Polish Retreat 2011

Nitaisundara Das - July 10, 2011 3:40 pm

Today is our third day here in Poland and everything is going very well. Our travels were without incident and the vegan plane meal was actually even good. Guru Maharaja has decided not to consume dairy from any cows that are not protected, and there are a few here but I don't think any of them are milking, so it is a dairy-free week other than the 1 kg of Audarya Asiago that we smuggled in.


We arrived to Prague around 7pm local time after leaving Audarya ~30 hours earlier. Nava-yauvana and a disciple of Paramadvaiti Maharaja named Krsna-kirtan picked us up and we drove an additional 3.5 hours to Czarnow, where we were greeted by 15-20 devotees doing a soft kirtan in the driveway. Sridhara Maharaja, whose sannyasa guru is Paramadvaiti Maharaja is also here for the duration of the retreat. Everyone went into the little house where Guru Maharaja and I are staying and Guru Maharaja spoke with the devotees for a little bit, catching up with everyone. He highly praised the new Polish edition of Siksastakam that was published only 3 days earlier. It was translated by Krystof, who is also doing all the translating of the lectures here, a very intense service, no doubt. It was pretty late so everyone went to their various sleeping places and Guru Maharaja took a little prasad and then went to bed.


The accommodations here for Guru Maharaja are great. We are in a little house with a bedroom for him, a bed for me, a little living room, dining area, and nicely equipped kitchen, as well as a spacious bathroom and a wood stove. The building itself is very nice with skylights, wooden floors, and everything is very clean. This is the guest house on the land of Murari-caitanya and Vrndavanesvari, two devotees who have lived here for 25 years. Their lifestyle is very inspiring: they grow all of their own fruits and vegetables for the entire year (which includes a harsh 5-month winter) on a pretty small patch of land. Total, they have 1.5 hectares with the main garden, a small tomato hot-house, a large area for berries, and various fruit trees throughout. Yesterday Murari-caitanya was mixing and dyeing concrete squares that make up their driveway and I was appreciating so much how they live here. He is originally from the city, too. Guru Maharaja has also had many nice things to say about them and their home and gardens.


We are about 10 min walking distance from the first Iskcon temple in Poland. the two brahmacari's there are cooking for the retreat and the devotees are eating there. Apparently there used to be around 50 brahmacaris here, and 50 families as well. Now there are two of each category. Guru Maharaja has regularly been expressing his disbelief at the fact that all these people were moved out of the area and into the city by some of the leaders, because this area is absolutely beautiful and actually had a thriving community of devotees. If all these families were here there could be a dairy program well underway, grains could be grown, and everyone could potentially be very inspired. It is really too bad things were changed.


We are 5 mins walking distance from a Shiva temple that is currently under construction. This is also the lecture venue for the retreat. It is certainly an interesting building (pictures to come), but intense colors and large swastikas (in Poland!) aside, it works great in the overall context of the retreat.


There are about 50 devotees here from Finland, Italy, Britain, Denmark, Copenhagen, and all around Poland. It's nice for me to meet so may people I have known via the internet or only heard their names, and to see the devotees I do know but have not seen in some time.


The first morning and evening Guru Maharaja spoke about Madhushyam, his disciple who passed away about one week ago. They were very nice talks and went into some detail regarding the fate of sadhana-bhaktas. There is a tendency sometimes for people to say that practically everyone who passes goes to goloka, which is of course not quite true. It was nice to hear Guru Maharaja speak about it siddhantically and yet very encouragingly as well. There is no doubt more to say, but it took me almost 24 hours to get this done, so I will stop here for now :)








Guru-nistha Das - July 10, 2011 3:49 pm

Thanks, Nitai!

Bijaya Kumara Das - July 11, 2011 5:49 am

Very nice Guru-nistha das.


Please keep the nectar flowing.


May your journey be with out blemish and may Nashringa protect you all.

Guru-nistha Das - July 13, 2011 3:32 am

I Skyped with Guru Maharaja the other day and he told me that he will be initiating eight new devotees in Poland on Wednesday!

Syama Gopala Dasa - July 14, 2011 8:03 pm

Here are some kirtan videos of the Polish retreat:

(shot by Krishna Kirtan das, a disciple of Srila Paramadvaiti Mhj, who was so kind to videotape all the lectures. so more coming!)


Syama Gopala Dasa - July 14, 2011 8:04 pm
Syama Gopala Dasa - July 14, 2011 8:04 pm
Madhavendra Puri Dasa - July 15, 2011 12:35 pm

This was amazing! I am so happy to meet Guru Maharaja and so many of my spiritual brothers and sisters. We've just came from Poland (Saragrahi and me), and I am working on writing down my diary, day by day, I will do the English version and I'll post it here with some pictures.

By the way - could someone change my profile name to Kalpataru das?

Tulasi - July 15, 2011 1:18 pm

By the way - could someone change my profile name to Kalpataru das?


Yes, that was wonderfull week, finally we met Guru Maharaja and so many of his sweet disciples, we got initiated and after so long time we feel like we belong somewhere.

I got the same request, could someone change my profile name to Saragrahi devi dasi.

Madan Gopal Das - July 15, 2011 1:37 pm

Yes, that was wonderfull week, finally we met Guru Maharaja and so many of his sweet disciples, we got initiated and after so long time we feel like we belong somewhere.

I got the same request, could someone change my profile name to Saragrahi devi dasi.


I've never met you Kalpataru and Saragrahi, but I always felt like you belonged! So happy its finally official. Congratulations, and all glories to your good fortune! :Party::Party:

Nitaisundara Das - July 15, 2011 10:40 pm

Done and done. I really liked meeting you two as well, it was immediately like family.

Guru-nistha Das - July 16, 2011 3:38 am

congrats, Kalpataru and Saragrahi! I totally agree with what Nitai and Madan are saying. Looking foward to meeting you guys.

