In an ocean of chaos, a guru illuminates the path to self-realization. On the evening of August 5, 2023, at the Festival of Inspirations in Robbinsville, New Jersey, thousands of devotees attended a spiritual assembly entitled “My Guru, My Guide.” The program focused on the bond between a guru and disciple and how it can ignite a complete transformation from within. It is a relationship in which logic fails and faith prevails. Through inspiring talks by distinguished swamis and heartfelt speeches by honored guests, the program highlighted how the guru serves as a guide to understanding and imbibing deeply-held values for our betterment.
The Festival of Inspirations is a three-month-long event celebrating the values that will inspire for generations to come by the newly-built BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The festival seeks to nurture values within each of us, paving the way for self-improvement and overall harmony.
Pujya Brahmviharidas Swami spoke about how the guru is not just an idea but rather a living person with whom we can express our innermost emotions. Though the literal meaning of guru is one who guides from darkness to light, a true guru is also the guardian of morality, a gateway to God, and someone who inspires goodness in the world. He shined a light on his own gurus, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, both of whom selflessly counseled thousands of people through constant letter writing, intimate telephone calls, and personal interactions. Through continued humanitarian and community activities, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj have created a lasting legacy of goodness to the world.
Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami emphasized to always keep shraddha, or utmost faith, in the guru. This message resonated with the audience, many of whom fondly recalled their own stories of faith in the guru’s direction. Inspiring incidents from the lives of devotees during both extreme and humbling times illustrated personal, professional, and spiritual transformations of individuals and families. He pointed to the epitome of faith in one’s guru when mentioning the hundreds of volunteers who came together to build the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, despite unfavorable weather conditions and other circumstances. Sharing the wisdom that having unwavering faith in the guru is no small achievement, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami repeatedly made the connection that only with firm faith can one fulfill the wishes of the guru.
Several honorable guests were also in attendance at the assembly. Mr. Arthur Kapoor, President and CEO of Health EC, shared his appreciation of the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham as a testament to Hindu values and culture. Mr. Kapoor is a visionary entrepreneur with expertise in data-driven patient care and was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Sangita Kapoor. Also in attendance was Mr. Narsimh Koppula, co-founder of Ace Info Solutions, along with his wife Mrs. Pratibha Koppula. In his speech, Mr. Koppula expressed his high opinion of the values Akshardham will inspire. He mentioned, “As Hindus, we have to preserve the culture, especially among the young generation.”
Various other guests joined the assembly as well, including Mr. Lax Chepuri, CEO of TechnoGen, and his wife Kiranmai Kesa; Dr. Badri Nath, the medical director of Long Island Surgery; Mr. Mukul Mehta, an entrepreneur of a linen-providing service; Council General of Singapore Christine Tai; Chair of South Asian NGO Coalition Mrs. Priti Pandya; Mr. Raj Devalapali and his wife Mrs. Vaidehi Devalapali. Also in attendance were Mr. Vipul Kashyap, innovator of cutting-edge technology in healthcare; Mr. Vimal Kevalaramy (CEO of CopperPod Digital) and Mrs. Nimal Golani; Dakshay Patel, a leading businessman; Mrs. Manisha Sharma, a seasoned lawyer; and Mr. Vinay Patel and his wife Mrs. Tinaben Patel, leading voices for the hospitality industry.
The evening was capped with a skit reenacting an incident from Mahant Swami Maharaj’s youth in which he followed the wishes of his guru Yogiji Maharaj. Engaging in grueling tasks while dealing with health issues, Mahant Swami Maharaj gained strength from his guru’s guidance and encouragement. In his blessings, Mahant Swami Maharaj reaffirmed to the audience: “The guru will guide no matter the circumstance; that is the guru's role. However, it is the devotee’s duty to understand the value of attaining a guru, having trust, and profound faith that each step taken is in the best interest of that individual.” Throughout his life, while being a spiritual guide and inspiring devotees, Mahant Swami Maharaj has set an example of how to also be an ideal disciple.