Since the dawn of time, scriptures have been considered the base of the Hindu faith. Due to the Veda and other scriptures Hindu civilization thrived.
The progress of any holy fellowship largely depends on their scriptures that communicate its founder’s objective, principles, philosophy and rules of the members of holy fellowship.
Out of great compassion to humankind, Bhagwan Swaminarayan commanded the scholar saints to compose the scriptures so that members of holy fellowship and people at large could benefit for centuries even when He was not physically present.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s prime objective was to redeem innumerable souls and to show them the way to reach ‘Akshardham’ and achieve their ultimate goal.
Dozens of scriptures were composed in the holy fellowship. The most important among them are the Shikshapatri, the Vachanamrut, and the Satsangi Jivan.
All three scriptures are considered to the most authentic, as they were composed either by Bhagwan Swaminarayan Himself or under His direct supervision.
For the welfare of all living beings, Bhagwan Swaminarayan wrote the scripture Shikshapatri on 11th February 1826 at Shri Hari Mandap in Vadtal.
Shikshapatri is the quintessence of more than 350 scriptures and is the code of conduct for the members of the holy fellowship.
This Shikshapatri is amazingly short, containing only 212 Sanskrit verses.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan covered an astonishing range of subjects including non-violence, vegetarianism, protocol, scripture, common sense, respect to the deity, politics, social science, economics, finance, management and such others.
Shikshapatri is respected as the personified form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan has assured in the Shikshapatri itself that whosoever follows Shikshapatri both in the letter and in the spirit will definitely attain all four Purusharthas i.e. Dharma (duty and righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire) and Moksha (salvation).
Bhagwan Swaminarayan has commanded everybody to read the Shikshapatri every day with a concentrated mind. He also mentioned that those who do not follow the commands of Shikshapatri are not considered to be members of the holy fellowship.
This Shikshapatri is the lighthouse for those who wish peace and prosperity. It is a practical encyclopedia and ready spiritual reference for all human beings.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan noted general observations, which everybody has to follow. In addition to this, Bhagwan Swaminarayan mentioned the special observances for Acharya, widows, married women, male disciples,Brahmacharis and saints specifically.
Shikshapatri has inspired people to become pure in terms of action, mind and profession. It has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to live a life comprising of Dharma with Bhakti. Once, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of India, declared in a huge public meeting, “If people adopt and act according to the Shikshapatri written by Shree Swaminarayan, then the police stations and the legal courts will become useless.”
Anybody who wants to explore the spiritual mystery of the Bhagavad Gita must first read the Vachanamrut.
Four prime saints named Muktanand Swami, Gopalanand Swami,Nityanand Swami and Shukanand Swami compiled the sermons of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, which were delivered to members of holy fellowship at various places from 1819 AD to 1829 AD during His last decade. It contains total 262 chapters. It is named as Vachanamrut as it contains nectar in the form of words of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Vachanamrut is considered to be the first prose scripture of Gujarati literature. Each chapter narrates the exact day, time and place with Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s dress and His posture also.
John Carman, when he was a professor of comparative religion at Harvard, appreciated this: “Students of Indian religious history are constantly faced with the difficulty of the lack of firm and definite dates in this history. But in this book, every discourse is precisely dated.”
Vachanamrut is based on a question-answer structure, in which a devotee would ask Bhagwan Swaminarayan a question or Bhagwan would elaborate upon a point Himself.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan has de-mystified the principles of the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Brahmsutra, Sankhya Shastra, Yoga Shastra, Pancharatra, Mahabharat, etc. in the Vachanamrut. This scripture is not only a classic in Gujarati, but also ranks among the world’s best literature.
His Holiness Shastriji Maharaj Shri Dharmajivandaji Swami, founder of Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Rajkot, always mentioned, “The Vachanamrut is not only useful to members of the ‘Swaminarayan Fellowship’ but, it is also enlightening, guiding and an unparalleled scripture to learned philosophers and to whosoever inclined to religion while interested in philosophy also.”
The book contains the sum and substance of the basic philosophy of holy fellowship. It has a distinct note of authority as the thoughts are based on Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s personal experience.
P.B.Vidyarthi, a scholar, stated: “It is reckoned as one of the most edifying sacred texts, every word of which is packed with profound wisdom enshrined in the traditional Indian literature like the Upanishads, the Gita, the Mahabharat, the Ramayan and the Pancharatra.”
In the Vachanamrut, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has expressed most subtle thoughts in a very simple and lucid language, which can be understood even by the uneducated and it yet possesses a certain literary grace. The learned will also not find the language too simple and common place.
M.C. Parekh has rightly observed:
“In the entire volume of several hundred pages it would be difficult to find a single word that is redundant or out of place, or a thought that is unnecessary or out of the plan of salvation unfolded in the book.”
Satsang means divine fellowship and Jivan means life. So Satsangi Jivan describes the life to be lived by all the members of holy fellowship. It comprehensively depicts the duties of Acharyas, saints and disciples. It also describes the philosophy of holy fellowship and various means to achieve ultimate redemption.
Shatanand Swami wrote this very important scripture in Sanskrit under the personal supervision of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. It contains 5 volumes, 319 chapters and 17627 verses. It also narrates the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan from His arrival on to the earth to His departure.
M.C. Parekh summarized, “Many of these books the present writer has read again and again, and he has been surprised at the perennial freshness which he finds in them. It is so because of the fact that this Literature centres round as Romance of the highest kind, the Romance of Revelation and Incarnation. Here is the manifestation of a personality who reveals a new world and a new order of life, or rather incarnates in himself the Divine and becomes for his followers the very Holy of Holies. Everything that he says or does partakes of Divinity, and whatever he handles or touches becomes holy and lovely. The very earth which he trod, the air he breathed, the food he ate, and the water he drank, all these and much more, however insignificant it be, became full of a new and divine meaning. It is the story of all this which forms the subject of this Literature. It things that are inanimate and lifeless put on a lovelier and holier aspect at the mere touch of the Master, how much more would this be the case when he graciously talked to people or taught his disciples and ate and played and laughed with them? Heaven itself and even the Highest of Heavens is revealed to the wondering gaze of the disciples while they are in flesh and blood, and after their sojourn here is over, they are sure of a place in the Mansions of the Blessed, and their Master himself comes in person to take them there. It is the history of such a life lived from day to day, but full of a meaning that transcends time, and which has in it the positives contents of eternity, it is this which makes the warp and woof of much of this Literature, and it is, therefore, of a kind which can stand comparison with any in the world. The present writer knows of no literature in the world, wherein the deep founts of joy within the human heart have been so opened to the gaze of a wondering world, or where they have found such a rich lyric expression as here.”