Writings

Retreat at Alpine Heat resort in Drakensburg, 45 minutes from Bergville, South Africa

Day 1

For the next three days we sported in the rivers and waterfalls of the sirene and amazing nature, the nature of Krsna. We left Durban at 10:05 in an airconditioned car. As we traveled up to the foothills of the Drakensburg mountain range, the 35o C + temperature outside didn’t affect us due to our nice airconditioning in the car. Guru Maharaj had some discomfort in His right eye though. It’s enflamed and swollen. He knew what the condition was called because He had had it before. Dr Umesh came promptly before we left and gave Guru Maharaj some medication. He has to also hold a warm, damp cloth over the eye a few times a day.

During the drive Guru Maharaj had me call a devotee in Russia from the cell and Guru Maharaj arranged for him to get his connecting flight organized. This was the first time we (Ramkinkara, his daughter and Ananda Tirtha Prabhu) heard Guru Maharaj speak
Russian and it was very astonishing for the devotees, they were delighted.

After three hours we arrived at the resort which is a little village of 100 cottages, housing six people each. There is a shop, a gym, restaurant, pub, tennis court, pool, etc. The whole place was booked out and it was quite busy. We could have done door to door book distribution there.

After prasadam we went for a hike to a nearby waterfall and Guru Maharaj was our leader, just like on parikrama. At 18:30 Guru Maharaj gave a class about the demons of Vrindavana.

Day 2

At 05:30 was mangal arotik, followed by a japa walk along the road with about 50 devotees including HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj, HG Dina Bandhu Prabhu and Guru Maharaj. Altogether about 90 devotees took part in the retreat.

My brother George and I had to do a little scouting for two right sized pools in which the ladies and men could swim in on our hike that day. We set out on our pool testing excursion, ready to swim in any pool we came across because it was so hot. Guru Maharaj told me that in His young days in New Zealand he was very adventurous and would go out and find new trails in the forests, etc.

That day we all witnessed His adventurous spirit as He swam under a 20m waterfall. The waterfall was very beautiful as it cascaded down stepped rocks in between huge rocks, boulders and tall trees. At the bottom of it was a fairly small but deep pool with a strong current in it. Guru Maharaj actually sat within the waterfall. He climbed up on the rocks and sat down on the steps of the waterfall, getting a powerful back massage. The devotees found a nice rock to jump off and Guru Maharaj also jumped. Shyamasindhu Prabhu from Pretoria has it all on video.

The evening program was all about Vrindavana, and a beautiful flower bedecked altar for Radha Krsna was created for that evening. HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj arranged for the enactment of churning yoghurt into butter the old Vrindavana style and many devotees, including Guru Maharaj had a turn to churn by pulling on the two strings. We got to the point of getting very thick, creamy and soft yoghurt. Mixed with sugar, it was extremely nice.

Day 3

We went for a japa walk and after lunch, a hike and a swim in the river. Then we had a nice evening program with HG Hari Sauri prabhu talking about Srila Prabhupada. Every morning HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj had a two hour seminar and is also a Srimad Bhagavatam class, so lots of hearing throughout the day. I had a special service during this retreat which was to scout for pools in which to swim in during our hike. When we (my brother and I) found the pools Guru Maharaj was pleased, so we were happy to do some extra hiking as a service.

The pools we found on this day were quite exciting, there was a 2 ½m high rock face ledge to jump off, into the pool, and that was just about the only way to get in actually. Then there was also a nice waterfall for getting a good back rub, while holding onto the rocks so as not to get washed away. Another interesting thing was that Guru Maharaj saw a water snake there, but he went in anyway, He is really quite adventurous.

Guru Maharaj also saved a drowning devotee. This devotee wasn’t sure sure if he could swim or not so he tried it out, but failed after a while. Guru Maharaj swam with him to the grass bank while holding him at his chest. Guru Maharaj is so expert at saving struggling devotees.

Day 4

On the last day we made a quick getaway to prepare for Guru Maharaj’s trip to Port Elizabeth and abroad. I had to catch a cheaper on that very same day to accompany Him to Port Elizabeth, who was to leave the next day. So I had to be at the airport by 3 pm, and still needed to pack Guru Maharaj’s big suitcase for His trip to Russia, etc. The drive back was 3 hours, so we didn’t have much time.

On the morning of that last day there was a mishap with Guru Maharaj’s clothes. Somehow one set went missing, perhaps stolen off the line, but I thought that He had a set to wear for the day. Nevertheless Guru Maharaj woke me up at 04:30 and told me that there was nothing for Him to wear. Then I quickly went next door where his set had been hanging to dry and work the devotees up there, so they could give me the set . I took this set in the drizzling rain across to another bungalow where Lokabandhu was already chanting japa on his bed, to iron the clothes there, while Guru maharaj was in the shower. The set had to be ready by this time he got out of the shower. After waking everyone in the bungalow we got the makeshift ironing board ready on the dining room table and Guru Maharaj got his clothes on time.

Never a dull moment in Guru Maharaj’s service. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada for giving us such a wonderful spiritual master.

All Glories to our beloved spiritual master H H Bhakti Caitanya Maharaj who is saving us from the ocean of material existence, with his great care and compassion and who will also save us if we drown in one of the rivers at the Alpine Heath resort. All glories to all the sankirtan devotees of the Lord who inspire us to serve our Guru Maharaj in Lord Caitanya’s mission.

Thank you

Your servant

Lokanatha das

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