The day of Vasant Panchmi dawned in all its auspiciousness. The highlight of the day would be the accomplishment of Yogiji Maharaj's dream - a mandir on the banks of the river Yamuna. At 6.00 a.m. the abhishek rituals were performed on the murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj by the senior sadhus - Mahant Swami, Dr. Swami, Kothari Swami, Tyagvallabh Swami, Ishwarcharan Swami and Viveksagar Swami.
At 6.30 a.m., Swamishri commenced his morning puja on the main stage. Simultaneously the diksha rituals of six youths were being performed. After Swamishri's puja, the youths, five of whom are American citizens and one a British citizen, were given the customary new kanthi, janoi, upper cloth and pagh by the senior sadhus and Swamishri applied chandan and gave them the guru mantra and their new name. The six newly initiated parshads, three of whom are the only child of their parents, were given new names as follows: Vipul Patel, A.B. (Harvard) - Vyas Bhagat; Ronak Shelat, PhD (Pharmacy) - Prabhakar Bhagat; Parmanand Jani, BS (Comp.) - Kapil Bhagat; Nikhil Patel, BS (Comp.) - Patanjali Bhagat; Bhavesh Patel, ACC - Kanad Bhagat; Amit Patel, BSc. - Gautam Bhagat.
Finally, Swamishri blessed the assembly, "Today is Vasant Panchmi. It is the best of all days. Today, God will be installed in the capital and bless all with peace. It is also a great occasion today because these boys have taken diksha. They have all come after accomplishing their brilliant studies. They have not become sadhus because they were poor or unable to earn a living. Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj had initiated intelligent sadhus. Yogiji Maharaj initiated 51 educated young youths into the sadhu-fold like Mahant Swami, Dr. Swami, Ishwar Swami, Viveksagar Swami, Siddheshwar Swami, Kothari Swami and Tyagvallabh Swami during the Kalash Mahotsav in Gadhada. Swami felt that alongwith the building of mandirs we should also have educated 'living mandirs' (sadhus) so that satsang can be inspired and spread in every village. Through mandirs, satsang and devotees are nourished spiritually. Sadhus inspire purity, piety and consolidate faith in people. They are like a flowing river that benefits countless people. Such sadhus lived in the times of Shriji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and are present even today. And there are many who are the only child of their parents. We compliment their parents. It is indeed very great on the part of these boys, who were educated by their parents in America and could have earned handsome salaries, to give up everything. There are so many worldly attractions, that it is difficult to give up everything especially when one has lived in a materialistic and luxurious society. But they received values, satsang and God's refuge from their parents. So, they did not get swept away by the external influences during their academic years and observed the moral disciplines. We know of the college atmosphere where eating, drinking and everything takes place, yet they were not touched by them and remained determined to get diksha here today. This is a very big thing. May they imbibe dharma, gnan, vairagya, bhakti and infinite virtues, offer their services to Maharaj and become brahmarup and happy. Congratulations to their parents for giving away their only son. You have given them to God so He is yours. You have not given them to a place where they will be lost and confounded. You have placed them at the refuge of God and thus they will redeem countless people. If your son was at home, then he would redeem only one but now he will liberate many. You must feel happy and strong. It is difficult to give away one's only son. It is natural for the father to feel the separation and the mother has immense love for her son. Such mothers have offered their sons with joy, which is a very great thing! It is difficult for such a thing to happen in this day and age. But due to the wish of Shriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj one is blessed with such noble thoughts. The youths who have taken diksha today are all from abroad; from London and America where there is an abundance of material pleasures. They have left that and come here. We have given them saffron clothes. So now there are no joys of materialism. Whatever joy to be experienced is that of God, spiritual discourses and bhajan. May they be happy with the bliss of Maharaj and may their devotion increase and intensify. May Maharaj grant their parents with inner strength. To those who are present here may Maharaj consolidate satsang in their souls and spiritual discourses become a part of their lives. May there be a financially conducive climate in your jobs and businesses. And may there be nothing other than the thought about God in your minds, 'Tamari murti vina mara nath re biju mane apsho ma…'
"We should strive to attain the divine joy of God. Like Dada Khachar who had surrendered his wealth, home and family to God, we too, have such devotees of faith and sacrifice today. And this is why they sacrifice their educated children (to become sadhus); and in addition they offer wealth and physical services. They have surrendered everything to God. I pray that such strength is bestowed upon you all."
