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Lakshmi Narayan Dev Gadi
Formation1800 (224 years ago) (1800)[1]
TypeReligious organization
PurposePhilanthropic, Religious studies, Spirituality
HeadquartersVadtal, Gujarat, India
Coordinates22°35′N 72°52′E / 22.59°N 72.87°E / 22.59; 72.87

The Laksmi Narayan Dev Gadi (Gujarati:- લક્ષ્મીનારાયણ દેવ ગાદી) is one of the two gadis (diocese) that together form the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. It is headquartered at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Vadtal and controls the Dakshin Vibhag Lekh.


In Vadtal, on Prabodhini Ekadashi of Vikram Samvat 1882, Swaminarayan adopted his nephews Ayodhyaprasadji Pande (Son of elder brother Rampratapji) and Raghuveerji Pande (Son of younger brother Ichcharamji) as his sons. Establishing the two Gadis i.e. Nar Narayan Dev Gadi, headquartered at Ahmedabad and Lakshminarayan Dev Gadi, headquartered at Vadtal, Swaminarayan instructed the two cousins to draw lots, to decide who would be seated on which Gadi. Swaminarayan handed over the responsibility of Satsang and both acharyas to Gopalanand Swami by instructing Gopalanand Swami to make each and every satsangi including sadhus, Brahmachari and haribhakt to remain under the commands of the Acharyas.

Ghanshyam Maharaj in the Akshar Bhuvan at the Lakshminarayan Dev Gadi headquarters

Ayodhyaprasadji Maharaj was appointed the inaugural Acharya of the Nar Narayan Dev Gadi (also known as the Uttar Vibhag - Northern division), whilst Raghuveerji Maharaj became the inaugural Acharya of the Lakshminarayan Dev Gadi (also known as the Dakshin Vibhag - Southern division).[2]

The administrative division between the two is set forth in minute detail in a document written by Swaminarayan, called Desh Vibhag Lekh. The method by which future Acharyas are to be appointed is enshrined in the document Desh Vibhag Lekh.[3]

Swaminarayan then instructed all the followers present to do pooja of their respective acharyas.

Organizational structure

Illustration of Swaminarayan writing the Shiskhapatri

In 1826 at Vadtal, Swaminarayan established the dual Acharyaship in Dharmavanshi Acharyas, whom he intended as his successor. "Dharmavanshi" means "belonging to the lineage of Dharmadev" – the father of Swaminarayan.[4][5] Swaminarayan enthroned his two adopted sons, Ayodhyaprasad Pande and Raghuvir Pande, who were the sons of his brothers Rampratapji and Ichcharamji, as the spiritual leaders of the Nar Narayan Dev Gadi headquartered at Ahmedabad and the Lakshmi Narayan Dev Gadi headquartered at Vadtal respectively. He installed them as the Acharyas for all followers, including householders and ascetics. Swaminarayan gave sole authority to these two individuals to install murtis in temples and to initiate sadhus and householders into the Sampradaya.[6] He did this using a legal document known as "Desh Vibhag no Lekh", which he dictated and was written by Shukanand Swami. Learned saints and elder satsangis witnessed this document. Copies were presented to the inaugural Acharyas, Ayodhyaprasad Pande and Raghuvir Pande – these are currently in the possession of the current Acharyas. The document was accepted by the Bombay High Court as the authoritative document regarding the apportionment of the two dioceses, so it has legal standing.[4] Presently, Acharya Maharajshri Ajendraprasadji[7][8][9] Maharaj is at the head of Lakshmi Narayan Dev Gadi, while Acharya Maharajshri Koshalendraprasadji Maharaj is at the head of the Nar Narayan Dev Gadi at Ahmedabad.[10]

Importance of Acharyas

Swaminarayan thought that as he had established the temples and the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, he wanted to keep his sadhus free from the affairs dealing with wealth, power and other worldly affairs. He decided to create leaders who would subsequently be responsible for the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. This led to his decision to appoint his nephews as Acharyas.[11] The constitution of the Sampradaya is laid out in Desh Vibhag Lekh which describes in detail the functions of the Acharyas.