Kamalaksa Das - July 16, 2011 6:31 am

Having taken a peek at Krishangi's Facebook page, I quickly noticed that there was no shortage of pictures posted from the Polish retreat. But given that not everyone might be privy to those postings, I decicded to share a few of my pictures on this forum. The telling of the stories behind the pictures is a task I leave to those better equipped for it. So here goes. Batch one.


(Edit: strike that - there seems to be some new feature on TV that limits the size of pictures. And all of my current images exceeds this limitation. But as a consolation I made the group picture available, very heavily j-pegged.)


Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 10:52 am

Nitaisundar tasting the nectar... :P



Braja-sundari Dasi - July 16, 2011 3:30 pm

Having taken a peek at Krishangi's Facebook page, I quickly noticed that there was no shortage of pictures posted from the Polish retreat. But given that not everyone might be privy to those postings, I decicded to share a few of my pictures on this forum. The telling of the stories behind the pictures is a task I leave to those better equipped for it. So here goes. Batch one.


(Edit: strike that - there seems to be some new feature on TV that limits the size of pictures. And all of my current images exceeds this limitation. But as a consolation I made the group picture available, very heavily j-pegged.)




we want more.... :Praying: :Praying: :Praying:

Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 9:12 pm


I did the English version of my festival diary, I hope you will get the feel of what was going on there:)

The pictures are mostly by Premarnava and Nityangi. If someone recognize his pictures, I am sorry, they got all mixed up. Also sorry for my English, the writing in it is little bit more difficult than speaking:)


To the Other Side

The impressions from the first meeting with Swami



Swami is signing Tat Sandarbha for me






12:30, Copenhagen


We put the bags on our backs and because of lack of money for bus pass we decided to walk six kilometres to the coach station. Sticking to the shaded side of the street (the heat was quite summery), we talked about what we were about to do. I mean of course the meeting with Swami.

It’s about seven years since Gaura Shakti sent me a CD with the lectures. That time we lived in Copenhagen too, like we do now. It seems as life has come full circle - after years of turmoil, lessons and mistakes, finally we decided to meet him.

I have difficulty with comprehending how important this moment is.

Somewhere behind the fence jazz music sounded. I looked behind a hedge. The courtyard of a bar. Although it was a midweek and a middle of the day, customers sip lazily from frosted glasses of beer and blew clouds of silver smoke. Until recently I would look at it with a slight jealousy, and myself I would have sought a cosy place where I could quietly cool myself off with a beer and have a cigarette in secret from Tulasi.

Today is different. I looked at the courtyard of the bar with a slight surprise and sadness, as at the ragged side flat of a suburban theater. I felt a relief and gratitude that despite all my faults and weaknesses, Krishna did not shut a door on me yet and I'm still a devotee. And tomorrow I will meet Swami. I know I’m touching something important here.


brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva

krishna prasad Paya guru bhakti-lata-bija


" According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service."


* * *

We sit with Tulasi at the bus stop near the hotel Ascot. We still got about half an hour to the arrival of the bus. I just ate lunch which was suppose to be for the journey: sandwiches with humus and pickles (bit too vinegary). As usual we are little nervous - we wonder whether the bus will arrive on time, or if we get a seats together, whether this or that. I will try to raise the mind above that, enable the heart to rely on Krishna. So far I have no reason to not trust Him.


19:30, Hamburg


We are waiting for the connecting ride. Bus to Wroclaw departs in an hour. After several months in Denmark I look around with curiosity, looking for differences. In Germany it is less colourful. Certainly less bikes. And also something subtle in the ether, something hardly perceptible, which distinguishes the different countries.


The bus was crowded, and since one of the drivers poured the fuel all over himself, it also stank. We had to survive three very bad films, as it is already tradition on the Polish international journeys. I don’t know who is choosing their movies. I listened to the lectures of Swami, but I didn’t understand much - the fate of bandits robbing banks, football fans in love and a man cursed to attract any women on the screen attracted my attention. The problem is they don’t give you earphones, they just play movie with full volume and whether you want it or not, you are doomed to watch it. In the end I tried little reading. "The Search For Sri Krishna." A devotee asked Sridhara Maharaja what he thought about the danger of nuclear war. Maharaja replied that the whole Earth will perish one day. Just like the sun, moon, stars, galaxies, the universe. We should not look for life in a particular moment in time, but we must find our place in eternity.


* * *

Another fifty minutes to the bus arrival and a queue is already starting to form on the platform. Everyone wants to be first, to get the best seat. I also want that, but I can not let myself to be manipulated by some pushy people who have learned that in life you have to fight for a good place. Everyone could sit peacefully on the benches, and eventually we all would get a place. Tulasi is little angry with me, because we did not go to the platform, before it started to get busy.


07/07/2011, Czarnow


We are here. From Kamienna Gora we got a ride from a nice guy, working as an illegal taxi driver. Thanks God that we got a ride, because from Kamienna Gora to Pisarzowice it is five kilometres, and from there to the festival four kilometres more.

Beautiful surroundings. Mountains, forests, singing birds, lush fields, picturesque cottages.

I wonder where are the other devotees, who were suppose to come for the festival. For now there are only us and Sanatana Goswami, an Englishman who lives in Villa Vrindavan, a disciple of Radhanatha Maharaja. For him it will be the first meeting with Swami as well.

I started to get rumbling tummy, Tulasi does too, so we went to the temple to wait for dinner and friends.

I tried to nap, but did not manage. Too much excitement, a new place, expectations.

Farm seems to be quiet and empty. I remember a large cluster of brahmacaris when I was here in 1997 at a sankirtan seminar. It was pulsating with life then. A s young brahmacari leaving from here I prayed to Panca Tattva that I can come back. So after fourteen years here I am.


* * *

- Shouldn’t we make a garland? - I said.

- I thought the same! Greeting Swami without garland? No way! - Tulasi replayed.

- And since you're the master of garlands ...

Tulasi glanced at her watch.

- We will manage. Lets go!

She grabbed a canvas bag and we ran to the meadow and gathered some wild flowers. After an hour, a beautiful garland was cooling in the refrigerator.





