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A group of Bal and Kishore Karyakars from North America went on a trip to India from July 14 – August 16, 2008. The objective of the trip was to get a first-hand experience of Hindu and Swaminarayan traditions through a spiritual journey of various pilgrim places and to benefit from interaction with sadhus to be better karyakars.

The trip consisted of a shibir in Sarangpur, visit to pilgrim places and getting Swamishri’s darshan.

The theme of the shibir in Sarangpur was Brahmvidyani College. The shibir focused on understanding basic concepts of Hinduism, as well as increasing knowledge about the Akshar-Purushottam upasana and its origins in the scriptures. The shibir involved sessions in the morning and afternoon with learned sadhus.

The second part of the trip started with visiting BAPS Mandirs in Chansad, Atladra, Anand, Mahelav, Gadhada and Gondal. The group then traveled to North India to visit Swaminarayan Akshardham in Delhi followed by Ayodhya, Chappaiya, and Kashi (Varanasi). They had darshan of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s birth place, Bhagwan Ram’s birth place and also visited the famous Kashi-Vishwanath mandir.

Then the group travelled south to visit Mahabalipuram, the Brihadeshwar mandir in Tanjore, Srirangkshetra mandir in Trichy, Meenakshi mandir in Madurai, Rameshwaram, Dhanush Koti, Verkala, Kanyakumari, and the famous Padmanabh mandir in Trivendrum, many of which were sanctified by Nilkanth Varni during his vicharan, as well as the guru parampara. Everyone realized the sheer extent to which Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the guru parampara have done vicharan. Visiting these mandirs gave them a glimpse of the rich history of Hinduism that has been treasured here for thousands of years. The group then went to Aurangabad to see the caves of Ajanta and Ellora. They marveled at the vast vision required to carve such structures as the Kailash mandir.

At the end of the trip, the group spent four days in Vidyanagar at the BAPS Swaminarayan Chhatralay in presence of Swamishri. After the India trip, everyone returned to America with the feeling of immense asmita for India, for Hinduism, and for satsang. And after seeing Swamishri and the happiness he showered upon them for completing such a trip, they realized how fortunate they were to be a part of this trip.

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