On February 12, 2017, we celebrated Vasant Panchmi at the Parsippany PAL. Vasant Panchmi marks the significance of two largely influential events: the birth of Shastriji Maharaj; and the day that Sahajanand Swami Maharaj graced the world with the Shikshaptri – a manual for living a pious life.

We introduced our theme of the month – Upasana: A spiritual Transformation. This theme is attributed to the life mission of Shastriji Maharaj. The event commenced with the reenactment of Pragji Bhagat, a staunch devotee of Gunantitanand Swami, explaining the exceptional teachings of his guru. In this reenactment, Pragji Bhagat stressed on the critical importance of the Akshar Purshottam upsana, which then became Shastriji Maharaj’s main teaching. Shastriji Maharaj’s life mission was to establish the importance of the Akshar Purshottam upasana in the Swaminarayan sampraday. The reenactment was paired with an inspirational video, which included historical footages and a commentary establishing the glory and supremacy of Shastriji Maharaj. In addition, several youths partook in a cultural dance, for which they had put in a many hours of practice over the past few weeks.

Following the dance, Bhavbhutibhai gave a discourse explaining Shastriji Maharaj’s instrumental role in constructing the Akshar Purshottam Swaminarayan mandirs. He then laid out the parallelism of the life of Shastriji Maharaj to the life of Guruhari Hariprasad Swamiji. Shantu Uncle, who followed Bhavbhutibhai, further elaborated on this parallelism by detailing Swamiji’s role in constructing walking and breathing mandirs–His yuva samaj. Through his constant love and presence, Swamiji has influenced the lives of thousands of youths, resulting in living mandirs.

Moving forward, a video exhibiting highlights from last year’s Atmiya Youth Shibir was played. The video was very inspirational and energetic, highlighting the cultural programs, sports activities, inspirational speeches by saints and successful youths. The Shibir is a gem of an opportunity to drastically impact your life and learn ways to not only become more focused and productive, but also experience spirituality in a manner that can be applied in our everyday lives. Registration for Atmiya Youth Shibir 2017 is now open and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Lastly, a video of Swamiji was viewed. In the video Swamiji explained the importance of upasana. He left one key message – You cannot separate Akshar (Swami) and Purshottam (Narayan). There is truly an equal need for both.