This museum is Shri TejendraPrasadji's dream. He had thought about it years before. He voluntarily retired six months before to get things moving, and to get ample time to dedicate to his vision. He does not intend to make this museum as a separate entity from temple. He plans to make arrangements such that it lasts forever. The management of the museum has to be such that the museum retains its meaning and grows in fame and splendor. Shri TejendraPrasadji's 60th birthday was celebrated under the condition that proceeds from the celebration should be forwarded to this project. It has been done so. But, this is a small amount as compared to the size of the project. The followers are expected to donate generously, and Shri TejendraPrasadji hopes that people will come out to make this a success.
The museum work is already started. According to Shri TejendraPrasadji, a museum gives a dead feeling, and very rarely does anybody like to go around a museum. Generally, people visit a museum, but after returning home with bored feelings and aching legs, nobody wants to give it a second visit. Keeping this in mind, this museum is planned to have a pleasant ambience with a pleasing landscape. The architect is asked to pay special attention to the factor of giving it an interesting look. One of the ideas is to divide the museum in small units so that the person visits one unit and comes out to relax for a while. Another unit can be a fresh start which can be visited on the same day, or some other day.
According to a definition from the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Statutes, article 2, para. 1 - " A museum is typically a non-profit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, the tangible and intangible evidence of people and their environment ". Being true to the definition, this museum is going to be no exception. Though, the Swaminarayan followers ("Satsangis") will be mainly interested in the museum's exhibit, it will be open to all.
The Swaminarayan religion is only 230 years old. Thus, projecting the museum for historical purpose (presently) will not do justice to the idea. The main goal is to collect the belongings of Swaminarayan, and preserve them with utmost care. When Bhagvan Shree Swaminarayan moved from place to place, He gave many items like mat, clothes, 'mala', etc to His followers as 'prasadi'. As 'prasadi' passes down the generation, most of the times, it loses its importance as children might not have the same devotion as their parents. Due to this loss of faith, these priceless items are feared to be destroyed, not cared for, sold, and neglected. Sometime, children even want to split the 'prasadi' among themselves say, footprints of Bhagvan Shree Swaminarayan. This way, things will be further scattered.
Temples also have their own collection, but items are kept in a jumble. The people who pass through them have no historical information about these items. Thus, Shree TejendraPrasadji feels the pain in his heart to bring all this together under one roof, and let all devotees have the privilege of going through the collections. He wishes to project the collection to the common masses, and wants to preserve the things for further studies periodically. Where else is this possible if not a museum!
The main highlight and the heart of this museum is the handwriting of Bhagvan Shree Swaminarayan. It is possessed by Shree TejendraPrasadji. No other temple or person has His writing or signature. No one has any copy of this. This is a legal document; power of attorney given by Bhagvan Shree Swaminarayan to one of his followers on 1 Re stamp paper, endorsed by a British officer. In the main hall of the museum, only this letter will be put. So, this letter is going to be the main attraction of the museum.
Other attractions would be Bhagvan Shree Swaminarayan's personal belongings like clothes, vessels, 'malas', footprints, silver toothpick, fragments of His hair, nails etc. The collection also includes a flute, which has a story that one of his followers once commented that Krishna was known for playing flute. On hearing this, he took the flute and played it effortlessly!
In order to maintain the attraction of people, periodically the display items will be changed. The collection is expected to grow as things are still coming in as donation from the people.
The pleasant environment of the museum is a distinguishing feature of this museum. An auditorium will be a part of this museum. For visitors/devotes from out station or abroad, accommodation and eateries arrangement is done within the museum area. There is a plan to build 13-14 rooms for accommodation purpose.