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The 2014 National Yuvak-Yuvati Mandal Shibir, attended by more than 750 youths, was held at Warwick Conference Park over the Bank Holiday weekend from Saturday 23 August to Monday 25 August in the presence of senior sadhus from India, including Sadguru Bhaktipriya Swami (Kothari Swami) and Sadguru Ishwarcharan Swami, as well as sadhus from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

As part of the year-long celebrations for Shastriji Maharaj’s 150th birth anniversary, the shibir was themed ‘Likhitan Shastri Yagnapurushdas’– referring to the rich corpus of historical letters communicated between Shastriji Maharaj and his contemporaries – which revealed an insight into the fascinating history of BAPS, the divine personality of Shastriji Maharaj, his stupendous efforts in establishing BAPS, and the legacy that he passed down through the spiritual principles of agna, upasana, sadbhav and paksh.

A vibrant kirtan-bhakti programme was one of the highlights of the three-day shibir where sadhus and youths sang bhajans to the accompaniment of an array of musical instruments. A bhajan composed by Shastriji Maharaj was also sung, and Kothari Swami and Ishwarcharan Swami also participated, contributing to the joyous and spiritually charged atmosphere in the auditorium.

The key messages of the shibir were delivered through a variety of media, including discourses, classroom sessions, open fora, interviews, dramas and video blessings from Pramukh Swami Maharaj – all providing spiritual insight and guidance for practical application.

Another notable highlight of the shibir included a thought-provoking question and answer session with Sadgurus Kothari Swami and Ishwarcharan Swami focussing on the association of the Gunatit Satpurush for spiritual advancement.

The concluding day focussed on the development of BAPS through the efforts of Yogiji Maharaj and the fruition that we see today through the leadership of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. A video presentation of interviews of all the sadguru sadhus explored this further, with an underlying message to the delegates to develop their spiritual knowledge which in turn will strengthen conviction.

To enable parent-delegates to participate in the shibir, a special crèche facility was set up. Catering for 185 children aged from 3 months to 8 years, volunteers were assisted by professional teachers to engage the children in a variety of fun and educational activities.

The shibir was not only thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attended, but also inspired them to imbibe the values and teachings of Shastriji Maharaj. One delegate said that she learnt “the power of tolerance and how I can apply it in my own life,” while another shared: “I’m a new satsangi, therefore learning the history, legacy and future of our Sanstha offers vital information for strengthening my bond with my guru.”

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