In a historic assembly on September 17, 2017 at Robbinsville, NJ, HH. Mahant Swami Maharaj proclaimed Svāminārāyaṇa Vedanta as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama Darśana.
Among other distinguished guests, the assembly was honored by the presence of Professor George Cardona – a renowned professor emeritus of linguistics and South Asian studies at the University of Pennsylvania; Professor Sthaneshwar Timalsina – a distinguished professor at San Diego State University; Professor Graham Schweig – the director of studies in religion at Christopher Newport University; Professor Deven Patel – a professor of South-Asia Studies at University of Pennsylvania; Professor Jyotindra Dave – the director of BAPS Research Institute at Akshardham; New Delhi; and Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami – the chief editor at Hinduism Today.
The assembly commenced with the inauguration of Sadhu Bhadreshdas Swami’s Svāminārāyaṇasiddhāntasudhā, a vādagrantha that presents a formal exposition, justification, and defense of the philosophical and theological positions of the Akṣara-Puruṣottama Darśana. Distinguished guests expressed their admiration for the text’s scholarly presentation and defense of the darśana’s principle philosophical and theological position.
Thereafter, in commemoration of Śrī Kāśī Vidvat Pariṣad’s admiration, commendation, and recognition of the Svāminārāyaṇasiddhāntasudhā, Sadhu Bhadreshdas Swami presented the Pariṣad’s letter of endorsement and the copper-plated letter of declaration to Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The assembly then continued by Mahant Swami Maharaj’s reading aloud a proclamation letter that he composed to commemorate not only the vādagrantha’s inauguration, but also to formally establish Svāminārāyaṇa’s Vedanta as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama Darśana. Within this proclamation he illuminated, among other things, that the formal titles of each of the Vedānta darśanas reflect their distinct understanding of the nature of brahman, the self, the world and the relationship between them. In accordance with this tradition, Śrī Śaṅkara’s Vedānta is identified as the Advaita Darśana, Śrī Rāmānuja’s Vedānta is identified as the Viśiṣṭādvaita Darśana, Śrī Madhva’s Vedānta is identified as the Dvaita Darśana, Śrī Vallabha’s Vedānta is identified as the Śuddhādvaita Darśana, and others are respectively known.
Thereafter, he revealed the Vedic roots of Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa’s reveled teachings. He then offered a detailed exposition on Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa’s unique understanding of the nature and form Akṣarabrahman as an ontologically distinct entity from Parabrahman and highlighted Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa’s distinct understanding of the relationship of Akṣarabrahman with the Parabrahman, the self, and the world. In reflection of Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa’s unique darśanic principles and in accordance with the Vedāntic nomenclature for identifying darśanic titles, HH. Mahant Swami Maharaj officially announced that Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa’s teachings and distinct philosophical principles would henceforth be recognized as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama Siddhānta and that the darśanic title of Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa’s distinct Vedanta darśana would be identified as the Akṣara-Puruṣottama Darśana.
Mahant Swami Maharaj recalled that the first joined use of ‘Akṣara’ and ‘Puruṣottama’ was gifted by HH. Śāstrījī Mahārāja, the third spiritual successor of Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa, was the founder of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Mahant Swami Maharaj then concluded by instructing that all publications, philosophical discussions, assemblies, seminars, and activities of the darśana be conducted according to the teachings of Bhagavān Svāminārāyaṇa and utilize ‘Akṣara-Puruṣottama Darśana’ to identify Parabrahman Svāminārāyaṇa’s Vedanta darśana.