Finland Summer 2005

Vrindaranya Dasi - July 11, 2005 5:48 am

As we pulled into the airport for the flight to Finland, I noted to Guru Maharaja how efficiently we had prepared for this trip and how generally smooth everything had went. This was soon to take a drastic turn. When we gave our tickets and passports to the woman at the ticket counter, she reviewed everything and asked Guru Maharaja if he knew that his passport had just expired and then concisely summed up the situation: “You aren’t going to be able to leave the country.”


We had to quickly shake off our disbelief and transition into high gear to try to ameliorate the situation. It was unclear how long it would take to get the new passport and each day it took meant one less day with the devotees. Racing against the clock, the next 24 hours felt like entering into a high drama action movie where a week’s worth of activity is compressed into one day. It was a good opportunity to practice one-pointedness and, as Guru Maharaja said later, to purify ourselves through eagerness to get the association of devotees. To make a long story short, we were ultimately able to overcome great obstacles and get on the next day’s flight. By the time we collapsed onto our seats, the fully booked sixteen-hour journey seemed like a welcome respite.


When we arrived at the archipelago, our boat was greeted by the devotees, who had stayed up until after 1:00 a.m. waiting for our delayed plane. Wading near the shore, they held torches and chanted the holy name. How wonderful a sight it was. Everyone followed Guru Maharaja into his cabin, where he spoke about separation (vipralambha) and union (sambhoga) as the low and high tides of the ocean of love. He said that a devotee must enter the water when it is more accessible during the low tide, as the high tide of prema is an intense tidal wave. He pointed out that we do not yet feel intense separation from Krsna, so he comes in the form of Sri Guru to teach us how to love. When we feel separation from our Gurudeva, our hearts become purified and we are better able to take advantage of his personal presence. He said that we give so many things to Gurudeva (garland, service, etc.) and what we get in return (sukriti) may seem as insignificant and intangible as an atom; however, like an atom it has so much power hidden within, capable of creating a huge transformation in our lives. At any point in time, this bhakti sukriti acquired through seva and sanga may choose to assert itself, even from within the brahmajyoti, turning liberated jnanis into bhaktas.


Guru Maharaja stressed the importance of sadhu sanga and how to take advantage of it, concluding with a citation from Ramanada-samvada of Caitanya-caritamrta. Therein Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Raya what the most painful thing is. To this Ramananda replied that separation from a devotee of Krsna (krsna bhakta viraha) was the most painful thing one could experience. Then Guru Maharaja expressed his gratitude to Sri Krsna Caitanya for making it possible for him to get the association of all of the devotees, when it had seemed that he might not. The ways of Krsna are mysterious, and in the words of Guru Maharaja, “There are no problems, only opportunities to remember Krsna and serve.”


The next morning Guru Maharaja commenced the lecture series on the topic of demons and demoniac qualities. He began with a lecture on the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Divine and Demoniac Natures. From there we went to the Caitanya-caritamrta and the deliverance of Jagai and Madhai, as Guru Maharaja taught us how to preface discussion of Krsna lila with discussion of Gaura lila. Guru Maharaja explained how Jagai and Madhai were previously Jaya and Vijaya, gatekeepers of Vaikuntha who were cursed by the Kumaras to take birth three times as enemies of Visnu. The real reason for this apparent fall from Vaikuntha was to fulfill the desire of Narayana to have suitable opponents to enjoy the mellow of chivalry (vira rasa) when he descended to the material world. Therefore, as Vaikuntha is synonymous with service to Visnu, Jaya and Vijaya remained in Vaikuntha because they were serving the Lord’s desire.


From the Gita (Divine and Demoniac Natures) to Gaura-lila (Jagai and Madhai) and then the Bhagavatam and Vaikuntha (Jaya and Vijaya), Guru Maharaja took us to Krsna-lila, where Jaya and Vijaya took their third birth. However, Guru Maharaja said that Jaya and Vijaya appeared in Krsna-lila as Sisupala and Dantavakra, who were slain at the end of Krsna’s manifest lila. Therefore, instead of speaking further about them, he took us to the beginning of Krsna lila and spoke about the first demon to appear in Krsna’s life, Kamsa.


Complimenting these nectarean lectures are nectarean arotikas, offered by Brighupada, and nectarean prasadam, cooked by Kamalaksa and Krsangi and their dedicated team of assistants. Despite this full schedule, we have still found time to swim and relish the traditional wood-fired Finnish sauna. With this full schedule, it is a good thing that Suryadeva is facilitating our festival with 24-hour daylight. It seems that the party truly never ends.

Madangopal - July 11, 2005 2:51 pm
He said that a devotee must enter the water when it is more accessible during the low tide, as the high tide of prema is an intense tidal wave.


That is a beautiful analogy. It makes me think of Gaura Hari entering the ocean at Puri in His intense seperation from Krsna.


Thank you for posting the news. I've been hankering to hear about the party! Can't wait to see all the photos... :)

Gauravani Dasa - July 11, 2005 3:52 pm

Thanks so much for the post Vrndaranya!

Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 8:49 pm



I am sitting in what still a few days ago served as a makeshift temple room filled with loud chants and talks probing the depths of the soul. What's left now is only the vacant framework and, save for a few lonely birds chirping, silence.


It is hard to describe the feeling after an event such as this ends. The intensity grows on you, it is in some ways like an addiction. You get used to having lots of devotees buzzing around you all the time, you get used to one program following the other in an exhausting pace. You actually get used to sleep deprivation, and eating habits that would probably make nutritionists cry, were they to witness them.


And when it's over you feel empty, like a hollow shell. The thing that has been driving you for the past six months has ceased to exist. Your whole purpose of action has in some small sense ceased to exist. And even while you know that the play is an ongoing one, that a new retreat will follow, that the devotees you grew to live and share your life with will be back some day, it still is a sad moment.


