National Yuvak-6 October 2007, London; Youth Shibir
After his morning puja Swamishri inaugurated the day-long Youth Shibir (camp) by lighting a divo. In all 1200 male and female youths were present. The shibir’s theme was ‘Param Anand’ and it was explained by Anandpriya Swami, followed by a video on the supreme divine bliss that Swamishri enjoys. Gnaneshwar Swami elaborated upon the reasons why we should make efforts to attain that supreme divine bliss. Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami narrated inspiring episodes from his life with Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The afternoon classroom sessions focused on the subjects of divyabhav, all-doership, understanding another’s greatness and knowledge of atma. The final session was held in Swamishri’s presence in the evening assembly. It was interspersed with traditional dances, bhajans, videos, incidents and a drama called ‘Param Anand’ which depicted stories of joy in the lives of devotees despite facing challenging circumstances. Finally Swamishri blessed the assembly, “Today, the presentation by the youths was wonderful. We all enjoyed the entire programme and that joy was blissful like that in Akshardham. As long as we are attached to and infatuated with maya we experience ups and downs in life. This means that when we get money we are happy, and when we don’t we become disheartened and unhappy. Believe God to be the all-doer.”
BAPS Centenary Celebrations, UK & Europe ,London
National Sanyukta Mandal Shibir ,London
The National Sanyukta Mandal Shibir, attended by over 1,500 devotees from the ages of 40 to 95 was held in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. Entitled ‘Shatabdi Yatra’, the shibir highlighted the hundred-year journey of BAPS from its difficult beginnings with Shastriji Maharaj, to its nourishment from Yogiji Maharaj, and worldwide advancement by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The first session focused on Shastriji Maharaj, wherein the opening speech by Viveksagar Swami related about the firm resolve of the founder of BAPS. After an enlivening kirtan, Anandswarup Swami spoke about the virtues and personality of Shastriji Maharaj. The afternoon session centred around the persona of Yogiji Maharaj, introduced through a video presentation, and elaborated in greater detail in a speech by Ishwarcharan Swami. A video on Yogiji Maharaj provided touching memories to conclude the session. In the evening session, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and work were narrated by Anandswarup Swami. Thereafter Gnaneshwar Swami explained the necessity of Niyam-Dharma. Viveksagar Swami enlightened everyone on their personal responsibilities for the centenary year of BAPS, explaining how each individual can contribute to the Sanstha’s progress. Continuing on the theme of personal progresss, a series of short skits, entitled Satsangi to tene re kahiye, inspired the devotees to strengthen their fundamental practices as a satsangi. Swamishri then blessed the shibir, emphasizing the importance of observing the basic niyams prescribed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and also providing practical solutions to avoid any slackness in moral observances.
10 October 2007, London; Swaminarayan School Day
Children of The Swaminarayan School enjoyed a special evening with Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. The event included a variety of cultural presentations from students, namely, instrumental performances, speeches, dances, recital of shloks and bhajans.
Viveksagar Swami spoke about the history of The Swaminarayan School and the importance of the Mandir and School in providing education and values. Swamishri gave awards to high-achievers in the GCSE examinations.
Thereafter Professor Gavin Flood, Academic Director for Hindu Studies from Oxford University, encouraged Hindu children to pursue Hindu Studies and become an intellectual voice for the Hindu faith in his address.
Finally, Swamishri blessed the assembly and praised the preparation and presentations of the students. He thanked the parents and teachers for developing talent in their children and underlined the importance of nurturing children from infancy to allow them to develop moral and spiritual values, so they could serve society and their parents.
Swamishri also blessed the MP for Brent North Hon. Barry Gardiner who passed an Early Day Motion (EDM 2038) in the Parliament to mark the BAPS Centenary and the visit of Swamishri to the UK on 8 October 2007 with the signatures of seven MPs. Mr Barry Gardiner was inspired to do this because he wished to inform all about the worldwide activities of BAPS for the service and betterment of humanity. Similarly, the MP for Brent South Hon. Dawn Butler also passed an EDM 2049 on 8 October 2007 with signatures of 11 MPs.
