It’s a great fortune to be a part of ISKCON Ujjain’s global retreat 2015. All devotees around the world eagerly anticipate this retreat throughout the year. It is held in Ujjain annually during the last week in December approximately from the 25th-31st December. In many ways the retreats in Ujjain are extremely special. Devotees from all over the world come together to hear the nectarian Krishna Katha from the lotus mouth of His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja, chant, dance and feast together in the most blessed place, ISKCON Ujjain. The association of the Ujjain devotees are very loving that we do not want to go home after the retreat. Devotees from South Africa, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Fiji, Holland, Australia, Mauritius, Singapore, South Korea and many other different parts of India like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Vadodara, Surat etc had joined the event.
Devotees from Ujjain and many students from Bhopal, Indore, Guna and other places also came to attend this retreat to take this wonderful opportunity to serve many senior devotees from around the world.
The Ujjain retreat is one of Maharaja’s the most cherished blessings for his disciples. He preaches extensively throughout the globe in so many different places during the year and then at the end of the year many of his dedicated disciples from these places get together in Ujjain to hear about Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna from our most beloved Maharaja.
Devotees of ISKCON Ujjain made outstanding arrangements for transportation, accommodation, prasadam and devotee care. Maharaja was personally involved in taking care of the various aspects of the retreat management. Maharaja’s most wonderful mood of Vaishnava seva pervades the entire Ujjain temple. From Senior to Junior, all devotees were busy in serving the honoured guests and were lovingly serving day and night to make this retreat a most memorable event.
The Retreat had 2 sessions per day. The first session was from 11 am to 1pm and the next session was from 4-6 pm.
The first day, 25th December 2015, in Srimad Bhagavatam class, Maharaja very wonderfully described the glories of Srimad Bhagavatam. He mentioned in the class how Srimad Bhagavatam is the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literature. This Srimad Bhagavatm class was meant to give devotees a clear understanding of the glories of Srimad Bhagavatam and for initiating an interest in the devotees for the wonderful seminar entitled “Krishna’s Mathura and Dwaraka pastimes”.
In the Seminar sessions, Maharaja first mentioned about the benefit of hearing Krishna katha in the association of devotees. He then started to narrate the events leading to Krishna’s coming out of Vrindavan to kill Kamsa. He mentioned that when Krishna killed Keshi and threw his dead body to Mathura, Kamsa became very fearful after seeing it and started making plans to invite Krishna and Balarama to Mathura on the pretense of funfair and his intention was to kill both of them in the wrestling arena. Krishna and Balarama came to Mathura and killed Kamsa very easily and then stayed in Mathura. After some time, when Kalayavana and Jarasandha attacked Mathura simultaneously then Lord shifted His capital to Dwaraka, a beautiful city in the midst of the ocean.
Maharaja sequentially narrated the different pastimes that took place in Mathura and Dwaraka so eloquently. It is natural, Him being a pure devotee, that he is always seeing and relishing Krishna’s pastimes in His heart and mercifully allowing us to hear and also appreciate those pastimes from Him so that our hearts may also become purified. Hearing the Lord’s pastimes in the sweet voice of Maharaja is an unparalleled attraction for all his disciples and well wishers around the world.
Hearing Lord’s pastimes from Maharaja is the most auspicious blessing for all of us. Maharaja mentioned in one of the sessions the meaning and importance of the verse “Tava Kathamritam tapta jivanam”. He explained that Krishna Katha is amrita, Nectar for the people suffering in this desert like material existence.
Almost every evening, Maharaja lead ecstatic kirtans for an one hour. He sang Selected Vaishnava Bhajans and then Kirtans and the devotees danced very enthusiastically to this transcendental kirtans for the pleasure of their Lordships and for the pleasure of Maharaja.
On the 31st December 2015, we celebrated the appearance day of HH Bhakti Prema Swami Maharaja. HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj personally invited HH Bhakti Prema Swami Maharaja on the stage and gloried him for his wonderful services at Ujjain. HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja mentioned the wonderful qualities of HH Bhakti Prema Swami Maharajawhich was then followed by the cake cutting ceremony.
In the last session on 31st December 2015, Maharaja acknowledged the various retreat services rendered by Ujjain devotees and he glorified many devotees for serving so nicely for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada and the Vaishnavas.
In the thanks giving ceremony, seminar participants shared their experiences of attending the retreat. Their genuine glorification of Maharaja and the devotees touched the heart of everyone. Maharaja was thanking to all of them for their valuable contributions in the mission of Srila Prabhupada.
The retreat was followed by an initiation ceremony on 1st January 2016. 70 devotees received first initiation to the shelter of the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada by Maharaja.
Each and every devotee mentioned this unforgettable experience in the Ujjain retreat and they cannot wait for the next one.
(Article by HG Vamsidhari Das, ISKCON Vadodara)