The 2024 North American Kishore-Kishori Summer Shibirs took place from June to August 2024. Over 5,000 high school and college-aged youths from across North America participated in these three-day shibirs.

As 2024 marks the 50-year celebration of Satsang in North America, the theme for the shibir emerged from Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s very first katha in North America in 1974. Pramukh Swami Maharaj mentioned that even here in North America, “Akshardham nu sukh malshe” - here too we can achieve the happiness of Akshardham. On October 8, 2023, after the inauguration of the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham Mahotsav in North America, Mahant Swami Maharaj revealed that we should continue to celebrate “Andar Akshardham” or “Akshardham within.” Thus, the shibir was themed “Andar Akshardham” with the overarching goal of the shibir being “How do I build the Akshardham within?”

The messages used to explain how to build “Andar Akshardham” focused on agna, the divine guidance of God and Guru; and upasana, the philosophy imparted that one must attain a God-realized Guru to attain God. Delegates were guided on how to follow agna with the right mindset, and develop faith in God and Guru as sarva-karta-harta (all-doer) and pragat (manifest) on this earth in the form of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.

The first three sessions centered on understanding and feeling of “Akshardhamnu Sukh”, the happiness of Akshardham. To feel this sukh, the ‘Akshardham’ within must be skillfully built. The first step to start building “Andar Akshardham” is to understand the mahima or greatness of the guru. Thereafter, delegates learned ‘I can count on Swamishri to hold my hand and be there for me’. Delegates then discussed mutual examples of how their Gurus have been present through highs and lows, one’s community at mandir, and through Swamishri himself via the guidance of letters and prayer. While juggling their school, professional, and family expectations, they can trust their Guru to lead them in the right direction.

Sessions four and five focused on the connectivity of trust in one’s guru. By trusting Swamishri, the motivation to follow agna amid school and family dynamics and having faith in Swamishri increases. When they face hardships in one’s life, they can conquer it because they have the tools to keep strong and have faith in Bhagwan’s kartapanu (all-doership) and the pragat (manifest) Satpurush, Mahant Swami Maharaj.

In the sixth and final common session, delegates learned from Mahant Swami Maharaj and Swamis about the messages coming converging and the practicality of Akshardhamnu Sukh. In school, they may feel that they carry a different identity than at the mandir – how do they form a singular identity? By following ahnik (daily spiritual rituals), reading inspiring incidents, and reflecting on divine memories and their connection with God and Guru, they have a routine full of opportunities to connect to Bhagwan and the Guru. With this enthusiasm, kishores and kishoris are intent on following Swamishri’s agna to strengthen their connection and keep Satsang a priority.

Throughout the shibir, the delegates dove into the principles of agna and upasana, and the mindset and the wishes of their guru, Mahant Swami Maharaj, to truly build the pathway towards keeping Akshardham within.

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