By Antony Brennan
We gathered at Govinda Valley, in Otford, South of Sydney, to enter into a retreat with Sacinandana Swami and Madhava.
Everyone came to the Kirtan hall in the morning and we took to our seats and cushions and Sacinandana prepared to begin
As he began to talk something strange happened, the walls and ceiling of the kirtan hall began to melt away into nothing – followed slowly by the floor and the glass doors. It happened almost unnoticed as Maharaj spoke on weaving a tapestry of description about bhakti, until slowly, but surely, we found ourselves in a new and different place.
Without stepping out of the doors of Govinda Valley, without moving at all we had travelled on the sound of Sacinandana’s voice and we had arrived, somehow, within the city of nine gates.
Moving through the city, following the sound of the Guru we came to building that looked so familiar “This is the house of the material heart,” Maharaj said and waved his hand to present it to us. “We’re going deeper than this though,” he said. “Come on we’re going in.” With that he stepped in through the door and without question we followed him, an excitement growing within us.”
Inside there was another house, a building within a building, it seemed both strange and somehow natural to us. “This is the house of the emotional heart,” Maharaj said. “It’s fine here,” he said.”More subtle than that other one out there, but it’s not for us – we are going deeper.” Leaping through the door he called back: “Come one everyone, our destination lays ahead.”
We all climbed through the doorway and moved down the hall into a courtyard and there before us was a most attractive, beautiful house. It seemed as if it was alive, somehow it was smiling at us, somehow it was glowing and welcoming. “Here we are devotees,” Sacinanadana called out lifting his arms to present his gift to us. This is where we are from and now we have found it, just like I told you we would, this my friends is the house of the spiritual heart.”
We heard the sound of the harmonium, and we heard a voice begin to call out the the names of Krishna, the Mahamantra. It was Madhava. “Come on, come on,” we heard Sacinandana Swami call from within. His voice seemed to draw us toward the door and pull us in, whilst all around us the sounds of Madhavas Kirtan pushed us along and swept us into the door of the house of the spiritual heart.
Our eyes took a moment to adjust to the light, it seemed brighter than the sun outside. It was amazing in there. It was shocking what we could see. Inside was a garden of trees with ripe sweet, low hanging fruit. Flowers bloomed producing an amazing scent. There were cushions and nice seats. There was a fresh cool breeze and when we moved deeper into the garden, following the pleasant voice of Sacinandana Maharaj we came across a wonderful palace. There was an incredible throne surrounded by Gopis and Gopas. But wait…there, on the throne, waving to us in a welcoming way, were The Supreme beings, Sri Radha and Sri Krishna
“Don’t stop now, my dear devotees,” we heard Sacinandana call out. “The Kirtan has started, the dance has begun.”
Just then the sound of Madhava’s Kirtan encompassed us like a wave, Radha and Krishna arose from the throne and began to dance. At that moment it was as if we all awoke from our trance and our hearts swelled with bliss, as if to burst. The Gopis and Gopas were dancing around and around and we jumped into the dance and called out the response in the Kirtan, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama. Madhava urged us on calling out: “With your heart,” and we would all dig deeper, “A little bit louder,” and we would all call out from the depths of our spiritual heart.
As we danced on layers and layers of something began to float away from our selves. Layers of what we thought of as ME began to drift off and away, light like feathers on the breeze. Without effort we began to resolve into our true selves, without trying we began to take our true form of eternal spiritual beings, part and parcel of the Supreme. Flowers appeared and we took turns offering them to Radha and Krishna, pouring the petals at their feet, offering our obeisance and moving back into the dance. The music and chanting intensified and we swirled and swayed in dancing ecstasy.
Radha and Krishna threw their hands in the air and called BOLO BOLO, and were stunned by surge of love that seemed to come from within us and without us at the same time.
“And now rub your hands together,” we heard Sacinandana Swami say, so we dutifully rubbed our hands together. “And now cup your hands over your eyes,” he said. We all cupped our warm palms to our eyes. “And now slowly take your hands away and look at the lines in the palm of your hands as if you are seeing them for the first time,” Maharaj said. Slowly we removed our hands and they looked as if they were glowing and fairy dust had been sprinkled on them.
“And now come back the consciousness of the room and become aware of your breath moving in and out of your body,” Sacinandana said.
Looking up we found ourselves back in the Kirtan hall at Govinda Valley. Madhava was chanting, deep and powerful, the sound of the Kirtan encompassing us, and there was the delicious smell of the prasadam floating down from the kitchen where it was being offered to Krishna.
“And that was the morning session,” Sacinandana Swami said, a big smile on his face. “I call it the discovery phase, and so… lets have lunch.”