From the 18-25th of July we held the second JIVA retreat (see introduction here). This time we had almost a full house (15 people!). People came from different corners of the country, from the far north to the far south, as well as from Brasilia, Rio and São Paulo.
Every day there would be two main classes. In general, one would be more philosophical (general philosophy, guru-tattva, study of the temple songs, avatar theology, the Vedas, etc.) and the other more practical (how to prepare and offer prasada, Deity worship, Sanskrit pronunciation, etc.).
Students are constantly encouraged to take notes, and, for some classes, we also hand out, at the end, an essay covering the topics discussed.
The Deity worship class is a big hit. Students learn the theory and practice of arcana, and even learn to make ghee wicks.
Students also learn about Srila Prabhupada, how ISKCON is governed, and the BBT, as well as about other mathas and the ritviks.
We have an hour long japa session together every day and other time-slots are allocated for more japa. By the end of the JIVA this year 13 out of the 15 participants were managing to chant 16 rounds a day.
We have two aratiks a day. Mostly with a more meditative kirtan style, with everyone sitting down, but also some more lively Gaura Aratiks.
The ladies have a special program just for them: Women in Krishna Consciousness. This includes teaching them how to wear saris and dance in the temple. They love it!
We took the group on two nice outings during the retreat. They hiked our trails and swam in our waterfalls.
As they were taught the songs and how to play the kartals, students were encouraged to take turns practicing it, during aratiks and leading the “sarira” chant.
Speaking of “sarira”, the prasada was delicious, mostly very healthy and we had vegan dishes for every meal (we had a vegan couple present). Some of the fruits and veggies were from our organic garden.
For those of you who understand Portuguese, here you can see a video of the testimony of the participants.
We only pray that Srila Prabhupada may bless us with more such sweet service.