We have known Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for 14 years. He was a great admirer and follower of our 94-year-old patron HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj at BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur, Gujarat. He had come here last month to present the first copy of his latest book Transcendence to (our) Swamiji. It still seems like yesterday. The one quality that struck all of us the first time we met him was his simplicity and humility, which is very rare, especially in a person who had reached as great heights as he had. Whenever he visited us he would interact and inspire every single person around, especially children, with his charismatic personality. He was also very spiritual.
He once came to our Swamiji and spoke about his wish to become a monk, to which our Swamiji replied that apart from his modern clothing, all other qualities were exactly similar to that of a Vedic rishi. He was indeed a great scientist with the purest heart and the cleanest soul, and lived the life of a saint in all ways.
His book Transcendence too speaks about rising above difficulties and succeeding. One of the most amazing qualities in him was that he would always walk persons who come to visit him to the gate after their meeting ended. This was the respect he exuded to each and everyone who knocked on his door.
I remember paying him a visit at his office in Rashtrapati Bhavan, a day before the term of his Presidency ended. When he asked if I had seen the entire residence, I said no I had not. He immediately turned to me, put his arm around my shoulder, smiled and said, “Let me now show you what I am leaving behind.” Such was the nature of this ‘missile man’, so humble, he never sought money or fortune. All he wanted was peace and service to humanity. The only way we can pay tribute to this great soul is by fulfilling his dream. Wherever there is progress he will be present and remembered. I still am not able to believe that he is no more.
May his soul rest in peace.