In a situation like this I take solace in writing down some of the memories I have from the days gone by. I do not even attempt a chronological account of the incidents that took place, but will rather give some small glimpses into what happened. Like snapshots, not telling the whole story (for that you will have to attend and experience it yourself!), but offering some small insight into what took place and what we experienced.


I am just one person, and my account is very much from a subjective perspective. A perspective of one who tries to keep all strings in his hand, trying to see that everyone is happy, satisfied, fed and well rested. And above all engaged as much as possible in all work that needs to be done at a retreat such as this. I ask all of you who shared this experience to join me in documenting the events, to share with us your version. After all, a precious jewel has many facets, and can be appreciated from so many angles.





Mohan, the Herculean eater, eagerly awaits his share of the prasadam. Everyone else seems happy too. As Guru maharaja was fond of quoting Napoleon in His lectures, I will follow in the footsteps of my spiritual master: "An army marches on its stomach". So does our small spiritual army, too. (Unfortunately both Mohan and Gokula Chandra had to leave before the real festivities began.)


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 8:58 pm



Prior to being able to host an event such as this there is a lot of work to be done. And for those living somewhere near the country side there is simultaneously the notion that all work will never be done. So one has to do as much as possible, and then just accept the state things are in after that.


We did what we could. We cleaned the beaches. (You have no idea how much debris the sea brings with it before you shoveled it yourself...) We washed the house. (Befittingly a few times, much like the Gundicha temple cleaning we got to hear about. Though the second time was not a voluntary cleaning, but more by the grace of a seabird who in our absence decided to camp out, breaking stuff and messing the place up good...) We cleaned the sauna. We chopped and piled wood. We stocked all kinds of dry foodstuffs that would be needed. We carried water. And we carried more water. And we sailed the boats we needed here.


And still there was so much left undone.


I admit to at times having weak moments, when I in self pity over the slow progress thought to the tale of the hen who needed help in baking the cake, but everyone was too busy to offer assistance. Then when the cake was to be eaten, everyone heartily agreed to help consume it.


But these thoughts quickly disappeared from my mind once devotees started arriving. For in just a few days prior to the arrival of our most cherished guest so much took place by the grace of those gathered here.


Some chores were taken care of with great joy, others somewhat reluctantly. (Thank you for emptying the outhouse boys...) If I would have to single out one work horse I would very quickly pick Hanna, who was the only one I actually had to tell to stop working. (A rare thing for me to do, mind you!)


Now I could welcome our guests without shame!





The outhouse strike force prepared to go in. Good luck boys! (The sauna was hot, warm water was supplied in ample amounts, and no one threw up...)


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:04 pm

B O M B No O N E


It was in a casual conversation with Gurunishta that the first bomb dropped. We had been living under the impression for the whole year that Guru Maharaja would be arriving on the 6th of July, and everyone was invited according to this plan. But as faith would have it we learned a few days prior to the 6th that Guru Maharaja was actually arriving the 7th.


With slight disappointment we acknowledged the fact, trying to view it philosophically. It is not for the disciple to command the spiritual master, rather He comes and goes on His own accord.


But even though it was a sound explanation this gave at least me very little solace. I had waited so long for this to happen that even a day felt like an eternity. Still, everyone agreed that we should go on with the programs, trying to keep our spirits up. Yet it was clear to see that something was missing.





Gurunishta taking the place as our leader and telling us about his life at Audarya: "Ummm... in the morning we wake up...um, then we have mangala arati and umm then we do service. It's much more... umm work than I imagined. Kinda. But it's also very ummm... nice. Yes. Am I done now?"


In truth we really love to have our man on the inside, giving us all the highlights and the good stories. But Gurunistha, don't forget the cows...


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:08 pm

B O M B No T W O


A day prior to Swami's arrival there was a very expectant atmosphere. Like that before a great sporting event if you will. Tension was in the air. As we had been bereft of one day of His association, we would not miss another one for the world. Or so we thought.


But as it is, we are not the supreme controllers, and we soon learned that we cannot buy the spiritual master, with however much money we would be willing to pay.


During our morning program the phone suddenly rang. I hesitated to answer it, as I thought it would be my parents disturbing our kirtan. Yet when I answered I almost fell to the ground. It was Guru Maharaja calling (talk about a surprise!) asking me whether I had gotten the bad news. As I told Him I had not, he informed me about the problems attached to travelling without a valid passport.


As Vrindaranya already gave some account of this incident from their point of view, I will not speak about it. Rather I'll tell you how we felt.


In a sense after disclosing this information to the group we were turned into zombies. We were walking, but there was no life in us. And while it in writing sounds pompous or even pathetic, this was how we felt. The mood had turned from great jubilance into a somber form of just existing.


Sometimes the Ratha Yatra cart stops for no visible reason, but there is an underlying purpose for this. We may not be able to appreciate it at the moment, or even understand it, yet things take place according to a higher will. Again, I spoke the words when disclosing the information, but internally I felt I had somehow let everyone down.


The worst part of this that we had no way of knowing whether He would be able to come at all. We were actively being deprived of the association we had looked forward to for half a year.


I felt devastated, yet had to keep a happy face in order to not let everyone slip into depression. I spoke to everyone, assuring them Guru Maharaja would be arriving the next day, or two days later at the latest. Yet I hardly believed my own words.


The thoughts jokingly expressed in the Swami Viraha Gita came to mind. But this time no one was laughing. Was it our offensive attitude that had driven the guide of our life away? It is with with great ease we skim through the pages when we read about the tribulations great devotees have undergone, thinking that it was merely a lila, that they knew everything would turn out just fine. But once we are ourselves put in a situation where every detail doesn't conform to our plans we are quick to exhibit anger and disappointment.


Our shadow-like existence lasted a long or short time depending on how you choose to view it. It felt like an eternity. But in the end Guru Maharaja arrived roughly one day later than we had envisioned.


