Since Saturday, 13th August, after HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj abandoned his mortal body, almost 2.1 million devotees paid tributes to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj in four days. Thousands of dignitaries from various walks of life also arrived at Sarangpur for Swamishri’s last darshan to offer their respects.
On the day of his final rites, Wednesday, 17th August, HH Mahant Swami and Shri Morari Bapu performed arti at 7:45 am. After offering flowers and a saffron shawl to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Morari Bapu offered tributes, saying, ”Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a confluence of simplicity and spirituality. It is quite rare to sustain simplicity after attaining such heights. I had many opportunities to experience his childlike simplicity. He was a ‘Mahatma’. He has not left us; his legacy shall remain present forever. I have not found such an instance yet where millions of people have paid such heartfelt tributes on the departure of any spiritual leader. Many respects to Pramukh Swami Maharaj and prayers for his sadhus and all devotees.”
Shortly thereafter, BJP National Head Shri Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu, Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Nitin Patel and Gujarat BJP head Shri Jitubhai Vaghani arrived at Sarangpur to pay their obeisances.
Shri Amit Shah paid tributes to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj and said, “I have been fortunate to have known Pramukh Swami Maharaj since my childhood. He built so many temples. He inspired not only the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, but also Sanatan Dharma as a whole. He silently, yet so actively inspired millions of people to have faith and devotion to God. He consoled and instilled strength in me whenever I was frustrated amidst difficult circumstances in my life. His greatest contributions were revival of the sadhu sanstha and character building of society.”
Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister, paid tributes to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj and said, “I had the good fortune of meeting him many times. He was a great listener. He made very deep points. His personality was in tune to the institution he headed. Under his astute leadership, BAPS grew, grew and grew. He inspired many youth to renounce the comfort of their homes. He inspired the very best talent of society. BAPS mandirs are ambassadors of Indian culture worldwide. He inculcated restraint and there was nothing boisterous about him. He engaged youth into creative endeavours of Indian spirituality. Pramukh Swami’s greatest legacy is BAPS that is always ready to work for society.”
Shri Suresh Prabhu, Union Railway Minister, paid tributes to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj and said, “He played a great role not only as a spiritual head of a giant organisation, but also as the best administrator who structured a massive institution of BAPS. He has created such temples, which are testimonies to how he materialised unimaginable creations. We are very fortunate and blessed to have him lived in the midst of us. Despite that he belonged to the whole universe, we are lucky that he chose India to grace us.”
Thereafter, around 11 am, HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s palanquin was taken by sadhus all the way from the ground where his body was laid to rest for darshan to his residence where senior sadhus performed the panchamrit snan ritual. Around 3:00 pm, he was placed in a palanquin and was taken into the mandir grounds where more than 2 lakh devotees had assembled for the last rites. About 15 LCD screens were set up to relay the cremation rituals live. The atmosphere in the mandir precincts was solemn and awash with profound devotion of devotees.
After 3:45 pm, Swamishri’s palanquin was placed on the funeral pyre, comprising of neatly arranged logs and neem wood. Shri LK Advani and Yogacharya Baba Ramdevji offered their tributes to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Shri Amit Shah, CM of Gujarat Shri Vijay Rupani and many other social, political and religious luminaries were present during the last rites. Hymns singing the glory of Aksharbrahman from the Vedas were recited.
Glory of the God-realised sadhu was sung from the Vachnamrit, the Upanishads and the Shrimad Bhagwat. Thereafter, mass chanting of the Swaminarayan Mahamantra took place. Sadguru P.Ishwarcharan Swami extolled the greatness of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and said, “It was Swamishri’s wish to have his final rites performed on this place in order to behold Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj in the main mandir and remain in the divine sight of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj from the Smruti Mandir.”
Shri Ramdevji Maharaj offered his respects saying, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj descended on earth by God’s will and he left by God’s will. He shall continue to enlighten us all by his divine consciousness.”
Thereafter the Janmangal Namavali was recited. HH Mahant Swami performed the ritual of smearing chandan on Pramukh Swami’s forehead and ghee on his holy feet, followed by arti and mantrapushpanjali. Hundreds of thousands of people watched HH Mahant Swami circumambulate the funeral pyre while holding the bundle of burning straw, ignited from the holy flame brought from Aksharderi, Gondal. Senior sadhus followed suit. Amidst Vedic chantings, HH Mahant Swami set alight the funeral pyre. Subsequently, there was an eruption of tears and cries from all corners of the assembly.
The last rites witnessed more than 2 lakh devotees from all corners of India and the world.
To commemorate HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s departure, a 7-day discourse on his life, work and saintliness would commence from Thursday, 18 August in Sarangpur.