Written by Sesa Das
As the evening of Friday, the 30th June approached, HH Kadamba Kanana Swami landed in the Czech Republic & he wasn’t alone! Nandagopa das from Mafikeng, South Africa had just received the great news of successfully passing his Bachelor’s degree at Bhaktivedanta College, and Maharaj decided to treat him by taking him along to the Czech Summer Camp after having spent three full years in Radhadesh. Kadamba Kanana Maharaj has been actively helping organize & attend the Camp for almost two decades! On Friday, Maharaj stayed in the Lucze temple for the night & the next morning, we all went to the Summer Camp.
Arrival at the Camp
Amazing to think that Czech Republic once was under a strong communist regime, where there were extreme difficulties and punishments for attempting to become and spread Krsna Consciousness. And now, over 200 devotees from all over Czech and Slovakia had come together, taking a week of holiday from work and taken over the landscape of X. The line-up for seminars, kirtans, katha was amazing with special guests HH Danavir Goswami, HH Bhakti Vaibhava Swami, HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, HH Bhakti Gauravani Swami, HH Janananda Goswami.
Kadamba Kanana Swami arrived at the Summer Camp with a kind welcome from the devotees; they were very happy to see him. In the evening, everyone assembled in the main temple room as Maharaj began to sing his first kirtan of the retreat. After ecstatically warming up the atmosphere and people with a 40 minute kirtan, Maharaj then began his evening class where he spoke on Bhagavad-gita 10.10, telling us about the need to serve,
To awaken our desire to chant we must associate with the Lord & His potency. Our real aim is to constantly glorify Krsna, all else is trivial and secondary, because Krsna is Lord Caitanya’s heart! There no room for anything else. However, we have so many desires and attachments, so what to do? Maharaj went on to explain that if we can’t spread the chanting of the Holy Name then we must somehow support the mission which serves to spread the Holy name. We want to serve our senses and not Krsna. But real change and transformation comes from practice or cultivation not just having the knowledge. When we practice then we put ourselves aside and place Krsna at the forefront.
Later on in the class Maharaj went on to give the example of the Gopis, who have no personal desires. He stated that we see Mother Yasoda actually only wanted Krsna and Balarama to have pleasure. So the more we are engaged in devotional service, the more everything else disappears. As Srila Prabhupada would often give the analogy that if there is ink in a cup then when one places more and more water in the cup it automatically fills up with water and clears out all the ink. So we need to apply ourselves properly to the process, in particular (1) Always chanting & (2) Serving the vaisnavas. Maharaj finished the class by with an important point, which is that we chant for the pleasure of Krsna.
Srimad Bhagavatam Class 10.13.61
The following morning, Maharaj led the Guruvastakam prayers at Mangal arati and thereafter gave a Srimad Bhagavatam class based on verse 10.13.61. He began speaking about Lord Brahma’s exalted position. Brahma received the words spoken to him “ta pa” and so he began severe austerities and the Lord revealed everything to him. But now Brahma saw Krsna eating with his left hand and became confused, thinking, “Is that really God?!”
Maharaj went on to cite Sridhara Swami’s commentaries where it is explained that this cowherd boy form isn’t a ‘form’ that Krsna takes, no, rather it is His original form, govindam adi purusam. But here we see that even great personalities forget the Absolute Truth. Even then though Krsna makes an arrangement for them to remember Him, as we see in this pastime with Lord Brahma. Brahma set out to bewilder and in-turn got bewildered himself. So we must also see this arrangement in our life too.
Maharaj then heated up the class with many penetrating points. He went on to state who is courageous enough to ask their spiritual master, “What are your plans for my life?” We see the spiritual master as intimidating figure even if they are friendly, because he has all authority, more than our parents, more than schools, more than the government! So maybe it’s best to just stand & smile at him. That way we get no revolutionary instructions that we have to follow! However, the bold prostrate themselves and ask, “How can I serve you?” They purely want to be his instrument. This we see in Srila Prabhupada’s example, as he asked, “Why did this happen to me?” (in a grateful & humble mood) and further went on to explain because he 100% followed his spiritual master. We often go to our spiritual master seeking blessings for our own plan, however this means that we are actually competing with Krsna & in a position like Brahma, maybe not immediately, however we start developing this mentality to places ourselves in the centre & that’s how it all begins!
Maharaj ended the class on the point above and opened up for questions, and two very interesting questions arose (1) Do devotees suffer more than karmis because Krsna wants us to go back to Godhead this lifetime? & (2) What happens if the disciple only follows 20% of the spiritual master’s instructions? Maharaj gave his personal deep reflections on these matters & I could tell them to you, however I won’t spoil it for you & rather recommend listening to the recording. The remainder of the day, Maharaj spent with many of his disciples & well-wishers.
