Shikshapatri: A Study
In Shree Swaminarayan Sampradaya the Shikshapatri holds a position that is as important as the Gita throughout Hinduism. Two great characters Shri Krishna and Arjuna take charge of our mind and memory as soon as we hear the word “Gita.”
“Life is an unending war, an unending struggle.” Lord Shri Krishna delivers the nectar of eternal life and self confidence to Arjuna when he was shattered and disintegrated at the battle field of Kurukshetra. The nectar was in the form of the Shrimad Bhagwad Gita.
Some 225 years ago a war was waged on the battlefield of life against enemies such as unhealthy traditions, superstitions, blind faith, misbelief and intoxicants. Man was internally disintegrated and was shattered to rags in his social life. Omniscient Lord Purushottam Narayan Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan manifested himself on the earth in Chappaiya and blessed Man with renewed life and society by addressing and preaching the Shikshapatri of 212 shlokas.
It is the Gita of our times. Instead of Arjuna there is the whole society – entire mankind - in front of Lord Shri Hari Who preaches to them the essence of ideal life. Shikshapatri includes the condensed form of Gita.
Here were all the castes, age groups, men, women, saints, celibates and the Acharya. For preaching and teaching there was the whole society. Great social thinker Shri Ishwar Ptelikar has observed:
Society was pushed to the lowest rung of culture and civilisation. There was total chaos of every walk of life. Nobody knew where to spit and where not to. Thus the conduct and behaviour needed modification right from the base. Society had become like an infant needing motherly support at each step. Lord Swaminarayan Bhagwan did so. He preached through his Shikshapatri the ways and means to climb up the murky dirt of violence, theft, lies, debauchery, gambling, etc. He inspired them by his Shikshapatri. He made them firm and steady in their ethical duties – personal and general. He drew a perfect map of life for every quarter of society and ensured its total protection by well defined tenets and rules. Thus he paved a comfortable and obstacle free path for self emancipation.
Besides the essence of Gita, Shikshapatri contains the universal doctrines of all religious scriptures beginning with the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishadas histories, etc. The religious tenets have become an essential part of daily life. Its style and language are scholarly. Shikshapatri is a good manager for the life of a Satsangi (an aspirant). Shikshapatri had founded and established the cardinal principle doctrines and rules of life for the Acharya, the Kings and the subjects, males and females, sadhus, celibates, householders, married women and widows. There is total guidance for every one and every individual. Shikshapatri draws a limiting line for our everyday life, behaviour and conduct.
Virtuous acts or such behaviour is the first step towards a purer life. Only a pure heart can receive the image of God. Lord Swaminarayan Bhagwan had concentrated more on this point. If the soul becomes pure and pollution free, the Supreme Consciousness will automatically manifest. Religion is a subject of practice not of debate. Religion means enhancement of life. In a nutshell religion is a continuous process, to imbibe, develop and exhibit cardinal virtues and irreligion is the inner process developing and exhibiting the bad habits. Spiritualism is a subject of practice not of mere deliberation.
Lord Swaminarayan Bhagwan had most effectively defined in his Shikshapatri the terms: Jiva (soul), Ishwara (cosmic God) and Maya (eternal entity). He has explained in His Shikshapatri the form of Dharma (ethical duties), Gyan (the knowledge of the Ultimate), Vairagya (detachment and asceticism) and Bhakti (devotion).
By showing the ultimate aim of human life Shriji Maharaj had said “Live in the state of pure consciousness and perform devotion of God.” Dharma (religion), Artha (wealth) Kaam (social duty), and Moksha (salvation) are the ultimate attainments of human life. Lord Shriji Maharaj gives us in his Shikshapatri the master key for these attainments:
Shikshapatri is the modern Gita helping man in his battle of life.
Shikshapatri is a set of practical rules with emphasis on self improvement rather than correcting the world.
Shikshapatri is the core of all the scriptures. It is an educative bulletin for his dependent followers.
Shikshapatri is the commandment and the set of norms for all His Satsangis and saints.
Shikshapatri is the hand book of the religious, ethical and the set of norms for mankind in general.
Shikshapatri is the code of conduct.
Shikshapatri is the text book of religion in practice.
Shikshapatri is the master key of an ideal life.
Shikshapatri is a powerful weapon. It is a powerful scripture and is the ladder for an upward flight for emancipation.
Like axiomatic religion, Shikshapatri is the eternal commandment holding eternal majesty.
“Here the world has become a nest” Shikshapatri is the divine speech of Shri Hari preaching universal brotherhood and eternal love.
Shikshapatri is an eternal spring of benediction.
Shikshapatri is an unparalleled link of Indian philosophy.
- Prof. Mahadev Dhoriani