NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - August 25, 2016) - Thousands of tearful devotees gathered across the United States over the weekend at Prayer Assemblies to honor and remember His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, one of India's most commonly known Hindu ascetics revered by millions around the world.
The fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha departed his mortal body on August 13, 2016, at the age of 95. Prayer Assemblies were held in 150 cities across the country including New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj dedicated his life towards the service and personal development of others, establishing mandirs (temples) across the world to preserve spirituality for current and future generations. He also committed to developing and overseeing schools, hospitals, and disaster relief services to provide infrastructure and support across communities of all sizes.
In addition to the gatherings across the United States, more than 2.1 million devotees from around the world visited the village of Sarangpur in Gujarat, India, to pay their respects before his final rites were performed on August 17, 2016. Thousands traveled overnight from the United States to attend the final rites and cremation ceremony.
Dr. Kashyap Patel, from Atlanta, Georgia, expressed his feelings following the passing, "I grew up building a bond with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His travels from India would bring him to America, and he would take the time to get to know devotees in all corners of the world. He would reassure them in their faith, talk with them about their struggles, challenge them to improve their poor habits, listen to their seemingly insignificant worries -- sharing the burden of life's emotions with all who would lean on him."
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed devotees before the 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."
Several other prominent national and international dignitaries visited Sarangpur or sent their condolences. Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton offered her condolences saying, "Bill and I offer our sincerest condolences to the devotees of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha worldwide. Pramukh Swami didn't just teach virtues -- he lived them every day. That's what made him a Guru to millions of devotees around the world. Pramukh Swami built a global faith and community founded on Vedic values." All tributes are chronicled at http://pramukhswami.org/tributes.
Born as Shantilal Patel on December 7, 1921, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, was initiated as a swami (Hindu monk) on January 10, 1940, and received the name Narayanswarupdas Swami. On May 21, 1950, he was appointed as Head of the organization and came to be known as Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Ever since he became a swami, he has counseled seekers from all walks of life through comforting discussions, compassionate letters, phone calls, and visits from home to home, hut to hut -- often made entirely by foot. The sheer amount of time given selflessly in working with people, listening to their pains and miseries to provide solutions rooted in unity and compromise, is the reason the entire spiritual community is experiencing an unparalleled sadness upon his passing.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj's life and message of spirituality has left a lasting impression on the community of Hindus who will now work to carry his work and teachings forward under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj (Pujya Keshavjivandas Swami), the sixth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Guru of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
More details on http://pramukhswami.org, www.baps.org, https://www.youtube.com/user/BAPSChannel
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide sociospiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace, and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities at its 3,850 international centers, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots their rich Hindu culture. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.
BAPS North America
Since 1970, BAPS has been serving families and individuals across USA and Canada through various spiritual and cultural activities. Its 150 centers, including over 90 mandirs, form the hub of its various initiatives. With over 65 dedicated swamis giving spiritual guidance, the organization hosts over 630 weekly satsang assemblies for children, youth and adults. More details on http://www.baps.org/GlobalNetwork/NorthAmerica.aspx
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2016/8/24/11G111727/Images/New_Jersey_Prayer_Assembly-8e620220232dacb3832c207aa65f57c4.jpg