Academic conference held on the unique contribution of Swaminarayan literature to spirituality, daily living, literature and history
Pramukh Swami Maharaj honoured for inspiring literary compositions on spiritual and social awareness through learned BAPS swamis
Impressive contribution of Swaminarayan literature also serves as a means to preserve and promote Sanskrit
Tens of thousands gathered at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar on 26 December to celebrate the vast contributions made by the Swaminarayan monastic tradition to the fields of Gujarati and spiritual literature which has positively influenced the aesthetic, social, ethical and spiritual dimensions of countless people’s lives across the world over the last two centuries. Eminent scholars and spiritual luminaries paid tribute to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s efforts to continue the rich literary legacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan by inspiring innumerable literary compositions through his learned swamis.
Swaminarayan literature is assuming a prominent place in the centuries-old literary journey of humanity. Bhagwan Swaminarayan nurtured his swamis’ development in diverse fields such as literature, arts and music. He inspired scholarly swamis such as Muktanand Swami, Brahmanand Swami, Premanand Swami, Nishkulanand Swami and Nityanand Swami to compose poetic literary works which would serve as priceless guides to successful spiritual living. Today, their works continue to shine as jewels of Gujarati literature due to their literary calibre and spiritual profundity.
Noting the literary services of these swamis, well-known Professor Anantaraya Rawal states, “The Swaminarayan Sampraday of Gujarat continues to serve the literary field. The literary works of the leading and scholarly swamis of the BAPS Swaminarayan organisation cannot be underestimated.”
Famous historian, Mr. K. K. Dutt notes, “The text, ‘A Comprehensive History of India’ states that the sadhus of Bhagwan Swaminarayan have contributed greatly to Gujarati literature.”
The evening assembly began at 4.45 pm with prayers and devotional hymns.
BAPS scholar Adarshjivandas Swami narrated episodes from Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life which illustrated how he embodied the ideals of discipleship toward his gurus.
Viveksagardas Swami, BAPS senior swami, scholar, author and witness to the unprecedented life and works of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, delivered a thought-provoking discourse on Swaminarayan literature. “At Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s behest, Swaminarayan swamis have prolifically produced a rich diversity of literature in a variety of languages, including Sanskrit, Prakrit, Hindi and Braj, of various styles, sentiments and ideas. Nearly 35,000 kirtans were composed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s swami-disciples. Their prolificness was not at the expense of quality.
“Eminent scholars of Gujarati literature have praised the literary qualities of Swaminarayan literature. Mahatma Gandhi included many hymns of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s swami-disciples in his Ashram Bhajanavali, which he sang daily to gain spiritual inspiration. Swaminarayan literature was distinctive for being suffused with devotion. This literature was created not to dazzle aesthetically or impress with technical skill, but out of the depths of devotional feeling for the manifest God, Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Swaminarayan literature was also transformative, uplifting people’s lives and enlightening consciousness.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj continued the vast contributions to Swaminarayan literature begun by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Eighteen periodicals in many languages were established by Pramukh Swami Maharaj and are regularly read by more than 1 million people. BAPS has published more than 700 books. Additionally, Pramukh Swami Maharaj encouraged the production of scholarly literature clarifying Akshar Purushottam Darshan, such as in the Swaminarayan Bhashyam, which has been celebrated by the Kashi Vidvat Parishad as well as dozens of universities around the world.”
Dignitaries and scholars present in the assembly also paid tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s contribution to literature through their speeches.
Madhav Ramanuj, eminent poet and writer, said, “Every person’s personality reflects aspects of their parents; in Pramukh Swami Maharaj, we saw aspects of God. Meeting him felt like meeting a beloved family elder. He created more than a thousand mandirs, but innumerable inner mandirs in the hearts of those who loved him. Our existence in his lifetime is our great fortune.”
Chandrakant Raghunath Patil, State President of BJP Gujarat, shared, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s work benefitted the whole world. The 80,000 volunteers selflessly serving here together as one will benefit the world with their inspiring example. Despite the hundreds of thousands visiting this campus daily, I have not seen any disorder. This event offers lessons on service, duty and compassion that should be learned by all.”
Ambrish Patel, President and Trustee of Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal (SVKM) Trust, said, “Experiencing this nagar has been the best moment of my life. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s compassionate eyes touched the hearts of all, rich and poor. Only once in a millennium do such souls incarnate. I am amazed by this grand festival. The organization of this event is extraordinary. I do not think we shall see such a sight in India or throughout the world in the next hundred years.”
Sanjay Ghodawat, Founder and Chairman of Sanjay Ghodawat Group, said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a philanthropist who always gave to society. He was resilient, teaching us how to move from negativity to positivity. He was ambitious, making the impossible possible. He was a mastermind, masterfully managing a vast organization. He inspired unity amongst all facets of society. His kindness taught us to always have compassion for others. His humility touched everyone’s hearts.”
