Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Story of Shastriji Maharaj

Free from the clutches of the January,we enter the short-lived month of February with a presentation on Shastriji Maharaj's life. It proves quite opportune for those of us taking the Pravesh exam in about a month or perhaps a red flag to start cracking down on the reading. Here are a few ways of tackling Sunday's presentation in kishore/kishori sabha.

Step 1: Let's start with the simple statement. Here are a few to get our thoughts going.
  • Shastriji Maharaj's childhood reflects the genuine and sincere nature of his later efforts.
  • Shastriji Maharaj's inner strength shone through his struggles but not from under the spotlight.
  • The value of "respect" propelled Shastriji Maharaj to the pinnacle of the Swaminarayan Sampraday.

Step 2: What will be our unexpected opening?
  • Santa Fight Club: This story from a previous episode of This American Life (20:30-48:16) really made our jaws dropped as we heard how two real-bearded old men duked it out for the power to lead a national organization of Santas. What makes this story fascinating is that Santa Clause is culturally revered as a symbol for compassion and kindness, and an overactive ego defiled an otherwise noble character into a nasty one. It was the same case for Shastriji Maharaj, for while spreading Satsang was noble, it turned nasty when some failed to tolerate his rise.
  • Famous Failures: No successful individual made it without suffering some setback. While the video below showcases a few individuals, another way of presenting this idea is to play fortune teller with the sabha. Read out the failures and then give the audience a few choices - one of which is the truth - while the others are what we would otherwise choose given the negative information. Do not reveal the truths immediately to build anticipation.
  • Red Bull's Flugtag: In an earlier post, the second picture featured the Flugtag competition hosted by Red Bull. According to the site, the competition "challenges teams of everyday people to build homemade, human-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight! Flugtag may mean 'flying day' in German, but all these crafts ultimately splash into the waters below. They are judged not only on their flight's distance, but creativity and showmanship as well." Aircrafts that actually work harness the simple concept known as Bernoulli's principle (also featured in that earlier post). Just as this mere principle makes or breaks an endeavor, respect made Shastriji Maharaj's endeavor that much greater. While the aircraft entered in Flugtag are not expected to soar to new heights and are thus judged for creativity and showmanship, Shastriji Maharaj did not care for the spread of his name (distance), his ingenuity in putting forth a new interpretation (creativity), and his reputation as the founder of a new sanstha (showmanship). All he card about was respect, and thus his endeavor naturally soared to new heights.

Step 3: Pick out the prasangs.
  • Though we are provided prasangs in the syllabus, putting some thought behind them will help us make them memorable. In other words, they should reflect our simple statement, so working out the link beforehand will certainly help us present the prasang.
Sure, we may think we've heard the story of Shastriji Maharaj time and time again, but it is one of the most powerful and passion-invoking stories that history of Satsang has to offer. It draws upon many lessons worthy of imbibing in our lives, a few of which are included here, so let's make a point to respect our guru's life by sharing one with our sabha this Sunday. 

No comments:

Post a Comment