During his visit to Gujarat, the President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam visited Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir on Shahibaug road, Amdavad.
The President delayed his visit to Bhuj to make time for this meeting with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The President was welcomed and garlanded at the main gate by Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami and Pujya Viveksagar Swami. A red carpet was carried out for the President and his route was lined by young children showering flowers to welcome him. Hundreds of devotees lined his route to greet him with applause and cheers. Despite the large number of people, the President was pleased by their discipline and the efficient crowd management by the BAPS volunteers.
As the President entered the meeting hall, sadhus chanted the 'Shanti Path'. Pramukh Swami Maharaj warmly welcomed the President by Garlanding him. The Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendrabhai Modi, Shri Vadibhai Patel, Secretary Shri Y.S. Rajan, Secretary Shri Sheridan and other dignitaries accompanying the President were also garlanded. Pramukh Swami Maharaj said to the President, "It is a great pleasure for us that you have come to such a pious place as the Mandir, especially during this holy month of Shravan."
Replying, the President said, "After becoming President I had it in my mind to meet you and seek your guidance. Today I have this opportunity."
Then the President asked, "Unity of thought is important for our country. How can this unity be attained? This unity is the foundation for the country's progress. Swamiji, spiritual organizations like your Swaminarayan Sanstha have a great effect on the people and they can bring about this unity. I had a thought in my mind that this great region of Gujarat, on which great peace icons such as Mahatma Gandhi, who talked of peace, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who unified the kingdoms of India, Vikram Sarabhai, who made such great scientific and technological discoveries, and spiritual organizations like your Swaminarayan Sanstha can come together and create unity throughout the country."
Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj replied, "What you say is very valid. There is a great need for unity and cooperation. What you have said about Gandhiji, Sardar and spiritual organizations is at the heart of our Indian Culture. Our Indian tradition teaches us that we are all the children of God and we should live together and work for the progress of the country.
"In the current situation, spirituality and belief in God in people's lives is decreasing and as a result differences are surfacing, thus resulting in many problems. But, we believe that if we remain united, the country can truly progress. Such feelings are indeed great. If there is enmity between the people, of what benefit is it? On a spiritual level, God resides in everyone. And if we see God in every one then towards whom do we direct our enmity? With whom will we fight? Our Guru, Yogiji Maharaj, used to give this same message that we should live with unity and cooperation. Our work is done only through unity. He often told the story of a king who once called his soldiers and told them, 'Break this bundle of arrows.' Nobody was able to do so. Then the king took one arrow and gave it to the weakest person, who was able to effortlessly break the arrow. Similarly, if we have unity nobody can break us. We need such unity and cooperation throughout the country."
In response the President said, "Yes Swamiji, let us work together."
After some general discussions, Swamishri blessed the President, "God has placed you on this high position in India. You merit this honour. May God do great deeds through you. You have faith in God and study the Gita and Bhagvat. You have noble intentions for the progress of India and desire that there is unity everywhere and no disputes remain. This is a great traditional Indian sentiment. Through you God will inspire all. We will also pray that through you all differences are resolved. Other leaders of this country also share your feelings, so this task will definitely be achieved. And we will pray to God that all are inspired from within."
President Kalam said, "I will try my best to be of service to the country."
As the President was departing Swamishri said, "It is good that you have come to Gujarat. May the difficulties be resolved by you, may there be peace everywhere and may all be inspired."
Returning to his car, the President's route was lined by a large number of devotees. Seeing them, the President said, "A true spiritual leader can inspire spontaneous joy. Pramukh Swami has the purity and energy to reach every heart."
The President was inspired and delighted by this 22-minute meeting with Pramukh Swami Maharaj.