The BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham is a beacon of hope, faith, and unity, poised to draw countless souls towards a path of devotion and righteousness. Pramukh Swami Maharaj's vision for Akshardham in the USA is a testament to his profound spiritual foresight and dedication. From an inner wish to a stunning reality, an evening program dedicated to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life-long motto themed “Celebrating In the Joy of Others” honored his devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the creation of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham on October 6, 2023, in Robbinsville, New Jersey. This heartfelt gathering took place as a prelude to the grand inauguration of Akshardham on October 8, 2023. His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the present spiritual leader of BAPS, offered personal reflections on the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
From an inner wish to a stunning reality, an evening program dedicated to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life-long motto themed “Celebrating In the Joy of Others”
In touching recollections from the past twenty-five years of his divine vision, many shared the rich history of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s resolution for the fruition of this testament to the Hindu faith. Pujya Aksharvatsaldas Swami paid homage to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s extraordinary feat as a master-builder of mandirs. Perpetuating the establishment of mandirs across the globe not as mere art but rather such that God resides within mandirs to benefit all who enter. Pujya Gnanvatsaldas Swami referenced historical scriptures that describe that only a true spiritual guide, such as Pramukh Swami Maharaj, can bring scriptures to life through mandirs and their ability to help improve the lives of countless individuals. He emphasized the level of care, detail, and knowledge Pramukh Swami poured into making mandirs, to ensure every detail benefited the communities within which they reside.
Describing his vision as beyond comprehension, Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami recalled the smaller inner wishes laid out by Pramukh Swami Maharaj that have unfolded through the decades. From the mere location to the amount of land to the size of the assembly hall, his guidance surpassed the forethought of all involved in its making. Most notably, when asked regarding from whom to accept support, Pramukh Swami very confidently said that all devotees from North America would be involved in the making of Akshardham and that thousands would visit daily. There is no question his words rang true; this Akshardham has become a true landmark of devotion and service from across the continent of North America.
BAPS North America CEO Kanu Patel described Pramukh Swami Maharaj as a visionary leader. Having constructed a traditional mandir in London in 1992, he brought the Hindu faith to the western hemisphere, setting a course for mandirs throughout the globe. A moving video showed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s consistent dedication, joy and devotion to build Swaminarayan Akshardham despite obstacles and distance. He would say over the years that though he may physically be in India, his heart and mind resided at Akshardham. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s historic visit to bless this land in 2014 was a shining example of his staunch adherence to the promise of selfless service he gave to his guru Shashtriji Maharaj decades prior.
Tonight’s celebration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj visibly resulted in sheer joy from His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. His blessings reflected his extraordinary devotion to his guru - “Today we celebrate the life and divine message of our guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His universal message was ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’ How simple yet powerful were his words. He did not just preach this message, he lived it every moment. He dedicated his life for us, inspiring people to lead better lives. People can build their lives according to the messages found here at Akshardham. So let us strengthen these virtues so that we too can create a home for God within ourselves. Today we pay tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and pray for his divine blessings to grace us now and for generations to come.”
The divine personality and achievements of Pramukh Swami Maharaj were felt by thousands around the world. In honor of his impact, several guests shared their experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his miraculous vision for Swaminarayan Akshardham.
Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshji Maharaj - Recalling several moments over the course of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life in which he exemplified his love for all, by forming mandirs and sadhus and transforming the hearts of countless people. He continued, “What touched me most was his firmness in following spiritual disciplines. He never compromised his values and that is something that has touched me the most.”
His Excellency Yousif Ahmed, Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Washington, DC, remarked on BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, saying, “I have to say it is quite stunning that this beautiful white lotus has bloomed right here in the Garden State. I bring greetings from the Kingdom of Bahrain. This is a historic occasion, and it is my duty to be present here to celebrate the joy of others like it’s the joy of my own.”
Sadguru Brahmeshanand Acharya Swamii expressed his thoughts in Hindi saying “This Akshardham mandir is a revolution beginning with BAPS by founder Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who was my friend. He introduced and established sanatan dharma to the world by building mandirs in various cities. This is a moment in history because this is the first mandir of its kind in America.”
Congressman Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District remarked, “America is a great melting pot, a nation of opportunity, a nation where we can all come together, whatever our religion is. Because we do share more in our humanity than everything that should ever separate us.” Following his address, Congressman Van Drew presented His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj with two proclamations - one for Swaminarayan Akshardham, and one for His Holiness - along with a ‘Challenge Coin’, given in peace, respect, and love. Deputy Mayor Tony DiPietro of Galloway Township, NJ also presented a proclamation to His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The nine-day inaugural ceremonies, known as Akshardham Mahotsav, will continue to celebrate the mahamandir and the universal values it embodies.