“Siksha” in Sanskrit means beneficial teachings. “Patri” means, in essence, a letter. The Shikshapatri is the epistle (letter) of beneficial instructions written by supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayan Himself. It 212 sloks contain the rudiments that one should adopt daily in order to lead an honest and moral life in both the spiritual and worldly realms. Adhering to the commandments that are clearly narrated in the Shikshapatri is the key to attaining ultimate salvation, i.e. attaining the divine abode of Lord Swaminarayan. The Shikshapatri, originally written by Lord Shree Swaminarayan on February 11, 1826 CE (Maha Sud 5, 1882 VS – also referred to as Vasant Panchmi or the first day of spring celebrated by the Hindu calendar, a truly auspicious day for the creation of the Shikshapatri) in Vadtal, is read daily by the disciples of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan. At minimum, five sloks from the Shikshapatri should be read daily during pooja.
The Shikshapatri is regarded as being “Sarva-jeev-hita-vaha” or “for the benefit of all souls.” The Shikshapatri is universally beneficial for all, whether they are disciples of the Swaminarayan Faith or not. It has relevance for adherents to all faiths, including Hindus, Parsis, Muslims, Christians, etc. because it shows the path to salvation. Whoever lives according to the codes of good conduct prescribed in the Shikshapatri becomes contented in his or her present life and thereafter (i.e. attains salvation after departing from his body). The Shikshapatri is able to confer salvation to all souls. As such, it is called “Sarva-jeev-hita-vaha.”
Originally written in Sanskrit by Lord Shree Swaminarayan Himself, the Shikshapatri was first translated to Gujarati by Sadguru Shree Nityanand Swami. It was first translated to English for Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan by His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. The Shikshapatri was written in very simple language so that people of all ages, levels of education, social backgrounds, and cultural backgrounds could understand it easily. Its simple teachings are eternal – they are just as applicable today as they were nearly 200 years ago.
The Shikshapatri is extremely sacred, as the Lord’s words are a form of the Lord Himself. As such, the Shikshapatri is a form of Lord Shree Swaminarayan that He has given to us to worship daily. The Lord has stated in the Vachanamrut that if a disciple fails to read, hear, or worship the Shikshapatri on any given day, he or she should perform a fast in penance.
The disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Temple – Bear, Delaware, celebrated Shikshapatri Jayanti and Vasant Panchmi on Saturday, January 20, 2018. To start the celebrations, disciples performed kirtan-bhakti. Thereafter, young children gave a speech about the history and importance of the Shikshapatri. They also read over 45 sloks of the Shikshapatri themselves, after which adult members of the congregations finished reading the entire Shikshapatri out loud. Disciples had all brought their Shikshapatri books from home, and they all performed poojan in celebration of the jayanti of this most auspicious gift from Lord Shree Swaminarayan Himself. All disciples then performed samuh-aarti and sandhya aarti and niyams before prasad was served to all.