Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual head and president of BAPS (Bochanwasi Akshar Purshuttom Sansthan) Swaminarayan Sanstha, passed away at Sarangpur in Gujarat on Saturday. He was 95.
Pramukh Swami was suffering from chest infection. His last rites will take place on August 17.
Leaders, cutting across party lines, have expressed grief on the demise of the spiritual leader.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his tweet, described him as a stalwart among humans who embodied compassion and humility. “His service to society will always be remembered.”
Modi said that Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a mentor to him and that he would never forget his interactions with him.
He was born as Shantilal Patel on December 7, 1921 in Chansad village of Vadodara district.
As Shantilal Patel, he left his home in 1939 to become a sadhu. After completing Sanskrit studies, he was appointed as Kothari of BAPS Swaminarayan temple of Sarangpur in 1946. He was 25 then. His guru Shastri Maharaj made him president of BAPS in 1950.
It was under his leadership that BAPS temples were set up in India and abroad. The sect has millions of followers.
BAPS has made arrangements for the followers to pay their last respects. For four days beginning August 14, his body will be kept for public darshan 24x7. The followers have been asked to come based on the dates selected for the districts.
Sources said that followers from abroad are also expected to take part in the last rites.