Saturday 26 September 2020 | Adhik Aso Sud 10, Samvat 2076

Sat 26 Sep 2020

Inspired by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, His Sants and disciples are constantly engaged in delivering programs to offer medical assistance, aiding in educating and uplifting the poor and disadvantaged, holding blood and organ donor drives, raising and donating funds to charitable causes, and providing relief during times of natural disasters. For these reasons, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj is acclaimed as being the 'Ultimate Humanitarian'.

Compassion, love for all and universal understanding are the essentials of humanity; these are the virtues that please the Lord;
these are the values that need to be instilled throughout society.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj

All these endeavours emanate from the dozens of new Mandirs, centres of spiritual, cultural and social progress, that Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has established all throughout the world. His tenet of ‘Society before Self’ has inspired the instigation of countless charitable initiatives, and He personally campaigns on societal issues such as equality, social mobility, sustainability, and world peace.

This is a philosophy Acharya Swamishree Maharaj passionately takes around the world, inspiring His followers to live by His ‘Society before Self’ mantra. His compassion is limitless and His humanity unparalleled.

Disaster Relief

Acharya Swamishree consoles a homeless victim of the Gujarat earthquake in 2001
Acharya Swamishree consoles a homeless victim of the Gujarat earthquake in 2001

During times of droughts, floods, famines and earthquakes, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, Sants, and disciples, have travelled to the inflicted regions and assisted in saving the lives of thousands, often at the risk to their own safety.

After a devastating Earthquake hit Kutch-Gujarat in 2001, while most fled from the danger of aftershocks, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj ran towards them to help those in need. Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan was the first non-governmental organisation to commence emergency relief work, with Acharya Swamishree Maharaj entering the region whilst it was still classified a danger zone. Victims were displaced, distressed and vulnerable. Our Sants and Acharya Swamishree Maharaj distributed food and clothing, but the work did not stop there.

Hospitals, hostels, clinics, schools and colleges were established to provide lasting benefits to the region. The Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Rescue and Disaster Management Academy was established – the first of its kind in India, training young boys and girls in all aspects of aid, to be deployed during times of disaster.

The Academy has more recently supported rescue missions in Nepal after the earthquake in 2015 and after the floods in 2018.

Equality of Opportunity

From awarding scholarships to promising students who would otherwise be unable to progress their education, to giving means of livelihood to widowed women so that they can earn a living, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj sees all souls as equal children of the Lord, and therefore aims to ensure everyone has access to life opportunities. 

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has established schools and colleges, dedicated to the education of women. One very significant example of His sincere commitment to providing education to the sectors of society that need it most, is Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa – Mahila Arts and Commerce College in Bhuj, Kutch. This College now forms part of Kutch University and has received accolade as being one of the best educational establishments in Western India.

Prior to the establishment of this College, the strictly disciplined people of Kutch did not allow their daughters to progress beyond high school, as there were no colleges in the region, and they refused to allow the young girls to move away from home. That was when their education journeys ended. Recognising the need to provide further development of these young, highly talented women of the region, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj established the College and dedicated it to His Gurudev, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa who too was a pioneer in supporting education to the various sectors of society.

Unity Between All People and Faiths

If there is harmony and unity amongst them, people can be helpful to one another when faced with the struggles of life.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj

In accordance with the teachings of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, and Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj is a renowned social reformer and absolute pacifist. He often held interfaith meetings and conventions to promote peace and unity amongst peoples of different faiths and backgrounds, inspiring other faith leaders to join this cause.

In 2001, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj received a special invitation from the Sikh Faith's headquarters, the Golden Temple at Amritsar. He visited the Temple with a mandal of 40 sants and numerous disciples, where He was honoured by being able to enter inner most sanctum where the sacred Granth Sahib is kept.
Shree Narendrapal Singh thanked Acharya Swamishree and humbly said, "Today is a new episode in the 600-year-old history of the Sikh religion. Acharya Swamishree demonstrates His value and respect for Indian unity, regardless of faith. Before today, no-one has demonstrated such great universal brotherhood."

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj creating a show of unity, diversity, and brotherhood, by hosting faith leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu, and other faith communities following the 2011 London Riots.
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj creating a show of unity, diversity, and brotherhood, by hosting faith leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu, and other faith communities following the 2011 London Riots.

Following the London Riots in 2011, He personally insisted on creating a show of unity, diversity, and brotherhood, by hosting faith leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu, and other faith communities across London. The former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster - Bishop Arnold congratulated Acharya Swamishree Maharaj on the interfaith convention with these words, “The energy and commitment seen here gives a sense of the real vitality of this community, which has never been needed more given the terrible events we have lived through this summer. This evening we see the qualities that make for a strong society.”

Many spiritual leaders have come for the darshan and inspiration Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. His ecumenical teachings have been admired by all.

Additionally, cohesion, understanding and appreciation of the rich tapestry of cultures across the world underpins much of the spiritual, cultural, social and humanitarian projects instigated by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. To this end, Acharya Swamishree hosted the IPRA International Peace Congress in November 2018 at Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Smruti Mandir & World Peace Centre. It was the very first of its kind and scale within India, pioneering and paving the way to build ties and understanding amongst communities at a global level. This congress was the culmination of a lifetime spent creating ties within and across communities.

