In His own words spoken in Hindi, He revealed His reason for incarnating:
Doosra avatar hai so karya-karan avatar huwa hai,Or mera yaha avatar hai so to jivoku Brahmarup karkeAtyantik mukti dene ke vaste Aksharatit PurushottamJo ham vaha manushya jaisa banya hoon.
i.e. The earlier avatars incarnated to serve a specific purpose, however, My present incarnation is to Brahmanise the Jivas and grant them ultimate salvation. For this mission, I, the Purushottam, transcending Aksharbrahman, have assumed a human form.
His life history and work is detailed elsewhere on this website. However a Gujarati scholar, Kishorelal Mashruwala in his ‘Swami Sahajanand athawa Swaminarayan Sampradaya (1923) has succinctly summarized His incredible mission, spanning only 29 years, from 1801 to 1830 CE, when He returned to His divine abode, Akshardham:
“At a time when Gujarat – Kathiawad was steeped in darkness, with his divine power, Sahajanand Swami (Bhagwan Swaminarayan):
- enlightened infinite hearts,
- inspired thousands to sacrifice themselves on his commands,
- subjugated the looting instincts of scores of Kathis and Kolis,
- re-established the extinct Brahmacharya ashram,
- enlightened the ascetic order which had become uncontrolled and wanton,
- laid down the ideals of self-control for the gurus and acharyas who had lapsed,
- gave women a well-defined status in society and the Sampradaya, thus uplifting them,
- accepted non-Hindus into the Hindu Dharma,
- taught purity of character to the Shudras (low castes),
- boosted literature, music and arts,
- propounded Ahimsac (non-violent) yagnas,
- became a teacher of the values of forgiving,
- was a founder of character and purity of life,
- was a proponent of the paths of pure Bhakti (devotion) and pure Jnan (knowledge),
- was a teacher of Bhagwat Dharma and extoller of the principles of Ved Vyas.
If incarnations do occur on earth, then he can indubitably be given the title of Avatar.”
The tremendous effect of His divinity was reflected in the number of devotees then. Around 2 million worshipped Him as the Supreme Lord Purushottam Narayan. Additionally, He had initiated 3000 ascetics, consecrated 6 Vedic stone mandirs, written a code of conduct, Shikshapatri, and inspired His Paramhansas to write several other scriptures, namely: Vachanamrutam, Satsangijivanam, Bhaktachintamani and Haricharitramrut Sagar, in addition to thousands of poetic verses – kirtans. Scholars have considered the Vachanamrutam as the first and finest piece of Gujarati prose of the early 19th century.
After departing for Akshardham on Jeth sud 10, Samvat 1886 – 1st June 1830, He remains manifest on earth through His Gunatit successors. Today HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj is His fifth successor.
Devotees observe nirjala-waterless fast. The whole day is celebrated in devotional pursuit such as listening to His lila, reading scriptures and singing kirtans. At 10.10 p.m. the time of incarnation, arti of His child form, in a silver cradle, is performed in all the Sampradaya’s mandirs. An Annakut is also offered, Panchajiri being the traditional prasad.