A special and memorable online felicitation celebration in the presence of guruhari Mahant Swami Maharaj: this was the reward for months of exhaustive effort to memorize the entire Satsang Diksha shastra. Over 3,100 yuvaks and yuvatis from throughout India reaped this exclusive reward for their persistent endeavor over several months.
On 16 October 2020, during the felicitation assembly for the initial cohort of around 300 yuvaks and yuvatis who had memorized the entire Satsang Diksha shastra in Sanskrit, Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “At present you are 300, but many will follow you and there will be 1,000, 2,000…”
Seizing upon Swamishri’s wish, the Satsang Pravrutti and Bal Pravrutti Central Offices based in Ahmedabad announced, on 26 November 2020, the second such national competition to memorize the Satsang Diksha shastra.
The timeline was tight, yet 5,181 yuvaks and 3,664 yuvatis (including bal karyakars, satsang activities karyakars, and men and women devotees aged between 14 and 40) registered to memorize the entire Satsang Diksha shastra in Sanskrit before Vasant Panchmi (16 February 2021). In an age where youths depend on electronic gadgets to calculate even simple arithmetic this was indeed an impressive commitment.
At centers throughout Gujarat, Mumbai and other parts of India, the mukhpath buzz caught on. Everyone’s focus was on earning guruhari Mahant Swami Maharaj’s rajipo and securing a place in ‘the 2,000’.
Hailing from a wide range of academic and family backgrounds, students, professionals – doctors, engineers, pharmacists, accountants, lawyers, etc.– factory workers, entrepreneurs, housewives and many others all focused on the task in hand. Using snippets of time in between their regular daily commitments, they all endeavored to reach the target.
Many were plagued by illness – Covid-19, operations and other health issues – family deaths and difficulties, important exams and many other challenges. Yet none were deterred. They persisted. For the vast majority, Sanskrit was a totally new language. Without knowledge of its grammar and verse construction idiosyncrasies, their persistence was a real victory.
To qualify for the national adhiveshan, each participant had to clear the zonal phase in which they were tested locally via online video calls to ensure that they had indeed successfully memorized the entire text. This phase was held on 24 and 31 January and 1 February 2021. A total of 1,385 yuvaks and 1,723 yuvatis cleared this stage, and were eligible for the final, national phase held between 31 January and 15 February. In the national phase, 40 swamis from various mandirs tested the eligible yuvaks online and 36 experienced women volunteers tested the yuvatis.
Of these participants, 1,082 yuvaks and 1,254 yuvatis were judged to here memorized all 315 verses of the shastra. A further 24 yuvaks and 17 yuvatis were judged to have memorized 300 shloks, while 12 yuvaks and 21 yuvatis were judged to have memorized 285 shloks. These were the 2,410 prize winners.
However, in recognition of the sheer effort they had put in, all national phase participants were invited to attend the two exclusive online felicitation assemblies in Swamishri’s presence to be relayed from Nenpur.
On 18 February, the first assembly began with a speech by Atmaswarup Swami describing Swamishri’s efforts in writing the Satsang Diksha shastra and how keen he is that it be memorized. Then, after a rapturous welcome for Shri Harikrishna Maharaj, Shri Gunatitanand Swami and Mahant Swami Maharaj, the participating 1,300 yuvaks devoutly sang selected verses of the Satsang Diksha in unison before Swamishri.
Then, videos were shown highlighting the testing circumstances amid which participants had achieved this feat and the methods they had used to memorize the verses through firsthand accounts by the participants. Swamishri listened intently to their inspiring stories of devotion and congratulated each with a wave of his hand.
Thereafter, the sadhus who had tested the yuvaks in the final phase narrated their experiences of the proficiency with which the yuvaks had performed.
Then, six youths participated in an interactive activity with Mahant Swami Maharaj. Swamishri selected a youth and spun a wheel to select a random number. The youth was required to recite that verse and the following four. Swamishri tested all six youths in this way. Swamishri judged each of their presentations as outstanding by signaling three ticks with his right hand.
At the end, Swamishri blessed all the youths and profusely appreciated their persistence and faith.
In the second assembly on 20 February, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami congratulated the youths on their achievement and spoke about the wish of the gunatit gurus that youths memorize scriptural texts. He also urged them all to regularly revise what they had memorized so that it is not forgotten.
Previously, in a letter, Swamishri had expressed that the youths ‘should recite the verses fluently.’ In fulfillment of this wish, the yuvaks smoothly recited shloks in various styles.
Then, through videos, the youths narrated the benefits they had experienced by memorizing Satsang Diksha and how it had affected their satsang and personal lives.
Delighted by the sincere efforts of the youths, Swamishri wished to honor the youths in a distinctive way. So, earlier in the day, he had personally plucked flowers from the Shantivan garden and threaded them into a beautiful garland. After offering it to Thakorji he offered this garland to all the youths. It was truly a unique and unexpected gesture by Swamishri, reflecting the deep inner respect he had for all the youths.
Then, Swamishri was requested to select one shlok from the Satsang Diksha which he felt was specially important and present it graphically. He selected and drew the message presented in shlok 11.
Thereafter, Swamishri sanctified the trophies, certificates, prasad and other prizes to be given to all the youths. He also passed his hand over the list of all prize winners to bless them and then passed a trophy over each name to symbolically present the trophy to them.
It was announced that the youths had responded to Swamishri’s wish of 2,000 and surpassed it by almost 25%. And now the youths at home have laid out their jholis and are requesting Swamishri to give something in return. Swamishri said, “I am a sadhu. I have God. I give you God.”
Then, with the assembly hall lights dimmed, the youths observed a minute’s silence to offer their personal prayers to Swamishri. Afterwards, Yagnapriya Swami prayed to Swamishri to bless all the youths that all their difficulties be eradicated and they experience peace and bliss.
Then, in his blessings to the youths Swamishri revealed, “In that one minute, I also prayed that you all always be blessed with resolute inner strength.”
Thereafter, the continuously burning divo of the Akshar Deri was brought before Swamishri. Using its flame, Swamishri lit the divo to initiate the undertaking that all should use the brahmavidya learnt by memorizing the Satsang Diksha to further reveal the glory of Akshar-Purushottam.
After the arti, as the jai naad echoed everywhere, Swamishri and the sadhus in Nenpur all waved BAPS flags in celebration. Simultaneously, all the youths joined in the celebration by waving flags at their homes.
Before departing from the assembly, Swamishri made an impromptu announcement, instructing all the sadhus, parshads and sadhaks watching from their respective mandirs to offer dandvats to all the youths as a mark of honor for their outstanding achievement.
Thus, with hearts full of joy and divine memories etched for a lifetime, the youths reveled in the knowledge that Swamishri was truly pleased by their devout efforts.