Chicago IL: Over 90 BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Mandir’s across the United States held tribute assemblies honoring the life and work of their late Hindu spiritual leader, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Community leaders, diverse religious figures, and public officials joined BAPS devotees in mourning this loss.
President Barack Obama shared a personal message with BAPS tribute assemblies, “By paying tribute to a man who believed in the worth of all people and dedicated himself to serving those in need, we are reminded of the ways our common humanity will always bind us together.” President Obama lauded the late spiritual leader of BAPS by noting that Pramukh Swami Maharaj “was a trusted ear and revered voice for countless people, and the lessons of his humility stirred not only the hearts of his followers, but also of men and women across the globe who were fortunate enough to have crossed his path.”
President Obama’s statement reflected Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s role as a father, teacher, mentor, friend, advisor, and ally – he was a spiritual guide who empowered people to live morally upright lives rooted in devotion that would transform their character, attitudes, and outcomes to provide greater happiness for both themselves and their families.
“May the memory of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj continue to guide you, and may his legacy give us the courage to be our best selves”, concluded the President’s personal message. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former U.S. President Bill Clinton also shared their thoughts on the late leader’s legacy, “Pramukh Swami didn’t just teach virtues – he lived them every day… His example helped his followers find more harmony – both with others, and within themselves. And we hope that humanity will build upon his legacy for generations to come.”
Pramukh Swami Maharaj lived by his simple but profound message, “In the joy of others lies our own.” This principle served as the core of his spiritual leadership. He had a tremendous capacity to extend his concern and support to those who sought his guidance and refuge. He counseled persons from all parts of the world, of different religions and languages, taking the time to understand their concerns and offering them solutions that would improve their personal and emotional well-being. From addiction, to illness, and even loss, Pramukh Swami Maharaj would guide, console and pray for their well-being.
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed devotees before Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s final rites, saying, “His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a stalwart among humans who embodied compassion and humility…Today you have lost a Guru, but I have lost a father.”
Born on December 7, 1921, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was initiated as a swami (Hindu ascetic) on January 10, 1940. In 1950, at the age of 28, he became the administrator and President of BAPS. Upon the passing of his guru His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj in 1971, Pramukh Swami became the spiritual leader and steadfastly led the organization for the next 45 years, expanding BAPS throughout the world. His legacy of over 1,100 mandirs is matched only by his extensive humanitarian work, including building numerous charitable schools as well as hospitals, and mobilizing volunteers in response to natural disasters. Most recently, through community walkathons, volunteers helped The Nature Conservancy plant 70,000 trees throughout North America.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and spirituality has left an indelible mark on countless devotees, who will continue living his life’s message under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj (Keshavjivandas Swami), the sixth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA