From December 26 to January 1st, we had our first New Year retreat in Pandavas Paradise (Chapada dos Veadeiros, Brazil).
The guests had practically no previous contact with Krishna devotees. Some came seeking just a quiet, peaceful way to bring the year to a close, others were actively seeking to learn more about the spirituality of yoga. One of the things they learnt was mantra meditation (japa), and every day we had a 30 minute practice session.
We also had aratiks twice per day and by the end they were chanting along very nicely.
“So here Bhagavan Krsna is present. Even a child comes and offers his respect, it is taken into account, that ‘Here is a devotee.’ He does not know anything. Simply by seeing the chanting and dancing—you’ll see practically—even a small child, he dances, he claps, he enjoys. He takes part. So the temple means to give chance to everyone, even to the child, to advance one step to Krsna consciousness.”
– Srila Prabhupada Lecture SB 3.25.14, Bombay, November 14, 1974
A student of mine, Ana Paula, came from Rio to act as the yoga teacher for the retreat. The guests loved her classes – they liked it so much they had 6 hours of yoga class one day, and they wanted her to move to São Paulo to open a yoga studio there.
Manjari DD, a disciple of Bhakti Chaitanya Swami, has come from Russia to spend some time here helping us out in the retreats.
It rained a lot, but we did manage to walk twice and enjoy our paradisic watefalls!
We also inaugurated our reconstructed Shanti Guest House, which had burnt down in late september due to raging forest fires in the region. It’s now bigger and better than before and the guests told us how much they appreciated them.
Here are comments made by some of our guests from this retreat:
“I loved everything and I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to learn more about myself.” – Mari Felice (São Paulo)
“I’d like to thank everyone for the generous exchange of ideas, care and knowledge” – Fernanda Chieco (São Paulo)
“Thank you very much!!! It was a real gift to be able to participate in this retreat with the precious presence of each one of you. I begin 2011 with a level of enthusiasm and confidence I haven’t felt for a long time.” – Claudia Benson (São Paulo)
You can see more pictures from the retreat here.