His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and several dignitaries paid homage to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s efforts to strengthen family unity in millions of homes around the world as tens of thousands gathered to commemorate ‘Family Unity Day: Celebrating Family Values’ at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar on 29 December 2022.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj personally visited over 250,000 homes to strengthen family unity and promoted the innovative concept of the family home assembly (ghar sabha) as an effective solution to familial strife.
To pay tribute to the unique gift of ghar sabha given by Pramukh Swami Maharaj on the occasion of his centenary celebrations, Mahant Swami Maharaj inspired a large-scale Family Unity Campaign between 31 January to 15 April 2022 to transmit the message of family harmony throughout society. Over 72,000 male and female volunteers spent 7.2 million hours personally visiting 2.4 million homes and inspiring family harmony among 6 million individuals in over 10,000 villages and cities across 17 states of India. As a result of this unprecedented campaign, 1.9 million families pledged to have at least one meal together daily, over 1 million families decided to perform daily prayers together, and over 400,000 families were inspired to conduct a regular family home assembly (ghar sabha).
This campaign built on the 2003 ‘Ideal Family Campaign’ organized on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of BAPS Children’s Activities during which 17,500 boys and girls had visited 435,000 homes to promote Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message of family values. The campaign had resulted in 250,000 people pledging to daily bow down to their parents, 193,000 people pledging to live an addiction-free life, and 240,000 people pledging to conduct daily family home assemblies (ghar sabha).
Living by the maxim, ‘In the joy of others lies our own,’ Pramukh Swami Maharaj spent his entire life helping families overcome discontent, enmity, quarrels and a wide range of other problems, inspiring them to live happily in harmony with each other.
The special evening assembly titled ‘Family Unity Day: Celebrating Family Values’ at Pramukh Swami Nagar began at 4.45pm
Senior BAPS swami, Narayanmunidas Swami, spoke on the unique gift and innovative formula of ghar sabha given by Pramukh Swami Maharaj to society. Ghar sabha has healed many fractured family relationships, and it continues to strengthen family unity. Narayanmunidas Swami said, “Mutual affection amongst devotees is upheld as a spiritual principle in the Swaminarayan tradition. Thus, Pramukh Swami Maharaj dedicated his life to promoting unity and resolving strife within families. Even in his hectic schedule, he would personally mediate and provide solutions to family disputes.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s initiative of family home assembly (ghar sabha), serves the role of social counselling where family members sit together and discuss different spiritual topics to promote family unity. On the occasion of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary celebrations, devotees visited more than 2.4 million homes to spread Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message of family unity.”
Senior BAPS swami, Swayamprakashdas Swami (Doctor Swami) reiterated Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s teachings for establishing harmony within countless families. He said, “Just as we need air to survive, we need unity to thrive. Pramukh Swami Maharaj used to stress, ‘The family that eats, prays and plays together, stays together.’ He provided a four-point formula for fostering unity in families: only if everyone in a family can tolerate others, sacrifice for others, let go for others and adjust for others can we secure harmony within a family. Indeed, family unity is the essence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary celebrations. If we can progress in our family unity, we will experience the joy of this Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar at home; every day will feel like a festival.”
Many dignitaries joined His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj to pay tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and work.
Jayraj Thaker, Managing Trustee of Narsee Monjee Education Trust, shared, “Seeing is believing! Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar is a reflection of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life – simple living and high thinking. I was astounded by the confidence and courtesy of the 12-year-old girl who showed us around the Bal Nagari. This, too, is a reflection of the values instilled by Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s work for children and families. I am honoured to be here and wish BAPS the best for its future endeavours.”
Popular Indian film and television actor Dilip Joshi shared, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was truly ‘Narayanswarup’; God lived and worked through him, and hence he loved all of humanity equally. Everyone wholeheartedly believed that ‘Swami is mine!’ Pramukh Swami Maharaj selflessly met, visited and wrote to millions, with the sole aim to uplift them personally, socially and spiritually.
“I firmly believe that my successful acting career – including 14 years and 370 episodes so far of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah – is solely due to the blessing of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Without him, I would not be here. I pray for his and Mahant Swami Maharaj’s continued blessings to elevate me spiritually.”
Amit Chavda, Member of Legislative Assembly Gujarat and Former State President of Indian National Congress, shared, “Upon learning from the varied thematic exhibitions on this massive 600-acre campus, I realized that it is imperative for our future to follow the footsteps of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. I express my gratitude to all the 80,000 volunteers who belong to different professions on being engaged here as volunteers to spread Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message of better living.
