By Yugma Patel
Driving fast and breaking curfews. Arguing with parents and shoplifting. Smoking, drinking and rebelling. Those are just some things today’s teenagers are tempted with.
Nevertheless, how can we guide our youths of today into being the leaders of tomorrow and point them towards a righteous life? A young man or woman can change the very shape of the world with the right path and mentor. Without assistance to point out the proper route, they can go astray. Many youths find the right supervision and instruction by being a part of an organization called BAPS Sanstha.
BAPS, which stands for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha is a non-profit, socio-spiritual Hindu organization. The organization provides guidance and inspiration to people to lead more enriched lives. The organization helps individuals appreciate their cultural and helps them address moral challenges they may face. All individual learn to overcome these challenges and issues through culturally and spiritually. They hold youth activities and educational opportunities for young adults. They also have a charity called BAPS Charities. This charity supports many different causes every year. They find the greater importance in the relationships of family and friend
Many adults think the youth of today are rebels. Indeed, young people of today have a strong attraction to rebel against anything and everything. Being insubordinate is not a crime, however, it becomes a crime when the disorderly action has a negative outcome. Teens are attracted to openly resist authority, but why? Raging hormones and desperate desire to find their identities, teens can be more easily swayed to acting out negatively. To prevent young people from going wander onto a dangerous path, an adult needs to show them the right direction and give the guidance on how to live a meaningful life and not waste it.
To steer kids towards a more positive road, young people ages thirteen to twenty-two have the opportunity to become involved in different activities and services in a BAPS temple. They receive guidance to become the leaders of tomorrow and guide our community towards a brighter future from their leader and/or guru known as Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj is not just a role model to adolescents and teens, but he is also a role model to every individual who is apart of this organization.
Ilesh Patel, who is 22 years old, started participating in BAPS when he was an infant. “I’ve stayed away from negative influence and all other aspects that can lead to the downfall for my life. He (Pramukh Swami Maharaj) at the age of 92 has never been more proactive than he is now. He follows all his rules ever since childhood, so why can’t we? He is my perfect role model. He helps me become successful so that is why I stay away from negative influence[s].”
The organization began in 1907 in a small village in India, and has since then spread worldwide, generating more than 3,300 centers. The first North American BAPS facility was established in 1974 in a New York basement, and today there are approximately 70 locations within Canada and the United States.
The Youth Wing was established in 1952 in Mumbai, India. This wing has flourished through the enthusiastic guidance and care of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. In 2012, this youth wing marked its 60th year. BAPS Youth wing continues to inspire teens and young adults throughout the world to a noble life of service, devotion, and discipline. There are many subdivisions of BAPS along with Youth Wing. Just as the young groups can find the right guidance, adults find the same guidance needed to a right path.
Ilesh Patel said, “BAPS helped me cultivate my perspectives and augmented my mentality both positively and spiritually. I enjoy helping others, I love donating, and I love volunteering, all due to the aspect of BAPS charities. BAPS helped me strengthen my bond with god and helped me gain more confidence.”
Why do Youths today go astray? For some, there isn’t any spiritual training available. They have an overflowing mixture of adrenaline and confidence to change the world. A young person’s spiritual and physiological energy should not be bottled up; in fact, that energy should be channeled in a proper channel for something good.
Every weekend, many young people gather at different locations of BAPS temple to learn how to live a pure life and to avoid veering in the wrong direction. There are many activities that take place in BAPS temple. In addition, BAPS temples hold classes teaching about religion and culture. These temples also focus on youth development.
Zalpa Mandalaywala said, “BAPS tries to convey their message through different activities and events in which youths of different ages get to learn at their own pace and make BAPS apart of their daily life. They teach life lessons through the different parts of the Hindu religion itself in which helps youths to be able to grasp what they’re being taught.” Zalpa does not participate in the organization, but has been closely associated with many individual who are.
Many centers organize college preparatory classes along with leadership training, preparing individual for job interviews by practicing with an expert, SAT prep classes, and develop skills in workshops as well. They initiate healthy living among children and young adults. Kids are taught to abstain from addictions by being informed of the negative impact these bad addictions can have, how to avoid bad influences, and how to detach themselves from worldly pleasures that will only bring them harm.
Aakash Patel said, “Being part of BAPS Sanstha opened my eyes to see the world around me and helped me to understand that the values I have, I should keep. BAPS sanstha also helped me cultivate my energy into positive things and helps me to stay away from bad influence[s].”
Pramukh Swami Maharaj leads by example. He was presented with certificated marking his entry into the world famous record book. He received a certificate for inspiring and building the largest traditional Hindu temple outside of India. The second one for marking 355 temple consecration ceremonies performed between April 1971 and May 2000.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj lives by the motto of, “In the joy of others, lies our own.”