With the grace and blessing of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, kishores and kishoris participated in six regional summer shibirs titled: The Swaminarayan Sampraday 1781. The year is important because the message, philosophy and concepts brought by Maharaj are still relevant to kishores and kishoris today.
The opening program focused on Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s personality. Maharaj’s personality is important to understand as that is the key to understanding his views, thoughts and inner wishes. Maharaj’s leadership and personality was the driving force to go against the unrighteous practices that proliferated in society and it was his charisma, sincerity, kindness, care and confidence that was able to start a sampraday based on the pure essence of the scriptures.
The various Hindu philosophies were described and an explanation of the Akshar-Purushottam (Swaminarayan Vedant) philosophy revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan was given. Maharaj saw what the interpretation and practice of Hinduism was throughout his travels and gave guidance to which practices needed reformed or changed. The Swaminarayan philosophy is as relevant today as it was when Maharaj created it because His vision wasn’t based on short term pleasures, but long term happiness and eternal peace.
The kishores and kishoris participated in a special Vidyarthi Shibir, which is part of the summer shibir. Successful yuvaks and vadils were invited to give a talk to the attendees about the topic of Be Unique. The ability to stand out from the crowd and go against the grain is what defines a person that creates paths, not follows a path in regards to career development. The attendees then participated in workshops that went over the key concepts of college essay writing and job interview skills and tips.
Day 2 started with the presentation of moksh. A fundamental part of Maharaj’s philosophy was moksh. Moksh means to be free from miseries according to its Sanskrit etymology. The presentation went on to define the concept of moksh, why we need to strive for moksh and who can grant moksh. The presentation was followed by a session on The 6 Principles to Happiness: Your Sadhana in Satsang. By focusing on making the mental aspect of sadhana firm, whatever physical aspects that kishores and kishoris are engaged in become more enjoyable.
The importance of the ability to answer questions regarding mandirs and Hindu concepts gave way to the FAQ session. Questions that the kishores/kishoris face on a regular basis were asked and insightful answers were given. This session allowed the attendees to also work on some questions they face and work as a small team to develop an answer.
In the evening program, the difficulties of college life were depicted by a drama. 3 kishores, one fairly new to satsang and a regular Kishore move to a state school while another regular Kishore stays home and goes to a prestigious university. The difficulties that kishores/kishoris face balancing satsang while in school, the peer pressures to fit in and the ability to maintain their Hindu and Swaminarayan identity were shown through the experiences of these 3 kishores. The attendees were able to relate to the program because many of them can relate to one of the characters during their college life. In the end, they were able to see how to properly balance their life and how to maintain their identity instead of succumbing into conformity.
Each of the sessions was followed by a group activity or discussion to help bring the main points to a practical level. Through these sessions and other events, the attendees were able to walk away with a better understanding of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and how 1781 is a very important and fundamental year to the lives of kishores and kishores, and the world.