Images from Maninagar

The auspicious day of Guru Poornima was celebrated on Sunday July 13, 2003, in all the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan Temples around the world. All the disciples took the opportunity to offer poojan to Gurudev Lord SwaminarayanBapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree on this day.

Guru Purnima celebrations were also held at Shree Swaminarayan Temple, Secaucus, New Jersey, in the presence of His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree. This was a rare opportunity for all the disciples living in the USA. Thousands of disciples gathered at New Jersey to be in the presence of Acharya Swamishree on this magnificent day.

The celebrations commenced at 3:30 in the Muktajeevan Swamibapa Hall. Swamibapa's Sants carried Jeevanpran Swamibapa into the Hall in a palkhi. Young disciples carried offerings to the Lord, in the form of a Shahi Swagat. Our beloved Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa was offered fresh fruits, dry fruits and panchamrut. Acharya Swamishree performed the ceremonial poojan of Jeevanpran Swamibapa using chandan, flowers, garlands and shawls. The Sants and the sponsors of this auspicious day also took the opportunity and performed poojan to Acharya Swamishree.

The principal guests on this occasion were Mr. Nambia, Ambassador of the UN from India, Dr. Kashmir, Director of the Tristate Hospitals and the renowned Indian poet, Shree Gunvant Patel. Acharya Swamishree blessed them all and honored them with prasadi paags, garlands and presented them with a memento of this occasion.

The UN Ambassador's wife had also come for the divine darshan of the Lord. She was given the opportunity to sing a prarthna. The trustees of the Temple presented her with a prasadi shawl.

Mr. Nambia then said a few words to commend Acharya Swamishree for creating such a magnificent Temple in the USA. Mr. Nambia spoke about the importance of a Temple in one's lives and about the need for a true Guru.

Dr. Kashmir spoke about guru bhakti and the devotion that one should have unto the Supreme Lord.

Shree Gunvant Patel used examples from the life of the disciple Pipa to elucidate on the manner in which one should live in order to please the Lord. "Paap na kijiye to karat punya 100" (By not committing sin, you are doing 100 virtuous deeds).

Acharya Swamishree then blessed all those present with His divine ashirwad. Acharya Swamishree used many examples to explain the importance of Guru Poornima and the need for a Guru in one's life. Acharya Swamishree said that disciples should renounce all of their own ideas and instead obey the commands of their Guru. Acharya Swamishree said that there are billions of gurus that exist in the world but there is only one true Guru. The Guru that leads one to the supreme Lord Swaminarayan is the true Guru. That is why we are extremely fortunate to have been blessed with the true divine Guru, Jeevanpran Swamibapa. Only such a true Guru can grant absolute salvation.

Acharya Swamishree described our immense fortune for attaining such an elite Guru. None of us had to perform penance or embark on pilgrimages to meet our Gurudev. Our Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa had mercy upon us all and chose us all to be His children.

Acharya Swamishree narrated an episode about the disciple Javeri Bhakta. He was in search of a guru who could relieve him of his pains. Every night when he slept, he saw yam, spirits who would attack him from within. He had tried everything possible for over 12 years to become free of this torment, but nothing was successful. One day, Lord Swaminarayan's Sant, Sadguru Shree Krupanand Swami came to his village. Javeri Bhakta went to hear Swami's discourses. Shree Krupanand Swami described the immense glory of the supreme Lord Swaminarayan. Shree Krupanand Swami said that the Swaminarayan name itself is so powerful that absolute salvation will be attained by all those who devotedly chant this mantra and who surrender their lives unto the merciful Lord Swaminarayan. Swami continued that by merely chanting this name, ghosts, demons and spirits will be driven away. That night, Javeri Bhakta recited the name Swaminarayan before he slept. Just as Swami had said, none of the spirits came to haunt him. The next morning, he eagerly went to Shree Krupanand Swami and fell at his feet. Javeri Bhakta took Shree Krupanand Swami as his Guru and devoted his entire life to worshiping Lord Swaminarayan.

Acharya Swamishree said that just as Javeri Bhakta met Shree Krupanand Swami, we have been fortunate to be granted the divine shelter of Jeevanpran Swamibapa. We must become pure and pious. We must devote our lives to our Gurudev and remain faithful to Him.

After the ashirwad, the sponsors of this festival were presented with prasadi paags, and each disciple lined to perform the poojan of Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree.

At the end of the celebrations, the sponsors performed aarti, and then the entire congregation performed a communal aarti to please the Lord. Prasad was then distributed to all present.

The presence of Acharya Swamishree on this special day made it the most glorious Gurupoonam celebration that the disciples of the USA had experienced. They will all remember this day, and the divine darshan that Acharya Swamishree gave them all on this day, forever more.