Aksharbrahma Vishva Shanti Mahayag
26 November 2006
In the past several months Bochasan mandir was under renovation, with hectic preparations for the celebrations. More than 200 farmers had offered their fertile land for the venue of the festival celebration. The 100-acre festival site on the Bochasan-Dharmaj highway was transformed into a yagnashala, an open air arena for the mammoth main evening assembly, kitchen and dining facilities, and tent accommodation for volunteers.
On 26th morning the three-day festival commenced with the Aksharbrahma Vishva Shanti Yagna. The traditionally decorated shamiana had an 180 ft main stage with 11 main yagna kunds and 350 other yagna kunds with 3,327 participants. Shri Ghanshyambhai (Umreth), Shri Mukeshbhai Shastri (Amdavad) and other Brahmin pundits commenced the yagna with Vedic chantings. At 9.30 am Pramukh Swami Maharaj arrived in the yagnashala and performed the ritual bathing of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj with panchamrut and saffron water. After performing arti and offering mantra pushpanjali the invited guests addressed the function. The Union Petroleum Minister, Shri Dinsha Patel, said, “Ãno bhadrãhã kratavo yantuhu vishvataha. O Swaminarayan Bhagwan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, may you bless us with auspicious thoughts from all directions. Along with the yagna tradition Bhagwan Swaminarayan inspired sentiments of charity and service. And in continuation to this the Sanstha performs over 160 philanthropic activities. Let us pray to Bhagwan Swaminarayan that we may all celebrate Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s birth centenary in his presence. He is a God-realized Sadhu. Prior to entering the mandir one should transform one’s heart; and this concept of inner transformation should be attained from such a Sadhu – one who has realized God.”
Thereafter, Shri Kaushikbhai Patel, State Minister of Taxation, expressed, “This yagna is held to inspire global peace and a spirit of humanitarianism. Today, we find the clouds of conflict, lawlessness and jealousy looming in our midst. However, despite our problematic times, Pramukh Swami Maharaj is spreading our culture, values and philosophy in the world, which for millennia have been the source of happiness for countless people. Every individual has a principal blood vessel. When that blood vessel bursts the person dies. Similarly, countries have a principal blood vessel. The main blood vessel of America is the dollar (money). For England it is the law. And India’s principal blood vessel is Pramukh Swami Maharaj. When one divorces oneself from his thoughts, one digresses. In his refuge one experiences an ethereal peace. The darshan of such a great person bestows strength. Our country’s opulence and glory is due to the presence of this pure person. He strives in promoting education, values and culture for the sake of inspiring global peace; which is an important and valuable heritage.”
In conclusion, Swamishri blessed the function, “Bochasan is a great holy place. Shastriji Maharaj built a mandir here that is now 100 years old. Under its auspices a yagna has commenced. The yagna is for the good and liberation of all. We offer jav and sesame in the fire. The Brahmins are devas of the earth (bhu-devo). They are friends of the devas of swarg. When Brahmins give offerings in the fire, the devas of swarg accept it and become happy. The devas teach sacrifice: the sun-god gives light, Indra gives rain,… This reflects the spirit of giving (or sacrifice). When you make others happy, you will receive happiness. It is not our culture to beat or kill another to become happy. God has endowed us with a physical body, wealth and intelligence. By employing them for a good cause one get’s inner peace. And if it is misused then one will become miserable.
“May God grant all of you participating in the yagna with peace and happiness. May the Akshar Purushottam philosophy, that entails becoming aksharrup to offer bhakti to Purushottam, spread everywhere as willed by Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. Gunatitanand Swami was the incarnation of Akshar, and one has to attain his state to realize God.”
