On 5 July 2007, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan
in New Delhi, the President of India, H.E. APJ Abdul Kalam
felicitated the children of BAPS for a successful De-Addiction
Campaign. The BAPS delegation included four sadhus –
Sadhu Atmaswarupdas, Sadhu Vishwaswarupdas, Sadhu Brahmaviharidas,
Sadhu Divyavatsaldas – and eight children representing
the 23,000 children and 5,000 leaders who had participated
in the 20 day De-addiction Campaign.
Initially, the children were surprised
to enter the huge personal office of the President; they
failed to notice the President, who is so simple, so humble,
sitting silently at his small table, while they marveled
at the décor. Just then the President stood up and
welcomed every one with these words:
President Kalam: How is Pramukh Swami?
Maha Pramukh Swamiji, the great soul? How is his health?
A few weeks before, the President had
personally spoken to HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Chicago
over the telephone to seek his blessings.
President Kalam: Swamishri, you are
doing one of the greatest services for our culture and for
our country. I pray that the beautiful temples and cultural
centers you are going to gift to Toronto and Atlanta continue
to inspire millions for generations to come. They shall
become centers of love and understanding, of universal values
that you propagate, which our world dearly needs today.
It is one thing to do something in our own country, and
it is an even greater achievement to do such noble works
in countries so far away. I pray for your health. And please
keep your blessings upon me.
At that time the President had emphasized
to Sadhu Brahmaviharidas: BAPS Children have done a wonderful
job of freeing lakhs of people from addictions. It is a
great achievement by children so young who are showing the
path to adults who are lost. Bring some children to the
Rashtrapati Bhavan. They are our nation’s future and
I want to congratulate them personally.
At the President’s request, the
BAPS delegation had reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and
rightfully he began by remembering HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj
whom he respects and reveres so deeply.
The first question President Kalam asked
the children was: How does one become great. . . like Maha
Pramukh Swami Maharaj?
The children were at a loss and looked
at each other, puzzled. The President smiled and like a
seasoned teacher he asked them to repeat after him: If I
have a beautiful mind, I will have beautiful thoughts, if
I have beautiful thoughts, I will have a beautiful life,
if I have a beautiful life then I will become a great soul
like Maha Pramukh Swamiji.
Thereafter, President Kalam was shown
photographs, a laptop presentation of the BAPS De-addiction
Campaign 2007 and given summary of the campaign outcome:
28,000 participants (23,000 children & 5,000 leaders)
2.1 million addicts contacted
630,000 freed from addictions
Rs. 344 crores saved annually
The President was overjoyed and requested
one of the children to demonstrate how they approached people
with the de-addiction message.
Testing the children, President Kalam
asked: Convincing people to leave their addiction is difficult.
If somebody refused to leave their addiction, how did you
explain to them?"
In reply, one of the BAPS children explained:
Mr. President, we tried to convince such people by showing
them the specially printed photographic booklet and logically
explaining the scientific basis of the harmful consequences
of their habits.
The President was delighted with the
children's presentation and conviction. He further questioned:
Why do people go back to their addiction? Even if you have
freed them why do they go back?
The children tried to reply and finally
resigned, asking the President: Please, Mr. President you
The President narrated a story: Remember,
on everyone’s shoulders there are two people sitting.
On the right sits the angel and on the left sits Satan.
Now when Satan wins people go back to addictions and when
the angel wins people are freed from addictions. So how
do you make the angel win?
The BAPS children replied in a flurry
of answers … hard work … confidence …
good thoughts … prayer …. Then they asked the
President: Please tell us how can we make the angel win?
President Kalam: Remember, every time
you do good the angel wins and every time you do bad Satan
wins. Knowledge makes the angel free, makes him powerful.
Ignorance makes Satan free, makes him powerful. Knowledge
makes you a better person and a greater person. The satanic
forces lead one to indulge in alcohol, drugs and other addictions,
and to do bad things. And the angelic forces lead one towards
an addiction-free life, and truth, love, non-violence and
Then President Kalam continued: You
children were able to free people from addictions because
you convinced them that by increasing the strength of angelic
forces people could overcome the satanic force. You were
instrumental in enhancing the angelic forces in individuals
and giving them the strength to get rid of addictions and
Then once again, the President asked the children to repeat
after him: Confidence leads to creativity; Creativity leads
to Knowledge; Knowledge leads to Thinking; Thinking makes
The President congratulated the children:
All you children have done wonderful work. By freeing so
many people from addictions what have you learned?
BAPS child: We will never ever keep
addictions in our life. We will never allow our parents
or relatives to keep addictions. And we will free our friends
and others from addictions.
The President was very happy with the
answer and stood up, lovingly calling the children to line
up for a group photograph, he said: Come I will teach you
another secret. Everybody should smile because every time
we smile the angel wins and every time we sulk Satan wins.
So always wear a smile and always make other people smile.
And you children should always be happy because you have
a greater force than the angel and Satan. The force of Maha
Pramukh Swamiji – his blessings are always upon you
and all of us. So always keep smiling.
Then turning to Pujya Atmaswarup Swami and other the Sadhus
the President said: Please tell Maha Pramukh Swamiji, that
you are doing a wonderful service for our people. He has
a beautiful mind, beautiful heart. Ask him to shower his
blessings upon me.
At the end of the meeting, President
Kalam once again congratulated the children for their noble
work and instructed his secretary to show the BAPS children
around the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The children were not only
delighted but came out with added pride and faith because
they had seen the plaque of Akshardham in the President’s
personal office and also the sacred golden Akshar Deri near
his table, the holy memento which HDH Pramukh swami Maharaj
had given to the President on 8 February 2004 when he had
attended the Golden Anniversary Celebrations of BAPS Childrens
Activities at Akshardham in Gandhinagar.