Inspired by Acharya Swamishree, and organised by the sants of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, a group of 600 sants and disciples travelled to the picturesque and historical hill station, Mahabaleswar. The 4 day Shibir, from Sunday 13 November to Wednesday 16 November, was aimed to further the unity amongst the disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan.
Disciples travelled by train and coach from Ahmedabad to Mahabaleswar. Sants travelled by coach. Everyone arrived at the Hotel Dreamland, by midday on Sunday, which had been especially reserved for the group. After the evening prayers and rituals, Sants performed a concert of devotional music.
Early the next morning, after the Mangla aarti, Acharya Swamishree sat everyone down in meditation, lasting 30 minutes. Immediately after breakfast, everyone re-assembled in the hall, for the scripture recitals. Acharya Swamishree blessed the congregation, in which He said:
- The purpose of this Shibir is to learn more about the grandeur of our beloved Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and instil His teachings into our lives.
- Bapashree says that it is far more pleasurable to be able to worship God when the environment is calm, clean and fresh, and when one is away from the commotion of everyday life. That is why Lord Swaminarayan used to say that He preferred to live amongst the wilderness, away from the villages. During this Shibir, we have been given the opportunity to worship the Lord in the kind of environment that is conducive for performing those devotional deeds.
- Here, you must involve all your five senses in the worship of God. Focus your mind on the Murti of the merciful Lord. Learn to live in the manner that befits a child of God. Learn to think in the manner that God would be pleased with you.
- Whatever you do in live, should be with full enthusiasm and devotion. A flower without fragrance is of little worth. A lake without any water is useless to anyone. Similarly, life without loving devotion, and faithfully performing acts of charity, austerities etc. are akin to wasting the opportunity of the human body that you have been granted. And furthermore, your human life has been given the opportunity to be at Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, where the supreme Lord Himself is present to accept your devotion.
- There is a famous phrase, ‘you reap what you sow’. If you sow some poison ivy, do not expect to receive sweet mangos from that plant when it grows. Similarly, if your mind and body is contravening the will of God, do not expect His favour. He may shower His blessings, but that is due to His extraordinary, divine grace.
- During the Lord’s Forest Expedition, in the guise of Shree Nilkanthvarni, He travelled through the jungles, granting salvation to worthy souls, whether they be animals, people, or vegetation. The travels of our beloved Jeevanpran Swamibapa too were for the salvation of infinite many souls. Once, Swamibapa did visit this place. Thereby, He made this land of Mahabaleswar, a sacred place of pilgrimage.
After the assembly, a ‘Pothi Yatra’ was held through Mahabaleswar, during which the sacred scriptures, Shree Rahasyarth Pradipika Tika sah Vachanamrut, and Shree Bapashree ni Vato, which had been recited earlier, were paraded through the streets. The residents of Mahableswar were given this unique opportunity for the divine darshan of Acharya Swamishree and the holy scriptures.
During the evening, a concert of devotional songs was presented by Mumbai’s Nirmal Art Group, including the superb singing of Shree Rajendrapal.
During the four day Shibir, many officials of the region flocked for Acharya Swamishree’s divine darshan and blessings. Everyone was keen to make this a successful, and truly memorable occasion.