When I hung up the phone call from Citta Hari who told me when the plane was to arrive I just ran outside, grabbing everyone and yelling "they will be here tonight! THEY WILL BE HERE TONIGHT!"


It was like magic. The life returned to the dead body. The zombies were resurrected! Everyones face lit up, the energy was truly tangible.





At the airport at 0:30 AM. As an added extra the plane was late.


For so long You have been away. And what pains us the most is the knowledge that in just a few short days our roads will part again. Yet we would not have traded this moment for anything.


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:15 pm




I am not going to write and tell it was all a dance on roses. My romantic envisioning of the retreat as being a time where I would go to bed early, awake well rested for mangala arati, to chant in a peaceful atmosphere surrounded by devotees was just that, a romantic dream. Reality bites, and my naive expectation of a "sattvic" retreat proved to be anything but.


Half of the nights I would go to sleep roughly the same time I would awake on the second half. I would chant one round here, one there, many times after everyone else had gone to bed.


Again, this is not intended as a complaint or as a display of bitterness. Just as a reminder (mostly to myself) that things seldom turn out how we would have planned them, but often in the way they are supposed to turn out. And if nothing else helps, one can seek solace in the words of Clint Eastwood in the film Heartbreak Ridge: "A marine improvises, he adapts, he overcomes!"


Yes, it is hard work, and no, one's own limited understanding of what constitutes as spiritual does not always pertain in the real world when faced with thousands of duties, but to emphasize the point: I loved every minute of the retreat, and would not change a thing. (With the possible exception of hiding Guru Maharajas ticket back home better the next time he returns here...)


There were times I would have liked to sit on a lecture or spend in Guru Maharajas company instead of driving back and forth between the island and the shore either picking up or dropping of devotees, getting food or such. But the same time I felt great joy of being able to do some small amount of service to the devotees.


I am no big philosopher nor a devotee of any standing, but I know how to organize practical things. I can feed a big group, I can offer them a roof over heir heads, and a place to conduct their worship. Let this be my ticket to the company of devotees, with a hope that one of them will drag me with him or her when it is time to leave this mortal world.





The king on his throne!


When I impulsively decided to buy a huge inflatable ring everyone thought I had gone mad. "Do you really think we'll have time for playing in the water? This is a spiritual retreat you know."


While I know many find my choices bordering on the insane, I usually by the grace of God am able to land them one way or another. Proof of this: Both Guru Maharaja and especially Vrindaranya swam around with the River Rat (So it was called - I kid you not! We even got to hear that Guru Maharajas baseball team way back in the days was called - yep, you guessed it! - the River Rats!).


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:21 pm



Someone asked me with some amazement in the voice how I could handle it all. Feeding fifteen to twenty devotees (known for their Herculean appetites for the most part...), and seeing to it that everything ran smoothly. I offer here my thoughts


1. Get a good wife. (Not applicable for sannyasis or brahmacharis, sorry!)

Having a good wife helping you organize everything is of utmost importance. You have someone to fully trust, someone who knows how things work, and someone who you can complain to about everything if and when things turn out differently than planed.


2. Sleep.

This is something that I learned while doing my military service back in the days. Whenever you have the possibility of sleeping even for ten minutes, sleep! This will keep you from collapsing from exhaustion the third day. Don't try to be a hero!


3. Delegate.

Do not try to do everything yourself. First of, you don't have time to do it, second of all, people in general are happy to help out. Accept that other people know how to do things too! (If you can do this you are a better person than I am...)


I know I usually create havoc and insult a more than a few persons with my straightforward manner of telling people what to do. But those who know me also know this doesn't take place because of any ill will. I you were offended, please forgive me. I meant no harm.





The good wife in the midst of pouring honey out of a can for reasons that presently escape me. She was of big help, but tended to panic once a while as well as taking great pleasure in ridiculing her dear husband in every way possible.


(Vrindaranya and Krishangi also held secret feminist meetings behind locked doors. This made me very nervous, as all of my friends have combinedly concluded that were Krishangi to leave me I would find no girl on this planet that would have me.


Vrindaranya! Don't make Krishangi become a sanyasini! Please.)


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:29 pm



I am not sure whether a condition such as the brahmacharic hardening syndrome has ever been clinically proven. But I've witnessed persons suffering from it so many times there is no question for me of the diseases authenticity.


And, while it might not be without a little shame I admit that I feared my friend Gurunishta had caught it, the joy of it not being true makes the possible shame reseed to the back.


I had been reading Gurunishta's post on Tattva-Viveka, and thought myself to detect a growing aggressive and even fanatical edge to them, however slight. And I feared that he was about to adapt a new "proper" personality for a monastic.


I was looking for something so hard it seemed to me that it was there, even though I in the end only found my own projections.


So when I first met with Gurunishta after the six months I was somewhat reserved. But after a few days I came to see that he was the same guy who left us in the winter. And this doesn't mean he wasn't serious about his quest for the truth. For he was, and is. But what made me so happy was that he hadn't lost his unique sense of humor and his happy-go-lucky nature.


We had some very good talks, and I truly enjoyed his company. I have a lot of respect for him and his choices in life, but what I still value the most is that he doesn't give into the pressure to cave in and conform, having the courage to be himself in an environment where so many are projecting expectations on you.


(Here I am not speaking of those living with him in Audarya, but all of us on the outside. We easily want to define in hard and fast ways how a monastic should be living, not giving the individual the room to move he or she needs. It is a complicated subject, and I am not sure whether I have expressed myself clearly enough. But please give my writings the benefit of doubt.)


Whatever you are doing to him at Audarya, it surely isn't all wrong!


(So much praise need be balanced with the fact that he still in many cases is as spaced out as when he left. It was not once or twice during our short get together he forgot to take care of what was his responsibility, in this case heating the sauna...)





