Written by Rishi Ruparelia

After the Swiss Retreat, Kadamba Kanana Swami spent a few days in London and then travelled to Goloka Dhama, Germany for the Pandava Sena Retreat. Pandava Sena is the congregational youth-group of ISKCON UK. 

Within minutes of Kadamba Kanana Swami’s arrival at Goloka Dhama on a rainy Wednesday afternoon (03 August), he had attracted a crowd of eager young men, excited to hear about his travels. He sat on the sofa opposite the temple room of Radha Madana Mohana and one by one, boys were pouring in. They each paid their obeisances, sat down in front of the sofa and listened intently. Laughter naturally ensued and we blocked the entrance to the temple room. Whoops! It was the start of a transcendental adventure…

Maharaj gave an awesome evening class and it was amazing to hear him sing Jaya Radha Madhava after so many devotees had been saying how much they love it. Everyone was on their feet and we danced and danced for the pleasure of Pandava Sena’s deities, Dayal Nitai Vijaya Gauranga, who were beautifully dressed as always. Maharaj leading kirtan was the perfect end to a perfect day!

Maharaj ’s second class of the retreat followed the morning after. “Even Radharani can’t take Krsna for granted,” said Maharaj. I guess that woke us all up and shook us hard, or at least it should have!

The Journey Home was a fitting name for the 10-day retreat – as each day progressed, we ventured deeper and deeper into what it means to be in Vrindavan consciousness. Maharaj started off by singing the Sad-Goswamyastakam before his Friday morning class and shared how the Goswamis are the ones that are bringing us to Vrindavan. Maharaj mentioned that the Bhagavatam “will reveal the spiritual world to us” and the price we have to pay is eagerness. It seems like we have to BEG (Bhagavatam, Eagerness, Goswamis) and rightly so! 

Maharaj’s kirtans were out of this world and despite telling us that he has to take it easy and can’t take it to sixth gear, he would continue to pump the kirtan faster and faster each night. The next morning, he would say that he has to go mellow yet each night when he would see Pandava Sena dancing with huge smiles on their faces, out of his compassion, he would continue to keep them on their feet. And just when you thought it was over for the night, the mrdanga would sound again and the holy name would take over for another round of dancing. Unforgettable! 

Everyone loved the boat festival. Throughout the week, we all helped Vaijayanti Mataji build the most beautiful swan: a “raja-hamsa”. Ornamented with a crown and decorated in a way appropriate only for the king and queen of Vraja, the swan served as a boat for Radha Madana Mohana. It was magical. Sitting on what felt like the banks of the Yamuna, we were all captivated by the wonderfully narrated boat pastimes of Radha and Krsna. After singing Jaya Radhe Jaya Krsna, Sacinandana Swami described how Radha and the gopis found a sleeping boatman (who turned out to be Krsna of course) to take them across the river so that they could sell their milk products in Mathura. Then, Kadamba Kanana Swami continued:

This is Krsna’s greatest pleasure: to somehow or other conquer his devotee. And it is the devotee’s greatest pleasure to somehow or other conquer Krsna. Just as it is described that Srimati Radharani, before going out, her assistants are helping her to bathe and to dress and just something like the tilak can take a long time. Just to make that tilak dot that she wears, there are little designs in it at the edges and so on. It is tilak made to kill so to say. It has only one purpose: to drive the mind of Krsna mad. And so this boat pastime is simply an exchange of the love between Radha and Krsna, where that love is being churned and where one is trying to conquer the other. 

Kishan, who led the organizing team, said, “It was incredible to have Maharaj join us! His kirtans were most people’s highlight of the trip. Even with so many health difficulties, the fact that he still committed to coming is something we’re extremely grateful for.”

Throughout the trip, Maharaj was very encouraging to all the devotees, giving us so much of his time, answering our questions and clearing our doubts. He made everyone feel at home and continued to give and give. Maharaj said that when the opportunity is there, don’t miss the boat – a key takeaway for Pandava Sena!

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