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Ramanand Swami (born Shri Rama Sharma) to a Brahmin family in Ayodhya in 1738. His parents were Ajay Sharma (father) and Sumati (mother). He was considered to be the incarnation of Uddhavaji, a close friend of Krishna. Ramanand Swami was the founder and head of the Uddhav Sampraday. Ramanand Swami adopted of the Vishishtadvaita doctrine of the Vaishnava which was first propounded by Ramanuja several centuries earlier. In his travels to Srirangam in southern India in his early life, Ramanuja is said to have given Ramanand Swami diksha, or initiation, in a dream and appointed him in his line as an acharya. Ramanand Swami then travelled north to Kathiyavad to spread his philosophy. In 1802, Ramanand Swami passed the reins of the Uddhav Sampraday to Swaminarayan before his death.
Swaminarayan and initiation 
Ramanand Swami was the guru of Swaminarayan.
Swaminarayan (then Ghanshyam Pande) left his home at age 11 on 29 June 1792 after the death of both his parents and undertook a 7 years 1 month and 11 day journey across India. He took the name Nilkanth Varni while on his journey. Nilkanth Varni traveled across India and parts of Nepal in search of an ashram or sampradaya that practiced what he considered a correct understanding of Vedanta, Samkhya, Yoga, and Pancaratra (the four primary schools of Hinduism).
While on his journey, Nilkanth Varni mastered ashtanga yoga or eightfold yoga. In the year 1799, Nilkanth Varni's journey as a yogi eventually concluded in Loj, a village in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. In Loj, Nilkanth Varni was introduced to Muktanand Swami, a senior disciple of Ramanand Swami who answered the five questions satisfactorily. He then persuaded Nilkanth Varni to stay to get an opportunity to meet Ramanand Swami, whose disciple Nilkanth Varni later became.
- "About the Swaminarayan Sampraday".
- J. J. Roy Burman (2005). Gujarat Unknown. Mittal Publications. Retrieved June 13, 2009. Page 17
- Williams, Raymond (2001). Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 16. ISBN 0 21 65279 0 Check
- Raymond Brady Williams (2001). An introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved April 19, 2009. Page 17
- "Nilkanth Varni".
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