The Vachanamrut is a historical collection of 273 spiritual discourses delivered by Bhagwan Swaminarayan between 1819 and 1829. He describes his teachings in Vachanamrut Gadhada II 28 as “the essence of all scriptures” and a “jivandori”, a spiritual lifeline for any aspirant seeking ultimate liberation.
This formed the central theme for a series of shibirs celebrating 200 years since the first Vachanamrut was delivered. The shibirs were held in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Doctor Swami, Gnaneshwar Swami, Gnanpriya Swami, Shrutiprakash Swami, Atmatrupt Swami as well as other senior and visiting swamis from India and swamis from the UK during August 2019.
The shibirs brought together more than 3,400 delegates to deepen their knowledge of the Vachanamrut, imbibe its timeless principles, and appreciate its value as a jivandori throughout their daily living. The key messages were delivered through a variety of innovative and interactive mediums, tailored specifically for the diverse age groups.
The Kishore-Kishori Shibir (for 14- to 23-year-olds) was held from 16 to 18 August at Warwick Conference Park and charted the struggles of two teenage siblings over a three-day drama set across 18 different scenes. It vividly illustrated many of the real-life problems that are faced by kishores and kishoris, and drew upon the teachings of the Vachanamrut as their guide to tackling these challenges.
Speeches, multimedia presentations, a panel discussion and an interview with senior swamis interspersed the drama to unpack and elaborate upon key spiritual concepts. These were reinforced through smaller classroom sessions where delegates could delve further into the Vachanamrut and better appreciate Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s timeless teachings as well as his method of teaching.
The Sanyukta Shibir (for over-40s) ran in parallel and provided an interactive forum for a broad range of delegates to apply the teachings of the Vachanamrut in their lives. The challenging weather conditions served to galvanise the enthusiasm and unity of the attendees, which was particularly prevalent during the scenario-based workshops in which small groups presented their findings to the rest of the classroom. An enlightening ‘news debate’ including contributions from swamis and Mahant Swami Maharaj tied together many of these concepts.
Participants also enjoyed a sports and fitness session. The energy was further visible during a musical tribute to the Vachanamrut which provided a rapturous and uplifting atmosphere that brought the audience to its feet.
The Bal-Balika Shibir (for 8- to 14-year-olds) was held from 24 to 26 August, also at Warwick Conference Park. The messages were delivered through a wonderfully choreographed theatre production where children embarked on a fascinating journey back to the period of the Vachanamrut, providing a visual depiction of the setting of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s discourses. The story was told through the eyes of a boy called Tilak, who follows a secret agent on a mission to discover the profound spiritual wisdom of the Vachanamrut.
The seven-act drama was supported by detailed classroom sessions where children were provided with a simple, step-by-step guide on how to read and study the Vachanamrut. Time for reflection was set aside after each auditorium session to enable the children to summarise and consolidate the messages.
The Yuvak-Yuvati Shibir (for 24- to 40-year-olds) was also held during this weekend. The sessions incorporated a montage of enlightening presentations, videos, interviews, panel discussions, interactive games and dramas. They reinforced the message that the Vachanamrut is the essence of all scriptural wisdom, revealing in particular the means to understanding the true glory of the Gunatit Satpurush and developing an unbreakable bond with him.
Interactive discussions with fellow youths helped to enhance and consolidate the teachings, and provided valuable lessons on the Vachanamrut as a guiding force through all situations of life in today’s modern context.
A crèche facility was also organised to cater for the delegates' young children (6- and 7-year-olds), to help them begin their own journey in understanding the Vachanamrut.
In addition to the shibirs in the UK, a similar shibir also took place in Germany from 20 to 22 September for delegates from around Europe. More than 175 satsangis of all ages from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland gathered to enhance their understanding of the Vachanamrut.
All the shibirs concluded by illustrating how the Satpurush is the living embodiment of the Vachanamrut, and therefore our present-day personal jivandori – forever guiding, inspiring and supporting us on our spiritual journey.