The BAPS North American Youth Convention (NAYC18) in Atlanta, Georgia had over 2800 delegates from across the United States and Canada in attendance. There were over 800 volunteers who sacrificed their time to support this event. The convention spanned from July 4th to July 7th and focused on the overall theme of 'Moksha', ultimate liberation and was blessed by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. Moreover, Swamis from across North America and India including Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami and Pujya Anandswarupdas Swami graced the convention, elevating the delegate experience by sharing their profound wisdom and experiences.
The program for the delegates was centered on Moksha as the ultimate goal and the means to achieve Moksha - a form of happiness that can be experienced here and now. This set the foundation of the “Moksha Now” concept that carried throughout the convention. The delegates learned that the means to achieve Moksha can also allow them to enjoy the world even more once every task and activity is approached with God and the Guru in mind. The comprehensive concept of Moksha was taught through the purusharths (efforts) of Dharma (roles and responsibilities), Artha (worldly pursuits), and Kama (desires). Delegates experienced a stage program where the life and challenges of several characters within their age group were portrayed in a practical manner to help them navigate between their desires and values. Speeches by Swamis of BAPS from North America and India were interspersed throughout the program and helped guide delegates through the process of making the convention’s messages practical and actionable. In addition, the delegates also had the chance to tie the messages back to their own lives and learn from the stories of other delegates through six small group discussions led by trained group moderators.
The program and speeches centered around understanding individual responsibilities in life, enjoying the process of activities rather than focusing on their outcome, the practical impact of prayer and introspection, and having a clear purpose in life by aligning one’s values with that of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj.
More importantly, delegates learned that the values of satsang and of their Guru apply to every aspect of their lives - not just at mandir. In addition, environmental stewardship, healthy habits, and the importance of community service were also highlighted in being a well-rounded human being and good citizen.
North American Youth Conventions continue to be a pillar for BAPS North America’s youth activities as they address the important challenges faced by young Hindu-Americans on a daily basis. The experiences the delegates had at this North American Youth Convention will inspire them to lead a life aligned with the values and teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and our Guru Mahant Swami Maharaj. The convention was organized by BAPS specifically for youths in North America and inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.