Swamishri then blessed Shri Dinsha Patel, Shri Bharatsinh Solanki – president of the Congress Party in Gujarat – and Shri Kaushikbhai Patel. Thereafter, Swamishri performed pujan of the murtis of Ghanshyam Maharaj and Guru Parampara to be consecrated in Bochasan mandir. The senior sadhus performed puja of the murtis for BAPS mandirs in Gana, Valasan, Khambholaj, Napad, Kharkuva, Bakrol, Uttarsanda, Ranip (Amdavad), Isanpur (Amdavad) and Bharoda. Swamishri offered flowers to the murtis.
In all, over 50,000 devotees and wellwishers participated and witnessed the yagna rituals.
After the yagna Dr. Swami and Shri Dinsha Patel inaugurated the main gate of Bochasan village built by BAPS. Shri Bharatsinh Solanki inaugurated the festival grounds at the Akshar Purushottam gate and Shri Rajendrasinh Parmar, an MLA, inaugurated the 3-day blood donation camp on the festival site.
From 3.45 to 6.00 pm the lanes and roads of Bochasan were awash with a pageant of devotion. On the eve of the pratishtha ceremony the murtis of Ghanshyam Maharaj and Guru Parampara were paraded in Bochasan. The procession (nagar yatra) commenced from the Akshar Purushottam Vidyalay at 3.45 pm. Youths on motorcycles with flags led the procession. The procession included an array of vehicles and traditionally dressed children, youths and women. Bhajan groups from several villages and music bands filled the air with auspicious notes of dhun and kirtans Dance groups of devotees and children played ras and performed riveting cultural dances. An elephant, camel carts and horse-drawn buggies with senior sadhus, a singing group of sadhus and children dressed in traditional costumes added colour and devotion to the scene. In all, 350 sadhus and thousands of devotees participated in the two kilometre long procession. The colourful, cultural floats bearing the murtis of Ghanshyam Maharaj and Guru Parampara were the focus of darshan for the folks of Bochasan. The Mayur Rath housed the murti of Ghanshyam Maharaj, the Kala Rath had the murti of Bhagatji Maharaj, the Garud Rath had the murti of Shastriji Maharaj, Hansa Rath had the murti of Yogiji Maharaj, Surya Rath had the murti of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the Chakala Rath had the murtis of Hanumanji and Ganapatiji. The procession was further embellished with devotion by the singing of women devotees carrying auspicious pots on their heads. They, too, danced, sang and clapped in accordance to our cultural tradition.
The nagar yatra concluded at 6.00 pm on the premises of Akshar Purushottam Nagar. In the evening a drama depicting the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, ‘Sant Param Hitkari’, was enacted by the youths of Kheda district.
Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj Murti-Pratishtha Rituals and Assembly
27 November 2006
Bochasan mandir was consecrated in 1907 by Shastriji Maharaj. So, to commemorate its centenary the entire mandir was renovated: the outer walls are made of Jaisalmer stone, the rear parikrama was widened and four guru shrines built, the basement was refurbished to house the abhishek murti of Shri Nilkanth Varni, and the surrounding lawn was replaced with stone tiles – giving the mandir a new perspective. Also, the panchdhatu murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj in the central shrine were restructured by Bhaktinandan Swami, in the adjacent shrine a new beautiful marble murti of Ghanshyam Maharaj was sculpted for consecration, and new sinhasans were built for all the shrines.
In the past six months, under the guidance of Bochasan mandir’s mahant Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami and kothari Vedagna Swami, scores of sadhus and devotees served round-the-clock to complete the work in time.
As the sun rose on this auspicious murti-pratishtha day, thousands of devotees arrived in Bochasan to witness this historic event.
A 100 years previously, the learned Brahmin from Umreth, Shri Keshavlal Shukla, had guided the murti-pratishtha ceremony in the presence of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj. Today, that privilege, in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, fell to his grandson, Shri Ghanshyambhai Shukla, assisted by Mukeshbhai Shastri and others.
At 6.00 am, the senior sadhus began the abhishek of the murtis. At 7.30 am Mahant Swami, Dr. Swami and Tyagvallabh Swami performed the murti-pratishtha mahapuja, accompanied by 200 senior devotees from India and abroad. Others watched all the rituals on a large screen in the assembly hall.
