" Delhi is the throne. The flag should fly high in Delhi. A pinnacled monument will rise. The land which has been performing penance shall be acquired.
Now Yamunaji is waiting. She has become restless. With certain surety, land on the banks of Yamunaji will be acquired. The Lord will fulfil this in His divine way."
Yogiji Maharaj (1969)
After 20 years of determined effort the historic day finally arrived. It was a day of euphoria and celebration. A testament to the efficacy of words uttered by Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj - the vision to build Akshardham in New Delhi. After years of patient searching and tremendous endeavor a 30-acre land was attained on the banks of river Yamuna in east New Delhi.
8 November, 2000 will forever be etched in gold in the history of BAPS. It was the high point in Swamishri's profound desire to fulfil the vision of Yogiji Maharaj. The Shilanyas Vidhi - foundation stone laying ceremony, was the first and significant step for the Akshardham project.
Amidst auspicious bhajans Swamishri's puja commenced on the site at 7.15 am. The shilanyas ceremony began with maha-puja. More than 100 sadhus and 500 devotees from all over India and abroad participated in the Vedic rituals. The presence of Lord Harikrishna Maharaj and Swamishri breathed sanctity and festivity to the occasion.
After the maha-puja, Swamishri, senior sadhus and devotees entered the foundation pit and worshipped the shilas (stones symbolizing the gods of earth). Then the Nidhikumbh, containing the asthi )bone relic0 of Shriji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj and coins from 154 countries, was placed in the center of the pit and mortar was poured on it. Water and soil from 101 countries, packed in copper pots, were also placed in the foundation pit.The shilanyas ceremony concluded with arti, mantra pushpanjali and prayers.
Swamishri then blessed the Shilanyas assembly: " A mandir is a place that calms the mind. The mind wavers and roves in all directions. God is calm and undisturbed. So by going to the Lord one's mind becomes still. And the mandir takes one nearer to God. Man has developed science and learnt to fly in the air, invented comforts and attained material happiness, but still there is discord. There is no peace in material things, power or money. As the material wealth of a person increases his ego also increases. Alongwith material progress one finds destruction. True progress is inner progress. And this why mandirs are necessary. By going to the mandir one is redeemed of greed, lust, jealousy and ego.
"Today, we find ill-feelings, terrorism and atrocious tendencies in man. How can one say that man has progressed? Our rishis and Bhagwan Swaminarayan have wonderfully guided us for inner progress. Our great sages, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj have experienced happiness in God. The great acharyas (Shankracharya, Ramanujacharya, etc.) have carried out their mission with their priority and allegiance to God. Amidst all the pain and tribulation in life they remained undisturbed and unaffected. The rishis had acquired all the faculties of knowledge but they believed that the divine knowledge of God was supreme. If one keeps God then one willl get everything.
"It has beeen said 'Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitaha'. In protecting Dharma, one is protected by Dharma. If you look after your money, then the money will look after you. If you maintain your clothes then they will protect your body. Likewise, by preserving our values and our culture, we are protected by them. This is our wealth. Children are our wealth too. When children go morally astray so many parents are left in grief. But the sad consequences arise because they are not looked after in the first place! Bhagwan Swaminarayan had established mandirs and initiated sadhus to preserve and protect values and through them guided people onto the path of Dharma. Mandirs, scriptures and sadhus are the three protectors of culture.
"For the establishment of a mandir here in Delhi, Yogiji Maharaj used to write letters to Chandrakantbhai Trivedi (a devotee). At that time the Lieutenant Governer was Shri Jagmohan. Yogiji Maharaj had sent a garland for him and wrote a letter, saying, 'Garland the Saheb, the land will be granted.' It was Yogiji Maharaj's vision to have a mandir on the banks of the Yamuna. And so due to his wish, this land has been acquired. Whoever comes here will be redeemed. People not only of this world, but of the whole universe will come and avail of this. Yogiji Maharaj's wish will be definitely fulfilled.
"God will redeem all those who have come here, done darshan of the Shilanyas ceremony and helped in any way. Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj will be extremely happy upon everyone. We pray to Maharaj to redeem all. We also pray that the construction of Akshardham be completed as early as possible and supremely and may the bells toll."
The assembly was attended by 3000 devotees and well wishers.