The ‘Pramukh’ of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), Swami Maharaj, was regarded as the fifth spiritual successor. His followers believe that Swami was in unbroken communion with Swaminarayan. Even, ontologically he was connected with the undying domicile of Swaminarayan, Akshar. After being initiated as a Hindu Swami by Shastriji Maharaj in 1940, in 1950, he was declared president by Yogiji Maharaj. His role as the guru of BAPS was commenced in 1971. Let’s read more into Pramukh Swami Maharaj Biography
Swami Maharaj was born to Motibhai Patel and Diwaliben Patel in Chansad village, Gujarat, in 1921. His birth name was Shantilal Patel. His parents were devoted to Shastriji Maharaj and believed in Akshar Purushottam. Child Shantilal was blessed by Shastriji and he himself asked his parents to bestow Shantilal for the good of thousands.
As a child, Swami used to a calm yet dynamic. He was praised for his honesty and mature behavior in school. Even, elders could trust his decisions undoubtedly. He lived in his home until he turned seventeen. His inclination to spiritual belief had formed from a very early age. He was deeply attached to Shastriji Maharaj and his disciples.
As he turned seventeen, Shantilal officially joined Shastriji Maharaj, and his life to become a true ‘swami’ began. He received ‘parshad diksha’ in Ahmedabad on November 22, 1939. He was renamed Shanti Bhagat on the day and started learning Sanskrit. Like always he excelled in the language. On January 10, 1940, he received ‘bhagvati diksha’ and was again renamed Narayanswarupdas Swami.
Leaving earthly wishes and ambitions behind, Swami vowed to follow celibacy, non-covetousness, humility, non-attachment, and non-taste. He devoted himself to serve God and goodness throughout his life. His path to spirituality began with the vows and he gladly dedicated himself to it.
As a Swami
Swami earned the title ‘Shastri’ after learning Hindu philosophy and scriptures at Khambat and Bhadaran. Soon he became Shastri Narayanswarupdas. He also cooked for the swamis, cleaned the temple compounds. He played an important role in building Atladra Mandir. While serving as the secretary of Shastriji Maharaj, he inclined in understanding the affairs and duties of BAPS.
Upon turning 25 in 1946, Swami turned the head of the BAPS temple in Salangpur. His hard work and ethics inspired all the swamis and devotees. His leadership attitude could be witnessed through his stoic and humble personality.
As the President
After declining to accept the post of president several times, ultimately, on May 21, 1950, Shastri Narayanswarupdas accepted to follow his master Shastriji Maharaj’s wishes. He was declared the ‘pramukh’ or president of BAPS. Since then he had been addressed as ‘Pramukh Swami’. He worked under Guru Yogiji Maharaj and served as the pramukh for the next sixty years.
In 1971, he was announced to be the successor of Yogiji Maharaj. Swami started his journey as the president and guru of BAPS devoting himself to spirituality.
As the Guru
Swami’s leadership made BAPS a globally known organization. In 1974, he visited East Africa as a guru for the first time and spread the spiritual views of Hinduism. Throughout his time as Guru, he traveled to more than fifty countries and organized over 27 international tours for religion and humanity. By 2019, because of his wisdom and true leadership, BAPS gained over a million followers, almost 3300 temples, more than 7000 weekly assemblies, and over 900 swamis.
Swami took the fame of BAPS to another level giving it global recognition. In his reign, over a thousand temples were built in India. Swami himself sanctified 125 temples outside India. It is said that it is he who inspired the construction of Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and Gandhinagar.
His wisdom and faith to maintain social and religious harmony was recognized by everyone. The way Swami’s otherworldly personality led the BAPS through tough times made him one of the truest believers and devotees of God.
After suffering from a chest infection and heart issues for a long time, Swami had taken his last breath on August 13, 2016. He passed away at the Swaminarayan temple in Sarangpur, Gujarat. In his last days, he declared Mahant Swami Maharaj to be his successor. From being Shastri Purushottam to becoming Pramukh Swami, the man has inspired numerous devotees. His belief in Hinduism transpired on his followers. Through him, BAPS earned worldly fame. His greatness is celebrated by the numerous followers and devotees of BAPS throughout the world.