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Chicago IL: On July 20th 2012, in the presence of senior Swamis in Amdavad, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj revealed that His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj would be his spiritual successor upon his own passing and wrote a letter in his own handwriting to that effect. The first Guru Purnima since he became guru was celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago IL on July 9, 2017.
Guru Purnima celebrates the role of a spiritual guru in one’s life and provides the opportunity to offer gratitude for the guidance and support given by the guru. The theme of this celebration was Culture and Spirituality, which are two attributes Mahant Swami Maharaj has embodied throughout his life. Mahant Swami Maharaj’s dedication to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and his selfless service to BAPS as its leader, is a prime example of the unfailing commitment between a guru and his disciple.
The program included speeches narrating life experiences from senior Swamis who reflected on the guru bhakti between Mahant Swami Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Honoring the wishes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Mahant Swami Maharaj relentlessly traveled throughout India and the world for 45 years to inspire and strengthen satsang in countless devotees and continues to do so today. Mahant Swami Maharaj has modeled his life after his guru and selflessly served as the embodiment of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life motto, “In the joy of others lies our own.” In his blessings on this joyous occasion, Mahant Swami Maharaj said, encouraged all to develop a sound basis for spirituality and ethics as individuals, emphasizing that this is the greatest way a devotee can offer his or her devotion to a spiritual guru.
Yuvaks and Yuvatis from across the region gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago, IL on July 10, 2017, to attend the one-day Yuvak-Yuvati Din held in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. For many months leading up to the event, attendees prepared by studying various passages of Swaminarayan texts, which focused on topics to strengthen their spiritual understanding and development from niyam-dharma to bhakti. Participants also engaged in activities to explore their devotion through the five senses, to reflect on their connection with Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Mahant Swami Maharaj. These activities included listening to discourses from Swamis, practicing daily Hindu rituals, and reading spiritual texts.
The event, themed “Eva Sant Ne Namu Hu Shish,” was held in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj and explored the principles of Mahima, Het, and Marji. Through the Yuvak-Yuvati Din, attendees were able to learn more about the life and personality of Mahant Swami Maharaj. They explored the virtues of the sant through the reading of the Bhakatachintamani and understood these qualities through examples from the life of Mahant Swami Maharaj. Attendees were also able to interact with Mahant Swami Maharaj through various activities including question and answer sessions to help them develop, foster, and strengthen their identity with the Satpurush. Through these unique interactions, they were able to experience all of the things that they learned about their Guru firsthand.
The Kishore-Kishori Din was held in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on July 11, 2017, at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago, IL. The one-day event themed, Je Je Hariye Karyu Het had attendees from across the region. Before the event, attendees comprising of high school and college-aged youth, studied this bhajan in preparation to help understand the concepts of het and priti. They also engaged in different projects to present to His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj as a token of their bhakti. Some of which included making a garland, creating a scrapbook as well as memorizing verses from the Yogi Gita, a small collection of prayers and spiritual principles by His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj and highly regarded by Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The day of the event, Swamis shared their interactions with their Gurus in which they had garnered love and compassion from His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. At the conclusion, each attendee was given the opportunity to engage in the concept of Nishkapat with Mahant Swami Maharaj through letter writing. Each kishore and kishori wrote a personal letter to Mahant Swami Maharaj in which they were able to express all of their feelings and develop a deeper connection with their Guru. In the evening assembly, Mahant Swami Maharaj guided them by saying, “[In life] education and spirituality are needed. Both are necessary for success.”