Chandramukha Swami (HDG) spent 3 nights in Pandavas Paradise, from the 17th to the 20th of February. Though we only had two weeks notice that he was coming, we decided to organize a bhakti retreat to make the most of his visit.
Chandramukha Swami will be celebrating this year 25 years of sannyasa – quite an accomplishment for anyone, what to speak of someone who took sannyasa in his twenties and preaches in Rio de Janeiro! Though little known outside of Brazil, Maharaja is very popular here. He’s quite creative and has written dozens of books on Krishna Consciousness and recorded dozens of kirtan CDs with popular Brazilian musicians. He’s also an excellent preacher, well versed in the shastras. Since being appointed guru a few years ago, he has taken on nearly a hundred disciples.
We had a full house for this retreat, all but two people being regular congregational members in Brasília, which though 250km away is the closest big city to Pandavas Paradise. Pandavas Paradise and ISKCON Brasilia have a synergetic relationship – an essential key to the success of retreat and farm projects.
At the start of the retreat, it seemed we had a disaster in our hands! Maharaja, after eating some vegetarian sushi with a bit too much wasabi (horseradish), felt his throat tighten up. It turned out that Maharaja has developed some lumps in his vocal chords from all these years of intense speaking and chanting and will apparently need surgery. With his throat aggravated from having just come from an intense preaching tour in Santiago, Chile, the wasabi was the final blow. He called his doctor, who chastised him and told him to remain in total silence! 16 people had come to listen to Maharaja and upon arriving were informed that it was likely Maharaja would not be speaking at all!
I quickly thought of an alternative – I’d speak to the guests on the fascinating story of Chitraketu Maharaja, from Sixth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. The first night I spoke on Chapter 14 and was prepared to extend the presentation all through the weekend.
But, to our surprise and delight, the next morning Maharaja showed up at class time and said he was feeling better after only one night of silence – you can’t keep a good swami down! He then went on to lecture for nearly 5 hours that day, giving a Bhagavatam class on Ajamila, a long questions and answers session, and a Bhagavad-gita class on verse 18.67!
We also went on a walk to our waterfalls, with ladies going to the big waterfall and Maharaja with the men to another. To avoid unnecessary speaking on the way, it was a mauna-vrata or japa-vrata walk.
Maharaja cracked us up by carrying a little piece of paper with the words mauna-vrata!
Maharaja was very impressed with the scenic beauty of Pandavas Paradise and our waterfall.
The ladies went to a separate waterfall.
On Sunday morning Maharaja left at 5am. I finished the presentation on Chitraketu Maharaja that morning and, after breakfast, the retreat was brought to a close. The guests were inspired and spiritually recharged, happy to have gotten such wonderful association in Paradise.
Maharaja wrote in his blog:
“By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, I spent the last weekend literally in ‘Paradise.’ And not just any paradise, but a Krishna conscious paradise, the best of both worlds.”
Click here to see more pictures of the retreat!