The gang sitting on the porch in between programs. Gurunishta pretends to wash the dishes in this picture, while it was obvious to evryone that this duty was taken care of best by the combined efforts of Jananivas as well as our Polish support group.


Please also note Shyama Gopala pretending to chant to avoid the long hand of Kamalaksa's assignments.


(Also, I got a order from my spiritual master that I had a great pleasure in performing: "Please keep Gurunishta occupied." "Will do, Sir!")


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:39 pm



Many persons I know have been somewhat perplexed when they learned about my feeling for Gaudiya Vaishnavism. They have had a hard time reconceiling the fact that I belong to a faith that puts quite some stress on renounciation of this world and the life I live. Thus I have often been given the not too charming denomination of being the most materialistic Hare Krishna they've ever known.


And to be honest I probably am. Yet for some short moments such as this retreat I am able to engage at least some of my material possesions in the service of the devotees. Let this then be the perfection of my life. And no, this is not a feeble attempt of trying to justify my apparent lacking in this field by claiming that it's ok, as the things are used in Krishna's service.





According to Krishangi our family has too many boats. But just see how Frida supports the heavy load of so many devotees!


We got the lovely opportunity to swim in the company of Guru Maharaja, an opportunity I wouldn't have traded for anything in the world. (With the exception when my duties unfortunately came in the way...) We usually swam to the boat, climbed up on it and occasionaly threw each other back in the sea. Something that Gurunishta probably will hold against me for the rest of his life. I think his pride took a small hit when a "garden hose" (his words) such as myself was able to throw him overboard!


These talks, although not always touching the most esotheric subject matters were for me important as they were a time when we were able to speak with Guru Maharaja without so much awe and reverence, but as, well, friends.


We also saw Guru Maharaja make a huge splash when taking part in our "bomb jump contest". You had to be there...


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:52 pm



Going from more or less no sadhana to a monastery like schedule can be hard. Yet with Guru Maharaja around this transformation took place like of itself.


It is miraculous how a completely normal summer cottage can change into something magical when a pure devotee of the Lord enters.


We had some lovely programs, three daily, as well as wonderful talks. Even the songs themselves seemed to transform from just words strung together into something depicting our true reality. Trying to explain a feeling like this in words makes it somehow flat, but I feel I need to say at least something. And let those equipped with better sense on language move forth from here.


This was truly the reason we came together!


Kamalaksa Das - July 15, 2005 9:56 pm



As I write these lines I am slowly getting used to a slower pace of life. I have slept quite some (though not nearly enough yet...), watched some skate movies Jayanta Krishna das copied to my hard drive. Seen to it that the last guests have been sent to their respective destinations.


And secretly beginning to plan next year's retreat. I will meet You then!


Signing off, Captain of U-33143, Kamalaksa das



More pictures will be available tomorrow. Stay tuned!


Gauravani Dasa - July 15, 2005 10:25 pm

Great commentary and photos! Standing ovation! :)

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - July 15, 2005 10:40 pm

Very nice! Btw, is Finvasion happening this year or was postponed? Cannot wait to meet you, guys!

Madangopal - July 15, 2005 11:25 pm

You write so wonderfully prabhu. So personal and authentic and with an added gem of humor. I would love to be ordered around by you at one of these retreats! Some day...

Rama-priya - July 16, 2005 6:30 am

For me it is so difficult to write about own experiences during this retreat. My life was so satisfied and fully during this time and now...so painfull lack of association of Guru Maharaja and wonderfull devoties, but I'm trying to keep remembrance in my mind. Without such association life is useless only hope to meet again give power to act. Possibility to meet devoties is for me very, very important and to see how they serve our dear Guru Maharaja give so much inspiration to my life.

At the begining when I heard that Guru Maharaja had a problem with a passeport I felt very sad and like a shadow without life. I even started to think that maybe Krsna didn't want me to meet G.M., but I was trying to trust Krsna in this matter and when I accepted will of Krsna, that Krsna controls everything and when I finally accepted that maybe I won't meet Guru Maharaja this time and when I decided to use as best as I can this association of devoties here and learn from them and that maybe thanks service to them I will meet some day again Guru Maharaja, but to this time I have to serve them and see them as representation of Guru Maharaja then I've heard that Guru Maharaja will come in this night. I couldn't belive in this. I thought that only through His lecture and books I will associate with Him and then He appeared before my eyes. It was so wonderfull. When I heard words of Guru Maharaja aobout union and separation I understood meaning of this events - more possibility to appreciate His association and more attach to His lotus feet. Maybe some day I will truly and strongly attached to Him. This is my hope.

During lectures Guru maharaja spoke about demons and what they represent, anarthas - unwanted things in our life to our spiritual goal. They are obstacles on our path. We should be aware of them and afraid them like Vrajavasi was afraid these all demons that entered to Vrindavana. Thanks association of devoties it is possible for us to see these demons inside us more clearly and be aware of them and this causes that we may have desire to remove them.

Guru Maharaja showed totally different and wonderfull looking at the demons, in totally different light, in aspect that can help us in our spiritual progress. It is so important to see these all anarthas in the heart and thanks this come closer to our goal.

Yours servant

Ramapriya dd

Krsangi Dasi - July 16, 2005 9:51 am
Very nice! Btw, is Finvasion happening this year or was postponed? Cannot wait to meet you, guys!


We're only about week away from the Finnvasion: Kamalaksa and I will arrive in San Francisco on Sunday 24th and stay at Audarya until Sunday 31st. Bhrigu will arrive in the following week, as we were unable to come at the same time due to my work. We're also going to the Los Angeles Ratha Yatra, so we're hoping to see as many Tattva-vivekis either at Audarya or in LA!

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - July 16, 2005 2:43 pm

Bhrigu, what are your dates in Audarya?

Bhrigu - July 16, 2005 3:52 pm
Bhrigu, what are your dates in Audarya?



