For many decades, Hindus have settled in the Gulf countries. To help them to sustain their cultural and spiritual traditions, Pramukh Swami Maharaj has visited the region in 1982, 1985, 1997 and 2001 and has also sent senior sadhus on numerous occasions.
From 11 August to 14 September 2013, Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami led a team of five sadhus – Pujya Brahmavihari Swami, Pujya Shukmuni Swami, Pujya Pranavtirth Swami, Pujya Taponishth Swami and Pujya Atmavatsal Swami – on a Satsang Tour of UAE, Oman, Bahrain.
UAE: 11 to 28 August
A grand welcome assembly held in Dubai on 11 August was attended by over 550 invited guests and devotees. Among the guests were leading Indians residing in UAE. Addressing the assembly, Shri Bharatbhai Shah said, “Previously, I was a staunch atheist, but after Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s darshan, I became a believer. In this time of concern for our future generations, only this Sanstha and its sadhus will be able to truly guide us.”
During their stay in UAE, the sadhus conducted satsang assemblies in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain, Sharjah and Ajman. Also, a special three-day shibir themed ‘Ap Rihjo em Raji’ was held in which over 400 devotees participated. The shibir comprised of inspiring speeches by the sadhus, question-answer sessions, kirtan bhakti, message-oriented activities and audio-visual shows. A special children’s shibir was held at the same time, based on the theme ‘Swami Mara Hu Swamino’.
The sadhus also performed padhramanis (home visits), encouraging all to conduct regular family assemblies, perform daily puja and attend the weekly satsang assembly.
In addition, the sadhus met members of the royal family and other leaders to convey Swamishri’s message of peace, goodwill and interfaith harmony. These included HH Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Culture, Youth and Social Development and HH Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum. The sadhus also met the vice-chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, Dr. Taiyeb Kamali.
The highlight of the visit to UAE was the inauguration of the new BAPS Cultural Center on 16 August. Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami performed the murti-pratishtha of the murtis previously sanctified by Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Oman: 29 August to 4 September
A welcome assembly was held at the BAPS Sanskardham at the Ghala Labour Camp in Muscat.
On 30 August, a public satsang assembly was held at the Shri Krishna Mandir, in which the Indian ambassador HE Shri J.S. Mukul, was present along with Shri Anilbhai Khimji, Shri Ashwinbhai Dharamsey, Shri Kiranbhai Asher and other prominent Indians.
On 31 August, a one-day shibir on the theme ‘Ap Rijho Em Raji’ was held, in which over 100 devotees participated.
During their visit, the sadhus graced the ambassador’s residence and performed other padhramanis as well. They also met HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Salimi, Minister for Awqaf and Religious Affairs, and presented him an auspicious amrut kalash on behalf of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Bahrain: 4 to 14 September
Leading devotees of Bahrain welcomed the sadhus at the BAPS Cultural Center in the Manama suburb.
Daily, the sadhus presented kirtan bhakti programmes and spiritual discourses. On 6 September, a collective mahapuja was held, praying for world peace and the welfare of all.
On 7 September, the sadhus graced the hospital of Dr Faysal Zeerah, who for many years has held great reverence for Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
On 8 September, a grand public assembly was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Among the 350 guests present were the Indian ambassador HE Shri Mohankumar, HE Sadiq Abdulkarim Al Shehabi (Health Minister), HE Dr Mustafa Al Sayed (Secretary General, Royal Charity Organization), Shri Adil Nass (Nass The Group), Shri Adnan Malik (Director, NASA Group), Shri Atif A Abdulmalik (CEO, Arcapita), Shri Mohammednoor Sultan (CEO, Baraka Banking Group) and leading members of the Indian community.
Following the singing of Vedic mantras by the sadhus, Pujya Brahmavihari Swami delivered the keynote speech titled ‘Balance in Life’. Thereafter Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami blessed the assembly, also in English. At the end, the main host of the event, HE Dr Mustafa Al Sayed stated, “We have seen many programs, but none like this. Listening to the words of the sadhus here has given us much inspiration. The atmosphere here is also great and divine.”
On 9 September, a Satsang Shibir was held in which the life, work and virtues of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj were honoured.
On 10 September, Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami and the sadhus also visited the Al-Sakhir Palace for an audience with the King of Bahrain His Majesty Hammad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The king affectionately welcomed the sadhus and invited Tyagvallabh Swami and Brahmavihari Swami to sit with him on his seat. During the following discussion, the king was delighted and deeply touched to see the photos of Swamishri’s meeting with his father, HH Amir Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
The king said, “BAPS is doing great work for the uplift of society and humanity. This Sanstha is of great pride for us. I fully support you because you are good people and you make people good. For many years, Bahrain has been a center for tolerance, respect for all faiths and cooperation. Without any discrimination, people of all faiths can live here.” He also praised the contributions of all the various faith organizations in Bahrain.
At the conclusion of the 35-minute meeting, Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami presented an auspicious amrut kalash and a sanctified rakhdi to the king.
The same evening, the national poet Shri Kamal Hasan attended the satsang assembly at the BAPS Center and sang Arabic poems expressing the work and glory of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
On 11 September, at the special invitation of the Speaker of the Bahrain Parliament, the sadhus visited the Parliament House. The Speaker, HH Khalifa bin Ahmed al Dhahrani introduced and welcomed the sadhus in the presence of the parliamentary members. The sadhus then sang the Shanti Paath – Vedic Mantras for universal peace and held a productive discussion on interfaith harmony and cooperation.
On the morning of 12 September, Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami installed the abhishek murti of Shri Nilkanth Varni. The evening satsang assembly was attended by Dr Ebrahim Al Dossary, the Principal Advisor to the Court of the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries.
Thus, through this 34-day Satsang Tour, Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami and the sadhus gave spiritual inspiration to all the devotees.