This article is inspired by the beliefs and traditions in my family. The summer of 2017 allowed me to experience some remarkable places in India, giving me the opportunity to discover more about my country and dharma. One week into my trip, I was taken to the south of Gujarat to visit Shri Krishna Pranami mandir. Here I was told that my grandfather and his family used to worship Shri Krishna at this mandir, and that since then Pranami dharma has been followed in the family. I was really fascinated by the way prayers were done at this temple and wondered where Pranami dharma developed from.
The basis of this dharma is ‘Prem Lakshana Bhakti’ or ‘devotion in the spirit of a lover’. Devotion represents the love and trust in the Supreme Soul. It is through this dharma that the Pranamis believe they will ascend to the home of aksharatil – the Paramdham. The scriptures of Pranami dharma are popularly known as Swasam Veda, Kulzam Swarup and Injeel which have 18,758 verses arranged in 14 books.
Pranami dharma has over five million adherents who are known to respect each other as friends with Pranam. The followers of this dharma worship and bow to the Supreme Lord, in the form of Shri Krishna. Followers greet each other by saying ‘Pranam’, recognising the divinity in each person. In Sanskrit, namah+te = namaste. It means ‘I bow to you’ – my greeting to you. Pranam, which means ‘I bow to the Lord Supreme in you’ is indicated by folded palms placed in front the chest. The bowing of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love and humility. The foundation for this dharma was laid by Shri Devchandra Maharaj, who was born in 1581 in Marwad in Umarkot village (now in Sindh, Pakistan) in a Kayasth family.
Shri Devchandraji was very curious and contemplative since childhood: he would always ask questions such as, “who am I? What is the world? Who is its creator?”. At the age of sixteen, Shri Devchandra Maharaj renounced the world and left in search of Brahma Gyana which is also known as ‘divine knowledge’ from Kutch to Jamnagar. Shri Devchandraji found and formed a new sect called the Nijanand Sampradaya (self-religion). He made Jamnagar his major centre of operation, where he explained the Vedas, Vedantic knowledge and Bhagwatam in simple language, and taught Tartam Mantra.
The Pranami dharma reached its present heights of popularity mainly due to the influence of Prannath, who was born in Jamnagar, Saurashtra, in September 1618. Shri Prannath is the most important leader of Pranami dharma, who carried the word and practice to many places. His efforts and dedication historically have made a distinct mark on Hindu dharma and civilization. He was the fourth son of Keshav Thakur, a Dewan under the Jama ruler of Shri Satta, and belonged to the Kshatriya varna. The Pranami dharma began to spread in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalayas 125 years ago.
It is believed that there are 12 commandments to follow in the Pranami dharma.
There are 4 places of pilgrimage.
Finally, reading about Pranami dharma has built a strong foundation for my knowledge on this topic. This article only outlines a few ideas out of the many different insights about this dharma. What marks it out is the pluralist significance given to all other religions by the various gurus, particularly Prannath. In the future, I would love to visit one of the holy Shri Krishna Pranami mandirs in Jamnagar to expand my understanding of Pranami dharma and its history.
Jai Shri Krishna Pranaam
— Janki Rohitkumar Patel, Events Team Member