The 2021 North American Bal-Balika Summer Shibir took place on September 11, 2021. More than 3,000 youths from across the continent between ages 7 and 13 took part in the shibir, virtually or in person. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, most children watched the animated Common Session program at home with their families. Then, they joined the subsequent group activity on a video conferencing platform. Some children had the opportunity to watch the program and participate in the group activities in person at their local mandir. 


With His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centennial Celebration coming up, the shibir was themed “Guru Bhakti,” offering devotion to one’s guru. The shibir was designed to help delegates understand the importance of a guru in one’s life and how to offer devotion to the guru. 


The focal point of the shibir was based on Satsang Diksha verse 137, “One should associate with one’s guruhari through thought, word and deed and should realize him as ‘Narayanswarup’ – the manifest form of Narayan [Parabrahman].”


The first half of the shibir was focused on the latter half of the verse, which is focused on the greatness of a guru, or guru mahima. Delegates learned three ways of understanding the greatness of their guru:

        - The guru is one’s guide throughout life.

        - The guru is divya (divine).

        - The guru is the gateway to moksha (ultimate liberation). 


The second half of the shibir focused on the first half of the verse, which is on how one can associate and offer devotion to the guru, or guru bhakti. Delegates learned how to offer devotion to the guru through their man (thoughts), karma (actions) and vachan (words). 


The delegates dove into these two sub-themes through two-1.5 hour animated Common Session programs and two Group Activities to understand their relationship with their guru – His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. As a result, youths left the shibir with a greater understanding of the importance of a guru in one’s life and how they can connect to their guru on a daily basis through devotion.


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