Everyone was honoured to have witnessed the elevating diksha occasion. Thereafter, Swamishri inaugurated two audio cassette publications by Swaminarayan Aksharpith, Aj mare orde re… and Samasya and Samadhan, and a print publication Karmasiddhant ane Punarjanma by Brahmadarshan Swami.
Murti-pratishtha ceremony: 6-2-03:- The murti-pratishtha rituals commenced at 8.00 a.m. amidst the Vedic chantings of Parmanandbhai Shastri and Brahmin pundits. The beautifully carved marble mandir was the centre of attraction. The mandir mandovar (outer wall of the sanctum sanctorum) has 35 exquisite murtis of paramhansas and devotees. The ceilings are decorated with different carved designs. The ornate doors of the sanctum and its marble frame, main dome and pillars are aesthetically stunning. The white intricately designed shikhars and the golden kalashes and flags are a divine and inspiring sight.
The mandir dome echoed with Vedic mantras, and at 8.55 a.m., Swamishri entered the sanctum. Devotees from India and abroad were engaged in the pratishtha rituals under the dome. Swamishri performed the invocation rituals in the murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj - the same murtis that were first installed at the Hari mandir in Gujarat Vihar eight years ago. When Swamishri held the mirror before the murtis, the entire congregation broke into loud chantings of "Swaminarayan, Swaminarayan…" Thereafter, Swamishri performed the first pujan of the murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Ghanshyam Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj with chandan and offered his respects to them. The pratishtha was the fulfillment of Yogiji Maharaj's wish to consecrate a mandir on the banks of the river Yamuna. Swamishri performed the pujan of the murtis of Yogiji Maharaj established in a shrine by the main dome and Mahant Swami performed pujan of the murti of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in another shrine by the main dome. In the kodi mandap, outside the main mandir sanctum, Swamishri performed the pratishtha pujan of Shri Ganapatiji and Shri Hanumanji. After the arrangement of annakut, Swamishri performed the pratishtha arti of Thakorji adorned in beautiful clothes and ornaments. After mantra pushpanjali and prayer rituals the pratishtha rituals were completed. Swamishri offered prostrations to the deities and departed to the assembly hall for the pratishtha assembly. During the murti-pratishtha rituals devotees in the assembly hall listened to discourses by Viveksagar Swami and Anandswarup Swami.
Murti-pratishtha assembly: 6-2-03:- The historic pratishtha assembly commenced with the Swaminarayan dhun and a bhajan written by Aksharjivan Swami "Yamuna tat pai raj mandir…" and sung by Vishwaswarup Swami,
Premvadan Swami and Shukmuni Swami. An inspiring discourse was delivered by Dr. Swami. Atmaswarup Swami delivered a speech in English welcoming the guests and audience on this memorable occasion. Thereafter, Swamishri, the inspirer of the mandir, was honoured with a garland by Mahant Swami. The stage guests were also garlanded and welcomed by Mahant Swami, namely, Deputy Prime Minister of India Shri L. K. Advani, former Finance Minister and leader of the opposition party in the Rajya Sabha Shri Manmohansingh, Lieutenant Governor of New Delhi Shri Vijay Kapoor, Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendra- bhai Modi, Former High Commissioner of England and constitution expert Shri L. M. Singhvi, MP in the House of Commons, UK, Mr. Barry Gardiner, Union Minister Shri Dr. Vallabh Kathiriya, Law Minister of Gujarat Shri Ashokbhai Bhatt, Health Minister of Rajasthan and popular leader Shri Madhavsinh Diwan, Minister for India's water grid project Shri Suresh Prabhu.
A welcome dance "Swagatam, shubh swagatam" was performed by kishores. Then, the invited guests expressed their feelings about the occasion. Mr. Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent, UK, opined, "The Neasden mandir cannot be compared to the Taj Mahal because the latter is a monument to death whereas the mandir is a monument to life." Mr. Gardiner's address was received with thunderous applause from the audience. Shri L. M. Singhvi described Swamishri's making of Akshardham as a revolutionary symbol of spiritual literacy. Shri Narendra Modi praised Swamishri as a great disciple and a great guru. Lieutenant Governor Shri Vijay Kapoor said that he was privileged to have been of help in this project. The former Finance Minister and leader of the opposition party in the Rajya Sabha Shri Manmohansingh expressed that in Swamishri's divine personality and work lay the secret of the survival and flourishment of Indian Culture. The Deputy Prime Minister of India Shri L.K. Advani commented that since he was elected from Gandhinagar he was the representative of Akshardham in Parliament. He lauded the Swaminarayan mandir in Neasden, London, and appreciated Swamishri's efforts in spreading the glory of Indian culture. Every address by the dignitaries was enthusiastically received with applause from the audience.
