It is a matter of great honor and nobility when great men who have devoted their lives for the welfare of the people meet. And it was one of the rare sights when, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the missile man of India and also the former President (of India) presented his book, ‘Transcendence’, to H.H Pramukh Swami Maharaj, one of the most inspiring spiritual leaders of modern times, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and inheritor of a legacy of enlightened gurus that goes back to the early nineteenth century.
Dr. Kalam arrived at BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur, Gujarat (India) on 20th June, 2015 to offer “Transcendence”, a book authored by him. He presented his book to Swami Ji during a private meeting.
The book mainly describes his experiences with Swami Ji over a period of 14 years. Transcendence is divided into four parts. The first describes Dr Kalam’s interactions with Pramukh Swamiji. For over a decade, Dr Kalam has interacted on numerous occasions with Pramukh Swamiji, in person and by phone. The second part highlights some of the outstanding work and values of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, as inspired by Pramukh Swamiji. The third discusses the co-relation between science and spirituality through the anecdotes and thoughts of leading scientists, and the fourth reflects on the ideals of creative leadership based on the lives of leading historical luminaries.
Dr. Kalam expressed that he had studied Pramukh Swami’s life and worked for two years in writing the book along with the co-author Professor Arun Tiwari. During the dedication ceremony Dr. Kalam presented an autographed copy to Pramukh Swami Maharaj and said, “You are a great teacher. I’ve learnt to eradicate Iness and Myness in life.” Thereafter Dr. Kalam read some passages from his book before Swamiji and asked him to bless all those who have helped him in making the book possible.
After the meeting Dr. Kalam was welcomed in an assembly of 3000 youths. Pujya Brahmavihari Swami talked briefly about the mutual bonds of friendship, spirituality and respect between Dr. Kalam and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Dr. Kalam then addressed the youths, “Where there is righteousness in the heart there is beauty in character. Where there is beauty in character there is harmony in the home. Where there is harmony in the home there is an order in the nation. Where there is order in the nation there is peace in the world. In Pramukh Swami I saw righteousness and therefore peace in him.”
Dr. Kalam also exhorted the youths to become unique by having a high aim, by increasing their knowledge, by working hard and by not allowing problems to overwhelm them.
Dr Kalam resolved to write this book centred around Pramukh Swamiji despite the
background differences between the two: Dr Kalam is an eminent scientist, Pramukh Swamiji is a religious leader; and Dr Kalam was India’s most popular President involved with the unpredictable world of politics, while Pramukh Swamiji has had no such exposure. What is especially remarkable about their profound friendship is that Dr Kalam is not conversant in Gujarati – Pramukh Swamiji’s native language – and Pramukh Swamiji is not conversant in English – Dr Kalam’s main medium of communication. This testifies to the inner spiritual bond they share, which has sustained and enhanced their rapport with each other.
At the end of Part 4 of his book, Dr Kalam has revealed, “I wrote this book to record my experiences with Pramukh Swami, my reflections on his work and the transformation that I experienced in his fellowship. I see in Pramukh Swami a true embodiment of transcendence.”
P.S. – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is not among us but his soul will remain immortal.
(Dr. Kalam’s book is available at all Harper Collins’ outlets and agencies and also at all BAPS Mandirs)