Baps Shri Swaminarayan Temple
Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS; IAST: Bocāsaṇvāsī Akṣar Puruṣottam Svāminārāyaṇa Saṇsthā), is a Hindu denomination within the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. It was formed in 1905 by Yagnapurushdas (Shastriji Maharaj) following his conviction that Swaminarayan remained present on earth through a lineage of gurus starting with Gunatitanand Swami.
Since 1971, under the leadership of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the BAPS has grown strongly. As of 2019, BAPS has 44 shikharbaddha mandirs and more than 1,200 mandirs worldwide that facilitate practice of this doctrine by allowing followers to offer devotion to the murtis of Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, and their successors. BAPS mandirs also feature activities to foster culture and youth development. Many devotees view the mandir as a place for transmission of Hindu values and their incorporation into daily routines, family life, and careers.
BAPS also engages in a host of humanitarian and charitable endeavors through BAPS Charities, a separate non-profit aid organization which has spearheaded a number of projects around the world addressing healthcare, education, environmental causes, and community-building campaigns.
Formation and early years (190-1950)
The Gunatit Guru
The basis for the formation of BAPS was Shastriji Maharaj’s conviction that Swaminarayan remained present on earth through a lineage of Gunatit Gurus (perfect devotee), starting with Gunatitanand Swami, one of Swaminarayan’s most prominent disciples, and that Swaminarayan and his choicest devotee, Gunatitanand Swami, were ontologically, Purushottam and Akshar, respectively. According to the BAPS-tradition, Shastriji Maharaj had understood this from his guru, Bhagatji Maharaj, who had Gunatitanand Swami as his guru.
Development and organizational formation (1950–1971)
After the death of Shastriji Maharaj on 10 May 1951, Yogiji Maharaj became the spiritual leader, or guru, of the organization while Pramukh Swami continued to oversee administrative matters as president of the organization. Yogiji Maharaj carried Shastriji Maharaj’s mission of fostering the Akshar-Purushottam Upasana doctrine by building temples, touring villages, preaching overseas and initiating weekly local religious assemblies for children, youths and elders. In his 20 years as guru, from 1951 to 1971, he visited over 4,000 cities, towns and villages, consecrated over 60 mandirs and wrote over 545,000 letters to devotees.
Growth and further global expansion (1971–2016)
Pramukh Swami Maharaj
After Yogiji Maharaj’s death, Pramukh Swami Maharaj became both the spiritual and administrative head of BAPS in 1971. He was the fifth spiritual guru of the BAPS organization. Under his leadership, BAPS has grown into a global Hindu organization and has witnessed expansion in several areas. His work has been built on the foundations laid by his gurus – Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj.
Personal outreach (1971–1981)
Immediately upon taking helm, Pramukh Swami Maharaj ventured on a hectic spiritual tour in the first decade of his role as the new Spiritual Guru. Despite health conditions—cataract operation in 1980—he continued to make extensive tours to more than 4000 villages and towns, visiting over 67,000 homes and performing image installation ceremonies in 77 temples in this first decade. He also embarked on a series of overseas tours beginning in 1974 as the guru. Subsequent tours were made in 1977, 1979, and 1980.
Overall, he embarked on a total of 28 international spiritual tours between 1974 and 2014. His travels were motivated by his desire to reach out to devotees for their spiritual uplift and to spread the teachings of Swaminarayan.
Festivals and organization (1981–1992)
Swamis of BAPS with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Sarangpur, Gujarat, India (2016)
The personal outreach (vicharan) of the earlier era (1971–81) by Pramukh Swami Maharaj through traveling to villages and towns, writing letters to devotees, and giving discourses contributed to sustaining a global BAPS community.
The Gujarati migration patterns in the early 1970s, globalization factors and economic dynamics between India and the West saw the organization transform into a transnational devotional movement. Organizational needs spanned from transmitting cultural identity through spiritual discourses to the newer much alienated generation in the new lands, temple upkeep and traveling to regional and local centers to disseminate spiritual knowledge. As a result, this era saw a significant rise in the number of swamis initiated to maintain the organizational needs of the community – both in India and abroad. Furthermore, having access to a greater volunteer force and community enabled the organization to celebrate festivals on a massive scale which marked the arrival of a number of milestone anniversaries in the history of the organization, including the bicentenary of Swaminarayan, bicentenary of Gunatitanand Swami, and the centenary of Yogiji Maharaj. Some effects of the celebration included a maturation of organizational capacity, increased commitment and skill of volunteers, and tangentially, an increased interest in the monastic path.
Mandirs and global growth (1992–2016)
In the third leg of the era, the organization saw an unprecedented level of mandir construction activities taking place in order to accommodate the rapid rise of adherents across the global Indian diaspora. Initially, beginning with the inauguration of Swaminarayan Akshardham (Gandhinagar) in 1992. A number of shikharbaddha mandirs (large traditional stone mandirs) were inaugurated in major cities; Neasden (1995), Nairobi (1999), New Delhi (2004), Swaminarayan Akshardham (New Delhi) (2005), Houston (2004), Chicago (2004), Toronto (2007), Atlanta (2007), Los Angeles (2012), and Robbinsville (2014).
Mahant Swami Maharaj as Guru (2016 – present)
Mahant Swami Maharaj
On 20 July 2012, in the presence of senior swamis in Ahmedabad, Pramukh Swami Maharaj revealed Keshavjivandas Swami (Mahant Swami) as his spiritual successor.
Following the death of Pramukh Swami Maharaj on 13 August 2016, Mahant Swami Maharaj became the 6th guru and president of BAPS. In 1961, he was ordained as a swami by Yogiji Maharaj and named Keshavjivandas Swami. Due to his appointment as the head (mahant) of the mandir in Mumbai, he became known as Mahant Swami.
He continues the legacy of the Aksharbrahma Gurus by visiting BAPS mandirs worldwide, guiding spiritual aspirants, initiating devotees, ordaining swamis, creating and sustaining mandirs, and encouraging the development of scriptures.
- Location: Atladara
- Timings: 6:00 am to 8:30 pm
How to get there
By Road: Vadodara, 112 km from Ahmedabad and 420 km from Mumbai, is located on National Highway 8. There are various state transport (ST) buses and private luxury coaches from all over Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan. Ahmedabad-Vadodara intercity buses take 2 hours and run every 15 minutes. There are also several private bus companies on or near Station Road. Tickets vary according to the type of bus, but the average rate is Rs 100/- to Ahmedabad and Rs 200/- to Mumbai. You can also rent a car with a driver to explore the city and its surroundings at the Express Hotel. Rates range from Rs. 650/- without air-conditioning to Rs. 2200/- for luxury vehicles, for 8 hrs or 80 km per day.
By Rail: Vadodara, a major railway junction is located on the Western Railway, which connects Mumbai, Delhi, and Ahmedabad.
By Air: Vadodara is connected by various domestic airlines to Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Daman, and Pune.