Srila Hridayananda das Goswami Acharyadeva’s visit to Pandavas Paradise this last weekend was a historic occasion. Pandavas Paradise was started by me because, 10 years ago, my spiritual master, Srila Acharyadeva, requested that I set up a rural project in that region. It was a one line email, just saying he wanted me to “bring Krishna to High Paradise”. (The nearest town is called Alto Paraíso, which means “High Paradise”).
There were no further consultations. I did not ask from him, nor did he give me, any other details on the project. What to do? Where to do it? What to build? How big, how many, when??? But I just set off to do it, constantly praying for guidance and inspiration from Krishna.
So, ten years later, when the time finally came for him to see what had been done, I confess I was quite anxious! What if he didn’t like it? What if he thought I had spoiled it?
We organized a retreat there with Srila Acharyadeva, as part of his Brazil Tour. People came from all over the country. It was our biggest retreat yet, with some 50 people there. We had to buy extra pots, pans, plates, cups and cutlery for it.
We got there before most other guests had arrived, so Acharyadeva could look around in peace, have a quiet lunch and get ready for the evening program. To my great relief, he immediately liked it! He loved the beautiful scenery, the distant horizons, the deep blue of the sky, and the grassy plains. He loved the crisp pure 4000 ft (1300 m) altitude mountain air. He liked our guest rooms, our log buildings and our vegetable garden. Phew! I couldn’t believe my good fortune!
Throughout the retreat he remarked on what had been done there. He said it was very inspiring and it had been very important for him to have gone there. He said that he had all kinds of realizations there. One point that struck him most was that we had created a bubble of transcendental reality. Because the place is so big (800 acres, 397 hectares) and far away from everything (from all sides you can only see in the distance a few other farm houses), the outside world is left behind and one becomes absorbed in the prevailing Krishna conscious atmosphere.
Acharyadeva gave two main lectures during the retreat. One covered the existence of the personal soul and personal God concept in different religions. The other was a Gita lecture on verse 10.10 were he stressed the need for understanding God in order to understand oneself and the importance of the holy names.
For the second lecture, we had some guests come from the local town. We started off with aratik and kirtan, led by my wife, Carana Renu DD.
Acharyadeva danced in ecstasy!
We also had a special guest there, Jagad Vicitra Prabhu. He was one of the first Prabhupada disciples in Brazil and is the brother of Dhanvantari Swami (also a Prabhupada disciple and one of the pioneers of KC in Brazil). Jagad Vicitra Prabhu opened dozens of temples in the North and Northeast of Brazil in the early days, under the command of Srila Acharyadeva. He deeply loves and appreciates Srila Acharyadeva. He gave two classes, one was just glorifying Acharyadeva, the other was on the glories of the Srimad Bhagavatam. His second lecture was so effective one of the retreat guests bought a whole collection! People laughed and cried at his lectures – he’s an amazing story-teller and a very captivating speaker.
On Saturday we walked to the waterfalls. It was a beautiful day and people had a great time.
Early on Sunday, we had to leave for the airport (3 hours away), as Acharyadeva was off to Porto Alegre.
I was very grateful for his visit, for Prabhupada’s mercy and for Krishna so kindly letting me take part in such sweet transcendental adventure.
Click here to see more pictures of the retreat with Srila Acharyadeva.
Click here to see pictures of the lecture he gave in Brasilia, the day before we travelled to Pandavas Paradise.