With the inspiration and blessings of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the grand finale of the year-long 150th Birthday Celebrations of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS, took place on 24 January at Yagnapurush Nagar, Vadodara, in the presence of senior sadhus. The three and a half-hour celebration programme was based on Shastriji Maharaj’s principles and contributions: Satpurush, Siddhant and Sanstha. The theme was portrayed through traditional dances, videos, bhajans and speeches by BAPS youths, senior sadhus and stage guests.
The Governor of Gujarat Shri O.P. Kohli, M.P. of Tanzania Mr Muhammad Seif Khatib, M.P. Shri Mansukhbhai Rathwa, M.P. Shrimati Ranjanben Bhatt, State Cabinet Ministers Shri Saurabh Patel and Shri Vijaybhai Rupani and BJP State President Shri R.C. Faldu, Mayor of Vadodara Shri Bharatbhai Shah, Collector Shri Vinodbhai Rao, Chairman of L&T Shri Anil Naik and other guests addressed and graced the occasion.
During his speech the Minister from Tanzania, Mr. Muhammad Seif Khatib, described the BAPS social services in Tanzania and added, “I would like to pay my due respects to His Holiness Shastriji Maharaj, whose birthday we are celebrating today. It was he who founded this organisation. It was he who gave a vision to this organisation. It was through his inspiration that such pious and noble activities began in Africa. I am told that he never actually set foot in Africa. This strengthens my conviction to say he was a true visionary and an inspirer. He had the true character, personality and charisma to inspire thousands of his devotees in Africa to do such noble and pious work without even coming to Africa.
“I would like to remember His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whom I have received twice in Dar-es-Salaam. He is very divine, peaceful and highly spiritual and his blessings always come true. He continues to inspire me and other devotees to promote goodness. In my whole life I have never attended a gathering as huge as this. This will be a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
The Cabinet Minister of Gujarat Shri Saurabhbhai Patel said, “I feel proud because my grandfather, Manchharambhai, got the opportunity to serve his guru Shastriji Maharaj. When the Sanstha’s first mandir was being built in Bochasan my grandfather offered his services. By the blessings of Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj my whole family is happy and I am standing here before you.”
The Governor of Gujarat, H.E. Omprakash Kohli, addressed the mammoth assembly, “I have never seen such a wonderful and huge assembly with spiritual vibrations. The task of spreading the principles given by Bhagwan Swaminarayan was done by Shastriji Maharaj. Today we are remembering Shastriji Maharaj as a spiritual person. Dharma, spirituality and social service teach us to transcend arrogance. Ego is like a jail. We are all bound by it. A true spiritual person is free from ego. Such a person was Shastriji Maharaj and today we have Pramukh Swami Maharaj.”
Pujya Dr Swami blessed the assembly, “The root of all the works that Shastriji Maharaj accomplished lies in his profound spirituality. He was a scholar and adept in administrative matters, however, he was a spiritual person. At the core of his spirituality was his deep faith in Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Shastriji Maharaj had never disconnected himself from Bhagwan Swaminarayan nor did he ever forget him.”
Pujya Mahant Swami blessed the festive occasion, “Today, we are celebrating Shastriji Maharaj’s festival. We are celebrating the festival of the founder of BAPS and the guru of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Hundreds of thousands of sadhus and devotees celebrating this festival here and at home are brimming with joy. There is utmost joy for Pramukh Swami Maharaj today because he has sent his beloved Thakorji, Harikrishna Maharaj, here from Sarangpur. Pramukh Swami Maharaj has never been away from Harikrishna Maharaj. He is always with him. So today, he has sent Harikrishna Maharaj for the occasion, which means that he is also with him here.
“The 150th Celebration of Shastriji Maharaj’s Birthday means to imbue our hearts with his life, works, values and devotion to God. It was Shastriji Maharaj’s mission to make all brahmarup – this means inner cleanliness. Bhagwan Swaminarayan taught about becoming brahmarup and offering bhakti.”
A special announcement to join the Clean India Campaign was made as part of the BAPS’s social services to society. The campaign includes:
A home to home cleanliness awareness drive by 16,000 BAPS volunteers in socially backward villages
Workshops on cleanliness in 500 schools
Cleanliness awareness drive through 200 rallies
Cleaning of 9200 public places in 3800 towns and villages by BAPS volunteers.
Hundreds of thousands of BAPS volunteers and devotees will offer their services in the Clean India Campaign.
In conclusion, a mass arti was performed by 150,000 devotees and wellwishers and the National Anthem was sung.