Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday paid an emotional homage to spiritual guru and head of Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Santha (BAPS) of Swaminarayan sect, Pramukh Swami who died at the sect’s temple here Saturday. Modi, who had flown directly from Delhi after addressing the country from Red Fort on the occasion of Independence Day, said about Pramukh Swami: “Many have lost a guru but I have lost a father”. He added that their relationship went back to the days when he was a mere worker.
Modi had spent nearly an hour at Sarangpur where Pramukh Swami’s body has been kept in a specially designed air conditioned glass chamber for devotees to pay last tributes and addressed the gathering of BAPS saints right in front of the body of Pramukh Swami. Fighting back tears Modi began his speech saying, “Many among you might have lost a guru, but I have lost father.”
The prime minister added that “Pramukh Swami has institutionalized the world of Saints…He made efforts to bring reforms to the world of saints.” Modi said that Pramukh Swami used to call him to take lessons of BAPS saints on certain subjects. “I used to think, if what do such subjects have to do with saints. But, he used to insist for its need for saints,” he said.
“Many of you will be surprised to know that Pramukh Swami used to ask for videos of my various tours and speeches,” Modi said. “But 2-3 days later, I would get a call from him (with an advice) that I should not have spoken a particular word…’You have a lot to do and you are committing such a mistake’,” Modi said, quoting Pramukh Swami. “Such instances happened dozens of times,” he added.
Explaining the intimate relationship he shared with Pramukh Swami, Modi mentioned another incident when the foundation stone for the Akshardham Temple of Delhi was to be laid. Modi added that following Pramukh Swami’s insistence, he had remained present in the ritual. Modi said at that time, Pramukh Swami sent one of his saints to him with some money to be offered during the ritual ‘with a confidence that I would not have anything in my pocket.’
“He knew that I would actually not have anything in my pocket. Such was the intimacy,” Modi said, looking emotional for the third time during his 20-odd minutes long speech. He also narrated an instance from 1992 when he was part of a group of BJP leaders who had gone to unfurl Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar of Jammu & Kashmir, despite threats from militants. Modi recalled how he received two calls asking for his well being well before reaching Srinagar airport. “First call was from Pramukh Swami and second was from my mother,” he said.
Modi was joined by many BJP leaders, including newly appointed Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Gujarat BJP president, Jitu Waghani.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal is also scheduled to visit Sarangpur on Tuesday to pay his last tributes to Pramukh Swami, whose final rites are to be held on Wednesday. Lakhs of devotees are thronging the Sarangpur temple to pay their last tributes to Pramukh Swami. As per an estimation of BAPS saints, more than five lakh devotees have already visited the temple till Monday after Pramukh Swami’s death.