Based on the theme, “Satsang Evolution”, two one-day youth shibirs were held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London (Sunday 15 May 2011) and BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Wellingborough (Saturday 21 May 2011); There was a great turn-out from all the UK centres with over 500 yuvaks and yuvatis attending the events. The theme of the shibir was aimed at understanding the changes occurring all around us, how we can manage them and evolve our spirituality with the help of Satsang. The introductory video presentation showed how Satsang had also evolved over the years. There were no BAPS Mandirs and only a handful of sadhus when Shastriji Maharaj reached Bochasan in 1905 to propagate the philosophy of Akshar Purushottam. Now, there are over 700 mandirs and 850 sadhus.
In the opening speech, Yogvivek Swami explained that change is inevitable. The three S’s stipulate those changes that we must accept and those we must not. These are the shastras (scriptures), our siddhants (principles), and the Satpurush – our ‘living scripture’. They guide us when we are blinded by the many choices we have to make in a rapidly-changing world.
Everyone was then treated to a humorous but pertinent drama sketch on the changes facing many families in the United Kingdom. The sketch aptly captured the generation gap between a father and his two sons.
Amrutvihari Swami then gave a talk titled, ‘Should Satsang change?’ In very clear terms, he showed how we are changing, but the shastras, siddhants and Satpurush remain the same and stable.
The afternoon session began with a questions and answers forum with Yogvivek Swami, Amrutvihari Swami and Tyagprakash Swami. They answered questions the youths had emailed in advance.
Anandpriya Swami then gave a detailed talk on the principles that should never be compromised. He listed virtues such as dharma (moral duty), gnan (knowledge), vairagya (non-attachment) and bhakti (devotion) as qualities that we should always abide by.
Next, Satyavrat Swami gave an interesting talk on the advice given by the Guru Parampara and Pramukh Swami Maharaj in his letters. Even at the age of 90, Pramukh Swami Maharaj continues to read and write around fifty letters a day. Owing to cultural shifts, the questions asked by devotees may have changed enormously when compared to the time of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the previous gurus. The one thing that has not changed, however, are the solutions that are given. 50 years ago in his response to letters, Swamishri was advising people to attend satsang sabhas, not to lapse in niyam-dharma and to have faith in God. He is advising them to do exactly the same in this modern age. What does this mean? Put simply, the solutions to life’s entire problems lie in Satsang.
In the penultimate address, Tyagprakash Swami explained how our buddhi (‘intellect’) acts as a barrier between us and the Satpurush. Instead of having absolute faith and trust in Maharaj and the Satpurush’s words, we have doubts. This buddhi has to be controlled and this can only be accomplished by conducting our lives in line with our shastras, siddhants and the thoughts of the Satpurush.
In the final talk of the shibir, Shukmuni Swami highlighted further how Pramukh Swami Maharaj is a constant in an ever-changing world. Pramukh Swami Maharaj is as stable as a rock; we can see his mind is clear and focused on pleasing Maharaj and his gurus, and improving the lives of the devotees. He lives for nothing else. Over the years, we see him attribute success after success to his gurus. Pramukh Swami Maharaj has never wavered in his commitment to his seva, his gurus and his devotees in an ever-changing world, whereas our commitment may change with time.