PM Narendra Modi Launches Centenary Celebrations Of Pramukh Swami Maharaj

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated the centenary celebrations of Swaminarayan sect leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who he said treated him like a son.

Recalling his conversation with the late Pramukh Swami when the Akshardham temple faced a terrorist attack in 2002 when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, Modi said the former had asked if the CM’s residence was affected as it was near the temple.

Modi, who was in Ahmedabad on Monday to attend the swearing of Bhupendra Patel as CM, made his second visit to his home state in three days, to inaugurate the month-long celebrations.

The PM recalled his special relationship with Pramukh Swami Maharaj, saying he was treated as a son by the “great saint” who built many temples all around the world.

Modi said the pen with which he signed the nomination papers to contest his first state assembly election from Rajkot was sent to him by Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

“After that he used to send pens to me every time to sign nomination papers and he even sent pens with BJP colours when I fought the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi,” Modi said As its fifth spiritual guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj headed the BAPS (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha), the most popular of the 16 branches of the Swaminarayan community, between 1950 and 2016.

During this period, the sect set up temples in places like Atlanta, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Auckland and Sydney. There are Akshardham temples in New Delhi and Gandhinagar and another will open soon in New Jersey.

The Swaminarayan Sampraday is a Vaishnavite movement that originated in the early 18th century, reaffirming the values of the Hindu ‘sanatan dharma’.

The head of the sect is considered very powerful and has an iron-like grip over its one 10 lakh-plus followers. The sixth and current head of the Sampraday is 89-year-old Mahant Swami Maharaj.

While the sect attracts followers from all faiths and castes, the Patidar community is connected with the top echelons of the sect. It is essential for state politicians to have the blessings of the BAPS spiritual head, a political observer said.

The 800-plus “saints” associated with BAPS across the globe do not have any kind of interaction with women, even through distant modes of communication like an email. 

(This report has been published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. No editing has been done in the headline or the body by ABP Live.)