Pramukh Swami Maharaj, head of Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Sansthan (BAPS) of the Swaminarayan sect, passed away on Saturday at his ashram located at Sarangpur, some 153 km away from Ahmedabad.
Pramukh Swami, 95, was suffering from chest infection.
Expressing grief, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, a stalwart among humans who embodied compassion & humility. His service to society will always be remembered." The PM called Swami his mentor, "HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a mentor to me. I will never forget my interactions with him. Will miss his presence."
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was kept in an Intensive Care Unit(ICU) specially set up within the Sarangpur BAPS campus. Last rites will be conducted on August 17 thereby giving lakhs of disciples and believers an opportunity of his 'last darshan'.
Born on December 7, 1921 to a Patel family of Chansad village near Vadodara, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was named Shantilal Patel and later known as Shastri Narayanswarupdas. He received initiation as a Hindu Swami in 1940 from Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS. He was made the president of BAPS in 1950.
Former head and spiritual guru, Yogiji Maharaj declared Pramukh Swami Maharaj as his spiritual successor and guru of BAPS in 1971. Under Pramukh Swami's leadership, the BAPS grew from an organization in Gujarat to become one of the most widely spread Hindu institution having its presence across the globe.