Lord Shree Swaminarayan
Lord Shree Swaminarayan was born on the 9th day of the bright half of the Chaitra month in Samvat 1837 in Chhapaiya, a village near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. His father Dharmadev was a Samavedi scholar Brahmin and His mother was called Bhaktidevi. He took birth to protect the righteous and religious people. Lord Swaminarayan is the incarnation of Narayan Himself. After the passing away of His parents when He was only eleven, the ascetic minded Nilkanth Varni later called Lord Shree Swaminarayan, renounced His home and set out on a pilgrimage visiting holy sites in India.
For several years of His pilgrimage He performed the most severe penances. As part of His pilgrimage through Gujarat He happened to arrive in the village Loj, situated midway between Somnath and Porbander in Saurashtra. There He met Muktanandji, the chief disciple of the great master Ramanand Swami; and later He came to have a face-to-face meeting with Ramanand Swami in a village called Piplana.
Having taken birth in a material body Lord Shree Swaminarayan too accepted Ramanand Swami, as His preceptor and as per set religious rules began receiving diksha at the hands of the great preceptor. The great preceptor later handed over the control and management of the entire Uddhava religious discipline to Lord Shree Swaminarayan. Many people became His disciples after properly checking and testing the meditation process by the Lord. Without giving much importance to mysterious performances and miracles, He engaged Himself in enriching the society by teaching them the purity of thought and food, in addition to conduct by removing bad habits such as addiction, blind faith, suspiciousness, immorality, corruption, luxury, inertness, theft, dacoity etc. Some scholars believed that there can be no incarnation of God in the Kaliyuga. He convinced them through proofs from the Geeta, the Bhagawad and other scriptures that Lord Swaminarayan is the Supreme incarnation and made them His disciples. Lord Swaminarayan is the Supreme Brahman and proof of this fact is found in ancient scriptures, for example
“Whenever religion suffers tormented regression I incarnate myself to uproot irreligion and re-establish good religion to protect the gentle folk and to destroy the evils in every era.” (Geeta 48-49)
"Hey Arjun, many births of yours and mine have passed but only I know them and not you." (Geeta 45).
"To protect religion I get another body, to eradicate irreligion I do manifest when the age demands." (Shrimad Bhagawat) Brahmapurana says:
"In Satyuga I manifest as Dattatreya, as Raghunandana in Treta, as Vasudeva in Dwapara and as Dharmadev's son Swami in Kaliyuga." Vishwaksena Samhita says:
Among all parts of the universe I take birth on the Earth, I shall adore Vaikuntha adopting the name Sahajanand. All these scriptures prove Lord Swaminarayan as the Vedic acceptance of incarnated supreme reality.
Like the previous incarnations He did not destroy demons but He removed the demonic inclinations and turned demonic persons into divine ones. He uplifted and elevated classes like Kathi, Koli, Ahir, Shudra, Bhil, Muslims, illiterate, peasants etc. Along with backward classes, great scholar-poets, officials, rulers and kings renounced worldly life and joined the Holy Fellowship and got initiated into asceticism, became stoics and spread the religion. Scholars and saints offered valuable devotional prose-verse literature by offering volumes written in Sanskrit, Hindi, Brijbhasha and Gujarati. He opposed violence including the killing of animals before deities and in Yagnas, and by offering scholarly counselling stopped violence performed in the name of religion. He advocated and popularised non-violent Yagnas. Lord Shree Swaminarayan provided welfare to many humans and animals by creating free food centres, wells, step wells and temples. He declared in the Shikshapatri-47,