His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016), Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s fifth spiritual successor who was revered throughout the world yet, was ever humble. He was praised by both politicians and paupers, royalty and religious leaders, tribesmen and technocrats.
Yet, despite such widespread praise and honour, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was always humble, deflecting the tributes towards God and guru.
Measuring the praise Pramukh Swami Maharaj received is as futile as measuring the water in the ocean with a mere cup. However, the experiences of others give an insight into how Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life touched people from different backgrounds all over the world in multiple ways.
“If the world learnt from Pramukh Swami Maharaj, then it can become a place free of crime, war and terrorism, and become a more peaceful place to live.” So spoke the former Solicitor General of Canada, Bob Kaplan.
Head of the Ramanuj Sampradaya, Pujya Varad Yatiraj Jeer Swami, said, “By the presence of such a sadhu, all of humanity is uplifted.”
Such was the world’s exalted opinion of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s spotless character, selfless service to society and spirituality.
Mahant Swami Maharaj highlights that though Pramukh Swami Maharaj was praised by all, he remained ever humble.
After the Akshardham temple opened in New Delhi, India on November 6, 2005, many lauded Pramukh Swami Maharaj for building such a breathtaking monument. Instead of accepting this, he adamantly attributed all the achievements and glory to his guru Yogiji Maharaj.
Everyone chases fame; however, fame follows great sadhus such as Pramukh Swami Maharaj wherever they go. And yet, they do not desire it at all, and choose to pass it on to others.
In 1985 in Amdavad, India, at the conclusion of the grand 59-day bicentenary celebrations of Gunatitanand Swami (the first spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan), all praised Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s ability to execute such a remarkable festival. On the final day, during the concluding volunteers assembly, Pramukh Swami Maharaj said to the 15,000 volunteers, “Nothing is achieved by one person. This festival was a success because of all of you. Everyone contributed in their own way. We are truly blessed by God and guru. Your efforts have made this all possible. All I did was just sit on this chair…”’
Pramukh Swami Maharaj praised the devotees for their selfless service, sacrifice and claimed to have done nothing himself. However, the previous two years leading to the bicentenary celebrations highlights the depth of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s humility. Pramukh Swami Maharaj had suffered a serious heart attack causing all spiritual travels to be immediately cancelled. Doctors advised him to avoid any form of exertion, speak only for short periods and eat at regular times. However, his journey for the next two years shows nothing less than derision for his own fragile health.
In a period of 888 days, he visited a dizzying 737 villages, towns and cities worldwide. During his travels, there was only one certainty — that nothing was certain. His rest and meal times were erratic. The 20 visits to devotees’ homes scheduled in the morning would become a 100 in the blink of an eye. During this time, he travelled a staggering 133,404 km. To put this into context, in 888 days, he circled the globe more than three times!
Such was Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s humility, that despite his immeasurable efforts, he could openly praise his devotees for the outstanding success of the festival.
All the praise for Pramukh Swami Maharaj, however, is not enough.
There is not an aspect of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life that has not touched someone. Countless are impressed by his humanitarian work, while others are moved by his spotless character. Many are astounded by his mandir-building capabilities or how he continues to inspire the youth to renounce worldly ambitions. Others are left speechless when they learn of his devotion to God and his gurus. The mountains of praise Pramukh Swami Maharaj received bears testament to this. Amidst this, he remained untouched by ego; in fact he shunned the tributes, and showered praise on everyone else. His life is a pinnacle of humility.
This year marks Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial birth year, and this article series is a celebration of his life.
Just like Pramukh Swami Maharaj, today, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the present spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan continues that legacy. Through his association, people have been transformed to experience inner peace.
To learn more about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and work, please visit: www.pramukhswami.org