The Vachanamrut is a sacred scripture containing the divine discourses of Bhagwan Swaminarayan delivered between 1819 and 1829. Throughout 2019, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK and across Europe has been celebrating the Vachanamrut’s bicentennial anniversary with a weekly study course in various formats.
On the weekend of 14-15 December 2019, thousands of devotees gathered at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, to celebrate 200 glorious years of the Vachanamrut. This event marked the pinnacle of the year-long celebrations in the UK and Europe through a theatrical production, ‘The Vachanamrut: An Unexpected Journey’.
With moving props, animated backdrops, musical numbers, detailed sets and an information- and entertainment-packed seven-act playscript, a team of more than 160 performers and crew brought to life the key messages of the Vachanamrut in a mesmerising three-and-a-half-hour production.
The story is based on a boy called Tilak, who follows a secret agent on a mission to discover Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Through his dreams, Tilak relives the divine discourses of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. In present day, Tilak encounters ups and downs and through his dream state, he grasps the answers to his problems. He ultimately realises he is dreaming about the Vachanamrut and it leads him to recognise an all-encompassing purpose of life.
Between each act, swamis helped to consolidate the main messages from the drama. Referencing the Vachanamrut, they spoke about the authenticity of the scripture, how the paramhansas and devotees were attracted to Bhagwan Swaminarayan through his divine personality, his timeless teachings and how to overcome bad habits through introspection, and believing the atma to be our true identity. Swamis also highlighted the importance of dradh priti (profound love) towards the Gunatit Satpurush and how everyone must strive for his rajipo to fulfil our own lofty purpose of securing spiritual liberation. Making this practical for everyone to apply, Mahant Swami Maharaj said in his video blessings, “For every action, ask yourself one question: Is Maharaj raji? Is Swami raji?”
In conclusion, whilst holding the Vachanamrut, Mahant Swami Maharaj added: “All the information you need is right here!”
The thousands of devotees who gathered over the two days were awed by the production, and showed their appreciation with rapturous applause in an emotional and emphatic ending.
After the celebration, a youth from Loughborough shared, “It was by far one of the best productions I have ever seen. Definitely worth the journey down to London. Fantastic!”
A devotee from London added, “Congratulations to everyone involved in putting together this wonderful production. It was contemporary yet traditional and it weaved a central message with clarity and creativity. Having produced and distributed TV content all over the world with professional paid staff, I was left humbled by how this superb production was delivered all out of seva [voluntary service] by such young volunteers.”