By Asian Media USA ©
Chicago IL: Government officials, community leaders, devotees, and well-wishers gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett, IL to pay tribute to the life of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj on Sunday September 18, 2016. The fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha departed his mortal body on August 13, 2016, at the age of 95. From establishing mandirs (Hindu temples) across the world to humanitarian work to creating community infrastructure for education and healthcare in remote towns, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s contributions to society have spanned across generations. Known by his motto, “In the joy of others, lies our own,” he dedicated his life to serve and inspire others for the greater good of mankind. Even today, this message resonates with millions of individuals from all walks of life and from around the world.
Special assemblies were held at 90 BAPS mandirs across the United States during the month of September to pay tribute to his life and achievements. Throughout his life, his selfless compassion and humble prayers uplifted countless people. He led thousands on the path of spirituality and inspired even more to live a morally pure life.
“He will always be remembered for his selfless services to society, impeccable commitment to the community, and profound devotion to the faith that earned him the respect and reverence of countless worldwide,” said Baba Ramdev, a yoga teacher known for his work in Ayurveda.
President Barack Obama shared a personal message for BAPS members and well-wishers. In honoring the legacy of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, President Obama offered this message: “Blessed with the kind of wisdom and faith that transcended boundaries, Pramukh Swami Maharaj spent his life using the power of his inner goodness to lift others up.”
President Obama lauded the late spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha 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.” He added, “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.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former U.S. President Bill Clinton wrote of their memories, “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.”
Secretary Clinton’s thoughts echoed the sentiments from heads of states in all parts of the world, including British Prime Minister Teresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and HRH Prince of Wales. Speaking of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life of service, Teresa May, Prime Minister of UK, added: “His legacy of selfless service will continue to benefit humanity for a long time to come.”
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, visited Sarangpur, Gujarat from New Delhi and addressed saddened devotees before the funeral rites saying, “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.”
Attendees at the assembly in Bartlett, IL shared memories of their uplifting interactions with Pramukh Swami Maharaj, reminiscing upon the heartfelt connection that cemented his influence and wisdom in their lives. Through memorable life experiences shared by these individuals, attendees were able to reminisce upon Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s compassionate and equipoised nature.
John Lagattuta, Human Resources/Labor Director – Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, said “In 2007, I was fortunate to meet Pramukh Swami Maharaj onboard the airplane in which he had arrived to Chicago on. The atmosphere was surreal.” Mr. Lagattuta further spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s emphasis on education for youth and how that has played a role in the community and also in his own children’s lives.
Other guest speakers at the event included, Village President Kevin Wallac – Village of Bartlett, Consul Vishav Pal – Indian Consulate Office, Chicago, Consul General Aviv Ezra – Consulate General of Israel, Chicago, Dr. Bharat Barai, Dr. Umang Patel, Mr. Niranjan Shah, Mr. John Millner.
Millions of people across the world honored Pramukh Swami Maharaj through a program themed “Timeless Tributes to the Life & Legacy of HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj”. The program concluded with inspiring video blessings from Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s successor, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.