Swami was supposed to be here about nine o'clock, but Krishna Kirtan phoned that they will be late, about ten o'clock. We came to Swami’s home earlier, so we wouldn’t miss him. I tried to ignore my nervousness. Tulasi was also tense. You could tell by all the stupid jokes that rained from her mouth. Fortunately Asia, with whom we spent some time, had nothing against it, and she giggled together with Tulasi.



Hari Lila


We were not sure who should give the garland. Tulasi said that there is no chance that she ventured, after all Swami did not even knew her. Finally we asked the devotees from Finland whether they want to do it.

- Who woven the garland? - Asked Krsangi (I think it was her).

I pointed to Tulasi.

- Well, so she should give it.

The matter was solved.

Finally when the car came, it was already quite dark. Squinting, I looked for Swami. A light in the car came on. And here he was - exactly like on the pictures and movies (and what did I expect?). But now, finally I saw him live. Swami got out from the car. Tulasi toddled in one place, not sure when it was be the best time to give a garland. The devotees paid obeisances.

- Now - I pushed her lightly. She walked timidly.

- Hare Krishna – She stammered out.

- Hare Krishna – He replied.

This was our first meeting with Swami.


No one really knew what to do now, but Swami invited everyone inside. We were delighted that we didn’t have to go away yet.

Devotees had gathered on the floor. I sat a little behind. Swami looked at me.

- Madhavendra, right? - He asked.

I nodded.

- And it is your wife ... Tulasi?

Tulasi confirmed.

When everyone had sat down, he began to talk to devotees asking them, what they do, what’s their situation, etc. He was very happy with the Polish edition of "Siksastakam."

- It's probably the first translation of my book in a foreign language.

Devotees smiled proudly.

Swami said that some devotees are already working on the Spanish version.

- You speak Spanish, right? - Swami's eyes again stopped on me.

- Yes, a little bit - I stammered out. – Not fluently tough ...

- That’s not true - Tulasi interrupted me. – He is very good.

- How many languages do you know? - Swami asked.

- English and Spanish. And in a month we are starting a Danish course – I added pointlessly.

- Ah, yes, you are living in Copenhagen. How did you end up there?

- I got a job - Tulasi said. - I work with a disabled boy.

Swami nodded.

- Do you like it there?

- It’s little hard - I replied. - The Danes have had enough of immigrants.

After this exchange, Swami talked in the same personal way to other devotees. After a few minutes we said goodbye and left him, so he could eat and rest.


The feelings after the first meeting?


He was very personal. When he showed us that he knows that we exist in some way for him, even though we never met in person, I felt relief and joy. I am happy that in some small way I was able to connect with him in all these years.


I was not calm. I felt the joy and excitement. I looked at Swami's, thinking: "Is this my guru?" "Is this the person that Krishna sent to me?". On the other hand, I felt that some deep, "underground" part of me resisted. I was probably scared of the consequences of this meeting - a major change in life, a new stage. Destruction of old structures, old ego death, rebirth - after all, these are the main themes permeating my thoughts lately. The meeting with Swami is the most important part of this developmental process. For a along time I felt that a change was coming, I felt that something inside me has to change, because I was stuck in one place, not being able to move on. Everything inside called for a change. The Swami’s arrival synchronized with all these.


I want to be a new person. Although I'm scared and I do not know how it is suppose to work, I think I'm ready.



Swami and Guru Vakya



Bhrigu, Caitanya Rupini, Kamalaksa, Krsangi and unknown devotee



Kalpataru (or me:)



Sanatana Goswami



Exstatic Nitai



From the left: Kalpataru, Saragrahi, Nityangi and Premarnava, in front of the temple, waiting for prasadam

Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 9:22 pm




Swami signing the Polish edition of Siksastakam for Saragrahi



08.07.2011. Czarnow




Although after the entire day and night without sleep I was going to stay in bed until breakfast (not out of laziness, but to properly relax and to be in a good shape:), I woke up at half past six. Excited about the coming day, I was not able to sleep any longer. I lay in bed and again and again I remembered the previous evening, how Swami spoke to us, how Tulasi gave him a garland, every possible detail.


Now it’s still quite early. Tulasi is asleep next to me. The stove is still warm. Soon I will take my japa beads and go to look at the mountains.




Phew, if it was a breakfast, I do not know what the devotees will make for a dinner. The meal consisted of fried sabji (French fries, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers), savoury rice, sweet rice, delicious oily halawa, banana yogurt, puris, and there was still a half bucket of sabji (also fried) from yesterday. Pure nectar. I've missed Polish style prasadam. Fortunately this is only a week, so I will manage to survive without a real damage to my health:).


I still can not figure out the Finnish students of Swami. They seem aloof, hard to get closer. Maybe they are shy, after all this is not their country, they are guests here, and maybe this is the famous Finnish reticence? Anyway, I give them more time to open up. They seem very nice.



Kamalaksa, Krsangi and Lina resting after the journey




My first question at the first lecture, and as the saying goes among the devotees, it was a nectar. I will try the get the video from Krishna Kirtan and then write it down, word for word. In short, I asked, how can we love Krishna without first experiencing Him. It's hard for me to write down everything Swami said. It started normally, in a general way, then the answer began to grow from a seed - a general, theoretical, and then more and more personal, touching my thoughts, fears, longings. At some point, Swami said that the spiritual love is waking up already in the feeling for a Vaisnava, and he said it with such a conviction and a twinkle in his eye, that my hair stood on end. Maharaja spoke for a long time, in a very poetic way, his voice trembling with emotion.




He said that right now we think "I'm doing so much, and I don’t see any results, Krishna has forgotten me" (exactly what I thought for a long time), "but the time will come that we will think - God, I'm doing so little, and I get so much affection, so much happiness. How I deserve this?"


After the lecture, I asked Swami for darshan. We go with Tulasi at four, just after the lunch. We will ask for initiation.


* * *

So we went to the darshan. Swami was tired and I thought for a moment to suggest that we will come another time, but somehow I didn’t.

