Sahajanand - Death and Succession

Death and Succession

Further information: Swaminarayan Faith

In 1830, Swaminarayan gathered his followers and announced his departure. He later died on 1 June 1830 (Jeth sud 10, Samvat 1886), and it is believed by followers that, at the time of his death, Swaminarayan left Earth for Akshardham, his abode. He was cremated according to Hindu rites at Lakshmi Wadi in Gadhada.

Prior to his death, Swaminarayan decided to establish a line of acharyas or preceptors, as his successors. He established two gadis (seats of leadership). One seat was established at Ahmedabad (Nar Narayan Dev Gadi) and the other one at Vadtal (Laxmi Narayan Dev Gadi) on November 21, 1825. Swaminarayan appointed an acharya to each of these gadis to pass on his message to others and to preserve his fellowship, the Swaminarayan Sampraday. These acharyas came from his immediate family. He formally adopted a son from his brothers and appointed them to the office of acharya. Ayodhyaprasad, the son of Swaminarayan's elder brother Rampratap and Raghuvira, the son of his younger brother Ichcharam, were appointed acharyas of the Ahmedabad Gadi and the Vadtal Gadi respectively. Swaminarayan decreed that the office should be hereditary so that acharyas would maintain a direct line of blood descent from his family. The administrative division of his followers into two territorial dioceses is set forth in minute detail in a document written by Swaminarayan called Desh Vibhaag Lekh. The current acharyas of the Swaminarayan Sampraday are Acharya Shree Koshalendraprasad Pande, of the Ahmedabad Gadi, and Acharya Shree Rakeshprasad Pande, of the Vadtal Gadi.

Decades after his death, several divisions occurred with different understandings of succession. This included the establishment of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), the founder of which left the Vadtal Gadi in 1905, and Maninagar Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, the founder of which left the Ahmedabad Gadi in the 1940s. The followers of BAPS hold Gunatitanand Swami as the spiritual successor to Swaminarayan, asserting that on several occasions Swaminarayan revealed to devotees that Gunatitanand Swami was Aksharbrahm manifest. Followers of BAPS believe that the acharyas were given administrative leadership of the faith while Gunatitanand Swami was given spiritual leadership by Swaminarayan. The current leader of BAPS is Shastri Narayanswarupdas. The followers of the Maninagar Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan hold Gopalanand Swami as the successor to Swaminarayan.

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