Pramukh Swami Maharaja's Early Life

Pramukh Swami Maharaja was born as Shantilal Patel in the village of Chansad, Baroda State Gujarat, on 7 December 1921, eighth day of Shukl Paksha of Magshar or Magh month in Vikram Samvat 1978. Pramukh Swami Maharaja's parents Motibhai and Diwaliben Patel were disciples of Shastriji Maharaj and followers of the Akshar Purushottam faith.Pramukh Swami Maharaja's parent Motibhai and Diwaliben were both involved in the Swaminarayan fellowship, Pramukh Swami Maharaja's mother Diwaliben's family's association with the Swaminarayan fellowship extended to the time of Bhagatji Maharaj, being blessed by Shastriji Maharaj at birth who had told his father this is our child give him back to us when the time comes. He will lead thousands to the devotion of God. Through him thousands will attain liberation.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja (Shantilal's) mother described him as a calm and soft-spoken yet energetic and active child. His childhood friends recall that Shantilal developed a reputation in the town and school as an honest, reliable, mature, and kindhearted boy. Even as a child, he possessed an uncommon empathy that led others to seek out and trust his opinions and judgments in matters large and small. Pramukh Swami Maharaja as Shantilal excelled in his studies, in the seventeen years he spent at home before becoming a swami.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja's Early Spiritual Inclination

Pramukh Swami Maharaja (Shantilal) was strongly inclined towards spirituality from a young age. Upon completing his schoolwork, he would often rush off to the village's Hanuman temple, where he and a childhood friend would listen to the discourses of a Hindu "holy man" named Haridas.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja (Shantilal's) daily darshan, or worship, at the Swaminarayan temple in Chansad, and his association with Shastriji Maharaj and his disciple swamis whenever they came to the village, further reflected Pramukh Swami Maharaja (Shantilal's) affinity for spirituality. Shantilal took his meals only after having darshan at the Swaminarayan temple. He used to meet other swamis who passed through the village from the holy places of pilgrimage in North India. Swaminarayan swamis, such as Ghanshyam Swami and Balmukund Swami.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja Entering the Monastic Life And Diksha In BAPS

On 7 November 1939, when Pramukh Swami Maharaja (Shantilal) was seventeen years old, he received a letter from his guru, Shastriji Maharaj, asking him to join the swamis. His parents gave their permission and blessings, and Shantilal left home that day to join Shastriji Maharaj and his swamis.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja (Shantilal) received primary initiation from Shastriji Maharaj, Parshad Diksha, at Ambli-Vadi Pol in Ahmedabad on 22 November 1939, and renamed him ,Shanti Bhagat. Pramukh Swami Maharaja (Shantilal) who was newly initated Shanti Bhagat by Shastriji Maharaj was requested to study Sanskrit.

Soon thereafter, on 10 January 1940 at the Akshar Deri in Gondal, Pramukh Swami Maharaja as Shanti Bhagat was given the bhagvati diksha, initiated as a swami, named Narayanswarupdas Swami which means "the form of Narayan".Upon giving him this name, Shastriji Maharaj elaborated, "His face carries the brilliance of God, so I name him Narayanswarupdas (the servant of the form of God)."Yogiji Maharaj also gave Narayanswarupdasji his blessings, observing, "He will surely become great."

In the early part of 1950, ShastrijiMaharaj wrote several letters to 28-year-old ShastriNarayanswarupdas expressing his wish to appoint him the president of the organization On 21 May 1950 at Ambli-Vali Pol in Ahmedabad, ShastrijiMaharaj appointed ShastriNarayanswarupdas, then merely 28 years of age, as the administrative president ("Pramukh") of BAPS- BochasanwasiAksharPurushottamSanstha and was known as "Pramukh Swami".

Pramukh Swami Maharaja's Work As Guru in BAPS

Contributing to Global growth he accompanied Yogiji Maharaj on a tour of East Africa in 1960 as well as in 1970 and embarked upon his first overseas visit as a spiritual leader, of BAPS in 1974. In the following decades, his 27 international spiritual tours spanned over fifty countries on five continents. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was regarded by BAPS as the 5th spiritual successor of Swaminarayan, following Gunatitanand Swami, BhagatjiMaharaj, ShastrijiMaharaj, and YogijiMaharaj as he was believed by his followers as he used to be in constant communication with 'Lord Swaminarayn' which is the manifestation of Akshar, the eternal abode of Swaminarayan.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja has built more than 1,100 Hindu temples, including the SwaminarayanAkshardham temples in New Delhi and Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Pramukh Swami Maharaja had also spearheaded efforts of BAPS Charities, which is the charitable service organization affiliated with BAPS. He was succeeded as the guru and President of the BAPS SwaminarayanSanstha by Mahant Swami Maharaj.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja was considered an essential spiritual link for devotee of BAPS. According to the teachings of Swaminarayan, devotees consider God (Swaminarayan) to be manifest through Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Thus, his followers believed that by offering devotion to Pramukh Swami, they offer it to Swaminarayan himself. Pramukh Swami Maharaja was approached by many followers for guidance in all aspects of life. Pramukh Swami had said that the purpose of his providing advice on such a range of matters was not to establish the devotees in business or to enable them to become wealthy, but to relieve them of anxieties about mundane affairs so they could attend to their spiritual progress.

Pramukh Swami Maharaja's Death

He had been suffering from a chest infection in his last days from which he was gradually recovering. However, due to his longstanding heart problems, he died on 13 August 2016, at 6 pm at the BAPS SwaminarayanMandir, Sarangpur, Botad district, Gujarat, India. On 20 July 2012, Pramukh Swami had declared in the presence of senior swamis that Mahant Swami Maharaj would succeed him as the sixth guru and spiritual head of BAPS SwaminarayanSanstha.

Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to overcome the swell of emotions calling Pramukh Swami Maharaja as a "combination of grandeur and divinity," the Prime Minister said he knew Pramukh Swami Maharaja from the time when he was not a public figure and showered praise on him for bringing about reforms in the "saint" culture.

Learning Lesson's from Pramukh Swami Maharaja

Our life is only worthwhile if we do good deeds and walk the path towards God. All the speakers referred to β€œIn the joy of others lies our own.” – a quote by Pramukh Swami Maharaja. Pramukh Swami Maharaja is a rare soul who always lived for others and at the same time remaining totally absorbed in God. Pramukh Swami Maharaja is a peaceful, humble, simple and spiritual personality and being a spiritual leader of a worldwide socio-spiritual organization, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, his selfless love and effort have directed the energies of youths to serve as volunteers. His selfless work has been applauded by revered spiritual luminaries, national leaders and other dignitaries. Pramukh Swami Maharaja has made innumerable aspirants experience feel peace and the bliss of God in his presence. Many aspirants have reached the highest spiritual state, and today, many others continue to tread this path