16th Chinmaya Mahasamdhi Camp - July 29th to August 3, 2009
The idea of a Chinmaya family camp evokes in many a sense of back-to-the-basics togetherness, family, bonding, quality time, and visions of music, singing, storytelling, and children playing. Hosted by CM Niagara Falls and CM Toronto, July 29-August 3, 2009, the 16th Chinmaya Mahasamadhi Camp was all of these things, with one big Chinmaya family interaction, bound to each other with love and respect. Under the able, patient, and loving guidance of Swamini Shivapriyananda (resident acharya of CM Toronto), the workers and members of the two centers welcomed the inspiration that touched hearts, and united heads and hands, to culminate into the first-ever mahasamadhi camp hosted by a Canadian center.
With nearly 18 months of planning and preparation, with Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda's grace and Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda's blessings, the 16th mahasamadhi camp, entitled, "The Essence of Shrimad Bhagavatam," was an overwhelming success with over 625 delegates. Over the camp's five days, the Delta Meadowvale Resort in Mississauga was transformed into a hub of dynamic activity that blazed with cheer and purpose, with a contagious and spiraling energy that flowed through all, day to day. The resort was as if transformed into a Chinmaya Mission ashram, with the hotel staff wholly engaged in the spirit of the camp. Our Guruji became their "Guruji" as they served thaalis and paani with sincere care, with no lack of comfort or attention to detail.
The daily schedule was packed with programs for adults, CHYKs, and Bala Vihar children, including morning meditation, satsangs, discussions groups and workshops with acharyas, rest, recreation, reflection, evening cultural programs, children's field trips, and of course, the daily highlight of Pujya Guruji's three discourses on Shrimad Bhagavatam.
On the camp's inaugural day, rain showers poured as an array of cleansing. As arriving delegates navigated through flowing waters into the hotel lobby, there was an upsurge of chatter and laughter in the embracing of old friends and greeting of new faces.
At the break of dawn each morning, delegates walked intently to the mediation hall, beginning the day by invoking the auspicious presence of Pujya Gurudev and filling it with prayers for spiritual guidance. This period of serenity and silence and was followed by a hearty blend of satsanga and spiritual Q&A sessions with various acharyas, both of which responded to the delegates' yearning to explore life's mysteries and inner unfoldment. It was truly a time to revel in the company of sages.
Without a doubt, Pujya Guruji's discourses on Shrimad Bhagavatam were the highlight of the camp. A master storyteller, Guruji delighted us in the stories of Lord Krishna. One needs to have been there to know the pure devotion and intimacy with which Pujya Guruji replayed Shri Krishna katha in everyone's hearts. Shri Krishna stories everyone had heard many times, but never in the way Guruji told them, not taught them-yet every delegate was a student who received all the teachings effortlessly. His telling of these stories was nothing short of sci-fi time travel, where everyone was transported back thousands of years, where every story of drama, glory, love, and divinity of Shri Krishna was seen, heard, felt, and lived through smiles, laughter, tears, understanding, and above all, devotion.
From one lecture to the next, Pujya Guruji kept his shrotas (listeners) suspended in the joy of being with Lord Krishna. He took us to Mathura, Gokul, Vrindavan, and Dwaraka, where we played, sang, and danced with Shri Krishna, where we basked in the melodious sounds of His flute, where we shed tears on seeing the greatness of His devotees. In day-to-day life, emotions, agitations, and distractions can wreak havoc, but Pujya Guruji effortlessly tuned everyone's emotions from the worldly to the Divine. And through his grace, wisdom, breadth of knowledge, and love for all, we were able to catch a glimpse of Lord Krishna, shimmering in the moonlight of Vrindavan.
Humor and hilarity were in no way shortchanged at this camp-the children's drama presentation made sure of this. The script, direction, and performance of the story about Krishna's headache that could not be cured by medication but only by a prescription of selfless love, was brilliant. This troupe of artists was impressive to so quickly learn and perform all the roles in just a matter of days. The integration of antiquity and modernity was unforgettably hilarious, with the "Pink Panther" and "Mission Impossible" theme songs playing as the musical backdrop for Himalayan rishis doing asanas!
The camp concluded on August 3, Shri Chinmaya Mahasamadhi Day, with a Guru Paduka Puja that was individually performed by over 500 yajamans and 20 Mission acharyas, in the august presence of Pujya Guruji. This grand scale puja, presided over by Pujya Guruji and conducted by Swami Shantananda guiding the mukhya yajamans (the presidents of CM Toronto and Niagara), was deeply profound and powerful. The vision of so many CM acharyas absorbed in bhakti at the feet of Pujya Gurudev was a sublime expression of our dynamic and devoted guru-shishya parampara. From wall to wall, the hall was a sea of white saris and kurtas, permeating purity and simplicity, laced with the ochre, yellow, and white robes of our acharyas, epitomizing tapas and knowledge. The sight was an artist's delight and worthy of being captured on canvas. Pujya Gurudev's presence pulsated throughout the hall and the worship, chanting, and bhajans left an indelible impression that will be cherished by all. It was a day when there was true contentment in the hearts of all to be together in our Pujya Gurudev's embrace.
The 16th Chinmaya Mahasamadhi Camp was a resounding success that became all the more fulfilling when Pujya Guruji said that it had surpassed everyone's expectations. The Lord's grace, Pujya Gurudev's and Pujya Guruji's blessings, and Swamini Shivapriyananda's love and guidance were undoubtedly the secret behind its success.
Our heartfelt appreciation to all our sponsors, supporters, camp delegates, families and sevaks across the board, who served in so many innumerable ways. Our gratitude to all our camp acharyas, whose presence and teachings transformed the resort into our very own CM ashram. Our eternal gratitude to our Guru parampara. May the Divine permeate every breath in our lives.
Images and video of the Mahasamadhi Camp 2009