HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016)
By A Correspondent
His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual Guru and head of global BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha passed away peacefully in Sarangpur, Gujarat, India, earlier on August 13.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne of Ontario, and John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, joined other world leaders in conveying their sincerest condolences on the passing of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader for millions of Hindus worldwide and the inspirer and creator of the renowned, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto. (http://www.baps.org/toronto).
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and the creator of more than 1100 temples including Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, passed away on August 13, 2016, at the age of 95.
Over 2.1 million devotees from around the world including Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi went to Sarangpur in Gujarat, India, to pay their last respects before his final rites.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a mentor to me. I will never forget my interactions with him. Will miss his presence. HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, a stalwart among humans who embodied compassion & humility. His service to society will always be remembered.”
Pramukh Swami Maharaj (born Shantilal Patel; ordained Shastri Narayanswarupdas; 7 December 1921 – 13 August 2016) was the guru and Pramukh, or president, of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, an international Hindu socio-spiritual organization. BAPS regards him as the fifth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan, following Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, and Yogiji Maharaj. He was believed by his followers to be in constant communion with Swaminarayan, and ontologically, the manifestation of Akshar, the eternal abode of Swaminarayan.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj received initiation as a Hindu Swami in 1940 from Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS, who later appointed him as President of BAPS in 1950. Yogiji Maharaj declared Pramukh Swami Maharaj to be his spiritual successor and guru of BAPS, a role he commenced in 1971.
Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the present leader of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha. He led an austere life of lifetime celibacy, without personal wealth or comfort. Representing the essence of Hinduism, his compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national leaders. But most important is his quiet, undisturbed love for God which rises beyond all borders of nation, race and religion.
Even after creating an international spiritual empire of hundreds of mandirs, thousands of centres and over a million followers, you’ll always find Swamiji engrossed in prayer. Sometimes at 2.30 in the morning, for his life is the living proof that prayers work and divine love succeeds.