“I used to visit the BAPS Swaminarayan temple at Bochasan during my childhood and was fortunate to be blessed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj on numerous occasions. His works have left a permanent imprint on my life.
“BAPS nurtures Hinduism not only through their temples worldwide, but also through the inculcation of values in the future generations. I am amazed to know there are more than 6,000 children volunteers on this campus. On seeing them, I feel that the motto of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life ‘In the joy of others lies our own’ has come alive. I would like to thank all the swamis and volunteers who have taken care of the basic amenities as well as the education of those children volunteers.”
Shaktisinh Gohil, National Spokesperson of Indian National Congress and Member of Parliament, added, “Today, I stand before you all not as a political leader, but as an admirer of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Just as a seed grows into a massive tree when nurtured, Pramukh Swami Maharaj fostered BAPS through extensive travelling and meeting common people with immense affection. When global dignitaries would be craving for a meeting with Pramukh Swami Maharaj, he would be engaged in wiping the tears of an ordinary villager in a mud-hut. When Bhagwan Swaminarayan came to Gujarat, he accepted everyone without distinction, whether it was Dada Khachar or a Muslim woman. Like Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Pramukh Swami Maharaj would never differentiate between people based on religion. I saw this first-hand when he took the service of a Muslim as one of the key patrons in the creation of London Mandir. It is not a great feat to achieve a post in the state or the national government, but to achieve a place in the heart of Pramukh Swami Maharaj is the greatest achievement of my life.”
Harsh Sanghvi, Home Minister of the Government of Gujarat, shared, “This festival has been a huge learning experience for me. It has been possible not only due to management skills but by devotion and dedication. Students of management studies should come here to learn the effectiveness of integrating faith and belief with management.
“All my visits abroad have shown me that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s teachings have inspired youths in foreign countries. His de-addiction initiatives are a tremendous gift to society. I bow to his vision and work.”
Swami Nikhileshwarananda Ji Maharaj, President of Ramakrishna Ashram, Rajkot, added, “It is extraordinary that a festival site of 600 acres is open for a whole month. It is even more unbelievable to see how it is being run so efficiently and effortlessly by 80,000 volunteers. Students should come here and conduct a case study on how to manage a mega-event like this. I am confident that whoever comes here will be showered with God’s blessings and will be able to lead a successful life. It has been the biggest blessing for me to be present here today.”
Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamji, President of JSS Mahavidyapeetha and the 24th Pontiff of Sri Suttur Math in Mysore, said, “I am exhilarated to be part Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary celebrations, which is an epic presentation of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life through various momentous month-long programmes. In this expansive Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar, one sees legendary and unparalleled beauty and indescribably captivating art and sculptures imbued with the universal life, works and messages of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the Swaminarayan Sampradaya are household names across the globe today. As a divine incarnation of Godhead, Bhagwan Swaminarayan performed many miracles and continues to do so even today. This magnificent gathering is an example of this.
“Pramukh Swami is one of the most revered saints cutting across religious affiliations. He is a divine manifestation for bringing the celestial presence of God to the terrestrial plane through preaching, practice and demonstration. Today, over 1,100 temples of unmatched architectural magnificence across the world are an outstanding testimony of the divinity of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Swaminarayan temples are modern miracles of extraordinary beauty that symbolize the culture, art and timeless values of Hinduism meant to reform human lives.
“As the head of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj has humbly served society, going from village to village to meet devotees, travelling across India and many countries around the world. His efforts have overseen the growth of BAPS from a modest beginning in Gujarat to a global phenomenon with a massive network of temples and very active charitable services run by dedicated volunteers prepared to serve selflessly. The Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lauded Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s leadership in providing humanitarian aid during natural calamities before even the government could respond. He noted that the organization’s service rendered to the afflicted are unparalleled in history.
“Many people have gained faith and had their lives transformed through their interactions with BAPS swamis and devotees in BAPS temples. Thus, BAPS is at the forefront of disseminating the priceless wisdom of the ancient spiritual tradition of Hinduism across the world.”
In his blessings to the assembly, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj explained, “To maintain and increase family unity, Pramukh Swami initiated the family home assembly (ghar sabha), from which millions of families have benefited and attained peace. Pramukh Swami Maharaj said that the increased individualism of modern life causes people to go about their own affairs without interacting with family members. This lack of meaningful family interaction leads to misunderstandings and discord. Consequently, the home, which should be a haven of love and peace, becomes a place of strife and sorrow. But by doing ghar sabha, our mutual affection increases, and miscommunications, tensions and discord decrease. While people may doubt the effectiveness of a small thing like ghar sahba, the results are true. Ghar sabha fosters positivity and virtues and if continued with faith, the whole family benefits over time.”