The structure of Indian society during Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s time relied heavily on the social caste system. Initially meant to facilitate separate functions for different members of society, the caste system turned into a horrid monster that oppressed and degraded the weak and innocent. Bhagwan Swaminarayan allowed members from all sectors of society to participate in the activities of the sanstha, making it clear He viewed all devotees equally. Despite being viewed as socially unorthodox, Bhagwan Swaminarayan set an example by eating alongside members of the lower classes, feeding them during special festivals, and visiting their houses.
A detailed account is found in the British Bishop Heber’s personal journal which states that after meeting Swaminarayan and seeing the work He had done in Gujarat, it would be impossible to take Him to Mumbai and try to influence His religious disposition. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s egalitarianism was especially made evident to the British on one particular incident. After repeated requests to meet Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Sir John Malcolm, Lt. Governor of the British East India Company, finally made the trip from Mumbai to Rajkot. There, he was met with a special envoy from Bhagwan Swaminarayan carrying His message of love and brotherhood. What touched the Governor was that the envoy consisted of one person from each major caste - one Brahmin, one Kshatriya, one Vaishya, one Shudra, and also one Muslim. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s message of universal brotherhood was practiced thoughout Gujarat in His time.
Today, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and Pramukh Swami Maharaj have furthered that initiative by working in tribal and rural areas. Together and united, BAPS Swaminarayan devotees and sadhus have transformed entire rogue communities into peaceful, educated, and moral districts in the Poshina, Silvassa, and Tithal regions of Gujarat.