On 5 July 2007, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, the President of India, H.E. APJ Abdul Kalam felicitated the children of BAPS for a successful De-Addiction Campaign. The BAPS delegation included four sadhus – Sadhu Atmaswarupdas, Sadhu Vishwaswarupdas, Sadhu Brahmaviharidas, Sadhu Divyavatsaldas – and eight children representing the 23,000 children and 5,000 leaders who had participated in the 20 day De-addiction Campaign.
Initially, the children were surprised to enter the huge personal office of the President; they failed to notice the President, who is so simple, so humble, sitting silently at his small table, while they marveled at the décor. Just then the President stood up and welcomed every one with these words:
President Kalam: How is Pramukh Swami? Maha Pramukh Swamiji, the great soul? How is his health?
A few weeks before, the President had personally spoken to HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Chicago over the telephone to seek his blessings.
President Kalam: Swamishri, you are doing one of the greatest services for our culture and for our country. I pray that the beautiful temples and cultural centers you are going to gift to Toronto and Atlanta continue to inspire millions for generations to come. They shall become centers of love and understanding, of universal values that you propagate, which our world dearly needs today. It is one thing to do something in our own country, and it is an even greater achievement to do such noble works in countries so far away. I pray for your health. And please keep your blessings upon me.
At that time the President had emphasized to Sadhu Brahmaviharidas: BAPS Children have done a wonderful job of freeing lakhs of people from addictions. It is a great achievement by children so young who are showing the path to adults who are lost. Bring some children to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. They are our nation’s future and I want to congratulate them personally.
At the President’s request, the BAPS delegation had reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and rightfully he began by remembering HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj whom he respects and reveres so deeply.
The first question President Kalam asked the children was: How does one become great. . . like Maha Pramukh Swami Maharaj?
The children were at a loss and looked at each other, puzzled. The President smiled and like a seasoned teacher he asked them to repeat after him: If I have a beautiful mind, I will have beautiful thoughts, if I have beautiful thoughts, I will have a beautiful life, if I have a beautiful life then I will become a great soul like Maha Pramukh Swamiji.
Thereafter, President Kalam was shown photographs, a laptop presentation of the BAPS De-addiction Campaign 2007 and given summary of the campaign outcome:
28,000 participants (23,000 children & 5,000 leaders)
2.1 million addicts contacted
630,000 freed from addictions
Rs. 344 crores saved annually
The President was overjoyed and requested one of the children to demonstrate how they approached people with the de-addiction message.
Testing the children, President Kalam asked: Convincing people to leave their addiction is difficult. If somebody refused to leave their addiction, how did you explain to them?"
In reply, one of the BAPS children explained: Mr. President, we tried to convince such people by showing them the specially printed photographic booklet and logically explaining the scientific basis of the harmful consequences of their habits.
The President was delighted with the children's presentation and conviction. He further questioned: Why do people go back to their addiction? Even if you have freed them why do they go back?
The children tried to reply and finally resigned, asking the President: Please, Mr. President you tell us.
The President narrated a story: Remember, on everyone’s shoulders there are two people sitting. On the right sits the angel and on the left sits Satan. Now when Satan wins people go back to addictions and when the angel wins people are freed from addictions. So how do you make the angel win?
The BAPS children replied in a flurry of answers … hard work … confidence … good thoughts … prayer …. Then they asked the President: Please tell us how can we make the angel win?
President Kalam: Remember, every time you do good the angel wins and every time you do bad Satan wins. Knowledge makes the angel free, makes him powerful. Ignorance makes Satan free, makes him powerful. Knowledge makes you a better person and a greater person. The satanic forces lead one to indulge in alcohol, drugs and other addictions, and to do bad things. And the angelic forces lead one towards an addiction-free life, and truth, love, non-violence and other virtues.
Then President Kalam continued: You children were able to free people from addictions because you convinced them that by increasing the strength of angelic forces people could overcome the satanic force. You were instrumental in enhancing the angelic forces in individuals and giving them the strength to get rid of addictions and bad habits.
Then once again, the President asked the children to repeat after him: Confidence leads to creativity; Creativity leads to Knowledge; Knowledge leads to Thinking; Thinking makes one Great."
The President congratulated the children: All you children have done wonderful work. By freeing so many people from addictions what have you learned?
BAPS child: We will never ever keep addictions in our life. We will never allow our parents or relatives to keep addictions. And we will free our friends and others from addictions.
The President was very happy with the answer and stood up, lovingly calling the children to line up for a group photograph, he said: Come I will teach you another secret. Everybody should smile because every time we smile the angel wins and every time we sulk Satan wins. So always wear a smile and always make other people smile. And you children should always be happy because you have a greater force than the angel and Satan. The force of Maha Pramukh Swamiji – his blessings are always upon you and all of us. So always keep smiling.
Then turning to Pujya Atmaswarup Swami and other the Sadhus the President said: Please tell Maha Pramukh Swamiji, that you are doing a wonderful service for our people. He has a beautiful mind, beautiful heart. Ask him to shower his blessings upon me.
At the end of the meeting, President Kalam once again congratulated the children for their noble work and instructed his secretary to show the BAPS children around the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The children were not only delighted but came out with added pride and faith because they had seen the plaque of Akshardham in the President’s personal office and also the sacred golden Akshar Deri near his table, the holy memento which HDH Pramukh swami Maharaj had given to the President on 8 February 2004 when he had attended the Golden Anniversary Celebrations of BAPS Childrens Activities at Akshardham in Gandhinagar.