Shastri Narayanswarupdas (Pramukh Swami Maharaj)
Shastri Narayanswarupdas was born on December 7, 1921 Chansad, Vadodara, India, commonly known as Pramukh Swami Maharaj, is a Hindu sadhu, Indian social worker, and spiritual Guru of an international Hindu organization known as the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha). His life work primarily revolves around teaching principles of bhakti yoga, self-realization, and service to society as taught by Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
The present spiritual leader of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS), Pramukh Swami Maharaj, represents a succession of spirituality that began a little over 100 years ago around 1907.
Prior to his passint, Yogiji Maharaj gave leadership to Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 1971. Over the last 38 years, under his able leadership and guidance, the BAPS faith has spread throughout India and internationally. What was, 85 years ago, a relatively small institution with only several thousand devotees and a handful of sadhus, is now a dynamic worldwide organisation with over 720 temples, over 5600 Satsang centres, more than 850 sadhus and a million followers spread over five continents.
Inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the Sanstha has enjoyed success in international festivals celebrated in 1981 (Bicentenary Celebrations of Lord Swaminarayan), 1985 (Bicentenary Celebrations of Gunatitanand Swami) and 1992 (Centenary Celebrations of Yogiji Maharaj), as well as the spectacular ‘Cultural Festivals of India’ held in London, 1985 and in New Jersey, 1991.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj has embarked on no less than 15 preaching tours, covering 50 countries in 5 continents over the last 38 years. Temples and Satsang Centres have been established in USA, Canada, Europe (UK, France, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Ireland), Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius), South Africa, The Middle East (Bahrain, UAE), The Far East (Japan, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong), Australia and New Zealand.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj has been recognised by the United Nations for his efforts in religious harmony, and his message of peace and goodwill, having been asked to deliver a message to all at the World Peace Summit of 2000.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj is the fifth spiritual successor of the Bochanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS). Pramukh Swami is a self-realized yogi and a manifestation of the Hindu concept of Brahman. Pramukh Swami is the Spiritual Leader of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Sanstha.
Shantilal Patel received sannyasa initiation on 10 January 1940 by Shastri Yagnapurushdas, more commonly known as Shastriji Maharaj. Upon receiving the name, Sadhu Narayanswarupdas, Shastriji Maharaj handed the presidency of the organization to Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj is credited as being the inspirer of the Swaminarayan Akshardham cultural complexes in New Delhi and Gandhinagar, Gujarat and also numerous traditionally built stone temples across the world, such as the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs in London, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Toronto and Nairobi.
He has contributed to projects in social (famine relief, cattle camps, earthquake relief work), educational (literacy campaigns, youth hostels), ecological (tree planting, well recharging, recycling projects), medical (diagnostic camps, blood donation), moral (anti-addiction drives), cultural (child and youth development), and spiritual areas.