The 2021 North American Kishore-Kishori Summer Shibir took place on September 25, 2021. Thousands of youths from across the continent between ages 14 and 22 took part in this shibir, either virtually or in person. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in states and cities, a majority of the audience watched the documentary-style common session programs at home and joined the following group activities and discussions on a video conferencing platform. In centers where COVID-19 restrictions had been lessened, youths also had the opportunity to watch the program and participate in the group activities in-person at their local mandir.
In the midst of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Shatabdi Mahotsav, the shibir was themed “Guru Bhakti,” explaining how one can offer devotion to one’s guru. Under the guidance of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and swamis, the shibir was designed to help delegates understand the importance of a guru in one’s life and how one can offer devotion to the guru, that is, how to perform guru bhakti.
The focal point of the shibir was based on the following message, provided by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj himself: “Guru bhakti is to develop love for our guru and to live for him according to his wishes.” In learning this message, delegates learned about the greatness of the guru, the exemplary guru bhakti that Mahant Swami Maharaj has shown toward his gurus Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and how they can perform their guru bhakti through their thoughts, words, and actions, the same way that their gurus have.
The first session centered on learning about guru bhakti and seeing real-world examples of it being offered by the perfect guru bhakta — Mahant Swami Maharaj. The session delved into numerous prasangs in Mahant Swami Maharaj’s life where he has acted on that definition of guru bhakti toward his gurus Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The second common session centered on discovering what thoughts inspire and motivate one to offer guru bhakti. In this session, delegates learned how to understand the greatness of one’s guru through analyzing and extracting key messages from personal and non-personal prasangs.
In the third and final common session, delegates learned from Mahant Swami Maharaj and swamis about ways they can offer guru bhakti practically. This session leveraged discourses followed by interactive reflection activities to explain how delegates can offer guru bhakti through their thoughts, words, and actions.
Throughout the shibir, the delegates dove into the life, the understanding, and the wishes of their guru – His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj – to understand their relationship with their guru. Youths left the shibir with a greater understanding of the importance of a guru in one’s life and how they are able to offer personal devotion to their guru every single day.