Devotees of the Ramakrishna Centre found a spiritually enjoying way of the Christmas holiday by participating in the ‘Vedanta Retreat’. It was held on Thursday, 25 December 2008 (6 a.m. – 6 p.m.) at the Centre, Glen Anil.
The program for the day started in a serene atmosphere with satsang, which included the chanting of hymns, singing of bhajans and kirtans like pranam mantras, Sri Ramakrishna Jaya Ashtakam, prakritim paramam, murta maheshvaram and bhajan on Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, song on Lord Ganesha and bhajan on the Divine Mother, reading from the ‘Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’ and chanting of Vedic shanti mantram.
Thereafter, all the participants of the Retreat moved over to the spacious Nischalananda Hall. A seminar was conducted on the Bhagavad Gita on the following topics when each speaker presented his/her theme with a captivating slide show presentation.
1. Divine Manifestations (Chapter 10) by Miss Jyothi Bhana.
2. Moral Code for Hindus (Chapter 16) by Prof. V B Jogessar.
3. Surrendering to God – Sri Krishna’s Final Message (Chapter 18) by Mr Bhavanesh Parbhoo.
This was followed by a discourse on: “First and Second Verses of the Isha Upanisad” by Sri Swami Vimokshananda. While explaning what the first two verses imply, the Swami first focussed on the Invocation mantra “purnamadah purnamidam”. He went on then to narrate the significance of the three aspects in each verse namely, permeation of everything by God, enjoyment by renunciation, not coveting others’ wealth in the first verse and living a long life, doing work unabated, keeping the attitude of non-attachment in the second verse.
A DVD presentation thereafter on Ganges was enjoyed by all. After a short break the devotees assembled in the Temple where Sri Hanuman Chalisa was recited in chorus. Devotees enthusiastically participated in the Guided Meditation, conducted by Swami Vimokshananda . At the end of Meditation, shanti invocations were chanted.
After Lunch prasad at Dining Hall a devotional concert by Mrs Swati Kulkarni (Vocalist) from India was heard attentively by the devotees. She was accompanied by two artistes namely Sam Rugbeer on Harmonium and Manesh Maharaj on Keyboard. Tabla support was provided by Ravi Rugbeer. Swati’s daughter Neha also sang and supported her mother. This was followed by a Talk: “The Holy Mother as an Example for Householders” by Pravrajika Ishtaprana of Sri Sarada Devi Ashram, Asherville. She used the slide show presentation deftly in order to bring home the simple but significant ideas of the Holy Mother, that can be practised in day to day life by anyone.
After a short break for Tea, devotees were asked to do the Likhit Japa. Question/Answer session was conducted by Dr H Parbhoo when Sri Swami Vimokshananda gave the answers.
All devotees once again assembled in the Temple Hall for the final session. It had the usual Silent Meditation, Arati, Evening Hymns, Bhajans and Concluding Prayers. Supper was served to all in the Dining Hall. This Retreat was restricted to 300 devotees.