Shibirs of 2019
Shibirs of 2019 in USA – Strengthening Mahatma Bond With Pujya Deepakbhai
North East Retreat with Pujyashree
Over 550 mahatma from the North-East Region of the USA were blessed to be in the sanidhya of Pujya Deepakbhai at the Wyndham Lancaster Resort and Convention Center located in the heartland of Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The retreat marked the beginning of new and young sevarthi in leading roles working with veteran sevarthis in planning and executing this successful event.
The Retreat was filled with outings such as Amish Country bus tour, historical Strasburg Railroad ride and picnic where mahatmas especially felt closeness with Pujya Deepakbhai. The Amish Country Tour showed how a community chooses to live without modern amenities such as electricity, phones, cars and much more. It was especially amusing to see mahatma Behno sitting on the left and Bhaio on the right at the Mennonite church visit as that’s how the church goers used to sit many generations ago.
Satsangs, Dada darbar and Niruma gnan day celebration left mahatmas in a blissful state. Bhakti, garba and ‘Seva ma ulta chasma’ were added bonus activities that mahatma thoroughly enjoyed.
Throughout the course of the retreat one thing left mahatmas in awe was no matter how the weather changed for the worse, as soon as Pujya Deepakbhai arrived or joined the outing, the weather changed for the better.
The retreat saw the highest turnout of youth in regional shibir who were fully dedicated to various seva including food serving, transportation, and LMHT sessions. The youth thoroughly enjoyed special outings planned for them as well as one on one satsang with Aptaputra Dimplebhai.
South East Retreat with Pujyashree
Amidst the scenic and serene environment of Art of Living Center in Boone, North Carolina, was set-up the South East Retreat with Pujyashree. The soothing calmness of the surroundings provided a further more balanced sadhana to the moksharthi mahatmas.
A three day retreat was filled with satvik food prepared by the Art of Living sevarthis and gnan based satsangs with Pujyashree. Dada darbar entailed doing samayik while people were waiting in line for the darshan. This taught effective usage of time for personal sadhana.
Pujysharee’s welcome included welcome boards held by all the mahatmas where each board read a gnan promise that the mahatma would take up as an action item for the entire course of the year. For example, one read “I will do Charan Vidhi every day”. A kid’s board read “ I will do aarti everyday”.
The experience was exhilarating for all mahatmas and definitely helped them progress in gnan.
Wrightwood West Coast Retreat with Mahatmas
Mahatmas from different West Coast centers meet every year during the Memorial Day weekend for an annual shibir at Camp Wrightwood located an hour from Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains. This year also about 70 mahatmas gathered for the Wrightwood shibir. Mahatmas from different areas of the West Coast including a few from outside, participated in this event.
This annual retreat started many years ago, when Pujya Dada visited Los Angeles. LA mahatmas took Pujya Dada to Camp Wrightwood for a weekend so he gets clean air in the mountains during his visit in year 1987 due to his health problems. Since then, Los Angeles mahatmas started to hold a local shibir at Camp Wrightwood location once or sometimes twice a year. Over the years, mahatmas from other West Coast centers were also invited and now it has become an annual event that all West Coast mahatmas look forward to including Ajitbhai.
Mahatmas drove up in the mountains on the afternoon of Friday, May 24th and we all stayed in various cabins with bunk beds. We had access to a common meeting room and kitchen for our events. We prepared delicious food fresh every day at the camp kitchen and conducted satsangs in a hall at the campground.
The retreat theme this year was અહંકાર ને પ્રકૃતિ થી છુંટીને મોક્ષ માંટે નો પુરુષાર્થ. It was a divine feeling in the mountains amongst our mahatma family.
Satsangs were scheduled in the mornings and afternoons, along with other activities such as walking, experience sharing, garba and one afternoon of sightseeing in the nearby places. We did yoga in the morning followed by a warm breakfast and tea. We started the day with Charan Vidhi in the morning in a quiet and peaceful surrounding followed by watching VCD and some reading. This was followed by morning satsang on a chosen topic and lunch, Satsang topic was shared in advance and mahatmas were encouraged to read the material. We also made the retreat eco friendly and make it a point to not use paper/foam products. We brought our own dishes and cleaned them after every meal.
One night was reserved for garba and one for experience sharing. Garba is always a blissful experience, The retreat this year also provided an opportunity for all the West Coast centers to meet and discuss planning of 2019 retreat with Pujyashree at Lake Arrowhead.
In all these years that we had been at Wrightwood, this is the first year that we had a bear sighting at Camp Wrightwood. A black grizzly bear came down from the mountains near our cabins and satsang hall. The bears typically come looking for food and can be dangerous. Everyone got a chance to see shudhatma in the bear until the camp director walked him away back into the mountains.
