HH Mahant Swami Maharaj’s Trip to North America
On September 21, 2017, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, left the United States after having spent nearly three months bringing peace, hope, inspiration and spirituality to thousands of individuals. Devotees, well-wishers, and dignitaries from across North America came together in honor of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s first trip to North America as the spiritual successor of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
During the three-month visit, devotees had the opportunity to celebrate key milestones, including the 10-year anniversaries of traditional Hindu mandirs in Atlanta, Toronto and San Jose, as well as the inauguration of the Ghanshyam Maharaj Abhishek Mandapam and installation of the first pillars of Swaminarayan Akshardham (Robbinsville, NJ). His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj visited Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Toronto, Canada; San Jose, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; Dallas, TX; Robbinsville, NJ and Edison, NJ. Across the country, the environment was filled with excitement, anticipation, and joy as the Hindu community welcomed His Holiness to the respective BAPS mandirs for the first time as the spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
In 2014, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited Robbinsville to inaugurate the mandir and bless devotees. After his passing in August 2016, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj succeeded him as the sixth spiritual successor. Devotees across North America eagerly awaited his visit to receive his blessings and guidance on living value-based lives. Mahant Swami Maharaj travels throughout the world inspiring people through his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined lifestyle. Through his actions and messages, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj carries Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s legacy forward with messages of service, harmony and humility.
Mahant Swami Maharaj’s visit also provided an opportunity for devotees to honor the life and legacy of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. During his tour, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj scattered the holy ashes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Niagara Falls (Canada), and the Hudson River (NY) as a tribute to his Guru’s social and spiritual service in North America.
Mahant Swami Maharaj’s visit to North America culminated in 3 months of festivities, numerous cultural programs, leadership seminars and inaugurations of new mandirs. Programs included special events for youth and children (Yuvak-Yuvati Day, Kishore-Kishori Day, and Bal-Balika Day), as well as a cultural event for women (Mahila Day). His Holiness’s North American visit included cultural programs in the presence devotees and invited dignitaries.
During Mahant Swami Maharaj’s tour, he personally counseled thousands of devotees and took part in public programs with tens of thousands of participants. Over 137 public officials or candidates for public office joined BAPS for festivities. This included Governor Rauner of Illinois, Lieutenant Governor Cagle of Georgia, Reps. Rob Woodall (GA-7), Joe Wilson (SC-2), Hank Johnson (GA-4), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8), Bill Foster (IL-11), Pete Roskam (IL-6), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Ed Royce (CA-39), Judy Chu (CA-27), Pete Olson (TX-22), Pete Sessions (TX-32), Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Donald Norcross (NJ-1) and both gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey—Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Ambassador Phil Murphy. These public service officials took part in various programs that highlighted messages of harmony and service. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8) visited the BAPS mandirs in Chino Hills, CA and Beltsville, MD respectively to participate in similar events associated with Mahant Swami Maharaj’s travels across the United States.
“The visits by public officials including 16 members of Congress to BAPS events help us emphasize the importance of civic participation for the Indian-American community,” explained Mukesh Swaroop, the Director of Government Relations for BAPS’ Office of Public Affairs.
On September 5, 2017, Mahant Swami Maharaj also met with former President Barack Obama. During the meeting with former President Obama, Mahant Swami Maharaj highlighted BAPS’ work to encourage the Indian-American community to fully participate in civic life and how organizations like BAPS and the Obama Foundation can work to inspire young leaders to take up the call of public service through programs such as scholarships for students aspiring to careers in public service.
For Mahant Swami Maharaj, the theme of unity was his recurring and central theme. He explained that each soul is divine and that inherent divinity should foster respect for all individuals, regardless of the differences that sometimes divide us. He consistently prayed that public officials find strength and inspiration to unite their communities and the nation to work for the good of all. On September 11, he joined community leaders and public officials to pray for peace, harmony, and unity in the United States and around the world.
Rep. Roskam explained in an evening service, “Your Holiness, I know that you’re telling the group ‘dãs no dãs, that is, we conduct ourselves as ‘servants of servants.’ And you've made me feel very welcome because I’m a follower of Jesus and because we have these themes [i.e. of service] that are unifying themes . . . .” Echoing similar sentiments, Congressman Frank Pallone, said, “I really believe that...particularly what's preached by [Mahant] Swami about peace and unity is very much in tune with what I consider important American values.""This is one of the highlights of my serving in public office, to have been with [Mahant] Swami earlier this evening, [and] to know about his message of humility, being dãs no dãs. (humble servant)”, said, Congressman, Joe Wilson.
