1 November 2005 (V.S. 2061, Aso vad 30) Tuesday, New Delhi; Diwali
Guest Opinion: Dr Faizal Zeerah, President and CEO of International Hospital, Bahrain, opined, “I had seen the place a year ago and I have seen it today and there are no words that I can use to describe it. I have seen love expressed in its most glorious picture and I have seen devotion to a cause, to a principle which is overwhelming.
“Pramukh Swami is somebody that all of us love and adore. He has changed people’s lives, including my own and many others by touching their lives with his love, affection and his dedication to make this place a better world. And this monument – that he is the force behind – talks a lot about Pramukh Swami more than anybody can describe.”
Nutan Varsh (New Year's Day)
2 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 1) Wednesday, New Delhi; New Year’s Day
Swamishri performed his morning puja on the New Year’s Day on the festival stage. The senior sadhus honored Swamishri with garlands. Thereafter Swamishri delivered his blessings for the New Year, “This festival is being celebrated with the grace of God and the wish of Yogiji Maharaj. Akshardham is simply wonderful. It cannot be described. The sadhus and devotees from India and abroad have served immensely through body and mind. We should be indebted to Yogiji Maharaj, because if he had not wished then we would not have been able to do it. Because he wished it to be grand we were able to accomplish it.
“Maharaj has said that we should write accounts about how much we have progressed, performed bhakti and pleased God. We have not to regress but to progress. We must believe that we are brahmarup and that we are atma. This will give us all the fruits. A profound attachment with the Satpurush blesses us with atma-darshan and God’s darshan. Do not look at the faults of others.”
At 11.30 am Swamishri arrived before Thakorji where a grand annakut was arranged. Swamishri joined in the singing of thal with the sadhus. At 12.00 noon he performed the annakut arti.
Guest Opinion: Sri Sri Sri Ravishankar, Head of The Art of Living Foundation, said, “I think Akshardham is a living example that this ancient culture is very much alive and so very beautiful. It is very educative, informative and skillfully sculpted – and that, too, done in such a short period of time! What inspiration can do is shown here.”
Shri V.J. Kapoor, Former Lieutenant Governor of New Delhi, spoke appreciatively, “Today has been an eye-opener because I just could not imagine that a thing of this beauty, this serenity could have been created in such a short time and I think it adds a new dimension to Delhi.
“In terms of architecture I don’t think sculpting of this quality has been undertaken in recent times anywhere.
“Pramukh Swami is a person who ignites you with enthusiasm. I think he is a fountain of hope, forward movement and I know that many precious efforts had to be aborted here. But he persistently went on for years and finally this place was organized. The kind of encouragement that radiates from him, I think, is a source of great strength to the people around him and people who come in contact with him.”
L.M.Singhvi, Former High Commissioner of India in UK, eloquently expressed, “I think Akshardham represents today an ideal of the heritage of India. It represents excellence at its best. It represents the values of human life and the larger sense of humanity and the oneness of humanity. And that humanity is one family. ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ is the underlying ideal of the heritage of India, and Akshardham represents its quintessence in the most beautiful manner.
“Akshardham in Delhi is the gift of a great rishi, a great seer, a great sage, a great visionary and a great pupil of a great master. He has carved into this beautiful form, the message and legacy of his preceptor, his teacher and his master. He has translated it in stone. This is not one poem in stone. This is a million poems in stone. One of the great epics of India is Akshardham. That is why I consider this the greatest pilgrimage of the truth, the good and the beautiful. There is no place other than Akshardham where the truth, the good and the beautiful are combined so beautifully.
“Akshardham represents the highest level of creativity and the highest level of Divine consciousness in the human heart, in the human mind and in the human soul. Here is the confluence of mind, the body, the heart and the soul. This confluence creates a sense of the sacred.”
3 November 2005 (V.S. 2061, Kartak sud 2) Thursday, New Delhi
The evening assembly was held to felicitate BAPS sadhus, volunteers, craftsmen and all those who had helped in the creation of Swaminarayan Akshardham. Their tremendous service and sacrifice were recognized and appreciated as each principal member involved in the project came on stage to receive a memento and the blessings of Swamishri.
