His Divine Holiness answered the humble prayers of the devotees of the UK, and arrived in London on 9th July 2004, on what will be His 15th Tour of the country. Air India flight AI101 arrived precisely on time at 1430 at London Heathrow. Acharya Swamishree, accompanied by a Mandal of 12 Sants, arrived at the London Temple at 1630, where Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band eagerly awaited to salute Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa, and Acharya Swamishree.
The Band led the procession of Sants and devotees, followed by His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree’s ornately decorated palanquin, into the Temple where hundreds of devotees had gathered for Acharya Swamishree’s divine darshan. Devotees performed the welcoming ceremony before leading Acharya Swamishree to the stage through a guard of honour formed by Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band.
Acharya Swamishree then performed Sandhya aarti and the evening niyams before granting the gathered devotees His divine darshan, enthroned on His Gadi. Despite concluding such a long journey, Acharya Swamishree greeted, and granted His darshan, to each and every devotee – such is the unparalleled benevolence of His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree.
A special Swagat Sabha – welcoming assembly, had been arranged by the devotees of London to please Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree. Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band led Acharya Swamishree, seated on a palanquin and held aloft by devotees, into the temple. Upon arriving into the Temple, the procession took an unprecedented form. The younger devotees of London had prepared a welcoming dance to the kirtan, “Subh Swagatam.” As the dance progressed forward through the temple and towards the Sinhasan, Acharya Swamishree’s palanquin also slowly progressed forward, allowing the hundreds of gathered devotees this unique divine darshan.
Sadguru Shree Gnandivakardasji Swami commenced proceeding by delivering a speech, attentively listened to by all. He started by describing the journey to London. “Our entire flight was filled with our Sants and devotees, and Sadhus and devotees of various other Swaminarayan sects. Before passing immigration, one of the officials asked me, ‘How come your group is so smartly dressed, young and attractive? Are you all not of the same faith?’ I told him that although we were all of the Swaminarayan faith, the Sants you describe and uniquely attractive of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi. They are the Sants of Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa.
“Although this may sound like an ordinary event, it is not. All of the Lord’s episodes are divine and enchanting, as was this episode. Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa is reminding us that although there are many devotees of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, the sansthan established by our beloved Gurudev Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, is supreme. This is immediately apparent to anyone who has the darshan of Swamibapa’s Sants, as it was to the immigration official.”
Sadguru Shree Gnandivakardasji Swami then introduced the three young Sants that had never before visited the UK. These were Sant Shiromani Shree Vishwamangaldasji Swami, Shree Nityadarshandasji Swami and Shree Satyananddasji Swami. Sadguru Shree Gnandivakardasji Swami then went on to describe the unique attributes of each Sant and said that despite their young age, were highly able and accomplished.
Sadguru Shree Jitendriyapriyadasji Swami then spoke a few words to please Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree. “The devotees of the UK are truly blessed. When Acharya Swamishree is in India, He is constantly touring – answering the prayers of devotees all over India. If He takes midday thaal at one place; He is in another by the evening. We are never granted His prolonged darshan. But when he comes here, you all have the unique darshan of Acharya Swamishree of many months at a time, this why the devotees of the UK are truly fortunate.”
Whilst the Sants were expressing these sentiments, a constant stream of male devotees eagerly performed adoration to Acharya Swamishree by adorning Him with flower garlands. In this way, Acharya Swamishree fulfilled the devotional desire of every devotee.