With the express wishes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 2004, annual student conventions (vidyarthi shibirs) have been organised to provide students with the skills, confidence and support to succeed academically through a foundation rooted in spiritual principles. Thus, over 130 kishores and kishoris from across the UK arrived on the evening of Friday 25 September 2009 for the annual Vidyarthi Shibir, in the presence of Pujya Doctor Swami.

Pujya Doctor Swami inaugurated the opening session with the traditional deep pragatya, before stressing the importance of developing one’s personal Satsang while progressing in the academic sphere. A motivational video provided an insight into the principles underlying the success of famous personalities as well as the importance of setting a goal. In the next session, the delegates participated in a group exercise that focussed on strengthening their team-working abilities.

The second day began with an opportunity for the students to perform abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni, with the kishores singing kirtans before the murtis after shangar arti. Following samuh puja and morning Vachanamrut reading, the focus moved to exploring the power within each delegate and methods of introspection, on which Pujya Doctor Swami provided further guidance. The practical learning continued with each group participating in a debate on current issues. The afternoon was reserved for outdoor activities, including paintballing, bowling and ice-skating. Each attendee had an opportunity for a one-to-one discussion with trained mentors from the Education Department, and attended workshops tailored to their education level, which reinforced their revision and exam techniques. The final session of the day was a selling skills workshop where each group had to secure funding for their product from a panel of investors.

The final day began with Pujya Doctor Swami highlighting the discipline and conduct of an ideal student through a speech and further questions. A panel interview on overcoming the barriers to success followed with sadhus and senior karyakars answering questions from the floor. The concluding session on strengthening the guru-disciple relationship began with a video presentation followed by a collection of excerpts of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s blessings from previous shibirs. Sadhus narrated incidents of kishores who have attained success in their academic and working lives by following the guidance of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Shukmuni Swami then emphasised the importance of obeying the guru and practical ways of enhancing the guru-disciple relationship.

Yogvivek Swami concluded the memorable shibir by encouraging everyone to reflect and make the necessary changes to build their academic and professional careers. After awarding prizes to the winning groups, all the delegates joined in a prayer to Swamishri. The three-day event proved to be an overwhelming success and provided the key balance of spiritual and educational guidance, leaving those who attended highly motivated to excel in their studies.

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