David Fried, mayor of the Township of Robbinsville, NJ, said, “I am proud of what we've been talking about: unity and peace and (Mahant) Swami, I am proud to report to you that we have created here in Robbinsville, Samp (unity).”
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj left a strong impression not only on devotees, but also dignitaries across the continent. Casey Cagle, Lieutenant Governor, Georgia, said, "Mahant Swami Maharaj is an individual with a very very large heart. A person who cares deeply about our world, deeply about our country and also deeply about individuals.” Former State Senator of Illinois, John Millner, said, “Your Holiness, you are divine.” Mayor of Irving, TX, Rick Stopfer, said, “The lessons that I learned from my engagements with Mahant Swami Maharaj and BAPS is that seeing divinity in all allows us to treat others as we always wanted to be treated.”
“My friends, it is truly an honor and pleasure to join you in celebrating ten years of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto. The BAPS Mandir is more than an architectural masterpiece – It is truly a place for the community. Happy 10th anniversary!” said, the Right Honorable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada in Toronto.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP:
- His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj joined devotees and well-wishers in celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, Georgia on July 1, 2017.
The first Guru Purnima since HH Mahant Swami Maharaj became guru was celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago IL on July 9, 2017.
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj greets the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada at the 10th anniversary celebration of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, on July 22, 2017.
Thousands of devotees and well-wishers from across North America and around the world gathered at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada on ThursdayJuly 27, 2017 to witness the Asthipushpa Visarjan (holy ash dispersion ceremony) for His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj at the 10th anniversary celebration of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in San Jose, CAon July 29, 2017.
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj addressing the Satsang Shibir at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Los Angeles, CA
In an emotional evening charged with love, inspiration, and tremendous joy, community leaders, devotees, and well-wishers alike filled the seats of the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, TX on August 13, 2017, to celebrate the life and spiritual legacy of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj who passed away on the same date an year ago.
A grand cultural program in Dallas, TX to welcome His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on August 20, 2017.
On September 2, 2017, His Holiness Mahant Swami inaugurated the artistically mesmeric Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj Abhishek Mandapam at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj installing the first pillar of Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, NJ on September 3-4, 2017
Hundreds of devotees and well-wishers from across North America gathered on the banks of Hudson River on Thursday, September 7, 2017, to witness the Asthipushpa Visarjan (holy ash dispersion ceremony) for His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj as performed by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, his spiritual successor.
On the auspicious day of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s birthday as per English calendar, September 13, 2017, Mahant Swami Maharaj performed the Murti Pratishtha of Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Edison, New Jersey.
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s 84th birthday celebration in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
HH Mahant Swami Maharaj announces Akshar Purushottam Darshan and inaugurates Swaminarayana-Siddhanta-Sudha, Robbinsville, NJ on September 17, 2017
- His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj meets with former President Barack Obama, Washington DC, USA on September 5, 2017.
- His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj garlands Congressman Peter Roskam in Chicago, IL.
- His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj meets Congressman Pete Sessions in Dallas, TX
- Congresswoman Judy Chu addresses the assembly at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Los Angeles
- His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj garlands Congressman Donald Norcrossin Robbinsville, NJ
- His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj participates in Children’s day at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Robbinsville
- Community leaders garland His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj at the Indo-American Day.
- Women’s Cultural program celebration at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Edison, NJ
- On September 11, 2017, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj prayed for interfaith harmony and world peace on the 16th anniversary of 9/11 at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization that is dedicated to community service, peace, and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families, and individuals. Through various spiritual and humanitarian activities, BAPS endeavors to develop better citizens of tomorrow with high esteem for their roots and culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these character-building activities. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is free of addictions as well as morally, ethically and spiritually pure. For more details, please visit www.baps.org.
About Mahant Swami Maharaj
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj is the sixth and current spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was ordained a swami by Yogiji Maharaj in 1961 and named Sadhu Keshavjivandas. As he was appointed the head (Mahant) of the Mandir in Mumbai, he became known as Mahant Swami. His devout, humble and service-focused life earned him the innermost blessings of Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Mahant Swami Maharaj travels throughout the world inspiring people through his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined conduct. His virtuous lifestyle and profound devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and gurus are ideals toward which devotees strive. Mahant Swami Maharaj became the guru and President of BAPS upon Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s passing in 2016.
About Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Under his leadership, BAPS grew into an international spiritual and humanitarian organization with over 3,300 centers worldwide. He dedicated his life to the well-being of others, traveling throughout the world to foster love, peace, harmony, righteousness, faith in God, and service to humanity. With genuine care and compassion, he reached out to all members of society irrespective of class, color, or age. Recognized and respected as one of India's greatest spiritual teachers, he lived by and promoted the principle: “In the joy of others, lies our own.”
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