The weather this year was amazing and we all got to experience some snowfall in the middle of May. Mahatmas enjoyed in the snow and took pictures together. The power of a retreat is being around Dada’s Mahatmas, discussing and deepening our understanding of the ultimate Akram Vignan. It is lovely to see people experiencing or sharing their experiences of Gnan and how much of a difference it has made in their day to day lives, and more importantly, how confident they are of the ongoing future progress to come.
Mahatmas’ comments typically is that when we got to Wrightwood we feel like being at home. No one gets tired of the same location every year. Over the years we have developed a good relationship with the camp managers and they always give our group a priority. In conclusion, what an amazing opportunity to spend a 3 day long weekend with Dada’s Mahatmas amidst Mother Nature!
West Coast Retreat with Pujyashree
A very special and long awaited California visit with our beloved Gnani Pujya Deepakbhai was experienced by the mahatmas and mumukshus from North America & rest of the world. This included mahatmas from California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and the rest of North America, as well as some from India.
On the tail end of a month long tour of USA and Canada, Pujyashree finally completed his North America visit with two amazing events in Southern California. The first was a 3 day retreat at the famous hill top resort known as The Lake Arrowhead Resort followed by a Gnan Vidhi event in Norwalk, California. Situated amidst the beautiful mountains, majestic pine trees, Lake Arrowhead is nature’s breath taking treat. On July 23rd, the West Coast mahatmas drove up to Lake Arrowhead which is located about one and a half hours outside Los Angeles. It is a small village on a beautiful lake surrounded by luscious trees. The shibir was held at Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa which is located right on the lake itself.
The retreat was well attended by over 300 mahatmas (maximum capacity of the resort) from the West Coast centers along with Aptaputra bhaio, behno and graced by Pujyashree, whose vibrations were totally evident throughout the stay. The whole resort was abuzz with excitement and joy in his presence.
The days were filled with satsang sessions in the morning and evening, indoors and outdoors. Mahatmas enjoyed and evening of Garba in the outdoor patio area facing the lake and evening of levity during the skit, as we like to call it ‘Gammat with Gnan’, in the same outdoor area. Mahatmas outdid themselves by performing Skits, Monologues and Mimicry that had the audience of mahatmas laughing to tears. Pujyashree himself seemed to be displaying his wonderful smiles throughout the skit program. First evening he pleased us all with a gappa satsang. One of the older mahatma ladies said to him, “Pujyashree, I have polio. It’s hard for me to walk and I can’t do garba. But I came because I thought if I sit near you, I can get many good vibrations from you.” Pujyashree laughed by saying, “Oh, I was wondering where all of my vibrations went to?” And we all laughed with him. It was a joyous evening. He walked amongst us for 30-40 minutes during Garba.
No Dada event is ever complete without food and our catering service, Rasraj caterers provided us with delicious meals morning, noon and night not to forget the Chai and Naasto in the late afternoons. We all experienced amazing fresh food created from the outdoor tent kitchen in the mountains. Mahatmas enjoyed several cuisines from Gujju to Mexican to Indochinese delights. The weather was exceptional and the lovely nature walk on Thursday morning with Pujyashree, around a part of the lake, with several hundred mahatmas in tow was truly a unique experience. He walked so fast that most mahatmas struggled to keep up! The trees and small creatures seemed to come alive as we all trekked behind him, young and old, some little ones as small as a year old. It was indeed a truly elevated experience for all who came.
Satsang was truly wonderful at the retreat. It was open to more casual, philosophical questions and our mahatmas got answers from Pujyashree about such diverse subjects as terrorism, homosexuality, and euthanasia. The youth mahatmas also had so much fun going for ice cream in the village. Everyone was also thrilled as Pujyashree joined us in the dining hall many times for lunch. He also walked around each table in the dining area to talk to all mahatmas. We felt like we hit the blessings jackpot this year!
The retreat ended with Dada Darbar on the morning of July 26th. Mahatmas got an opportunity to talk to Pujyashree one on one with their family and get his blessings. All event attendees were given a tea mug as the retreat memorabilia with a prasad.
Few one liners from mahatmas about the Lake Arrowhead Retreat experience.
Retreat was really a treat to spend so much time with Pujyashree!
- Ease to ask questions in small gatherings.
- Garba was as usual a bliss!
- Skits were LOL hilarious!
- Food was awesome!
- Venue out in nature was a bonus!
- We enjoyed everything thoroughly!
- Retreat memorabilia of TEA MUG is forever to keep!·
- No matter how much time we get with Gyani, is never enough, we feel, right??
- We miss him now till the next retreat.
It was indeed a very successful and enlightening visit by Pujyashree for all who gathered during these events. It is a result of selfless and kshaya free seva by all mahatmas and blessing off Dev, Deviyo, Pujya Niruma, Pujya Dada and Swami. In conclusion, Pujyashree’s trip to the west coast was a beautiful success!