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In Reverie: The Radhadesh Summer Camp 2010 - 2010-08-21
The building where the campers stayed has been quiet for a few weeks now: the rooms cleaned, the sheets washed. But the memories of the campers and their impact on the community will not be swept away.
Many of the participants (and mentors) had other plans for the summer, other ideas of how to spend their free time away from school and other commitments, but they spent one month on intense spiritual development together, as part of a group that will never be forgotten by all.
The activities and events included an adventure day (zip-lining through the forest, rock-climbing); performing in the annual Radhadesh Summer Festival; harinam in Belgium's cities; a three-day seminar on chanting by Kadamba Kanana Swami; the Paris Rathayatra festival; and many classes on Vaishnava culture, including mrdanga and Bharatnatyam classes.
And then there were the football matches, some planned into the daily schedule, and most spontaneously organized by the campers.
The campers' days were long, and full of variety and excitement.
As Pallavi Advani (16) said, "We were kept busy with some activity or another that was always fun or interesting, and we never got bored."
For many, the spiritual aspect of the camp, the sadhana, was a first, or at least the first time they'd willingly done these things: chanting japa, attending temple programs, and doing regular devotional service at the temple.
Many said that they found Krishna consciousness fun, not a boring religious activity. They enjoyed it and desired to do it on their own. They gained appreciation for the Deities' beauty and the importance of serving the Deities by doing sadhana and taking part in the temple programs.
The evening bhajans were another component of their realizations, they said, as was the sweet association that the Radhadesh community offered them and the subtle Vaishnava qualities their mentors displayed for them in everyday dealings.
The community was "so welcoming and always made us feel at home," said Pallavi.
The Radhadesh community would love to receive them back soon.
Written by Kumari Sherreitt
By Dinadayal dasa
The building where the campers stayed has been quiet for a few weeks now: the rooms cleaned, the sheets washed. But the memories of the campers and their impact on the community will not be swept away
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NEW BOOK, The Soul, Understanding Our Real Identity
Understanding Our Real Identity
The Key to Spiritual Awakening
By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)
This book provides a summarization of the most essential spiritual knowledge that will give you the key to spiritual awakening. Using quotes from various Vedic texts, the descriptions will give you greater insights and a new look at who and what you really are as a spiritual being.
The idea that we are more than merely these material bodies is pervasive. It is established in every religion and spiritual path in this world. However, many religions only hint at the details of this knowledge, but if we look around we will find that practically the deepest and clearest descriptions of the soul and its characteristics are found in the ancient Vedic texts of India.
Herein you will find some of the most insightful spiritual knowledge and wisdom known to mankind. Some of the topics include:
* How you are more than your body
* The purpose of life
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* The unbounded nature of the soul
* What is the Supersoul
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Sri Nandanandana dasa: This book provides a summarization of the most essential spiritual knowledge that will give you the key to spiritual awakening. Using quotes from various Vedic texts, the descriptions will give you greater insights and a new look at who and what you really are as a spiritual being
Achyuthari Das: Dear Devotees,
Please accept our most humble obeisances. All glories to ISKCON founder Acharya Srila Prabhupada.
This year Lord Sri Krishna’s Janamasthmi falls on Thursday 2nd Sept. We devotees from ISKCON center at GURGAON would like to invite you and your family to join us for the festivities of this auspicious and transcendental celebration. The celebrations are being organized at HUDA Gymkhana Club, Sec 29, on 2th September’10 at Gurgaon (Hr).
Following is the program schedule:
Special Attraction: Jhulan of Deities, Kunj Gali, Deepdaan, Aarati, Chappan Bhoga
Last year Sri Krishna Janmashtami saw footfalls of approx 10,000 & the estimated no. this year is 15,000 in view of the exciting program line up. Please come and join us to celebrate Sri Krishna Janmashtami with full vigour.
If you would like to perform some service or seva for Lord Sri Krishna on this auspicious day please contact us at: 0124-3271605,09711006601, 09891979752, 09810533599.
ISKCON started its activities in Gurgaon in the year 2000 and today we have an established center at Sec-31, H.No 74. Our weekly program is held every Sunday and is attended by approx300 people. Comprising of spiritual lectures from Bhagvat-Gita & love feast, we also have a vibrant congregation who perform dramas and ecstatic kirtans. We seek the blessings of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Pathasarthi, Srila Prabhupada and all vaisanavs for the upcoming temple in GURGAON.
Yours in the Service of Sri Sri Radha-Parthsarthi
Achyuthari Das(Chief Co-ordinator) and Devotees at Gurgaon
Achyuthari Das: This year Lord Sri Krishna's Janamasthmi falls on Thursday 2nd Sept. We devotees from ISKCON center at GURGAON would like to invite you and your family to join us for the festivities of this auspicious and transcendental celebration
Madhavananda Das: We are sorry to announce the departure of Svayambhu Maharaja, a senior disciple of Srila Gour Govinda Swami and our dear godbrother and friend.
