As a child, my family began attending the BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu Temple, a worldwide spiritual, volunteer-driven organization, in Houston, TX. I was not aware of religion, I was not aware of the meaning of being Hindu, I was quite confused. My brother and I started attending the weekly classes, we began immersing into the teachings and principles of living as Hindu, such as being a pure vegetarian, no-alcohol, living a pure and clean life, respecting others and caring for others. There are many milestones within my life that have shaped who I have become and hope to become in the future.
In 2004, the first marble traditional style temple in North America was built in Houston, TX. At the time, I was only 15-16 years old, however, myself along with many other dedicated youths my age and older, scarified every school break, any weekend, any down-time to help in the construction of the temple. This included driving forklifts to supply the artisans with the stones, cleaning up the landscape, cleaning the marble, the list goes on. Pictured below is the temple in Houston.
As time progressed, I became more involved with the youth activities and various other activities occurring at the temple. In 2013 I joined the National Development Committee to volunteer in helping create, plan, and implement the youth activities across North America. Alongside the national duties, I also regularly partake in weekly local activities at the temple during weekly classes and special events and drives such as Health Fairs and annual festivals.
In 2014, I left my job at FMC Technologies to move to Robbinsville, New Jersey to help in the construction of another marble template. However, unlike in 2004, this time I would be spending full-time, 7 days a week, on the construction site volunteering my engineering and construction experience to help complete the project by August 2014. The images below is the temple in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
With a world renown organization, with millions of followers and volunteers, one must wonder what causes so many to be so dedicated and involved? The answer is simple, our spiritual Guru and leader.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of or Lord, Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He led by example, his humility, faith in Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and compassion inspired millions of devotees and over sadhus to maintain moral and spiritual lifestyles. His was the simple life of a celibate, ignoring fame and recognition. His greatness lay in his ability to relate to the common man. He understood the problems people face in their everyday lives and empathized with their pain. His success is not measured by the awards he received nor by the recognition he accumulated. Rather, it is measured by the number of lives he transformed.
The guru in the Hindu tradition is the gateway to moksha. He is the guiding light in the lives of his followers. They came to him for everything: spiritual enlightenment, moral development, and even worldly advice. And the guru listens.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj lent his ears to millions of individuals around the world and shared their sorrows. He gave them the courage to overcome personal battles. He comforted and advised on mundane issues, such as where to place a well in their field or where to set up manufacturing plant, and on significant matters, such as how to secure moksha. Pramukh Swami Maharaj steered the reins of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha for many decades, effectively administering its spiritual, cultural, personal development and humanitarian activities.
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj (Swami Keshavjivandasji) is the sixth and present spiritual guru of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha as of August 13, 2016. HH Mahant Swamis profound discourses have enlightened countless devotees and well-wishers and motivated them to adopt pious, addiction-free lives. His saintliness and devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and gurus Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj have left a lasting impression on innumerable devotees.
I have had the opportunity and chance to meet and speak to both, physically serve them, and obtain their guidance in many turning points in my life.
Below are images of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj
His Holines Mahant Swami Maharaj