BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills, CA Honors
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s Legacy and Transcendence
Los Angeles, Aug. 20, 2015
NRIpress-Club, LA-Karen/ BAPS
On Sunday, August 16th, 2015 the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills honored the legacy of the late former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam with the launch of his final book and gift to mankind, Transcendence. Transcendence documents a 14-year journey between Dr. Kalam and His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, who carries forward a legacy of enlightened gurus that goes back to the early nineteenth century.
The event was a tribute to Dr. Kalam’s lifetime of dedicated public service and varied contributions to India’s development as a country. After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology, Dr. Kalam joined the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). While serving as a project director at ISRO, he helped launch into orbit the Rohini satellite, India’s first satellite vehicle. In 1997 he received the Bharat Ratna award, which serves as the highest civilian honor. Widespread recognition coupled with his extensive national service positioned Dr. Kalam as a natural choice for high office. In 2002 he became the eleventh president of India, having formerly served the nation as a world-renowned missile scientist. In his tenure, and long after leaving office, he was affectionately known as the 'people's president' due to his ability to bridge the gap between India’s people and their government.
Throughout his remarkable career, Dr. Kalam wrote over 30 books and is considered to be one of India’s most widely read and best-selling authors. In Transcendence, Dr. Kalam’s writings focus on the philosophical and spiritual guidance from Pramukh Swami Maharaj that shaped his purpose and direction in serving India.
Most astonishing about their profound friendship is that Dr. Kalam was not conversant in Gujarati, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s native language, and Pramukh Swami does not speak English. Despite the language barrier, they were able to transcend communication challenges. The resulting bond, built on selfless service and sustained through common interest, was life changing for Dr. Kalam and is thoughtfully articulated in his writing.
Commenting on Dr. Kalam’s life work, distinguished guest, Dr. Vivek Lall, global Chief Executive for International Commercial Strategic Development, for General Atomics, stated, “He was a great unifier. Unifier of thoughts, unifier of religion and unifier of peace. And therefore, he gained much respect in India, and around the world.”
Mr. Vyomesh Joshi, former executive vice president of Hewlett-Packard Company’s Imaging and Printing Group, as well as Mr. K. Venkata Ramana, Consul, of the Consulate General of India in San Francisco, were also amongst the distinguished guests who paid tribute to Dr. Kalam during the event. Mr. Joshi stated in his speech, “In the book Transcendence, Pramukh Swami Maharaj talks to Dr. Kalam about para vidya (spiritual knowledge), and apara vidya (worldly knowledge), and the need to combine both types of knowledge for peace and harmony in this world. This is the key message of this book.”
Dr. Kalam’s Transcendence explores one man’s journey to discover universal truths, unlock the science behind progress, and understand the critical role of spirituality in leading India forward. He narrates his visits to historic sites worldwide, religious and secular, while reflecting on the various moments of divinity he experiences along the way. But, as he writes, it is in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj that his spirituality truly flourishes. Dr. Kalam describes Pramukh Swami Maharaj as “my ultimate teacher”. He wrote, “Pramukh Swamiji shared with me many times his wish for peace, development, security and prosperity in the world. He feels that Indian people’s kindness, openness, tolerance and willingness to engage in dialogue is inbuilt in our civilizational heritage. He firmly believes in the potential of the Indian people to co-build a harmonious world where there is permanent peace, shared prosperity, cooperation and a ‘win-win’ with all other countries.”
Commemorating the unique friendship and mentorship between Dr. Kalam and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the event highlighted Dr. Kalam’s final contribution to his country: His vision for a brighter India through Transcendence.