The first thing we did was asking for initiation. Swami did not answer right away. He said that we should come to see him in States. We could live in the yurt, we could stay in Audarya and then travel with him wherever he goes.


The conversation was pretty short. Finally he said that we will get an initiation, no worries.


After leaving Swami we realized that we felt little disappointed. It's strange, but it’s true. All the way home we talked, trying to figure out where that feeling came from. At last it occurred to us that the last few months subconsciously we were expecting from this encounter something mystical, special, which will free us from all the problems. We expected magic. Instead, we got a simple conversation with tired Swami.


We felt relieved, when we realized this. Swami gives us a fishing rod, not a fish. We accepted it, and again we felt light hearted.


Besides, Swami wants us to come to him, so we could help him, and he could help us. Now we have to get rid of our debts (gosh, this will take a while), save money for the trip and to rely on luck at the embassy in dealing with visa.


07/09/2011, Czarnow


It’s already late evening, but it’s hard to sleep, to calm the emotions, come down. This is happiness. All day with Swami, or with his disciples, spiritual discussions, and those less spiritual (I mean our political debate with Nitaisundar, Syam Gopal and Premarnava), prasadam ... This is what I miss most in life, what I am looking for, even going to a party or a concert - and I never find it. A good company.


In the evening we sat by the Kisora Kiśora’s house. Tiksna Rupa served an excellent pizza from the oven. We talked a lot with Bhrigu Pati, charmed by his humour, honesty and knowledge. We told each other, how we joined to the devotees, remembered a brahmacari times, laughing at ourselves, and from time to time Bhrigu quoted beautiful verses from Bhagavatam. This is sadhu-sanga.


He told a nice story about his daughter. The girl is three years old. Every day, when Bhrigu puts to sleep his Deity, Sad Bhuj Caitanya, his daughter is massaging feet of the Deity, and then Bhrigu puts Him to a bed. In the morning, when the daughter is still asleep, he wakes up and puts Deity on the altar. One morning he was waken up by a tug on his shoulder.

- Dad! Dad!

He opened his eyes and saw the girl's face. She was very excited.

- What happened?

- Lord Caitanya has woke up!

Bhrigu got up on one elbow.

- How do you know?

- Because He lies with his eyes open! Come and see for yourself!

Bhrigu smiled to himself, but he explained with serenity that Krishna probably woke up, but decided to stay in bed and be lazy.


* * *

I described the evening, but there was a whole day before that. In the morning I planned to quickly finish my rounds, but something tempted me to go to the temple before prasadam. Of course I found there plenty of opportunities to have lots of interesting talks. I met Sanatana Gosvami with his English humour, later I talked with Radhakanta, Premarnava, Nityangi and others.


The lunch was a feast again, the same as the breakfast, and although I had the impression that it is too much for me, the view of colourful, oily, shiny, fragrant delicacies did not give me a chance.




Local ISKCON devotees are nice hosts, they treat us mostly with respect and courtesy. Of course I feel the distance, I know what is the intersanga situation in Poland but the respect and curiosity prevails. It was endearing when we were coming back with Tulasi after the evening lecture, we walked past the temple, and one of the brahmacaris, Mitra Hari waved to us and said with a smile: "Haribol! Are you inspired!?"

This is the Vaishnava culture, everyone should follow this example.


As for the translation of Swami's lectures, somehow I am getting used to it. Chris translates well, although sometimes the desire for perfection makes him to jam and he overuses the synonyms, but there is nothing to complain about, he speaks well English and though my English is good, I lack his precision.



Swami and Guru Vakya


Lots of talks with Premarnava and Nityangi. They live in the room over ours. I feel a strong connection with them. When they talk about their problems and thoughts, sometimes I feel like I'm listening to Tulasi and myself. It is unfortunate that we live so far apart, probably we would become a good friends.


In the morning I asked a question again. This time I asked for a moment in which the jiva is affected with svarupa-sakti. Does it happen during initiation, or when else? Swami replied (among other things) that sadhana bhakti is also bhakti and therefore following sadhana we are experiencing her generosity and we are touched by svarupa-sakti in the very beginning.


It’s interesting that listening to a lecture directly from Swami, live, it gets inside much deeper than by the mp3. That’s my impression anyway. I also feel that I hear a lot of new things that I have not heard before on recordings.


After the morning lecture, we decided to go on a trip to the lake. It was already thirty degrees, so the lake sounded good. But it turned out that it is famous Purple Lake – a lake saturated with iron and sulphur. You can watch it and admire, but definitely not swim in it. Halfway up (yes – up again!) we left the group (Kamalaksa, Krsangi, Krzysztof, Ola, Lina, Sanatana, Hari Priya, Tadiya ... I do not remember whether there was someone else). Anyway, together with Tulasi we went down to the village to get an ice cream. After half an hour Sanatana Goswami joined us,. We ate ice cream and talked (mostly nonsense;) and then we went with Sridhara Maharaja and Krishna Kirtan to the temple.


Then there was a lunch, chat with Nitaisundar, Syam Gopal, and Premarnava, then again a lecture – this time Swami talked about sraddha.


The day ended with pizza and long night talk with Premarnava.



Premarnava and Bhrigu



Bhrigu sharing his wisdom with fallen souls;)



Saragrahi and Kalpataru






Syam Gopal and the piece of Bhrigu

Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 9:31 pm




Playing mrdanga before lecture


07/10/2011, Czarnow


We haven’t’ sleep much again, especially Tulasi – in the night we experienced the invasion of ants. Tulasi scratched in the bed for few hours, thinking that she has tactile hallucinations, but finally she could not stand it any longer, and barely holding back the tears, she woke me up.

- Something is happening! Since few hours I feel that something is crawling all over me! - She cried in frustration.

I didn’t really believe her (after all I didn’t feel anything:), but when we turned the lights on, it saw that the wall under the window and the window itself was full of ants, literary hundreds of them, some wandering on our bed too. We moved the bed away from the wall, formed a circle of salt around it (supposedly it deters ants) and we had some more sleep.


