On 24 February 2017, BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute in New Delhi organized its quarterly session of the Akshardham Lecture Series in the presence of Param Pujya Mahant Swamiji Maharaj and a large delegation at the Pramukh Swami Auditorium in Swaminarayan Akshardham. Themed ‘Yugvibhuti Pramukh Swami Maharaj,’ the session hosted enlightening talks on Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life, work, and continued inspiration.
The session commenced by the chanting of Vedic mantras. Dr. J.M. Dave, Director of BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, welcomed the attendees and presented an overview of the theme of the series. Dr. Dave greeted and offered a brief introduction of each speaker and the subject of their presentations.
Delivering the first presentation, Viveksagardas Swami narrated his experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. A senior sadhu of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), Pujya Viveksagardas Swami concluded his studies in engineering and received a doctorate for his Sanskrit work on Bhagawan Swaminarayan’s Akshar-Purushottam Siddhanta. Since then, he has authored numerous historical, philosophical, and inspirational publications and is a recognized world renowned orator. Having served on the senior administrative committee for BAPS for many years, Viveksagardas Swami has spent the last several decades with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in his travels. Bearing witness to Pramukh Swamiji’s tireless efforts for social and individual development, compassion, and divinity, Pujya Viveksagar Swamiji spoke on his firsthand account of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s inspirational life and work.
Dr. W. Selvamurthy, thereafter, presented on how Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s virtuous living inspired change at personal, social, and global levels. President of the Amity Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation and the director general for Amity Directorate of Science and Innovation, Dr. Selvamurthy is a distinguished scientist who served as a Chief Controller, Research & Development (Life Sciences & International Cooperation) at the Defense Research and Development Organization for the Government of India. He is currently spearheading the research and development activities for the health and wellbeing of the armed forces and addressing social issues.
In his presentation, Dr. Selvamurthy recalled being introduced to Pramukh Swami Maharaj by the late Dr. Abdul Kalam and remembered experiencing a divine presence in Swamiji. Upon giving a brief biographical account of Swamiji’s life, he presented three virtues: truth, purity, and compassion, which he found to be most inspiring in Swamiji. He narrated biographical incidents from Swamiji’s life that exemplified these virtues and demonstrated how Swamiji showed the capacity to instigate both personal and social change through virtuous living. He then recollected Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s efforts for encouraging interfaith harmony, providing disaster relief, environmental awareness and care, rehabilitation, medical aid, and education; fostering sustained tribal development; encouraging support for women’s rights; creating opportunities for cultural expression and appreciation; and other humanitarian efforts. He concluded by presenting quotes from distinguished individuals, who had experienced a similar divinity in Swamiji’s work and virtuous living.
Thereafter, delegates and members of the session participated in launching the BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute’s website. In the presence of Divine Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the inauguration was greeted with great enthusiasm. The website offers an invaluable means for the expression of scholarly research conducted by members of the Institute, along with a forum to gain information on the Institute’s activities and projects. The homepage of the site may be accessed from the ‘Explore’ tab at akshardham.com or directly at the following address: http://swaminarayanresearch.akshardham.com/
The session continued with Pujya Mahant Swamiji Maharaj’s reflection on Dr. W. Selvamurthy analysis of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s divine qualities. Pujya Mahant Swamiji expressed great appreciation of Dr. Selvamurthy’s accurate and in-depth understanding of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life. Swamiji also remembered Dr. Abdul Kalam and recognized his purity and spiritual relationship with Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
In conclusion, Bhadreshdas Swami, Head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, thanked all speakers for their thoughtful presentations. He also appreciated the invited guests and delegates for attending and announced the date and venue for the upcoming lecture series.