Bhagwan Swaminarayan established the Swaminarayan faith and renewed the ideals of Hinduism in 18th century India. He established a spiritual way of life and code of conduct to be followed. ‘Satsang’ is the word used by Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s followers to describe the process of associating with God and the guru to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Literally, ‘sat’ and ‘sang’ in Sanskrit mean ‘association with the truth.’ Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s followers are commonly referred to as ‘satsangis’ as they identify with Swaminarayan satsang.
Satsangis live their daily lives in accordance with a righteous code of conduct, or dharma, which is defined by the Swaminarayan scriptures as well as by the living guru. As explained by Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016), “Paraspar preeti prasaravey te dharma,” which means, “That [code of conduct] which increases love and peace is worthy of being called dharma.”
The central religious tenet for BAPS satsangis is bhakti, or devotion to God. Bhakti, when combined with dharma, gnan (spiritual knowledge), and vairagya (detachment), leads to one becoming an ideal devotee, or an ekantik bhakta. This is achieved in the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha by devoting oneself to God as per the example set by the guru. The guru is the ideal bhakta of God; hence, the guru guides spiritual aspirants on the path to spiritual bliss, a state that he enjoys continuously.