Five Fundemental Vows, Panch Vartman
Shriji Maharaj and His prominent saints worked hard to recruit appropriate followers to run the new Swaminarayan sampraday. The members of this sampraday increased quantity and Shriji Maharaj introduced some rules to establish the moral standards of His satsangis. Lord Swaminarayan introduced Five Basic Vows known as Panch Vartman, compulsory for all the followers. Even now, a devotee must make a solemn promise to follow the panch vartaman upon initiation into the sampraday by H.H. Acharya Maharajshri.
1. Lord Shri Hari restricts His followers from eating meat in any form and in any case, not even as the offerings – prasad of a deity or remains from a yagna (sacrifice). It should never be taken as medicine or a healing agent to save one’s life.
2. No satsangi of Lord Swaminarayan consume alcohol or any other intoxicating drug of any sort or form – not even as medicine to saves one’s life. Smoking of any type and taking of tobacco or likewise is also prohibited. This includes items such as bhang.
3. Adultery is a great sin under any circumstances for all followers. Satsangis should never look at any woman with passion. They should never keep close contact with any persons of the opposite gender except their nearest relations. They should never stay alone or in privacy even with young daughters, sisters or even mothers.
4. The followers of Swaminarayan Bhagwan should never indulge in theft or stealing even of the smallest item under any circumstances, even if it is for offerings to a deity, without the permission of the owner. Stealing should never be attempted even to saves one’s life.
5. Devotees of Lord Swaminarayan must practise non-conversion. They must follow the other four vows closely and not stray from these rules, or allow or encourage others to stray from this path.
These five basic vows are compulsory for all the followers excluding children below the age of six years and very old persons or those who are very sick. Some relaxation of these rules is permitted in the most exceptional circumstances such as natural disasters.
Followers who abide by all these five basic vows will be happy throughout their lifetime and even in the lives to come. Lord will bless them with all the success and prosperity in life with the ultimate goal to reach His Abode.
The bona-fide followers of Lord Swaminarayan should always stick to panch vartaman for their benefit. By doing so they are securing their health, prestige, wealth and will power and ultimately the sure path to the Abode of Lord Swaminarayan. The panch vartaman are necessary for a person to become a human being and should not be thought of as exclusive to being a satsangi.