The Govardhana Retreat has been going on since 2000 – the first with only thirty students under the trees surrounding Giriraja (we still remember having to crawl under a barbed wire fence to get to our spot!), the most recent with almost a thousand students, now at a rented ashram.
As the number of students has grown, so too has our desire to serve this ever-expanding community of devotees by building our own center at Govardhana, along with our awareness that we needed our own place to house and host the devotees, and to give them a quiet place to actually retreat from the busy-ness of their lives.
For me, the Bhumi-puja was a monumental event, like a first mango flower finally blossoming on a tree planted twelve long years earlier. We have been patient. The original Land had initially been procured near Govardhana Hill in 2004, and added three more small pieces gradually over the next eight years. Finally, two years ago, we added a large two-and-a-half-big-hectare plot, making the final size of the plot land for the Govardhana Retreat Center at five acres. Finally, we had enough land to allow our center to be un-cramped, un-built-up, and to possess the natural and simple meditational ambiance we desired.
After we have spent another year acquiring legal approval from the local council (MVDA), we were ready to build. Interestingly and perhaps even mystically, that approval arrived suddenly while three hundred devotees were chanting Krishna’s holy names in a colorful Pandal at Govardhana during an unseasonal rainstorm during the 2015 Holy Name Retreat.
And now, on February 3rd, 2016, at an auspicious moment, two hundred meters from Govardhana Hill, we performed the Bhumi-puja and the initial construction of the VIHE Govardhana Retreat Center officially started.
That moment was sweet. It reminded me of the sweetness that descends during the Govardhana retreats when all the devotees present are absorbed in hearing and chanting about Krishna. That sweetness, I take it, results from Giriraja Govardhana’s pleasure, for Krishna is being glorified in the association of devotees in Vrindavana. And that is the essence of our endeavor to construct a retreat center in this holy land. We wish to make this offering to Srila Prabhupada: May his followers, both individually and in groups, retreat at least for some time from the lands where Maya’s influence dominates, and approach the shelter of Giriraja Govardhana to gain deep nourishment by practicing absorbed hearing and chanting about Krishna in Vraja.
As Srila Prabhupada said in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.21.17: “Only by drinking the nectar of chanting and hearing the pastimes of the Lord can one forget the intoxication of material existence.” And in a 1972 lecture in Vrindavana: “So we must be inquisitive. We must be very eager. That eagerness should be aroused: “
“Where Krishna-katha is being taught, let me go there, let me hear.”
We pray that within the protected and serene atmosphere of the Govardhana Retreat Center, devotees will experience Krishna’s potent presence through hearing and chanting His glories amplified by Giriraja Govardhana’s soothing shelter. The Bhumi-puja was highlighted by the presence of many kind-hearted sannyasis and other senior disciples and followers of Srila Prabhupada. (We also received the distant, recorded well-wishes from a number of others.) Their words highlighted their own hopes for the quick and successful completion of the center. We pray that you add your prayers to theirs.
For further information and more photos about the VIHE Govardhana Retreat Center, the Govardhana Retreats, and to see photos of the just-completed Bhumi- puja, please click here.
Your servants, Sacinandana Swami and Bhurijana dasa
Adi Purusha das, disciple of HH Gopal Krsna Goswami, joined in 1990 in West Ukraine. After distributing books for some time he joined the Ukrainian BBT and for 10 years served there as a translator, translating Caitanya-caritamrita, parts of SB, other books.
He studied Bhakti-sastri with Purnacandra Prabhu in 1993 and with Bhanu Swami in 1998. Taught Bhagavad-gita in the BBT and VIHE. Since 1999 stays in Vrindavan, studying and teaching sastra.
by Sacinandana Swami
As parts and parcels of Krishna, we are all entitled to a life of complete bliss. We experience this bliss by having loving exchanges with Him. This is our spiritual birthright. But in the material world that relationship gets covered over – our minds and lives tend to become cluttered with millions of unnecessary but seemingly urgent things to do. To go on retreat means to unclutter yourself.
A philosopher once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” We all know this to be true. So if we remain inside our self-constructed comfort zones, nothing new will happen – ever – and we will experience only more of the same.
A retreat can help us enter liminal space – the threshold between past patterns and new possibilities. It is in that space of transition that we make discoveries, shifting our focus from a mix of material and spiritual concerns to the purely spiritual. Someone once quipped, “We live in an age of mass distraction – distraction from Krishna.” On a retreat we make our relationship with Krishna our prime focus by reducing distractions.
