Exactly 50 years ago, the young Shastri Narayanswarupdas (Pramukh Swami Maharaj) was declared the President of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha by his Guru Shastriji Maharaj. This historic event took place in a small, simple room at Ambli Vali Pol, Amdavad.
The 50th anniversary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Presidentship was celebrated with profound devotion and color by 14,000 devotees in Bombay on 17 June 1999. The 3½-hour program highlighted the stupendous efforts and dedication of Swamishri towards Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and the flourishment of the BAPS.
Swamishri was honored as he entered the mammoth assembly hall. The stage was exquisitely decorated with the murtis of Akshar and Purushottam, Harikrishna Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj. The children and youth members of the Sanstha performed extraordinary dances and charged the air with devotion and reverence. After the preliminary speeches, lauding Swamishri’s work, an 18 min. video show depicted the services of Swamishri in the last 50 years.
Swamishri was then honored with garlands. On blessing the assembly Swamishri said, "The tremendous work that you see (in the Sanstha) and talk of, is the work of God and God is the doer. When this seat (of presidentship) was proposed I told Shastriji Maharaj that it is beyond my strength and power. This work is not an ordinary task but a great task. Hundreds and thousands of devotees and sadhus, the gigantic task of organisation and administration of mandirs - was beyond the capacity of a small person like me. I requested him (Shastriji Maharaj), but because of his blessings, grace and wish I accepted this seat. He blessed me that ‘Maharaj will do the work, you should not worry.’ He also told Yogiji Maharaj to bless me so that I could do the best and be graced with saintly virtues. Today I also believe and understand that this work is beyond my capacity and power, and it simply cannot be done. Even today what we see being done (in the Sanstha), it is all due to his blessings, power and inspiration. If we do not have the power and blessings of both the gurus (Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj) then this work cannot be done. And the growing number of sadhus, which was the dream and blessings of Yogiji Maharaj, giving their fullest support and cooperation in the mammoth festivals, mandirs, are travelling to the villages, discoursing and seeing people, setting up Bal Mandals and Yuvak Mandals. The devotees too, are also full of enthusiasm...
"May there be peace, morality and friendship in the country and throughout the world. Today, we are faced with a conflict on our border. Our soldiers have sacrificed their lives fighting for our country. We deeply offer our prayers for them, ‘O God may the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for this country attain everlasting peace.’ Glory also to the families of those soldiers who had offered their loving sons in the service of the country. And may the thousands of soldiers, fighting valiantly in the cold Himalayan conditions, be successful in pushing back the infiltrators. And may we all be of help to the soldiers and the country in mind, body and kind."
Prayers were then offered by chanting the Swaminarayan dhun for the souls of the martyred soldiers.