Pujya Viveksagardas Swami inaugurated the International Conference on “Swaminarayaniya Sant Sahitya” by performing the deep pragatya. Prof. Raghuvir Chaudhari, a celebrated novelist, poet, and critic; Shri Bhagyesh Jha, the Chairman of Gujarati Sahitya Academi; Padma Shri Kumarpal Desai, a renowned author, journalist, critic, and translator; Prof. Madhav Ramanuj, a well-known poet and author; Prof. Balvantrai Jani, an acclaimed scholar on Gujarati literature; Prof. Himanshu Pandya, the Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University; Shri Anil Joshi, a renowned poet and essayist; and Shri V. S. Gadhvi, a well-known columnist and speaker, were among the dignitaries present in the inaugural ceremony.
In his inaugural speech, Prof. Himanshu Pandya, Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat University, expressed pleasure on behalf of Gujarat University in organizing this “historic conference.” He praised “the unique quality of Swaminarayan literature” for its simplicity and universality. In his inaugural speech, Prof. Raghuvir Chaudhari, author of more than 80 books and the recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award and Jnanpith Award, emphasized the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the promotion of Gujarati literature. He also added that “Pramukh Swami promoted the Gujarati language through his speech at the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations.” Pointing to individual swamis of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, he mentioned their achievements in the field of music, literature, and social service. He further mentioned that “the element of religion and spirituality introduced at the R20 Summit [in Indonesia] now constitutes a historical moment.”
Shri Anil Joshi, a renowned poet and recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award, recounted his memories with Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He narrated how their encouragement to study and recite poetry played a significant role at critical junctions in his career.
In his keynote speech, the Chairman of Gujarat Sahitya Akademi, Shri Bhagyesh Jha, elaborated on the literary creations by Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s illustrious disciples and highlighted their practical relevance. He added that the bhakti, spirituality, and metaphysics harmoniously expressed through Swaminarayan literature can be witnessed in the Pramukh Swami Maharaj centenary celebrations. He further elaborated, “We need to travel through the literary universe of these bhakti poets. If we do so, then we will feel connected to the cosmic energy and bliss experienced by them. The poetries of Brahmanand, Muktanand, and Premanand are metaphysical commentaries that enlarge our understanding of life and universe.”
Prof. Balvantrai Jani, Chancellor of Doctor Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya Sagar, emphasized the role of Brahmanand Swami in the devotional literature of Gujarat. He paid tribute to several genres of literature—biographical, theoretical, lyrical, and philosophical—penned by Brahmanand Swami. As a multilingual and multi-dimensional poet, Prof. Jani argued, Brahmanand had the ability to create poetries in an instant. He said, “Pramukh Swami’s centennial celebrations will serve as a perfect prelude to the 250th anniversary of Brahmanand Swami. Inspired by Sahajanand Swami, Brahmanand Swami fostered relationships with people from other religions including the Muslim Nawab of Junagadh.”
The inaugural session concluded with Yogi Trivedi, a former journalist at CNN and CBS and Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. He narrated incidences where Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired him “to study literature without ego and to make scholarship accessible to the outside world.” He recalled how Pramukh Swami Maharaj had advised him, “Do something for your community. Educate your mind, and then educate others.” At the end of the session, Yogi Trivedi’s newly published book, In Love, At Ease: Everyday Spirituality with Pramukh Swami, was felicitated and distributed to the stage guests.