Abu Dhabi BAPS Hindu Mandir leader's trust in UAE Ruler revealed through unseen letter

Sheikh Mohamed himself chose the design of the architectural marvel of the temple when two plans were presented

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 9 Apr 2024, 9:33 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 9:29 PM

The pandemic brought the world to a standstill and threw new challenges for humanity to deal with. Wading through the challenging days of 2020, where there was uncertainty in everybody’s mind, things weren’t any different at the under-construction BAPS Hindu Mandir.

However, a four-page handwritten letter by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s current spiritual leader His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj at the peak of the pandemic, gave hope, vision, and direction to inspire his team to create what is today the first traditional stone temple in the Middle East.


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A documentary titled ‘The Letter: The Handwritten Destiny of Abu Dhabi Mandir’ released by the Sanstha is based on that historic letter written by Mahant Swami Maharaj from Nenpur village in Gujarat, India, on December 22, 2020, for the temple. The letter, made public for the first time through the documentary, revealed Mahant Swami Maharaj’s confidence in the UAE leadership’s support for the mega project envisioned by Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj back in April 1997 from a desert in Sharjah.


Letter written by Mahant Swami Maharaj
Letter written by Mahant Swami Maharaj

“You will get everyone’s support for this divine wish of Pramukh Swami. The King will be the guardian, and Sheikh Abdullah and Sheikh Nahyan will be the supporters. The ambassadors and officials of the UAE will help as if it is their own,” read the letter referring to the support of President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

“When people were doubtful if there would be a tomorrow or not, Mahant Swami Maharaj wrote that letter,” Pujya Swami Brahmaviharidas, head of the BAPS Hindu Mandir, said. “When the world was becoming dark, and we had lost faith, we did not have any donors; we felt weak, Mahant Swami Maharaj stood by us and guided us.”

Through the letter, the documentary explores the temple's journey, which gathered momentum from the visits of Pramukh Swami Maharaj to the Middle East starting in 1982. It was during such a visit to the UAE in 1997 that the late spiritual leader envisioned a temple in Abu Dhabi.

The documentary features many rare photos and conversations privy to the temple’s core team. Sheikh Mohamed himself chose the design of the architectural marvel. Presented with two plans for the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, the President chose a grand traditional stone temple over a normal building. The documentary for the first time revealed the model of a comparatively modest building without giving the look and feel of a Hindu temple.

The historic temple was opened with a dedication assembly by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who considers Pramukh Swami Maharaj his father figure.

Swami Brahmaviharidas, in the video, mentioned: “When the Prime Minister came for the opening, he spontaneously embraced me and said: ‘You have brought Pramukh Swami Maharaj back to life.’”

Indian PM Narendra Modi, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan during the Mandir opening
Indian PM Narendra Modi, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan during the Mandir opening

“Miracles that are unimaginable will be possible. Impossible will become possible. The BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi will be a haven of unity, support, culture and civilisation. A new era will dawn,” Mahant Swami Maharaj wrote and is seen reading from the letter in the documentary.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj with Narendra Modi
Pramukh Swami Maharaj with Narendra Modi

The documentary also highlights the selfless service by hundreds of volunteers, who follow the motto of BAPS gurus: ‘In the joy of others lies our own’ and toiled at the construction site to make almost an unthinkable dream come true.

“People of all ages, from the youngest to the eldest, will wholeheartedly engage in seva (service), devoting themselves entirely to this cause. The young and the old will be the keepers of this mandir, ensuring its continuity,” Mahant Swami Maharaj noted.

“This mandir will be an abode for all Indian culture, civilisation, and values. The bells of humanity will resound across the world,” Mahant Swami Maharaj wrote. The temple has hosted an inter-faith Ramadan gathering, attracts people of all faiths and religions, and has emerged as a spiritual oasis of peace and harmony.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited the Middle East in the 1980s
Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited the Middle East in the 1980s
Small gathering of BAPS volunteers
Small gathering of BAPS volunteers

Swami Brahmaviharidas, in the documentary, wondered how the script outlined and predicted by Mahant Swami Maharaj four years ago has been screenplayed in Abu Dhabi.

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