On behalf of BAPS Mahant Swami and Dr Swami garlanded Swamishri who was the inspirer and creator of the entire complex. Ishwarcharan Swami, the coordinator of the entire project, also garlanded Swamishri and received his blessings.
In his blessings Swamishri said, “Akshardham complex has been accomplished through the wish of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Yogiji Maharaj. All credit goes to Maharaj, Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. Everyone involved in the project has not seen day or night while serving. Regardless of discomfort you have all performed your services with glory and feelings. Mementos have been received by all those who have served, but even if countless more were to be given to you it would still be inadequate. The sadhus who have served will be blessed with peace in their hearts. Yogiji Maharaj’s formula was samp, suhrudbhav and ekta. When any work is done with these sentiments then the impossible can become possible. Akshardham has been accomplished through the unity and determination of sadhus and devotees. Everyone, residing in India and abroad, had performed austerities, pilgrimages and other spiritual endeavors for the early completion of Akshardham. All wellwishers who have contributed be blessed with the attainment of Akshardham.”
Guests: H.H. Sadguru Bodinath Veylan Swami, Head of Himalayan Academy, Hawaii, opined, “An excellent combination of traditional Indian architecture and modern technology in exhibits and film to convey the greatness and values of national and regional lines.”
4 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 3), Friday, New Delhi
At 10.25 am Swamishri arrived on the festival stage to give diksha to sadhaks and parshads into the parshad and bhagvati fold respectively. Swamishri gave the guru mantra and the senior sadhus gave kanthi, upper cloth and pagh to the newly initiated. The occasion became sublime with the singing of “Halo Juvanada Harivar Varva Helo Padyo’. Swamishri finally blessed the assembly, “To renounce home is very difficult. But due to the glory of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj the youths have taken diksha to worship God. It is indeed a great thing. Appreciations to their parents for giving their educated boys for diksha. The youths will inspire satsang in hundreds of thousands of people.”
As part of the murti-pratishtha ceremony of the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and guru parampara a yagna was initiated. The yagna fire was lit with the flame brought from Chhapaiya and Chansad. Swamishri offered rice grains and ghee into the yagna kund. Thereafter Swamishri blessed the gathering.
Guest Opinion: Shri Raghunathan, Chief Secretary of Delhi State, stated, “I am totally humbled by what I saw. When I see every part of this Dham, each part is telling me about what a tradition we have imbibed, that we have inherited, and how precious this tradition is to us.”
Smt. Sheela Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi, voiced, “It is something extraordinary. I have never experienced anything like this. I am still trying to recover from the impact it has left. It is really marvellous. Not only is it an extraordinary marvel of architecture, but there is spirituality, devotion, and faith that comes out of a visit to this structure.”
Shri Bawa Jain, Secretary General of the World Council of Religious Leaders, reflected, “I don’t think words can describe this experience. One really has to come here because whatever you see in photographs is just not enough for the vibration that you feel. If everybody can have this experience, I am sure and absolutely convinced there can be a deep transformation. This moves you to the core.”
Sam Cardon, World renowned Music Composer, Music Director of Neelkanth Yatra, was overwhelmed and said, “I have seen extraordinary sites, ancient temples – but something on this scale with architecture that is thousands of years old, in today’s world is just extraordinary. I can’t imagine anything that is its equal. And the fact that it’s been achieved by people who are devoted, and, I think, extraordinarily creative and organized – I mean just the logistical part of it – it just seems like an impossibility. And yet, it has been done with such a great spirit of cooperation. I just think it is an extraordinary achievement. I really applaud what has been done here.”
4 November 2005
On 4 November 2005 the pratishtha rituals commenced in the presence of Kothari Swami and Tyagvallabh Swami from 8.30 am to 10.30 am. From 10.30 am to 11.30 am Swamishri performed the Vastu Puja rituals, kund puja, yantrastha puja and pithastha dev puja at the kund in Swaminarayan Akshardham.
The yagna kund was lit by Swamishri with the torches brought by BAPS youths from Chhapaiya, Bochasan and Chansad. Thereafter the yagna commenced inside the Swaminarayan Akshardham monument.
From 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm senior sadhus performed the pithpuja (the base for the murtis) and other rituals
which concluded with the arti.