The morning greeted us with torrential rain. Fortunately, the clouds dispersed very quickly.


Breakfast, lecture by Swami, learning to play the ukulele from Mayapurcandra - great stuff! Ukulele is my next purchase.



Mayapurcandra showes me some tricks on ukulele


Today we received the service of cutting vegetables for the feast (Sunday). We did that in the temple room. Mister led the bhajan, and we pilled and chopped apples, cucumbers and potatoes to the rhythm of mrdanga and caratals.


A few words about some of the Swami’s disciples and friends:


Hari Priya - Quiet, shy, very polite. In Finland she lives little bit away from the rest of the devotees. She laughs that she is a loser, especially when compared with the people in the sanga, who know what they want from life, such as Bhrigu, or Krsangi. She is very shy about singing, although she has a very nice, soft voice.


Bhrigu - I wrote about him earlier. A great sense of humour. I can see his peace, knowledge and big heart. At first glance you would think that is eccentric - I mean his turned up moustache a la Otto von Bismarck, but after a few conversations you will see that you're dealing with someone who is balanced and serious.



Serious Bhrigu, and less serious Syam Gopal:)


Syam Gopal - Dutchman. A super sense of humour, with a large portion of sarcasm – this is what I like. Intellectual, capitalist and on the top he is into politics (liberal!). God, who am I hanging out with?;)


Nitaisundar - A young fellow, Swami’s assistant. Typical American - friendly, confident, nice to talk to. You can see a big impact of continuous companionship with Swami.


Lina - She came with the Finns. She is their friend, especially with Krsangi and Kamalaksa, but she doesn’t consider herself a devotee. She just likes Swami and his disciples. She intrigued me – it is amazing that without faith (or so she says) she is able to spend so many hours listening to the "storytelling" about Goloka, Krishna, various types of Shakti, etc.


Krsangi - Nice, educated and strongly opinionated girl. She makes an impression of a very strong but gentle personality. Kind of an aristocrat feeling (but in a good way:). I bought from her comics with her adventure once, some years ago.


Kamalaksa – Krsangi’s husband. Difficult to crack:). It is certainly one of those who take their time to open up to strangers. This is valuable quality too.


Sanatana Goswami - He is not a Swami’s disciple, but after this festival, I will rather see him in connection with Swami. Although on the first day I could not figure him out one bit, it quickly became apparent that he is original and interesting, nice, cultured. I didn’t mind his loud belching at all;)


Tadiya - Overall, this is just today that I had the opportunity to talk to her when we were preparing vegetables in the temple. The first impression was that she keeps a distance, but it turned out that I was completely wrong. I liked how openly and honestly she told about her beginnings in bhakti. And I liked how both – her and Hari Priya enjoyed the bhajan with harmonium and mrdanga. In Finland they are forbidden to visit ISKCON temples, so they don’t have many opportunities for joint bhajan.



From the left: Kamalaksa, Krsnangi, Tadiya, Lina


There are more devotees, of which I could write, but there is not enough time to get to know all of them, I hope that one day I will make up for it. We talked a lot with Premarnava and Nityangi, Asia, we also had some contact with Gokulacandra, Rama Govinda, Pawel and others. My feeling is that Swami’s disciples are just nice people:). Prior to now, knowing them only on internet, I felt some distance. Perhaps out of jealousy that they already know and "have" Swami inside. I just regret that in a few days we will spill around the world. It feels like everyone of them has a piece of Swami in their hearts. I feel proud to join the family. I thought I was too old for such feelings.

The feast is starting, I gotta go.


* * *

Tulasi had a small crisis in the evening. To save her, I went to the Swami at half past ten, fortunately he was not asleep yet. Crisis averted, Tulasi relieved, but now she feels embarrassed.


11/07/2011, Czarnow


Another lecture by Swami, time flies faster and faster. I played mrdanga again, now with more confidence, I start to get Guru Maharaja’s style. When I played, Bhrigu folded my sweater in the perfect way.




Swami spoke about opening of Krishna-Balarama Temple in Vrindavan. He told us two pastimes. One in the context of standards in the Deity worship.


Usually in the Krishna-Balarama the temple puja was done by pujaris who had an excellent technique. Three pujaris did arati on three altars, in a perfectly synchronized manner. It was the first week after opening. The temple was visited by many distinguished guests: politicians, businessmen, etc. Srila Prabhupada proudly showed them the white devotees worshiping the Deities.

Swami was the leader of a sankirtan group that contributed a large amount of money to build this temple. Because of that he was able to arrange that he and two other brahmacaris could do arati.

They started well, but at some point one of the brahmacaris dropped the lamp and from that moment the chaos began. And Srila Prabhupada watched the disaster all the way trough.

Later he called a local GBC and asked:

- Who did arati today?

- Tripurari and his men.

- Oh, that's fine then – Prabhupada replied with a smile.




A second story was this:


During the opening of the same temple, Swami stood in front of the crowd when Srila Prabhpada was doing the first arati. Swami was crying with happiness, thinking about the triumph of his guru, and his tears dripped on Hamsadutta. A devotee standing behind him tried to push him away, to take a picture of Srila Prabhupada, but Swami did not intend to move at any price. Even when she screamed to his ear: "Tripurari! It's for preaching ", he did not respond.

Eventually he moved away slightly and she managed to take a picture.


* * *

It’s already half past eleven, but it’s hard (usual thing lately) to sleep after such a busy day. In my head still resounds the voice of Swami, other devotees, their laughter and singing. Jokes, talks about svarupa-sakti and Goloka intertwined with debates on anarchism, capitalism and socialism.


We have just returned from the bonfire. This time the party was by the Finns’ house. At least this time they didn’t have to walk so far. We had bananas and potatoes from fire, we sang maha-mantra, and other songs, Mayapur with Pawel played the ukulele.


When we walked there I thought about how amazing I feel here. Everything is linked with Swami, each of us is related to him by affection and this bond connects his students as well. Just like in the spiritual world - everyone loves Krsna, their life revolves around him, and yet (or maybe thanks to it) there is a strong feeling among the gopas, gopis, and everyone else. It has a name in Sanskrit ... I forgot.