... it is my command to all sadhus, bhamcharis and all satsangies, that for the purpose of your kalyaan (emancipation) you must obey and follow the two Acharyas of Dharmavansh, and obey their commands by thought, action and speech. If this is compromised and whoever turns elsewhere (rejecting the Acharyas) will find that they will never find sukh (happiness) in this world or the worlds beyond and will experience immense distress ... ― Desh Vibhag Lekh

The Acharyas of the Sampradaya are administrative heads, spiritual leaders and the gurus of their followers. Since the acharyas are supposed to refrain from contact with the opposite sex, except close relations, the acharyas' wives are the gurus for female members of the sect, and must avoid contact with unfamiliar men. The acharyas wear a red turban, and carry a golden staff and umbrella, the symbols of their authority[12] In the scripture Purushottam Prakash (Nishkulanand Kavya), the writer Nishkulanand Swami describes Swaminarayan's establishment of the Dharmavanshi Acharyas.[citation needed]

The Acharyas are responsible for:

These responsibilities are prescribed in the holy texts Shikshapatri, Satsangi Jeevan and Desh Vibhag Lekh, according to which no person other than the Dharmavanshi Acharyas may carry out these duties.[19]

In one of the most authoritative scriptures, the Vachanamrut, Swaminarayan states one of the prerequisites for attaining Akshardham. He wrote, "The devotee who is aashrit of Dharmakul (i.e. he who has received initiation from Dharmavanshi Acharya and remains loyal to the Acharya) gets a divine Bhram-state body by God's wish."[20][21] It is seen as imperative to be a humble, loyal follower of the Dharmavanshi Acharya once receiving the diksha (guru mantra) in order to achieve a bhram form. In Swamini Vato, Swaminarayan was quoted, "Even Gunatitanand Swami, one of the main sadhus of Swaminarayan states, 'He who insults the temples, Acharyas, sadhus and satsangis will find his roots being destroyed and will inevitably fall from the satsang.' "[22]


Male satsangis are initiated by the acharya of the gadi he comes under. Female satsangis are initiated by the wife of the acharya, who is the leader of women in the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. In the absence of the acharya, ascetics perform this initiation, which is then confirmed by the acharya on his next visit.[14] The ceremony involves the taking of five vows (panch vartaman): not to commit adultery or robbery, not to consume intoxicants or meat and not to lie. The initiator then pours water over the initiates hands, gives him a Sanskrit shloka, Shri Krishna twam gatirmama, meaning Shri Krishna thou art my refuge. The initiate then offers at least half a rupee to the acharya, who adorns a kanthi thread around the initiate's neck. The initiate is then required to apply the tilak chandlo to his forehead (chandan U and red kum kum dot in the middle).[13] Ladies only apply the red kum kum dot.

There are eight important things in the life of a Satsangi;[23] these are Kanthi – a thread worn around the neck,[24] the Tilak Chandlo – a holy mark,[24] the Mala – a thread with 108 beads,[14][25] Nitya Pooja – daily prayers,[24] the Temple,[24] Darshan – a form of worship,[24] Aarti – a ceremony, and[24] Vandu Pad and Chesta Pad – verses recited in the temples daily.[23] A Satsangi must show reverence for God, the Shastras, the Acharya of the Gadi the Satsangi comes under (Nar Narayan Dev Gadi or Lakshmi Narayan Dev Gadi), festivals, elders and be of overall good conduct.[26]

Upon initiation, Satsangi make 11 vows, called Niyams (Rules):[27][28]


From the beginning, ascetics have played a major role in the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. They contribute towards growth and development of the movement and towards the salvation of its members.[29] Sadhus, initiated by either Dharmavanshi Acharya, also form an integral part of the organization and wear only orange robes. The Brahmachari ascetics, who are Brahmins, have a special responsibility of taking care of images in temples. These ascetics wear white robes on their waist and an orange cloth over their shoulder. Ascetics lead a strict life, refraining from worldly pleasures and devoting their lives to the service of the holy fellowship. They preach the philosophy and lifetimes of Swaminarayan and encourage people to follow a pious and religious life.[29] Swaminarayan has stated in the Vachanamrut that the association of Satpurush (true saints/devotees) opens the path to salvation. In 1999, the Ahmedabad Gadi had 765 male ascetics and the Vadtal Gadi 1468 male ascetics.[30]

The first rule of becoming an ascetic (sanyasi) of the sect is never to come in contact with the opposite sex, or money.[31] Ascetics are not allowed to leave the temple alone; they have to move out in pairs. Even in the temple, while using the toilet, they must do so in pairs to ensure they keep their vows. The food they eat must be mixed up so that they may not taste it.[32]

Female ascetics, known as Samkhya yoginis, receive initiation from the Gadiwala, or wife of the Acharya. They stay within the temple, follow ascetic rules strictly, wear dark red clothing and stay in the temple Haveli. They take care of the images in women's temples and conduct discourses for women. In 1999, the Ahmedabad Gadi had 440 female ascetics and the Vadtal Gadi had 115 female ascetics.[33]