I'll be in Audarya from the 3rd to the 7th of August. I'd love to meet you and all the other Tattvavivekis!

Bhrigu - July 16, 2005 4:15 pm

Kamalaksa and Ramapriya have already eloquently written about our desperation and sorrow upon hearing about Guru Maharaja's (further) delay. I want to add something about this. At first, we thought the reason for his being late to be some sin or offense we had committed, but couldn't really figure out anything bad enough. Instead, we took his being delayed as a test: would we become dejected and morose, just lying down on the beach reading Kamalaksa's "Commando" - comics?


We decided not to, and during the two days we waited for Guru Maharaja, we busied ourself with celebrating the Gundica Marjana and Ratha-yatra festivals. The latter day we celebrated in grand style. We didn't have a cart, but we took Sri Sadbhuja on parikrama around the island, we had great kirtanas expertly led by Gurunistha Prabhu, a class and of course, a feast. As always, Krishangi and Kamalaksa were the main cooks, but they were not shy in giving out sausages (if you don't know the esoteric meaning of that term, you really need to come next year). I made burfy -- on Krishangi's orders such amounts that we were eating them until practically the last day of the retreat.


I got the idea that we would greet Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya with torches and Harinama in the night. Kamalaksa and I fashioned the torches out of sticks, metal wire, rags and lamp oil. They came in the middle of the night, so we slept a few hours before they came. I was so worried about everything going alright and Guru Maharaja's coming that I hardly got any sleep. I can't imagine how Krisangi and Kamalaksa dealt with all of their responsibility! They seemed so calm and composed all the time -- well almost at least. Fortunately everything went well, Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya arrived and the real festival could begin.


The Ratha-yatra feast (unfortunately some of the kettles are covered, but at least you can see the burfies!):


Bhrigu - July 16, 2005 4:26 pm

Our program on the island was as follows:


5 am: Mangala-arati as at Audarya, followed by a reading from the CC (Gundica Marjana)

ca 8.30 am: Breakfast (porridge made by Mikko + leftovers from the last day's feast -- every meal seemed a feast!)

10 am: Lecture

12 noon: Madhyahna-arati

ca 2.30 pm: Lunch

5 pm: Lecture

6 pm: Gaura-arati

Bathing, sauna

Evening meal


During the retreat proper, almost all of the seva was centered around cooking. Cutting wood, peeling and cutting vegetables, cooking, making bread, washing dishes, etc, etc! As last year, the schedule was quite intensive, but there was (for most of us) enough time for relaxing in between as well.


Hanna, Ramapriya, Gurunistha and Mikko in the kitchen:


Bhrigu - July 16, 2005 4:41 pm

I personally wish to thank Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya for coming and giving us such a wonderful experience; Krishangi and Kamalaksa for making it all possible in more than one way; Hanna for showing me what a lazy bum I am; Mikko for driving; Shyamagopala and Jananivasa for their great humour and ever-pleasant company; Mathuranatha for very fruitful discussions; Gurunistha for joining me in singing bhoga-arati; Ramapriya for beautifully decorating the altar; and everybody else for adding to the fun and adventure in their own, important ways. I am indebted to all of you. Also, I wish to thank Surya, Indra and all the other gods for giving us such a nice weather this time. (Wasn't the water much better this time, Jananivasa?)


One nature picture! Kamalaksa finds them rather kitch, but since someone had put some of my earlier such pictures on his webpage, maybe not everybody agrees...


Shyam Gopal Das - July 16, 2005 7:07 pm

The retreat in Finland has once again been very special. Let me describe my feelings and observations to some extent. I arrived on wednesday early morning. I had worked all day and taken a late flight. Gladly Kamalaksa and Krshangi were so kind to pick me up from the airport at 1.30. We drove straight to the island and finally fell asleep at 3.30am. The next day there was still enough work to be done on the island. So my office hands had to get used to chopping wood. The next day the news came that Guru Maharaj had problems with his passport. It made me smile at first, as if I was in movie. But then after quite a lot of hours, the realization came that there was a chance of him not coming at all. My feelings were quite ambigous. on the one hand, if this were so, i would just have to surrender to that fact, but on the other hand, I really needed association with Guru Maharaj to give me fuel and realization about what Krishna consciousness really is, instead of this mental and robot mentality that crept in. But maybe that was the warning, keep the spirit alive even while not having the association of GM. Choose for the absolute.


Luckily he did arrive and so the lectures began, they were really beautiful and soothing. Vrindaranya has summarized them quite nicely. I can't wait for them to be realized as an mp3 cd. The kirtans were the best ones I have ever been in. (One of the first things Bhrigu asked me when I saw him was if I had learnt the lyrics by heart as he gave that as homework in January, I had to confess I hadn't. So everyone who sees me next time with a lyric sheet in hand, chastise me.) The swimming and sauna with Guru Maharaj were very special too. I had one personal talk with Guru Maharaj and inspiring as it was, it was also frightening, as a sadhu comes to disturb and initiate change. My future is still wide open even while being a businessman at the moment.


Mathuranath had to leave on Sunday, GM had arrived on Friday night, so Mathuranath's stay was rather short. I felt really sad when I saw him and Kamalaksa sail away by boat while I was listening to GM lecturing. I hope he is doing alright and would love to read his reflections.


Rama-Priya dd, Mayapurcandra and Ganga dd came all the way from Poland. It was a 30-hour journey by bus and boat. So whenever I'm complaining about being tired and having to travel, just ignore it and think about them. It was really nice meeting godbrother and sisters from Poland. It makes me want to visit them and see how they live. I believe much more austere than me, the spoiled Western-European.


I returned home again Tuesday evening, only to find my alarm clock wake me up the next day for work. I'm still tired from the retreat. But I feel the bodily exhaustion was fruitful as it nurtured the spiritual energizing.


