For the third year in a row, we organized a bhakta training program in Pandavas Paradise, called JIVA (Jornada Intensiva de Vaishnavismo). It’s probably our favorite retreat, because it’s such a pleasure helping sincere devotees in their Krishna Consciousness. It’s also our longest retreat, a full seven nights.
We had participants from far away places, such as Aracajú, in the far northeast and Erechim, a city in the far south (the young man endured a 36 hour bus ride, a sleep over in a roadside motel and a further 3 hour bus ride to get to us!). We also had two college professors, a physiotherapist, a lawyer, a fligh attendant and an office worker (and a six-year old little devotee girl).
We teach them about our Vaisnava philosophy, literature, sadhana, etiquette, cleanliness, our principal songs, basic sanskrit pronunciation, even how to apply tilak.
We also teach them everything about prasadam (what it is, how to prepare it, how to offer it, how to serve it) and the basics of home Deity worship (a major topic of interest). And finally, we teach them about Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, BBT and the importance of preaching.
One of the major threads that run through the retreat’s classes is the importance of japa and studying Prabhupada’s books. We especially emphasize the Srimad Bhagavatam and every year we sell many sets. This year we sold 5 full Bhagavatam sets (the sixth participant already had her set).
The participants feel deeply moved and inspired by the retreat. Here are some things they wrote to us later:
“JIVA was decisive for the progress of my spiritual life”
“Spending a week at the farm (Pandavas Paradise) was an intense watering of our plant of devotional service…”
“I can’t find words to properly express my gratitude for all the wonderful moments I experienced in JIVA 2010”
We are now thinking of organizing an additional week-long bhakti retreat, focusing on the four bhakti-shatri scriptures.
Click here to see more pictures of the JIVA retreat.