This summer, kishores and kishoris gathered for the 2008 Summer Shibirs, themed Satshatras - Know the Truth. The shibirs were held regionally with over 1800 participants across North America. Over a span of two and a half days, attendees learned about the basic foundations of the Vedas, Mahabharat, Ramayan, Vachnamrut, Swamini Vato, and the eight scriptures approved by Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the Shikshapatri.
'Know the Truth' - the truth of who you are, the truth of where you come from, and the truth contained in your scriptures. With this theme, the shibirs were designed to help the attendees gain a better understanding of who they are as Hindus, as it is written in the timeless Hindu scriptures. The attendees learned not only about the truths and values contained in the scriptures but also how the morals of the scriptures apply directly to their lives.
With the aid of workshops, presentations, and group discussions, the message and significance of the different scriptures was brought forth, along with the values each teaches, such as the importance of observing one's dharma with regards to one's parents, elders, siblings, and peers as taught in the Ramayan and the detriments that come with ego and jealousy as demonstrated in the Mahabharat, along with many others. Another session, 'Frequently Asked Questions', helped to answer many pressing questions the youth have about their faith in an open and supportive environment. The participants were provided study time, during which they reviewed their notes and participated in activities to recall key facts and concepts from their classroom presentations.
One common reaction by all attendees was that they left with a greater understanding of our shastras, a deeper appreciation of our principles and an eagerness to learn more from daily reading.