Father of Millions – By Gaurav S Kaintura

Bapa was on Padhravani  (visiting the homes of devotees and blessing them). In those places, there were unique designs of houses where kitchen was first from the entrance. So you had to first pass from the kitchen to enter the house then on the backyard there used to be system for keeping domestics. As Bapa went out from the house of a devotee, a virtuous devotee asked Bapa.

‘Bapa, please come to my home’.

Bapa accepted his proposal and said, ‘You go home, I am coming’.

The devotee directly ran to his house. His wife who was not a satsangi was working in the kitchen. Now Bapa had to pass from the kitchen so the devotee went to his home and said his wife to go in the store room. His wife left the kitchen as it is. Gas stove was open, roti was on griddle. She ran inside in the store room. Bapa reached their home and as Bapa entered the house, he saw in the kitchen. The gas stove was open, roti was on the griddle. He immediately understood, what happened there a few seconds ago. He went directly to the stove and overturned that roti with pliers.

On the other side, the wife of the devotee was concerned in the store room. She was thinking that roti would get burn. Later she came outside, and saw the roti overturned, she felt relieved. But when she got to know that Bapa turned the roti, she felt that, ‘ the one who doesn’t let even our roti to burn, then how could he let our world to burn. Guru should be like him’.

Guru should be like him who understand our emotions, our agony, our problems.

On another occasion, Bapa was on his foreign tour. There was a convention of 5000 youth and kids. On the last day of the five day seminar, few volunteers and Sadhus requested Bapa to give Smriti-patra  (memorandum-note) to all the attendees of the event. And they requested Bapa to write a thought of his under his signature on that note. Bapa began to write Hun Brahman Chhu  means I am Brahman. Bapa was writing like this but organizer Sadhus requested him to write in English. Bapa replied simply,’ mai angreji kaha janta hu  ( i don’t know English)’. Sadhus knew that Bapa knows alphabets. So they said, ‘we will spell it and you write’. I am Brahman – this was to write on the note.

Sadhus spelled, ‘I’. Bapa wrote it.

‘Am’, Bapa wrote.

Sadhus spelled,’ Brahman’.

Bapa wrote it and showed it to everyone. Sadhus got astonish when they saw it. They said,’ Bapa its wonderful. Everything is perfect’.

‘But there is just a little mistake’, one of the Sadhu pointed out. Bapa looked at him and asked humbly,’ what’s the mistake?’ The Sadhu said,’ Bapa, you have written small ‘i’. I is always capital in writing’. Then Bapa said that,’ I don’t know the definition of grammar but in our life, smaller is the ‘i’, more is the joy’. We should become ego-less, then we can be truly happy.

Who is Bapa?

Born as Shantilal Patel in 1921 in Vadodara district of Gujarat. He was a simple and pious boy. His father was a farmer and their family was firm believer of Akshar-Purushottam philosophy. Young Shanti was very intelligent in studies. But he studied only for six years and started supporting his father in their farm. He was interested in cricket and he was captain of the cricket team of his locality.

One day, Shantilal and his friends thought to buy the whole cricket kit. They arranged money from collections. Now they decided that Shanti would go to the market in the town to buy the kit. He was the most reliable and honest boy in his area. But suddenly he received a letter from his guru Shastri Ji Maharaj. He was immediately summoned by his guru to become a Sadhu. He asked permission from his parents and set out to a journey. A journey to redeem millions of people on this earth. A journey full of devotion, purity and bliss.


He got Parshadi diksha at the age of 17 on 22 Nov 1939. And very soon he turned into Sadhu fold and received Bhagvati diksha on 10 January 1940. He was just 18 then but his spirit of service earned him grace of his guru who later appointed him as the president of BAPS (Bochasanwasi ShriAkshar Purushottam Swaminarayan) Sanstha on 1950. The same day when he was appointed as the president, he was washing the utensils of devotees in the evening who ate their meals in the fest. Such was his spirit of service. After that he was widely called as ‘Pramukh Swami Ji’.

In 1950, when he was appointed as a president, there were just 50 Sadhus in BAPS. But now, the sanstha has more than 1000 Sadhus. Most of the Sadhus are doctors, engineers, pharmacists, and hold degrees from Cambridge, London University, IITs and well known management institutes. They left their homes and all the worldly pleasures to become a Sadhu, to earn the grace of their Guruhari. They follow his steps. Thousands of devotees love him. That’s why they lovingly call him ‘Bapa’. People, youngsters, his Sadhus are fully committed to him because he is also committed to them. People love him unconditionally because he loves all selflessly.

He built Akshardham complexes in Delhi and Gandhinagar, Gujarat.


He has built more than 1100 temples all over the world.


BAPS expanded globally to the whole world  under his leadership. Lot of people left their vices of drinking, smoking, meat-eating due to his grace. He has saved hundreds of homes from breaking down by introducing the concept of Gharsabha. Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam found him as his ultimate teacher. In his last book Transcendence, Kalam Sahab explained his spiritual experiences with him.


He served his God Lord Swaminarayan and Humanity always. His motto was ‘In the joy of others lies our own’.

If I write an article daily about him till my last breath even that would not be enough to describe him completely. Such is his absolute character. He is Gunatit. He is Akshar. He is father of millions of people. When I heard that he has passed away to his eternal abode (Akshardham),  I messaged my big brother. I messaged, ‘ I feel like I have lost my eternal father’. He replied to me,’ Satpurush is now present in the form of Mahant Swami’. He further wrote,’ Pramukh Swamiji has told us that i’ll be always with you in the form of Mahant Swami’.

He was a true Sadhu of God. He was true embodiment of love and service. He used to smile always. I know he is joyful in his eternal abode and he is blessing us. On his 96th Birthday there is a grand celebration going on in Surat, Gujarat.

Bapa! I wish you a happy janmotsava. I pray that you guide me in this sorrowful world and i become humble and subservient to God always.


Muktanand Swami has written a verse which fits on him  truly;

Sant  Sukhi Sansar Me

Aur Sabe Jag Jalat Niranter

Teen Tap Ki Khar Me

Sant Sukhi Sansar Me


Glossary: 1. Gunatit- who transcends three qualities rajoguna, tamoguna, satoguna

  1. Akshar- Perfect devotee of Lord Shri Purushottam Narayan, always absorbed in him

  2. Akshardham- supreme abode of God

Thanks For Reading

 Gaurav S Kaintura