Tag Archives: porto alegre

Weekend Gita Workshop in Porto Alegre

Last weekend we held our 4th Weekend Gita Workshop in Porto Alegre, covering chapters 7 and 8.

This was our biggest group yet, with 16 people. Since the last one was our smallest, I was enthused by the change. The devotee couple who organize this program in Porto Alegre, Vrajendra-nanda Das and Vraja-jana DD (both Param Gati Swami disciples) redoubled their efforts to attract new participants. When the group is a little bigger, like this, the workshop is much more dynamic and interesting and I personally find it more rewarding in general.

Chapter 8 of the Gita explicitly deals with the subject of death (and where we go after it).  This timeless issue raised some interesting discussions that revealed our natural fear of death and rebirth.

“Gitaphiles” may also like to note that Chapter 8 is where Prabhupada most often insists on the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra (and most often writes out the entire mantra, purport after purport!) as the highest means of attaining the Supreme Abode.

On Sunday night I was invited to lead some bhajan at our local Jagannatha Temple. I chose a nice soulful Hare Krishna melody.

This Saturday we’ll start JIVA 2009 – our longest and most important retreat of the year in Pandavas Paradise. It’s an intense one week long Krishna Conciousness training retreat. We have a full house, with bhaktas and bhaktins coming from all over the country. I am grateful that Prabhupada is keeping us busy!

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Weekend Gita Workshop in Porto Alegre

It’s Gita Workshop time!

On the 17th we had our Brasilia Gita Sunday Workshop, in which we studied the 16th chapter. It was our biggest group yet. Some of the participants are from our local outreach efforts, but most are from our Yoga Retreats in Pandavas Paradise.

Last weekend I was in Porto Alegre, doing the 3rd module of our Weekend Gita Workshop. It’s always wonderful to study the Gita and it’s interesting to see how this weekend workshop suits all kinds of people.

For example, in the group I have the daughter of the local Temple President, Radharani (fourth from the left). Though her father is one of the greatest preachers in Brazil, she is still appreciating the course so much. Rossana (second from the left), has known the devotees for 25 years, but really appreciates this kind of deep systematic study. She wrote to me yesterday saying that this last module was one of the most amazing moments she’s had in association with devotees her whole life. Yet the workshop also satisfies the newcomers. Angela (fifth from the left), knew absolutely nothing about KC before starting these Gita workshops and she has practically no contact with devotees out of it. Yet, she is in awe of its contents and feels it’s changing her life.  This is the power of the Gita explained in the light of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings!

This weekend I fly off to Rio de Janeiro, for the second module of our second series of Weekend Gita Workshops there.

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Preaching in Porto Alegre

This last weekend I was in Porto Alegre again. We had another Gita Weekend Workshop. This was the second one there, teaching chapters 3 and 4.

I had a good group and they all listened very attentively. Two members of the group are philosophy majors, one of whom is the daughter of Lila Prabhu, who brought KC to the region some 25 years ago. Though her father is a great preacher and president of ISKCON there since its inception, and has brought hundreds of people to KC, she had never properly studied the Gita and is not currently practicing KC. So, I was very happy that she claimed to have thoroughly enjoyed the weekend workshop and has promised to come back for the whole series.

On Sunday the local devotees arranged a public celebration for Gaura Purnima. They celebrate two separate Gaura Purnima festivals in Porto Alegre – one for the devotees (on the day) and one for the general public (on the weekend). They invited me to give the talk at the public festival. I presented a brief sketch of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s life and teachings, using a powerpoint slide show, to a crowd of about 180 people. I was very grateful to Srila Prabhupada for allowing me to spend the whole weekend preaching on the Gita and then topping it off with a little glorification of Lord Chaitanya!

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Gita Workshop in Porto Alegre

Last weekend I gave my first Bhagavad-gita weekend workshop in Porto Alegre, in the southernmost State of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul.

We studied chapters 1 and 2.

We had 16 participants, including yoga teachers, doctors, public servants and psychologists. Interestingly, for the first time in my experience, four people paid the full value of the course (approx. US$60) just to listen to a recording of it later, as they could not be present in person for that weekend.

The participants expressed their gratitude for the experience and we have set the date for the next module in March of 2009.

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Porto Alegre 1 – Yamas, Niyamas, and Mantras

I’m in Porto Alegre now, the capital of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. I was invited for a series of workshops and a book signing in the city’s famous Book Fair, one of the biggest of the country.

Porto Alegre is a very pleasant city with 1.43 million inhabitants. The population here is blessed with three prasadam restaurants, a Jagannatha Temple, good bhajan bands and now a recently inaugurated the Center for Therapy and Vedic Culture – Premamanda.

Premananda is run by a wonderful young devotee couple, Vraja Jana DD and Vrajendra Nandana Das, disciples of Param Gati Swami. Both are psychologists in their mid-twenties (married for 7 years now!). Vraja quit her practice and is dedicating herself to being a yoga teacher. Vrajendra still has patients, but is qualifying himself as an ayurvedic practitioner.

With the help of their mothers, they have bought a large and lovely two storey house and have renovated it from top to bottom. The bottom (street level) part is the center, Premananda. The upper part is divided into two apartments – one for them and one for Vrajendra’s mom.

On Saturday morning I had the privilege of giving Premananda´s first ever workshop. The theme: Krishna’s Yamas and Niyamas.

Yamas and niyamas are the general guidelines on how yogis should live their lives. The terminology became famous in the West due to the diffusion of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, wherein he cites 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas, as the first two parts of the famous “ashtanga-yoga” or “8-part-yoga” description.

Little known to most people, Krishna also describes yamas and niyamas to Uddhava in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.19.33-35). He describes 24 of them, however, not merely 10 as found in the Yoga Sutras. The two and a half hour workshop covered all 24 of them.

At the end of this workshop a nice prasadam lunch was served to all the participants (here in Porto Alegre there are several excellent devotee cooks).

After lunch, we continued with the day´s program and I led a Mantra workshop. This workshop is simple, but very sweet. People learn how to chant “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”, “Nitai-Gauranga, Gaurahari”, the Hare Krishna mantra and a couple of Nrsimha mantras. I teach them to chant japa, too. Basically people spend about 2 hours chanting the Holy Name! It’s really nice.

Most of the participants bought my books (they sold out), asked for autographs and bought japa beads. Eleven of them said they now want to participate in a Complete Gita Study course, so it looks like I´ll be going back there to teach that. Also, a lady who runs a yoga teacher training program says she wants to invite me to teach the Yoga Sutra in her course. Overall, a successful first day in Porto Alegre.

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