The Akshar Purushottam Upasana is a philosophy that establishes worshiping God along with His gunatit sadhu. It is also known as the Brahma-Parabrahma philosophy. Aksharbrahman is Parabrahma’s ideal devotee and present through the gunatit sadhu on Earth. The gunatit sadhu is not God, but God works through him. Parabrahma is Supreme God. He is the Ultimate Entity that controls all of the cosmos and everything around us. He is the creator, sustainer, and destroyer. The Sanskrit word upãsanã is a compound of two words: ‘upa’ meaning near; and ‘ãsanam’ meaning to sit. Upasana is the spiritual means for a devotee to attain a seat next to God. By understanding Bhagwan Swaminarayan as being sarvopari, sakar, sarva karta, and pragat, and by knowing that the gunatit sadhu is the pathway to liberation on Earth, the devotee secures his seat next to God. This upasana is the foundation of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. It was revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and formally established by His third spiritual successor, Shastriji Maharaj.
At the tender age of 11, Bhagwan Swaminarayan set out on foot along the border of the Indian subcontinent. The purpose of His journey was to find at least one person who understood the meaning and function of the five eternal elements. Wherever He found this person would become the place that He would establish His fellowship. The understanding and acknowledgement of those eternal elements is the foundation of the Akshar Purushottam Upasana: jiva, ishwar, maya, Brahma, and Parabrahma. Bhagwan Swaminarayan outlines this upasana in the Vachanamrut. In addition, the paramhansas and the devotees who came in contact with Bhagwan Swaminarayan composed literary works, such as poems and essays, on His assertion of the Akshar Purushottam Upasana. His third spiritual successor, Shastriji Maharaj, became the pioneer who sustained and gave tangible form to this philosophy, followed by Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and, presently, Mahant Swami Maharaj. To develop complete conviction in this upasana, a devotee must develop firm faith in five truths: a) God, or Purna Purushottam Narayan, is the all-doer (sarva karta); b) He has a divine form (divya sakar); c) He is supreme and above all else (sarvopari); d) He is always present on Earth in human form (pragat); and e) the gunatit guru is the pathway to moksha. The essence of the Brahma-Parabrahma spiritual journey is to believe one’s self to be the atma and not this body, to become atmarup, and to worship Purna Purushottam Narayan.