Pramukh Swami Maharaj was born Shantilal Patel on December 7, 1921. He was the guru and ‘pramukh’ (president) of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (B.A.P.S.). B.A.P.S. devotees regard him as the fifth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan. When he was alive, his followers believed him to be in constant communion with Swaminarayan, and a manifestation of God. Maharaj was introduced to the faith from a young age by his parents, who were disciples of the guru Shastriji Maharaj and followers of the Akshar Purushottam faith. Maharaj would later become a student of Shastriji Maharaj who guided him on the path to becoming a swami. His uncommon empathy was evident from childhood and many sought his opinions and judgments on different matters.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj showed strong devotion to religion since childhood. After finishing his schoolwork, he would usually rush off to the village’s Hanuman temple. He and a childhood friend would keenly listen to the sermons of a Hindu holy man named Haridas. Maharaj also spent time with Shastriji Maharaj and his disciple swamis whenever they visited the village. When he was 17 years old, his guru, Shastriji Maharaj, sent a letter asking him to join the swamis. His parents gave their permission and blessings, and he left home that day to join Shastriji Maharaj and his swamis. Shastriji Maharaj gave him “parshad diksha” (primary initiation) at Ambli Vali Pol in November 1939 and renamed him Shanti Bhagat. In January of the following year, he was named “Narayanswarupdas Swami” (the servant of the form of God).
He studied Sanskrit and the Hindu scriptures and earned the title ‘Shastri’ upon mastering scripture and philosophy. His comprehensive understanding of B.A.P.S.’s broader affairs and activities led to his guru Shastriji Maharaj appointing him the ‘kothari’ (head) of the large B.A.P.S. temple in Sarangpur. When he was only 28 years old, Shastriji Maharaj appointed him the administrative ‘pramukh’ (president) of B.A.P.S. After this, he was widely known as Pramukh Swami.
B.A.P.S. grew widely under his leadership. The organization gained hundreds of thousands of devotees globally. He did 27 international spiritual tours in more than fifty countries on five continents. He was the head of B.A.P.S.’s efforts in conducting large-scale cultural festivals (like the 1991 Cultural Festival of India in New Jersey) to foster a better understanding and appreciation of Hindu traditions. On August 13, 2016, he passed away and was mourned by B.A.P.S. followers worldwide.
Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of B.A.P.S., initiates Maharaj as a Hindu Swami.
Shastriji Maharaj appoints him as the administrative president of B.A.P.S.
“The Guinness World Records” names him as one of the 20 most influential people in the world.
He initiates 68 youths into the monastic order in Sarangpur, Gujarat.
Why We Love Pramukh Swami Maharaj
He promoted unity
He advocated for cooperation between religions. His focus was on mutual respect and love for one another.
He was an exceptional leader
B.A.P.S. rapidly grew into a global Hindu organization under his leadership. Today, B.A.P.S. is recognized for its contributions to communities throughout the world.
He was humble
He was a down-to-earth leader. He respected all people and was not focused on material gains.
5 Surprising Facts
He was a sportsman
In his early years, he displayed great athletic abilities and led his village’s cricket team.
He was committed to the cause
He built more than 1,100 Hindu temples.
He spread the faith
He consecrated 125 Hindu temples abroad and 1,000 in India.
He was an ambassador of peace
He believed that all forms of organized religion should be able to coexist in harmony.
He was a counselor
He spent much time counseling devotees in person or by letters or telephone.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj FAQs
What was the cause of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s death?
A combination of a chest infection and heart problems led to this death.
Who succeeded Pramukh Swami Maharaj?
Mahant Swami Maharaj took over the reins after his death.
How many devotees does B.A.P.S. have?
B.A.P.S. has more than one million followers spread over five continents.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s birthday dates