Aacharya of Swaminarayan Sect
In Hinduism, an Aacharya holds an important role of being a spiritual leader, assigned by God himself, for the devotee whose sole goal is the attainment of ultimate salvation. He acts as a leader for his disciples. Aacharya has the right to initiate disciples into the sect and propound the Vedic doctrines. He preaches not only through the knowledge of the scriptures, but also through his own spiritual experiences. The main role of an Aacharya is to initiate disciples by a sacred thread and give them gurumantra [Yagnavalkya Smriti, Chapter 2, Verse 19]. Thus, Aacharya is an ideal person who acts as a source of inspiration, guidance and an exemplary model whose footsteps are followed by millions of followers.
In order to establish the religion all around the world and give divine happiness of His true form to His devotees, Lord Swaminarayan made three resolutions. Build temples & install idols of deities, establish Aacharyas and compose scriptures to manifest the greatness of the Swaminarayan sect. Keeping these in mind Lord Swaminarayan, with consensus of all the devotees and saints, established the religious throne in Dharmavansh (lineage of Shri Dharmadev).
In order to take care of this huge sect in a systematic way, the sect was divided into two divisions, the throne of Nar-Narayan dev (Ahmedabad Temple) for Northern part of India and the throne of Lakshmi-Narayan dev (Vadtal Temple) for the Southern part of India. In the presence of thousands of saints and devotees, on the auspicious day of Kartak Sud Ekadashi of Vikram Samvat 1882, i.e. Tuesday, November 21, 1825, Param Pujya Ayodhyaprasadji Maharaj, son of Rampratapbhai and Param Pujya Raghuvirji Maharaj, son of Ichharambhai were installed as the Aacharyas of Ahmedabad and Vadtal divisions respectively. To this, Swaminarayan Bhagwan states in his handwritten Shikshapatri, Verse 3,
भ्रात्रो रामप्रतापेच्छारामयोर्धर्मजन्मनो:। यावयोध्याप्रसादाख्यरघुवीराभिधौ सुतौ॥०३॥
“Born to Dharmadev, my brothers Rampratapji and Ichcharamji, their sons named Ayodhyaprasad and Raghuvir (whom I have accepted as my adopted sons and establish them as the Aacharya of all Satsangis)”.