His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj Passes Away
Los Angeles, August 15, 2016
The creator of Akshardham and Spiritual Head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj passed away at the pilgrimage place of Sarangpur, Gujarat, at the age of 95.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor in the guru parampara tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. For more than seven decades he travelled tirelessly, visiting over 17,000 towns and villages in India and abroad. However, for the last two years, because of age and frail health, he had been residing at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur under the able care of expert doctors.
Most recently, Pramukh Swami Maharaj had been affected by a chest infection from which he had gradually recovered. However, due to his longstanding heart problems, he passed away peacefully at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was born on December 7, 1921 to a humble farmer’s family in the small village of Chansad, near Vadodara in Gujarat. In 1939, he renounced home to become a renunciate and received initiation into the sadhu-fold from his guru, Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj and was named Sadhu Narayanswarupdas. 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. These include His Holiness The Dalai Lama, India’s late president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman al Khalifa of Bahrain, and many royals, heads of state and other dignitaries. All were profoundly touched by Swamishri’s spiritual personality and humanitarian services to society.
The news of his earthly departure has created a pall of deep sadness among countless devotees and well-wishers. Devotees and well-wishers are in Sarangpur for his last darshan and to pay their final respects to him. 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, 17th 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 http:/ /live.baps.org at 3:00pm, Wednesday, 17th August 2016.
Pujya Doctor Swami also added that four years ago, on 20 July 2012, HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj had declared in a letter that HH Keshavjivandas Swami (Mahant Swami) would succeed him as the guru of BAPS. Thus, Pujya Mahant Swami is the president of BAPS and 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 Pramukh Swami Maharaj.