In his early times, he was known as Ghanashyam. At the age of eleven times His parents attained emancipation. Seeking to lead a life of asceticism for the alleviation to the mortal beings, he left His home and came notorious as Neelkanth because of His observance of severe austerities. In the jungles of the Himalayas He performed Tapascharya at Pulhashram. He decided to do to Bengal. On his way, in Nepal, he met a great Gopal yogi, who tutored him yoga. In Bengal, he deterred the monks from performing beast offerings. He also progressed to south India, also to Maharashtra and eventually entered Gujarat( Saurashtra) and met Shree Ramananda( believed to be an manifestation of Uddhavji, a great sucker of Bhagwan Krishna). On His request, Shree Ramananda Swami gave Him inauguration( Diksha) and therefore Neelkantha came known as Sahajanand Swami and Narayana Muni.
After declaring Him, at the age of 21 times, as the spiritual head of his votaries, Shree Ramanand Swami recommended Him to cover and propagate Bhagawat Dharma or Ekantika Dharma as specified in Bhagawat( 11th Canto) and as in Vasudev Mahatmya of Skanda Purana. After His practitioner’s fleshly departure He gave the ‘ Swaminarayan ’ mantra to His followers, hereafter came popularly known as Swaminarayan. He propagated the path of Bhakti or devotion to God.
Bhagawan Swaminarayan’s preaching converted the formerly turbulent Gujarat into a land of peace. As an manifestation, He lifelessly worked for thirty times and affected a peaceful revolution by establishing morality and faith.
He deplored violence, and put an end to the bloody offerings in yagnas prevailing at that time. He canceled the practices of womanish infanticide and burning of widows( sati). He supported education for all, including women. More importantly, he said, ’ I've expressed upon this earth, not to kill demons, but to extract satanic rudiments from the mortal mind; not to liberate man temporarily from the poverty and pain of this life, but to free him ever from the transmigratory cycle of births and deaths which lies at the root of all pain and poverty. ’
Water was scarce in Gujarat. The Saints, led by Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, dug wells and ponds. They prayed and collected food for distribution to the indigent. They tutored people about the glory of God, instructed them to hesitate from alcohol, meat- eating, stealing and infidelity.
Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayana set the five vartamans( rules to observe daily) for the saints- Sadhus to follow Nir- Lobh( No rapacity), Nish- Kam( No lust), Nis- Swad( No taste), Nis- Sneh( No attachment) and Nir- Man( No pride). According to Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, real devotion can flourish only when one realizes one’s nature as a spiritual being, not just a physical body. To reach this high state, one’s life has to be predicated in righteousness and chastity, and have a profound spiritual association with a God- realized practitioner.
He tutored that, there are five ultimate, ontological, eternally being orders, videlicet, Jeeva( individual soul), Ishwaras( devas), Mmaya( prakriti, early material substance), Brahman( God’s residence), Parabrahman( Supreme God). There are horizonless worlds and hence horizonless Ishwaras but Parabrahman, the Supreme God, is one and without alternate.
Brahman, also known as AksharaBrahman, is absolutely a unique reality in the metaphysical scale of the Swaminarayan Philosophy. Akshara Brahman is eternally disenthralled , all- important and human. It has the nature of sat, virgin and ananda, and has eternal relation with Parabrahman, both as His ideal sucker in the particular form and as His measureless ultimate residence in the impersonal form. All the four distinct orders are below Parabrahman, who's fully independent, tone-existent and the loftiest reality.
He's transcendent, with eternal godly form and ingrain. This Parabrahman is Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Ultimate emancipation is achieved by attaining Ekantika Dharma.
It consists of Dharma – the ethical law specified by Shrutis and Smrutis( Holy Writ), Jnan( Gyan) – the comprehensive knowledge of jeeva, ishwara, maya, Brahman and Parabrahman, Vairagya –non-attachment to everything except God, and Bhakti( devotion) – the violent love with the knowledge of greatness and glory of God. Among them Bhakti is the leading element and other three are necessary probative factors.
This ultimate emancipation is pursued under the guidance of the God- realized Sadhu. ShreeSwaminarayan fortified humanity by a tradition of sadhus, a heritage of Mandirs – tabernacles and spiritual centres, and treasures of spiritual and moral wisdom in two main textbooks VachanamrutamandShikshapatri. Bhagwan ShreeSwaminarayan established Mandirs for the propagation of Vedic Dharma at Ahmedabad, Bhuj( Kutchha), Vadtal, Dholera, Junagadh and Gadhpur. He performed the Pretishtha of the Murties of Shree Nar- Narayan Dev, Shree Lakshmi- Narayana Dev, Shree Gopinathji Maharaj, Shree Shree Harikrishna Maharaj( His own Murti), Shree Radha- Raman Dev, Shree Madan- Mohanji Maharaj and others in these Mandirs.
Bhagwan ShreeSwaminarayan’s great votaries, who contributed much to the Sampraday, are Gopalanand Swami, Muktanand Swami, Gunatitanand Swami, Nityanand Swami, Brahmanand Swami, Shukanand Swami, Nishkulanand Swami, Premanand Swami and numerous others. Four elderly sadhus collected the homilies given by Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, which is known as the Vachanamrutam. In this holy book, the gospel of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan is stated nicely in the form of questions and answers. Bhagwan ShreeSwaminarayan Himself wrote the Shikshapatri, a folder of 212 shlokas in Sanskrit which describes the canons of conduct for His sadhus and householder votaries. In addition to this, Satsangi Jivanam by Shree Shatanand Swami, Shree Haridig Vijay & Shandilyasutra Bhashyam by Shree Nityanand Swami, Brahmamimamsa by Shree Muktanand Swami, Dasopanishad Bhashyam and Gita Bhashyam by Shree Gopalanand Swami, Satsangibhushanam by Shree Vasudevanand Brahmachari, and Bhaktachintamani by Shree Nishkulanand Swami are the most prominent workshop, which clarify colorful aspects of the gospel and traditions of the Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday.
Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan left for His godly residence, Akshar Dham at the age of 49 in 1830 CE at Gadhpur, Gujarat. Before leaving His mortal body, in 1826 CE, He sat two acharyas of two piths;( one at each, Shree Lakshminarayan Dev Pith at Vadtal and Shree Nar- Narayan Dev Pith at Ahmedabad) as His successors.
The first acharyas were Shree Raghuvirji Maharaj and Shree Ayodhyaprasadji Maharaj, Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan’s own whoresons. Presently Shree Rakeshprasadji( Vadtal) and Shree Kaushalendraprasadji( Ahmedabad) are the Acharyas of the original Sampraday.