5 November 2005
In the morning the holy water from Narayan Sarovar was brought in 101 pots by 101 female volunteers to the Bhakti Mandapam in Swaminarayan Nagar. Here, from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon, replicas of the murtisof Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Guru Parampara and the deities were placed in small kunds of water (jaladhivaas), grains and ghee. Meanwhile Brahmin pundits poured ghee in the yagna kund to the accompaniment of Vedic mantras. At 10.30 am a traditional, colourful procession was taken out from the Bhakti Mandapam to the Swaminarayan Akshardham monument. Replicas of the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and other deities were placed in decorated floats. More than 350 sadhus participated in the procession. On reaching the inner sanctum of Swaminarayan Akshardham monument, the divinity conferred to the replica of murtis through worship rituals in the yagnashala was transferred through the chanting of mantras into pots filled with water. This holy water was then ritually poured on the original murtisinstalled in the sanctum to imbue them with divinity.
From 4.00 pm to 6.30 pm the juices of different fruits and herbs contained in 49 copper pots were ritually poured on the murtis by Mahant Swami. At 6.30 pm the holy water was ritually poured on the five golden kalashes installed on the monument shikhars. A ritual for protection of the monument
was also performed through the chanting of appropriate mantras. Finally a 1½ hour invocation ritual of the natural elements into the murtis was performed.
God – The Doer
5 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 4) Saturday, New Delhi
Harshadbhai Chavda, a devotee who had dedicatedly offered his services in the Akshardham project told Swamishri, “Swami, you have showered your blessings and joy upon us. Though my service was a trifle, yet I am proud with joy like a dog that walks beneath a cart feeling that the cart is rolling because of him.”
Swamishri advised, “You should have the spiritual understanding that God has done everything.”
Harshadbhai added, “I am overjoyed on hearing the lavish praises given by dignitaries after their visit. I was thinking how much joyful it must be on hearing them.”
Swamishri replied, “You must believe that whatever you have done was through the instructions of Maharaj and Swami. Swami has inspired service through all. Thousands will benefit and be inspired thereof. Whatever is done is done by Maharaj and Swami. If this is understood firmly in one’s soul then one will not become egotistic. Or else, one gets the airs in one’s head and feels that he has done it.”
Harshad prayed, “May you bless me that I do not become arrogant.”
Swamishri replied, “Always believe that you have been able to do it through the grace of God.”
6 November 2005: Murti-Ppratishtha at Swaminarayan Akshardham On 6 November the murti-pratishtha ceremony
of the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Guru Parampara and the deities in the sanctum of Swaminarayan Akshardham was the climax of all the rituals. Invoking of the
Divine into the murtis would inspire reverence in the hearts of devotees when they come for darshan.
At 6.45 am rituals at the small yagna kunds, arranged in eight directions on the pradakshina of Gajendra Peeth, began. At every kund a Brahmin pundit and a sadhu performed the preliminary rituals. At 7.00 am senior sadhus started the initial pratishtha rituals in the main monument. Devotees from India and abroad also participated in the rituals. At 9.25 am Swamishri arrived for the main pratishtha rituals. He sat in a chair that was anchored to a special lift that could be manually manoeuvred for the pratishtha rituals of the 11-ft high murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Prior to the pratishtha rituals, Ishwarcharan Swami, coordinator of the Akshardham project, tied an auspicious thread on Swamishri’s wrist and applied a chandlo. Then, Swamishri began to perform the pratishtha rituals. Thereafter Swamishri’s chair was elevated to a height of 11 feet before the face of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The mantras sung by the Brahmin pundits resonated in the sanctum sanctorum of
Akshardham. First, Swamishri touched the different parts of the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, from head to toe, with a gold-tipped darbh stick. Then the invocation of the Divine in every part of the murti (nyas-vidhi) was performed by Swamishri in accordance to the mantras chanted. Swamishri
also placed his right hand on the murti’s chest and chanted the Om and Gayatri mantras. This was followed by the ritual opening of the murti’s eyes by Swamishri with the touch of a darbh stick. The same pratishtha rituals were performed simultaneously on the murtis of the Guru Parampara and other deities by the senior sadhus. After offering flowers on the head of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Swamishri held a mirror before the murti’s face. During this ritual the sanctum resonated with the chanting of the Swaminarayan mantra by sadhus and devotees. The pratishtha rituals concluded with the victory calls of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Guru Parampara and the deities. The invocation of the Divine in the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Ram-Sita, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayan and Shiv-Parvatiji was complete. Then Swamishri performed pujan of all the murtis. Thereafter an annakut was arranged before the murtis and at 10.10 am Swamishri and the senior sadhus performed the pratishtha arti. This was followed by the ritual offering of flowers (mantra-pushpanjali) to the murtis and then
Swamishri blessed the devotees by showering rice grains.
