Spiritual guru Swami Pratyagbodhananda dies, mortal remains flown to India for last rites

An eminent spiritual guru at a U.S.-based ashram, imparting Vedic education for past several decades, has died with his body being flown back to India for the last rites, his followers said on Friday. Vice president of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Pennsylvania Swami Pratyagbodhananda died on September 20 following a massive heart attack. He was 69.

The Arsha Vidya Gurukulam was founded in 1986 by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a spiritual guru of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the urging of a few dedicated students for a centre in the U.S. offering the traditional study of Vedanta.

According to a press release issued by the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Pratyagbodhananda complained of chest pain and uneasiness after participating in the gurukulam’s 34th anniversary celebrations, during which he delivered one of the main addresses.

An ambulance rushed him to a nearby hospital, where doctors were unable to revive him. He passed away due to myocardial infarction and cardiac arrest. “He was much loved and will be missed by all,” the gurukulam said.

Fluent in three languages — English, Gujarati and Hindi — Pratyagbodhananda taught not only Vedantic texts like the Gita, Upanishads and Panchadasi, but also Tulsi Ramayana and Bhagavata Purana. He had planned to leave for India by an Air India aircraft on September 22. A few days later, his mortal remains were flown by Air India from New York to Mumbai on September 25.

Pratyagbodhananda has a large following in India, especially in Mumbai and Surat, where his mortal remains have been kept for his devotees to have a final “darshan”. His last rites have been scheduled for Chanod in Baroda on Saturday.

In a statement, the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam alleged that the entire process of taking the mortal remains of the Hindu spiritual guru “was very stressful and felt disgusted for lack of cooperation from the officials”. It delayed the entire process by three days.

Due to bureaucratic hurdles and unnecessary paper work, the mortal remains of Pratyagbodhananda were kept at the Mumbai airport for more than seven hours before being taken to Surat, it said. Brahmachari Suryanarayana, Pratyagbodhananda’s long-time disciple and helper, also travelled to accompany the casket, the media release said.

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