His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami welcomed 150 devotees from around the world to Sri Sri Radha Madan-Mohan Mandir, ISKCON Ujjain, for a seven-day spiritual retreat from 26th December 2013 to 1st January 2014.
The theme of the retreat was Uddhava Gita. Participants attended 10 classes on Uddhava Gita as well as daily kirtans by Maharaj. On one day of the retreat, participants were treated to a tour of the holy places in Ujjain, including Mahakaleshwar. The feedback was very positive, and Maharaj was delighted to announce that the retreat will be held next year on the same dates!
Maharaj wrote the following note to invite guests to the 2013 retreat:
For the last few years we have been holding regional retreats around the world. Starting this year, we are also holding this special annual global retreat in Ujjain for devotees from all over the world.
ISKCON Ujjain has grown to become an outstanding and vibrant temple with a spiritual atmosphere that is admired by everyone who visits. Ujjain is a very important, spiritual place of Krishna’s pastimes. It is here that Krishna came to study in Sandipani Muni’s ashram. He also came here to claim the hand of Mitravinda, one of the eight principal queens of Lord Krishna. Ujjain is one of the four holy cities where Kumbha Mela takes place and it is also the place of one of the 12 jyotir lingas where Lord Shiva eternally resides. It was for King Indradyumna, the King of Avanti (Ujjain), that Lord Jagannath appeared. Actually the spiritual potency of Ujjain is undoubtedly unique and that becomes revealed when you visit here. Many devotees have said that being in this place does not feel like being in modern India.
The retreat theme will be Uddhava Gita. Uddhava is considered to be the greatest devotee of Krishna in Dwaraka. He was Krishna’s cousin, most intimate friend and minister. He was so close to Krishna that Krishna sent him to Vrindavan to pacify the gopis who were afflicted due to their separation from Him. When Krishna was about to depart from this planet, Uddhava wanted to go with Him, but Krishna advised him to stay on. Our acharyas in their commentaries have written that Krishna asked him to stay on this planet for the purpose of satisfying the exalted devotees who could not get Krishna’s association. Before departing from the planet, Krishna advised Uddhava with the essence of spiritual knowledge and that is Uddhava Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam reveals Krishna’s pastimes in the 10th canto and then in the 11th canto Krishna gives the essence of Srimad Bhagavatam to Uddhava. Therefore you can well imagine how profound and important Uddhava Gita is for the devotees of Lord Krishna.
It is by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy that we have this wonderful opportunity to get together. The temples of ISKCON are actually the places of pilgrimage where devotees can meet. They are also educational institutions where sincere devotees get the opportunity to study the science of Krishna consciousness. At the same time, the temples of ISKCON are the hospitals where the living entities, suffering from the terribly contagious disease of materialism, get an opportunity to get cured.
As a representative of Srila Prabhupada, it is my duty to guide you to his divine lotus feet. Attending such retreats will undoubtedly give us an opportunity to take full advantage of what Srila Prabhupada has given us to make rapid spiritual advancement.
I am very much looking forward to seeing you at the retreat.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Bhakti Charu Swami