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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Radha Madhav Dham Intensive 2014 Enthralls Devotees (Days 1 - 4)

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Blissful kirtan at Radha Madhav Dham, US ashram of Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj during Intensive 2014

[This is article 2 in the series of the Radha Madhav Dham Intensive 2014. Read part 1 here: Worldwide attention drawn to Radha Madhav Dham intensive]

(VRINDAVAN TIMES NEWS): And so, the Radha Madhav Dham intensive continued throughout the evening of the June 28th, the first day of the intensive. Every day throughout the intensive, various preachers of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj's worldwide mission give lectures on Prem Ras Madira, a series of 1008 devotional songs revealed by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj.

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Sushree Gopeshwari Didi, disciple of Kripalu Ji Maharaj, leading kirtan at Radha Madhav Dham

The first night, the assemblage sat in rapt attention as Sushree Gopeshwari Didi’s gave a very divinely touching lecture on the pad sankirtan, Jaun Guru Kamal Balihar. She said that all we have to do is take the form of Guru’s lotus feet that we saw in reality or in a picture, in our consciousness, in our mind, in our heart, not our brain area – the effect of the lotus feet will manifest. Even if we just take them with respect, with no love, they will do their own work in our mind. We just have to bring them into our mind. So, the lotus feet of the Guru are everything for a devotee. Afterwards, Swami Nikhilanand Ji gave a brief overview, and set the tone of the intensive. A presiding tone of this intensive is ‘vow of silence’ (maun), which he emphasized over and over again. Before the day was up, one of the youth exclaimed: “Wow, Radha Madhav Dham has the aura of Mangarh [the worldwide center of the bhakti movement today]. This is amazing!”

The second day of the intensive began with early morning 5am yoga postures in the satsang hall. Everyone felt refreshed after the 45 minute gentle stretches. Afterwards, everyone performed a rousing arti. It was amazing to see so many people from all over the world under one roof, clad in orange Radhey Shyamis, offering their hearts and minds to Radha Krishna. After arti, Sushree Siddheshvari Didi led a slow, spell-binding chanting expressing humility of a devotee and describing the greatness of the lotus feet of Radha Rani. When the kirtan session was over, hundreds of devotees made their way out the temple doors, receiving a handful of prasad of nuts and raisins on their way, making their way to the front of the temple to begin parikrama.

Chanting and dancing in front of the deities at US ashram of Kripalu Ji Maharaj during Intensive 2014

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Parikrama at US ashram of Kripalu Ji Maharaj during Intensive 2014


Devotees sang Radhey Radhey Govind with great feeling and enthusiasm, to the sounds of ecstatically played drums and cymbals, as they processioned with raised hands towards Govardhan Hill. On circumambulating the hill, the parikrama continued back to the temple. Back at the temple, devotees danced and danced in joy in front of the deities, singing ever louder and louder and more enthusiastically. It was a beautiful scene, but it had to end as breakfast was being served. Back at the dining hall, everyone was served a sumptuous variety of cereals and fruits. Keeping in mind Swami Nikhilanand’s instructions on maintaining silence from the night before, many devotees chose to maintain maun (vow of silence) during breakfast and instead of chatting, foster the feelings from morning satsang.

A special part of the intensive is ashram seva, which takes place every morning from 8:30 – 9:30 am. Seva is not considered to be a job to be done, but an offering of selfless surrender to Radha Krishna. Another special part of the Radha Madhav Dham Intensive 2014 is devotional picnics, where video clips of lighter moments with Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj are played. Tasty snacks are distributed and Sushree Siddheshvari Didi translates Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj’s casual talks with devotees.

In the evening of the second day of the intensive, Swami Nikhilanand Ji gave his discourse on Prem Ras Madira. Everyone was laughing as Swami Nikhilanand described how Shree Krishna rathers the taunts of the gopis rather than homages paid by Indra etc. Quoting Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj, he said its like if you eat sweets all day, you want something salty. So He gets bored of listening to his praises being sung and wants some masala, i.e. gopis’ taunts.

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Evening lecture of Swami Mukundananda, disciple of Kripalu Ji Maharaj, during Radha Madhav Dham Intensive 2014
Day 3 of the Radha Madhav Dham Intensive 2014 brought the arrival of Swami Mukundananda Ji. Earlier in the day, Chirag Bhaiya led chanting of most mellifluous shlokas and kirtans which roused the hearts and souls of all the devotees in the excitement of devotion.

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Morning Arti session at Radha Madhav Dham US ashram of Kripalu Ji Maharaj
The mood for the night program was set during Swami Mukundananda’s stirring lecture on Aho Hari! Kaba Laum Rahihau Duri. “Oh Hari! How much longer will You stay away from me?” Afterwards, Swami Nikhilanand reminded everyone about the importance of vow of silence (maun) during the intensive. He acknowledged that many had taken his call to action seriously, and encouraged everyone to follow along in that vow as it was paramount in gaining maximum benefit during an intensive like this. He also noted that the youth camp participants were following the adults’ lead and were very disciplined during the camp. Swami Nikhilanand announced that there would be a special 2-hour night-time satsang at Govardhan Hill followed by a conference call for all intensive participants with the presidents of JKP, Ms. Vishaka Tripathi, Ms. Shyama Tripathi and Ms. Krishna Tripathi.