After the auspicious and landmark ceremony, Swamishri was garlanded with a fragrant garland of mogra flowers by Ishwarcharan Swami. Finally, Swamishri blessed the pratishtha occasion, “Yogiji Maharaj’s wish was very strong and powerful. We have seen its realisation today. This place is vast and divine. There is God. See how wonderful the darshan is. We can have the darshan of the avatars. You can see the 500 paramhansas. Wherever you look, you see God, His devotees and muktas. Everything has been done ornately and with attention to detail. Whoever comes inside and does darshan will develop faith in God and become happy. They will become happy in the sense that their inner ignorance and darkness will be destroyed, they will become free from the cycle of life and death, be blessed with the state of brahmarup and attain Akshardham.
“Maharaj will not forget those who have served in mind, body and wealth and with feelings of glory. God never forgets those who fold their hands in respect, come with good sentiments or serve, even with lesser means. Whoever has offered services Maharaj will remember him and bless him with Akshardham.
“By the grace of God the construction has been done wonderfully. The stone was quarried in Rajasthan. Harshad Chavada has accomplished a great feat. With him was Yogesh Swami who is an engineer. The murtis we are having darshan of have been done by Bhaktinandan Swami. Ishwarcharan Swami and his team have offered their services. Devotees have performed mala, austerities, dhun, prayer and pilgrimage for the creation of this supreme mandir and to please God.
“Bhagwan Shriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj are the doers. To accomplish such a huge project is very difficult, but God lifted Mt. Govardhan and the devotees gave their support by raising their staffs. So, what we have done is merely that. The task has been accomplished through His wish and glory. Whoever
comes here will be dissolved of evil instincts, be blessed with good feelings and salvation by God.”
From 12.00 noon to 12.45 pm the senior sadhus performed the concluding rituals of homa of the pratishtha yagna.
Akshardham Dedication Ceremony
As the winter sun was setting to call it a day, a new era would unfold in its wake. History was in the making in all its eloquent epic divinity and grandeur. Swaminarayan Akshardham was adorned with garlands of flowers and was awaiting the spectacular grand finale opening ceremony. More than 20,000 devotees and volunteers from all over India and the world had taken their seats in the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex. The humongous architectural marvel resonated with years of sacrifice, service, devotion and austerities.
Sunday, 6 November 2005 (Labh Pancham V.S. 2062) marked the culmination of Yogiji Maharaj’s vision and dream of a grand mandir on the banks of the river Yamuna. The vision was crystallised by his disciple and successor HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Through his blessings, guidance, and efforts, and the dedication of BAPS sadhus, 7,000 craftsmen and 4,000 volunteers the magnificent Swaminarayan Akshardham complex was ready for its grand opening by the President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Opposition Leader Shri Lalkrishna Advani in the holy presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
At 5.00 pm, President Kalam was welcomed at the gates of Akshardham by senior BAPS sadhus. After an initial distant glimpse of the imposing monument, the President saw the boat ride exhibition on India’s glorious culture. Thereafter he viewed the giant screen presentation, Neelkanth Yatra, for five minutes. At 5.30 pm Pramukh Swami Maharaj met President Dr Kalam, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Opposition Leader Shri L.K. Advani and Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Shri B.L. Joshi at the reception centre. Then Swamishri and the guests proceeded along the main avenue towards Akshardham amidst a thunderous welcome from the audience. The dignitaries took their seats in front of the steps, facing the monument.
