Shastriji Maharaj was the third guru in line after Shriji Maharaj. He consecrated the murtis of Akshar and Purushottam in Bochasan and founded our Sanstha - The Bochasanwasi Shri Askhar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).
Childhood Years: Devotion and Genius
As a child, Shastrji Maharaj was called Dungar Bhakta. He was born on 31 January 1865 in the village of Mahelav. From a young age, he showed extraordinary devotion. While his friends played games, young Dungar was busy building small models of mandirs out of sand and mud. He would pretend that he was installing the murti of God, offering a feast (annkut) and performing arti. Who knew that in the future young Dungar would grow up and make these make-believe mandirs really come true!
Dungar Bhakta was a true genius. During visits to the nearby Vartal Mandir, seven-year old Dungar could be found sitting on the porch, reading out like a scholar from the pages of the scriptures that had been thrown away as waste. And this was before he had even started school! In school, he would immediately memorize all of his lessons. He would also memorize all of the satsang talks from visiting sadhus after hearing them just once. Then, when there were no sadhus in the mandir, nine-year old Dungar would give these speeches from memory to the adults. Dungar had decided to be the best in his studies, and if he became a sadhu, to be the best in that as well.
Sadhu Yagnapurushdas: The Best
Dungar Bhakta was initiated as a sadhu and given the name Yagnapurushdas during a grand yagna in Vartal. In the entire organization, Sadhu Yagnapurushdas was number one in knowledge of the scriptures and in spiritual greatness. Because of this he began to be known as Shastriji Maharaj.
The Worship of Akshar Purushottam
His guru, Bhagatji Maharaj, showed him the truth behind the worship of Akshar Purushottam. After this he worked day and night inspiring people to understand the true worship of Akshar Purushottam. But many people could not understand this and became jealous of his growing fame. These people did many things to oppose and abuse Shastriji Maharaj. But Shastriji Maharaj, out of his abundant saintliness, did not fight back. In the end, he left Vartal with just five sadhus and a handful of devotees and founded the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) in 1907.
Over the next forty years, he built five beautiful mandirs. For the first time in the history of the world, these mandirs had the murtis of Aksharand Purushottam installed in the central shrines. In this way, Shastriji Maharaj made sure that the worship of God and His ideal Devotee, Akshar and Purushottam, that had been taught by Shriji Maharaj would remain on Earth forever. He showed Yogiji Maharaj as the next guru, and he made Sadhu Narayanswarupdas (Pramukh Swami Maharaj) the president of BAPS.
Life Span: 86 Years
From 31 January 1865 CE to 10 May 1951 CE
Birthplace: Mahelav, Gujarat, India
As Guru: 54 Years (1897-1951CE)