By Ravi Ponangi
Atlanta: Pramukh Swami, spiritual head and President of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, inspirer of countless and a great servant of society, passed away on August 13, at 6 PM (India) at the pilgrimage place of Sarangpur in Gujarat state of India. He was 95 years old. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the current guru and president of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha worldwide. The world-famous Akshardham temples of India and abroad have been built under his directions by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Pramukh Swamiji’s efforts in field of education, health and other social services are remarkable. Dignitaries and several world leaders have condoled the death of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
On completing his Sanskrit studies, he was appointed as the Kothari of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur in 1946 at the age of 25. Then in 1950, at the age of 28, Shastriji Maharaj selected him as the President (Pramukh) of BAPS in his place. Since then, he had been fondly known as ‘Pramukh Swami’. Shastriji Maharaj passed away in 1951, declaring Yogiji Maharaj as his spiritual successor. Thereafter, Pramukh Swami served under the guidance and blessings of Yogiji Maharaj. In 1971, after the departure of guru Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj succeeded him as the fifth spiritual guru of BAPS. Over the next 45 years, his unremitting satsang travels, selfless services to society, saintly virtues and profound devotion to God earned him the respect and reverence of countless worldwide. His untiring efforts in uplifting lives, liberating thousands from vices and addictions, providing relief and rehabilitation to innumerable people in times of calamity and catastrophe, and inspiring character and faith in hundreds of thousands of children and youths were some of his many outstanding services to society. He also created and consecrated over 1,100 Mandirs worldwide and grand cultural complexes like Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and Gandhinagar to portray the cultural and spiritual heritage of India. Renowned spiritual masters and heads of state have been deeply touched by his humility, saintliness and noble works.
Dr. Swami, Pujya Swayamprakashdas Swami, a senior sadhu of the BAPS, made an official statement that His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj has been revered by countless people throughout the world. To cater to the large influx of people, arrangements for his final darshan at Sarangpur have been made from 7:00m onwards, Sunday, 14 August 2016 to 11:00am Wednesday, 17 August 2016. During this period, darshan will continue for 24 hours. The cremation rites will be performed on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 at 3:00pm in the precincts of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir complex in Sarangpur. The final cremation rites will be broadcast live on www.live.baps.org at 3:00pm, Wednesday, 17 August 2016.
MAHANT SWAMI MAHARAJ SADHU KESHAVJIVANDAS SUCCEEDS PRAMUKH SWAMI AS GURU AND PRESIDENT OF BAPS:
BAPS has in a statement declared Mahant Swami Maharaj Sadhu Keshavjivandas as successor of Pramukh Swami. An official statement quoting Pujya Doctor Swami Sadhu Swayamprakashdas reads: Four years ago, on 20 July 2012, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj had declared in a letter that His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj Sadhu Keshavjivandas would succeed him as the guru of BAPS. Thus, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj is now the president of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, as the sixth spiritual head in the gunatit guru parampara tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Henceforth, he will steer BAPS and further the great teachings and works of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Pujya Mahant Swami completed his B.Sc. (agriculture) in 1956 and took initiation as a sadhu at the hands of Brahma Swarup Yogiji Maharaj in 1957. He is one of the senior sadhus of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, having served both Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.