Sarangpur (Guj): Prime Minister Narendra Modi today turned emotional as he paid his last respects to Pramukh Swami, the religious head of the Swaminarayan sect, saying he has lost a fatherly figure.
Recalling his close association with Pramukh Swami, who passed away last Saturday here, Modi called him his "father" as he was twice overcome by emotions during his 20-odd minute long speech made at a temple where Swami's mortal remains have been kept.
"Many of you might have lost a guru, but I have lost a father," Modi said, as he paused for nearly a minute to overcome the swell of emotions. Calling him a "combination of grandeur and divinity," the Prime Minister said he knew Pramukh Swami from the time when he was not a public figure and showered praise on him for bringing about reforms in the "saint" culture.
The mortal remains of the head of Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Sansthan (BAPS) Swaminarayan Sanstha, Pramukh Swami Maharaj have been kept at the temple till August 17 to enable devotees and citizens to get a final glimpse.
Modi also paid floral tributes to the departed soul. Recalling a few instances of his "close association" with Pramukh Swami, Modi said Swami once asked him to address a gathering of saints of the Swaminarayan sect at a temple in Ahmedabad upon which he'd express his surprise, saying what were they (saints) going to gain from him.
"When I said this to Pramukh Swami, he said, no, the saints should know about the social reality as they have to work to take the society in the right direction," Modi added.
The Prime Minister also recalled Yogiji Maharaj, who initiated Pramukh Swami into Swaminarayan sect, and said the latter established an example on how a disciple should be.
"We have known Pramukh Swami as a guru. But looking at him, one also understands how a disciple should be," Modi said, as he recounted an instance of how Pramukh Swami fulfilled the desire of his guru by constructing the Akshardham temple on the bank of Yamuna river in Delhi.
"Long back, while strolling on Yamuna river bank, Yogiji expressed desire to Pramukh Swami to have a temple constructed on Yamuna bank. It was a desire informally expressed. After he passed away, as a disciple, Pramukh Swami constructed Akshardham to fulfil his desire," Modi said.