Then, the podium and the steps of Akshardham erupted in celebration with a dancing troupe of BAPS children dressed in the Indian tricolours rendering the welcome song, “Swagatam”. The air was charged with a traditional flavour of honour and welcome. After the national anthem, Viveksagar Swami spoke briefly about the philosophical meaning and significance of Akshardham. This was then followed by a brilliant exposition on India’s glorious culture and its contribution to the world through nine theme floats. The colourful and lively floats showed how ancient India was the forerunner in agriculture, democracy, science, mathematics, medicine, yoga, education and spirituality. As each float passed by, the Swaminarayan Akshardham monument was
appropriately illuminated in different colours.
Then, in his speech, Ishwarcharan Swami described that Akshardham was the fulfilment of Yogiji Maharaj’s dream by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Thereafter, a video film showing the main features of Swaminarayan Akshardham was screened. Swaminarayan Akshardham is a symbol of sacrifice and the labour of love of thousands of sadhus and BAPS volunteers – the fruition of 300 million man-hours of service.
To honour this spirit of Akshardham, over 700 BAPS children and teenagers offered their obeisances through a novel, cultural presentation, “Akshardham Vandate”, that symbolized the five elements of earth, water, air, fire and space. For every element the boys were dressed in appropriate costumes and performed to the special music, song and light effects. The mass participation of over 700 boys performing on the podium and steps of the monument and colonnade was very moving and scintillating. Earth was symbolized through the beating of Indian drums, water was represented by the playing of flutes and pouring of water from auspicious pots into Narayan Sarovar, fire was shown through the ringing of bells, air was depicted through the blowing of conch shells and waving of flags and space was symbolised through the chanting of the Vedic mantra, “Om dhyoho Shantihi”.
At the conclusion of the mesmeric performance Swamishri and the guests climbed up the steps to the main doors of the monument. There, at 6.15 pm the opening ceremony was performed by the President, Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and Lieutenant Governor in the sacred presence of Swamishri. Amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras the President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh untied a golden thread and pushed open the doors to enter the inner sanctum of the Swaminarayan Akshardham Monument with Swamishri. In the morning Swamishri had performed the murti-pratishtha rituals of all the murtis. The dignitaries paid their obeisances to the 11-feet high murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, the Guru Parampara and the deities of Sanatan Dharma. They were wonderstruck by the sheer size, and the ornate carvings and divinity of the inner sanctum. When they returned to the main podium of Akshardham, BAPS children were performing a traditional dance on the song, “Mangal Sahajanand Charanraj…” With Akshardham bathed in colourful lights the evening ambience
became enchanting, divine and festive.
Mahant Swami honoured the presiding guests with garlands. Thereafter Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh addressed the assembly in Hindi, “I am very happy in participating in the opening ceremony of Akshardham – a beautiful mandir and cultural complex. In the days to come this wonderful mandir and its complex will be counted as one of the principal buildings of Delhi. “Our country unifies diversities but it does not divide people. This is our history and it was also the message of Swaminarayan. He preached regrdless of caste and disapproved of thoughts that divided people.
“As I said earlier that this beautiful complex will become unique among the buildings in Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of people and devotees will come to see this from all corners of our country. After being impressed by the attractive murtis here and the peaceful, devotional atmosphere they will definitely leave morally and mentally progressed.”
The Prime Minister was honoured with a shawl and presented with a memento before departing from the assembly.
Thereafter an impressive traditional dance by children was performed on the song, “Vande Bharatmataram Akshardham
The Opposition Leader, Shri Lalkrishna Advani, spoke gloriously of Swamishri’s feat in creating Akshardham. He said, “The Reader’s Digest has mentioned the London Mandir as one of the wonders in their book 70 Wonders of the Modern World. But if the people of Reader’s Digest had seen the Akshardham in Gandhinagar then they would have definitely mentioned it in their book. …If anyon e comes to see this Akshardham that Pramukh Swami Maharaj has inaugurated today then I have no doubt that they will say that it is The Unique Wonder of the World. A distinct, matchless and amazing creation in our world. It has been rightly said that the thousands of craftsmen, sculptors and Swaminarayan devotees have given 300 million man-hours. The inspiration behind that is the spirit of sacrifice which creates a spiritual revolution in all the devotees. Wherever the Swaminarayan spirit has reached it has made society free from addictions, imbued character and inspired the spirit of sacrifice. The Swaminarayan Akshardham here is a symbol of this sacrifice.
