An extract from the divine scripture, Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, Chapter 3 - Divine Ordination.

The incarnator of all incarnations, Purna Purushottam Lord Shree Swaminarayan resolved to manifest upon the earth.

Is there any particular event that caused Him to manifest? No.

Did anybody pray for Him to manifest? No.

He manifested out of sheer mercy and divine grace.

In order to liberate the souls, who had become inflicted by the illusion of Maya, the cause of all causes, the supreme Lord, Purna Purushottam Lord Shree Swaminarayan decided to manifest upon this earth along with His Muktas.

When deciding to manifest upon this earth, the Lord held a divine congregation with His Muktas in Akshardham.

Meeting in Akshardham
Meeting in Akshardham

The Muktas humbly prayed, “Oh Lord, You are the almighty, omnipotent and supreme Lord. Merely through Your will, You are able to remove the miseries of souls. No-one other than You is able to liberate souls and bestow upon them the Mukta state. Oh merciful Lord! What need is there for us to accompany You?”

Lord Shree Swaminarayan replied to the Muktas, “What you say is indeed true. However, the souls have become trapped in the illusion of Maya. Who will introduce them to Me? People relate to and have affection for others who are like them – those who are of the same form as them. Therefore, you must accompany Me onto the earth and become like them. They will see you worshipping Me and learn through your teachings. Attract the souls towards you and introduce them to Me. Explain My glory to them and encourage them to become engrossed with devotion unto Me.”

With joined hands, the Muktas humbly prayed to the Lord, “Dear Lord! To liberate souls is Your work. Merely by performing the vartman ceremony to the souls, You are able to liberate them from their material body and award them the status of Mukta.”

The Lord smiled as He heard the humble requests of His Muktas and said, “My dear Muktas! If I call a soul to Me and perform the vartman ceremony, his body will cease. Others will see this and immediately flee in fear of death. Then, whose salvation will we perform? Dear Muktas, you must come with Me. Let the souls become attracted to you and then, we will do just as you say. However, the process needs to be performed in phases. When the souls have become affiliated with you, we will reveal the reality.”

In this manner, the incarnator of all incarnations Lord Shree Swaminarayan resolved to manifest on the earth together with His Muktas

Vartman: During the formal and ceremonial initiation of a devotee into the Karan Satsang, Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, the Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi places a few drops of water in the devotee's palm, chants the Lord's mantra and then pours the water onto the ground. Only the Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi can perform true vartman because only he has the power to burn away great sins, and free the devotee of all his sins and karmas from his present and past lives.

By virtue of this ceremony the soul is free from past sins and the devotee promises to obey the five vows (panch vartman):

  1. Not to consume intoxicating or addictive substances (liquor, drugs etc.) which lead to wrongful temptation.

  2. Not to kill nor to eat the flesh of any living entity, i.e. pure vegetarianism, non-violence (ahimsa).

  3. Not to commit adultery and other wrongful sexual acts (rape, seduction etc.).

  4. Not to steal - not only money but also properties and goods.

  5. Not to perform irreligious, unsociable or immoral deeds or have others perform them.

Renouncers (tyagis) have additional vows to abide by:

  • Nirlobh - being free from greed (to not hoard or keep money or wealth even via another person).

  • Nishkam - being completely void of lust.

  • Nihswad - being completely void of all preferences, having no partiality for anything and relinquishing fine articles.

  • Nirman - being free from all arrogance, pride and anger, and being tolerant of others.

  • Nihsneh - being free from all affection and attachment to those other than the Lord.

Extracted from the scripture, Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, by Acharya Swamishree Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj. Chapter 3 – Divine Ordination