The results are often miraculous. Amazing transformations occur, and participants have breakthrough experiences or epiphanies. They may also have what in homeopathy is called “an initial aggravation of symptoms” – that is, they may first grasp their personal limitations before transcending them. It’s said, “When you want to climb a mountain, you must first cross the valley.” Sometimes this holds true during a retreat experience.
Going on a retreat is something all spiritual traditions do. In the Vaishnava tradition, retreats have historically taken the form of pilgrimages, especially during particularly sacred times of the year such as Kartika or the Purusottama month. Twice a month, on Ekadasis, Vaishnavas traditionally observe a mini retreat.
At our Govardhana and Holy Name Retreats, Bhurijana Prabhu and I are dedicated to helping our participants make spiritual discoveries appropriate for their progress. For thousands of years people have come to Giriraja Govardhan, seeking further revelations on their spiritual journeys, and Giriraja Govardhan has never disappointed.
We cordially invite you to visit the upcoming retreats. For more information, click here.
And please, if you are able to kindly support our new Govardhan Retreat Center, we will be very grateful indeed.
“My japa habits have changed so drastically that I cannot wait to put what I have learned into practice in my everyday life.” Krishna das, Belgium
“What a revelation!” Jay Krishna das, America
“I am a fan of humor – even from this perspective, the Retreat was simply great.” Bhakta Ben, Germany
“It is difficult for me to imagine the immense benefit your service has within our spiritual community. You present very thoroughly, attractively and carefully the essence of what Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas have taught us.” Sri Rupa das, Ireland
“When I applied what you taught, I suddenly saw Radha and Krishna sitting on a throne in my heart. They were smiling as if They were always there, but finally I was able to catch a small glimpse of Them. They smiled very lovingly and I bowed down to Them to offer Them white flowers.” Malati devi dasi, Italy
“After the Retreat I have taken the sankalpa to spend more time with my practice. I have the faith that your instructions work and following them will lead me to all-auspiciousness.” Gaurahari das, Germany
“After 13 years of chanting, I finally got a drop of taste for the Holy Name. Thank you for saving me.” Anupama devi dasi, Croatia
“This Retreat was my big experience so far in my spiritual life. Thank you! I now have a new life project. Let me see what will happen.” Dinadayal das, Radhadesh
“I have waited for this Retreat for a long time. Finally, it came and I was allowed to take a step closer to Krishna. The Holy Name is a person and I want to meet this person.” Syama-sakhi devi dasi, Australia
“I am very, very grateful to you for this experience. It was a breakthrough which would not be possible without your help and guidance.” Bhaktin Anna, Denmark
“I have no words to express how I feel now. I just can express my gratitude. I am so fortunate. I pray that the seed you have put in my heart will blossom soon.” Subhadra devi dasi, Croatia
“If someone would ask me how long I am chanting, I can and must answer: since yesterday, because it was yesterday during the Retreat that I could for the first time experience the nectar of the Holy Name.” Bhaktin Matilda, Poland
“I am very grateful for this outstanding Retreat. You are facilitating our way to Krishna so nicely.”
“Thank you for giving this Japa Retreat. What can be more important for the followers of Srila Prabhupada than to work on the quality of their chanting? Your seminar is more that a retreat because it is so well-prepared and based on sastra. It is loaded with your sincere desire to help the ISKCON devotees worldwide to improve their chanting in such way that it has a transformational effect. Next time I hope to be present fully.” Hridaya Caitanya das, GBC
“Thank you very much for all your sweating and hard work to bring us to a different place. I am aware of what has been done. Thank you.” Sudevi dasi, teacher at the Radhadesh College
Govardhan Retreat Center
Our vision for a spiritual retreat center at the foot of Giriraja Govardhan is founded on the devotee community's ever-increasing need to have a place in Vraja to enter deeper into spiritual practice in the association of other sincere seekers.
We wish to provide a setting for individual and group retreats in this sweet and most holy of places.
Retreat Center Support
Vrindavan is the land of service. If you feel inspired to render any type of service towards the Govardhan Retreat Center, please contact us.
Govardhan Retreat Center
Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg, Raman Reti
Vrindavan, Mathura District, 281124
In the service of the devotees of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.