The Pramukh Swami Maharaj of Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), who passed away on Saturday, has left a legacy behind him. Born as Shantilal Patel at Chansad village in Vadodara on December 7, 1921, he was the fifth spiritual successor of BAPS. Swami abandoned his home in 1939 to become a sadhu. The spiritual leader was just 28 when he was appointed as BAPS pramukh president. He took over as the spiritual guru of BAPS after the demise of Yogiji Maharaj in 1971.
He is credited for the creation and consecration of over 1,100 temples and giant cultural complexes like Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Under his leadership, his organization grew globally witnessing a significant expansion. Currently, the BAPS is having over one million devotees, more than 900 sadhus, 3,300 mandirs and congregations, over 7,200 weekly assemblies.
He is also known for consecration of first BAPS temple in New York in 1974. In the year 2000, he addressed the Millennium World Peace Summit of Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations. He has also been felicitated with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the United States government.
Swami is credited for his visits in India and abroad which created a large base of devotees for the BAPS. Swami Maharaj died on 13 August 2016 at the age of 94 at BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Bothad, Gujarat. He declared Mahant Swami Maharaj as his successor.