I had invited him to join us since it is always inspiring for the Nepali devotees to have another visitor coming to lead the evening kirtans. He is a disciple of BB Govinda Swami and from Russia, and he goes regularly on preaching programs with the local brahmacaris in Mayapur and leads the kirtans.
We took a domestic flight from Calcutta to Bagdogra, which is near the Nepali border. Keshav Gopal Prabhu received us at the airport, and we drove across the border to Lahan.
Reaching Lahan in the evening, the local devotees welcomed us with an enthusiastic kirtan and prasadam.
It was unexpectedly cold here compared to Mayapur, and I was glad I had brought warm clothes with me.
For the following two days Keshav Gopal Prabhu had arranged several school programs. Especially one such program was very successful, with the teachers and students being very enthusiastic and buying lots of Prabhupada's books.
Now it was just a question of systematic cultivation, as we are doing in Bangladesh. The grounds are definately very fertile here for this kind of preaching, and people are so open and interested in Krsna consciousness.
For the Holy Name Retreat we had rented a Dharamsala in Lahan - a Hindu Conference Center which is used for weddings and other social functions.
Around 150 devotees had come together from all corners of Nepal to join this retreat, and we all could nicely be accomodated in this Dharamsala. And with united efforts we managed to turn the somewhat bare hall into a nice and cosey bhajan kutir where we spent the next four days deepening our relationship with the holy name.
For most of the attending devotees this was the very first experience of a Holy Name Retreat, and everybody eagerly tuned in and participated with full attention. Keshav Gopal Prabhu had made all the necessary arrangements, and even the printed materials were translated into Nepali language.
Many of the attending devotees were elderly and had been in Krsna consciousness for more than fifteen years. And also many young devotees were present and eagerly applied themselves.
Every morning we had one men's group and one ladies' group performing role plays illustrating the topics of previous day's discussion. Devotees participated with great enthusiasm, and as usual the ladies' group showed more creativity and artistic talents in their performance.
The day of Mauna Vrata was a new experience for everyone, and we gained deeper understanding of how difficult it is indeed to control the urge to speak and avoid unnecessary talk.
During the closing ceremony devotees shared in a very open and honest mood how much this retreat had moved their heart. One mataji exclaimed: "Now we finally know how to re-connect with Krsna - through attentive chanting. We
needed this knowledge so desperately, after taking empty medicine capsules for many years....!" And another devotee shared: "We have never heard these deep secrets of how to chant. We have only focused on numbers, but not on the quality. Now I feel I have to start right from the very beginning in my chanting."
If just a few devotees come to such realizations, it confirms to me how important such retreats are, and it inspires me to continue offering them far and wide.....
Devotees expressed their joy and gratitude by offering gifts to me - a nice warm jacket, and woolen chadars, which are always useful.
And they requested we should return very soon....
On the 5th of February I flew back to Calcutta and on to Dhaka for yet another transcendental event - the Convention at Rup Sanatan Tirtha.....
Your servant, Devaki dd