The year 2013 had been a very troubled year for the population of Bangladesh. Almost every single week there have been several days of strike which doesn't allow any mode of transportation to operate. Petrol bombs are thrown onto busses and on people at random in the streets, and everyone is in fear of aggression and crime.
The atmosphere carries an ordor of violence, insecurity and fear, and people in general are becoming tired of the instability and are wearing thin. The economy of the entire country is going down with the prices of everything shooting high into the sky.
And the reason for all this are the upcoming elections in the beginning of 2014.
Nevertheless, we devotees are not allowing ourselves to get overly affected by this nonsensical stage performance of material existence.
And we had even been so bold to invite Nitai Priya Prabhu to come over from Bangkok and enliven us with his wonderful kirtans. We had taken the risk that there might be strikes called again during those days of the retreat, which would make it difficult and dangerous for devotees to travel to and from the farm.
Some devotees had suggested to cancel the event in order not to take any risks, but I had insisted to go ahead with it anyway, not wanting to disappoint the devotees. To cancel programs is always demoralising, and devotees easily get disappointed and lose faith and enthusiasm.
And low and behold - Krsna was on our side, and exactly during those days, in a miraculous way there were no strikes.
Around 250 bright faced devotees assembled on our beautiful farm - the very same property where Mahatma Gandhi used to hide out. Since the facilities are rather austere the main audience were student boys and brahmacaris, but also some grhasthas and student girls participated.
Gradually the cold season was approaching, and Lord Jagannath looked very charming during Mangal Artik - wrapped up in a woolen chadar, and a woolen hat adorning Him.
We spent four days in hearing about various aspects of chanting - in japa and kirtan, and applying immediately in personal exercises what we heard, which brings about a deep learning experience.
What an excellent explanation of the holy name! We might sometimes hear so many esoteric meanings of the Maha Mantra, but the very essence of it is exactly that: I need some help...! Unless we clearly come to this understanding and chant the holy name with this very feeling in the heart, our chanting will not become heart deep.
In the closing ceremony devotees shared heart moving realizations. One participant shared how he had learnt more in those four days than what he had learnt in his entire seven years of Krsna conscious practice. Others desribed it as an out-of-this-world experience.
Yes, indeed, we had the opportunity to enter a different reality - Harer namaiva kevalam: the holy name of Sri Hari alone is everything.
Please see the nice slide show capturing the sweet atmosphere during the retreat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vSJ4TErc3A&feature=youtu.be
The temple president had arranged a nice stage with a big banner announcing the seminar, and it was well received by the congregational devotees and brahmacaris alike. Wonderful role plays were performed which almost ended up in fullfledged dramas, and everybody received deep insights into the workings of the false ego.
On the 30th of November when flying from Sylhet back to Dhaka and on to Chittagong there was again a strike. The only safe way for me to get to the airport was by ambulance - with flashing lights and siren.
Never a dull moment....
Your servant, Devaki dd