His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj was born on Wednesday 13 September 1933 in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. His parents, Manibhai and Dahiben Patel, named him ‘Vinu’.
Childhood Blessings from Shastriji Maharaj
A few months later, His Holiness Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS, visited Jabalpur, where he blessed the young child and affectionately named him ‘Keshav’. Manibhai’s family, however, continued to address him as ‘Vinu’.
Association of Yogiji Maharaj
Vinubhai came into the contact of His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj, the spiritual successor of Shastriji Maharaj, as a teenager. Impressed by Yogiji Maharaj’s spiritual charisma and selfless love, he travelled with Yogiji Maharaj during his summer vacations. Yogiji Maharaj’s spiritual aura and affection drew the young Vinubhai closer towards him.
Vinubhai studied until the 10th grade at Christ Church Boys’ Senior Secondary School in Jabalpur, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the Bansilal Amrutlal College of Agriculture in Anand.
Vinubhai was ordained as a swami by His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj in 1961 and named ‘Sadhu Keshavjivandas’.
Head of Mumbai Mandir
Yogiji Maharaj appointed Sadhu Keshavjivandas as the ‘mahant’ (head) of the BAPS mandir in Dadar, Mumbai, entrusting him with the responsibility of overseeing the young swamis studying there. He soon came to be known as ‘Mahant Swami’.
First Visit to UK
Mahant Swami accompanied His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj to the UK in 1970. During the visit, Yogiji Maharaj inaugurated one of the first Hindu mandirs in the UK and the first Swaminarayan mandir in the Western hemisphere, in Islington, north London.
Serving Under Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Following the passing of His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj in 1971, Mahant Swami continued to serve under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His humility and dedication to service inspired youths who had recently joined the monastic order.
Spiritual Travels with Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Mahant Swami accompanied His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj on a spiritual tour of East Africa, UK, North America and South Africa in 1977. He travelled extensively and willingly accepted various hardships to nurture and guide devotees and well-wishers.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan Bicentenary Celebrations
Mahant Swami led the landscaping across a 200-acre campus in Gujarat, India, during an international festival that was held to commemorate the bicentenary celebrations of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Over 8 million visitors attended over 37 days.
Cultural Festival of India
Mahant Swami continued to visit the UK and Europe on numerous occasions. In 1985, he served at the 33-day ‘Cultural Festival of India’ held on the grounds of Alexandra Palace in London, which was attended by over one million people.
Mahant Swami led a group of swamis and volunteers on a research trip around the world for the upcoming Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar.
Inauguration of Swaminarayan Akshardham, Gandhinagar
Mahant Swami accompanied His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the inauguration ceremony of Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, during the centennial birth anniversary celebrations of His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj.
Inauguration of Neasden Temple
Mahant Swami accompanied His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 1995 during the inauguration of Neasden Temple in London, the first traditional Hindu mandir outside of India.
Inauguration of Swaminarayan Akshardham, Delhi
Mahant Swami participated in the inauguration ceremony of Swaminarayan Akshardham in Delhi, created by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and later recognised by Guinness World Records as the largest comprehensive temple in the world.
Twentieth Anniversary of Neasden Temple
Mahant Swami visited the UK again in 2015, on behalf of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, to preside over the festivities commemorating the 20th anniversary of Neasden Temple.
Assuming the Guruship
Following the passing of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Mahant Swami Maharaj was revealed as the present guru and administrative head of BAPS. His continuing devotion, reverence and service to Pramukh Swami Maharaj is an inspiration to countless devotees across the world.
First Spiritual Tour as Guru
In 2017, Mahant Swami Maharaj embarked upon a world tour, including to the UK – his first religious tour as the spiritual leader of BAPS. During this visit, Mahant Swami Maharaj ceremoniously dispersed the sacred ashes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj across the River Thames, in commemoration of his longstanding and sacred ties with the British capital
Visit to Asia Pacific
Mahant Swami Maharaj continued his tireless travels around the world to nourish spiritual aspirants with his universal Vedic wisdom. In 2018, he visited several countries, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Visit to UAE
As a part of his travels to the UAE in April 2019, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, where he shared a special prayer for peace and harmony.
Inauguration of New Mandir in Navsari
Mahant Swami Maharaj continued Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s mandir-building legacy by inaugurating several mandirs around the world, including in Navsari in 2020.
Centennial Celebrations of Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Mahant Swami Maharaj presided over the month-long celebrations marking the centennial birth anniversary of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He inspired more than 80,000 volunteers to create a 600-acre cultural wonderland that received over 12 million visitors from around the world, including several religious, community and national leaders.