ramanand Swami as his Guru (Religious preceptor). Ramanand Swami offered him Maha Bhagwati Diksha (Initiation of religious rites) at Piplana and gave him two names: Sahajanand Swami & Narayan Muni. Ramanand Swami appointed Sahajanand Swami as his successor/head at Jetpur and left this mundane world for the heavenly abode. Shree Sahajanand Swami advised his devotees to recite “Swaminarayan” Mahamantra, a formula of miraculous power at Faneni village. More than 2000 devoted saints and hundreds of thousands of devotees became his followers when they left his infallible glory. He along with his devotees, visited all villages of Kutch, Gujarat and Kathiawad, accepted people of all castes and communities from Brahmins to Kathi, Koli, Vaghari and Bhil and taught them how to live a simple life of good conduct.
He organised construction of ponds and wells throughout Gujarat to alleviate scarcity of water. He built Sadavrat (alms houses) where food is given in charity to the needy and the poor. He organised non-violent ceremonial performance on large scale and convinced people to discontinue violent Yagna. He preached stoppage of cruel customs such as female infanticide and Sati, in which women (voluntarily or involuntarily) sacrificed their life by burning alive in their dead husband’s pyre. Lord Swaminarayan freed people from witchcraft, magic arts, suspicions, illiteracy, bad habits and superstitions. He gave them shelter and made them fearless. He preached to elevate the dignity of woman in society and uplifted them. He taught the importance of festivals in society and celebrated them e.g. Janmashtami, Ramnavmi, Diwali, Holi and such others on a grand scale, initiated real tradition by celebrating festivals in true spirit. He bestowed Samadhi (deep celebrated meditation) to innumerable persons they were by which able to have divine vision of incarnations, which they worshiped and finally merged them within him. He took right from kings to beggars under his shelter and freed them from their sins and affliction.
He himself constructed six great temples at Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Vadatal, Dholera, Junagath, and Gadhada and performed ceremonies, installed namely: Shree Narnarayan dev, at Ahmedabad, Shree Narnarayan dev at Bhuj, Shree Laxmi Narayan dev at Vadtal, Shree Madan Mohanji Maharaj at Dholera, Shree Radha Raman dev at Junagadh, Shree Gopinathji Maharaj at Gadhada. He divided India into two region and established two thrones, one at Vadtal and another at Ahmedabad. He appointed Shree Raghuvirji Maharaj as Acharya of Vadtal region and Ayodhyaprasadji Maharaj as Acharya of Ahmedabad region.
He wrote a precept of teachings called Shikshapatri on the 5th day of Maha Sud VS 1882 (Vasant Panchmi) for his followers and devotees. This scripture teaches us how to lead spiritual and social life. He remained in satsang for 28 years, 5 months and 27 days and he:
- Enlightened hearts of many with his supreme power.
- Purified degenerated people.
- Uplifted mean and sinful people.
- He re-established the lost value of celibacy, which was almost extinct.
- Framed moral and religious code of conduct for society and established religion, based on extraction of the best principles of other religions.
Millions accepted him as Sarva-Avtari (Supreme Lord). In short, Lord Shree Swaminarayan purified degenerated society and established great holy fellowship uprooted immorality while fondled his devotees and followers. He left for Akshardham on Tuesday, the 10th day of Jeth Sud, VS 1886 (1/6/1830) after living for 49 years, 2 months and 1 day. Even today Lord Swaminarayan gives Darshan to many devotees during their last breath and takes them to Akshardham.