The Government of India intervened by setting up an arbitration panel in June 2001. A settlement was brokered by a panel between the two factions in June 2002, but the Dev faction led by Nautam Swami (Mahant of the Vadtal temple) refused to cooperate, leading to an intensification of the dispute. A number of sadhus of this faction were subsequently exposed in a sex scandal only three months after another five sadhus were sentenced to death for murdering their guru in the Vadtal branch.[34][35][36]

Organizations within Lakshmi Narayan Dev Gadi

-The Shree Swaminarayan Agyna Upasana Satsang Mandal (SSAUSM) is an original organization based in United States that comes under the Lakshminarayan Dev Gadi, Vadtal.[37] It has several temples in the US, all of which are named Vadtal Dham after the parent organization.[38] The very first Vadtal Mandir in USA falls under SSAUSM leadership. The Swaminarayan Mandir in Wheeling, IL was established by Acharya Ajendraprasadji Maharaj.[39]


The following table lists all the Acharyas till date.[40]

Acharya Number Name of Acharya Born on Became Acharya on Retirement Death Term
1 Acharya Shree Raghuvirji Maharaj 21 Mar 1812 10 Nov 1826 12 Nov 1856 9 Feb 1863 37 Years
2 Acharya Shree Bhagvatprasadji Maharaj 11 Oct 1838 9 Feb 1863 10 Aug 1879 12 Aug 1879 17 Years
3 Acharya Shree Viharilalji Maharaj 19 Apr 1852 12 Aug 1879 ------- 27 Sep 1899 20 Years
4 Acharya Shree Lakshmiprasadji Maharaj 15 Aug 1892 27 Sep 1899 18 Mar 1909 24 Apr 1909 10 Years
5 Acharya Shree Shripatiprasadji Maharaj 18 Aug 1875 26 Apr 1909 15 Dec 1930 12 Feb 1931 22 Years
6 Acharya Shree Anandprasadji Maharaj 22 Jul 1906 12 Feb 1931 30 Apr 1959 8 Jul 1974 28 Years
7 Acharya Shree Narendraprasadji Maharaj 25 Jan 1930 30 Apr 1959 13 May 1984 23 Jan 1986 25 Years
8 Acharya Shree Ajendraprasadji Maharaj 16 Aug 1949 13 May 1984 present present Active

The next Acharya of the Vadtal Gadi is Bhavi Acharya Shree Nrugendra Prasadji Maharaj. The Supreme Court has recognized his status as the next Acharya of Vadtal and granted use of designation Bhavi (future) Acharya.[41] He performs duties on behalf of Ajendraprasad.[42] The case around the current head of the branch is currently in legal litigation.

There is currently an active court case regarding the Vadtal Gadi. Gujarat High court has stayed the order removing Ajendraprsadji Maharaj[43] until a final verdict is reached. He cannot enjoy the right of acharya during the proceedings. The dev paksh faction has appointed Rakeshprasad as their acharya in the Gadi.[44][45]

Siddhant paksh maintains that Ajendraprasad Pande is the current Acharya of the Vadtal Gadi and welcome his son, Nrigendraprasad Pande, to officiate at functions in Swaminarayan temples in his absence.[45]

Charitable Activities

SVG Charity,[46] a subsidiary of the Vadtal diocese gadi, is involved in disaster relief, food, medicine, and blood donations across its chapters in the United States, Europe, Canada, and India.[47]

In 2013, under the guidance of Vadtal Acharya Ajendraprasadji Maharaj, Lakshmi Narayan Dev Yuvak Mandal was honored by the Golden Book of World Records for registering 21,900 Eye Donations in one hour in an organ donation charity drive. Surpassing the previous record of 6350 held by the AP Foundation.[48][49] Also in 2013, Lakshminarayan Dev Yuvak Mandal recorded the world record for most body donations to medical sciences and studies with 352 registrants in a 12-hour window, surpassing the previous world record of 173 but OCD International.[50]

The Vadtal Dham Swaminarayan Hindu Temple in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey distributed free PPE kits during the COVID-19 lockdown to provide access to masks and sanitizer within its local community. They also conducted food drives for local Food Pantries.[51]

Vadtal Dham Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple Houston, in conjunction with other regional Hindu organizations and Sewa International, helped distribute 16,500 pounds of food during the COVID-19 crisis along with PPE kits with drive-through events to help communities in need.[52]

