Sunday, August 2, 2015

Dr. Abdul Kalam's spiritual journey book: Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji, published June 2015

Some extracts from
Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji (June 2015) is the final book written by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the eleventh President of India and a pioneering scientist. Co-authored by Professor Arun Tiwari and published by HarperCollins India, the book describes Kalam’s spiritual experiences with and reflections on Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the guru and spiritual leader of the BAPS Hindu organization. Kalam recounted the spiritual transformation he experienced during his fourteen-year association with Pramukh Swami, described the inspiration he obtained from Pramukh Swami’s leadership of BAPS, and expressed his vision for a society in which science and spirituality are fused.
Kalam had often expressed that he was proud of being an Indian Muslim. During his childhood, his father, A P Jainulabdeen, an imam in a mosque in the South Indian town of Rameshwaram, would have tea every evening with the heads of the town's main Hindu temple and Christian church and discuss local issues. Kalam wrote how this secular mindset broadened his thinking, inspiring him to seek out truth without being hindered by mundane boundaries. This helped lead him to choose Pramukh Swami, the Hindu head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sampradaya as his guru, with whom he enjoyed a close relationship for the last fourteen years of his life. Just a month after this book was released, Kalam died of cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015 at the age of 83.
The first of eight meetings between Kalam and Pramukh Swami took place on 30 June 2001 at Gujarat Bhavan in New Delhi. Kalam and Pramukh Swami struck an instant bond of friendship and spiritual rapport. Kalam commented that he was drawn to Pramukh Swami’s simplicity and spiritual purity. After meeting with Pramukh Swami, Kalam reflected on Saint Thiruvalluvar’s teaching that when one is burdened by an issue, sitting in the presence of great divinity will free one from these worries. He revealed that he had experienced such a feeling in the presence of Pramukh Swami. Kalam was inspired by Pramukh Swami throughout their numerous interactions. He cites one specific incident, which galvanized him to write the book. The incident occurred on the day following the terrorist attack on the Akshardham, Gandhinagar complex in September 2002. Kalam was moved by Pramukh Swami’s equanimity in the aftermath of the attack. Pramukh Swami prayed for and sprinkled holy water upon the sites of all of the deceased, including the terrorists, thus displaying to the world that all human life is sacred.
The book comprises thirty-two chapters, equally divided into four major sections, and an epilogue. The first section describes Kalam’s spiritual experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The second section highlights notable works of BAPS. The third section advocates for a fusion between science and spirituality, and highlights the examples of leading scientists in history who also held spiritual beliefs. The fourth section reflects on the ideals of creative leadership.
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The book is available on, hard cover, for Rs. 304 (+ shipping),

The co-author of the book, Arun Tiwari, after Dr. Kalam's death, notes in an article in The Hindu,

The second paragraph on page 50 reads: “Now, finally, Pramukh Swamiji has put me in a God synchronous orbit. No manoeuvres are required any more, as I am placed in my final position in eternity.”

Mr. Tiwari said the words were haunting him now. “Reading them now, I feel he had some sort of a premonition.”

He also referred to a conversation he had with Mr. Kalam as they were returning in a car from Sarangpur, Gujarat, after handing over the book to Pramukh Swamiji on June 20. He asked the former President what writing project he would be tasked with next. “He surprised me by saying ‘whatever has to be written has been written.’ May be he knew in his sub-conscious mind,” Mr. Tiwari said.
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Pramukh Swami Maharaj (born Shantilal Patel, 7 December 1921; ordained Shastri Narayanswarupdas) is the current guru and is regarded as the fifth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, an international Hindu socio-spiritual organization.
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The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha,, is based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

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