This article is about explaining a particular sect in Hinduism named Swaminarayan Sampradaya(means sect). This sect dates back to around 1800. The name of this sect was Udhhav Sampradaya and follows the principles of Vaishnavism.
The Swaminarayan Sampraday began as the Uddhav Sampraday and was led by Ramanand Swami. In 1799, Swaminarayan, born as Ghanshyam Pande, was initiated into the Uddhav Sampraday as an ascetic (Sadhu) by his guru, Ramanand Swami, and given the name “Sahajanand Swami”.At the age of 21, Neelkanth Varni was given the leadership of the sect known as Uddhav Sampraday with the blessings of Ramanand Swami, who handed him control of the religious diocese shortly before his death. Fourteen days after Ramanand Swami died, Neelkanth Varni, now known as Sahajanand Swami, held a large gathering of followers at the town of Faneni.It was during this meeting that Swaminarayan introduced what he termed “the father of all Mantras” and described it as “maha” (or great).Then he was known as Swaminarayan, and the name “Swaminarayan Sampraday” came into existence.
The principal texts or the scriptures of this sect are:
- Shikshapatri(book written by Swaminarayan himself)
- Vanchanamrut(teachings of Swaminarayan)
- Swamini Vato(book written by the main disciple of Swaminarayan)
Whereas the Principal scripture of Hinduism is the Vedas and the Upanishads.This sect has made their own scriptures. The preachers of this sect say that they have written their scriptures from the Hindu scriptures.But their preachings and the text differs a lot from the Hindu scriptures. By the end, it will be proved that they have only taken just 1% of Hinduism and that too not the original one.
- In their text Vachanamrut, in the Gadhada section, it is written that ” to realize God as formless is a sin much graver than panchmahapap“. This means that God is always present in form and can never be formless. They consider it as a sin if you believe in a formless God.
In Hinduism, the Brahman which is the creator of the Universe is stated to be formless. It is the humans that created his many forms(includes the Trinity and all other Gods and Goddesses) so that the people could understand the God. A normal person is unable to understand a formless God and it is the manifested form which the Hindus are worshipping.It is like understanding the sunlight: You can feel the sunlight but you cannot see it.
So in Hinduism, God can be formless and with form and worshipping is not a sin at all, it is a good practice.
For eg., Shivling is the formless Shiv and Shaligram is formless Vishnu.
So, this very statement contradicts with the actual Hinduism.
- A women’s place in the Swaminarayan Sampradaya is questionable.Women in this sect are seen as well as treated differently from the Hinduism.
There can be no objection to this statement because there are no Goddesses in Swaminarayan sect. Hinduism has a wide range of Goddesses which they worship daily.
In this sect, women are not allowed to come near to the Saint of this sect because as they say to maintain their celibacy. In Hinduism, it is not so.
This sect, of course, gives ways for women to live with respect but they do not treat women as they are treated in Hinduism. Women have a separate place to sit in their temples and sometimes they are allowed only to a certain limit in the temple.
A professor named David Harman observed LordSwaminarayan and wrote that when Swaminarayan was on his tour around India, he would vomit whenever a shadow of women approached him.
In Hinduism, women are equal to men because it believes in the soul and not body. Body is temporary, the soul is eternal. You may be a woman in your next incarnation because your soul gets another body when you die and it can be anyone’s body depending on your Karma.
- Swaminarayan is entirely based on Bhakti Yoga and they emphasize that this is the only way to Moksha(liberation).
Shri Krishna in Bhagavad Geeta explained Arjun that there are 4 ways of liberation – Gyan Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hath Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
The best way is the Gyan Yoga but there are 4 ways and a person can select anyone.
- Mahatma Gandhiji in his letter to Maganlal Gandhi wrote that the teachings of Swaminarayan and Vallabhacharya are based on sentimentalism.
He further wrote that this sect is not following the actual principles of Vaishnavism. Vaishnavism is an age-old truth and this sect is different from it thought this sect claims that they are following Vaishnavism.
This sect considers Swaminarayan as their Supreme God and says that Swaminarayan is the topmost God of the Hindu Gods and every God is blessed by him.
By writing this article, I appeal you all that if you follow any sect or religion, first question everything with your logic and if it satisfies you then only follow the respective ones because humans are the only being which has been given the skill of thinking logically. So, I think we must use it to our fullest.