Bhrigu told a joke today:)


“In one temple there were two devotees serving as pujaris: brahmacari and brahmacarini. They were very shy, so for twenty years they have not exchanged a single word. Finally one day the brahmacari gathered up the courage. He grabbed the phone and called the brahmacarini.

- Will you marry me? – He said to the phone with a trembling voice.

- Yes! – She exclaimed enthusiastically. After a moment she added - Who is speaking?”



* * *

The morning lecture left everyone deeply impressed. Sanatana Goswami made everyone happy, by asking Swami to explain the significance of the song "Jaya Radha Madhava”. It was so strong. If I manage to get the recording, I will transcribe it in English for Harmonist and also do a Polish translation for my blog.


* * *

Phew, it's late, I will not write anything more. Just quick search for ticks (they are a real nightmare here) and lets call it the end of the day.


Pictures from the bonfire:



Bhrigu fishing for potatoes



Nava Yauvanam fishing for bananas



Sanatana Goswami leading bhajan. Behind him Dharmasetu



Syam Gopal enjoys himself:)

Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 9:38 pm




Saragrahi and me, at the fire sacrifice


12/07/2011, Czarnow


Quiet morning. Buzzing bees, singing sparrows and titmice, the smell of wet grass and lime trees warmed with the strong morning sun. Today it’s going to be hot. I hope that this weather will continue until tomorrow at least, for the initiation day and Bhrigu’s fire sacrifice.


I’m pushing away the thoughts about the end of the festival. Only today and tomorrow left, and then we will have to go back to the "normal" life - debts, looking for a job, a lonely struggle with the world. Damn, how much I do not want this!


The last few days I realized very deeply what sadhu-sanga means, and not in a dry way, but deeper, friendly, combining respect with friendliness. Problems that previously seemed to be like an ocean, within a few days decreased to the size of the puddle. I will miss it so much. Nice that Swami gave us some practical target – to come to him.


It turned out that I’ll get harinama and diksa tomorrow. That's more than I expected.


I learned that Swami stopped giving brahman thread. It hurt a little. Not because of the prestige, but I felt left out. Bhrigu suggested that we go together to Swami and talk about this issue. He added with a laugh that I should not worry, he will arrange it. We'll see. There was a lively discussion about it during prasadam, starring Abhay Sridhara Maharaja, Bhrigu, and Sanatana Gosvami.


* * *

Evening already. I went to bed earlier than usual. It’s still light outside, but I start to feel the effects of the intensity of recent days, overload of experiences, four hours of lectures a day, etc. I thought we will spend some time with devotees tonight, eating pizza again, but some of the devotees had been invited to the bonfire near the house of Swami, and some were not, Nityangi and Premarnava had gone to sleep, Rama Govinda left, it was empty around.


Before the afternoon lecture Bhrigu and I, we went to Swami. On the way, Syam Gopal joined us. Bhrigu asked about the brahmana thread. Swami said that wearing the thread by the Vaisnavas was introduced by Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja in a specific historical and social context (to give Gaudiya Vaishnavism some prestige). Currently, in the West the thread does not mean anything. Secondly, how to answer the question why women can not wear the thread? Maharaja said that he has no answer, so he is inclined to discontinue giving the thread. One devotee has got such a "threadless" initiation already. Premarnava and I, we will be next.


Later we took a group picture. The sun was shining straight in our faces, so we all have squinted eyes on the photograph, except for Swami, who wore sunglasses and looked like the Godfather.


I didn’t manage to give Swami another argument about the brahmana thread - what about the prestige of our mission as a part of a larger world of Gaudiya Vaishnavism? Will we not lose credibility by such a change? I told this to Bhrigu. He replied that he thought the same and he is going to ask Swami about it.


It’s nice to doze off when Mayapur and Pawel play the ukulele and sing Hare Krishna outside.

A big day tomorrow. I am getting admitted to the Gaudiya Vaishnava family again.


13/07/2011, Czarnow


I wasn’t able to grab a pan all day, there was simply no time. It’s already a late evening, the silence, you can hear only crickets and the creaking of the floor above our heads, where Nityangi and Premarnava live. I can hear the quiet sound of the bell, perhaps the Deities are being put to sleep.


Saragrahi (first I wrote Tulasi, but I crossed it out) chants the diksa mantras, and I'll try to sum up the day, at least in a few sentences, because tomorrow we get up at four to bid farewell to Swami, so I need some sleep.


In the morning we woke up before six. We got a mission of collecting the wild flowers for the garlands for Swami and Bhrigu, and for the fire sacrifice. Together with Premarnava, Saragrahi and Nityangi we headed for the Finns’ house, picking up the nice, full flowers. When we managed to collect three bags, we decided it was enough. Prema and Nityangi returned to the house to prepare for the initiation, and Saragrahi and I, we went to bring the flowers to Krsangi, Hari Priya and Tadiya.


Saragrahi returned home to prepare the initiation outfit, and I decided to stay in the Finns for the morning program. I wanted to know what songs are sung by Swami’s disciples in the morning, and I also wanted to spend some more time with everyone. Who knows when we will meet again.

Then the shower, twelve tilaks, dhoti, chadar - like the old days. Then we rushed to the temple of Lord Siva.





Impressions? Certainly we were nervous, excited, but happy. For several years we often thought about this moment. I remember the long bike rides in the mountains, listening to the Guru Maharaja’s lectures, when I wondered, when I will meet him (when I will gather up the courage). And finally it was happening - I marched the mountain path straight to the temple, where Swami was waiting for me with the beads, new name and diksa mantras.


As usual, he came about ten. He started with a bhajan. After the bhajan and lecture about the importance of initiation, and after explaining ten offences to the holy name, Swami called the first candidate. I felt a little bit silly, because I got up first, thinking that all candidates for the initiation are suppose to come closer, and I didn’t want to be pushy. Swami waved his hand, asking me to approach. I squatted in front of him feeling like a little boy, not a thirty years old guy. He explained to the public the situation with my previous initiation. When asked about the number of rounds that I wanted to chant, at the last second I increased it. Then he tied the tulasi mala on my neck, chanted maha-mantra into my ear, gave me beads, bag and counter, and then announced:

- Your new name is Kalpataru Das!

