Param Pujya Mahant Swamiji. Pujya Dr. Swamiji. Pujya Ishwarcharan Swamiji. Gujarat Chief Minister, Vijaybhai. Deputy Chief Minister, Nitinbhai. And to all devotees and well wishers, Jay Swaminarayan. For the 25 year anniversary… Silver Jubilee Ceremony… When I was… respectfully… asked if I would attend, I responded, “Have I become a guest?” It is my good fortune… that ever since I have been introduced… since that time… with this organization… and to Pramukh Swami Maharaj… I have become closely connected. In our community, where there are discussions about religion and religious organizations, people always have expectations of miracles. People now believe… due to weakness of the mind, that without discussion of miracles we are not satisfied. Consequently, we tend to associate great leaders with miracles. The reason I felt close to Pramukh Swami Maharaj is… there was no mention or stress on miracles. [Pramukh Swami Maharaj was] simple and straight-forward. We felt that he is right next to us. He never let us feel any distance between us. For any religious or social organization… to spread or grow… is not difficult. They have some presence in the community. Some grow at a slow rate and others at a fast rate. But Pramukh Swami… instead of focusing on growth… he focused on elevating individuals spirituality. On uplifting the lives of devotees… uplifting the lives of the swamis of the order… for their development. In the incident Brahmvihari Swami was just describing, I was working as a volunteer at the time… in Shahibag where the event was taking place. And at that time Brahmvihari Swami was going to be ordained into order as a swami. And he only understood English at the time. At that time, a large number of youths were getting ordained. Many of the swamis we see today were from that same time. However, Pramukh Swami… has not only… built mandirs in the form of monuments. Brahmvihari Swami was just telling me that Shastriji Maharaj had built 12 mandirs. Actually, 5 mandirs. Pramukh Swami has built 1,200 mandirs… in every corner of the world. However, Pramukh Swami has not constructed buildings… using just bricks, stones, cement… He has… built centers of spiritual and societal enlightenment. Many times, people who are living under the pressure of continuing an organization’s legacy… don’t have the courage or ability to do anything new. And for that reason… they are bound by the burden of time. After witnessing Pramukh Swami’s life up close, I can tell… he was not bound by limitations of time. When creating a mandir in London [in 1995], Pramukh Swami understood… that a for youth born and raised there… for them… you would have to build a play area next to the mandir… even if the youth didn’t come to the mandir to worship. This courage… cannot be found in traditions… that are bound to the ordinary. To change based on the needs today’s generation! Perhaps, in India, within mandir infrastructure and activities, to find such management, human touch and… perfection! I have visited numerous mandirs in Gujarat… as well as mandirs abroad. But after building Akshardham… Pramukh Swami and his team… challenged the status quo such that… “Do mandirs have to be dirty?” “Do shoes have to be lying everywhere?” “Do people have to eat or litter everywhere? He improved all this. There are proper places to take off shoes; they are kept organized and returned upon exit. If large groups arrive then bags are given on arrival to accommodate shoe storage. These things… are not without reason. Because being a student of organizational management myself… I would observe even the smallest of details. Once I had… held a conference for our I.A.S. officers. And as a speaker… I had invited Brahmvihari Swami and swamis involved in the making of this mandir… and I told them to please teach our people… how you are able to finish your work on time. Otherwise here, even the government breaks ground in 2022 when work was scheduled for completion in 2018. The Narmada Dam Project is an example of that. That project is a live example we have witnessed. Here, the plan was set with a deadline, and at that time… I had made a request to Pramukh Swami… that within 3 to 4 universities from around the world… the approach of planning and execution of Akshardham… should be made into a case study… to illustrate that in India… even within the spiritual world, modern management and modern technology… can be utilized so effectively. Perhaps the way Pramukh Swami played a role in incorporating management into mandirs… similarly… within mandirs… such effective use of technology… may never have happened elsewhere. When this Akshardham was under construction… the design workshop was also built here. And at that time, all the work to design and construct the pillars… was done using technology. The entire process was done using technology. To lift the pillars, machines were used instead of laborers. Many devotees present at the time may recall how technology was used so effectively. This use of modern science… within spirituality… shows how both can help each other. Similarly, anywhere you go within Akshardham… you will find a story behind every single stone… even the elephants are carved so realistically, you feel like touching them. [Everything is] living. This means that… all of this minute detail is not possible… without the spirit of sacrifice. It can never happen. At that time, when it was decided to have a 3D theatre… A 3D theater in Akshardham?! We couldn’t even imagine. Is it possible to imagine a theater in a mandir? But in Delhi Akshardham, a 3D theatre was built. And with technology and messaging… those who come to visit… do not come as devotees, but are transformed into devotees when they leave. He has created this… on one side… And now look at the greatness of Pramukh Swami… on one side… he wanted everything modern. The best arrangements. He wanted the most modern managerial skills in the world. And