the book

Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences With Pramukh Swamiji


the story

In mid-April 2015, Dr. Kalam and I submitted the manuscript for the book, ‘Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji’, and work on the typesetting and printing was quickly underway. Dr. Kalam monitored the progress almost on a daily basis and as soon as the book came into his hands, on June 15, 2015, he decided to travel to Sarangpur, in Botad, Gujarat, and present the book to Pramukh Swamiji.

His flight from Delhi landed in Ahmedabad very late on June 19, 2015. After dinner, almost at 1.30 a.m., he called for the first copy of the book and began to sign it for Pramukh Swamiji. “How should I address him?” he asked me. “You can write, ‘To my dear friend’,” I said. “What a funny guy you are; he is not my friend; he is my teacher, my ultimate spiritual teacher, indeed,” Dr. Kalam said. “Then write ‘My spiritual teacher’,” I said. Dr. Kalam retorted, “Why just ‘My’ spiritual teacher? Who am I? He is the great spiritual teacher of everyone, the whole world. I am a nobody.” Hence, he removed ‘My’ and personally chose to write on the book, ‘Maha Pramukh Swamiji, Revered spiritual teacher. My respects.’

On June 20, 2015, Dr. Kalam presented the autographed copy to Pramukh Swamiji. Dr. Kalam said, “This has been a very dear project for many years. The day Akshardham was inaugurated in Delhi, I made a promise to write this book. Today, I have fulfilled my promise.” While handing over the book to Pramukh Swamiji, Dr. Kalam said, “You are a great teacher, a great spiritual teacher. I’ve learned a great lesson from you: how to remove ‘I’ and ‘Me’ (I-ness and My-ness).” Dr. Kalam read some passages from the book before Swamiji and asked him to bless all those who had helped him in making the book possible. I was the star recipient!

On our way back, Dr. Kalam said, “I always talked about elevating religion to spirituality, but I never had a clear picture in my mind. After studying the mission of Pramukh Swamiji and seeing its impact on his devotees, all blessed with peace and prosperity, I realized that the Ekantik Dharma of the Swaminarayan gurus is that model of elevating religion to spirituality that was eluding me. So, you should meet all Swaminarayan Sadgurus, sit at their feet and capture fully the essence of Ekantik Dharma and present it to the youth in a language that they can understand.”

“Sir, will you be the co-author?” I asked. Dr. Kalam did not answer immediately. After a long, uneasy pause, he said, “I do not know when Pramukh Swamiji and I will meet again. We have established a divine bonding, which is forever. He has indeed transformed me. He is the ultimate stage of the spiritual ascent in my life. Pramukh Swamiji has put me in a God-synchronous orbit. No maneuvers are required anymore, as I am placed in my final position in eternity.” Dr. Kalam departed from this world a month later, standing in front of a large gathering of students at IIM, Shillong. I wonder if he had a premonition about his death. 

The book has been translated into Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada, and has sold over a million copies.

June 2016

Originally Published

HarperCollins Elements India



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