Over 30,000 devotees and well-wishers, along with more than 600 sadhus, gathered at the BAPS Mandir in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, to celebrate His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s 85th birthday.
An evening program was organized to celebrate Mahant Swami Maharaj’s life and work, yet he insisted that the greatness of Pramukh Swami Maharaj remain the focus of the program.
The celebration assembly began with the traditional singing of dhun and prarthana. Thereafter, Pujya Viveksagar Swami spoke about the continuity of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s Gunatit Guru succession and that Pramukh Swami Maharaj lives on today through our present guru, Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The main birthday celebration program focused on a selection of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s spiritual qualities, such as dharma, bhakti, compassion for devotees, humility and divine influence, and how these qualities are still experienced through the life of Mahant Swami Maharaj. The program included enlightening speeches from senior and experienced sadhus, heartfelt bhajans, inspiring video presentations and colorful traditional dances. Each speech was preceded by a video illustrating the divine and spiritual qualities of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
At 5:20 p.m., Mahant Swami Maharaj entered the assembly upon a beautifully decorated chariot pulled by the resident sadhus who serve in Bhavnagar. Mahant Swami Maharaj held Shri Harikrishna Maharaj’s murti in his lap as the procession took him from the back of the hall to the main stage.
After Mahant Swami Maharaj had taken his seat on the main stage, the series of speeches revealing the similarity in virtues of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj began with Narayanmuni Swami’s speech on their staunch observance of the commands of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Thereafter, Aksharvatsal Swami spoke on their pure devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Then, Atmatrupt Swami described Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s tireless travels to village, towns and cities in India and abroad to meet and fulfil the wishes of devotees, and how Mahant Swami Maharaj has continued that tradition.
Next, Anandswarup Swami, narrated incidents of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s and Mahant Swami Maharaj’s remarkable humility.
Then, Atmaswarup Swami spoke about the divine impact of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj upon devotees and others in India and around the world.
Jitubhai Vaghani, MLA and President of Gujarat State BJP, addressed the audience, “BAPS is a factory for morally shaping society.” He also expressed that Mahant Swami Maharaj’s commands can be confidently followed without question.
Subsequently, Pujya Bhaktipriya (Kothari) Swami and Pujya Swayamprakash (Doctor) Swami recalled their experiences with Mahant Swami Maharaj from their youth.
Then, Mahant Swami Maharaj blessed the assembly, “Moksha is attainable. However, we must live according to Bhagwan’s principles and understand him to be the all-doer.” He also stated, “Unity is the cause of peace in homes and the force behind achieving great works for society.”
Thereafter, Mahant Swami Maharaj was honored with garlands by senior sadhus and invited guests.
At the conclusion of the celebration assembly, arti was collectively performed by over 30,000 devotees and well-wishers.