At first a thought enters into man's mind. Imagination awakes the person who incarnates this thought or imagination might be an artist, a writer, a poet, a painter, a singer, an architect or a sculptures, but they all are artists. A person who in earnatesit into writing is called a writer. The person who incarnates it into painting is a painter. One who moulds it into wood, stone or wood is known as a sculptor. The singer is he who shapes his thought and imagination into notations. One who incarnates it into building is called an architect. Swaminarayan Sampraday has all varieties of these architects. These artists have been immortalised by their works. Among poets, there are Muktanand, Brahmanand etc. Aadharanand Swami is among the famous painters. Premsakhi, and Premanand are among the great musicians. Among painters, Narayanji Suthar, Kadiya Roopa. Kadva and Swami Aadharanand are well known. Among sculptors, Aanandanand Swami and Brahmanand Swami are famous. Narayanji Suthar of Bhuj-Kutch was not only a painter but also an expert sculptor and architect. He prepared the blue-print of the temple of Ahmedabad.
Shriji Maharaj had three volitions to make Satsang firmly rooted.
(1) to construct temples
(2) To establish a tradition of Acharya and
(3) to compose scriptures for Sampraday.
According to his first volition, he got the temple of Ahmedabad constructed. He selected a vast area for the site and constructed a temple three tombs (peaks). A four storied building for the stay of Sadhus was built. Wood carving is every where in the temple. The artistic sculpture of the main entrance of the temple and pillars are unique.
After the construction of temple at Ahmedabad, the construction at Bhuj began. At both these places- Ahmedabad and Bhuj, Shriji Maharaj has made the rite of investing idols of Nar-Narayana with life. He himself has said, “NAR-NARAYAN DEV is my own form. I am born for the redemption of crores of lives only because of him. Hence no difference between Him and me should be made”.
At the time of religious sites of investing idol with life at Bhuj, the opponents tried their best to create obstacles. They tried to instigate the King of Bhuj against it, but in vain after the installation and construction of temple at Bhuj, SATSANG was widely spread in all villages of Kutch. As HARI LEELA MRIT notes “The stories of Leela at Kutch were widely known in foreign lands”. Then was created the temple at Vadtal. Shriji Maharaj, for the sole purpose of the construction of that temple, commanded Brahmanand, construct the temple as per the fund available”. Saying thus, Maharaj smiled and gave Brahmanand Swami only
rupees twelve. Brahmanand Swami also responded his smile and said, “Why should there be any deficiency when we have a master like you ?” This was supported by Jivuba. So Shriji Maharaj said, “When Goddess of Wealth (Laxmiji) herself has said so, Swamiji's determination will be fruitful. Let it be a gigantic temple”. Brahman Muni constructed the large sized big temple with three domes at Vadtal. There Maharaja himself installed with all pomp idols of LaxmiNarayan Dev, Dharma Dev and Bhaktimata with Harikrishna Maharaj (Shriji Maharaj Himself). Wonderful description of this incident has been nicely narrated in HARI LEELA MRIT volume. Then under the guidance of Anandanand Swami one more temple with dome was built at Jetalpur near Ahmedabad. Under the able guidance of Adbhootananda and Nishkulananda Swami a temple at Dholera was constructed. The wooden carriages of this temple is a living monument of the sight and art of Swami Nishkulanand. It is an art really worth-seeing.
The Temples of Dholka and Junagadh were built after the construction of temple at Gholera was over. The responsibility of Junagadh temple was on Brahmanand Swami. Shri Gopalananda Swami and Gunatitananda Swami were also jointly responsible with Brahmanand Swami. There was a great opposition for this temple, but Brahmanand Swami very tactfully overcame this opposition. Maharaj himself hand in hand with Brahma Muni had on the spot inspection of the construction of this temple at the time of the idol installation. His joy was limitless. Thus temples were erected everywhere, and how do we go without a temple at a place where Maharaj lived ? I mean `at Ghadhada. Dada Khachar had already placed everything at Maharaj's feet. He willingly donated a piece of land for this temple. Narayanjee Suthar, devotee from Bhuj Kutch, prepared a map of three domed temple as desired by Maharaj. Viraktananda Swami was proficient in constructing temples. He engaged many such proficient sculptors and architects. But alas! these architects failed to have an idea of architecture of this temple. Maharaj came to their help. He said, “Would you get an idea if I show you the temple before your eyes ?”
No sooner had Maharaj said this than all architects fell into trance (SAMAADHI). They visualised the whole temple before their eyes while in trance. This whole scene was so nicely printed in their minds that when the trance was over, they prepared a complete blue-print of the temple. They enthusiastically started the construction of the temple. There were many stone- mixers around Ghadhada. The stone there could be utilised in the construction. So Maharaj had issued an order, while returning from the river after bathing, everyone should carry a stone with him. “Maharaj himself used to carry stones in this way. No doubt about the sanctity of this temple where Maharaj camped and carried upon his own head stones for the temples. Someone asked, “Maharaj, how's that the temple at Ghadhada was built last of all?” “Here I myself was present, whereas at other places my devotees seldom had my Darshana. So the places other than Ghadhada had the first chance,” replied Maharaj
Picture and Sculpture are the symbols of cultured life. The home is throbbing with life in their presence. In their absence the home turns our to be mere walls. Shriji Maharaj has taken great pains to see that every house of his devotees must of necessity contain pictures and sculptures. Temples are not meant for anyone, but they belong to whole community of SATSANG. Hence, the paintings and sculptures of these temples have great impact on the community. For this purpose, the minute observation and Darshan is essential. Their doors, balconies, upper storeys, stone or wooden bases of pillars and their carvings and engravings, sculptures of birds and animals, flowers, creepers decorated colourfully, idols of scholars and ladies holding musical instrument, their instruments and their colourful dresses, construction of Haveli, Arch and Arched gates, domes of temples, their peaks, thrones, meeting halls, idols of Hanumanji and Ganeshji, monuments of the foot prints of Shriji Maharaj - all these require minute observation. The temples and their doors of Ahmedabad and Ghadadha Temples are some of the best speciments of architecture. Whereas the main entrances of Vadtal, Muli and Dholera are so beautifully decorated that one would be automatically drawn towards them. Every temple has idols of Ghanshayam Maharaj either in wood or stone. The wooden and stone idols of Ghanshayam Maharaj at Ahmedabad and Bhuj are unique. They are so lively as if they would talk to us any minute.
Havelis of Swaminarayan and their constructions are also unique. Some of them have two storeys and some are four storey. Maximum architectural acumen is found utilised them. Haveli for ladies at Muli is a matchless ample of sculpture. Such artistic residences for Sankhya yogi ladies and Sadhus at Bhuj and Vadtal are in existence in wooden and stone idols of Hanumanji, Ganeshji and Warpal require our special artistic attention. In short time, Shriji Maharaj had initiated new upsurge in the art of music and sculpture in Gujarat. He made it possible in few years what seemed impossible to be achieved in hundreds of years.This is enough proof of his impact.