After a decades-long wait for this joyous moment, the consecration ceremony for the central sanctum of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham took place on the morning of October 8, 2023. This final ceremony installing the sacred divine image of Bhagwan Swaminarayan to take a permanent home on this now holy land in Robbinsville, New Jersey was much anticipated by thousands across the world.
Nearly three decades ago, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj had expressed a divine wish to build the Akshardham Mahamandir in North America. He had blessed the project over the years from India and made a historic journey to sanctify the land during his final spiritual tour in 2014, at the age of 93. In a land purifying ceremony, Pramukh Swami placed a sanctified pot within the ground at the exact location where the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan would be installed today, nine years later by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.
On this morning’s occasion, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami reminded everyone of the letter His Holiness penned and read Saturday night to all the volunteers who selflessly served in the making of Swaminarayan Akshardham. Such sincere and love-filled words filled the letter from a humble guru, promising that he will remember the thousands across the globe during the aarti of this momentous ceremony. Mahant Swami Maharaj reiterated over the past couple of days the sentiment that it is our great fortune to have this indescribable landmark here in America, however, there is more significance in instilling the values represented by Akshardham within our hearts and lives.
Swaminarayan Akshardham represents the abode of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, preserves Hindu values, and aims to inspire all to live an elevated approach to life.
Pujya Swayamprakashdas Swami (Doctor Swami) emphasized the immeasurable value of Swaminarayan Akshardham. Giving the example of how kings of the past built grand monuments with their infinite wealth, he drew the paradox that the wealth of building Akshardham was spiritual in nature. In America, 12,500 volunteers came to immerse themselves in difficult seva (selfless service), perfectly, for two years; this was a labor of love and service. Their firm conviction in Swaminarayan Bhagwan is so ingrained into every stone of Akshardham, that all who come to Akshardham will see their faith in this mahamandir. Doctor Swami explained that though we have built Akshardham, the main message is to become like God’s ideal devotee Gunatitanand Swami who has taught us how to become an ideal devotee ourselves.
This sacred ceremony to awaken the life within the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan is a deeply spiritual tradition. By immersing his eyes, heart, mind and soul into the sacred image of God before him, Mahant Swami Maharaj attentively and lovingly carried out the various components of the ritual, according to ancient scriptures and tradition. Simultaneously, Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami performed the ceremony for the murti of God’s divine devotee, Gunatitanand Swami. The ceremony included invocation mantras and blessing different parts of the murtis, which signify bringing to life God’s compassionate use of his being for the benefit of his devotees. This ceremony is not merely symbolic, as it also awakens the divinity we see and feel within God’s murti.
Prior to his arrival, Mahant Swami Maharaj wrote another letter on this occasion. In his blessings, Mahant Swami Maharaj read the letter to those present and watching virtually recounting a prarthna he wrote. He recalled the inner wish Pramukh Swami Maharaj held for decades that now has come to fruition. Even through the hardships, to see this Akshardham brings inner happiness. He said the same Bhagwan Swaminarayan along with his Aksharbhram present in God’s abode is the same present here. He spoke on the importance of unity saying it’s the foundation of any unit and prays that it grows across the world. He spoke on the divinity of this Akshardham experience and prayed for peace and happiness to all.
Today’s ultimate display of devotion to one’s guru coincides with the equally auspicious occasion of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s birth anniversary falling in the Hindu calendar. As such, the senior swamis offered beautiful flower garlands to Mahant Swami Maharaj on behalf of the devotees spread across not only the North American continent but across the globe.