Chanting japa is one of the activities most central to Krishna consciousness. So every year for the past seven years, devotees from Kemerovo in Siberia, Russia, have put on a special Japa Retreat for both local Vaishnavas and those from surrounding areas.
This year, the Kemerovo Japa Retreat ran from April 29thto May 3rd. About 120 devotees flooded into the venue, a beautiful resort organized by local leader Laghu Hari Das. The five-star facility featured comfortable rooms and gorgeous views; and due to Laghu Hari’s good relationship with the management, everyone was easily accommodated on a reasonable budget.
Seminars were given on Siksastakam, chanting attentively, and the importance of Vaishnava relationships.
For the next five days, devotees gathered in the spacious main hall for classes from local GBC Bhakti Caitanya Swami, Subala Das from nearby Irkutsk, and Svarupa Damodara Das and Vaishnava Prana Das from Novosibirsk. The seminars covered Lord Chaitanya’s Siksastakam, attentiveness in chanting, and the importance of Vaishnava relationships.
The main day was dedicated to chanting sixty-four rounds. Everyone gathered early in the morning, and kept repeating the Holy Names until 6pm, deeply absorbed in their chanting.
Devotees chanted sixty-four rounds in one day
Soon after the Kemerovo Retreat, another Japa Retreat, dubbed, “Suddha Nama,” took place near Irkutsk on May 6th. There, as well as diving into their japa, devotees were divided into small groups to discuss different challenges to the development of loving Vaishnava relationships.
“Such programs are held regularly in Siberia,” says Bhakti Chaitanya Swami. “Even though it has a reputation from the days of the Soviet Union, it has a thriving devotee population, and they are very active in promoting and developing Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON movement. In practically every city in the area there is a nice Vaishnava community of at least 100 devotees, and often many more, taking part regularly in their local temples.
Syama Das leads Kirtan during the morning program
“So even though it is often thought of by those from other countries to be a foreboding area, still Krishna consciousness is alive and well in Siberia.”[ japa ] [ russia ] [ siberia ]