10 June 2007 (V.S. 2063, Adhik Jeth vad 10) Sunday, Chicago, Welcome Assembly
The evening assembly was arranged in a huge marquee in the mandir grounds to welcome Swamishri and the sadhus. Anandswarup Swami and Viveksagar Swami addressed the assembly. On Swamishri’s arrival at 7.00 pm Yagnavallabh Swami delivered a welcome address on behalf of USA Satsang. The sadhus and devotees garlanded Swamishri and senior sadhus. The Mayor of Wheaton town, Michael Gresk, also garlanded Swamishri. Then the youths performed a traditional welcome dance. Finally Swamishri blessed the congregation, “We congratulate you all for according us a very warm welcome today. Whenever evil prevails God descends to establish dharma and give happiness to pious people. Bhagwan Ram and Krishna blessed this earth and Bhagwan Swaminarayan came in Kaliyug. He came with his abode Gunatitanand Swami, muktas and divine powers. His purpose for coming was to liberate all souls. In his Shikshapatri he has written “Sarva jiva hitavaha”. He did not discriminate between young and old, men and women, caste or religion. God has an open heart.” In conclusion Swamishri advised that one should live such a life that one attains God’s abode, “Always remember in your daily activities that your intellect, power and speech should be used to please God. The more one studies the shastras the more happiness and peace one will attain.” Thereafter all the devotees got the opportunity of Swamishri’s samip darshan. During Swamishri’s 15-day stay in Chicago, the daily evening assembly programmes celebrated festivals and dedications to the Guru Parampara, Uttarayan festival, assembly for teenagers and youths, Fuldol Utsav, Hari Jayanti, Children’s Day, Sahajanand Day, 3-day shibir for mid-west zone devotees, 57th Pramukh Varni Din celebration, and other programmes. In the first half of the evening assembly Viveksagar Swami delivered discourses on the history of BAPS Centenary. In conclusion Swamishri blessed the devotees with his divine wisdom. The BAPS Centenary Year Celebration assembly (17 June) was the climax of all the evening assemblies in Chicago.
17 June 2007 (V.S. 2063, Nij Jeth sud 3) Sunday, Chicago; Centenary Year Celebration (Sahaj Anand Day)
The aim of Swamishri’s satsang tour in USA is to celebrate the BAPS Centenary Year. Today the first festive celebration was going to be held in Chicago at the Sear’s Center. The theme was Sahaj Anand (Natural Divine Joy), which is the mission and message of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Guru Parampara. The programme included audio-visual presentations, cultural programmes, drama presentations and speeches. It commenced at 5.00 pm with the singing of the shanti paath. Thereafter the theme of Sahaj Anand was explained with regards to man’s quest for enduring happiness. The programme content was as follows: Traditional dance: Akshar Purushottam ki Jai ho Speech by Viveksagar Swami: Principle of Akshar Purushottam propagated by Shastriji Maharaj Video: 100 years of BAPS Three youths explained the significance and relevance of mandirs today and for the future Video on BAPS Mandir Speech by Ishwarcharan Swami on Yogiji Maharaj Video on BAPS socio-spiritual activities. Skit on how satsang activities sculpt the lives of people A traditional dance based on the lyrics ‘Shatabdi ãvi...’ Video about the ongoing social activities by BAPS inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The era of fulfilment Speech by Anandswarup Swami on Swamishri’s contributions and greatness Swamishri arrived on stage amidst a standing ovation and welcome from 11,000 devotees and well-wishers in the arena Swamishri was welcomed by a traditional dance by youths on the theme of five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and space. The dance culminated in a fireworks display on stage. The entire congregration waved the BAPS flags creating a spiritually exciting and charged atmosphere. On behalf of all the devotees of North America Satsang Mandal senior sadhus Tyagvallabh Swami, Ishwarcharan Swami and Viveksagar Swami offered a garland of pearls to Swamishri. Thereafter all sadhus offered a 100 ft long garland of flowers. Swamishri was honoured by dignitaries: Indian Consul General H.E. Ashok Kumar Atri, Illinois State Senator Hon. John Milner. Senator Milner declared that the portion of Illinois Route 59 between Highway number 64 and Army Trail Road would now be named as ‘Pramukh Swami Maharaj Road’. He said that it was in honour of Swamiji’s global socio-spiritual services to mankind. Thereafter State Representative of Illinois Hon. Randy Ramey honoured Swamishri and he declared 17 June 2007 as ‘BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Centenary Day’. Other dignitaries who received Swamishri’s blessings were Illinois State representatives Mr Paul Froelich, Hoffman Estates Village Mayor Williams McLeod, who presented a Key to the City to Swamishri, Deputy Mayor of Hoffman Estate Village Cary Collins and CEO of Alexis Medical Center Mr Edward Goldberg. Swamishri blessed the sponsorer of the programme Shri Narendrabhai Patel and his sons. This was followed by a colourful and traditional centenary dance. Vivekmurti Swami announced BAPS volunteers and professionals who would dedicate their voluntery services in times of calamity and need. A spotlight was shone on the BAPS volunteers as the announcement was made: 100 volunteers, 100 pharmacists and nurses, 100 engineers and architects, 100 doctors, 100 businessmen, 100 teachers and musicians, 100 ideal children and teenagers, 100 ideal parents and 100 sadhus. The invited dignitaries and guests received the announcement with generous applause. The assembly climaxed with Swamishri’s blessings, “I congratulate all of you who have come here in great numbers. You have come from India to earn and run businesses but along with that do not forget our religion, values and shastras. Never forget the moral instructions given therein. Life is sustained through genuine things. Our culture and religion are our breath. The more we consolidate them in life the more progress and peace we will attain in life. And one must also contribute to the progress of the country and serve it by abiding by the laws. The more we sacrifice and serve others and the more we respect others, the more will our personal progress be. “Bhagwan Swaminarayan came on earth and initiated 500 paramhansas and hundreds of thousands of devotees. He gave one instruction to all: Sarva jiva hitavaha (Do good of all). He has written in the Shikshapatri wishing the good of all people, animals and birds. He preached that along with fulfilling one’s mundane responsibilities reading the spiritual texts will give inner peace, knowledge of atma and Paramatma, liberation and God’s happiness.” Swamishri further elaborated upon the offering of bhakti as the means to transcend maya, having faith in the supremacy of God’s powers and obeying his word. In conclusion the youths performed a dance on the lyrics “Akshar Purushottamnã dankã…” Swamishri waved the BAPS flag and was also joined by the audience of 11,500 people waving small flags and a shower of confetti that exploded in all corners of the Sears Center arena. The grand finale surcharged the air with divinity and joyous celebration.
20 June 2007 (V.S. 2063, Nij Jeth sud 6) Wednesday, Chicago; Patotsav and Nilkanth Varni Re-pratishtha
To celebrate the third patotsav of the mandir (opened in 2004), Swamishri performed abhishek of murtis. Thereafter Swamishri performed the re-pratishtha rituals of Shri Nilkanth Varni in the abhishek mandap.
22 June 2007 (V.S. 2063, Nij Jeth sud 8) Friday, Chicago
In the evening at 7.30 pm Swamishri participated in the yagna for world peace held in a marquee on the mandir grounds. More than 800 devotees were performing the yagna rituals around 80 yagna kunds. Amidst Vedic chantings Swamishri performed the pratishtha rituals of murtis for BAPS Kansas hari mandir and thereafter blessed the devotees.