The vow of Paanch vartaman (the five vows) means abstinence from alcoholism, meat - eating, stealing, adultery and self - conversion as well as converting others . The saints administer the Panchavartamana to a person who strives for salvation and who wishes to become a member of the Swaminarayan sect. The saints make such a person hold water in his right palm and chant the sharan - mantra (holy verse meant for the moment of the act of surrender) which is as follows: Kala Maya Papa Karma Yamadoota Bhayadaham Shri Krishnadevam sharanam prapanno smi sa patu maama 

The meaning of this holy verse translated into English is The fear of Kala (inauspicious Time), Maya (delusions), Papa (sin), Karma (deeds of past life or lives) and Yamadootas (messengers of Lord Yama, the God of Death) haunts me. 

Lord Swaminarayan I have come to your refuge. O! Lord protect me eternally'. The person is then made to take the vow that he will abstain from alcohol, meat, etc. ( the five things mentioned earlier) throughout his life in order to please Lord Swaminarayan. The person is then made to release the water in his palm onto the ground and then made to wear the kanthi (holy string of basilwood or sandalwood beads). Thus, the sacrament of the Panchavartamana is solemnized. The past sins of a person are washed away by the administering of the Panchavartamana by a saint, on the condition that the person does not ever indulge in any of the five things that he has promised to abstain from. Of all the five things, alcohol is considered most responsible for the degradation of man.


The Shikshapatri prohibits the intake of three types of sura (hard - liquor) and eleven types of madhya (light wines; the varieties available today have far exceeded the number eleven). The followers of Swaminarayanism are forbidden the use of alcohol. 

How can an alcoholic be characterised? An account of the churning of the ocean by the Gods and demons to obtain nectar is found in the Puranas (The word purana literally means ancient. The Purana is a sacred poetical work giving accounts of Gods and men of ancient times. The Puranas are eighteen in number and are supposed to have been composed by Vyasa). The wine thus obtained from the churning of the ocean was taken away by the demons after being unacceptable to the Gods. This itself is the proof as to which kind of persons would like intoxication. It should be seriously considered how one's nature is transformed after being intoxicated ? Alcohol transforms the Sattvik ( calm and virtuous) qualities into Taamsi (wrathful and dark) qualities and transforms a person into a demon. Alcohol and meat are forbidden in the Shikshapatri. 

If this notion is accepted by society, expenditure of lakhs and crores of rupees on propoganda can be saved. Morover, the society would comprise of healthy people and Satyayug (the golden age) of peace, tolerance and happiness would prevail.


Lord Swaminarayan has said that one should not eat meat even in calamitous times and even if it is the remainder of Yajnas (a sacrificial rite consisting of offerings made as oblations to Gods). It is said in the Shikshapatri that if one’s diet consists of pure food, one’s inner being also attains purity and God dwells only in purity. Many argue that eggs are not non – vegetarian! It is better to get the answer from the hen herself than from our ownselves. The answer can be found in the behaviour of the hen after she has laid her eggs. If someone lifts one of her eggs, she is disturbed because she fears that her chick will be harmed. Is this not the proof that the egg contains her offspring? Lord Swaminarayan has said that “the consumption of meat gives rise to demonic qualities in a man”. How many sighs of the animals would there be in their meat ! One only needs to see the animals being dragged to the slaughter house and their tantrums as they approaches the gate. Their instinct tells them where and why they are being led. What else could you call such people who contribute to the meaningless slaughter of innocent animals for their food, if not demons?


Premananda Swami has said ( chori na karni kahuki – which means abstain from stealing of any type). Lord Swaminarayan’s words are: ’Stena karma na kartavyam dharmathamapi kenachita’ The meaning of these words is that not only should one never steal for the sake of his house or selfish purpose, but also not for the sake of Dharma (religious purpose). If one sees lovely flowers in a garden or ripe fruit on a tree which one plucks without the permission of the owner, with the idea of making an offering to God, one will take sin upon himself, while the blessings will be bestowed on the owner of the garden. One should thus, not only refrain from stealing for religious purposes, but also for business purposes, like cheating in terms of weight and measure for monetary benefit or abstaining from work in the work - place. One should also never pick up any unowned thing lying on the road.


One should never get involved with a woman who is not one’s wife. Shriji Maharaj has clearly said in the Shikshapatri that ’men or women followers of Swaminarayanism should never engage in adultery’. The need of this cautious advice is felt a thousand times more in the present age, than it must be at the time when the Shikshapatri was written. The evergrowing advertising media, various types of literature, pictures and cinema are responsible for encouraging adverse effects on the minds of people. A gruhhasta (a householder in the second of the four stages of life) who remains loyal to his wife, is considered to be as holy as a tyagi (one who has renounced the pleasures of life). Shri Hari also voices caution against being in the company of one's mother, sister or daughter in solitude. ’Partriya sanga ko tyaga’ (avoid the company of a woman other than one's wife). One whose life is devoid of the commandment, risks the weakening of his mind and becomes a victim of depression. As a result, he is never able to progress in worship, spirituality and the path of good deeds. His only destination is Yamapuri (the city of Yama ; hell).

Self Conversion and Converting Others

’Bin khapto nahi khat’. These words of the Nand saints means that one should neither convert himself nor should one convert others. This applies not only to religion but also to varnashrama. One who does not eat pure food cannot possess a pure inner - being; one's mind will be like the food one eats. The mind is defiled by eating food in restaurants, where there is no trace of cleanliness and purity, where plates, bowls and spoons used by diseased persons are just dipped in water to be used again and grains,spices,etc. are of substandard quality. When a person eats such food, not only are his thoughts polluted, but also his health is endangered. These are the five vows of the Swaminarayan sect. A faithful devotee of Lord Swaminarayan must follow adopt these vows lovingly and whole - heartedly, only then can he be called a satsangi (a true follower of the Swaminarayan sect). 

Posted on November 6th, 2018 in Satsang Philosophy by Admin

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