Indian High Commissioner Navtej Sarna, Labour Peer Lord Boateng and billionaire industrialist Gopichand Hinduja were among the dignitaries and well-wishers who gathered at the Neasden Temple on Thursday to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the spiritual guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj who passed away in India in August aged 94.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
The commemoration ceremony began with youths chanting Vedic prayers for world peace.
The selfless life and humanitarian work of Swamishri was portrayed through a video presentation thereafter.
Yogvivek Swami, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, recalled Swamishri’s dedication to serve and inspire others, personifying his motto, “In the joy of others lies our own.”
A personal testimony from a young man who experienced Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s unconditional love further underlined Swamishri’s universal compassion.
Speakers at the assembly reflected upon their uplifting thoughts and experiences of Swamishri.
Architect Nigel Lane, the planner of the iconic Neaden temple, said: “He was our inspiration and leader. His inspiration came to us not through grand speeches but the simple personal connection that he made.”
Lord Boateng described the atmosphere of “peace and tranquillity” that he experienced in Swamishri’s presence, including during his visit to Parliament.
Gopichand Hinduja praised Swamishri’s leadership: “The greatest quality he had was leadership with humility.”
Ordained as a Hindu spiritual leader in 1940 by Shastri Maharaj, founder of the BAPS spiritual organization, Swami Maharaj became president of Pramukh of the organization in 1950.
As president of BAPS, Swami Maharaj oversaw the global growth of BAPS from an organization centered in Gujarat, India maintaining many Hindu Mandirs and centers outside of India.
He built more than 1,100 Hindu temples, including the Swaminarayan Akshardham temples in New Delhi and Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
He had also spearheaded the efforts of BAPS Charities, which is the charitable service organization affiliated with BAPS.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj is succeeded as the guru and President of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha by Mahant Swami Maharaj.