Shastriji Maharaj

po_Shastriji-Maharaj2bShastriji Maharaj (January 31, 1865 – May 10, 1951), born Dungar Patel and ordained Shastri Yagnapurushdas, was a saint of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and later accepted as the third spiritual successor of Swaminarayan and founder of the BAPS, a major organization within the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism.

Born in a family of farmers in central Gujarat, India, he became a sadhu within the Vadtal diocese of the Swaminarayan Sampraday at the age of 17 where he was given the name Yagnapurushdas Swami. The prefix Shastri was later added in recognition of his eminent scholarship in Sanskrit and the Hindu scriptures. He established BAPS after a doctrinal split from the Vadtal diocese of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya.

po_Shastriji-Maharaj1Shastriji Maharaj is credited with establishing BAPS on June 5, 1907 CE in Bochasan, Gujarat to propagate the Akshar-Purushottam Upasana (philosophy), which, he explained, had been revealed by Swaminarayan. A staunch proponent of this philosophy, he consecrated the sacred images of Swaminarayan (as a manifestation of Purushottam) and Gunatitanand Swami (as a manifestation of Akshar) in the central shrines of major mandirs in the towns of Bochasan, Sarangpur, Atladra, Gondal, and Gadhada in Gujarat, India.

In the early 1950s, having successfully laid the foundations of BAPS, he appointed Pramukh Swami Maharaj as its administrative head to serve under Yogiji Maharaj, whom he revealed as the 4th spiritual successor to Swaminarayan.