Written by Ananda Vrindavan Dasi
Gita Nagari (25-27 June)
On 25 June, Maharaj bid farewell to deities and devotees of New Vrindavan, whose hearts he surely won even with this short visit, and departed for Gita Nagari farm in Pennsylvania, home of the famous Sri Sri Radha-Damodara deities. He was attending the occasion of Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s tirobhava – the tenth year anniversary of BTS passing away. Many disciples, godbrothers, friends, well-wishers and admirers of Bhakti Tirtha Swami came from all around the world to honor and to celebrate him and his legacy, at this three-day event. It was a very emotional and deeply spiritually surcharged time and everyone felt it was a privilege to be there for this really special occasion. It was heart moving to many to be so close to his puspa samadhi and the community that was Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s home-base where he also wrote many of his books, especially ‘The Beggar’ series.
Kadamba Kanana Maharaj gave a brilliant Srimad Bhagavatam class the next morning (26 June), where many devotees saw him for the first time in person. Maharaj mentioned that he visited Gita Nagari once in the eighties. The devotees were impressed by Maharaj’s relevance, wisdom, friendliness, approachability, humility and of course, his witty humor! He concentrated on the theme of the guru-disciple relationship and how the role of the guru is to increase eagerness in the disciple and not allow for the routine to set in i.e. not to live by automatic pilot. He spoke also about the necessity of deep absorption and setting our priorities clearly.
As the first day of the festival focused on the fifty year anniversary of Srila Prabhupada coming to the West, Maharaj also reflected on that – especially on how personal and caring Prabhupada was by coming down and living with the people whom he preached to, giving them so much of his personal attention. He added that when Srila Prabhupada said that he wanted all his disciples to become spiritual masters, actually that could be translated into wanting all of us to become selfless and start giving. Maharaj then glorified the exemplary son of Srila Prabhupada – Bhakti Tirtha Swami, whom he often met in South Africa, on the preaching field.
Later that afternoon, several of Srila Prabhupada’s revered disciples were asked to speak and among them was Kadamba Kanana Swami who shared about Srila Prabhupada’s lifting the veil of Vrindavan dham all over the world, making the spirit of the dham highly accessible. And then… words, of course, fail to describe the kirtan Maharaj led that evening – with so many Afro-American devotees having kirtan and rhythm in their blood, such singing and vigorous dancing was not seen before!
Candramauli Swami was also making sure that everyone danced as wildly as possible! And – as it was Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s festival, everyone could swear they felt his vivid presence, dancing and celebrating amongst us. Pure kirtan joy lasted for three incredible hours, leaving us deeply fulfilled but barely able to walk, which actually did not matter. Devotees at Gita Nagari farm were thrilled to have had Maharaj visit and were so deeply thankful he made it and shared the jewels of his devotion to Krsna. So many asked about recordings of his classes and kirtans and expressed amazement at his wonderful personality. Many wished he could be back again, soon.