Revered by countless people for his pure saintliness and selfless humanitarian services to society, the spiritual head of Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS) of Swaminarayan Sect Pramukh Swami Maharaj passed away at his Ashram in Sarangpur, about 153 km from Ahmedabad on August 13. Under his leadership, the BAPS grew from an organisation in Gujarat to one of the most widely spread Hindu institution having its presence across the globe.
Thousand of devotees thronged temples of the sect in various cities and towns world over and women were seen crying at those temples, mourning his passing away. Condolences poured in from all quarters. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi reached Sarangpur to pay his tribute. Describing him a combination of grandeur and divinity Shri Modi said, “Many have lost a Guru, but I, a father.” Taking pride in his long association with Swamiji, he said Swamiji nurtured and nourished him since the time when nobody knew him in public life. As a fatherly figure, Swamiji would often point out to him his mistakes, he said applauding Pramukh Swami's devotion and his unswerving commitment towards every word that guru Yogiji Maharaj had uttered. He set before us an example of how a true shishya should be. “Swamiji has brought about a reformation not only in the Swaminarayan Sect but among all the sadhus. Though he is not physically with us now, but we all feel his presence through his life, teachings and works,” he added.
Born on December 7, 1921 to a Patel family of Chansad Village near Vadodara, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was named Shantilal Patel and later known as Shastri Narayanswarupdas. He received initiation as a Swami in 1940 from Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of the BAPS. He became head of BAPS in 1950. Former head and spiritual guru, Yogiji Maharaj declared him as his spiritual successor and guru of BAPS in 1971.
RSS Tribute to Inspirational Guru
RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat and Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi expressed deep condolences on the demise of Poojya Pramukh Swamiji of Swaminarayan Sect. In a joint condolence message sent from Nagpur on August 14, they said: “The news of passing away of Pujya Pramukh Swami, the living legend of Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha, deeply shocked us. His long spiritual leadership not only inspired lakhs of devotees spread world over to follow the spiritual path, but also motivated them to work for the uplift of the deprived people of the society. He has done the wonderful work of connecting the people, especially the youth from world over with the spiritual and cultural legacy of Bharat. May the holy soul rests in peace in the feet of Lord Swaminarayan! We express our personal homage on behalf of the RSS.”
RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi also reached Sarangpur to pay his tribute on behalf of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “We all had darshan of a divine power in him. He lived an exemplary life. He ignited many souls world over to follow the path of spirituality. He played a key role in spreading the Hindu values across the globe. An affectionate personality free from any kind of discrimination he generated faith and devotion in the society,” he said while paying tribute to him in Sarangpur. Bhaiyaji also had darshan of Mahant Swami, the new head of the BAPS.
The mortal remains of Pramukh Swami Maharaj were consigned to the flames at Sarangpur Mandir campus August 17 in the presence of a galaxy of leaders and thousands of followers. BJP President Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Kathakar Morari Bapu, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh, businessman Anil Ambani, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, State BJP President Jitubhai Vaghani, and State Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, among others, were the first to reach Sarangpur Mandir in the morning. BJP patriarch LK Advani also reached.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her condolences to the British Hindu community over the death of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. “Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired millions with his powerful motto: In the good of others lies our own. This legacy of selfless service will continue to benefit humanity for a long time to come,” May said.