Significance / History
“Delhi is the capital of India. And there the sovereign Purushottam Narayan is to preside. So we want to hold a grand pratishtha celebration....
“It was Yogiji Maharaj's wish, so the mandir festival will be grand...”
From over 1400 kilometres away, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, in Mumbai, enthusiastically told the sadhus in Delhi to organise a grand celebration for the breathtaking new mandir in New Delhi.
Despite frail health, Swamishri was recovering from a 10-day bout of fever and diarrhoea, his voice over the telephone was fresh and encouraging. The satisfaction that Yogiji Maharaj's long-held wish would be fulfilled was plainly evident. From the very beginning he had set the standards, “It is Yogiji Maharaj's wish that a mandir be built on the banks of Yamuna in Delhi. So we want to make it the best.”
Thirty-five years ago, Yogiji Maharaj expressed his heartfelt wish that a mandir dedicated to Akshar Purushottam Maharaj be consecrated on the banks of Yamuna in New Delhi.
This wish of Yogiji Maharaj became a mission for Pramukh Swami Maharaj. By his tireless efforts over the past three decades, this wish has been fulfilled and it is a reflection of Swamishri's singular devotion for his guru. Sculpted in intricate detail, entirely from Italian Carrara marble, the 60 ft. high mandir was constructed, from foundation to pinnacle, in a record-breaking nine months.
The shilanyas ceremony was performed by Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami on 4-5-2001.
It was Yogiji Maharaj's wish that a marble murti of guru Shastriji Maharaj be consecrated in this mandir, hence, Pramukh Swami Maharaj chose 6-2-2003, Vasant Panchmi, the birthday of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, as the murti-pratishtha date.
Together with the mandir, a host of ancilliary buildings – residence for sadhus, residence for volunteers, residence for pilgrims, kitchens, etc. – have also been built within a year.
The task of completing this challenging project was spearheaded by Ishwarcharan Swami and a support team of sadhus and volunteers.
Responsibility for sculpting the marble was wholeheartedly undertaken by Harshad Chavda. Under his supervision, volunteers and craftsmen at the Sanstha's workshops in Pindwada and surrounding villages worked day and night to meet the demanding schedules.
On the mandir construction site, the sculpted marble stone were assembled under the guidance of the project's chief engineer, Ashwin Patel, Dharmavatsal Swami and Atmakirti Swami. To enhance the beauty of the mandir, Swamishri had made a priceless suggestion to build a parikrama or colonnade around its perimeter. This was built out of red stone from Rajasthan. This feature in itself was a big project and was completed on time by the efforts of Yogesh Swami and his team of volunteers and craftsmen based at Secundra near Jaipur in Rajasthan.
With less than 15 days remaining before the pratishtha, anyone seeing the site would have thought it impossible that everything would be completed on time.
And to add to the problems, New Delhi's erratic weather hindered more than helped. The biting cold, heavy fog and frequent rain showers interfered with the best of plans.
But, however, as the auspicious day drew nearer, Swamishri's frequent words of encouragement inspired all work with maximum vigour. Finally, with the divine blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Gunatit Gurus the entire construction was completed on time.
With many devotees expected to arrive from UK, USA, Africa and other countries, Swamishri arrived in New Delhi late at night on 31 January, still recovering from his recent illness.
With the inclement weather the sadhus prayed to Swamishri for a change in weather so that final preparations for the celebrations could be completed.
Swamishri smiled and said, “From tomorrow Maharaj will make everything fine.”
And sure enough, the following day, the clouds were nowhere in sight and the sun shone brightly in the morning sky.
With favourable weather, the pace of work quickened and everything was ready for the celebrations. Over 250 sadhus and 7000 devotees from throughout India and abroad were expected to attend the 2-day celebrations.
On 3 February 2003, at 6.45 a.m. Swamishri performed the traditional Vedic worship of the kalashes and flagstaffs to be placed on the pinnacles of the mandir. Swamishri also performed the Vedic worship of the painted murtis of Akshar Purushottam and Radha Krishna to be installed in the old mandir in place of the current marble murtis, which would now be transferred to the new mandir.
The murti-pratishtha rituals commenced at 8.00 a.m. amidst the Vedic chantings of Parmanandbhai Shastri and Brahmin pundits. The beautifully carved marble mandir was the centre of attraction. The mandir mandovar (outer wall of the sanctum sanctorum) has 35 exquisite murtis of paramhansas and devotees. The ceilings are decorated with different carved designs. The ornate doors of the sanctum and its marble frame, main dome and pillars are aesthetically stunning. The white intricately designed shikhars and the golden kalashes and flags are a divine and inspiring sight.
The mandir dome echoed with Vedic mantras, and at 8.55 a.m., Swamishri entered the sanctum. Devotees from India and abroad were engaged in the pratishtha rituals under the dome. Swamishri performed the invocation rituals in the murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj – the same murtis that were first installed at the Hari mandir in Gujarat Vihar eight years ago. When Swamishri held the mirror before the murtis, the entire congregation broke into loud chantings of “Swaminarayan, Swaminarayan…” Thereafter, Swamishri performed the first pujan of the murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Ghanshyam Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj with chandan and offered his respects to them. The pratishtha was the fulfillment of Yogiji Maharaj’s wish to consecrate a mandir on the banks of the river Yamuna. Swamishri performed the pujan of the murtis of Yogiji Maharaj established in a shrine by the main dome and Mahant Swami performed pujan of the murti of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in another shrine by the main dome. In the kodi mandap, outside the main mandir sanctum, Swamishri performed the pratishtha pujan of Shri Ganapatiji and Shri Hanumanji. After the arrangement of annakut, Swamishri performed the pratishtha arti of Thakorji adorned in beautiful clothes and ornaments. After mantra pushpanjali and prayer rituals the pratishtha rituals were completed. Swamishri offered prostrations to the deities and departed to the assembly hall for the pratishtha assembly. During the murti-pratishtha rituals devotees in the assembly hall listened to discourses by Viveksagar Swami and Anandswarup Swami.