TRIBUTES FROM UK & EUROPE
I learnt with immense sadness of the demise of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. I have especially fond memories of his visit to St. James Palace in 1997, and our conversation about interfaith harmony and world peace. I have been a great admirer of His Holiness's remarkable gift to London in the form of the Neasden Temple - an exquisite and traditional Hindu Mandir. We have also visited the magnificent Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Deli, on our last trip to India. I was particularly impressed by the astonishing efforts that had been made to build Akshardham, whilst at the same time preserving the Vedic architectural principles and traditions. His Holiness's inspiration has not only created these two wonderful landmarks, but has also inspired a vibrant community to lead pious and virtuous lives, following his own life ethos, "In the joy of others lies our own." In special remembrance of His Holiness, I send you my most heartfelt sympathy and the assurance of my prayers.
Prime Minister of Great Britain
H.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired millions with his powerful motto: “in the good of others lies our own”. This legacy of selfless service will continue to benefit humanity for a long time to come. “I remember fondly my visit to Neasden Mandir in March 2013, as Home Secretary, to speak at an inspiring conference for International Women’s Day organised by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. “I also had the opportunity to see the fantastic work that BAPS does across the world to improve the lives of others, and people giving up their time generously to do it. “H.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj exemplified the values of British Hindus whose contribution helps make the United Kingdom one of the world’s most successful multi-cultural, multi-faith democracies.
That this House sends its condolences to BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and its worldwide members on the loss of their beloved and revered spiritual leader, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj; recognises that his tireless devotion to promoting peace, harmony, goodwill and cooperation among communities of different faiths, cultures and backgrounds around the world will leave a lasting legacy; notes that his contributions of strengthening families, edifying children and youth, and inspiring community service through the selfless spirit of volunteerism have greatly enriched the moral and religious fabric of the country; further notes that he lived by and preached the message, in the joy of others lies our own; and offers its heartfelt gratitude for his gift of the beautiful Neasden Temple that he created as a place of worship, learning, celebration and service for the whole community for generations to come.
The British High Commissioner to India
Condolences on the passing way of HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His selfless service was inspiration to so many. Jay Swaminarayan.
UK Minister for Asia and the Pacific
I would like to express my sincere condolences at the passing of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His Holiness was an inspiration to many people across the world and my thoughts are with the community at this sad time.
Leader of the Opposition
The sad news of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s death has just reached me. My condolences to all the BAPS. Jai Swaminarayan!
Secretary of State for International Development
Saddened by the passing of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj @BAPS. Humbled to receive his blessings @Akshardham
Saddened by the passing of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj @BAPS. Humbled to receive his blessings @Akshardham pic.twitter.com/ydZuM07WHu— Priti Patel (@patel4witham) August 13, 2016
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government
Mayor of London
It is with deep sadness that I learnt of the passing away of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His Holiness has given to London a priceless gift by building the Neasden Temple in our great city…The Temple stands as a testament not only to His Holiness's vision and foresight but most importantly to the thousands of volunteers he inspired...The Temple plays a vital role in promoting interfatih harmony and also provides a significant contribution to the wider community through its outreach activities.
Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, House of Lords
His face reflected the innocence of a new born child. He cared about young and old people alike. He had the wisdom of a sage. His words in his sermons were simple. He never craved for publicity. He always pointed his fingers towards the sky. The message that endeared him to millions was this. "I am simply a messenger. The real Lord is up there." To this day I have not forgotten this. My frequent visits to Akshardham temples and meetings with Bapa taught me that nature and environment are intertwined together. None can survive without the other. Each and every devotee has a duty to ensure that we protect this God's precious gift for the generations that would follow us. Bapa brought awareness about our values and beliefs. Under his leadership this was translated into hundreds of temples throughout the world. It is unlikely that history could ever repeat his success. This is why millions bowed their heads at the passing of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Millions more have added their tributes. Mine is but a simple one. My Pranam and prayers for this great soul who reshaped and revitalised our beliefs in Hinduism.
Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Energy & Climate Change
Although today he passes from us, his spirit and wisdom lives on in our hearts. Rest in Peace Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Although today he passes from us, his spirit and wisdom lives on in our hearts.— Barry Gardiner (@BarryGardiner) August 13, 2016
Rest in Peace Pramukh Swami Maharaj pic.twitter.com/VBDGzkHIq7
Member of Parliament
I have visited the wonderful and inspirational Mandir in Delhi and am most fortunate that the wonderful Neasden Mandir is in my constituency of Brent Central. The Mandir has become not just a place for the Hindu community but a place for the wider community to learn of the universal values of Hinduism. His Holiness has given a gift to generations of such a wonderful place for which we will all remain truly grateful.
Member of Parliament
I have had the honour of meeting him and receiving his blessings in person on several occasions over the past twenty-eight years. His simplicity, humility and compassion have encouraged me to follow the path he laid out for the progress humanity. My deep gratitude to you [Pramukh Swami ji] for leaving behind a legacy of love, compassion, service and humanity.
Member of Parliament
I was saddened to hear of the passing of HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whose service touched the lives of millions around the world. May his memory be a blessing.
British Deputy High Commissioner, Ahmedabad
Saddened to learn of the passing of HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj of BAPS. Sincere condolences.
Member of The House of Lords
For over 70 years, he has travelled tirelessly to support those who needed it and to provide relief to those suffering from catastrophe. His conviction in his faith was an inspiration to all who met him, and his humanitarian and interfaith work profoundly touched not only Hindus, but people from all religions around the world. Pramukh Swami ji will be remembered as someone who spread joy wherever he went. His inspiration will live on eternally and his deeds will never be forgotten.
Member of The House of Lords
I was saddened to learn about the passing away of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj ji last week. As the Socio- spiritual leader and head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha for over seventy years, he travelled extensively in India and Broad, spreading the guru parampara tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. It is an irreplaceable loss for all of us.
Member of The House of Lords; Padma Bhushan
With the passing away of Pramukh Swami Maharaj we have lost a truly remarkable human being. He was a person of great vision, organisational skills and wisdom which he blended with his deep and effortless spirituality... Pramukh Swami Maharaj was broad minded and advocated religious tolerance. I was pleased, though not surprised to be included among the half a dozen members of the advisory Board of the newly constructed Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden. The board included not only an agnostic like me but also a Muslim and a Sikh. I know no other organisation that draws on men from different religious and none... I first met him nearly twenty years ago, had several occasions to meet him since, and held him in the highest esteem. I salute his memory with reverence and respect, and offer my sincerest condolences to thousands of members of his extended religious family. Like all great religious leaders he was his message. As long as we continue to cherish and live by his message, he cannot die.
Member of The House of Lords
He will be greatly missed by his followers as well as the many people all over the world who were touched by his saintliness, humanity and his dedication to improving the lives of so many. We will miss his selflessness, his warmth and goodness towards all humanity and his purity of heart.
Member of The House of Lords
As we all mourn the passing of his HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, his legacy of course lives on. We are very rarely treated to higher beings of such learning and compassion in our life times but when they come we all know why they were the chosen, such was Swami Maharaj...In paying respect to Swami Maharaj, we join a long chorus of people who appreciated his positive impact on the lives of millions but the greater tribute would be in our adopting his love for humanity and his dedication to the service of all. HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj leaves an enormous footprint in the world, let us ensure we nurture and maintain his work.
Member of the House of Lords
His Holiness contributed greatly to preserving the core spiritual elements of the Hindu tradition. He selflessly dedicated his life to sharing his teachings, helping those in need and fostering interfaith harmony. It was an honour to have interacted with him. His legacy will live on through the lives he touched and projects he championed.
Former British High Commissioner, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Minister.