on the other hand, all swami must follow the disciplines of the 18th century. Both! This isn’t easy. Even today, few people know in all of India… that Pramukh Swami Maharaj… in a large scale program to celebrate 200 years, there was an diksha ceremony. At that time, he had a clear wish to make youth… join this mission. This is no simple task. But… I will provide them with the best training. And in Sarangpur, the training institute was developed… Today I can stand here and say… that in all of India… for the traditions of swamis [in Hinduism] Such strict disciplines! And bhakti built on the foundations of gnan… Bhakti balanced with logic! Swamis must all know sanskrit, even if they were born in London, they must all study Sanskrit. whether they become a great yogi or not, yoga must be a part of their life. When I went to Sarangpur, I went to see the syllabus that Pramukh Swami had developed. To see the entire training curriculum, and how traditions are maintained. On one side, management. On the another side, modern technology. On the third side, inside the mandir the divinity and spirituality of the mandir should not be diminished. The mandir should not only be magnificent; But, the mandir should also be divine. On the other side, human resource development! On the one side, for the development of swamis… for the development of their disciplines… The strictest of rules. Everything is observed. Even in the government… The accounts won’t be so well maintained as Pramukh Swami maintained his accounts. Today, there are… approximately 1,100 swamis. Maybe, after Ram-krishna Mission, to have so many swamis at one time, that achievement, is probably due solely to Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The 21st century human-being. The [attractions] of his surrounding world. All types of enticements. Ambitions. The possibility to slip at any moment. In such an era, to create an order of 1,100 swamis… is an extraordinary feat. It is extraordinary! Generally, people make great efforts to force their views on others. Pramukh Swami was different. He or BAPS, instead of forcing their views on others, were interested in inclusion. So Abdul Kalam is bound to become Pramukh Swami’s. And so would Narendra Modi! I meet many dignitaries all over the world. This is one of the responsibilities of a Prime Minister. Most world leaders I have come into contact with have mentioned their interaction with the Swaminarayan faith, their mandirs or Pramukh Swami. They have all mentioned it. Such pervasiveness! Such broad diversity! And how is all this done? Not by being complacent. But to live such a life that society is never harmed. To think of the happiness of all. I remember clearly, in 1992, 26 January I went to wave the flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. We had gone on a pilgrimmage from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. It was under the leadership of Dr. Murlimar Joshi Terrorists had issued threats. Violence was widespread. An attack occurred in Punjab. Six people were martyred. But on 26 January, after waving the tri-colored flag in Lal Chowk of Srinagar, I reached Jammu by plane. Hardly a 1 1/2-hour flight. But by the time I arrived in Jammu, Pramukh Swami had already called half dozen times. That means, for each and every passing moment, he showed concern whether I had reached safely. He worried about me… like a father would worry about his own son. This was how Pramukh Swami looked after me. Once I was speaking with Pramukh Swami. I expressed my disappointment. I was disappointed because… I had received a letter from him… asking for audio tapes of my speeches. So I said, “Bapa…” “I should be listening to your speeches…” “Please don’t listen to mine!” But I didn’t understand why he was asking for this. About 5-6 days later, I received another message. “Come meet me.” His words were always my command. So I went to meet him. He had listened to all my speeches… and had kept notes of it all. He said me, “You shouldn’t say this.” “These [kinds of] words shouldn’t come from your mouth.” I thought… first of all, it would be great if Bapa doesn’t listen to… such political speeches. But then I realized… how much he cared about my development! What I should and should not say. He had minutely picked out my mistakes. Even today, I find this advice useful. Here today… when I walked holding Pujya Mahant Swami’s hand, everyone applauded. At that time, I remembered an incident. Once, a young girl… had went out… with her father. The streets were congested. The rains had caused floods. You could barely move. The father… told his daughter… “Hold my hand.” She said… “No dad…” “You hold my hand.” The listener might think… what kind of person could speak to her father this way? The father asked her why she’s saying this. She said… “If I hold your hand…” “with too much water or too much congestion…” “it might slip.” “But if YOU hold my hand…” “… it will never slip.” When Pujya Mahant Swami has held my hand… why should I ever worry? The entire lineage of Akshardhams… is based on the idea of service. During the Navnirman Andolan in Gujarat… there were curfews… shots from riot police. More than 103 youths died. Curfews would last for days on end. I remember clearly… Pramukh Swami’s concern… and personally laboring to… without any religious discrimination… deliver milk from Shahibaug Mandir… to children in the areas affected by the curfew… I have seen Pramukh Swami work for this. The earthquake hit Bhuj on 26 January 2001. We all know how chaotic and devastating it was. And at that time… the swamis came amidst the dust and rubble, and sat with the people. they wiped the tears of those devastated. Their toil was unimaginable. Renunciation, austerities, service… these values… we can easily see in them. When there are disastrous floods in Gujarat… and food packets are needed… we call either… the Santram Mandir, or the Akshar Purushottam