Rishikesh Meditation Retreat – Behind the Scenes

Fan club archives : 55 2Swamiji and us (volunteers).

I feel blessed to have been a part of the Meditation Retreat hosted by Swamiji in Rishikesh last year.
Swamiji’s divine touch has healed my life beyond imagination. It so happened, that I reached the retreat location almost a day before. The resort was beautiful with a private ghat overlooking the serene Ganges. The location was just perfect!

After a tour of the resort, I went in my room, when one of the devotees called on me to inform that Swamiji had just arrived. My joy had no bounds. I was so happy and eager to meet him, I literally ran down the stairs. As soon as I reached the ground floor,  Swamiji was standing right in front of me, in the foyer, Our Lord! Besides him were Vidya Swamiji and Param Swamiji along with a few devotees.

I quickly bowed down in Swamiji’s lotus feet and followed course. The staff and the volunteers were showing Swamiji around different halls so that he could finalize the one for meditation. After more than 6 hours on bumpy and dusty roads, even without resting, he was on his toes working towards finalizing the arrangements for the retreat. Later, we met Swamiji in the evening to concluded a few tasks and plans to be resumed the next morning. Everyone went to rest and relax except for The One – our Swamiji. Vidya Swamiji would later tell that Swami Ji was busy working on his laptop. I had become part of the volunteer group, although I couldn’t contribute much, everything was taken care of by Swamiji himself.

Next day, we all met at breakfast, Swamiji’s eyes were red. I could not help but ask, if he wasn’t well. “The dusty roads,” he said lightly. Vidya Swamiji told us that Swamiji had not slept well. Not knowing what to do or say, I silently lowered my head in shame and pain. Our Lord is bearing all this pain for our happiness, I remember thinking. This faded into some other conversation that followed.
After a break, we all gathered again. The volunteers had a list of participants who had registered for the retreat and to my amazement, Swamiji sat with them to help with the pairing because he mostly knew every attendee since it was the first retreat.  Swamiji could have rested and left it all on the volunteers, why was he so involved in every task? He should take some rest, I thought to myself. I am at complete loss of words to describe how he took care of everything and everyone.

I was in disbelief, the sound system, the arrangements in the meditation hall, menu of food, everything was hand picked by our Swamiji. Besides, if you have attended the retreat, you would know the little booklets that we got, Swamiji prepared it with a lot of attention to detail.

Had I not been a part of it, I would have never known, forget knowing; I would have never imagined that along with the tireless efforts of the volunteers, Swamiji himself pays such immaculate attention to every little detail. In a way, I was ashamed of myself, as I could not be of much help. We just took, we never could give.

Finally, the next day came and participants started arriving. Some had come to learn meditation and others just to be in his divine presence. Everyone was very enthusiastic. Most were clad in white and it made the atmosphere all the more peaceful. It was beautiful and mesmerizing.

In the evening, everyone gathered in the meditation hall and we were again engulfed in his love and compassion. Swamiji sat there, ever smiling; not a sign of tiredness.

We all had been emailed earlier that it may not be possible to accommodate a private audience considering the schedule of the retreat and the number of participants. But Swamiji again went the extra mile for us, he did not return us empty handed.We were longing for his enchanting darshan and He decided to give each one of us some personal time. Can never thank him enough for what he has done for us.

My heart sinks as I think of it now. How he managed to sneak us all for a private audience through his extremely busy schedule, only Swamiji knows. We had three sessions of meditation each day, two Q&As or discourse sessions and a kirtan at night. When we had the breaks, Swamiji would give private audience to the devotees. When more time was required, he started accommodating the meetings during his own lunch time.

When did he rest? Did he sleep? I seriously don’t know. I close my eyes and those moments of laughter, our inquisitive faces, Swamiji’s smile, the divine kirtan, the meditation sessions, the wonderful food, all comes alive.

For the first time I saw and experienced, how much of an effort was put in, by Swamiji and the volunteers to make all this happen smoothly. No compromises were made, everything was planned so meticulously. All this is only what my senses could perceive and absorb, I am sure this is even smaller than the tip of the iceberg.

An unworthy recipient of His divine grace, I bow down in the lotus feet of Swamiji and seek forgiveness, that even though I am basking in your divine glory every moment, I keep asking for more and more and more.

अवगुन मोसे बिसरत नाहीं,
तुम मेरी राखो लाज हरि ।।

Eternally in Your service.

Garima Om


This post was originally published on Swamiji’s fan club website which no longer exists, to know more about that, refer to my intro part of the archives series here.

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Fan club archives : 55 3

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