When Saragrahi’s turn came, I was so stunned that I heard nothing except her name - Saragrahi dasi. Other names were: Hari Lila, Guru Vakya and Tamal Candra.





It's hard to describe my impression of that moment, moreover, they were quite private, and I know that these notes will go into the internet. Certainly I felt the strong sense of the end of something old, outdated, stagnant and the beginning of something new. Also, when I first heard 'Kalpataru' my heart sank within me, because I thought that I got the female name - I already knew one Kalpataru and she was a girl. After a second however, this feeling disappeared and I was ok. I laughed later when I realized how strong material identification can be.


After initiations Bhrigu declared that everyone has to go to the Finns’ house, where he will make fire sacrifice. In all the confusion, searching for the cars and running, we went there on foot.


When we got there, the majority of devotees were already waiting at the sacrificial arena. Bhrigu showed us a place at the feet of Gaura Nitay (Prema and Nityangi lent their Deities for the yajna).





I've been to several fire sacrifices, but usually they were very stiff, boring events, during which I felt a bit like in a church. Bhrigu had a completely different style. With a mixture of solemnity and humour, he explained the importance of the sacrifice. I will not even try to tell everything, teher was so much. I remember that the sacrifice creates in a person samskaras, which will affect the soul and will be transferred from life to life.


During the fire sacrifice the fire blazed so strong that it almost lit the costumes of Deities (I warned about it from the beginning, ha!:). Fortunately, Kamalaksa jump up and moved the Deities. Just in time, because the garlands began to smoke already.




After the sacrifice I went to Gaura Śakti and thanked him for bringing Swami to Poland. He was moved.

After the sacrifice we went to hear diksa mantras.

That's it in a nutshell. My eyelids start to fall, I can barely write. I'm exhausted, but happy.


14/07/2011, Czarnow


We went out into the darkness. We knew the way almost by heart, besides we were helped by a distant storm – the lightings lit the road like a camera flashes. The air smelled of the wet leaves, rain and earth. We walked quickly, and when the first drops fell, we walked even faster, until we couldn’t chant any more. We got there before the worst rain started.

Sanatana Goswami was already there.

Soon the darkness started to dispel. Then Guru Vakya and Tamal Candra came, followed by Nava Yauvanam, Rupini Caitanya, Abhay Sridhar Maharaja and Krishna Kirtan.

Nitaisundar pulled from the apartment a large suitcase. Someone took it from him, someone else ran for the rest of the luggage, I regretted a little that it wasn’t me.

Then Swami came out. He embraced Abhay Sridhar Maharaja, who was obviously moved. He stammered:

- Thank you for everything, Guru Maharaja.

When Swami was getting into the car, I gave a hug to Nitaisundar. Saragrahi also wanted to, but not being sure if it’s fitting, she just smiled and bowed her head.

We stood at the gate. Car moved slowly. Swami folded his palms and looked deeply into the eyes of each of us.


And then he disappeared.



Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 9:44 pm

Random pictures



Waiting for prsadam. Kalpataru, Saragrahi, Nityangi, Premarnava



Nityangi and Premarnava's temple



Caitanya Rupini



Rama Govinda and Paulina



Mayapurcandra and Pawel





Polish edition of Siksastakam








Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 9:48 pm

More random pictures:



Nava Yauvanam



Hari Priya and Lina




This was a discussion about Iskcon and so on, unfortunately I missed that:(



Gaura Sakti



Sanatana Goswami






Tamal Candra



Krsna Kirtan (Paramadvaiti Swami's disciple, he was Guru Maharaja's driver



Hari Priya

Syama Gopala Dasa - July 16, 2011 10:07 pm

Thanks Kalpataru prabhu for this great recap of the event. It brings me right back to a lot of beautiful moments in the Polish mountains. It was great to have a European-wide congregation. Let's hope next year more gurubhai will be able to join us.

Kalpataru Dasa - July 16, 2011 10:25 pm

Thanks Kalpataru prabhu for this great recap of the event. It brings me right back to a lot of beautiful moments in the Polish mountains. It was great to have a European-wide congregation. Let's hope next year more gurubhai will be able to join us.


Yes, Syam Gopal, it was a great event, I am looking forward to the next one. Hope to see you in October, remember.

I hope I didn't offend anyone with this diary. Whatever I wrote, I wrote with affection :ph34r:

Tadiya Dasi - July 17, 2011 7:46 am

Thank you, Kalpataru, for sharing your diary with us. I enjoyed reading it :)

Madan Gopal Das - July 17, 2011 11:59 am

Thanks for sharing your diary Kalpataru. The thing I like most about writing like this is getting to know the author!

Kalpataru Dasa - July 17, 2011 12:26 pm

Thanks for sharing your diary Kalpataru. The thing I like most about writing like this is getting to know the author!


At least the side he wants to share... :Devil:

Nitaisundara Das - July 17, 2011 8:54 pm

I appreciate this very much, too, even if you called me a typical American and I know what your perception of Americans is... :Frustrated:

Kalpataru Dasa - July 18, 2011 4:52 am

I appreciate this very much, too, even if you called me a typical American and I know what your perception of Americans is... :Frustrated:


Ha, ha, but I explain there - confident, open, nice to talk to:).

Citta Hari Dasa - July 18, 2011 4:06 pm

Kalpataruji, thanks so much for posting this. I got a real sense of your appreciation for devotional sanga and of how your time at the retreat affected you. Welcome to the family. I look forward to meeting you one day!

Krsangi Dasi - July 19, 2011 1:36 pm

I'd also like to thank you for posting your notes, Kalpataru!


