BAPS Honor Life & Message of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at UN

BAPS Delegates from various countries
BAPS Delegates from various countries

Harish Rao

CHICAGO: The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations and the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha came together to honor the life and message of  Pramukh Swami
Maharaj and celebrate his centennial birthday at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016) served as the spiritual leader of the BAPS for over fifty years.

He was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and embodied values of faith in God and service to humanity. Fittingly themed, The World is One Family, the event at the United Nations aimed to honor his legacy onthe special occasion of his centennial celebration in the presence of Her Excellency Mrs. Ruchira Kamboj,the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, members of the Permanent Mission of India, Excellencies, Ambassadors and Representatives of countries across the world, and BAPSvolunteers.

Dr. KashyapPatel, a BAPS volunteer and cardiologist at the Northside Hospital Cardiovascular Institute Atlanta inaugurated the program with a welcome address, introducing Pramukh Swami Maharaj, his lifework surrounding humanitarian efforts for social and spiritual upliftment, and his foundational belief that the world is one family.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s address at the United Nations Peace Millennium Summit on August 29, 2000,was brought to life through a video presentation. In this address, he appealed spiritual leaders worldwide to have meaningful dialogues with each other to preserve our rich diversity, to not just tolerate but to respect all religions, and to expand the circle of unity to include everyone for true harmony

Following the presentation, a statement by His Excellency Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General holding the post of High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, was shared with the assembly. Herein he echoed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’stimeless sentiment of the world is one family with the declaration, “The time to come together as one is now.”

BAPS Ruchira Kamboj
BAPS Ruchira Kamboj

Her Excellency Mrs. Ruchira Kamboj delivered the keynote address and expressed her deepest honor for hosting this event on the centennial birthday of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. “In the truest sense, Swamiji’slife is a message to all humanity, it is a message of oneness, a message of goodness, a message of celebrating peace, harmony, and brotherhood,” opined Her Excellency.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj firmly believed that the entire world, regardless of race, religion, or country, is one family.

He did not simply profess this belief but personified it with his actions to uplift communities in remarkable ways. During his lifetime, Pramukh Swami Maharaj responded to over 20 natural disasters in India and abroad, inspiring volunteers to contribute their time and money to deliver relief to more than 6 million people worldwide. Sejal Patel, a BAPS volunteer who is an associate director of professional development with McKinsey, shared a first-hand account of one such instance from the2017 Hurricane Harvey disaster that struck Texas.

She poignantly remarked, “The signature mark of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s relief efforts was this… his ability to share in the suffering and to channel that empathy into a sense of urgency to provide the swift action needed to save lives and then rebuild them over time…”

As Bawa Jain, Secretary-General for the World Council of Religious Leaders and Founder put it, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was one of the most transformational leaders of our time” for being able to touch countless lives and inspire people, of all backgrounds to drive positive change. Underlining Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s enlightened spiritual state, Anandswarup Swami virtually offered the delegates an insight into Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s unwavering faith in the all-doership of God that enabled him to not only see good in all but to see God in all. It was this spiritual unity that connected Pramukh Swami Maharaj with all of creation

The program concluded with a recital of the Shanti Paath, a Hindu prayer for universal peace and a vote of thanks by Counselor Ashish Sharma from the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.

Attendees left in reflection on the profound impact that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and message continue to have even today.

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