Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921–2016,) also Narayanswarupdas Swami, born Shantilal Patel, was an Indian Hindu religious leader. He served as the fifth spiritual guru of the BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu sect, one of the fastest-growing Hindu groups in the first part of the 21st century.
Born in Chansad village, Gujarat state, Patel was initiated as a sādhu (a celibate monk) of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (or BAPS Swaminarayan; founded by Shree Sahajanand Swami (1781–1830)) sect at age 18 and given the name Narayanswarupdas. He became a temple administrator, president, and then Pramukh (Gujarati:”Chief”) in 1971.
Pramukh Swami led the sect steadfastly for 45 years, expanding it internationally and throughout India. With growing prosperity in its home state of Gujarat, BAPS built extensive temples and social institutions as part of a revival of Hindu self-awareness in India and abroad. Pramukh Swami was noted in the Guinness Book of Records for building the largest Hindu temple in the world (the Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi) and dedicating the most temples (713.)
BAPS Charities, the socio-spiritual organization, constructs temples worldwide and builds schools that promote the sect’s austere form of Hinduism.
Sugar is sweet at all times, even in the dark. So remains devotion for the devout, in times of comfort or discomfort, praises or insults, darkness or enlightenment.
—Pramukh Swami Maharaj