“On this occasion today I will say that Yogiji Maharaj, an ideal sadhu of this Swaminarayan tradition, whose dream it was to have Akshardham built on the banks of Yamuna has been accomplished by Pramukh Swamiji. For this great work done by him (Pramukh Swami Maharaj) I congratulate Swamiji and offer my respects with infinite pranams at his feet.”
Thereafter the President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam addressed the assembly:
Power of Ignited Minds
“I feel I am in a different world. I am indeed delighted to participate in the dedication assembly of Swaminarayan Akshardham Cultural Complex at New Delhi in the presence of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj.
“Today, when I entered into the Akshardham Cultural Complex, I get an answer for the question, how can you mix spirituality and social service? How can you separate the two? Those who wish to sincerely serve society must be spiritually pure and only those who are spiritually pure can sincerely serve society and serve the nation.
“But who is the creator? The creator we saw in the giant film
theatre. A child wading through rivers, climbing over the snowtipped Himalayas, slips and slips and then climbs and climbs, walking across the nation and discovering cradles of India’s civilization. Who is the child? Can you remember the child? Oh!
That is the divine child, the child Swaminarayan. The spirit of the divine child entered into Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj. And we see the birth of the Akshardham, the civilizational heritage of India in dynamic form in front of us.
“Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj has inspired thousands of people across the country and abroad and brought together the best of the minds for creating a beautiful cultural complex. It has become a place of education, experience and enlightenment. It creatively blends the traditional stone art and architecture, Indian culture and civilization, ancient values and wisdom and the best of modern media and technology. Multiple layers of this complex express the strength of the mind, willpower of the human being, indomitable spirit, flowering kindness, fusion of scientific and medical talent, myriad colours of varied cultures and ultimately the power of knowledge. In essence, it is a dynamic complex with lively images.
“Now, Akshardham has happened at the dawn of 21st century with the commitment and dedication of one million volunteers (devotees). What has happened today at Akshardham inspires me and gives me the confid ence that ‘We can do it’.
The realization of developed India is certainly possible before 2020 with the millions of ignited minds like you.
Conclusion – Oath for Our Nation’s Prosperity
“Now I would like to administer the oath, which I have designed for this occasion with the blessings of His Holiness Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj. Friends, are you ready to repeat with me?
1. When I see Akshardham, an integrated complex of ancient Indian civilizational heritage, I am inspired and feel proud to be an Indian. I will preserve and nurture it.
2. Journey through Akshardham gives me the confidence that ‘I can do it, I can do it’. I will apply this in all my actions towards national development.
3. I realize that nation building is an integrated mission of two components that is
spiritual awakening and economic development. I will pursue both
4. With the foundation of spiritual awakening gained from Akshardham, now my mission will be to enrich the nation hrough commissioning of 1000 Akshardham
PURAs (Providing Urban Facilities in Rural Areas) in different parts of the country within the next 5 years under the inspirational leadership of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj.
5. I will direct all my efforts and knowledge to make India a knowledge society with our ancient civilizational heritage, value system and make India economically strong, prosperous, safe and a peaceful nation within the next 10 years.
“My best wishes to all the members of Swaminarayan Akshardham for success in their missions of promoting spirituality and social service. My respects and reverence to Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj and his team. May God bless you.”
Finally, Swamishri blessed the dedication assembly in Hindi, describing the brief life and redemptory work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Then he added, “Yogiji Maharaj had wished that a mandir be built on the banks of the Yamuna. The mandir was not accomplished in his presence, but due to his blessings it has been realized today. Yogiji Maharaj had compassion and love for all in his heart. Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shastriji Maharaj have preached that one should love all regardless of caste distinctions. When one counters hate with hate then there is no peace. By offering love hatred will be removed and there will be peace. Such was the love of Yogiji Maharaj. Through the prophecy of Yogiji Maharaj such a place has been made. Anyone who sees it experiences peace and inspiration in his heart. Akshardham has been built because it was Yogiji Maharaj’s wish. It was his sentiment that through this Dham people be inspired and awakened with character, peace, spirit of nationalism, family values and redemption in life.
