The following are some anecdotes from my attending the labor-day retreat in Gita Nagari.
Maharaja was swiftly walking to the Vyasasan to begin his lecture, when a devotee fell flat on his path and offered his obeisances for what appeared to be a relatively long duration. Maharaja stopped and patiently stood, and smiled at the devotee when he eventually got up, and exchanged pleasantries. Maharaja is very personal and values each and every devotee and his relationships with them.
During Tulasi-arati, Maharaja noticed that the devotee, who was the lead singer, was playing with unwieldy karatalas (cymbals). He handed his smaller karatalas to the devotee to enhance the sweetnees of the kirtan for the pleasure of Tulasi Devi.
This was the third Japa retreat organized by HH Romapada Swami in Gita Nagari. Since this was right after Janmastami (Krishna’s appearance day) and Vyasa Puja (worship in honor of the spiritual master’s appearance) fewer devotees were in attendance and hence the whole retreat became very intimate. Another feature of this retreat was that Maharaja gave all the lectures. HG Prema-tarangini mataji led meditation exercises for us. She asked us 3 questions. What do you feel about being in Gita Nagari? What is your aim/intention/sankalpa for being in Gita Nagari? Why do you think Sri Sri Radha Damodara have arranged for you to be in Gita Nagari?
September 3 2009
Devotees from all over the country trickled into the temple room, one-by-one, to attend the japa retreat. Some were locals from Gita Nagari, some from D.C., others from Boston, Pennsylvania, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, and other various places, and even two devotees from Vrindavana Dham! Everyone was super excited—despite the exhaustion from the long hours of travel—to attend the retreat, to improve the quality of their japa, to be in the association of devotees, and to strengthen their relationship with Srila Romapada Swami Maharaja through the process of hearing.
Shreya Anand, Devesh and the News Team
Gita Nagari is in Juniata County, where the fertile land has lead to large settlements of agrarian communities like the Amish and Mennonites. In 1976, Srila Prabhupada desired to develop this place to exemplify the principle of “simple living and high thinking” and named this place as Gita Nagari – a village where ideals of Bhagavad Gita are lived.
The theme of the Retreat this year was Shikshastakam verse 3 – cultivating humility, tolerance, simplicity and respect.