On Thursday, September 21, 2023, youths gathered at the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey, to explore the theme of "Mahima" as part of the Festival of Inspirations. This three-month celebration aims to perpetuate the timeless values championed by BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham for future generations. Yuvaks and yuvatis from North America presented a two-segment program that delved into understanding the glory of God, Guru, and devotees of God. The key message was that while money drives the world, in the spiritual community of satsang, "Mahima" serves as the fundamental currency. Furthermore, the more "Mahima" one possesses, the richer they are spiritually.
The first part of the program was spearheaded by women who illustrated anecdotes in various ways in which other young women have drawn strength from their guru, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. Inspirational anecdotes from real-life experiences told stories of women who have understood mahima to a deeper level. The anecdotes studied the life experiences of the women and how they've persevered challenges through faith.
In the program's second segment, youths recounted profound interactions with Mahant Swami Maharaj, highlighting his love and humility. One spoke of feeling directionless after Pramukh Swami Maharaj's passing but found guidance seeing the same virtues in Mahant Swami Maharaj. Another shared his wife's story, an I.T. expert in the U.S. Army, who struggled with PTSD post her Afghanistan service. She wrote to Mahant Swami Maharaj about her battles and received a simple yet impactful response: "Make peace with your past." To this day, the woman lives by these protective words, remembering how they gave her love and hope when she needed it most.
Through the recollection of the lasting impressions His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj left upon countless people, Pujya Anandswarupdas Swami shed light on his true glory. He said, "Mahant Swami Maharaj is an ideal swami. His actions, thoughts, and emotions are 100% pure. He emphasized that those who met Mahant Swami Maharaj experienced peace and divinity." He shared the words of various people who were fortunate to come into contact with Mahant Swami Maharaj, recalling the sense of peace and divinity that overcame them.
Sadguru Ishwarcharandas Swami expressed the importance of maintaining one's religious duties and vows to maintain a strong understanding of this glory. Explaining how Yogiji Maharaj began the organization of youth assemblies within BAPS, he recalled how firmly Yogiji Maharaj enforced niyam-dharma, or core principles set by the Guru, in the youths at the time. Despite his strictness, the youths followed his wishes without hesitation due to the unconditional love he showered upon them, the way a mother loves her child and wants the best for them. Pramukh Swami Maharaj placed the same importance on niyam-dharma throughout his tireless travels throughout the world.
Also present in the assembly, Sadguru Pujya Viveksagardas Swami, who has traveled alongside Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, received a warm welcome from devotees upon his return to America to join in the celebrations for the Festival of Inspirations.
Several distinguished guests, including Mayor of Piscataway Brian Wahler, were present in the assembly. In his speech to the audience, he said, "Given the fact of what's going on worldwide with disease, famine, wars, if we can preach a little more of peace, love, happiness, and spirituality, I think we'll all live a little better and longer." Mr. Sean Haney, Founder of Sphere Consultants LLC, remarked, "There is great power and impact in prayer. Not just prayer for ourselves, for courage and wisdom, but prayer for others. Here at this place among all of us together, the power and impact of service and prayer are quite evident." Tennessee State Senator Heidi Campbell complimented the program and said, "You did a beautiful job and it was an honor to hear you today. How wonderful, and I mean, full of wonder and a true sense of the word, to be here with you in this beautiful place and this temple proximate to this temple that is a physical testament to the power of community and volunteerism and generosity of spirits and testament to the power of love."
The program continued into life experiences by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. In 1971, Pramukh Swami Maharaj traveled to countless villages to meet devotees. When Mahant Swami Maharaj asked how he could not be tired, Pramukh Swami Maharaj simply pointed out how much Yogiji Maharaj traveled. In this moment, Pramukh Swami Maharaj forgot about his own bodily pain and discomfort and thought only of his guru, Yogiji Maharaj.
The youths then presented Mahant Swami Maharaj with various memorial items of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, asking him to share which one he gets the best memories from. Mahant Swami Maharaj immediately picked up the shoes, fondly recalling how much Pramukh Swami Maharaj walked and how much he traveled to meet countless devotees.
In his evening blessing, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj shared wisdom that each soul is divine and experiences the bliss of God and spiritual guide. Although the spiritual guide may seem ordinary, believe him to be extraordinary. He also advised enhancing one's devotion through daily spiritual routines, emphasizing consistency, likening it to an athlete's regular practice.
The assembly was graced by the presence of several esteemed guests, including Mayor Brian Wahler of Piscataway and his wife, Mrs. Paulette Wahler; Mr. Sean Haney, the founder of Sphere Consultants LLC and V.P. and Associate General Counsel at Jazz Pharmaceuticals; Mr. Carlos Medina, President of Robinson Aerial Services Inc and a member of the N.J. Transit Board of Directors; Mr. Luis O. De La Hoz, Chairman and Board of Director of NJHCC and V.P. of Valley Bank; Mr. Gaurang Bakshi, Watch Commander at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Mr. Ujwal Kumar Kasthala, a prominent Anchor and Reporter on T.V. 9 and Member of the Edison Cultural Arts Committee; Dr. Mukundbhai Thakar, President and Founder of the Indian Nursing Home Program; Mr. Jay Amin, Founder of Amin Standard; Mr. Piyush Patel, an entrepreneur; Diane Grillo, Vice President at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Hamilton; Ms. Joan Bercari, Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety at the same institution; Ms. Lisa Breza, its Interim Chief Administrative Officer; Ms. Nash Khan, CEO of Mercer Diagnostic Imaging; and Ms. Heidi Campbell, State of Tennessee Senator for District 20.