In the News:
100 Gather In Wales for Vaisnava Retreat


Posted November 24, 2005

Devotees, supporters and friends of the Hare Krishna movement spent an idyllic October weekend in retreat at Buckland Hall in Brecon's National Park. It was a weekend that gave lay supporters the opportunity to meet devotees in an informal setting and enabled established supporters to expand their knowledge of the Vedic philosophy. As a bonus it offered the opportunity for participation in some astonishing kirtans while enjoying splendid food and accommodation. Possibly the most probing ideas were put forward by Bhakti Vijnana Goswami. He talked fluently and convincingly on a range of subjects, but concentrated on the nature of divine service. He identified three motives for activity in the religious life: to ease the pain of a meaningless life, to seek knowledge of God or because you consider it your duty.

The third is the greatest, he says, because it is saying, 'This is my inner nature.' Bhakti Vijnana Goswami impressed all who met him. He is an amazing man, from whom courage as well as holiness shines. He explained in some detail, but without unnecessary drama, the trials (sometimes legal trials) involved in serving for Hare Krishna in the old Soviet Union. He said that three devotees died in Soviet prisons for chanting the 'Hare Krishna' mantra, but that their cause marches on, thanks to immense bravery, tenacity and selfsacrifice. It was a tale of endurance and courage. The chanting of the Mantra was an almost permanent feature of the weekend, and the conviction, versatility and variety of the interpretations was outstanding. On the first night the kirtan was led by Sri Madhava, a devotee who has - quite literally - chanted for years in the holy city of Vrindavan. A vastly different style was exhibited by the bubbly Jayadeva Das, who manages to combine being a devotee, therapist and drummer! Meanwhile there were opportunities for yoga sessions, massage appointments and rural walks. Informally, of course, ideas, concerns and opinions were discussed with wise counsellors. Other teachers and speakers covered subjects as diverse as the art of translating holy works from Sanskrit, the early days of the movement in the West and our relationship with George Harrison. The lay seekers came from every strata of society and most colours of the globe. They were mothers and journalists, shop workers and teachers, salesmen and architects, masseurs and social workers, managers and students. They unanimously a c k n o w l e d g e d the pleasure and understanding that came from the event. 'We came for a weekend and it will last for a lifetime,' said one of their number.

The next Vaishnava Retreat is already booked at Buckland Hall for 2 November next year. '100 people attended this year,' Kripamoya das revealed. 'Next year let's make it 200!'