|History and Purpose of Mahapuja in the Gunatit Samaj|
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Guruhari Pappaji Maharaj asked Param Pujya Didi to conduct the first Mahapuja for all members of the Gunatit Samaj, on 8th August 1964 at Tardev, Mumbai. Since then a Mahapuja is conducted every day at all Gunatit Jyot centres across the world. To commemorate this day, Gunatit Jyot conducts a special mahapuja for each an every member of the samaj on the 8th August of each year.
A Mahapuja is different to other forms of daily puja or worship in that in Mahapuja Bhagwan Swaminarayan, MulAkshar Brahm Gunatitanand Swami, all of Maharaj’s Gunatit successors as well all akshar mukto (Tyagi Santo, Vrat Dhari Bhaio, Vrat Dhari Beno and Grashasta Bhai Bhabhio) are invoked to be present at the puja and special prayers are said for devotees; Mahapuja is unique to the Swaminarayan faith.
Purpose of Mahapuja
Mahapuja is undertaken to ensure all devotees live a life full of spiritual (akshardham) joy and peace, protecting them from any ill-fate so that their lives are transformed into that of devotion, prosperity and well being. To that end the names of all haribhakto are read out during the puja and metaphorically placed at the lotus feet of Shreeji Maharaj; even those with the slightest association with our organisation. Guruhari Pappaji called this ‘ Nishkam bhav ni mahapuja’.
Haribhakto often request for Mahapuja to be carried out for them when they wish to counter some problems or uncertainties in their lives and as a result they experience the resolution of these difficulties. The power of the Mahapuja is such that for those who have faith, miracles certainly occur and in the words of Pappaji Maharaj, "The impossible becomes possible".
The origins of the Mahapuja are from the ancient Hindu scriptures and religious rites but modified for the specific purpose described above. The first Mahapuja was conducted on 2nd June 1830, the day after Shreeji Maharaj left His physical form and returned to Swadham. This was conducted to console Dada Khachar who was grief stricken because Maharaj had stayed with him at Gadhada for 28 years.
Thereafter there are no records of Mahapuja being formed until 15 years later when Gunatitanand Swami requested Gopalanand Swami to do Mahapuja at the Junagadh temple to help improve the livelihood and mundane prospects of the local devotees. Gunatitanand Swami explained the glory of the Mahapuja and gave blessings that anyone for whom Mahapuja is performed will be relieved from all mental and physical miseries, from poverty and all their virtuous wishes will be fulfilled. Subsequently, Shastriji Maharaj had Mahapuja specially performed at Akshar Deri (place where Gunatitanand Swami was cremated) in Gondal, and instructed Yogiji Maharaj to perform Mahapuja daily for all haribhakto.
The Mahapuja that is conducted in the Gunatit Samaj today was formulated by Pujya Bhagvatbhai Dave (Param Pujya Didi’s father) from the orginal Swaminarayan scripts. Mahapuja is usually conducted by a sadhu of high spiritual standing, however, Guruhari Pappaji has simplified the text so that any lay householder or devotee can also perform Mahapuja in their own homes.
In accordance with Parm Pujya Pappaji's desire to pray for the whole samaj, a special mahapuja is conducted on the 8th August of every year in which every sadguru prays for the health and well being of all gunatit samaj followers; each and every individual is prayed for specially. This nishkam seva is performed by our swaroopo in India. So let us also pray, that we can live our lives in ways that repays the efforts of such nishkam devotion in some small way.
Authors: Dr Neelamben Shah and Sunil Gandhi
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