necessary arrangements so we could conduct a Holy Name Retreat for the
devotees of the Kiev yatra. She had attended one of our retreats a couple of
years before and had concluded with great determination and enthusiasm:
"This is exactly what we need for our Kiev devotees...."
a rental contract with a suitable Holiday Camp, and finding experienced
devotees who would be willing to take responsibility for the various
services involved, with the cooking of prasadam always being the main
burden of love.
Then, on the 23rd of August around one hundred devotees gathered in the
rented Holiday Camp in the outskirts of Kiev. Most devotees had come from
the two temples in Kiev, but we also welcomed a number of devotees from
other cities within Ukraine and even Russia.
We stayed together for four days, embarking on an internal journey - a
systematic step by step preparation of our consciousness in order to open
our hearts and welcome Sri Harinama Prabhu to perform His mysterious work
on it. The interspersed personal exercises deepened our learning experience,
and sometimes we would turn to our neighbor to share our realizations which
created a very personal atmosphere of opening our mind and heart to our
On this retreat I introduced for the first time a new feature: every morning
at the very beginning of the seminar two teams of devotees demonstrated
in skits the topics discussed on the previous day, illustrating the positive
and negative example of chanting the Holy Name.
Some of these skits were so deep and heart moving! The devotees made great
endeavors to show that they had well understood all the deep and important
aspects of chanting which I had tried to share during my presentations.
With affectionate glances they were observing me while acting, hoping that
my translater would not miss a single little detail of their role play!
It turned indeed into a perfect loving exchange: receiving deeper understanding
and giving joy to the hearts of the audience by acting it out in dramatic
little performances. I almost felt like a mother who experiences great pleasure
hearing her child ay "Prabhupada" for the very first time.....
The fact that I never charge fixed fees for these retreats but simply
request the participating devotees to give a donation with an affectionate
and generous heart always creates a very wonderful atmosphere of loving
care. One devotee received so much inspiration during this retreat that he
donated a thousand Dollars, which is a huge amount of money for Ukrainian
people whose average monthly income is only around 300 Dollars.
Devotees expressed how their hearts were simply conquered by the loving
and affectionate atmosphere, and they inquired about the secrets of creating
such a mood of genuine care......
Once again it confirmed the principle that if we give devotees something
deeper - actual nourishment for their spiritual development they will
reciprocate by giving so much more than a few Dollars - ultimately their
The mood during the entire retreat was so wonderful and deep, and the
prayerful evening kirtans gave many devotee a new experience of a
transcendental atmosphere and energy which they had never felt before.
During the closing ceremony senior devotees shared deep realizations,
confessing with tears in their eyes that after more than twenty years of
being in Krsna consciousness they only understand now that they had not
even started chanting the Holy Name.....
This retreat indeed created a revolution in devotees' hearts, and for the
following days the entire yatra was flooded with "retreat katha" - devotees
sharing realizations and experiences with friends who regretted that they
had not been able to participate.
And all the devotees strongly requested that we should have such retreats
every single year - for more than only four days....
On the 29th of August I flew off to Berlin/Germany....
Your servant, Devaki dd
See photos below: