We attended a one-day retreat with Swami Chetananda ji of Ramakrishna Mission (St. Louis Branch) on April 14th. This retreat was conducted at Vivekananda Vedanta Center, Chicago. Hari and I were looking forward to go to this retreat. We already decided that we would try to attend all the retreats that are conducted in Ganges, Michigan.
The retreat was on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. Swami Chetananda ji is a Bengali, and he provided very good and humorous anecdotes when talking about how to develop Bhakti Yoga. He is a very great devotee of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ma Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananada. He is a very humble person. He also emphasized that Bhakti and Jnana are not mutually exclusive paths, but very compatible and one cannot exist without the other.
He also presented a meditation technique which I found very interesting – of dynamically meditating on the life of our Ishta-Devata. It is like a movie, only difference is here, our hero is our Lord and all the scenes are his glories or acts and deeds, which we might have read in any devotional text like Ramayana and Bhagavata.
We also saw a movie, as part of our retreat, on Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It was a Bengali movie which was taken in may be 1940s or so, and a Black & White film. There were subtitles in English. We enjoyed the movie thoroughly. We made our way to the front and sat on the floor. Lord Mahaprabhu is the incarnation of love for Sri Krishna. He has revolutionized by the Chanting movement.
The movie was so wonderful. After finishing the movie, the second part of the discourse on Bhakti Yoga continued. In the evening at 6:00 pm, we had Rama Naam sankirtan. Swami Chidananda ji is a very great soul and his love-filled bhajans are melodious. We had a wonderful satsang in this retreat. We returned in the night to Milwaukee.
We look forward to Swami Brahmarupananda’s retreat on “Kaivalya Upanishad” in Ganges, Michigan on May 12, 2007.