Bhagwan Swaminarayan was born in Chhapaiya, a town near Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh. He was born on Chaitra Sud Nom, Vikram Samvat Year 1837 (3 April 1781 CE) at 10:10 pm.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains the purpose of His incarnation:
“Doosra avatar hai so karya-karan avatar huwa hai, or mera yaha avatar hai so to jivko brahmarup karke atyantik mukti den eke vaste Aksharatit Purushottam jo ham vaha manushya jaisa banya hoon. Aj to mey avidyarup jo maya hai, tiske nashke vaste pragat huwa hoon, jyon Vedoka vachan, jyo avidyako nash karo, esi jo meri stuti kiya hai, so vachanku aj mey satya karta hoon.”
“The earlier avatars incarnated to serve a specific purpose. But my incarnation is to brahmanize the jivas and grant them ultimate liberation. For this, I, Purushottam transcending Akshar, have taken human form. Today, I have manifested to destroy maya, in the words of the Vedas, ‘to destroy avidya,’ for which the Vedas prayed, those sentiments I shall fulfill.”
On this day, devotees of the Swaminarayan Sampraday observe a nirjala fast. They gather at local mandirs, perform aarti at 10:10 pm, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s birth hour, and sing bhajans celebrating the birth and arrival of Bhagwan’s child form.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life and work had a lasting impact on society. Kishorelal Mashruwala, a renowed scholar and author, summarized Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life and purpose in Sahajanad Swami Athawa Swaminarayan Sampraday:
“At a time when Gujarat- Kathiawad was steeped in darkness, with His power, Sahajanand Swami enlightened infinite hearts, inspired thousands to sacrifice themselves on His commands, subjugated the looting instincts of scores of Kathis and Kolis, reestablished the extinct brahmacharya ashra, enlightened the ascetic order which had become uncontrolled and wanton, laid down the ideals of self-control for the gurus and acharyas who had lapsed, gave women a well-defined status in society and the sampraday, thus uplifting them, accepted non-Hindus into the Hindu Dharma, taught purity of character to the shudras (lowest class), boosted literature, music and arts, propounded ahimsac yagnas, became a teacher of the values of forgiving, was a founder of character and purity of life, was a proponent of the paths of pure bhakti and pure gnan, and was a teacher of Bhagavat Dharma and extoller of the principles of Ved Vyas. If incarnations do occur on the earth, than He can, without doubt be given the title of avatar.”
Devotees observe a nirjala (waterless) fast on this day.
Devotees sing bhajans, recall Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s lila and eternal lessons, and perform aarti at 10:10pm at the mandir.