Johannesburg: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam's book 'Transendence' was launched here with religious leaders, politicians, diplomats and businessmen from all communities sharing the lessons from the book based on his spiritual experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The book, in which Kalam details his experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj, leader of the global Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), was lauded by speakers who said they had benefited from the advice and wisdom of both the leaders.
During the book launch on Saturday night, Provincial Transport Minister Ismail Vadi said the lessons of Transcendence could be well utilised by leaders and citizens of South Africa to address the social crises facing the country such as corruption, poverty and unemployment.
"From their very first meeting in 2001, until his very last day for a period of 15 years, Dr Kalam was inspired by the spiritual messages and saintly life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Transcendence records this," said Jaydev Thaker of the Johannesburg BAPS.
Prof Arun Tiwari, who co-authored the book with Kalam, said the friendship of the two leaders, one a highly-acclaimed scientist and the other a spiritual leader, showed that setting aside religious and cultural differences could lead to a better world for all.
"It is important that India and Africa join hands together not just for business, but for compassion - for providing solutions which are good for the majority of its peoples," Tiwari said.
"This can only be done by the fusion of science and technology and through using the teachings of leaders like Dr Kalam, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Nelson Mandela," Tiwari added.
Keynote speaker Pujya Bramavihari Swami explained how Kalam told Pramukh Swami about plans that he and 500 top thinkers of India had worked on to develop India through health, education, agriculture, information and communications, infrastructure and critical technology.
"Pramukhswami very gently said to Kalam that there was something missing (and asked him) to add a sixth dimension, faith in God," Bramavihari Swami said.
On Kalam's query about how faith in God could develop a country, Pramukh Swami explained that a country with ethics and morality would only come about if this was added to the plan.
Kalam was a practising, profound Muslim, so he went back and undertook the 'Istikhara' designed to seek guidance from Allah about whether what Pramukh Swami had said was true and was convinced after that, the Swami said.
Bramavihari also cited Kalam writing of his meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela as one of the inspirations to urge all people to share forgiveness and love to become stronger from within to influence everyone to be stronger outside as well.
Kalam had enquired what Mandela's first thought was when he was leaving the prison after 27 years of confinement for his political beliefs.
"I thought that if I did not leave behind my bitterness and hatred, I would still be in a jail all my life," Mandela had told Kalam.