The pratishtha assembly was crowned with Swamishri's blessings in which he appreciated the stage guests and spoke about the divine power in Yogiji Maharaj's wish. Swamishri said, "We are all blessed on this auspicious day. Through the grace and blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj this grand work has been accomplished. It was Yogiji Maharaj's deep desire to have a mandir built here. In every letter, he wrote to Chandrakantbhai and Kishorebhai, 'We want to build a mandir on the banks of the river Yamuna. Meet the Governor Saheb.' And since then ten Governors had ruled and left (and no land was acquired), but one who is blessed gets the benefit of this service. Today we read a letter by Yogiji Maharaj, 'Take this letter and meet the Governor Saheb and we will get three acres of land.' But then Swamishri passed away and 30 years had gone by. Then through the wish of Yogiji Maharaj we have acquired a vast area of land.
"Yogiji Maharaj had desired that the mandir be built on the banks of the river Yamuna. In every letter he wrote about the banks of Yamuna. Finally he wrote, 'The mandir will be made on the banks of the Yamuna and the bells of glory will toll.' And so this land was acquired. Kapoor Saheb is the eleventh Governor and the land was acquired in his tenure - this too is due to the wish of Yogiji Maharaj. One who is blessed gets such a service.
This land is suitable for everyone. There are roads on all four sides and the grand river Yamuna. Hundreds of thousands of people will come here. They will have darshan of our culture and values.
"In this world man has progressed immensely. He has landed on the moon. There will still be more progress. But along with material advancement the progress in character and values is very essential. When there is spiritual development alongwith material progress then one's life becomes fragrant. And such progress brings peace and happiness. Otherwise, 'I'-ness and 'Mine'-ness create obstacles and rob us of happiness. Hence spirituality is the root of life. If you do not have the roots then everything is useless. A tree develops and grows because of its roots. If there are no roots then the tree has no branches, leaves or fruits. Our roots lie in spirituality. The more one develops spiritually, the better one's work becomes; be it for the family, society or country.
"Having faith in God is essential. Spirituality is seeing God in everyone. Yogiji Maharaj saw God in everyone and therefore he had no distinctions. He loved all. When one attains the divine vision of atma, all external distinctions disappear and one loves everyone. And this love brings one peace and happiness.
"God is the all-doer. He has created this world
and all forms of happiness are derived from Him. We are able to move and work because He resides within us. Without Him nothing can be done by ourselves. Without realising our atma or understanding the presence of God within, we shall experience the void of unfulfillment in our works and spiritual endeavours. By realising the knowledge of atma one will experience fulfillment of peace. Bhagwan Swaminarayan descended on earth with this knowledge of 'Nijãtmãnam brahmarupam...' When you realise the knowledge that you are atma then you will become free from the veil of maya. In the Gita Shri Krishna Bhagwan instructs Arjun, Sarva dharmãn parityajya... - give up your resolves and do as I say and take refuge in me. God has said, 'You will not be able to swim the ocean of maya no matter how much efforts you make.' Therefore, 'Mãmeva ye prapadyante...' 'You take my refuge. Do what I say and you will find peace.' This is the instruction God gave.
"Shrijji Maharaj has said, 'I am not pleased through any means other than satsang.' And satsang means a true Satpurush. When you associate with him you get true knowledge. Otherwise, without him, you go through conflicts in life. Today, this is the work of Satpurushes like Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. We feel happy when such a place for them has been made. I pray for peace in India and the world. May we strive to usher progress in India through spirituality and noble thoughts. May our values be consolidated in each and every person in India and there be peace in Delhi. I pray that Advaniji, Atalji and all politicians be successful in their civic works and that India progresses tremendously."
Swamishri's blessings were received with generous applause from all the dignitaries, devotees and well-wishers. Thereafter, Dharmavatsal Swami and sadhus residing in Delhi draped Swamishri in a shawl with the shlokas of the Shikshapatri written on it - prepared by the women's wing of Delhi. Then the newly initiated parshads from abroad sought Swamishri's blessings. Their sacrifice was appreciated by the dignitaries and the assembly of devotees. Swamishri then blessed all the stage guests with a shawl and the assembly concluded with a group photo of Swamishri and the dignitaries.
Altogether 7,700 devotees had attended the pratishtha assembly. The two-day festival was memorable and elevating. Everyone departed with golden memories etched in their hearts and with the resolve to be present during the inauguration of Akshardham.