Realizing Purna Purushottam Narayan’s mahima only accounts for half of the Akshar Purushottam Upasana. Bhagatji Maharaj explained this to Shastriji Maharaj on their first encounter in Vadtal. The other half of the philosophy requires understanding the mahima of Aksharbrahman or the gunatit guru, also known as the satpurush.
Aksharbrahman is only second to the authority of Parabrahma in the entire universe. The Chandogya and Mundak Upanishad both say that Aksharbrahman is responsible for the creation and sustainance of this universe. Aksharbrahman, however, humbly serves Parabrahma.
Purna Purushottam Narayan is present on Earth through the satpurush. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-54, Bhagwan Swaminarayan cites the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana and says that the satpurush is the only pathway to God and to moksha. He is responsible for helping the jiva realize Parabrahma. Purna Purushottam Narayan works and accepts the devotion of spiritual aspirants through the satpurush. It is only through Aksharbrahman that a jiva can associate itself with God and understand Him well enough to seek complete refuge in Him. Due to maya, the jiva is clouded and distracted from its association with God. By associating with Aksharbrahman, the jiva becomes divine by default because Aksharbrahman is eternally divine. All of the actions and experiences of the jiva become divine, thereby bringing the jiva out of the darkness of maya and into the light of Parabrahma.
The jiva also relies on Aksharbrahman to become brahmarup. Nestled close to the heart, the jiva is encased in emotional and physical attachment that blinds the jiva from realizing God. The Shrimad Bhagavata Purana states, “God dispels the ignorance of maya through His Dham.” Aksharbrahman is that Dham. Bhagwan Swaminarayan elaborates by saying, “That Aksharbrahman has two forms. One, which is formless and pure chaitanya, is known as Chidakash. In its other form, that Aksharbrahman remains in the service of Purushottam Narayan.” (Gadhada I-21). It is only though Aksharbrahman that the jiva can shed the darkness of attachment that surrounds it, those attachments that keep the jiva from realizing God’s greatness. Association with Aksharbrahman to help the jiva realize Parabrahma is known as becoming Aksharbrahmarup or Brahmarup.
In the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna tells Arjun, “One who becomes Brahmarup, whose mind is always content, who does not lament in any way, who does not crave for any object, who has equanimity for all living creatures – that individual attains my bhakti.” For the jiva to reach this state, it must be guided by Aksharbrahma. That Aksharbrahma should become the jiva’s guru and teach the jiva about the glory of God so that the jiva may understand Him.
Today, Pramukh Swami Maharaj is Aksharbrahman and the guru of millions of devotees around the world. He is helping aspirants on the path to spiritual enlightenment. His true greatness is not his dedication to society through humanitrarian services or even his construction of mandirs and complexes to preserve Indian culture. His true greatness lies in guiding jivas to realize their true form and steering them past the bounds of maya to attain moksha. He is not God, but most people that come into contact with him have trouble denying that God resides in his pure heart.