“In building Akshardham there is no motive of rivalry with others. The sentiments of a spiritual person are to wish for the good of all, moksha, peace, progress of Bharat
and the whole world. There is no aspiration that our glory increases or that it (Akshardham) is the greatest of all and that we are above all. So there is no competitive feeling that we have done something greater than someone else. Our feelings are that one should not hate one another. Bhagwan Swaminarayan has instructed that one should be resolute in one’s own faith and not disrespect another’s faith, but show respect instead. One should not have disrespect for another’s scriptures and places of worship, but respect them. Akshardham has been built with these noble sentiments and messages of Yogiji Maharaj. But it has not been built for the
purpose that it becomes greater than all, that our glory increases in the world. It has not been done to show to others as to what we can do. It has been accomplished through the power and glory of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the inspiration of Yogiji Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj. Also, our sadhus have contributed their immense services in its creation. Our devotees, in India and abroad, have offered their
assistance and sacrifice. We have also had the help and cooperation from our wellwishers. It has been accomplished through service and cooperation. Through the glory and power of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj such a great feat has been accomplished. I pray to
God that whoever sees Akshardham is inspired, experiences peace in his atma, in his worldly life and there be an increase in mutual love. May there be peace in Bharat and the world. May there be an increase in spiritual faith in all.”
At 8.25 pm Swamishri, dignitaries and thousands of devotees performed arti, transforming the Swaminarayan Akshardham grounds into a sea of flickering lights and devotion. The dedication assembly concluded at 8.30 pm.
The opening ceremony of Swaminarayan Akshardham left lasting impressions on all those who were present and on the viewers who saw the live telecast on Aastha channel in 152 countries.
7 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 6) Monday, New Delhi
The evening assembly was dedicated to appreciating BAPS volunteers who had offered their voluntary services for Akshardham and the month long celebrations. The senior sadhus, Dr Swami, Mahant Swami and Ishwarcharan Swami, lauded the services of the volunteers. Finally Swamishri blessed the assembly, “This wonderful task has been accomplished through the grace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. And you all joined in to perform seva that was unparalleled. This has been the crown of all services that you have done so far because it was the seva of Akshardham and the wish of Yogiji Maharaj to build a mandir. The seva you have performed was through his command and wish. So, it was a great seva that you have done. The seva will give you peace and happiness and grant you the eternal service of Maharaj and Swami. It was a seva that would dissolve the infinite cycles of life and death.
“In return for the seva you have done if I offer hundreds of thousands of prostrations it would not suffice, because there is no way to repay it. Everyone has served selflessly with body, mind, wealth and with feelings of glory. You have served believing it to be your own duty. God is the all-doer. We are unable to do anything. So by God’s grace engage yourself in always remembering him…”
Swamishri deeply appreciated the seva of sadhus and volunteers. Thereafter the senior sadhus garlanded Swamishri, the inspirer and creator of Akshardham, and offered their respects and appreciations on behalf of everyone. At Swamishri’s instruction Ishwarcharan Swami garlanded Mahant Swami, Dr Swami, Kothari Swami and Viveksagar Swami. Finally, Ishwarcharan Swami garlanded Swamishri who in response blessed Ishwarcharan Swami with profound joy and ovation.
In conclusion, Swamishri, senior sadhus and volunteers performed arti of Thakorji. While performing arti Swamishri conveyed that at the end he wished to garland Ishwarcharan Swami. After the arti Swamishri garlanded Ishwarcharan Swami and embraced him, showering his joy. Thereafter the volunteers were blessed by samip darshan of Swamishri.
8 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 7) Tuesday, New Delhi
Guest Opinion: Shri Lahoti, Former Chief Justice of Supreme Courtof India, opined, “You have done a wonderful thing here. People will come to Delhi to see Akshardham and not come to visit Akshardham because they are in Delhi. I believe the messages of ahimsa, love and service by Bhagwan Swaminarayan portrayed in the exhibition provide solutions to our country’s problems. You have shown our ancient disciplines and culture in a scientific modern way.”
10 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 9) Thursday, New Delhi
In the evening Swamishri blessed Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries. He had seen Akshardham with his mother, Kokilaben. Mukesh Ambani opined, “I had not expected to see something like this. Through your inspiration Akshardham has been built, and it is wonderful. I think this is real India.”
