Spiritually and Virtually Connected with BAPS
BAPS is an organization of people believing in Swaminarayan Sampradaya. They strongly believe in community development and hence meeting every week is in the core of their system. The people must follow the rules of Social Distancing due to COVID-19. In such times, weekly meetings or Sabhas are not possible. How does BAPS stay connected in such times? Stay Spiritually and Virtually Connected with BAPS.
“Better the world around you by bettering yourself.”– HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Introduction to BAPS
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is a spiritual organization. It is devoted to improve society through individual growth by fostering the Hindu ideals of faith, unity and selfless service. Bhagwan Swaminarayan believed in responding to the social and spiritual needs of people. He concentrated on the spiritual and social development of every individual and these remain the fundamental principles of the organization today under the hands of Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Life is a continuous cycle of change. People mature and develop through different stages of life. It is the direction of this constant change which determines the decline or growth of a community. The people of BAPS stay with people through life’s changes by helping them develop their academic and professional careers and their family and social lives. BAPS cultivates a community where children are nurtured through academic programs, character building and wellness programmes. All individuals are given a platform to showcase their passion and talents. With the skills developed through these programs, BAPS encourages giving back to the community. At the centre of this all is the mandir, an epicentre for overall development.
Community Development with BAPS
To reinforce Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s teachings to live a spiritual and moral life, followers of BAPS regularly attend weekly meetings (sabha). Weekly sabhas provide a practical escape from the materialistic world which we live in. The most common feature of satsang is the weekly sabhas. Devotees attended at their nearest mandir. These sabhas are for all age groups. Here reading of the scriptures and singing of kirtans is combined with discourses and prayers. The Saints (santos) host the sabhas. Both adults and children attend these sabhas. Weekly satsang sabhas are a weekly event at more than 3,850 BAPS centers around the world. This provides a platform for people’s spiritual growth. Now that we are in a period of isolation and uncertainty, being spiritually connected gives everyone a glimmer of hope. It gives people a moment of peace and mental strength to continue with their daily lives despite the pandemic.
During this period of social distancing, sabha has become an online method of recharging people’s spirits and refreshing their minds. Since people are unable to physically attend the sabha every Sunday, the sabha comes to them. BAPS has organised an e-sabha for people to attend from home every week. This allows people a chance to stay spiritually connected during quarantine.
These are the list of online assemblies that assist in keeping everyone spiritually and virtually connected.
Weekly Online Sabha due to COVID-19
All the followers get together online and listen to hymns (bhajans) and spiritual discourses delivered by either santos or other people.This gives everyone a good mental and spiritual break from daily life and its miseries. Each week has different topics and all the discourses are based on the topic. This also gives people a chance to have darshan of santos. With the sabha being online, it can be conducted from anywhere in the world, which means that the devotees also get blessings from Sadguru Santos and Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj. This allows everyone to be a part of the sabha at their comfort, they do not have to leave their home and get their weekly dose of satsang. People believe that it is more effective and less time consuming.
1. Gnan Goshti
Gnan Goshti is also a form of sabha which is conducted by the heads (sanchalaks). Goshti is also a weekly assembly in which people are given homework which may include reading prasangs or watching videos which are later discussed as a group. In this way people get to learn from others and grow spiritually. There is also a question answer session which assists in solving doubts and leaving everyone with menace (smruti) and thoughts of God. There are also guests speakers from different parts of the world who join in to give talks and answer doubts. It is an interactive method for people to get to learn a lot of things from one another.
2. Kishor/Kishori Sevak School
the youths of the sanstha conduct this assembly. It enables the youth to develop different skills and learn more on how to be a good devotee. The youth undergo different activities individually and in groups from which they learn great teamwork and gain a lot of confidence. This assists with personal and spiritual development of the youth.
3. Symphony of Recollections (Smruti’s)
Why watch Netflix when you can binge on smrutis? Every Friday there are smruti videos of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj that everyone indulges in for a great start to the weekend. Old videos which bring up old memories and lots of new things to learn. This allows people to connect to their Gurus without being physically present.
4. Guruhari Darshan
When you can’t be physically present with your guru, all you need is YouTube. Each day, a darshan video is posted on the BAPS Youtube Channel which allows people to have darshan of HDH Mahant Swami Maharaj without being physically present with him. This gives people the chance to see him without having to travel to where he is present.
Spiritual traditions encourage participation in a community. Spiritual fellowship are sources of social support which provide a sense of belonging and security. And that is exactly what BAPS is all about. There are countless such things which the Sanstha continues to do to make the world a better place.