A section of the audience at the BAPS Swaminarayan Women’s Conference held in Bartlett, Illinois, April 6. (All photos courtesy of BAPS)

The BAPS Shri Swaminaryan Mandir, in Bartlett Illinois, hosted its 13th annual Women’s Conference April 6. This year, the conference was themed “Sadhana: The Purpose and the Pursuit”, which encouraged women from all over the Midwest region to lead purposeful lives and empower and inspire each other to reach their professional and spiritual goals.

One of the speakers at the BAPS Swaminarayan Women’s Conference in Bartlettt, Illinois addresses the audience.

The conference focused on one’s endeavors while on the path of spiritual sadhana, presenting an insightful look at efforts to reach such goals, mental and circumstantial challenges women may face, and ways to overcome difficulties along the way, a press release from the organization said.

Dr. Sima Patel, resident physician at University of Minnesota, in her speech, reflected on her journey, reflecting on the three crucial concepts that drover her success: passion, purpose and perseverance. Dr. Patel touched on how growth and comfort do not co-exist. “Growth is uncomfortable, because we have never been there before. We cannot become what we want, by remaining what we are” she said, citing the example of her guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who was appointed the president of BAPS at the age of 28, who accepted this appointment, despite being unaccustomed to such status. By accepting this appointment, he grew and changed the lives of millions for the better, she said.

Dr. Leena Patel (PharmD, University of Illinois), focused her speech on spiritual sadhna. She said, “Spiritual sadhana makes us more prepared for all other efforts we undertake and brings inner calm to our chaotic lives.” She dwelt on four practical tips which she said help imbibe spiritual sadhana into daily life: practice dharma, listen to kirtans or devotional hymns, listen to katha or religious discourses, and study scriptures.

Dr. Sangita Rangala, an emergency medicine physician, shared her experience in the emergency room, a place that requires qualities of being still enough and controlling inner energies, “When we are still, we are able to appreciate the hard work of everyone in the room. We have to meet patients mentally, emotionally and spiritually” she said. Dr. Rangala focused her speech on recognizing the self as divine.

After the conference many attendees reflected on their personal and spiritual sadhanas. This year’s conference was the first for Dr. Monali Desai, who is quoted saying, “I wanted to be open minded. I had been in a spiritual journey, but this was new. I wanted to hear what other women had to say.”

Shree Gurusamy noted, “It was a fantastic effort to put together by the team. It is a good way to get youngsters involved.”

The press release said that the Women’s Conference “was inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj, the current spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha,” and highlights “the influential role of women in today’s society and empowers the younger generations by promoting a healthy dialogue.”

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