Swamishri arrived for the murti-pratishtha rituals at 9.30 am.
Swamishri performed the Vedic murti-pratishtha rituals in the central shrine before the murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj. Simultaneously, senior sadhus performed the rituals in the other shrines: Ghanshyam Maharaj – Tyagvallabh Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj – Kothari (Bhaktipriya) Swami, Shastriji Maharaj – Siddheshwar Swami, Yogiji Maharaj – Ishwarcharan Swami, Pramukh Swami Maharaj – Viveksagar Swami, Shri Nilkanth Varni – Ghanshyamcharan Swami, Shri Hanumanji – Bhagvatpriya Swami, Shri Ganapatiji – Nirgun Swami.
After the Vedic rituals, Swamishri applied a sandlewood paste chandlo to all the murtis. Then, after the shrine doors closed to allow adorning of the murtis, Dr. Swami spoke on ‘Mandir is a college for brahmavidya’.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendrabhai Modi arrived, having specially flown in by helicopter for this auspicious occasion. Swamishri welcomed him by applying a chandlo and tying a nadachhadi.
With the murtis adorned and annakut arranged, the shrine doors opened. Then Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the Chief Minister performed the murti-pratishtha arti. After offering prayers for peace and happiness for the people of Gujarat and India, Swamishri and the Chief Minister went to the rang mandap below. There, Swamishri performed pujan of the Nilkanth Varni abhishek murti. Then, both Swamishri and the Chief Minister offered abhishek, as the sadhus sang Vedic mantras.
On completion of all the murti-pratishtha rituals, Swamishri and the Chief Minister presided over the murti-pratishtha assembly, in the festival grounds opposite the mandir.
Addressing the assembly, the Chief Minister Shri Narendrbhai Modi said, “As I come closer and closer to Pramukh Swami, one thing really penetrates my mind. I feel that it is probably easy to be a guru, but to become a disciple is most difficult. The disciple present within Pramukh Swami is truly worthy of reverence… Even when his gurus are not present, whatever he had learnt from them at that time has grown from a seed into a giant banyan tree. This discipleship within him is his true glory as guru.
“Different states appoint ambassadors to brand their states. Some appoint actors, actresses and cricketers. If Bapa would accept, then Pramukh Swami would be the ambassador of my state. And not only of the state, but of the entire country.
“I can say that the most genuine cultural ambassador of my state is Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Wherever in the world Pramukh Swami Maharaj has stepped, the flag of Gujarat and the image of Gujarat has been spontaneously hailed. I am sure that Gujarat does not need a greater brand ambassador than him.”
Then, the former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Narharibhai Amin, said, “In India there are many communities, many faiths, many languages and yet India remains undivided. This is due to the contributions of sadhus like Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
“Whenever there is a flood, drought, earthquake or other disaster in the state or country, the Sanstha’s sadhus and volunteers reach there to help. Such is the generosity and goodwill of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and to receive his blessings on his birthday is our great fortune.”
After Mahant Swami’s speech on Shastriji Maharaj’s vision behind the building of Bochasan mandir, the Gujarat State Law Minister, Shri Ashokbhai Bhatt spoke, “When we look at Pramukh Swami Maharaj, we can experience the life of the ancient rishis. I was present when Akshardham was attacked. Bapa’s speech in the subsequent Prayer Assembly was full of forgiveness. It is easy to say these things, but difficult to put into practice. We see it in practice in Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Bapa is the symbol of Gujarat; Bapa is the symbol of this country.”
Thereafter, the Hindi edition of Yugpurush Pramukh Swami Maharaj, written by former Chief Secretary Shri Kiritbhai Shelat, was inaugurated by Mahant Swami.
Also present on this auspicious occasion were: Shri C.D. Patel (Minister), Sundarsinh Chauhan (Minister), Pankaj Desai (MLA, Nadiad), Ambalalbhai Rohit (MLA, Sojitra), Dilipbhai Patel (MLA, Anand), Jashvantsinh Solanki (MLA, Sarsa), and other local dignitaries.