Prof. Dr. Balwant Shantilal Jani, Honourable Chancellor of Dr. Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was unparalleled. Only Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s pure love could inspire thousands of 10- to 14-year-old children to organize and joyously serve in the Bal Nagari while continuing their education. In Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar, the visiting public is offering homage to the entire Hindu tradition, which is represented through a variety of avatars and spiritual luminaries honoured on this campus. Many festivals have been celebrated on a grand scale, but the centenary celebration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj is historic. The essence of this festival is transforming people’s lives to benefit the world. It is a platform to educate people about the richness of our vibrant culture.”
Raghuvir Chaudhary, Former President of the Gujarat Sahitya Parishad, added, “My favourite exhibition here was Sant Param Hitkari, which showed how Pramukh Swami Maharaj did so much for so many, regardless of caste or creed. When youths are trained, they are blessed with so much strength. This can be seen from how the young swamis are currently engaged in great works for society. I feel BAPS’s greatest service to the world is its work in holistic child development. The enlightened guru has always been present in BAPS and will always remain.”
Padma Shri Kumarpal Desai, Trustee of Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust, said, “This event is neither ancient nor modern, but eternal because it is the celebration of a universal figure like Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Pramukh Swami Maharaj taught us to love unconditionally, to give unstintingly, to care unselfishly. He inspired a revolution, not politically or militarily, but through his pure love. He was the very soul of this world; the light of India’s culture and tradition. The first lesson he imparted was that of spirituality. The second was of service. He taught that the selfless service of others benefits us spiritually. He inspired not just individuals, but entire families to serve. Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his institution can astound the greatest management experts through their creative capacity. Work that would take 50 years has been done in two years here by BAPS. I have never seen such a passion for service in any other organization.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj was not a sadhu of Gujarat, or any single sampraday or religion, but a sadhu of the world. He was not merely the leader of Hinduism, but he was the torchbearer of culture and the architect of global humanity. Pramukh Swami Maharaj provided a mother’s love, a father’s comfort, and a guru’s wisdom. He revolutionized humanity by granting people completeness, enlightening them with spirituality. Pramukh Swami Maharaj helped countless people experience God. He did not just create mandirs, but he transformed everyone’s homes into mandirs. Egoism, domination and expectations are the enemies of love; Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life was wholly devoid of these elements.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s response to the terrorist attack on Akshardham was the highest ideal of forgiveness that helped the world realize what equanimity and true Indian culture is. Pramukh Swami Maharaj gave us universality. There is not the slightest distinction of caste, creed or background in BAPS. It embodies the highest ideal that the whole world is one family. In short, what did Pramukh Swami Maharaj give to us? For our lips – honesty, for our voice – prayer, for our hands – service, for our heart – spirituality, for our face – laughter and spiritual light.”
Bhagyesh Jha, IAS, Chairperson of Gujarat Sahitya Academy, shared, “Upon seeing Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar, I feel immense happiness. In each particle of the Nagar, I see Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His joyful face is evoked in my mind. This is not only Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary celebration, but it is equally a celebration of the reawakening of the most ancient culture, a celebration of Hinduism, and a celebration of India’s continued progress. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was an ambassador of God’s affection.”
Ashok Singhal, Union State Minister of Assam, said, “After coming here, I have realized not only the grandeur of this great Nagar, but the faith and love for Pramukh Swami Maharaj that inspired this unimaginable service of 80,000 volunteers. Through them, we still feel Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s divine touch. Pramukh Swami Maharaj created a virtuous society. Thousands serve here day and night without expectation. This impossible feat is possible here only because of devotion and the purity of the guru. The Swaminarayan Sampraday has inspired people to give, not take. Grand mandirs have been built by BAPS and countless children have been taught to be ideal moral citizens. This has been my personal experience.”
Rajendrakumar Arlekar, Governor of Himachal Pradesh, shared, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired the nation not just through his words, but through his work and work ethic. His life is itself an inspiration to us. The phrase ‘His life is a message’ could not be truer for Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
“As I entered this Nagar, I felt there was a sense of faith and devotion that will inspire all who come here. I myself am inspired. Who would not be inspired by seeing this Nagar?! Students of management should come here and learn about all that is happening under the guidance and blessings of Mahant Swami Maharaj.
“The entire event, on such a large scale, is organized without chaos or mismanagement. It is an example for the whole world. It inspires us to leave with an uplifting message. I have not come here to guide, but to learn from you and this festival.”
In his blessings, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “Through the speeches of eminent scholars, today we learned a great deal about the spiritual literature written by the swamis of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Pramukh Swami Maharaj often said, ‘We should develop a habit of reading religious and spiritual literature that will benefit our lives.’ We should not read things that will pollute our minds or discourage us from moral living. The Vachanamrut, Swamini Vato and biographies of our gurus should be read daily as they contain immense spiritual wisdom. Unfortunately, people are less attracted to this spiritual literature, but are enticed by impure content. We should not read impure content, as it will be difficult for us to escape from their impressions. Even if we read only one or two lines, but read something that will benefit your life.
“Our reading should be coupled with prayer, as that will help instil what we read in our lives. One should not just continuously read, but pause, introspect, and contemplate upon what one has read. Such reading will be immensely beneficial.”