May 13, 2002
Waukegan Mandira

Swaminarayan Bhagwan frequently discussed the following four elements as necessary for spiritual progress: dharma (religion), gnyaana (knowledge), vairaagya (detachment), and bhakti (devotion). [Ref. Vachanamrut Gadhada First 19, Gahdada First 21, Gadhada First 47, amongst others.] Swaminarayan Bhagwan explained that a devotee should fully cultivate all four qualities to remain in the perfect service of God. Vairaagya can be defined as detachment. This however does not mean God and His devotees are also rejected. True vairaagya is attachment toward only God and His devotees and detachment from everything else [ref. Shikshapatri verse 104]. Gnyaana is the knowledge of the aatma (soul) and God [ref. Shikshapatri verse 104]. Bhakti refers to devotional love for God and His devotees along with an understanding of God's greatness [ref. Shikshapatri 103].

Dharma is adherence to one's religion [ref. Shikshapatri verse 103]. In Patanjali's Yoga-sutras, the first two steps of ashtaanga-yoga (eight-fold spiritual endeavor), called yama and niyama or the "do's and don'ts," make up dharma. The five principal yamas are ahinsaa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (celibacy), and aparigraha (to not accumulate or non-greed) [section 2, verse 30]. The five principal niyamas are saucha (literally, cleanliness, but spiritually it means purity in thought, word, and deed), santosha (contentment), tapa (austerity), svaadhyaaya (study of the self), and Eeshvara praanidhaana (surrendering to God) [section 2, verse 32].

In Vachanamrut Vadtal 3 (amongst others), Swaminarayan Bhagwan explains that dharma, vairaagya, gnyaana, and bhakti can be obtained by being in the service of a saint who is a master of these qualities. Thus, the gunaateeta saint, possesses all four qualities, and graces the devotee to also become an ekaantika bhakta.



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