Swamiji led nearly one thousand devoted individuals from the US, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and others in the Nabadwip Sadhana Shivir in January 2018. This event marked a profound spiritual adventure that left a lasting impact on all who attended.
Awakening Spirituality in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Holy Land
Participants were brimmed with excitement as they stepped into the holy land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Swamiji encouraged everyone to seize this opportunity for spiritual growth through introspection and practising austerities reminiscent of the ancient 'yatra' traditions. Under Swamiji's guidance, most devotees began their day at 4 a.m., taking cold showers as a form of purification.
Divine Wisdom and Lectures
During the shivir, Swamiji delivered enlightening lectures on Narad Bhakti Darshan. He emphasized that immersing the mind in the divine leads to divine outcomes. Swamiji shared the story of the gopis, who, despite being married, attained Golok through their selfless love for Krishna. Sage Narad's mantra, तत् सुख सुखित्वम् (tat sukh sukhitvam), which emphasizes doing everything for the beloved's happiness, was highlighted as the path to such profound love. Swamiji also highlighted the importance of humility as it is the basis of devotion. In his famous Siksastakam, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught:
तृणादपि सुनीचेन तरोरपि सहिष्णुना।
अमानिना मानदेन कीर्तनीयः सदा हरिः।।
tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
One should think of self as humble as a blade of grass, be more tolerant than a tree, and be ready to offer all respects to others without expecting any in return. In such a state of mind, one should constantly chant the holy name of Hari.
Swamiji added that we could also think of ourselves as a grain of sand on the beach, a star amongst the millions and billions in the entire universe or as a snowflake. Each possesses uniqueness, occupies a place in God's expansive creation, and has a purpose to fulfil.
Pilgrimages and Divine Experiences
The shivir featured three significant parikramas. On the second day, participants visited Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's janam sthali, where they learned about his birth and childhood. A meditation session followed, and the kirtans filled the air with divine vibrations, leading to ecstatic dancing.
Devotees headed to Shrivas Angan on the third day, where Mahaprabhuji used to hold satsang. Swamiji led the kirtans in his soul-stirring melodious voice, immersing everyone in the divine ambience as if Mahaprabhuji was leading the session.
Swamiji led the group to a dip in the holy Ganga on the final day. People sang and danced joyfully in the river's cold and sacred waters. Devotees took their time enjoying the dip as this was the last major event of the shivir. They felt sad as it was time to pack bags and return home.
A Once-in-a-Lifetime Spiritual Experience
The Nabadwip Sadhana Shivir 2018 left an indelible mark on all attendees. They experienced a spiritual awakening, gained divine wisdom, and received grace during this retreat, making it an event they will never forget.