When speaking of the glory of the Vaishnavas, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja would often quote the following Bengali verse from the poet Vaishnava Das:
vaisnavera guna gana, korile jivera trana suniache sadhu-guru mukhe
“I have heard from the lips of sadhu-guru, if you glorify a devotee, you will be delivered very easily. Krishna will be very pleased and you will get his mercy very easily.”
As all who knew him can readily confirm, glorification of a Vaishnava like Svayambhu Maharaja flows easily from the heart. He was a special person indeed.
Svayambhu Maharaja was born in a ksatriya family on 17 December 1935 as Subhas Chandra Nayak in the Orissan village Garaam. Subhas attended school in the nearby town of Kujanga. A teacher in one of his fourth grade classes was an effulgent Vaishnava only five years older than Subhas. This young teacher was named Braja Bandhu Manik. Subhas found Braja Bandhu to be a sober serious person, very dedicated to reading Vaishnava literature, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, and worshiping his family deity of Sri Sri Radha Gopal Jiu. Braja Bandhu was his teacher from the 4th to the 7th grades. At that time he didn’t know that his tutor would one day become known as Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja and would become Subhas’ spiritual master.
Subhas married when he was 19 years old, and like his revered instructor Braja Bandhu, he became a school teacher in the subjects of math and Oriya literature. Subhas was there on the 10th of April 1974 when Braja Bandhu left home. He later recalled:
I heard that Gurudev had left his family life and his position as a teacher and had gone to the Kakudia Math. The day after he left home I went to Kakudia Math to see him. When I arrived he was sitting and looking at a picture of Gopal and singing over and over again, “Gopal, Gopal, Gopal, Gopal, Gopal, Gopal, Gopal.” In the afternoon a group of teachers and students from the high school arrived to meet him. They were stunned by his sudden renunciation. They asked him, “Why have you left your job and your home?” Gurudev then asked me to recite Manabodha-cautisa, Instructions to the Mind, a song by the Oriya vaisnava Bhakta Charan Das:
kaha-i mana are mo bola kara kalasrimukha bare dekhiba calare
kete dinaku mana bandhuchu anta ki ghenijibu tora chutile ghatare
khandi je khandi tora panjara kathi khauna thibe svana srgaya bantire
khat palanke mana sejai sou khala durgandha heba e tora dehure
galeni to sangaru jeteka jana ganthire banddhinele ke kete dhanare
guru gobinda nama tunde nabolu gadhe majjina nitye dhana arjilure
gharaboli arjichu jete padartha ghata chutile tote bolibe bhutareg
ghara gharani deha kilauthibe gheni bandhu kutumba suddha hoibere
I say to you, O mind: Obey my order! Let us go and see the beautiful black-faced one [Lord Jagannath]! For how long will you remain bound in material life? At the end of your life, what will you take with you? Piece by piece your ribs will be distributed Amongst the dogs and jackals. O mind, you are now sleeping comfortably on a nice mattress, But after death your body will give off a terrible smell. How many of your friends and family have already died? How much of their wealth could they bind in a cloth to take with them? You have never uttered the names of guru and Govinda! Always deeply absorbed in thinking how to gather wealth, You are acquiring so many things like house and family! But when your life is gone, all will cry, “Ghost!” The ladies of the house will close up the doors. And only after the recommended period of purification will your relatives be considered freed from contamination.
Gurudev was listening intently to the song. When I came to the last line he fainted and fell back unconscious against me. Seeing that his jaw was clenched tightly shut, I took a piece of bamboo and pried open his mouth. When the teachers saw him faint in this way, they became convinced that Gurudev was no ordinary person and that he was truly qualified to leave home and take to spiritual life. The students, however, still wanted him to return. Seeing the mood amongst the students, I told them, “Now he is unconscious. We can easily take him back to his home. Go and get a motor rickshaw.” As soon as they left I carried Gurudev away where they could not find him. Later we came back to the matha. That evening Gurudev’s wife Srimati Vasanti Devi came. Gurudev had her sleep inside the room while he and I slept outside on top of some coconut palm leaves. In the morning I pointed out to Gurudev how there was an imprint on his body from the leaves. He said, “Yes, renounced life is like this.” His wife was unable to convince him to return, and he sent her back home that morning. He stayed there at Kakudia Math for five or six days, during which time he called for his younger brother Kripa-sindhu and asked him to take care of his family. Then he left Kakudia Math and walked 14 kilometers to Gadeigiri to request Gopal’s permission to take sannyasa.
After taking to the renounced order of life, Braja Bandhu asked Subhas to give him bhiksa or donations for a sannyasi. He told him, “Just as Buddha after leaving home first begged alms from his disciple Chandika, you please give me my first alms as a renunciate.”
Subhas had two sons and three daughters. During this time he lost contact with Braja Bandhu and became interested in Buddhism. After some years he left home and became a Buddhist sannyasi. In that position he traveled and preached in Tailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and various places in India. Although traveling extensively and preaching, Subhas never forgot his mentor Braja Bandhu.
In 1979 Subhas was visiting Bhubaneswar. While there he went to the Buddhist shrine known as Dola Giri. On his way back he went to get a bus. At the bus stand he was approached by a white skinned westerner, dressed in a dhoti with Vaishnava tilak. That devotee gave him a magazine in Oriya called Bhagavat Darshan. Seeing that Subhas was interested, the westerner began explaining some things about Krishna consciousness. He showed Subhas an article in the magazine written by an Orissan sannyasi, whom he said was living at their center in Bhubaneswar. The devotee’s name was Bhagavat Das, and he invited Subhas to come to meet that sannyasi. When Subhas later arrived at the ISKCON property, he was astonished to see that the sannyasi, now known as Gour Govinda Swami, was none other than Braja Bandhu — the mentor of his youth.
Gour Govinda Maharaja explained that he and Bhagavat had received initiation from His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada; and that his name was now Gour Govinda Swami. Subhas started coming every day to see Gour Govinda Maharaja, who patiently explained to him the principles of the Bhagavad-gita. Due to Maharaja’s strong preaching Subhas gradually gave up his interest in Buddhism, and became a follower of Srila Prabhupada. In 1984 he took intitiation from Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja and received the name Svayambhu Das. From that day, under the guidance and instruction of his spiritual master, Svayambhu began strongly preaching to the pious village people of Orissa. This remained his focus for the rest of his life. He became well-known for his learned discourses during which he would frequently sing traditional Oriya Vaishnava songs. He converted many sahajiyas in Orissa into pure followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada. After Gour Govinda Maharaja left this world in 1996, Svayambhu waited a few years and then took sannyasa from Srila Bhaktisvarup Damodar Maharaja in 2003. After taking sannyasa, he became known as Svayambhu Maharaja, and became even more enthusiastic to preach.
Around 2008, Svayambhu Maharaja started becoming frequently sick. His condition became acute in early August 2010, and the devotees took him to a local hospital. There he was treated for a few days and then passed away on the 11th of August 2010 at 4:15pm. A few minutes before his departure, Svayambhu Maharaja’s eldest son Mahendra came to visit. He gave his father some caranamrita and Jagannath maha-prasadam from Puri. After giving his father those items, Mahendra started playing a recording of Srila Prabhupada singing the maha-mantra; at which time Svayambhu Maharaja peacefully left his body.
Bhubaneswar Dham is a sacred place. It is part of Sri Ksetra, specifically the entrance to Jagannath Puri. The fifth chapter text one of the Kapila Samhita, a Sanskrit Sthala Purana of Orissa, describes the glories of Bhubaneswar:
tasmin ksetre dvija-sresthah te vasanti narah kila te yanti visnoh sannidhyam bhasamanah su-tejasah
“O best of the twice born those persons who reside in this effulgent and splendid holy land, attain to the abode of Lord Vishnu.”
Svayambhu Maharaja was 75 years of age when he departed from this world. He had no formal disciples, but he will be remembered by thousands of villagers all over Orissa whose lives he transformed by giving them the maha-mantra and the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Maharaja is survived by his purva-asrama wife Malati Nayak (initiated as Manjulata Devi Dasi), his two sons Mahendra and Bipin, and his 3 daughters Sangha Mitra (initiated as Su-prema Devi Dasi), Sujata (initiated as Suvarna Manjari), and Sakuntala, all of whom, with the exception of the youngest Sakuntala, were initiated by Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja.
The devotees in Bhubaneswar fondly remember Svayambhu Maharaja as being close with Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja. They are in the process now of making a svayam samadhi (full samadhi) for Svayambhu Maharaja at the ISKCON farm project in Atala, and a puspa-samadhi at his birthplace in Garaam.
We pray for Svayambhu Maharaja’s blessings that we can render some sincere service to our spiritual master in the way that he so wonderfully exemplified.
. . .
Svayambhu Maharaja only spoke a few words of English and after taking initiation he rarely traveled outside of Orissa. So he is relatively unknown to most of the devotees in the West. I can’t say that I had many exchanges with him. But I vividly remember the first time I ever saw him. It was the day when I first arrived in Bhubaneswar in October of 1993. I put my things in my guest house room and started walking on the outside veranda to the temple. I didn’t know anyone there — everything was very new to me. Looking down in the courtyard below I suddenly saw an effulgent elderly devotee in the courtyard. Without thinking, I instinctively offered him my obeisances. Just from his appearance I felt that he must be someone special. I later came to find out that it was my senior godbrother Svayambhu Prabhu.
Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada ki jaya! Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja ki jaya! Sri Svayambhu Maharaja ki jaya!
Vaishnava kripa prarthi, Madhavananda Das
Madhavananda Das: We are sorry to announce the departure of Svayambhu Maharaja, a senior disciple of Srila Gour Govinda Swami and our dear godbrother and friend.
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