Swamis in New Jersey

The two days that Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami spent at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey, seemed more like four or five. During this time, the organization's swamis kept our swamis very close, taking us right in to their private swamis-only ashram areas to be among the dozens of them who were here from around the world for the event, introducing us to their senior Sadguru Swamis and taking every opportunity to sit privately with us for planned and impromptu discussions on a wide variety of topics. We spent time with Pujya Sadguru Mahant Swami, the seniormost Sadguru Swami who has for the last year been the administrator and spiritual guide of the global congregation since Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj has reached an age and state of health that brought him to the decision to delegate even those duties. We met long-time friend Pujya Brahmavihari Swami, who was our Gurudeva's host at Pramukh Swami Maharaj's 75th jayanti celebrations in Mumbai and subsequently at their sadhu training center in Sarangpur, Gujarat, in 1995. He is by Pramukh Swami Maharaj's side almost constantly these days. We spoke with Pujya Aksharvatsal Swami, editor-in-chief of the organization's Gujarati and Hindi publications out of the world headquarters in Ahmedabad. We had long discussions with Pujya Paramtattva Swami, born in the UK and currently serving out of the London center conducting important and extensive research work in connection with Oxford, and Pujya Mangalnidhi Swami, born in the US and currently serving in the area of English-language publications out of the North America headquarters here in New Jersey. We had extensive dialogues with Pujya Bhadresh Swami, the order's senior Sanskrit scholar, who serves at the Sarangpur training center and central monastery where Pramukh Swami Maharaj now lives full time, setting up future projects that we will collaborate on. At the end of our visits, one swami turned to us and said, "Despite the fact that we come from a traditional Vaishnava sampradaya, and a unique, highly specialized one at that, and you come from an orthodox Saiva sampradaya, we really feel close to you, as if you are all part of our own order." Indeed, it is easy to set aside the five percent that is different and focus on the ninety-five percent that we hold in common, particularly when it comes to our shared foci of personal religious practice, spiritual progress, virtuous living, proper religious education, and, most of all, the central importance of the guru to show us the way in all of these most important pursuits of human life.

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