One of the great moments in my own spiritual life was my meeting with His Holiness, who will always be to us who revered him as “Swamiji”. One felt immediately that this was a great and wise soul with a message of universal significance. I was privileged after that early meeting in the House of Commons in Westminster to meet him on a number of occasions. I saw too the growth of his mission and outreach to a wider world. I was blessed as a Member of Parliament in Brent and a Cabinet Minister to see for myself how his influence transformed lives and impacted upon communities both in the UK and in Africa where I later served as High Commissioner to South Africa. The Temples in Neasden and Durban were each an Oasis of Spirituality in action delivering both material and spiritual goods to peoples of all faiths and none. Everywhere he went he left behind a legacy of community service amongst those moved to follow him. His life was a light that will never be extinguished and a memory that will always inspire.
Councillor for Willesden Green, London Borough of Brent
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj led an inspired life of faith and oversaw wide growth in the tradition that BAPS represents. He also stood firmly for the partnership of social and religious development which BAPS stands for, making a positive difference to a great many lives. “Religion is that which spreads love for one another.” It is now up to the rest of us to make those words real.
Family of Late Lord Noon
We were very saddened to hear of the sad demise of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Our late father Lord Gulam Noon had tremendous respect for the Swamiji and a relationship over three decades.
Guinness World Records, Official Adjudicator
I was lucky enough to be granted an audience with Pramukh Swami Maharaj on the occasion of the official adjudication for awarding Guiness World Records title to the Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in New Delhi in December 2007. He was a very impressive individual but also showed himself to be a kind and sensitive man during our conversations regarding his organisation and the work of Guiness World Records.
Executive Director, Inter Faith Network for the UK
My deepest condolences and sympathies to the community on the passing of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Tributes have come from around the world, most fittingly for this remarkable spiritual leader who had such a powerful impact in life and whose teaching and legacy will live on to inspire far beyond his earthly presence.
We offer our heartfelt condolences, our support and prayers with the sad loss of dear Sri Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj.
Shri Rajchandra Mission Dharampurer - London
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the demise of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. On behalf of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (UK Centre), please accept our heartfelt condolences. His passing away is a not only a great loss for your organisation but also to humanity.
We are deeply saddened that the great spiritual lead, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj left us for his heavenly abode. Pramukh Swami inspired millions all over the world and made a difference to many lives. He was the embodiment of knowledge, love and discipline.
consider myself very fortunate for receiving Swamiji's blessings over the years. Future generations will look at Swamiji's work and marvel at how much he achieved in a lifetime. Indeed it is impossible for ordinary mortals to achieve what Swamiji achieved. But then Swamiji was no ordinary mortal. He was representing Lord Swaminarayan and all the spiritual giants of Bochanwasi Akshar Purshottam Sanstha. Historians in future will acknowledge that Swamiji brought about a renascence of Hindu dharma. Indian art, history, culture, unique temple construction according to Hindu scriptures all was revived by Swamiji. He motivated millions of people to lead spiritual lives all over the world. During the times of national calamities brought about by earthquakes or droughts and wars Swamiji inspired armies of people to serve the victims with love and compassion. Swamiji's compassion extended to all living beings including animals. Love and compassion for all that was at the center of all Swamiji did. The state of Gujarat in India is a land of great thinkers, poets, valiant kings and saints and sages. Whenever mention will be made of India's great spiritual heritage Swamiji and his divine life will be remembered with awe and wonder.
CEO, Diabetes UK
It is with great sadness that we learned about the death of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual head and president of BAPS, inspirer of countless people and a great servant of society.
Managing Director, ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor
I have just received news that Sripad Pramukh Swami has departed for the Lord's abode. The world is now bereft of a Saint of enormous magnitude and compassion. As you always called him 'the inspirer' he lead his Gurudev's mission to tremendous heights but never above a single and humble human being. He walk among the poor and simple, and engaged every resource he could reach in the service of humanity without discrimination. My father met Pramukh Swami and proudly said 'I met the Pope of Hinduism'. My daughter studied successfully over many years by his blessing. I myself learned so much on how to better manage ISKCON from his example and the friendship I have shared with his intimate followers. His departure is such a loss for all of us.
