Successful Spiritual life is based on a proper understanding of shastra and appropriate practice based on scriptural knowledge. Our previous acharyas composed many books detailing the essential meaning of the core Vedic literature, especially Srimad Bhagavat Purana, which is considered to be the mature fruit of the Vedic tree by the author Sri Vedavysa himself. They also wrote books explaining the essential principles of devotional practice, especially highlighting the greatness of nama, kirtana and nama-japa.
In Bhakti Sandarbha, Sri Jiva Gosvami stresses the importance of the Holy Name of the Lord. He establishes that the essential teaching of Srimad Bhagavatam is the chanting of the Name, which is also the Yuga Dharma, or the most suitable spiritual practice of the present age of Kali. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is none other than Sri Krishna Himself, personally appeared to especially propagate the chanting of the Holy Name. Although chanting is the simplest and easiest process, it also requires one to put in practice certain principles and techniques in order to obtain the desired result.
After a very successful Japa Retreat this year in April, Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa Maharaja again will hold two retreats back to back this coming year in August 2013. The first one will be a Japa Retreat from August 25th until September 1st, immediately followed by a seven day Shastra Retreat. The location is a guest house in the secluded mountains of Switzerland, an ideal place for sadhana.
Babaji felt a need for his students who want to seriously pursue bhakti to follow the proper process given by our Gaudiya Vaishnava acaryas in order to advance on that path and realize its goals. The basis or proper practice is good sadhana, for which again good japa is essential and which has to be learnt from a teacher by practicing under his supervision.
Side by side with sadhana the systematic study of shastra from a qualified teacher is also very important. Without knowledge of Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta and the heritage of our Gosvamis and previous acharyas, we will not be able to discern Truth from falsity and ascertain and realize the Supreme Goal. Faith in the revealed scriptures and a proper understanding of them come through the association and by hearing from learned sadhus who have realized these scriptures by hearing from them.
Lord Krishna explains in Bhagavad Gita that those who do not have faith in shastra are doomed to suffer. Therefore He recommends one to know shastra and to follow it:
yah sastra-vidhim utsrjya
na sa siddhim avapnoti
na sukham na param gatim
tasmac chastram pramanam te
karma kartum iharhasi
“Casting aside the ordinances of scriptures, he who acts under the impulse of his material desire, attains neither perfection, happiness, nor the Supreme Goal.
Therefore, only scripture is your authority in ascertaining what should be done and what should be avoided. You should perform action in this world only after knowing the injunction of the scriptures.”
(BG 16.23, 24)
It is not just a matter of self-study, one has to study from a teacher in order to discuss the subject matter and clarify any doubts. While self-study is recommended, it is insufficient and should complement that which has been taught by the teacher.
The Japa Retreat is only for Babaji’s intimate students. The Shastra Retreat is open to all serious devotees who want to learn in the traditional way from a teacher. The seminars are free of charge and students need only to cover the costs of their boarding and lodging. Limited places are available. Dates are 25th of August 2013 until 8th of September 2013.
Those who are interested in attending should contact us at contact @ jiva.org for further details.
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