Finally, at the conclusion of the assembly, Pramukh Swami Maharaj blessed, “Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj have not disobeyed even the most minor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s commands. They have preserved their saintliness and have not retaliated, no matter what others have said or done.
“They had only one vision, that this knowledge (of Akshar Purushottam) is true and that they wanted to spread it. People said that they wanted to be God. But Shriji Maharaj is God; we are all his servants. We have come to offer bhakti as his servants.
“This knowledge is in accordance with Shriji Maharaj’s principles. If it was false, it would not progress and nobody would join. But hundreds of thousands of people have joined and understood it. Whatever Shastriji Maharaj did was after much thought and for our kalyan.
“Shastriji Maharaj taught the principle that if one believes one’s form as atma and offers bhakti, then one will be happy in every respect.”
In the afternoon, from 2.00 to 5.00 pm, a special Women’s Convention was held.
Then in the evening, the sadhus presented a kirtan aradhana, singing bhajans about Shastriji Maharaj’s life and work.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj's 86 Birthday Celebration and BAPS Centenary Launch
28 November 2006
The climax of the three-day celebrations was the joint celebration of the pratishtha of Ghanshyam Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 86th birthday and the launch of the BAPS Centenary Year on 28 November 2006. Across the road from the BAPS Mandir in Bochasan, with the generous cooperation of over 200 local farmers – who kindly agreed to forsake their winter crop and allowed use of their land – the 100-acre festival site was prepared.
Over 250,000 devotees from India and abroad attended the celebrations, while millions more throughout the world watched the live broadcast of this special occasion on the AASTHA TV channel from 5.30 pm to 9.00 pm. As the devotees entered the assembly, each was given a prasad pack and a BAPS flag.
As the sun set behind the main stage on this cool winter evening, the celebration assembly began with the singing of Vedic mantras, the Swaminarayan dhun and prarthana: Bhav dharine bolo jai jai Akshar Purushottam… While the final couplet of the prarthana was being sung, two balaks danced onto the stage waving large BAPS flags – symbolizing the victory (jai) of Akshar Purushottam. At the same time everyone in the assembly waved their flags too.
The theme of the assembly centred around the BAPS centenary, with a special focus on the founder of BAPS – Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj – and the subsequent nurturing of the Sanstha by Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The first speech was delivered by Dr. Swami, who talked about the real meaning of the centenary. He stated that at the root of the Sanstha’s progress has been the saintliness of Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He emphasized that all should strive to develop such a pure character; and that to do so one must firmly believe God as the all-doer, and also that God is constantly watching all one’s actions and gives one the fruits of those actions.
Swamishri arrived in the assembly at 6.00 pm to rousing applause and fervent flag-waving by devotees. He sat at the centre of the stage with a giant replica of the Akshar Deri in the backdrop.
Then Viveksagar Swami spoke about the Vedic basis of the Akshar Purushottam philosophy taught by Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Following this was an excellent, lively dance by BAPS children and youths, performed to the bhajan: Akshar Purushottamna danka digantma sambhalai chhe...
This was the first of the two dances performed in this celebration assembly. Both had been expertly choreographed by Jayendra Kalyani. Over 80 selected children and youths from many BAPS centres had been practicing for over a month to perfect the routines. Their sincere efforts were well rewarded with their superb performance.
After the dance, Ishwarcharan Swami spoke about the divine personality of Shastriji Maharaj. He also spoke about how Shastriji Maharaj endeavoured to establish the BAPS despite difficulties.
