Gujarat Day: Celebrating Glorious Gujarat
4 Jan. 2023, Wednesday, Ahmedabad, India
Renowned Gujarati folk singers and litterateurs lyrically extolled the spiritual, social, and cultural contributions to Gujarat of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj on “Gujarat Day: Celebrating Glorious Gujarat” at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar on 4 January 2023. Tens of thousands gathered to listen to them and other dignitaries as they remembered the legacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and his fifth spiritual successor, Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Bhagwan Swaminarayan had a profound impact on Gujarat’s religious, social, and cultural landscape. Pramukh Swami Maharaj continued his legacy by continuously working for the holistic development of Gujarat through spiritual, social, cultural, educational, medical and environmental services, the creation of mandirs such as Akshardham, de-addiction campaigns, tribal welfare activities, and countless other social and relief efforts.
The evening assembly began at 4.45 pm, in which Gujarat’s renowned folk singers such as Hemant Chauhan and Kirtidan Gadhvi performed a medley of devotional hymns. Rajbha Gadhvi enthralled the audience with his unique musical performance, while Osman Mir sang his favourite devotional kirtans on Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Then, distinguished guests paid homage to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s contributions to Gujarat.
Renowned Gujarati motivational speaker and author Shailesh Sagpariya said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj elevated Gujarati from a regional language to an international one by speaking in Gujarati at the United Nations during the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious Leaders where delegates heard Gujarati for the first time. He also ensured that Gujarati is taught in mandirs across the world. Gujarat has gifted our nation with a number of prominent personalities: namely, the father of the nation – Mahatma Gandhiji, the creator of a united India – Sardar Patel, the first Field Marshal of independent India – Sam Manekshaw, the father of the Indian space programme – Vikram Sarabhai, and the current leader and visionary of a new India – Narendra Modi. Bhagwan Swaminarayan made Gujarat his home and today we are celebrating Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s contributions to Gujarat.”
Renowned Gujarati folk singer Padma Shri Bhikhudan Gadhvi said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj instilled values in people and taught that the inculcation of dharma leads to the eventual eradication of ego, which spreads peace in society. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the ideal saint who granted society and individuals peace by awakening them to the path of righteousness. I would often sing a folk song before Pramukh Swami Maharaj with the words, ‘God gave us this priceless soil, water, and air, all for free!’ —explaining how compassionate God is on us! Saints like Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj have showered this compassion on us, giving us all we need. Thus, we must have faith in and seek the refuge of such a holy saint.”
Acclaimed Gujarati humourist Padma Shri Shahabuddin Rathod said, “All religions have their respective distinctive attributes —the Swaminarayan faith sees all other faiths with respect. I had a very close relationship with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He contributed to society in so many ways. He made major contributions to a girls’ school that I was helping create in the early 1990s. When Pramukh Swami Maharaj was weighed against sugar which was then weighed against gold in London, he donated all of that to the establishment of a new medical school in Karamsad. In people’s life, the ‘I’ is always capital. But for Pramukh Swami Maharaj, there was no capital ‘I’. His whole life, he inspired us to get rid of our ego. Thus, he was able to laugh so effortlessly and innocently.”
Head of the Dada Bhagwan Foundation Deepakbhai Desai shared, “All Pramukh Swami Maharaj thought about was providing peace to every person he met. Saints like him dissolve our anxieties and sorrows. Pramukh Swami Maharaj embodied detachment and transcended ignorance. He was Brahmaswarup – the form of Aksharbrahma. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s devotion and surrenderance to his gurus were unparalleled. There was nothing else for him. When he so devoted himself to his guru, thousands were inspired to devote themselves, too. Pramukh Swami Maharaj experience God through his gurus. He lived solely to please his gurus and serve people. This is true knowledge.”
Former Cabinet Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj has increased the glory of Gujarat and Gujarati society. When I sought blessings from Pramukh Swami Maharaj to overcome the difficulties facing the Narmada Dam Project, he requested all BAPS mandirs worldwide to chant God’s name every morning and evening. Due to his blessings, prayers and efforts, the Narmada Dam today serves millions of people in Gujarat and beyond.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj preserved Hindu culture by creating temples worldwide with weekly assemblies that nurtured spiritual values in children and adults. He also fostered such virtues in Indian children to such an extent that their parents were inspired to transform their lives. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was not just a man for this age; he was a spiritual luminary for the ages. We have not seen God, but we saw a God-like person in Pramukh Swami Maharaj.”
Former Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat Nitinbhai Patel said, “Millions from India and abroad were attracted to Pramukh Swami Maharaj because of his love for all. Gujarat was hit by a massive earthquake in 2001. When the earthquake-affected had not even comprehended what had happened, Pramukh Swami Maharaj already had people on the ground carrying out relief efforts and serving hot meals to all in just a few hours. His relief activities were unprecedented.
“Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Narendra Modi have raised the profile and glory of Gujarat worldwide. But in the religious sphere, it is Pramukh Swami Maharaj who has gained the respect and adoration of millions of leaders and ordinary people and subsequently made Gujarat a place to be proud of. These four Gujaratis are the pride of Gujarat. Pramukh Swami belonged not only to Gujarat but to the world, and his teachings will stay with us forever.”
Former Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijaybhai Rupani said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life was for the salvation of all. Through his life, he inspired people to imbibe integrity, honesty, morality, harmony and peace. Everyone believed that they had a close relationship with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. This shows that he was one with the people – a people’s guru. He wrote hundreds of thousands of letters and reached hundreds of thousands of homes consoling, guiding and inspiring people. He initiated over 1,000 swamis. His life was centered around prayers and perseverance. His pure character inspired the transformation of others’ lives. Thus, even though he lacked significant formal education, highly educated people like President Abdul Kalam accepted him as their guru.
“When terrorists entered Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, it was an attack on Hinduism. But Pramukh Swami Maharaj appealed to the public for peace, rescuing society from the communal violence that the terrorists had clearly intended.
“Today, Gujarat is a role model of progress. People say Gujarat is powerful, progressive and growing — and Pramukh Swami Maharaj was one of the significant contributors. He united the people of Gujarat and gave them direction. Though his Centenary Celebrations are only for one month, they will inspire generations to come. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and work have steered our state and Hindu culture toward progress, pride and inspiration.”
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was like a hub of all virtues, so whatever glory we can extol of his remains insufficient. He sacrificed his entire life for society, keeping not even a single second for himself. Everything was for the sake of others.
“We offer our respects to everyone who has contributed to Gujarat’s development. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s contribution to Gujarat’s development was immense and everyone is aware of his service to society during natural disasters. He also made Herculean efforts to ensure the entire state of Gujarat would have clean water due to the success of the Narmada Dam project. His efforts were selfless and motivated only by his heartfelt sentiments and compassion for the suffering of the people of Gujarat. He was also inspired by witnessing Yogiji Maharaj’s intense desire for the successful completion of the Narmada Dam project. He built many hospitals, schools, hostels and mandirs in Gujarat to foster the educational, health and spiritual welfare of the people of Gujarat. The state of Gujarat will remain forever indebted to him for his immense services.”