The aksharbrahma-parabrahma philosophy as revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains that after He is no longer on earth, He will remain present through Akshar or the satpurush. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s spiritual succssors has provided spiritual guidance and leadership to devotees of the Swaminarayan Sampraday for generations. Bhagwan Swaminarayan identified Gunatitanand Swami as Aksharbrahma many times throughout His life. In a similar manner, successors that followed were identified by their guru. The guru parampara have provided generations of satsangis with the guidance they need to lead a spiritually fulfilling life that is geared towards spiritual redemption and happiness. It is in His spiritual successors that Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s legacy lives on in the true sense. None of the successors are elected or voted in by committee or a Board of Trustees. The spiritual and administrative leadership of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is held by a gunateet guru defined by his merits. Bhagwan Swaminarayan describes the qualities of such a sadhu in Vachanamrut Gadhada III – 27, in which he says,
The attributes of the Sant – being free of lust, avarice, egotism, taste, attachment, etc. – are also described in the scriptures. The Sant who possesses these attributes has a direct relationshipwith God.
He goes on to say in Vachanamrut Sarangpur 10 that,
When one has the darshan of such a Sant, one should realise, ‘I have had the darshan of God Himself.
Today, followers of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha believe that Bhagwan Swaminarayan is present on earth through Mahant Swami Maharaj – they are serving God through Mahant Swami Maharaj.