Mandir. We let them know we need to deliver food packets to those in need. They have never asked “How many?” They only ask “When?” “By when do you need us to deliver?” This implies that service to society is their passion. And this applies not only to the lives of the swamis… not only for their human resource development… but to the volunteers as well. The legion of volunteers that has been assembled! It is such that… a BAPS volunteer in New York… or a BAPS volunteer in Delhi… there will be no difference in their speech, demeanor, or lifestyle. Today, they have institutionalized these values. In modern India… the world’s universities will have to study all of this. In times yet to come… when individuals are grappling with mental stress amidst handling the daily responsibilities of life… we are thankful to this organization to show… how to live a life filled with dedication and divinity. Bhagwan Swaminarayan… lived approximately 240 years ago. But look at that timespan! That timespan of about 225 to 275 years. Satkaival Maharaj Santram Maharaj Bhagwan Swaminarayan Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Swami Vivekananda. In every corner of the country… an era of bhakti had begun. And after many years of bondage… when the nation was paralyzed by dysfunction… A political resurgence began… On that… there were countless attacks. The champions of independence were… persecuted and killed. They were thrown into the jails of… the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. During such times… this nation’s great lineage of holy visionaries had preserved the spirit of the country through bhakti. They took it upon themselves to… maintain the spirit of the Hindustan. Across every corner of Hindustan… spiritual wisdom inspired by the traditions of these great holy visionaries… was tied together in unity. Whether it was Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati… or Bhagwan Swaminarayan, they all were united. Even the British rulers couldn’t understand it. Thus, through this era of devotional bhakti… through reformation via bhakti… the soul of the nation was awoken. It laid the great foundation of the freedom movement. The struggle of 1957. The battle for freedom. At its core was the force of this country’s bhakti movement. And through devotion, spirituality… service to society, compassion, love… Through this path… positive energy was ignited. And that was the moment when… Bhagwan Swaminarayan also… ignited a reformation… throughout every village of Gujarat. That has now become our heritage. It’s a source of great pride. This tradition… whether it’s lead by Yogiji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami, and now, Pujya Mahant Swami… Through all of their guidance and blessings… in order to uplift humanity… we will never fall back. During the construction of Gujarat’s Narmada River [dam] project… to move it forward… rarely would there ever be a time… when Pujya Pramukh Swami didn’t get directly involved. Very few might know this. He would always ask about the most specific details on the Narmada project. Wherever Pramukh Swami is today… The most satisfaction from the successful completion of the Narmada [dam] project… would be Pramukh Swami’s. I’m not the only fortunate one. Everyone sitting here will also feel… that Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj has blessed us tremendously. I would feel that only I have been so fortunate. Someone there will feel only he has been so fortunate. It’s okay if we err in this way. It is due to Pramukh Swami’s openness and vastness… that we all felt and experiences that he is within us. In ordinary terms… of all organizational efforts… for years, because Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s role… to accelerate the BAPS movement… was an important dynamic and catalyst role. It wasn’t that he simply lasted through an existing tradition. No. The exponential and foundational growth of the movement… was the direct result of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s efforts. He transformed based on current trends. However, these types of movements… and and their respective organizational strength… usually wither at their foundation after its pioneer passes away. The uniqueness of Pujya Pramukh Swami is that… for centuries to come… nothing can shake its foundations. He left having made those arrangements. Such was his long-term vision. And it was made possible because… in all of his work, he kept himself in the background. He kept himself aloof. He wanted all tasks completed properly. But never by himself. Let it be done by the most eligible. He was the greatest uniter of the people. He was a great unifier. And because of that… today we all benefit from the highest calibre management… highest calibre swamis… and the greatest lineage of traditions. On this 25th anniversary celebration of Akshardham… as we reflect on fond memories here… when we… celebrate its Golden Jubilee… for that occasion, let’s take a pledge… and realize that pledge on its Golden Jubilee. 2022 will be the 75th year of India’s independence. If Pramukh Swami Maharaj were still here, I would’ve told him… “Bapa, you must give us at least another five years for this.” And I have total faith he would’ve done so. Once again, I pray at the feet of Mahant Swami Maharaj… that may he inspire all devotees. To all of the people of the world… give us all inspiration. And spread the message… to wish one’s country and one’s society well… and by the 75th independence day of India in 2022… may these benevolent wishes become fulfilled. And offer them at the feet of Mother India. This great path shown by Pujya Pramukh Swami… may we fulfill it. With that expectation, I pray at the feet of Pujya Pramukh Swami. I pray at the feet of Pujya Mahant Swami. I pray at the feet of all blessed souls. And conclude my talk here with my warmest ‘Jay Swaminarayan’… to all devotees here today. Thank you.