RamNavami & Swaminarayan Jayanti - Sunday 25th March
RamNavami & Swaminarayan Jayanti - Chaitra Sud Navami
Almighty, omnipresent, omniscience and cause of all causes Bhagwan manifested twice on this pious and one of the most holy day of Hindu calendar.
Manifestation (Avatar) of Lord Ram was in the form of the ideal king/person. To Him the promise was bigger than anything and everything. There was a king Dasharath of Ayodhya. He had three queens and four sons. Ram from eldest queen Kaushalya, Laxman and Shatrughna from middle queen Sumitra and Bharat from the youngest queen Kaikeyi. When all princes came of the age, King Dasharath, in consultation with elder statesmen, decided to appoint Lord Ram as the next king. By this time, Lord Ram had married Sita, princess of Videh and daughter of King Janak.
On the eve of the coronation, Kaikeyi asked to redeem her two promises that King Dasharath had granted her a long time back. She asked that her son Bharat be made the next king instead of Ram and Lord Ram be banished in forest for fourteen years. When Bhagwan Shree Ram heard this, he willingly accepted and prepared for exile in forest. His wife Sita and brother Laxman went with Him.
When Bharat returned to Ayodhya, he condemned his mother for her actions. He requested Lord Ram to return to Ayodhya, which Lord Ram declined. Bharat returned with Lord Ram's blessings and slipper. He put these slippers on the throne and ruled the kingdom only as a regent. This behaviour of Bharat and Laxman shows us the true duties of loving brothers.
While in exile, demon King Ravan abducted Sita forcefully. Searching for Sita in deep forest, Lord Ram met with Hanuman. He helped Hanuman to realise his full potential. With the help of his king Sugriv and his army of monkeys, Lord Ram fought battle with Ravan for nine days. Bhagwan Ram slayed Ravan on the tenth day. This day of victory is celebrated even today as Vijaya Dashmi (victory day) all over. After slaying Ravan and appointing Ravan's younger brother as the king, Bhagwan Ram returned to Ayodhya. Exactly after fourteen years of exile, Lord Ram reached Ayodhya on the day Hindus all over the world celebrate as Diwali. Whole of Ayodhya was illuminated by colourful lamps and people blew firecrackers to show their pleasure. The next day, Lord Ram was coroneted as the king of Ayodhya. This day was the new beginning for people of Ayodhya. They marked this day as the first day of New Year, which has survived till today as Hindu New Year.
Lord Swaminarayan chose this day to manifest Himself in a human form. He decided to come to earth to banish Adharma, re-establish Sanatan Dharma, vanquish evils and protect the pious and His devotees as promised in the Bhagvad Gita. He chose the pretext of a curse of Sage Durvasha at Badrikaashram. He was born of DharmaDev and BhaktiMata. His saints maintained the record of His life during His lifetime. We have often read and heard His Leelas from scriptures like Satsangi Jeevan, Satsangi Bhushan, and HariLeelamrut. Similar Leelas, whether in childhood or adulthood were done in His previous manifestation as well, but this time He did something more profound as well.
He lived on this earth for only 49 years, but accomplished something more than all His previous manifestations. First time in any of His Avatars, Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan established a Sampraday in His own name, built temples and installed His own images (Swarups) in them, wrote the scripture Himself (Shikshapatri), initiated saints and established the line of household Acharyas in His own family. The Vachanamruts are the collection of discourses delivered by Bhagwan Shree Hari at various places and codifies His philosophy and doctrine, which is directly derived from the Vedas, in His own words. His various Swarups, saints, scriptures and Acharyas are four pillars, of our Sampraday.
Though these two manifestations (Avatars) of Bhagwan seem very different, we must bear in our mind that both manifestations are of the same God. We worship our IshtaDev Swaminarayan Bhagwan, but Lord Ram is equally reverent for us. Hence in all our temples, we celebrate both manifestations by doing two Aartis. Lord Ram's Aarti is done at and Lord Swaminarayan's Aarti is done at Indian time because this is the time when He arrived on this earth.