In 1826 at Vadtal on Prabodhini Ekadashi of Vikram Samvat 1882 , Swaminarayan established the dual Acharyaship in Dharmavanshi Acharyas, whom he intended as his successor. "Dharmavanshi" means "belonging to the lineage of Dharmadev" – the father of Swaminarayan.

Swaminarayan enthroned his two adopted sons, Acharya Maharajshree Ayodhyaprasad Pande and Acharya Maharajshree Raghuvir Pande, who were the sons of his brothers Rampratapji and Ichcharamji, as the spiritual leaders of the Nar Narayan Dev Gadi headquartered at Ahmedabad and the Laxmi Narayan Dev Gadi headquartered at Vadtal respectively. He installed them as the Acharyas for all followers, including householders and ascetics. Swaminarayan gave sole authority to these two individuals to install murtis in temples and to initiate sadhus and householders into the Sampraday. He did this using a legal document known as "Desh Vibhag no Lekh", which he dictated and was written by Shukanand Swami. Learned saints and elder satsangis witnessed this document.

The Acharyas of the Sampraday are administrative heads, spiritual leaders and the gurus of their followers. Since the acharyas are supposed to refrain from contact with the opposite sex, except close relations, the acharyas' wives are the gurus for female members of the sect, and must avoid contact with unfamiliar men.

The Acharyas are responsible for:

  • Initiating followers into the organisation with a Samanya Diksha by giving the guru-mantra
  • Initiating monks-sadhus by giving them the Maha-Bhagwadi Diksha
  • Perform murti-pratishtha, installing deities in the temples
  • Authenticating scriptures of the Sampraday
  • Acting as the Guru and leader of the entire Sampraday

Acharya Shree Raghuvirji Maharaj

Born on : 21st Mar 1812

Became Acharya on :10th Nov 1826

Death : 9th Feb 1863

Term : 37 Years

Acharya Shree Bhagvatprasadji Maharaj

Born on : 11th Oct 1838

Became Acharya on : 09th Feb 1863

Death : 12th Aug 1879

Term : 17 Years

Acharya Shree Viharilalji Maharaj

Born on : 19th Apr 1852

Became Acharya on : 12th Aug 1879

Death : 27th Sep 1899

Term : 20 Years

Acharya Shree Laxmiprasadji Maharaj

Born on : 15th Aug 1892

Became Acharya on : 27th Sep 1899

Death : 24th Apr 1909

Term : 10 Years

Acharya Shree Shripatiprasadji Maharaj

Born on : 18th Aug 1875

Became Acharya on : 26th Apr 1909

Death : 12th Feb 1931

Term : 22 Years

Acharya Shree Anandprasadji Maharaj

Born on : 22nd Jul 1906

Became Acharya on : 12th Feb 1931

Death : 08th Jul 1974

Term : 28 Years

Acharya Shree Narendraprasadji Maharaj

Born on : 25th Jan 1930

Became Acharya on : 30th Apr 1959

Death : 1986

Term : 25 Years

Acharya Shree Ajendraprasadji Maharaj

Born on : 16th Aug 1949

Became Acharya on : 1984

Death : Present

Term : 18 Years

Acharya Shree Rakeshprasadji Maharaj

Born on : 23rd Jul 1966

Became Acharya on : 31st Jan 2003

Death : Present

Term : Present