Devotees from across London and beyond gathered on Saturday 13 February 2016 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London to celebrate the birth anniversary of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, the third spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the founder of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. The festival falls on the auspicious Hindu day of Vasant Panchmi.
Special assemblies for devotees of all ages were held with discourses focusing on a number of key themes.
Kishore-Kishori Mandal focused on the relationship between Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his guru, Shastriji Maharaj. Expanding on the Sanskrit verse ‘Twam eva mata cha pita twam eva, twam eva bandhush cha sakha twam eva’, attendees heard about the unique bond between the two divine personalities, and how to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, his guru was not only his mother, father and friend, but, in fact, everything.
In Yuvak-Yuvati Mandal, speakers recounted the hardships faced by Shastriji Maharaj in propagating the Akshar-Purushottam upasana revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. They also described incidents where Shastriji Maharaj revealed his divinity and gave strength to his devotees in the most testing of times.
And in Sanyukta Mandal, speeches, videos and a drama depicted the history of Sarangpur mandir, which is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. The audience learned about the arduous efforts of Shastriji Maharaj and his disciples in building this magnificent stone mandir with such meagre resources and amid formidable challenges. The presenters also touched upon Shastriji Maharaj's and Pramukh Swami Maharaj's special relationship with Sarangpur.
The mahilas held their own celebrations on Saturday 20 February when they delivered a joyous programme of devotional singing themed around the qualities of Ekantik Dharma epitomised in the life of Shastriji Maharaj. Children also narrated inspiring examples of his divine personality. The spiritually charged festivities concluded with a vibrant dance and video blessings of Swamishri encouraging devotees to imbibe Shastriji Maharaj’s qualities of perseverance and fearlessness to progress on their spiritual journey.
The celebrations gave everyone an opportunity to learn more about Shastriji Maharaj’s principle-oriented life, to be inspired by his visonary work, and to express their gratitude for his unflinching conviction, determination and sacrifices that continue to guide and enlighten the fellowship today.