ROBBINSVILLE, New Jersey — Amidst a large gathering of devotees, BAPS leader HH Mahant Swami Maharaj inaugurated the Svaminarayaṇa-siddhanta-sudha, a traditionally composed Sanskrit text, at the Swaminarayan Akshardham temple Sept. 17 here.
The assembly was a celebration of three events: inauguration of the Svaminarayaṇa-siddhanta-sudha; the Sri KaSi Vidvat Pariṣad recognizing Sri Svaminarayaṇa’s Vedanta as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama DarSana as Vedic and distinct from the other Vedanta darSanas; and the official announcement of Svaminarayaṇa’s teachings as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama DarSana.
Authored by Pujya Bhadreshdas Swami, the text is traditionally categorized as a vadagrantha – a formal exposition, justification, and defense of the philosophical and theological positions of a darSana. It is composed on the Akṣara-Puruṣottama DarSana as it was revealed by Parabrahman Puruṣottama Svaminarayaṇa.
Divided into nine chapters identified as dharas, the text presents a sophisticated treatment of the philosophical principles of Bhagavan Svaminarayaṇa. Among other things, it grounds these principles on expositions found within the Prasthanatrayi – a collective designation for the Upaniṣads, Srimadbhagavadgita, and the Brahmasutras. It also presents a unique epistemological system that is characteristic of the darSana. Its comprehensive, critical, yet reverent treatment of alternative darSanas and their disagreements not only reflects the traditional methods of a vadagrantha, but also emphasizes the robustness of the text.
Several dignitaries and renowned academics present at the event expressed their thoughts and praise for the text. Both the text and its author were honored by invited guests, including Prof. George Cardona, Professor Emeritus of linguistics and South Asian studies at the University of Pennsylvania; Prof. Sthaneshwar Timalsina of San Diego State University; Prof. Graham Schweig of Christopher Newport University; Prof. Deven Patel in the South Asian Studies department at the University of Pennsylvania; Prof. Jyotindra Dave, director of BAPS Research Institute at Akshardham; New Delhi; and Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami, chief editor at Hinduism Today.
Timalsina emphasized that although very few members of the audience could fully comprehend the Sanskrit discussions in the text, let alone read the language, the fact that so many had gathered to celebrate its creation was a testament to the enduring nature of the language and an indicator of its magnificence.
Swami Maharaj read aloud a proclamation letter that he had composed. Within this proclamation he illuminated the Vedic roots of Parabrahman Swaminarayan’s reveled teachings, and announced that Parabrahman Svaminarayaṇa’s teachings would henceforth be recognized as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama Siddhanta and that the darSanic title would be identified as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama DarSana.
In related news, Swami Maharaj had earlier met with former President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., as part of the swami’s efforts in North America to share universal Hindu messages and foster public dialogue on service and the importance of unity in our communities and in our nation.
On the occasion, Swami Maharaj presented President Obama with a garland as part of a traditional Hindu greeting, as well as an Amrut Kalash, a sanctified mala and a copy of Transcendence, a book written by former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam about his spiritual experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The two leaders discussed the role of BAPS mandirs in communities around the United States and the world, with Obama appreciating how BAPS mandirs have served as houses of worship but also community centers catering to society’s diverse social and humanitarian needs.