Written by Nimai
London Ratha Yatra (17 July) had been really great and Kadamba Kanana Swami enjoyed it a lot however he needed to take a few days of rest after such an exhausting event so he decided to go to Amsterdam before continuing with his European tour, and he stayed at the flat of Uddhava and Visakha. Maharaj enjoyed living very simple and peaceful there without having to stress about anything. He took me on several walks during our time in Amsterdam. On the first day, Maharaj took me to the Zandvoort beachfront and on other days we went to different parts of the city, every time walking an average of almost 10 km per day. We were really nicely taken care of as well, and Uddhava made a lot of pizza on the day before our departure.
Maharaj decided to stop in Cologne for a night (22 July), rather than going to Zurich directly. Our train got cancelled and we had to take the bus but eventually we arrived at the Cologne temple just in time for the evening class. Maharaj spoke in German that day and also spent some time with devotees he hadn’t met in a long time.
The next day we took a flight to Zurich, where we spent two nights at the temple in preparation for the 2016 Swiss Summer Camp. While at the temple Maharaj focused on writing his novel before leaving for the retreat which took place at a hotel a bit higher in the mountains, in a valley called Blümlital which translates to “flower valley”. The hotel was reserved completely for devotees for a whole week.
Maharaj started his sequence of lectures by speaking about Uddhava trying to enter into Vrindavan, a theme which he developed throughout his lectures. It wasn’t focused on only that though, Maharaj spoke about many, many other things as well. When speaking about Vrindavan, Maharaj always shared a few personal experiences and stories. On one of the days Maharaj did a presentation entitled “Gouda Mandala”, where he showed pictures of an excursion to Bangladesh that he had done with a group of devotees in October 2011. The slideshow included pictures of Advaita Acharya’s birthplace, different ISKCON temples, Bangladeshi devotees and more. While presenting the slideshow, Maharaj explained what each picture portrayed and explained its significance. The presentation showed several trees too, representative of different holy places.
Sacinandana Swami arrived a few days after us. Many of the devotees at the retreat were his disciples and they couldn’t wait to see their Guru Maharaj. Sacinandana Swami also showed a slideshow, it was about Vrindavan and was really nice.
Maharaj went on a few walks during the retreat. On one day, Maharaj had been invited to go on a walk by an aspiring disciple who got initiated on the last day and received the name Adishekara Das. Together we walked a total of 12 km to see a beautiful waterfall!
Maharaj also agreed to give a “children’s class”. He told the story from the Krsna book where Kaliya is defeated. Some of the kids got a bit wild at the end and Maharaj said that this always happens when he teaches children because he was like that himself in his younger years and the kids can sense it. On that evening Maharaj sang in the final slot of a 12 hour non-stop kirtan.
On 28 July, we departed Switzerland and travelled back to London.
Visit Flickr to see all the photos.