Thanks again Guru Maharaj for the life saving, Vrindaranya for giving us a practical example of being GM disciple, Bhrigu for the expert aratis, K and K for fascilitating all this, Gurunistha for leading the arati songs at GM's absence, Mikko for the porridge, though he did get away with a few times as there were quite a lot of leftovers :), Hanna for the great working spirit and smile, the mosquitos for not showing up in big numbers like last year, my polish friends for diversifying the island's culture (though polish sounds finnish to me), and Jananivasa for doing the swami dance with me.


Also thanks to Gurunistha and Mathuranath for letting me be their find-a-question -in-sastra quizmaster on the rowing boat trips.

Kamalaksa Das - July 16, 2005 8:21 pm

And thus begins a cavalcade of pictures from our short stay in a spiritual atmosphere.




At this point we knew victory was ours! We had Guru Maharaja sitting in the small cottage reserved for Him, and nothing could take Him away from us.


Hearing Him speak at two o'clock with such philosophical insight and dignity was just the thing we needed to hear. In a situation where most would have been merely cursing the demoniac bureucracy He naturally took a different path.


Somehow it was especially nice to gather around Him after so many hardships at two o'clock at night, knowing well that the time to rest this night would be a very short one. Still, it was not to sleep we had gathered on this island!


(Not to make us sound as saints I will confess missing mangala arati in the morning, while the rest of the group who attended in their turn slept well through the preparation of lunch.)


Kamalaksa Das - July 16, 2005 8:25 pm



The summer in Finland is a short one, and we usually also get our fair share of rain. Therefore we can truly appreciate it when the sun shows itself. This given, we stayed outside as much as possible, and actually managed to hold all morning lectures by the beach.


The scenery was truly wonderful, enhanced so by the precens of the devotees.


According to Krishangi there was just one spot in the picture, that being Gurunishta's white underwear that seemed to appear in almost every picture taken outside. (Seen here just above his head.) I have spared you the sight of a close-up... Thus it seems that Krishangi's pleas to their owner went unheard, as knowing her background as a designer Gurunishta replied "You can always Photoshop them away!"


Kamalaksa Das - July 16, 2005 8:28 pm



In His talks Guru Maharaja spoke a lot about Krishna's childhood and the lilas with the demons. For me this has been a hard topic to grasp, given my western, sceptic upbringing. "Trust only what you see!" And I know I'm not alone with this tendency.


Therefore it was well appreciated when we were given the philosophy behind the lilas as well as their deeper meanings. And how every detail was a part of a finely vowen net of stories reaching from Krishna lila to Lord Chaitanya's pastimes with such intricacy, that it escapes the human mind.


We also talked about the need to accept the shortcomings of intelligence in approaching the absolute. Accepting all this, at least in theory, it has still been quite a stretch to go from the tenet "I am not this body" to "God is a forever young cowherder in Goloka".


But seeing and hearing Guru Maharaja so eagerly and enthusiastically speaking about the lilas, as if He just came from witnessing them Himself, I just sat back and enjoyed the eye witness account. All doubts dispersed at least for the moment. And I felt priviledged for being allowed to take part in the play, albeit from a respectable distance.


I surely have a long, long way to go, but given these glimpses it at least gives me faith that there is a goal in the end worht striving for. How and when that goal will be reached then, that's another story. It's not that the demons of doubting have left me, finding my faith to be to strong to break. Far from it!


But then again, we also learned that there was some doubting in the camp of the cowhearders, so maybe there still is some hope for me...


Kamalaksa Das - July 16, 2005 8:30 pm



That swimming is a vaishnava sport is something we have heard many times. And thus it was inevitable that the assembled vaisnavas also swam. The other vaisnava sport then was wrestling, but that we didn't get around to practice this time, save for a few squabbles with Gurunishta...


During these sessions we also got to hear from Guru Maharaja about various topics, including His trips in India to the root of the Ganga, way up North. He told us about the bus rides up the mountains, and the crystal clean water and the incredible nature.


And again, I have a confession to make. In approaching Krishna consciousness as my faith I have never had the drive to go to India. (Usually the first question people ask you when the learn about your involvment in Hinduism is "have you been to India?" And when I reply no, and I have no plans on going either they get even more perplexed.)


And I apologise for anyone hurt by these words, but India has always seemed too packed with people, noise, dust and pollution to really appeal to me. But given the accounts of North India, with its more serene scenery, and calmer pace, I just might be persuaded to go. But this is not a promise!


Kamalaksa Das - July 16, 2005 8:32 pm



And here is the class of 2005.


From left to right, lower row: seated wearing his white dhoti and chadar is our expert brahmana Bhrigu (who unfortunately this year didn't get to start any fires, save for those torches he mentioned in his post...) Next to him, Mathuranatha from Sweeden (but he knows how to speak Finnish, so it's ok).


Then the man that needs no introduction, Guru Maharaja ("I never had any plans of coming to Finland, but somehow Krishna took me here"). On His left, seated, Hanna, who also played a crucial part in Vrindaranya's and Krihangi's feminist conspiracy.


Upper row, left to right: Wearing a stylish Vision street wear t-shirt, yup, you guessed it, that's me. On my right, the tall dutchman, who occasionally drove my dear wife to near madness by offering social views not exactly corresponding to those Krishangi harbours. And moving on, Jananivas, who even while being a punk rocker showed astonishing eagerness for helping around.


Next up, my younger godbrother Gurunishta, who even during the taking of the picture is in the midst of forgetting some important thing he was supposed to do. ; ) Then our own Polish couple, Mayapurchandra and Gangadevi, who as we are speaking are up North picking strawberries, in order to make it back home. Talk about devotion!


Mikko in his blue hat had at times a hard time digesting all the food we put on his plate. (Apparently not everyone is used to deep frying everything and then soaking it in ghee...) Also, he had to hold the record for sleeping the least during the nights, as he often had a hard time falling asleep.


