9 January 2002: Bicentenary Celebration
The grand finale assembly
of the Swaminarayan Bicentenary Celebration was held on a festive scale.
The towering colorful stage backdrop glowed with aesthetic and divine
grandeur. The assembly commenced at 4.20 pm with the Swaminarayan dhun
and prayers. Pujya Anandswarup Swami talked about the scientific benefits
of meditation and mantra chanting.
Then Pramukh Swami Maharaj presented a model home to the Chief Minister
of Gujarat Shri Narendrabhai Modi, symbolizing the reconstruction of
9 villages and colonies and 43 schools in Kutch, Surendranagar and Rajkot
districts by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Addressing an assembly of 125,000
devotees, Shri Narendra Modi commended the extraordinary services of
the Sanstha during the earthquake relief operation. He mentioned, "
On reflecting upon the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, one sees that His
life was dedicated in the service of the poor and suffering souls of
society. Service, compassion and love for society was His dharma. There
has not been any calamity or catastrophe where one would not find Pramukh
Swami Maharaj and his sadhus alleviating the sufferings and pain of
victims. I ask Pramukh Swami Maharaj to pray to God to redeem Gujarat
from calamities that have been affecting it often."
Swamishri then blessed Shri Narendrabhai Modi. The program was interspersed
with speeches, traditional theme dances and dramas. Shri Bhupendrasinh
Chudasama, Minister for Narmada Dam Project, lauded the works of Swamishri.
Pujya Dr Swami, Pujya Brahmdarshan Swami, Pujya Atmaswarup Swami, Pujya
Ishwarcharan Swami, Pujya Viveksagar Swami and Pujya Mahant Swami discoursed
on the history, significance and glory of the Swaminarayan Mahamantra.
The popular verse, ' Swaminarayan mahamantrani jalhal jyot jagavo ...'
was sung by sadhus and chorused by the mammoth assembly. The brief impressive
dramas portrayed the supremacy and power of the Swaminarayan mahamantra
through stories of Shitaldas, Khimo Suthar and Naja Jogiya. A beautiful
dance based on the bhajan ' Swaminarayan Mahamantrano Jagma Jay Jay
' was exquistively performed by youths. An impressive
video on Pramukh Swami Maharaj's efforts in spreading the glory of the
Swaminarayan mantra was screened to the joy of the congregation.
Prior to his blessings, the giant congregation chorused the Swaminarayan
dhun sung by Swamishri, for peace to prevail in India and for the eradication
of terrorism in India and the world.
Finally, the assembly was crowned with the blessings of Pramukh Swami
Maharaj. He said, "The Swaminarayan Mahamantra has the divine power
to redeem one from the cycle of births and deaths. One finds spiritual
wisdom in the scriptures but only through the Guru can one realize the
knowledge and power of the mantra. One finds different types of power
in this world; there is physical power, political power, money power
but they all pale into insignificance before grave problems in life.
However, the power of God sustains us in the face of all challenges.
Hanumanji, through his faith in Lord Ram, was able to cross over to
Lanka. So, the power of God is the highest power and the solution to
all our problems."
The 5-hour congregation, telecast live to 156 countries, concluded with
the grand mass arti performed by the entire congregation.