The morning of our 3rd day at the Camp, Maharaj gave a class on Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. Around mid-day, everyone assembled in the temple room for an initiation ceremony. Just over half a dozen devotees were seated and about to received initiation, some from HH Danavir Goswami & some from HH Kadamba Kanana Swami. As Kadamba Kanana Swami began a kirtan you could feel the atmosphere being soaked with vaisnava blessings for those about to take their vows and further their commitment to this parampara.
HH Danavir Goswami spoke on the nine stages of devotional service and how we gradually progress. He explained how unless we take initiation, the higher stages are unattainable & even Krsna took initiation to show the importance of it. Maharaj explained the humble mood of the spiritual master who doesn’t think himself qualified to take anyone back to Godhead but thinks he is just a wire and somehow his spiritual master picked him up and tied me to his current so in this way the current of Krsna Consciousness flows down to us. Danavir Goswami then went through the ten offences, stating the clear importance of avoiding them.
The microphone was then passed over to HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj who spoke on the importance of the process of chanting. Maharaj stated that actually the chanting of the Holy name isn’t dependent on initiation, but when offences are committed this delays the effects of real chanting. Connecting to the disciplic succession gives one the tools and blessings but then it’s up to us to make the most out of them, and our real success starts when we develop humility, otherwise it is very difficult. Only with humility can one’s initiation be successful. Therefore, it is the ‘trinad api sunicena verse’ (3rd verse of siksastakam prayers) must be kept round one’s neck with the mahamantra.
Then the initiations began and Patthik who is originally from India, however now with his wife is working in Czech and serving wonderfully in the Harinam Mandir, received the name Prema Vilasa dasa; a name denoting the love of the spiritual world.
Then Bretislav, from Czech and serving in Lucze temple, received the name Bala Govinda dasa –Govinda gives pleasure to the cows and senses. And Bala means young boy. As the assembled devotees laughed due to him not being a young boy anymore, Maharaj said, “So you are His servant.”
Maharaj then began the evening kirtans which rocked and compelled everyone to come to the temple room. After a while he then went on to speak on Bhagavad-gita 10.11. An amazing class for which I collected almost 7 & a half pages of notes! In the class, Maharaj addressed the issue that it is difficult to practice Krsna consciousness for a lifetime without any problems. So we need to get the higher taste, which is Krsna’s mercy that can only be obtained when we make a serious endeavour. As we preach, we confront our limits more and more. There must be a change in us as we usually have more compassion for ourselves than on others. We must be selfless, we must think about it and find someone to give this greatest gift to others and then we break through. Maharaj round up this evening class by saying that we must take responsibility and somehow expand the movement. There are different opportunities all around us!
The next morning HH Janananda Goswami gave the morning Srimad Bhagavatam class and spoke about the Paris Ratha Yatra he had just come from. An event of ecstasy for all. Maharaj finished the class by bringing out a tiffin of maha-prasad and distributed it from the Vyasasana. Everyone jumped up and crowded around him, of course allowing the sanyasis and senior devotees to take some first and then hands extended out around Maharaj to grab the mercy.
After lunch, HH Janananda Goswami, HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, Harinama Ruci and many devotees drove to a close by city centre to fill the streets and atmosphere with harinama sankirtan. When we arrived, the microphone was immediately given to Kadamba Kanana Maharaj to start the procession. Devotees were still parking up and assembling as the harinama began with a hand-full of devotees. Quickly many joined, and then suddenly Janananda Goswami and Harinama Ruci came from another direction also doing a harinama. What a transcendental sight as two harinama parties merged into one big party. The procession began and we went through the city centre and came to a water fountain where Kadamba Kanana Maharaj took the harinama up a notch, to the next level. Everyone was running, dancing, singing, and jumping around. Then Janananda Maharaj took over and within minutes also had everyone singing and dancing ecstatically in lines as people watched with amazement and attraction to the Harinama party. This was a great way for us all the end the Czech Summer Camp. Later that day Maharaj, Nandagopa, Mayapur Candradoya & myself were driven back to the Lucze temple by Antardvipa Prabhu. We stayed there overnight & Maharaj could get good rest after a busy, fully packed Summer Camp in Czech.
The following morning we left for Prague airport as Maharaj, Nandagopa & myself would fly to Radhadesh. Keep in tune to find out what transcendental adventures Maharaj next went on, after coming to Radhadesh, giving many powerful classes on Gajendra’s prayers, going to USA, & later on to the Swiss Summer Camp & Berlin Ratha Yatra.
Visit Flickr to see all the photos!