After Mikko comes Krishangi. Beaming with joy, as is plain to see. Need we say more? Ramapriya, who we at first feared to be lost, as Mikko scouted around Porvoo at night looking for someone resembling a devotee. Luckily she had just missed the bus, and was found later that night. Hiding behind her is Mohini, who taught me how too cook. Thus enabling the whole retreat to succesfully take place. (It might have been a bit too austere had we had to survive on crackers and water alone...)


And last but not least, "Do not take pictures of me"-Vrindaranya. Well, here's a picture,and it didn't hurt, did it? ; ) We also heard some very nice accounts from Vrindaranya about the earlier days. But still there are some finer points in design that we differ upon. I foresee no solution to this in the near future, so we'll just have to find joy in diversity...


Unfortunately not everyone made the picture, but this was the core group. Those left out, please return next year, and we'll have another shot at it!


Babhru Das - July 16, 2005 9:12 pm

And I note (as I suspected from the airport picture) that Vrindaranya is wearing the new uniform we discussed earlier. Looks good!

Jananivasdas - July 17, 2005 8:38 am

thats a pic of me at my tent...so much talks of krsna that i became blue myself... :P













im gonna write more later...

Guru-nistha Das - July 18, 2005 8:16 am

The strongest thought in my head after the retreat was that life can be so much more meaningful and joyful if we center our lives properly around the truth. That is of course such a basic and allmost worn-out slogan in the devotee world, but if we really understood the import and had faith in it, why wouldn´t we give up everything and just surrender to it? (I wonder if these are the kind of statements that Kamalaksha derives his "fanatical brahmacari" conclusions from? :P)


This year's retreat was for me of course a special one because I had taken the leap to become a monastic and I had all kinds of expectations, fears and doubts aimed at me when I came back to my old neighbourhood for the first time. Before I went back to Finland, I had to redefine my relationship with all the people in Finland. I was nervous. How should I relate to everybody? What kind of boundaries should I draw? What is the proper behavior for a monastic?

There was a feeling of awkwardness in the air at first when I met everybody and I was thinking of wether I should play according to people´s expectations and prejudices or just forget about it and not think about giving a certain impression. I chose the latter and it turned out to be just the right decision.

Guru Maharaja´s association and audarya's atmosphere have sucha a strong influence, that I believe that people will detect it from me even if I don´t try to act according to the stereotypes that people have of brahmacaris. No doubt, there are certain behavioral codes I will conform to, but I won´t try to act more advanced, more sober or more renounced than I actually am.



Anyway, reservations flew out the window quite fast and the retreat became some of the best days in my life.

I came to Finland a week before Guru Maharaja and I was waiting to meet him all the time. It was also nice to meet family and friends, but I couldn´t get the same kind of contentment from being around them that I used to. In a way it all felt quite superficial. But when Guru Maharaja came in the night and gave that amazing talk about union and separation, all those metaphors of licking the honey from the jar and having a glass of water in a desert came alive. I was exactly where I wanted to be.It was also really inspiring to see what kind of a effect GM had on the whole island. The mood turned from a tentative ritualistic behavior to a naturally flowing current of spiritaully centered affection. Real bhakti is so beautiful.


Guru Maharaja´s talks were amazing. I thought about it many times on the lectures, that I could just listen to him for months in a row. Of course some mornings were tough when we had slept for few hours and hadn´t had breakfast, but mostly I was just hoping in the end of the lecture that somebody would ask tons of questions so that the talk wouldn´t end so fast.


The second demon GM talked about was Putana, the witch demon. GM gave the explanations according to how Bhaktivinoda Thakur has talked about the demons. It was a new tidbit for me that Bhaktivinoda was the first to draw parallels between the demons and anarthas.

Putana symbolises hypocricy and GM warned us not to be hypocrites. So many good points were made and so many insights of how Krsna lila is full of practical philosophical truths came out.

One thing that GM said really stuck with me. He said that Sanatana Goswami rearranged the Krsna lila in right chronological order and then he made the point, that Sanatana Goswami had more realization than Vyasadeva. At first it sounded really radical but the more I thought of it it became obvious. Mahabrabhu is giving higher truth than any incarnation or manifestation before, and sanatana Goswami is the head of the six goswamis who are turning Mahaprabhu´s tsunami into a river that we can handle...


Now I have to go, but more later.

Mathura-natha Das - July 18, 2005 2:25 pm

Actually I started to write on my comments and feelings from my stay in Finland. But I relized how difficult it was to put a word for a feeling. I know you all have gone through the same feeling as I have, but it was so overwhelming that I just could'nt do it. But since Shyam Gopal asks for my reflections, I certainly will try.

My stay was brief to say the least. But what happened to me during the stay made a profound impact on my current situation. The conseqences is still to come, but I have a strong feeling that my life in the near future will take a new turn. And this is what happened: I got the chance to once go out for a swim with GM and the rest of the happy campers. While swimming out to the boat GM grabbed a hold on my feet and pulled me back so that he could win the race. I screamed "cheating!", but GM just smiled at me. Not that I was angry, I was screaming of ecstacy! While on the boat the mood was so unformal (I love the "formal" situations also, but this was a dimension that I had not experienced before), relaxed and filled of joy. We talked about this and that, and finally when we where to swim back to the sauna the "water-bomb" competition started. And as Kamalksa mentioned, GM won with grand style! Back in the sauna, we squeezed in to get the heat. And there we where, nicely in the heat discussing topics of different kind. When the heat got a bit over the top, all of us sat on the porch of the sauna and continued with our conversation. At that moment I knew that this is all I need, and I don't want anything else (maby an IPOD for GM lectures, but nothing more... :P ). Everything else seemed so meaningless: my music, my family, my friends, my summerjob, nothing "back home" attracted me anymore. As I write these words, I still basically feel the same, although I hesitate to write it here. I still have attachment left for this world, but now it's 100% clear where my lifes aim should be at, and if my situation doesn't bring me closer to my goal, I have to adjust it.