Shri Gunvant Shah, Renowned writer and Thinker, Gujarat, addressed gathering, “In this huge Akshardham complex there is a fusion of beauty and endeavor. There is not one pillar in Akshardham that is absent of art and sculpture. In this holy place there is not a single hour spent where you do not find the touch of the highest level of management. There isn’t one corner that is bereft of the fragrance of human service.”
Shri Tarun Vijay, Editor of Panchajanya, voiced, “Akshardham is a splendid symbol of Sanatan Vedic Dharma and India’s revival as a world leader. By coming here one’s faith in India’s golden future is strengthened. And hope is raised that amid the fire of world terrorism and violence there are Hindu Dharma’s great nectar-like forces of peace, tolerance, love and brotherhood.”
12 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 11) Saturday, New Delhi; Prabodhini Ekadashi
Today is remembered and celebrated as the day on which Bhagwan Swaminarayan was initiated and Swamishri was initiated as a parshad by Shastriji Maharaj.
At 7.00 pm a variety of vegetables and fruits were arranged before Thakorji. Swamishri performed arti of Thakorji and thereafter blessed the devotees. He took an aubergine, bottle gourd (dudhi), moola (white radish), carrot and a bunch of grapes and spoke of its benefits and gave them to devotees.
13 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 12) Sunday, New Delhi
Shivraj Patil, Home Minister of India, saw the Akshardham complex. Thereafter on melting Swamishri he said, “I felt very good here. It is unique. The Prime Minister told me that he had not seen such a place ever before.”
In the evening the renowned 84-year-old cartoonist Shri R.K. Lakshman came for the second time to see Akshardham. He had visited the monument and boat ride exhibition yesterday and he had come today to see the giant screen film of Neelkanth Yatra. He said, “I have gone around the world seeing many things, but nothing like the experience I have had here. Everything around here is unique. I criticise on all things, but here there is nothing to criticise.” After meeting Swamishri he said, “There was a surge of peace. He is so touching. My heart opened up. It doesn’t happen often.”
15 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 15) Tuesday, New Delhi; Dev Diwali
At 7.30 pm Swamishri arrived for Thakorji’s darshan. After arti, during the bhajan “Gaame, gaame ghume santo…” sung by sadhus, the senior sadhus: Mahant Swami, Dr Swami, Kothari Swami and others, had a joli over their shoulders, a cloth on their heads and were circling before the murti of Shastriji Maharaj. This all reflected the difficult times during Shastriji Maharaj’s period. Swamishri was lost in darshan and prayer and thereafter joined in circling with the senior sadhus. Then Swamishri proceeded in this fashion towards the assembly hall for his morning puja. The divine darshan and profound feelings of pride and sympathy were apparent on Swamishri’s face.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Shri Sabarwal met Swamishri after seeing Akshardham complex. He opined, “What an inspiring abode you have created for the country and the world. I felt very good. You have inspired pride for our ancient history.”
5 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 4) Saturday, New Delhi
Swamishri inaugurated the new website on Swaminarayan Akshardham , www.akshardham.com, after his morning puja.
Shri L.K.Advani came to see the Akshardham complex and thereafter received Swamishri’s blessings.
Guest Opinion: Shri L.K. Advani, President of Bharatiya Janata Party, expressed, “I can only say that those who have conceived it, and those who have executed it, and it’s not a few artists and architects, but tens of thousands of dedicated, devoted bhaktas of the Swaminarayan Sampraday – they all deserve kudos, they deserve plaudits for this achievement, which will always be remembered by everyone. It’s a great service that they have done to the cause of spirituality and religion, and it’s a great service that they have done to the motherland.”
6 November 2005 (V.S. 2062, Kartak sud 4), Sunday, New Delhi; Labh Pancham, Dedication Ceremony of Swaminarayan Akshardham
The three-day murti-pratishtha rituals at Swaminarayan Akshardham monument commenced on 4 November and culminated on 6 November 2005
The murti-pratishtha rituals for the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Guru Parampara (Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj) and the deities (Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayan and Shiv-Parvati) in Swaminarayan Akshardham took place over a period of three days: 4, 5 & 6 November. The preliminary pratishtha rituals were performed on smaller murtis that symbolized the murtis of the sanctum in Swaminarayan Akshardham. The yagna rituals were performed at the Bhakti Mandapam on the festival grounds of Swaminarayan Nagar.