Prior to his morning
puja, Swamishri arrived for Thakorji's darshan and the murti pratishtha
ceremony of five mandirs in the villages of Japi, Mohadi, Galvala,
Kusumba and Sonagir in the Khandesh region. Swamishri performed
the murti pratishtha arti of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj and
deities and worshipped them with kumkum and rice grains. Thereafter
Swamishri blessed the devotees of Khandesh with a shower of rice
grains. Swamishri then praised the Satsang in Khandesh which was
established by Shastriji Maharaj and Nirgundas Swami. In his blessings,
Swamishri happily remembered the services and sacrifices of the
devotees of Khandesh and appreciated the devotion and efforts
of the devotees in building the new mandirs. Finally, Swamishri
was honored with a garland of puffed rice grains by the devotees.
arrived at the large canopied hall for his morning puja. The stage
decoration had a backdrop of floral designs, a giant cake in the
foreground and birthday greeting cards flanked on either side
of Swamishri's puja platform. The sadhus charged the morning air
with bhajans, extolling the virtues of Swamishri. After the puja,
a 'Guru Pujan' ceremony was held to honor and pay respects to
Swamishri on his birthday. Pujya Kothari Swami performed pujan
of Thakorji and tied a nada chhadi on Swamishri's wrist. Then
Pujya Mahant Swami, Pujya Dr Swami and Pujya Kothari Swami conveyed
the birthday greetings by presenting bouquets on behalf of everyone.
Swamishri asked the senior sadhus to bless him so that he could
do more service for Satsang.
In the evening the mammoth
birthday celebration was festively held in a large field near
the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Over 100,000 devotees had arrived
from all over Gujarat, Mumbai and abroad to pay their respects
The large decorated stage provided an aesthetic backdrop for the
memorable celebration. The assembly commenced at 4.45 p.m. with
the Swaminarayan dhun and prayers. Thereafter, Swamishri's saintly
virtues, as described by Nishkulanand Swami in the Bhaktachintamani
- Eva Santne namu hu shish
- were elaborated upon by sadhus.
The virtues included Swamishri's mental equipoise, self control,
compassion, simple nature, inspiration for character- building,
relieving of miseries, absolute celibacy and his total devotion
At 5.45 p.m., Swamishri arrived on the main stage amidst a tumultuous
welcome. A dynamic and colorful welcome dance was performed by
Pujya Viveksagar Swami narrated incidents about Swamishri's intense
faith and conviction in the all-doership of Shriji Maharaj. Pujya
Ishwarcharan Swami extolled Swamishri's absolute observance of
the vow of celibacy prescribed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Pujya
Dr Swami threw light on the subject of God as the panacea to all
ills. He described that the holy Sadhu is the doer of the highest
good because he joins all in God. God is the goal of life and
to attain that the holy Sadhu is the only means. Pujya Mahant
Swami described Swamishri's unbroken communion with God.
Two large on-site video screens provided an excellent view of
the stage programs. Swamishri then kindled a lamp to launch the
Swaminarayan Mahamantra rallies. Thereafter, the senior sadhus
kindled the mahamantra torches from the lamp. These torches will
be carried in the Mahamantra Bicentenary rallies in 45 regions
of Gujarat, Mumbai, etc. from 25 December 2001 to 5 January 2002.
After the torch-kindling ceremony, BAPS youths performed an impressive
torch dance. The thematic dance showed Swamishri's efforts in
spreading the light of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's life and message.
Then Swamishri was honored with garlands by senior sadhus and
devotees. After inaugurating several Aksharpith audio and print
publications, a slide show on the verses describing the glory
of the holy Sadhu, 'Eva Santne Namu Hu Shish
' was shown.
This visual presentation culminated in a mantra pushpanjali ceremony
where over 100,000 devotees payed their reverence and respects
to Swamishri by showering petals.
Then the entire congregation and viewers of the live telecast
joined in offering prayers for peace in India and throughout the
world by singing the Swaminarayan dhun.
Then a sea of lamps, more than 100,000, was kindled for the arti.
The breathtaking scene of devotion imbued the air with divinity
and spiritual joy.
Finally, Swamishri blessed
the mammoth gathering of devotees, "One's life should be
pure to spread the torch kindled and propagated by Bhagwan Swaminarayan
and subsequently spread by Gunatitanand Swami, Shastriji Maharaj
and Yogiji Maharaj. To purify one's life one must obey the moral
commands prescribed in the Shikshapatri and offer upasana to Bhagwan
Swaminarayan. Upasana means to believe God to be the all-doer.
If one realizes the glory of God then one shall see virtues in
everyone". By looking at another's fault or speaking ill
of someone, one cannot hope to gain happiness and unity
The entire celebration was telecast live in more than 156 countries
of Asia, Europe, Africa and USA.