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Picnic sessions during Intensive at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's US ashram


Night-time satsang at Govardhan Hill during Radha Madhav Dham Intensive 2014

The satsang at Govardhan Hill was absolutely magical! Hundreds of devotees sat spell-bound, under the darkness of night, pierced to the quick in thoughts of Hari. A mild wind swept by throughout the whole program. For the first hour, Sushree Rameshwari Didi and other chanters led the assemblage in chanting of Bolo Gaur Hari and Hari Hari Bol, Bol Hari Bol. By the time the next hour began, devotees had already lost their senses in chanting the holy names. Swaying, clapping, dancing, drumming, tamborining, cybaling… were what were seen on the outside. The fire of devotion in the hearts of the devotees could be known only to them.

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Satsang at Govardhan Hill, during the Intensive at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's US ashram


As hour two began, Swami Nikhilanand Ji took the lead with necterean chanting of Bhajo Giridhar Govind Gopala. At one point, he stopped and uttered some beautiful instructions to everyone to do roop dhyan (meditation) of Shree Krishna in His full-bloom youthful form of 16 years of age, standing right in front of you, and cry out for His vision – as he continued to lead Hare Ram Hare Krishna mahamantra.

The mood of morning satsang of the 4th day was quiet and reflective to begin with, then got lively and ecstatic later. Swami Maheshvaranand Ji led chanting of Dharu Nandanandana Ko Dhyan Re from Prem Ras Madira. Before the kirtan began, he softly implored devotees to take the meaning to heart and with full attention. Afterwards, he picked up the pace with Hare Ram kirtan which thrilled everyone, as he occasionally verbalized “Hari Bol!” or “Radheeey!”.

After morning arti and kirtan, everyone proceeded to the front of the temple, as every morning, whence Sushree Siddheshvari Didi led the parikrama to Govardhan Hill. The thunderous procession of chanting, drumming and cymbaling was quite a scene, and even peacocks began dancing with full open feathers when the procession reached the maharas shrine.

In the afternoon, Sushree Diwakari Didi, the vice-president of Radha Madhav Dham, gave her discourse on Prem Ras Madira. The theme of her lecture was that humility is the most valuable asset of a devotee. She said that although it is true what God says in the scriptures, that he has neither friend or enemy, but in reality, he does have one friend and one enemy – humility is His friend, and pride is His only enemy. She discussed verse 4 of Shikchastak of Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which instructs that a devotee must be more humble than a blade of grass and more forbearing than a tree:

Trinad api sunichena
Taror api sahishnuna
Amanina manadena
Kirtaniyah sada harih

Later in the lecture, she began her explanation of a song of humbleness of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Although she had gone over her time, everyone wished for Didiji to continue until the end. Tears streamed from the eyes of some devotees as Didiji narrated a beautiful story about a low caste man who had gone to the temple to offer bananas to Shree Krishna. The temple priest readily took them, but when he saw who had given them, he threw them on the ground and scolded the man for being such a low class person and having the audacity to make such an offering. The man left and went home pained, not because of the insults he had received, but because he was unable to give any offerings to Shree Krishna. He couldn’t sleep at night due to his distress. When the temple priests had laid Krishna to bed and went home, Krishna also couldn’t sleep and went to that man’s house to get the bananas. Krishna told the man that it wasn’t him who threw the bananas away and that he would love to have some bananas. Krishna ate some of the bananas and also took some to Rukmini. In the morning, the temple priests saw banana peels strewn all over the shrine – banana peels which looked the same as those offered by the man. They got annoyed, went to his house, and beat him up. When they returned to the mandir, Shree Krishna locked the door from the inside and wouldn’t let them in. It was an example of how Shree Krishna is deen bandhu and also protector of the devotees. Quoting a line of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj’s pad sankirtan, Didiji said (in the words of a devotee) that I feel relieved when I hear the Your title as Deen Bandhu, as I am the most fallen person; but I become afraid at your title of uplifter of devotees, as I don’t consider myself to be a true devotee, and hence unworthy to benefit from the aspect of Your personality

Loud kirtan continues to reverberate throughout Radha Madhav Dham and who knows what spiritual surprises are in store for the evening program and the rest of the Radha Madhav Dham Intensive 2014. Concurrent youth classes continue in a whole variety of subject areas, which will be discussed in the next article, but here are a few glimpses:

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Youth Camp at Radha Madhav Dham 2014

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Youth Camp at Radha Madhav Dham 2014

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Youth Camp at Radha Madhav Dham 2014

Intensive 2014 at Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram
Youth Camp at Radha Madhav Dham 2014




All are cordially invited to attend the Grand Radha Rani Rath Yatra 2014 – RSVP via the official facebook event page.

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