This Gujarati’s life story somewhat explains the charisma of Swami Pramukh Maharaj
. For 44-year-old Mohak Shroff, nothing could come in way of missing the centenary celebrations of the enlightened spiritual leader. He flew down from California to be part of the festivities.
The month-long BAPS Swami Pramuk Centenary Celebrations in Ahmedabad, ended Wednesday. A specially created 600-acre venue was host to the mega-event, inaugurated by PM Modi. Swami Pramukh is the founder of Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).
Shroff is currently the head of engineering at LinkedIn and supervises more than 7,000 employees. “Bapa’s teachings govern my entire thinking and being. The moral and ethical lessons that Swamiji stands for are timeless and apply to all fields. For instance, leadership in corporates must be ethical and inspire trust from the flock,” he says adding that his current role at LinkedIn is owing to Bapa’s advice.
“I was down and out after the tech bubble burst in 2008. Then came along the LinkedIn offer. Unsure of what to do, I consulted Bapa, who asked me to wait. I wanted to go ahead but decided to heed in Bapa’s favour. A few weeks later, LinkedIn again came back with a revised offer and then, Bapa directed me to take it up,” recalls the devout follower. The experience, he says, taught him never to undervalue himself. Hard work and perseverance paid off and a few years down the line Shroff was made senior vice-president despite many contenders for the role. “I was told that it was my approach during crisis that was a deciding point,” he relives the past, adding that staying calm and steady even in the face of adversities is a virtue embodied by Bapa.
Shroff’s family, originally from Gujarat, was settled in Mumbai before moving to Bahrain. “Bapa was visiting Bahrain in 1985 and that is when I first saw him. Till then, my family did not follow this sect of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. But such as his aura and teachings, that we were all drawn to him I was just about seven but clearly remember that discourse which led my family to adopt the BAPS way of being,” he shares.
An ardent follower, Shroff sports the Swaminarayan tilak on his forehead. As a 12-year-old, he came to India on BAPS mission work in Gadhada when “Swamiji spotted me and asked if I was from the Middle East. That moment was magical,” he adds.
However, it is in the work culture that Shroff says Swamiji’s teaching have stood him in prime stead. “Be honest to your work and do good. We cannot let mankind’s future be decided by an impersonal artificial intelligence. We need a moral AI. We must instil good values in our machines and tech-driven software,” he emphasises. A computer engineering graduate from the University of Texas, he says that the Indian ethos of “everyone’s good” for “personal welfare” must be acknowledged as a crucial attribute to Indian-origin techies leading IT firms across the world.