Mahant Swamy Maharaj, the Sixth and current Spiritual Head of the BAPS Sampraday Swaminarayan Sanstha, visited the Avondale Swaminarayan Temple from February 13 to February 20, 2018.
During his speeches, discourses and other events, he inspired the young and the old.
The daily morning prayer session which started at 530 am, was attended by adults and children with enthusiasm and devotion, packing the hall to capacity.
Many devotees came from different parts of New Zealand, Australia and Pacific Island countries. A number of religious ascetics (sadhus) of BAPS Sanstha visited along with Mahant Swamy Maharaj, adding to the piety of the weeklong programme.
Sanskruti Ek Khoj
Addressing in Hindi a large gathering of devotees at the North Shore Event Centre on February 17, 2018, he said, “We are the Atma (soul) not the body. God is the ‘Paramatma’ or ‘Param Shanthi’ (Comprehensive Peace). Atma realises after a few cycles of birth that it needs ‘Sanskar’ (Traditional Values), ‘Satsang’ (Sacred Gathering) and ‘Guru,’ because a ‘Satguru’ (Enlightened and entitled to teach) can help the Atma to put Bhakti (unconditional love) on Paramatma (The Supreme Soul). Once Atma comes into ‘Satsang,’ then there is ‘Anand’ (Bliss). One needs to take ‘Sukh Dukh’ (Happiness and Sadness) equally. That attitude or Bhava is essential to come through ‘Satsang.’
Body, Mind and Soul cleansing
The event included performances by devotees of the Temple.
Mahant Swamy said that the purport of performances was to promote the value of honesty with the understanding that God is watching everything.
He cited the example of Atma Ram (a character in one of the performances), a soldier in the Indian Army who bathed every day, incessant to extreme cold weather and spent at least a few minutes in prayer.
“This is practice of ‘Deha Suddhi,’ (Body Cleanliness) which is imperative to the equally important cleanliness of the mind and the soul as prescribed in the Hindu scriptures and as practised by our Sadhus. These good habits help us lead a healthy life,” he said.
Stating that we follow value-based culture, Mahant Swamy said that these values are engrained in the lives of people through their Guru.
Knowledge and Deliverance
“Without a Guru, there will be no Gnana (Knowledge). Without Gnana, there will be no ‘Atma Vicharan (Internal Quest). Death is not the end of life as the Atma continues and moves to the next stage depending on the deeds of the person – ‘Papa’ (Bad) or ‘Punya’ (Good). The knowledge of Atma helps one to come out of any misery where the net of Good Karma (Good Deeds) and Bad Karma (Bad Deeds) help in the upliftment of the Atman.
On Sunday, February 18, 2018, a Maha Pooja was performed with Vedic chants by Sadhus to promote health, happiness, prosperity and inner peace to all.
The prayers also marked the auspicious occasion of ‘Murti Pratishta Mahotsav’ (Installation of the Deity) of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj, the youthful yogic form of Lord Swaminarayan.
Registered devotees and donors were given the requisite Pooja materials and step-by-step guidance to perform the Grand Feat. Devotees were later given an opportunity to repeat the religious rites.
Thereafter, Mahant Swamy formally installed the Deity within the special Mandap erected and performed the Abhishek with the Sadhus.
This tradition of installation of Nilkanth Varni Maharaj Murthi and performing Abhishek for inner peace and wish fulfilment was revived by the previous Guru Pramukh Swamy Maharaj.
Anyone visiting the Temple in Avondale can have the Abhishek performed.
About BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
The BAPS (Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan) Swaminarayan Sanstha is a spiritual, volunteer-driven organisation dedicated to improving society through individual growth by fostering the Hindu ideals of faith, unity, and selfless service.
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 a word used by Swaminarayan followers to describe the process of associating with God and the Guru to achieve Spiritual Enlightenment.
‘Sat’ and ‘Sang’ in Sanskrit mean ‘Association with Truth.’
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.
The central religious tenet for BAPS Satsangis is Bhakti, or devotion to God.
Bhakti, when combined with Dharma, Gnana Vairagya (Detachment), makes a person 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.