We express our heartfelt shraddhanjali to Param Pujaneeya Swami Bapa. He came into this mortal world with a divine mission of spiritual life encompassing bhakti, anasakti, jiv-daya and atma-samarpan. Having fulfilled his divine mission, he has now returned to Swadham. May the spiritual legacy he has given to mankind become an eternal source of enlightenment.
As Architect and Planner for the Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir in Neasden London, I had the honour and privilege to work with and under the direction of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The Mandir in London was to be the first traditionally carved stone temple in Europe. He was absolutely inspirational. He enabled us to do what at the outset seemed impossible. He was absolutely inspirational. Always available for consultations with us he brought new energy and inspiration to us all at each stage of the process. Seeing him at the opening of the Mandir, he calmly and confidently made connections for us all to another level of spirituality. He made us all feel personally connected to him. His love radiated out to us. A truly great Guru. I like so many others who had the chance to be close to him have been changed, inspired and truly we have benefited from his greatness. He was a truly great man.
Professor of Comparative Religious Studies, Yale-NUS, Singapore; Senior Research Fellow, Oxford University
He was an extraordinary person...a man of great learning and deep humility who always put the community first. He will be greatly missed.
During his leadership he has done enormous amount of spiritual activities to enhance the Swaminarayan Sanstha and highlight the great values of the Sanatan Dharma. The temples he built have contributed to the renaissance of Hinduism as we are witnessing today. He was a great visionary incorporating in his temple project artefacts of high impressionable standards that anyone who visits comes out with a better understanding and appreciation of the great Hindu heritage. He has set a remarkable example which others can do well to follow in fostering the cause of knowledge and understanding.
Chairman, Jain Network
We are saddened to lose one of the great leaders and fatherly figures of the Dharmic Faiths. He dedicated his life to promoting the values of Indian culture, spiritual and social services, alleviation of poverty, emergency and medium-term help to the people affected by natural disasters and interfaith relations. His humbleness, compassion, care of humans and other living beings of the world are well known.
President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe
On behalf of the Parsi and Irani Zoroastrian community of the United Kingdom and the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, I convey our deepest condolences and sympathies to all at BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha for the passing away of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj on Saturday 13th August 2016. The intermingling and cross-cultural respect between the Parsi Zoroastrian and Swaminarayan Hindu communities goes back to the days of His Holiness Sahajanand Swami Maharaj, when he presented his own turban to Ardeshir Dhanjisha Bahadur, the Kotwal of Surat. This turban possesses miraculous powers and it is still preserved today in Surat in the home of one of the descendants of the Kotwal where all communities worship it. In 1998, I had the honour of having an audience with His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, as part of the Parsi Zoroastrian delegation headed by our High Priest Dastur Dr Firoze M Kotwal, who is the descendent of Ardeshir Kotwal of Surat. His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s motto, “In the joy of others lies our own” inspired millions to serve humanity. His most famous legacy to multi-faith and multi-cultural United Kingdom was the transformation of the Brentfield Road site to building the internationally acclaimed BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden. The Mandir is a ‘must see’ building for all to visit for people of all faiths and none. It is a beacon of good interfaith relations and community cohesion in the UK. I am sure that under the leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha will continue the good work of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Professor of Religious and Secular Studies, Lancaster University
Seen from my perspective as a scholar of contemporary Hindu movements, Pramukh Swami was one of the most important and influential Hindu leaders of recent decades, and an inspiration to many within the Indian diaspora, including in Britain. It is as a personal guru that he will be remembered by his many followers, young and old. I know how important his blessings were to them. He will be truly missed. But his legacy will continue to be appreciated through the organisation he led and the many beautiful mandirs he built all over the world. They are a remarkable testament not only to Pramukh Swami himself, but to the love and dedication of those who committed themselves to bringing about his vision.