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Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer Young Adult Retreat 2015

by Rishi

I really enjoyed the youth retreat in July. This was my first time coming to the retreat, and I am really glad I came! Every morning was 30 minutes of calming meditation followed by yoga. We had inspiring lectures on the topic, studying the mind, by Swami Yogatmanandaji. All of us youths got to spend time together through a little bit of karma yoga (service) at the center, as well as sharing our thoughts, talents, and experiences with each other. The food and overnight accommodations were beyond exceptional! I would like to thank Swamiji as well as all of the volunteers at the Providence center for this amazing learning and growing opportunity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Retreat at Rochester

by Srikanth

Narada Bhakti Sutras retreat at Rochester was an enriching experience of devotion attended by about 25 devotees. Swami Yogatmanandaji followed the commentary written by Swami Bhuteshanandaji ("Narada Bhakti Sutras," published in 1998), who delivered lectures on this subject in Japan.

The Sutras do not conform to the literature rules seen in aphorisms that are characterized by their pithiness. The scripture itself begins with the necessary qualities of the student to read the Sutras and then deals with the description of the goal called supreme devotion, which is of a blissful, ever-satisfying and immortal nature; why devotion is superior to other yogas; Gopis of Vrindavan as the ideal devotees who on the face of it seem to be scandalous but their love is divine only because of their awareness of Sri Krishna being God incarnate; and how to practice devotion: both the do's and don'ts.

Narada asserts that the devotion does not require any other accessory like knowledge or other yogas for its inception. Even the definition of God, to whom the devotion is directed, is not necessary, as love is present in every person. The Sutras present the processes to cultivate devotion as applications of other yogas. However, Narada doesn't acknowledge his methods as the mainstays of other yogas, thereby maintaining the tenor of his Sutras where devotion was glorified up to the hilt, sometimes making you feel as though it's a bit of an oversell. He arbitrarily claims the path of devotion to be superior to other yogic paths, only because the goal and the means are the same (love) in the path of devotion unlike in other paths. Also the insinuation that other yogic paths involve pride, and God, therefore, prefers devotion is somewhat preposterous.