Then, in a series of brief speeches, sadhus narrated various aspects of Shastriji Maharaj’s divine and saintly personality and how these qualities are also evident today in Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life. Adarshjivan Swami spoke about Shastriji Maharaj’s staunch observance of dharma; Vivekpriya Swami described the hardships Shastriji Maharaj suffered for the Akshar Purushottam cause; Atmatrupta Swami talked about the tolerance of Shastriji Maharaj; Brahmadarshan Swami detailed Shastriji Maharaj’s intense enthusiasm to promote the Akshar Purushottam philosophy; Narayanmuni Swami spoke about Shastriji Maharaj’s profound wisdom and spirit of service; and Brahmavihari Swami explained Shastriji Maharaj’s oneness and constant communion with God.
Thereafter, a short audio-visual presentation of Shastriji Maharaj’s photographs and video footage was shown.
Then, Anandswarup Swami elaborated upon Shastriji Maharaj’s love for all, while at the same time remaining a servant of God and never compromising on his principles. Finally, Atmaswarup Swami talked about Shastriji Maharaj’s revelation that his successor would be Yogiji Maharaj, and the profound love he had for Pramukh Swami Maharaj; and that they would continue successfully to promote the Akshar Purushottam philosophy.
After these enlightening speeches, Swamishri blessed senior devotees who had supported Shastriji Maharaj and served the BAPS from its early days: Hakabapu Khachar (descendant of Jiva Khachar of Sarangpur), C.T. Patel, Mahendrabhai Barrister, Raojibhai Patel (Anand), Dahyabhai Patel (Sarkar), Babubhai Kapadia, Shantibhai Shah, Chunibhai Chaturvedi, Chhaganbhai Tank, Upendrabhai K. Patel, Sumanbhai Patel, Jayanti-bhai Kothari, Raojibhai Karsandas Patel, Manibhai Chaturbhai Patel, and Keshubhai Chhotabhai Patel.
Swamishri was delighted to meet all these elderly stalwarts of the BAPS and blessed them all profusely in recognition of their services to the Sanstha.
Following this, Mahant Swami inaugurated Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Amrut Vani, Samputs 6 & 11 – MP3 CDs containing a selection of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s blessings.
Then Mahant Swami addressed the celebration assembly. He elaborated on the unique contributions of Yogiji Maharaj towards the growth of the BAPS. He also spoke about the oneness of Shastriji Maharaj with Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Thereafter, Ishwarcharan Swami declared the beginning of the BAPS Centenary Year. He expressed the wish of Swamishri that the year be used to further one’s individual spiritual progress by sincerely practising all the observances one has undertaken (see p. 40 for details of special observances). He also voiced Swamishri’s wish that all devotees, young and old, be able to explain the Akshar Purushottam philosophy to others on the basis of the Vachanamrut and Swamini Vato. Concluding, Ishwarcharan Swami hailed, “BAPS Shatabdi Mahotsavni Jai”. Then, Swamishri lit the divo to inaugurate the BAPS Centenary Year as the audience enthusiastically waved flags.
Next, BAPS children and youths presented a superb dance, performed to the bhajan: Vandana gurucharanoma vandana. While their dance was in progress, senior sadhus garlanded Swamishri in honour of his 86th birthday.
Near the end of the dance, Swamishri, with all the senior sadhus standing in formation besides Swamishri’s seat, joyfully waved large BAPS flags commemorating the launch of the BAPS Centenary Year. Seeing this, everyone in the assembly passionately waved their flags too.
After the excitement of the BAPS centenary year launch, the audience became silent as Swamishri delivered his birthday blessings.
Swamishri said that the purpose of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s incarnation on this earth was to establish the Akshar Purshottom philosophy. For this he brought Gunatitanand Swami, the incarnation of Aksharbrahma, with him. This philosophy was first enshrined by Shastriji Maharaj in Bochasan.
Finally, everyone in the assembly lighted the diva they had been given in preparation for the arti. On stage, Swamishri performed the arti of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj.
A sea of diva brightened the darkness as all the lights were switched off. Everyone devoutly performed the arti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The celebration assembly ended with a spectacular display of fireworks, and the resounding calls of “Pramukh Swami Maharajni Jai” and “BAPS Shatabdi Mahotsavni Jai”.