Hindus believe that there is only one Supreme God, present in many different forms. That one Supreme God is referred to as Purna Purushottam Narayan. In the Vachanamrut, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has described this Supreme God as all-knowing, all-powerful and yet compassionate. Swaminarayan devotees believe Bhagwan Swaminarayan to be that God.
In the Vibhuti Yoga Adhyaya of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna speaks of that Supreme God living and working through him.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the Vachanamrut says that Purna Purushottam Narayan resides in Akshardham and visits this Earth to establish dharma for the sake of His devotees. He describes the characteristics of this Supreme God: He is the all-doer (sarva karta); He has a divine form (divya sakar); He is supreme and above all else (sarvopari); and that He is always present in human form (pragat).
The notion that God, Purna Purushottam Narayan, is the all-doer is a Hindu concept found in the Ishaavasya Upanishad, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Vachanamrut. For a believer, it is important to understand Purna Purushottam Narayan to be the all-doer because that knowledge itself is moksha; it is the key to salvation. It is because of the will of God that the universe comes to exist. The trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are the creator, sustainer and destroyer, respectively, of the universe. However, the will and the power to perform their duties originates from Purna Purushottam Narayan.
When a devotee understands that all things happen at the resolve of Purna Purushottam Narayan, he or she has completely surrendered to Him and can become fearless knowing that all that befalls him or her has been willed by Purna Purushottam Narayan for his/her benefit.
This does not absolve the devotee of responsibility - although the circumstances are not in the individual's control, how each person deals with it is up to the individual. The devotee needs to have faith, keep God at the center of all activities and decide on his/her actions accordingly.
A principal belief of Swaminarayan devotees is that Purna Purshottam Narayan is 'sakar', that He has a divine form. In Vachanamrut Gadhada II-13, Bhagwan Swaminarayan describes the true form of God. He states that God, having a human form with two arms, two legs, and two eyes, sits at the center of one’s soul. That divine form is surrounded by very bright divine light. As spiritual aspirants, we must progress past that light through meditation and understanding, to see the physical form of God. If one cannot see that form, the devotee's mind becomes affixed on the light, limiting his spiritual progress and keeping him from liberation. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-45, Bhagwan Swaminarayan cites the ancient Hindu scriptures saying, “Purushottam Bhagwan eternally possesses a form, and that form is luminous. The Shrutis also mention, ‘That God looked towards maya….’ Now if this scripture refers to God as able to see, does that mean that He only has a pair of eyes and nothing else? In reality, He does have hands and feet; this proves that God has a form.” Further mention of this belief is found in various Hindu scriptures including the Mundak Upanishad and in the philosophies of Ramanujacharya, Vallabhacharya, and Madhvacharya. Bhagwan Swaminarayan strongly asserted the existence of God’s divine form and urged that devotees should believe the same to be true, saying in Vachanamrut Gadhada III-39, “To realize God as being formless is a sin much graver than even the panchmahapap, the five grave sins. There is no atonement for that sin…. One should keep a firm conviction in the form of God and staunchly worship Him. This is My message to you. So please imbibe these words firmly in your life.”
Believing Purna Purushottam Narayan to have a form is the basis for many Hindu beliefs and rituals, such as murti puja, bhakti, and even the building of mandirs.
God, Purna Purushottam Narayan, is sarvopari, the Supreme God. When a devotee truly understands that God is absolute, that devotee’s jiva is worthy of attaining moksha and staying eternally in His presence in Akshardham.
Akshardham is the divine abode of Bhagwan Swaminarayan where His eternal form is present along with Aksharbrahma, in the presence of all the liberated jivas. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s greatness is revealed in the Vachanamrut, when He speaks about His incarnation on Earth as having the sole purpose of liberating countless souls. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s first spiritual successor, Gunatitanand Swami, also discusses this unparalleled greatness in his work, the Swamini Vato. Paramhansas who lived during Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s time also documented their interaction with His supreme form in the Bhaktachintamani, Haricharitramrut Sagar, and Harililamrut.
The belief that the form of God a devotee worships is the Supreme Being is necessary for devotees to secure the confidence and faith needed to progress on their spiritual journey. Bhagwan Swaminarayan has advocated that His devotees maintain firm faith in the Supreme God's omniscience while also respecting all other divinities.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan promised His followers that He would remain present on Earth to provide guidance. He remains present through His ideal devotee, Aksharbrahma, through His scriptures and His divine murtis. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-68, Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains, “God says that He dwells with all His powers and divinity in the eight types of murtis and the God-realized or Gunatit Sant.” The Shrimad Bhagavata Purana states that God’s presence through Akshar is more prevalent than His presence through a murti. One of the six reasons that Bhagwan Swaminarayan manifested on Earth was to establish His eternal presence for each generation of jivas.
It is through the association with Akshar that a spiritual aspirant attains moksha. Purna Purushottam Narayan is present today through the gunatit sadhu. Mahant Swami Maharaj is the gunatit sadhu through whom Purna Purshottam Narayan works today.