In 2009 Hare Krishna Valley is seeing a lot of activity. We are working hard to finish renovating the two residential buildings that Vedasara, Sudevi and Manigriva, and Veda Priya and I will live in. With the main work almost completed, we can begin to focus on other important projects. This includes renovating the temple building and the second guest ashram to enable us to increase the frequency of retreats.
So far this year we have hosted two successful reteats. As usual Devamrta Maharaja’s retreat attracted a large group of young Indian people, who were treated to seminars on the Vedic perspective of life.
Prahladananda Swami delivered an enlivening presentation of Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda, which was well received by a group of fifteen guests. Between classes everyone relaxed and enjoyed bushwalks. At the end of the day, Maharaja gave a basic Bhagavad-gita lesson to tie together the material and spiritual sides of Vedic philosophy. Then guests and devotees alike enjoyed a melodic kirtana Maharaja led while playing harmonium.
As I write, we are arranging a retreat for the Queen’s birthday long weekend in June. It will be led by Mother Jagattarini and Bhurijana Prabhu. Such sadhana retreats provide perfect opportunities for devotees to improve their ability to hear and chant about Krishna. Since Melbourne’s congregational devotees are always eager to associate with advanced vaisnavas, no doubt by the time you read this, the retreat has changed your life.
Later in 2009 we are planning to hold an all-women’s retreat led by Jagattarini and Lasksmimoni Matajis. It will give the vaisnavis an opportunity to come together for a weekend of Krishna conscious association. Because family life is often very demanding, it is a challenge to stay focused in spiritual life. Retreating to Hare Krishna Valley allows us to absorb ourselves in Krishna consciousness, free from everyday distractions.
In the second half of the year we are planning several outreach retreats for the general public. Over the last ten years, we have received extremely positive responses to such retreats. Our approach is to present Krishna consciousness to people as a complete culture. Srila Prabhupada says that our movement will spread by ’cultural revolution.’ So instead of directly preaching to people about the Absolute Truth, we invite them to stay with us for a few days and experience a lifestyle based on natural living and high thinking. The result is that people become attracted to our peaceful way of life just by example.
Once the renovations are finished, we will install an agricultural grade water filter to purify spring water for use on our crops. Then Manigriva Prabhu will begin to grow vegetables in the market garden. Srila Prabhupada desires that our farms produce enough food to supply the farm communities. Our goal is also to supply vegetables to Melbourne temple, Gopal’s and Crossways. We pray to Prabhupada that we will please him by achieving this goal.
Hare Krishna Valley’s self-contained accommodation facilities continue to be popular. We hosted guests almost every weekend of January, and have been fully booked for every public holiday this year. The Valley is close to some of the State’s most popular tourist destinations, such as the Great Ocean Road and Erskine Falls. While guests enjoy a relaxing holiday, they can relish the spiritual association offered by devotees.
Hare Krishna Valley is an exciting project. We are attempting to realise Srila Prabhupada’s desire that ISKCON develops rural communities to demonstrate natural living and high thinking to others. In order to succeed, we need more devotees to join us in our commitment. So anyone who feels inspired to help develop Hare Krishna Valley into a model spiritual community is most welcome to contact me on 0405-577-453, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you come as a guest, on retreat, or to help, we look forward to meeting you at Hare Krishna Valley soon!
The 6 Goswamis of Vrindavana