I've uploaded some of Kamalaksa's photos on Facebook, and even those of you who aren't registered there should be able to view them through this link. Enjoy! :)


Kalpataru Dasa - July 19, 2011 3:18 pm

I'd also like to thank you for posting your notes, Kalpataru!


I've uploaded some of Kamalaksa's photos on Facebook, and even those of you who aren't registered there should be able to view them through this link. Enjoy! :)



I really hope that Kamalaksa is not mad at me for picturing him as a kind of Steppenwolf <_<

Nava-yauvana Dasa - July 19, 2011 6:41 pm

Saragrahi Festival 2011 is now, alas, over. It has left us with recorded talks, photos and teachings, which Swami B.V. Tripurari has shared with us.


That was another meeting of Śri Caitanya Sangha in Poland. This time, members of three other Vaisnava organizations also took part in it, namely: Vrinda Mission (represented by Swami Abhay Śridhar Maharaja and Krsna-kirtan dasa), Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti (Dharmasetu dasa), and ISKCON. Each organization has its own way of presenting Gaudiya philosophy and embodies a unique character and qualities of its founder.


Despite differences, however, we have demonstrated that we are able and willing to cooperate with each other. The mood of the retreat was pervaded with mutual care and respect for the needs of others, for which we would like to thank all the Festival participants. In particular, we express our gratitude to the ISKCON New Śantipur temple residents in Czarnów, who received us so warmly and hosted us with meals prepared in the temple.


We started the Festival by welcoming our guest of honour, Swami B.V. Tripurari, who arrived in Czarnów late in the evening on 7th July 2011 along with his assistant, Nitaisundara dasa, a monk living in the monastery of Audarya. After we garlanded Maharaja and quietly (as the most of the village dwellers were already asleep) sang the mahamantra to him, he asked all of us into his apartment, and welcomed each of us individually. After a short conversation, everyone went to their lodgings, eagerly looking forward to the morning lecture.


Madhusyama dasa, one of Swami B.V. Tripurari’s Polish disciples, had left this world a few days before the Festival. It was him, and the siddhantic aspects of a devotee’s passing away, that the first lecture was dedicated to. Our subsequent meetings with Tripurari Maharaja were of the nature of question and answer sessions. The participants asked interesting questions, concerning both Gaudiya siddhanta, and


36 people from all over Europe came to the Festival, but the number of the attendees was bigger, oscillating between 39 and 50 (on Sunday). Luckily for us, the future Lord Siva temple, where the meetings took place, is roomy and probably has the capacity for three times more. Owing to spaciousness and good acoustics inside, it felt as if we were in the crowd of the devotees as huge as the one at Śrivasa Thakura’s home.



Festival participants were quartered in the lodgings throughout the whole valley, and our Guest of Honour stayed in an apartment made available by Murari Caitanya Dasa and Vrindavaneśvari dd. It is in a small guesthouse. There is a bedroom, a spacious living room with a fireplace, a kitchenette, a dinette, and a bathroom. The house is surrounded by a spruced garden. Nearby, there is a vegetable garden and an orchard with various fruit trees and bushes.


Swami B.V. Tripurari, who is himself a proponent of self-sufficiency, breeding cows, growing vegetables, fruit and grains in his aśramas, admired Vrindavaneśvari’s gardens and appreciated the bulk of work invested in their maintenance. Many times, he emphasized that he was inspired seeing his hosts’ religious beliefs translate into their everyday lives.


At the Festival, the Polish language edition of Swami’s Siksastakam of Sri Caitanya (and the very first complete Polish translation of any of his books), his commentary on Gaura’s eight verses, was officially published. Thaks to the Author’s presence, those who had purchased the books, had the opportunity to have them signed.



Apart from intense activities for the mind, intellect and soul, we had some time for our body as well; for it is important to strike the right work and leisure balance. Festival participants went on a trip to see Colourful Lakelets – a tourist attraction in Rudawy Landscape Park. Unfortunately, not all of them reached their destination, as the route had turned out to be too hard to tread.


Another time, we had a bonfire, in which we baked bananas and potatoes, which surprized our Finnish friends, who had never eaten bananas baked like that before. While we were waiting for the food to be ready, Mayapurcandra dasa and Paweł Rogowski were leading a beautiful “ukulele-kirtana”.


Another popular thing was pizza cooked in a wood fired oven and served in the evenings straight from it to the Festival participants. Then, there was also our festival cook’s, Mitra Hari dasa’s, halava that became the unquestionable culinary blockbuster of our breakfast time. Full of nuts and dried fruit, sweetened with malt, it surely won our hearts!


All those things would not have been possible if not for Yadunandana dasa, who had invited Tripurari Maharaja and made Lord Siva temple building available to us. We are all so grateful to him for this and once again would like to thank him for his hospitality!


It is hardly possible to describe all the events that took place during the 2011 Saragrahi Festival. Nor is it possible to put all the mood into words. Each participant has, no doubt, different feelings and memories, and different things may have been most important to them. Yet we can boldly declare that all we were all leaving Czarnów enriched spiritually, and with a longing we are looking forward to meeting again next year.


Your servants


Caitanya Rupini and Nava-yauvana

Caitanya Rupini - July 20, 2011 5:35 am



Bhrigu, Caitanya Rupini, Kamalaksa, Krsangi and unknown devotee



this is not "unknown devotee"!!!! :Big Grin:


this is Murari Caitanya das, owner of house, garden and guest house in which Swami and Nitaysundar was staying;


about him Swami mentioned so often (on the lectures and in private talks)

and of course he is the husband of Vrindavaneśvari d.d.

Bhrigu - August 29, 2011 1:22 pm

Wow, Kalpataruji, I only now read your diary from the festival and what nectar it was! It really brought back those days. Thank you for your kind words about me (I liked the Otto von Bismarck part the best :) ). And thank you again Caitanya-rupini and Nava Yauvana for arranging everything in such a wonderful way. I very much look forward to meeting all of you again next year.


Your servant


Kalpataru Dasa - August 29, 2011 7:11 pm

Thank you, Bhrigu, you gave us lots of inspiration, I'm looking forward to see you next year.