See also


  1. ^ Williams 2001, p. 17.
  2. ^ Williams 2001, pp. 35
  3. ^ Williams 2001, pp. 36–37
  4. ^ a b Williams 2001, pp. 35, 36
  5. ^ "Devotees throng Dharmakul fest". Daily News and Analysis. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  6. ^ Chitkara 1997, p. 228
  7. ^ NewsGram (18 April 2016). "Spread of Swaminarayan Sampraday across Globe". NewsGram. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  8. ^ Banerjee, Nirupam (3 October 2018). "Gujarat High Court provides relief to acharya Ajendraprasad Pande". DNA India. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  9. ^ authorize. "Saint & Guru". Lakshya Tv. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Acharyas: The Managing Head of Swaminarayan Sampraday".
  11. ^ "ESTABLISHMENT OF UNIQUE ACHARYASHIP". Archived from the original on 1 May 2009.
  12. ^ Williams 2001, pp. 40, 41
  13. ^ a b Chitkara 1997, p. 230
  14. ^ a b c Williams 2004, p. 83
  15. ^ Williams 2004, p. 82
  16. ^ a b Williams 2001, p. 36
  17. ^ "Swaminarayan: Brief Introduction". Archived from the original on 16 December 2019.
  18. ^ Williams 2004, p. 84
  19. ^ Chitkara 1997, pp. 228, 230
  20. ^ Vachanamrut, Gadhada Pratham Chapter 1
  21. ^ The Vachanamrut: Spiritual Discourses of Swaminarayan (Hardcover), Swaminatrayan Aksharpith, Shahibaug Amdavad, India; Second Edition (2003); ISBN 978-81-7526-190-7
  22. ^ Swami ni Vato Prakran 5, Vat 104
  23. ^ a b "A Satsangis life: Vandu and Chesta Pad". Archived from the original on 2 April 2009.
  24. ^ a b c d e f Chitkara 1997, p. 229
  25. ^ "Guidelines to the good conduct of a Satsangi". Archived from the original on 17 November 2007.
  26. ^ "Daily pooja guidelines". Archived from the original on 17 November 2007.
  27. ^ "About the Swaminarayan Sampraday". Archived from the original on 17 April 2008.
  28. ^ Williams 2001, p. 162
  29. ^ a b Williams 2001, p. 107
  30. ^ Williams 2001, p. 108
  31. ^ Lise McKean (1996). Towards a politics of spirituality: Gurus and the Hindu nationalist movement. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-56010-6. Retrieved 12 September 2009. Page 19
  32. ^ Behramji Merwanji Malabari; Krishnalal M. Jhaveri; Malabari M. B (1997). Gujarat and the Gujaratis. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-0651-7. Retrieved 7 May 2009. Page 241-242
  33. ^ Williams 2001, pp. 117, 118
  34. ^ "Vadtal, the delinquent in Swaminarayan family". Times of India. 17 February 2003. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  35. ^ "Sex, swamis and a CD: Scandal sparks off row". Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  36. ^ "Swaminarayan monks caught in sex video – India – The Times of India". Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  37. ^ Williams 2004, p. 145
  38. ^ Williams 2001, p. 229
  39. ^ "Wheeling Swaminarayan Temple Official Website". Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  40. ^ "Head of Swaminarayan sect". Swaminarayan Vadtal Gadi - SVG. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  41. ^ Writer, By a Staff. "Thousands of Indian-Americans, others from around the world, attend Murti Pratishtha And Inauguration Of New Hindu Temple In New Jersey | News India Times". Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  42. ^ Williams, Raymond (2018). An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-1108369244.
  43. ^ Banerjee, Nirupam (3 October 2018). "Gujarat High Court provides relief to acharya Ajendraprasad Pande". DNA India. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  44. ^ "Siddhant Paksh vs Dev Paksh fight of Vadtal Swaminarayan branch". DeshGujarat. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  45. ^ a b "Minister mediates between fighting factions of Vadtal Swaminarayan sect". DeshGujarat. 12 July 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  46. ^ "Charity". Swaminarayan Vadtal Gadi - SVG. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  47. ^ "Charity". Swaminarayan Vadtal Gadi - SVG. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  48. ^ "Golden Book of World Records Largest Number of Eye Donation Registrations in One Hour". Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  49. ^ "Largest Number of Eye Donation Registrations in One Hour | World Record Holders' Club". Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  50. ^ "Golden Book of World Records Largest Number of Body Donation Registrations in Twelve Hours". Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  51. ^ "Members of Hindu Temple Make PPE Kits for SB Residents". TAPinto. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  52. ^ Engl, India New; News (25 June 2020). "Sewa International's Houston Chapter Distributes 100,000 Pounds of Food to the Needy". INDIA New England News. Retrieved 27 June 2020. ((cite web)): |last2= has generic name (help)