Establishing an eternal path of faith in God, a program “Celebrating Sanatana Dharma” welcomed 400 Hindu faiths and organizations to collectively honor timeless values of peace, harmony and unity set by ancient Hindu scriptures at the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey on September 30, 2023.
This is the first in a series of programs that will culminate in the grand opening of the Swaminarayan Akshardham, a living embodiment of the principles rooted in the ancient scriptures. Sanatan Dharma is the spiritual journey one takes in a lifetime to live by universal values that embrace the great diversity of beliefs about God, the universe, and one’s personal path to moksha, or ultimate salvation.
Sadguru Pujya Viveksagardas Swami began the program with the history of how Sanatan Dharma has carried on in India, even through the test of times. Thereafter, Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami showcased how Bhagwan Swaminarayan continued to establish the practice of Sanatan Dharma through his spiritual travels, teachings and consolidation of key lessons from sacred Hindu texts. Through the tradition of guru parampara, we benefit today in our own spiritual journeys from the pure and dharma-centric lives of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Mahāmahopādhyāya Pujya Bhadreshdas Swami stressed the importance of the shastras, or Hindu scriptures that offer wisdom that will carry beyond generations. Highlighting the numerous shastras prominent in Hindu faith such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas, Satsang Disksha, and more, Swami Bhadreshdas said that although shastras are often minimized, the divine spiritual-realized swami is the living embodiment of them, and have helped guide generations of families live a moral-based life.
Many leaders of Hindu organizations conveyed their perspectives on the program theme of “Celebrating Sanatana Dharma.” Award-winning poet, author and founder of the Vedic Academy of Science and Arts, Mr. Jeffrey Armstrong, said, “I am convinced, ladies and gentlemen, this is the mothership of Vedic vidya (knowledge). This is the beginning of the next phase of the Vedic renaissance, of the Vedic Sanatana Dharma culture, worldwide.” Pujya Swami Mukundananda Ji, founder of Jagadguru KripaluJi Yog said, “We are so happy to have 400 organizations of our Sanatana Dharma gather here to celebrate the accomplishment of one of our organizations, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sampraday. We honor the devotion in their hearts. We take inspiration from their guru bhakti. This message of unity within diversity and diversity within unity is the special gift of our Hindu faith to the world.”
Swami Govinddev Giri, overwhelmed with excitement upon seeing Swaminarayan Akshardham, addressed the audience by expounding upon the significance of Akshardham being constructed in America, a far away land from the home of Sanatan Dharma. “Through deep faith and conviction this mandir has been built that will benefit all Hindus present here and beyond. There are many seers, swamis, countless deities, unique traditions and rituals and different languages amongst India, but Hindu dharma is the realization of this diversity.”
In his blessings, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “The work of creating mandirs is an extension of Sanatana Dharma, especially when it is paired with sacrifice. With this sentiment, Pramukh Swami Maharaj often said the pinnacles of Sanatana Dharma are the divine sant, mandirs and ancient scriptures. His divine vision was to build Swaminarayan Akshardham to cement Sanatana Dharma for generations to come, while living his life’s motto ‘In the Joy of Others Lies Our Own.’” He concluded with prayers that all present can serve society by standing upon the principles of our Sanatana Dharma and reminding everyone that Akshardham is for all.
Also in attendance were Dr. Tony Nader, Head of International Transcendental Meditation; Padma Bhushan Shri Ved Nanda, Chairman of Hindu University of America; Dr. Jai Bansal, Vice President of Education for Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America; and Shradhay Swami Swatmananda.
Throughout the ten-day inaugural ceremonies, Akshardham Mahotsav will celebrate the significant aspects of the mahamandir, and the universal values upon which it was constructed.