Tributes have been paid to Hindu spiritual leader, Pujya Rambapa who has died aged 102.

Pujya Shri Rambapa was known as ‘Bapa’ or ‘Babaji’ and layed the foundation for Hinduism in the UK and globally following his arrival in London in 1970. 

Maganlal Vallabhdas Bhimjiyani, was born in Gujarat, India in a village called Jira. At the age of seven he felt a deep desire to live for a higher purpose, skipping school to go and sit in the local Hanuman mandir and devoting his time to studying the ancient Hindu text, the Ramayana and in the selfless service of the underprivileged and visiting Saints and Sages. 

From this young age it is said he felt a profound and mystical connection with Lord Hanumanji and set about learning everything about Hanumanji’s life, embodying His ideals - humility, selfless service, discipline and being the perfect devotee of the Lord. 

In 1930 he moved to Uganda where he met his Sat Guru, Pujya Shree Hirjibapa and spent the next 40 years serving him in East Africa. 

Whilst in Uganda, he intimately learned every verse of the Ramayana and wholeheartedly committed himself to many service projects including the construction of the first Sanatan Hindu Temple in Kampala which stands today as a landmark of the town and still holds weekly Hanuman Chalisa Yagnas.

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A young Pujya Rambapa and above with Kanta Ba and pictured in 2016

In 1970, anticipating violence from Idi Amin’s government, Pujya Rambapa moved to London with his family. He established Shree Jignyasu Satsang Mandal to lay the foundation for the practice of Hinduism in this country, which still serves today as one of the country’s oldest satsang mandals.

Pujya Rambaba went on to help in the establishment of over 70 temples across the UK and overseas through the donation of beautiful life size marble deities, providing hope, inspiration and blessings to the Hindu community. 

As the Hindu population began to grow in the UK in the early 1970s, Pujya Rambapa recognized the importance of establishing temples to serve as long standing institutions of worship for future generations and to provide much needed community and cultural services.

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Pujya Bapa birthday crowd at Sindhi Mandir

In 2007 Pujya Bapa also started to work with HM Prisons Service, committing to establish Hindu mandirs in prisons around the UK so that Hindu inmates can have a dedicated area to reflect and pray. 

The first of these was established in 2007 at Wormwood Scrubs prison where the Hindu inmates also received the Hanuman Chalisa and Bhagvat Geeta in English from Pujya Bapa’s hands.

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Pujya Bapa’s popularity was said to have cut across generations, cultures and communities.

Pujya Rambapa’s service work overseas has been inspirational and significant also, he personally attended seventeen “Kumbh Mela” and “Magmas Mela” pilgrimages across India, where his trust “Maruti Rambapa Seva Trust” established and ran free food and medical camps, serving close to ten thousand poor and needy pilgrims and sadhus each day, often for weeks at a time. 

At these camps, Pujya Bapa was always present on the frontline, serving all visitors with his own hands from dawn to dusk. 

In addition to his two trusts, Rambapa Jignyasu Seva Trust (UK) and Maruti Rambaba Seva Trust (India) he was the patron of Divya Seva Foundation (UK) founded by his daughter Bhartidevi Kantaria.

He also gave spiritual discourses at the British House of Commons in London, the Allahabad Supreme Court, the Indian High Commission and inaugurated countless temples and community centres and homes of devotees. 

He was conferred with the title of ‘Saint of the Thames’ and he continues to inspire and receive awards and tributes in recognition of his phenomenal service; most recently in 2022, ‘the Pearl of Uganda’ award for ‘outstanding contribution to spirituality and the Asian community’.

A tribute read: "Revered across the world, Pujya Bapa has left an indelible legacy on the British and global Hindu community, single pointedly raising the levels of spiritual consciousness and devotion towards his beloved Hanumanji and fearlessly achieving feats that will forever remain the gold standard in selfless service.

"The British Hindu community have been blessed to have resident in their midst, such an approachable, dynamic and evolved personality who until his last days radiated divine energy, filling people’s hearts with love due to his generous nature, compassion and tireless enthusiasm for God realisation.

It adds: "Pujya Bapa’s popularity cut across generations, cultures and communities. He was the ‘people’s saint’ and seekers from all walks of life frequented his 108 Hanuman Chalisa Yagna’s which continued uninterrupted for over 50 years.

"His birthday has been observed since 1970 as a day of prayer and selfless service, a tradition his devotees and family intend to continue.

“Pujya Rambapa’s life’s message will continue to inspire the global Hindu community for generations to come “Chant the Lord’s name with full faith and devotion, surrender your actions unto Him and live a life of service, in the name of God.”

Well-wishers and devotees are invited to leave personal messages and tributes at: