This is why Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s methods were truly novel. Tulsidas says in the Ramcharitmanas, “Whoever engrosses themselves in God, experiences the fruits immediately. An obnoxious crow becomes a melodious songbird. An ugly duck becomes a majestic swan. That is the power of associating with God.”
From the very beginning, Bhagwan Swaminarayan constantly sought to free his disciples of all their worldly desires. In Vachanamrut Gadhada II 45, he states, “As you are devotees of God, I do not wish to leave any form of improper swabhavs within your hearts.” Furthermore in Vachanamrut Gadhada II 50, he states, “I do not wish to leave any trace of the world in the hearts of whosoever keeps my company.”
Bhagwan Swaminarayan wanted to go beyond merely purity of the mind. He wanted his disciples to become nirvasanik, free of all ingrained worldly desires. Bhagwan Swaminarayan states in Vachanamrut Ahmedabad 3, “Even if all the roots of a banyan tree, except for a few minor roots, are uprooted, the banyan tree will still remain green. In the same way, one may have outwardly renounced the panchvishays, but if thoughts of them are entertained, then those thoughts become a cause of births and deaths.” To attain the level of purity that Bhagwan Swaminarayan expected of his devotees, it is imperative to eliminate one’s vasana.
The question is how does one eliminate vasana? To eliminate vasana, Bhagwan Swaminarayan highlights the influence of tamogun, rajogun and sattavgun in Vachanamrut Gadhada I 58. These three gunas are influenced by three factors: the body, bad company and past sanskars. To overcome gunas arising due to the body, one must distinguish between the atma and the non-atma. Gunas due to bad company are eradicated by the influence of good company. However, to eradicate gunas arising from unfavourable past sanskars, which are the very root of vasana, there is only one option – one must please God!
Mancha Bhakta’s transformation illustrates this principle. In Vachanamrut Gadhada II 38, Bhagwan Swaminarayan praises Mancha Bhakta of Kariyani as a true devotee of God. Yet, throughout his life, he experienced many difficulties due to his swabhavs and vasana. Mancha Bhakta’s niece was married to Vasta Khachar; however, when Vasta Khachar considered remarrying, Mancha pulled his sword on Vasta in an attempt to kill him. Vasta barely escaped and went into hiding; he secretly contacted Bhagwan Swaminarayan to save him. Only when Bhagwan Swaminarayan arrived, did Mancha’s temper subside. Not only was Mancha a slave to anger, but he was controlled by his ego. On the day of Makar Sankranti, after having fed the Brahmins, Mancha candidly told Bhagwan Swaminarayan, “Due to my swabhavs, I am very egotistical. If I am not praised, I would leave satsang; I am that ungrateful. If you praise me all morning and then insult me once, I would not be able to stay in satsang. Please continue to tolerate and forgive me!”
Mancha’s anger and ego had no limits, yet Bhagwan Swaminarayan uplifted and freed him of his swabhavs. As time went on, Mancha was initiated as a sadhu and was named Achintyanand Swami. During the inauguration of Ahmedabad Mandir, Bhagwan Swaminarayan called Achintyanand Swami on stage and publicly praised him.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan said, “Mancha came into my association, listened to my commands and became a sadhu on my word. Now, all of his sins and swabhavs have been eliminated.”
Achintyanand Swami rejoiced, “Due to Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s grace, I experience absolute peace. I no longer have any infatuation or attraction towards the panchvishays.” In this way, Bhagwan Swaminarayan produced thousands of nirvasnik ekantik devotees.
On 26 March 2020, Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “Through Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s association, the swabhavs and vasanas of countless aspirants were dissolved and became as insignificant as a blade of grass.” This near impossible feat is achieved only by God’s grace; that is why, Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains in Vachanamrut Gadhada III 18 that only through the association of God or the Satpurush is one’s vasana uprooted.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan destroyed the vasana of those who associated with him, sculpted their brahmarup state, and bestowed them with ultimate moksha. By encouraging physical purity, he was able to create pious devotees like Sagram Bhakta and models of self-control like Sura Kachar, who maintained purity of the mind. That is why Bhagwan Swaminarayan is truly Bhakta Dosh Nivarak.
It was this confluence of physical chastity, mental purity and spiritual perfection that epitomized Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s satsang. Those who immersed themselves in that confluence, emerged spotless. The very same satsang flourishes today, under guruhari Mahant Swami Maharaj. Just like the vadvanal fire transforms everything, no matter how ‘tainted and salty’ one’s life is, through the mere association of Mahant Swami Maharaj, it becomes ‘pure and sweet’.