12 October 2007, London; National Kishore-Kishori Shibir
The theme of the one-day shibir (camp), ‘Satsang – His Wish, Our Life’, provided a learning experience for 800 kishores and kishoris in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The object of assessing and improving each individual’s current level of personal satsang was delivered through a variety of speeches, bhajans, multimedia presentations, skits and personal testimonies. The first session of the shibir opened with a spectacular video, explaining the journey of the human soul. This was elaborated with a speech and a drama that clarified the meaning of satsang, culminating in Viveksagar Swami explaining the glory of satsang. The second session of the day provided an opportunity for kishores and kishoris to understand the key elements of the shibir in small discussion groups. The afternoon session was addressed by Swamishri’s attendant sadhus who narrated memorable incidents of their experiences with Swamishri. Addressing the difficulties of youth, Amrutnandan Swami underlined the message that no achievement is impossible with the association of Swamishri. At 7.10 pm Swamishri was greeted with a spectacular dance to the evening session, before the programme moved to an emotional passage as kishores narrated difficult periods of their life to Swamishri, and the manner in which the compassion of Swamishri had rescued them. A collective prayer, Din kahe to din was sung before Swamishri. In his blessings Swamishri revealed, “One needs both faith (shraddha) and trust (vishvas) in Satsang. Faith means consistent spiritual effort. If one falls into bad company in college then one’s life gets disturbed, but by putting in effort one graduates with a degree. Similarly in Satsang one cannot attain spiritual knowledge instantly. By doing satsang with focused effort one graduates. When one imbibes the words of God and the Sadhu one’s life becomes transformed – one’s speech, moral and social behaviour become pure.”
13 October 2007, London; Bal-Balika Shibir
Over 700 balaks and balikas attended the National Bal-Balika Shibir in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The theme of the shibir was upasana. A short video clip was presented to Swamishri after he completed his morning puja. It was based on the four concepts of ‘Sarvopari’, ‘Sakar’, ‘Karta’ and ‘Pragat’ in the form of a police investigation determining the factors behind Shastriji Maharaj’s establishment of the BAPS in 1907, and how he achieved success with such meagre resources. The core of the morning and afternoon programme was in the format of classroom sessions where participants were divided into four groups according to age, wherein they got knowledge and understanding of the key principles of upasana in an interactive environment. The evening programme was presented in the assembly hall before Swamishri and thousands of devotees. A debate-style drama by balaks discussed the existence of God through logical arguments. This was followed by a series of excellent mono-acts from balaks representing famous devotees from the past. Thereafter, the balaks performed a dance extolling the Satpurush as the inspirer and nourisher of values, and the destroyer of bad habits. Finally, in his blessings, Swamishri praised the efforts of the balaks and balikas and explained the four elements of upasana with practical examples.
Parshad Diksha Ceremony ,London
14 October 2007, Shri Harikrishna Maharaj Bhakti Din ,London
The entire day was celebrated in the mandir as ‘Harikrishna Maharaj Bhakti Din’. The entire morning was dedicated exclusively to the Women’s Wing, who held a special assembly to offer devotion to Shri Harikrishna Maharaj through speeches and devotional songs in the assembly. The main evening assembly commenced at 4.00 pm. Following the opening bhajan, Viveksagar Swami explained the significance of murti-puja and the glory of such devotion. Thereafter Shri Harikrishna Maharaj was ceremoniously carried into the Haveli on a palanquin and welcomed with the music of drums, bells and conches. An insightful video of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj’s daily routine was shown. Atmatrupt Swami briefly narrated the history of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj from the time of Gunatitanand Swami. Ishwarcharan Swami then spoke on the devotion of Yogiji Maharaj for Shri Harikrishna Maharaj. The attendant sadhus shared their cherished incidents of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s devotion to Shri Harikrishna Maharaj. Swamishri’s entry into the assembly at this point was greeted with a traditional colourful dance. Finally, in his blessings, Swamishri explained how God appreciates one’s devotion, no matter how great or small it may be. Furthermore, Swamishri elaborated upon the significance of such festivals, underlining the memories that such events offer and how they are liberating. Following the pujan and arti of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj, the celebration concluded with the devotees filing by for Swamishri’s darshan and offerings to Shri Harikrishna Maharaj.
Swamishri Departs from London