The ashes of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj were scattered in the River Thames on Sunday (18), in commemoration of his longstanding and sacred ties with the British capital.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who passed away in Sarangpur, India, in August 2016, had visited London 19 times between 1970 and 2007, and created and opened the famous Neasden Temple in 1995, Europe’s first traditional Hindu mandir.
London’s River Thames had also been sanctified by Yogiji Maharaj in 1970, when he bathed the murti of Harikrishna Maharaj after inaugurating a new hari mandir in Islington, north London – the first Swaminarayan mandir in the western hemisphere.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was an inspiration to millions worldwide. Personifying his motto, “In the joy of others lies our own”, he dedicated his life to serving and inspiring others for the greater good of humanity.
He travelled across the world to foster love, peace, harmony, righteousness and faith in God to all members of society irrespective of class, colour, creed or age.
He was loved and respected as one of the greatest religious teachers of his time.
Under his leadership, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), which is an international community-based Hindu organisation affiliated to the United Nations, caring for individuals, families and societies through its more than one million members, flourished into an international spiritual and humanitarian organisation with more than one million members, 55,000 volunteers and 3,850 centres across the world.
The Vedic ceremony prior to scattering his sacred ashes of was performed by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and senior sadhus at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London.
After 4.30pm, the sacred kalashes were moved to the River Thames, where Mahant Swami Maharaj presided over the final ritual aboard the Royal Princess boat at Lambeth Pier.
The boat then began its journey towards Westminster Bridge, the first scheduled stopping point. Here, His Holiness performed the ceremonial dispersing of the asthipushpa (sacred ashes) of Pramukh Swami Maharaj into the Thames.
A special observation area along the walkway opposite St Thomas’ Hospital Gardens near Lambeth Palace was organised where devotees were able have darshan of the ceremony. Devotees and well-wishers also dotted the various bridges along the Thames, including Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge.
The boat continued along the Thames and passed various iconic landmarks of London, including the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), the London Eye, and the Battle of Britain Monument.
The ceremony and scattering took place in accordance with British Law and through a dedicated service provider with the help of the River Thames’s various marine and port authorities.
The ceremony followed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s ashes also being dispersed in many holy rivers of India, including the Gondali, Narmada and Ganga, and recently in the Nile near Jinja, Uganda.