(iskconnews.org) – ISKCON News | It’s Raining Retreats at New Mayapur
Mahavishnu Swami with brahmacharis from Mahamantra Institute in Lyon during Jhulan Yatra.
New Mayapur hosted a series of retreats this spring and summer with stalwart devotees such as Ananda Vardhana Swami, Bhakti Raghava Swami, Bhakti Vigyana Swami, Bhakti Vikas Swami, Mahavishnu Swami, Radhanatha Swami, Svayam Bhagavan Keshava Swami, Adi Karta Das, Parividha Das, Devaki Devi Dasi, and Mandakini Devi Dasi. They each graced the holy French dham with their transcendental presence and inspired the Sankirtan efforts of the French Yatra. These elite preachers brought along with them a diverse entourage, including musicians from the Harinam Ruchi traveling Harinam party, school and university-going youngsters from the Pandava Sena in the UK, brahmacharis on traveling sankirtan tour from the Holy Name Monastery in Lithuania and several professionals from the world over. Sankirtan devotees from the France yatra, including devotees from Paris and the Mahamantra Institute in Lyon, gathered to receive and render service to the guests and, in turn, were deeply moved by the powerful teachings diffused by these eminent leaders.
“In Kali Yuga, it is said that all holy places lose their potency, except for Mayapur dham, and this is the only place in the world that Prabhupada named New Mayapur dham,” said Radhanath Swami. As devotees leaned in closer to Maharaj to savor every drop of the nectar of his words, he explained the transcendental significance of this beautiful dham as the only place in the world, outside Vrindavan, where Srila Prabhupada personally installed Krishna Balaram deities.
Speaking of New Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada said, “This is a first-class place. You can develop it into a Vaikuntha. It is already Vaikuntha, Krsna is there. But develop it very nicely, peacefully live” (Room conversation 1976). “The words of Srila Prabhupada continue to echo within the castle walls, and this is our inspiration,” said Locanananda Das, President of New Mayapur. “It was the desire of Bhakti Charu Maharaja to develop New Mayapur dham into a retreat center where devotees from the world over can get together, learn more about bhakti, inspire each other, and thereby serve Srila Prabhupada in his holy mission,” he added.
“New Mayapur is a manifestation of Srila Prabhupada’s desire to establish varnashrama dharma, in which he wanted to teach people how to live off the land,” said Bhakti Vigyana Goswami during his interactive session with devotees in the garden of New Mayapur, accompanied by the cows and goats of the dham, in typical rural Indian fashion.
The retreats proved to be an excellent platform for visiting devotees to have first-hand experience of what it means to live close to nature in a farm community, as envisioned and desired by Srila Prabhupada. Devaki Devi Dasi chaired several sessions on the grihastha ashram where she explained the duties of a woman and said that raising a Krishna-conscious child was as important as worshiping deities.
Keshava Swami also spoke on the great work done by ISKCON farm communities, such as New Mayapur, for environmental protection while being interviewed for the ISKCON Environmental Initiative to inspire the youth to develop such projects during the retreats. Sandwiched between the retreats were initiation ceremonies for new disciples held by Janananda Goswami, who leads the French yatra, and Bhakti Vikas Swami, who had returned to New Mayapur after three decades.
“The A-list of guests alone had created great anticipation and tremendous enthusiasm among devotees for these retreats, who were energized both in their Sankirtan efforts and farm community development. The spiritual fervour reached its zenith during the Balaram Purnima festival, with the presence of Radhanath Maharaja, Mahavishnu Maharaja, Janananda Maharaja, Adi Kartha Prabhu, Parividha Prabhu, and Devaki Mataji,” remarked Gandharvika Devi Dasi, Vice President, New Mayapur.
“Sankirtan in France, by the untiring efforts of Janananda Maharaja, has grown tremendously, with France bagging the third position in book distribution for Europe in 2022. Sankirtan devotees are more energized than ever with the encouragement from these top-notch preachers. Hence, we pray to do better this year,” she continued, “We plan to host more retreats and develop this as a retreat hub in Europe, where we receive traveling preachers regularly and thereby boost our farm community development and Sankirtan efforts in Europe.”
“Such retreats and the presence of elevated devotees is a great boost to our Sankirtan efforts. Time and again, Srila Prabhupada has stressed that book distribution is our most important work and that if we simply rely on book distribution, all our needs will be met. Hence, we are looking forward to more such programs that motivate us in book distribution,” said Padmalocan Das, a full-time Sankirtan brahmachari from Czech who had come to attend a retreat.
“The sojourn in New Mayapur teaches people by example how to live off the land, as per the desire of Srila Prabhupada and the practical application of varnashrama as envisioned by him,” said Sukanya Lalitha Devi Dasi, another visiting devotee from Czech. “We were taken aback by the grandeur and splendor of these retreats and the wonderful Balaram festival. Hence, we are interested in serving New Mayapur to organize more such retreats, as they are such a benediction to humanity”, said Rakesh Gowda, a Paris-based entrepreneur discovering Krishna consciousness for the first time in New Mayapur. With the grand success of retreats and appreciation from residents and guests, New Mayapur is gearing up to host many more retreats and welcome many more people.
To learn more about all the ongoing service at New Mayapur, to volunteer, or to become a part of this community, visit their website.