This year’s Kishore and Kishori Summer Shibir in North America was partly designed as an adhiveshan competition. The adhiveshan was a continent-wide initiative for BAPS devotees to learn and memorize written scriptures of the Akshar-Purshottam Swaminarayan philosophy that were previously preserved for hundreds of years through oral tradition. Over 2,500 kishores and kishoris between the ages of 14 and 22 participated in the two-day shibir that focused on attaining peace, titled, Shanti: a Thought Away. In addition to the adhiveshan component, there were lecture-style sessions and group discussion to carefully consider the theme itself.
The competition element of the adhiveshan encouraged collaboration between youth as they prepared and practiced. Study packets and audio links provided youths with tools to establish a presence of spiritual engagement in their daily lives. The adhiveshan goal was to teach kishores and kishoris the importance of reading and understanding scriptures such as the Vachanamrut and Swami ni Vato, and furthermore remembering them verbatim so the quotes become part of one’s core knowledge. Pramukh Swami Maharaj followed in the footsteps of his guru, Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj, in encouraging youth to engage with Swaminarayan texts and apply the teachings in their own lives. Through His guidance, and the help of senior swamis, Shanti: a Thought Away was built to advance each participant’s personal and spiritual development.
Following the adhiveshan on the second day, discussions and talks delved further into exploration of the shibir theme. The agenda was organized in three parts:
Shanti Through Smruti: finding peace through remembrance and meditation
Shanti Through Priti: finding peace through spiritual love
Shanti Through Antardrashti: finding peace through introspection
The shibir ended with a recognition ceremony to acknowledge the effort and dedication of each kishore and kishori. As high school and college aged students, the kishores and kishoris carefully balanced their spiritual growth alongside their academic and personal endeavors. All participants left the shibir with a personal experience that proved it is possible, and personally beneficial, to create a habit of daily spiritual development in the pursuit of shanti.