Blood Donation and Organ Donor Drives

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj in 1989 became the first spiritual leader in India to donate blood. He encouraged everyone to follow His example, His message reaching all across the globe. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has encouraged all to donate blood, the gift of life. He has taught us that beneath the colour of our skin, there is something that unites us, and it’s our life blood; we all bleed red irrespective the colour of our skin, our creed, or our faith. What better way to practice this teaching, than by performing the selfless act of giving blood? Similarly, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has also encouraged all to enrol as organ donors.

Decades later, inspired by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, our Mandirs all across the world host blood donation drives and organ donation registration sessions to encourage all members of our communities to selflessly give the gift of life.

Uplifting the Downfallen

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s smile, time, and spiritual guidance offer solace where, so often, there seems to be none. He has rushed to the needs of thousands of individuals. He has also helped transform impoverished regions that had for so long been overlooked by society, by helping communities and people to help themselves, and by inspiring them to lead virtuous lives with the highest moral standards.

Victims of appalling crimes are consoled and given financial assistance. Three-year-old Mahesh Kambhani was savagely tortured and left to die. Hearing his heart-breaking story, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj travelled to Mumbai to relieve the suffering of the poor child. Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan provided accommodation and financial support whilst his medical treatment was being performed
Victims of appalling crimes are consoled and given financial assistance. Three-year-old Mahesh Kambhani was savagely tortured and left to die. Hearing his heart-breaking story, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj travelled to Mumbai to relieve the suffering of the poor child. Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan provided accommodation and financial support whilst his medical treatment was being performed

Raising Vital Funds & Supporting Vital Causes

Acharya Swamishree inspired and instigated numerous events and campaigns to raise funds for various charities across the globe and to support vital causes. These included food drives, medical supply drives, participation in charitable walks, runs and swims to raise funds and awareness for global charities, such as Save the Children, through to local food and medical banks.

During the worldwide celebrations for Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s Sadbhav Amrut Parva (75th manifestation anniversary), He inspired disciples around the world to raise substantial funds for charities and to volunteer their time towards worthy causes in their local communities. This is not an uncommon occurrence for the major festivals of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, as Acharya Swamishree Maharaj teaches us, “Dedicating one's life to the service of others is the truest celebration of a festival”

Protecting our Environment

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj had a personal interest in preservation of the environment, care of animals, and ecology, in general.

Acharya Swamishree said that clean water and air are the fundamental elements that are crucial to life. He encouraged water conservation and initiated projects to dig reservoirs. He also inspired and funded numerous tree planting projects to encourage eco-diversity and decarbonisation. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj says, "Keep our planet Earth green. Plant trees. Do not destroy them. Trees will keep our air free of pollution, and ultimately keep us healthy."

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj says, 'Keep our planet Earth green. Plant trees. Do not destroy them. Trees will keep our air free of pollution, and ultimately keep us healthy.'
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj says, "Keep our planet Earth green. Plant trees. Do not destroy them. Trees will keep our air free of pollution, and ultimately keep us healthy."

He was also extremely passionate towards all of the Lord’s creatures and animals. During His tours of various regions across the world, He would provide His grace and divine darshan to the various animals and species native to those regions. He inspired the adoption of orphan elephants and campaigns to save the endangered elephants and rhinos in Sub-Saharan Africa. During times of drought, Acharya Swamishree travelled to those inflicted regions and saved the lives of thousands of starving animals by providing them with food and water. He would say, "Animals are also God's creatures. How can we neglect them?"

In 2014, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj opened the world’s first eco-temple, Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, in London UK. The Mandir used sustainable design and construction principles, with green technologies, to minimise its impact on the environment. The Mandir, like many of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s works, acts as a beacon to the wider community – in this case, to inspire everyone to live sustainably.

All these endeavours stem from the Mandirs that Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has established.

Mandirs Established

Establishing the vital roots for all the above, His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree Maharaj inspired and led the management of over 200 spiritual, cultural and social progression establishments around the world, including 30 Mandirs.

His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has created magnificent Mandirs, centres for imparting moral, spiritual, cultural and social education to society, all throughout the world. These temples are far more than places of worship; they are also centres for the learning, practice and preservation of spirituality, culture, and social values.

Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has commanded that these temples should be:

  • Where people from all sectors of the community gather to work collectively for the welfare of society
  • Where charitable and humanitarian activities must be actively encouraged and supported
  • A source of education: teaching people ethics, morality, and the ideals of humility, tolerance and respect for all; and raising one's spiritual awareness and social responsibility. One should be taught to live life virtuously and to distinguish between right and wrong
  • A place of celebration and rejoicing during happy times
  • Somewhere to find comfort during sad or difficult times
  • A retreat from the stresses and anxieties of life, from where calmness, peace and tranquillity can be evoked within one's mind
  • A place where people of all ages spend their free time constructively, across generational divides