Scriptures are an integral component of religion. They preserve the religion's sacred teachings and doctrines. Many cultures and religions have survived for thousands of years because their teachings have been safeguarded in the form of scriptures, passed on from one generation to the next.
Hindu Sanatan Dharma has three scriptures that form the basis of its philosophy and teachings. These are the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. Together these three are referred to as the Prasthanatrayi, or ‘the three that establish Hindu Dharma.’ All Hindu schools of thought, including the Swaminarayan faith, base their philosophy on these three scriptures.
Within the Swaminarayan Sampraday, the Vachanamrut, the Shikshapatri, and the Swamini Vato set forth the principles and doctrines of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The Vachanamrut is a compilation of His teachings to the sadhus and followers - a unique compendium of question-and-answer sessions in Gujarati prose. The Shikshapatri is the code of conduct written by Bhagwan Swaminarayan for all His followers - sadhus and lay people. The Shikshapatri is unique for its transparency, written in times when access to knowledge and rules was usually limited to just a few. Swamini Vato is a compilation of the teachings of Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami, which supports the Vachanamrut and clarifies its philosophy.
The philosophy and basic beliefs of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha followers stem from these scriptures, Hindu beliefs, and guidance from the spiritual lineage that has continued the work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.