Head of Boachasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS), Pramukh Swami Maharaj, passed away on Saturday at Sarangpur in Gujarat at the age of 95.
Announcing the passing away of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS said in a message: "His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual head and president of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, inspirer of countless and a great servant of society, passed away today, 13 Aug 2016, at 6 pm in Sarangpur. We deeply mourn the departure of our revered guruji.
The arrangements for final darshan will be announced later today."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on Twitter on the passing away of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also expressed his condolences on the death of the spiritual leader.
"Deeply pained to hear passing away of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj. It's irreparable loss to the society as whole. My prayer!," Rupani tweeted.
According to a BAPS health update on Friday, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was suffering from chest infection and was advised complete rest by the doctors.
"Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj's improving health had allowed him to give regular darshan on alternate days but once again his health has weakened due to chest infection. Doctors have advised complete rest. Hence there will be no darshan until his health permits," the BAPS statement said.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor in Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s succession of Gunatit gurus.
"For more than seven decades he had been travelling tirelessly, visiting over 17,000 towns and villages in India and abroad. However, for the last two years, because of old age and frail health, he had been residing at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur under the able care of expert doctors," BAPS said in a statement.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was born on 7 December, 1921 to a farmer’s family in the nondescript village of Chansad, near Vadodara in Gujarat.
"In 1939, he renounced home to become a renunciate and received initiation into the sadhu-fold from his guru, Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj and was named Sadhu Narayanswarupdas," the statement said.
Giving a timeline of the important moments of his life, the statement said, "On completing his Sanskrit studies, he was appointed as the kothari of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur in 1946 at the age of 25 years. Then in 1950, aged 28 years, Shastriji Maharaj selected him as the President (Pramukh) of BAPS in his place. Since then, he had been fondly known as ‘Pramukh Swami’."
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was known for his "untiring efforts in uplifting the tribals, liberating thousands from vices and addictions, providing relief and rehabilitation to innumerable people in times of calamity and catastrophe, and inspiring character and faith in hundreds of thousands of children and youths were some of his many outstanding services to society."
During his lifetime, the spiritual leader created and consecrated 1,100 mandirs and huge cultural complexes like Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and Gandhinagar to portray the cultural and spiritual heritage of India.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj had also interacted with many heads of states and spiritual leaders.
"These include His Holiness The Dalai Lama, India’s late president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prince Charles, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman al Khalifa of Bahrain, and many royals, heads of state and other dignitaries," the statement said.