Report by Nandan
Arrival in London
After the Sankirtan Festival and having spent a few days in Germany, Kadamba Kanana Swami traveled to England. It was a crisp, cold evening when Maharaj arrived at Bhaktivedanta Manor on Saturday, 10 January 2015. Needless to say, the devotees were jubilant and Maharaj was in good spirits.
That evening, Maharaj began the much anticipated ‘Kirtan Fiesta’ program. The lights were dimmed and the audience was in a mellow mood. Then bit-by-bit, devotees from nowhere started coming into the room and within fifteen minutes, the room was packed. Maharaj started to build up the intensity; the kirtan beat became more powerful and heavy. Maharaj then switched it up a gear, segueing the groove into a more upbeat style rhythm and kept it at this momentum. The volume went up and the mrdanga players upped the ante! The whole temple room became a tidal wave of sound and as the night carried on, the kirtan became more exuberant, rising to a magnificent crescendo which then reached its musical peak just at the moment when the curtains opened for the dazzling darshan of the exquisite Sri Sri Radha Gokulanda deities of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple. What a tremendous start it was of Maharaj’s visit to England at the beginning of 2015!
Visit to Leicester
The next morning, Maharaj went to the Leicester temple for an initiation ceremony. Maharaj started off with a beautifully sweet kirtan and then spoke on the value of initiation.
Maharaj mentioned that we are getting the gift of the holy name through initiation. Even though we may have been chanting before, now we are receiving the holy name with prayers from the spiritual master and with that, come the prayers of the acharyas. The Guru will be praying on our behalf. Just before initiating Kalpana Mataji, Maharaj asserted the key point that initiation is not a karma kanda ritual! Happiness and distress will always be there. We chant to attract the mercy of Krsna and we must go into the initiation consciously knowing the value of it. Kalpana Mataji is now HG Krsna Rupa Mataji. Jai!
That evening Maharaj went to the evening youth program at Vishal Prabhu’s house. It was a devotionally filled evening of rip-roaring kirtans. Many individuals who came to that program were completely new to Krsna consciousness and Maharaj’s kirtan completely blew them away and in the end, they were dancing like it was the last party on earth!! Near the end, Maharaj also took time to speak on the potency of the holy name, followed by a short question and answer session.
At Bhaktivedanta Manor
On Tuesday, 13 January, Maharaj returned to the Manor where he gave a special two and a half hour seminar to the new bhaktas that are doing the sabbatical course there. The topic was ‘Learning to live with conflicts and differences of opinion’. It was an extensive and very comprehensive seminar which lots of issues covered. Maharaj made it very interactive by involving the young men in discussion and inferring various solutions out of the young men to various conundrums related to the topic. Maharaj also brought forth many examples from his own life in devotion to press upon certain points. It was a powerful talk and Maharaj finished off with saying that the success of this movement is not based on management but by deeply appreciating each other as vaishnavas and having deep, spiritual relationships.
On the morning of Wednesday, 14 January, Maharaj gave an insightful Srimad Bhagavatam class on the simultaneous inconceivability and accessibility of Sri Krsna. He gave the example that trying to figure out Sri Krsna is like an ant trying to figure us out. And yet despite being the Absolute Supreme, Krsna agrees to give up his omniscience when he is with his loved ones, for example – getting defeated by his friends in wrestling matches.
A day at Soho Temple
In the early hours of Thursday, 15 January, Maharaj set out with his disciples for the Central London Soho Temple, home of the famous Sri Radha London Isvara deities. The whole day was spent with Maharaj giving three classes, a special Q & A session, a spontaneous harinam, and he finished off the day with a marvelous evening kirtan. In the Srimad Bhagavatam class, Maharaj spoke of how a former ANC mayor of Durban, South Africa was imprisoned for three years and all he asked for whilst in prison, was a copy of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is… the book changed his life forever. Maharaj then emphasized that power is not the goal of life; power is short-lived. The whole world is based on power which is related to fear. Instead, one should do something eternal, like diving deeper and deeper into Srila Prabhupada’s books.
The next day, Maharaj gave the morning Srimad Bhagavatam class at the Manor in his classic inimitable style; full of deep, profound messages but also laced with rib-tickling humor. In the evening, Maharaj went
to the Matchless Gifts program in Central London. Whilst Maharaj did speak a few words, it was essentially a full-blown kirtan extravaganza. Bearing in mind that it is a generally bohemian crowd of free thinkers and free spirits, Maharaj really ‘laid down the groove’ with some seriously jazzy beats and rocking melodies.
As the night progressed, it seemed that everyone had lost all sense of time and space, and was completely in the moment. Each note, each beat, each syllable of the mantra was sending people into higher and higher levels of euphoria. At one point, Maharaj got everyone to harmonize their singing, so the whole effect sounded like a transcendental orchestra. By the end of the night, everyone was riding a wave of pure, exhilarating Krsna conscious joy. A truly magical evening!!
Early on Saturday, 17 January, Maharaj traveled with his disciples to Crawley for the much awaited japa retreat. It was a two day event with Maharaj giving insightful seminars on the significance of the holy name, the importance of Vrndavana in our spiritual lives and in chanting ‘Sri Nama’, as well as how to make the most of our daily chanting. Needless to say the seminars were interspersed with deep, soulful kirtans led by Kadamba Kanana Maharaj, Amala Harinam Prabhu and many others.
The evening of the 17th was magical, with Maharaj presiding over a Gaura Nitai deity installation ceremony. Maharaj beautifully narrated pastimes relating to Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his relationship with Advaita Acharya. Maharaj was so expressive in conveying the deep emotions of the pastimes that they came alive for everyone present.
Departure to Radhadesh
On Monday, 19 January, Maharaj’s UK trip was unfortunately coming to a close. Maharaj finished off with a Srimad Bhagavatam class on the demise of Ravana at the hands of Lord Ramchandra. Maharaj made some great points such as how Ravana, despite all his learning, could not understand that all his qualities were simply gifts from Krsna and that he himself had no claim to fame. Maharaj went on to talk about the differences between Duratmas (those who are petty minded and partial only to their own kind) and the broad minded Mahatmas. He went on further and gave a powerful realization on how misers want to hold on to their wealth and thus are only depriving themselves, whilst our movement is one of extraordinary generosity and will only move forward on generosity. And giving does not just mean giving what you have, it means giving yourself… exactly what Maharaj is doing in his own life! HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai!
Please visit flickr to see all the pictures.