A General Introduction Of Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple
The swaminarayan akshardham temple is a monumental structure that makes an exhibit of millennia of the Hindu tradition and the Indian culture along with its spirituality and architecture. Located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi, it was inaugurated in the year 2005 by the President of India. The Temple was a vision of Yogiji Maharaj, who was the spiritual head of the Swaminarayan Sanstha. Yogiji wanted to build a grand Temple by the banks of the Yamuna for his devotees in Delhi, but he died without realizing it. His successor Pramukh Swami Maharaj fulfilled Yogiji’s dream by successfully bringing the project to completion.
Cultural, spiritual and religious importance
Akshardham literally means the celestial abode of God, a place of eternal purity and peace. This magnificent Temple is dedicated to the worship of God and also echoes the vibrant Indian tradition in the fields of art, architecture, as well as religion. This architectural magnificence has more than two hundred statues of sages of India through the ages. The reason for having these statues is to reiterate the spiritual premise that each human soul is potentially divine in nature. Every prayer of the human is a step in moving towards union with God and every human action of service is a move towards divinity.
The presiding deity
The Sanctum Santorum or the garbhagruh of akshardham temple delhi has the statue of Bhagwan Swaminarayan seated at the center. He is surrounded by his consecutive successors. The spiritual gurus are manifestations of Aksharbrahma, or the eternal knowledge of the absolute and eternal servants of the God. They reside with Swaminarayan offering eternal worship to the Bhagwan in the garbhagruh. Object that have been sanctified by Swaninarayan during his lifetime are also preserved behind the garbhagruh.
Details of idols present
The inner Sanctum Santorum hosts the eleven feet high statue of Swaminarayan Bhagavan in a seated posture. The sitting posture of the statue is that of the abhaya mudra that communicates non-verbally through hand position, the protection of the divinity dispelling all fear in the minds of true devotee. The calm countenance on the face of the statue with serene smile compliments the mood of the abhaya mudra. The statues of other gurus surrounding Swaminarayan are either in a standing or keeling position, offering worship to the Bhagawan.
Other shrines present in Temple
There are also shrines that are dedicated to Sri Radha-Krishna, the celebrated Hindu pair epitomizing devotional love of God or Bhakti. Another shrine is dedicated to Shri Laxmi-Narayan. Narayan is the other name of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe and Laxmi, his wife is the symbol of beauty and prosperity of the universe. The Ram-Sita pair too is worshiped in another shrine in the Temple. Ram is an avatar of Vishnu and Sita is the symbol of virtue, loyalty and ultimate surrender to divinity. Finally, Shiv-Parvati duo is worshiped in another shrine. The two though spoken of separately, also denote the male-female aspect of the Divine.
Rituals and nature of worship
Devotees come to the Akshardham Temple with a mind full of reverence for the Divine. Since the Swaminarayan Bhagabhan is believed to be the Aksharbrahma, any true and sincere prayer before the statue is believed to be answered positively. There is prevalence of the ritualistic Abhishek, or pouring of water on the murti of Sri Neelkanth Varni, the teenage yogi form of Swaminarayan Bhagawan.
The Abhishek begins by the tying of sacred thread on the wrist followed by the recital of Sanskrit slokas during which the devotee pours Abhishek water on the murti. While performing the ritual, the devotees ask for fulfillment of their wishes. Other than this, there is a regular arati performed in the evening at 6.30 pm in which all can take part.
Celebrations in the Temple
Since Swaminarayan’s teachings were rooted in the Vedic tradition, all celebrations and devotion center on devotion to God, and discipline and virtue. All Akshardham Temples have the Temple of Sri Radha-Krishna as one of the Hindu shrines in it. Festivals that are associated with Radha-Krishna like Janmashtami, Holi, Rath Yatra, Radhaasthtami are celebrated with much fervor in the Temple. The Temple also hosts the Laxmi-Narayan and the Ram-Sita shrines for all of which occasions such as Diwali, Ramnavami or Dushera assume special importance. The presence of Shiv-Parvati duo also involves the celebration of Shivratri and the Dushera with much pomp.
March 28th is celebrated as the birthday of Sri Swaninarayan Bhagwan or the Swaminarayan Jayanti when devotees observe a waterless fast worship him. The celebration involves thousands of devotees who gather to listen to the talks given by the Sanstha scholars and offer their spiritual oblation to Swaminarayan. You can download akshardham temple photos and postcards from the official website.
Pilgrimage to the Akshardham
You will want to visit a Temple for your spiritual benefit apart from being relieved you’re your present state of unease if any. The Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple is an embodiment of such a spiritual journey. The very presence of the divine embodied through the seated statue to Swaminarayan will bring you that treasured sense of spiritual well-being. A pilgrimage to this Temple with devotion is more worthy than many other rituals. Knowing the akshardham temple timings will allow you to plan your pilgrimage in advance. The Temple remains closed on all Mondays, and is open Tuesdays through Sunday from 9.30 am to 6.30 am.