I just want to thank everybody for the time. You mean much more to me that I can express in words. I won't go to any comments to each person present there, I just cannot express myself in a way that I feel. My feelings of seperation are quite intence. I have to really focus not to shed any tears (I'm sitting at my summerjob)...So until next time, I Love you all very much. Thanx / Mathuranatha

Madangopal - July 18, 2005 3:24 pm

All these spiritual emotions, you folks are killing me!!


I feel like this :wacko: and this :blink: and this :( and maybe a little of this :P .

Syamasundara - July 18, 2005 7:46 pm
All these spiritual emotions, you folks are killing me!!  


I feel like this :wacko: and this :blink: and this  :( and maybe a little of this  :P .



Hehehe this made me laugh a lot. Myself I also feel very much indebted for this gospel-like report on the Finland tour. During the actual days of the retreat I was freaking out not finding anything on TV. If I had made it there I would have brought my iBook along and sent something every day, so I guess I was expecting someone to do the same. Anyway, it's coming out now, and I am really thankful to everybody. Any more pics....?

Krsangi Dasi - July 18, 2005 9:21 pm

Here's my contribution to this thread: a graphic diary of the retreat. As many of you know, I do comics, and am at the moment very attracted to the diary format. It's based on an actual diary I kept at the retreat.


At the moment the diary's published here exclusively for the Tattva-vivekis, but some time at the end of this year it will be included in a group exhibition in a small gallery in Helsinki. So I've had to take the needs of a double audience in consideration: devotees as well as artsy Finns with absolutely no prior knowledge of the matter. I hope there's something here for both of these groups.


And remember: this is a very subjective description of my thoughts and feelings during the retreat, everyone else probably remembers it in a completely different way! :P

Krsangi Dasi - July 18, 2005 9:25 pm

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Radhanama Dasa - July 18, 2005 10:12 pm



These are really wonderful! Actually all the reports from Finland have been so wonderful.


By the way, in couple of the frames are those Guru-nistha's "whites", which I read about in another entry, on the clothes line?



Nanda-tanuja Dasa - July 19, 2005 12:10 am

Krsangi rules!

Babhru Das - July 19, 2005 1:58 am

These are all wonderful. Thanks to all of you for taking the time and trouble to share this with the rest of us, less fortunate, souls.

Gauravani Dasa - July 19, 2005 2:52 am

What a comic! It's full of charm and a great personal account of the retreat!


What a creative bunch there is in Finland!

Hari-priya Dasi - July 19, 2005 2:59 pm

Better late than never… Just couple of lines...


If I hadn’t known Krsangi and Kamalaksa and hadn’t met Swami before, I would have probably been quite suspicious when we were approaching the island shore for the first time. The island is not actually that far away from the mainland, but still enough to create a feeling of remoteness. At least you are dependent on the boats and good will of Leka family in order to get there. (Or out of there if hypnotic hymns, lack of sleep and group pressure become too much for an unsettled mind to handle…)


Arriving a day earlier I was privileged to rake some dead leaves and some reed and then some more leaves. That would have been a great impulse for meditation. There’s also lots to be cleaned up in my mind and heart. But at that time I was paying more attention to surroundings. Sun was shining. There were some forest strawberries and blueberries on their way to ripen. Sea gulls were gliding and screaming in the sky. A perfect summer-day!


A week went by like an blink of an eye. It was fascinating to hear Swami speaking about the demons of Krsna-lila. Along the deep philosophic dimensions there were also lots of practical hints for improving one’s spiritual life. Well, like Kurt Lewin put it “Nothing is as practical as a good theory.” And nothing as inspiring as see that theory thoughtfully explained and also applied in everyday-life.


It was great to see enthusiasm and sincerity of devotees. Hear in the evening how next-door neighbour is sighing “Krishna!” from the bottom of her heart. Taste miracles coming from the kitchen. And feel the relaxed atmosphere. Something I really like when being around devotees is that you can talk about spiritual things at any time without having to make some kind of issue about it. It’s as natural (or perhaps even more natural) than anything else.


Thank you Krsangi and Kamalaksa for hosting such a special event! And thank you all who were there for making those days such special!

Jananivasdas - July 24, 2005 10:14 am


im going to write here some good&not so good stuff from the island!

first little dictionary of the island:

sausage=the different stuff that kamalaksa made us do


pamhoagtspmegablissnectar=something that you are supposed to say to devotees :D


the good stuff:


+seeing all the devotees!i want to thank all of you soooooo much!the island would have sank without you guys/girls!!!

+seeing GNU,knowing that swami is taking good care of him! :)

+GNU after eating TOO MANY gulabjamuns!!! ;) sugarrush...

+swami's talks on the boat+lectures+everything

+swimming in the WARM water!

+surviving all the sausages kamalaksa gave us!

+late night talks of wise wisdoms... :D

+millions of other stuff you can read from other posts here.


not so good stuff:

-sleeping at swamis lectures...theres lots of pics to proof it... :)

-missing the darshan cause i was sleeping...

-underwear on the line... :o

-trying to survive in this world.

Karnamrita Das - July 24, 2005 5:27 pm

Such a pleasure to read all the posts about Swami's visit. Much gratitude to everyone for sharing! Great writing, great humor, honesty, comics, and great Swami! Just goes to show you that KC includes everything.


Not that we are competing or anything, but as the "other" place Swami regularly visits we will try to cook up something out of the ordinary for his next visit to North Carolina this coming Nov/Dec., and do our best to write about it. "Out of the ordinary" will be a challenge for this creativity challenged and very ordinary person, so I will have to call on the devotees here and in Maryland to help me.