Within a year, Ramanand Swami called a special meeting of the satsangis in the village of Jetpur. On this day, he passed over the leadership of the sampraday to Sahajanand Swami. From the moment Ramanand Swami met Sahajanand Swami, he was explicit in his belief that despite Sahajanand Swami’s young age, He was meant to be the true leader of the sampraday. On this special occasion, Sahajanand Swami asked Ramanand Swami to grant Him two wishes. The first wish was that if a devotee suffers from a misery that is comparable to the sting of a single scorpion, let the pain come to Him instead so that His devotee would never feel such agony. The second wish was that if a devotee is forced to take to a begging bowl, let that devotee have clothes and food so that His devotee never suffers from the pangs of hunger and the lack of basic human necessities. These boons illustrate His life’s passion to serve selflessly and His genuine concern for His devotees. On the day of His spiritual coronation, Bhagwan Swaminarayan placed His devotees’ needs ahead of His own and affirmed His compassion for all of mankind.
It was also on this day that Ramanand Swami introduced Sahajanand Swami to a young Mulji Sharma. In the following years, Mulji Sharma would become Sahajanand Swami’s first successor, known as Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s aim was to rekindle the notions of dharma, bhakti, gnan, and vairagya in all those who came into contact with Him. He did not want to incite or encourage violence against perceived enemies. Rather, He showed His disciples that their real enemies where their inner instincts of lust, anger, taste, greed, and envy. These were the enemies blocking their progress to spiritual redemption, or moksha. Bhagwan Swaminarayan traveled tirelessly to teach this timeless truth to those who had wandered off the spiritual path. He brought the complex truths and theological principles of the Upanishads and the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita to His disciples in laymen’s terms that could be easily understoond and imbibed in their lives.
Fourteen days after Ramanand Swami passed away to Akshardham, Bhagwan Swaminarayan introduced the Swaminarayan Mahamantra to His disciples. This mantra was meant to be chanted by His disciples everyday while turning the mala and during their daily routines. To this day, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s followers chant the Swaminarayan mantra and reap its many benefits.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan traveled from village to village attracting people with His spiritual talks, His divine murti, and, most frequently, with samadhi. Samadhis are the last step of ashtanga yoga. A truly accomplished yogi enters a trance where he meditates undisturbed on the divine form of God and loses his sense of an individual state of being while becoming one with God. Bhagwan Swaminarayan sent people from all walks of life into these yogic trances with the sound of His wooden slippers, from having His darshan, and even from the scent of His sanctified flowers! These trances helped people trapped by superstition and the black magic of prevalent sorcerers realize the power of true divinity. After returning from these trances, people developed unflinching conviction in God and His gunatit sadhu. The charming effects of superstition were less than attractive and quickly eradicated in this manner.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan encouraged selfless service and giving back to the local community. His paramhansas and devotees went from village to village digging wells and ponds for fresh drinking water in drought-stricken villages. During the Famine of 1812, Bhagwan Swaminarayan carried grains and other food items on His own horse and delivered them to those too shy to approach relief centers. He also encouraged farmers and local rulers to set up resource centers and food pantries for those that did not have the means to survive natural disasters. Today, those humanitarian services are carried out by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and BAPS Charities.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan focused on developing the individual by building six mandirs that served as a place for communal growth. He focused on educating women and ridding society of blind faith and superstition. He provided a platform for men, women, and children to develop their skills as tradesmen, artists, public speakers, and even leaders. His social, cultural, and religious renaissance helped to develop a community whose strong foundation was built upon a moral and wholesome individual.
Sahajanand Swami spent the remaining years of His life creating a following based on a spiritually charged and morally pure form of Hindu Dharma. He placed emphasis on dharma, gnan, vairagya, and bhakti. His followers were taught to strictly adhere to a life free from immorality. He worked towards uplifting the societal status of women, promoting nonviolence and equality, and reviving the role of spirituality and devotion. He initiated over 500 paramhansas and transformed countless lives. After 49 years, He returned to His divine abode, Akshardham, on June 1, 1830.