Devotion (Bhakti) is defined as an immense love for the Lord that is combined with a genuine understanding and knowledge of His greatness. When a disciple sings a devotional song with true devotion, the Lord joins in to give encouragement to him and strengthen his dedication. Profound bliss is experienced by those who perform such devotional deeds, be that through singing, dancing, or any other means.

Devotion must not to be performed to merely show others. When performing devotion, a true disciple will not be concerned about what others say about him;
he will continue his worship undisturbed by their comments.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj
A young Acharya Swamishree Maharaj performed a devotional dance to the kirtan ‘Chho Prabhu Shree Ghanshyam Jaykaari’ during Swamibapa’s 1970 international tour.
A young Acharya Swamishree Maharaj performed a devotional dance to the kirtan ‘Chho Prabhu Shree Ghanshyam Jaykaari’ during Swamibapa’s 1970 international tour.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj Himself was proficient in both classical dance and music. In the late 1960s, He learnt to play the dilruba, which is a stringed instrument that translates to ‘stealer of hearts’. Performing devotional songs, He stole the hearts of Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa, Sants and disciples. He also performed devotional dances as a Sant for His beloved Jeevanpran Swamibapa, where everyone could see His deep loving devotion. Even during the most recent festivals and celebrations of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, overcome with such joy and devotion, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj often danced to the delight of everyone who had that darshan – creating indelible memories for all.

He inspired His sants and disciples to learn these music and dance skills, explaining that they teach us commitment and dedication - vital skills to develop for the progression of all aspects of one's life, including one’s devotion. Shree Swaminarayan Mandirs around the world all hold music and dance classes - just one of many legacies that Acharya Swamishree Maharaj established for the devotional development of generations to come.

Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan's Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band, a traditional Scottish pipe band with chapters in the UK, the United States, Africa, and India, is the epitome of the celebration of different cultures. While Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa inspired the first chapters in London and Nairobi, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj inspired the formation of chapters in Bolton, USA, and India in honor of His beloved Gurudev. The discipline, unity and dedication practiced by the members of the pipe band teach our youth invaluable lessons and skills, engaging them to be useful members of society. Members range from students to professionals, including scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, and business owners. With five bands based across the globe, Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band not only travels the world to espouse the values of the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Faith, but also does an incredible amount of charitable work for the local, national and global community.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj teaching disciples how to perform Yoga on World Yoga Day 2015
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj teaching disciples how to perform Yoga on World Yoga Day 2015

Along with this type of musical devotion, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj also encouraged disciples to take care of their physical bodies, because devotion to God can only be performed well if one's physical body is healthy and fit.

He encouraged disciples to remain physically active and alert and make it a part of their daily rituals to perform meditation, exercise and yoga. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s aim was to teach good conduct through recreation and play.

He encouraged His young disciples to further themselves and progress in all areas, including sports, health and fitness. On many occasions, world renowned sports men and women have come to gain the blessings of His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.

At Shree Swaminarayan Mandirs around the world, Acharya Swamishree inspired the establishment of sports clubs for cricket, volleyball, netball, baseball, and more, with qualified coaches and teams playing in local leagues and tournaments. Each of these teams carries the name of beloved Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa, and thus His name is spread far and wide into communities. Furthermore, whenever the game of cricket is played from anywhere in the world, the Motherland, India is always remembered by disciples.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj's Extraordinary Pooja

Disciples perform pooja (worship) every morning. From an early age, every disciple is given their own set of Murtis for this special, very personal form of adoration. These unique photos of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj performing pooja were taken on Sunday 28th May 2017, the auspicious day when Sants and disciples around the world celebrated exactly 75 years since His manifestation.

The hand-drawn Murtis were originally part of Jeevanpran Swamibapa's own Pooja, as was the small Murti of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, which has been mounted on six pages of the Shikshapatri. The very little book on the bottom right is a copy of the Shikshapatri from the time of Lord Shree Swaminarayan. Nestled between its pages is a black urn containing the nail clippings of the Lord. These sacred items have been passed on through our Guru Parampara. Sadguru Shree Ishwarcharandasji Swamibapa gave them to Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa, who in turn gifted them to Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.