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The basics of spiritual life

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 20 March 2016, Durban, South Africa, Sunday Program Lecture)

Question: Swamiji, can you please give me some basics on spiritual life?

Serve the devotees! That’s the basics. That is where it all begins. And when we serve the devotees, we serve their feet. We serve the lotus feet of the devotees and that means you have to bow down to the devotees – otherwise how will you get there? And bowing down to the devotees is not just a stretching exercise! Bowing down is not only about the gross body but we bow down our subtle body too. We bow down our will before the devotees and do whatever they say. In this way everything will come:

sadhu sanga, sadhu sanga – sarva shastra koya

lava matra sadhu sanga sarva sidhi hoya (Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 22.54)

From serving the devotees, all perfection will come. That is where it begins, that’s the basics – to bow down at the feet of the devotees.

Categories: Personal Blogs

Summer Camp - August 15 - 19

We had a wonderful Festival of India this month but the summer fun isn't over yet - join us for the
annual Summer Kids Camp, which is happening this year from August 15th - 19th.

You can register for any number of days! As always we have lots of fun activities planned out with sumptuous prasadam (vegetarian meansl) for all the children.

The registration is $25 per day. You can pre-register your child by emailing us at or by clicking here for the registration form or sign up below.

Dates: Monday, August 15 - Friday, August 19
Timings: 9:00am - 5:00pm every day
Fees: $25 for each day

Last day to register is August 10. Please sign up as soon as possible!


Swiss Summer Camp 2016

Written by Nimai

London Ratha Yatra (17 July) had been really great and Kadamba Kanana Swami enjoyed it a lot however he needed to take a few days of rest after such an exhausting event so he decided to go to Amsterdam before continuing with his European tour, and he stayed at the flat of Uddhava and Visakha. Maharaj enjoyed living very simple and peaceful there without having to stress about anything. He took me on several walks during our time in Amsterdam. On the first day, Maharaj took me to the Zandvoort beachfront and on other days we went to different parts of the city, every time walking an average of almost 10 km per day. We were really nicely taken care of as well, and Uddhava made a lot of pizza on the day before our departure.

Maharaj decided to stop in Cologne for a night (22 July), rather than going to Zurich directly. Our train got cancelled and we had to take the bus but eventually we arrived at the Cologne temple just in time for the evening class. Maharaj spoke in German that day and also spent some time with devotees he hadn’t met in a long time.

The next day we took a flight to Zurich, where we spent two nights at the temple in preparation for the 2016 Swiss Summer Camp. While at the temple Maharaj focused on writing his novel before leaving for the retreat which took place at a hotel a bit higher in the mountains, in a valley called Blümlital which translates to “flower valley”. The hotel was reserved completely for devotees for a whole week.

Maharaj started his sequence of lectures by speaking about Uddhava trying to enter into Vrindavan, a theme which he developed throughout his lectures. It wasn’t focused on only that though, Maharaj spoke about many, many other things as well. When speaking about Vrindavan, Maharaj always shared a few personal experiences and stories. On one of the days Maharaj did a presentation entitled “Gouda Mandala”, where he showed pictures of an excursion to Bangladesh that he had done with a group of devotees in October 2011. The slideshow included pictures of Advaita Acharya’s birthplace, different ISKCON temples, Bangladeshi devotees and more. While presenting the slideshow, Maharaj explained what each picture portrayed and explained its significance. The presentation showed several trees too, representative of different holy places.

Sacinandana Swami arrived a few days after us. Many of the devotees at the retreat were his disciples and they couldn’t wait to see their Guru Maharaj. Sacinandana Swami also showed a slideshow, it was about Vrindavan and was really nice.

Maharaj went on a few walks during the retreat. On one day, Maharaj had been invited to go on a walk by an aspiring disciple who got initiated on the last day and received the name Adishekara Das. Together we walked a total of 12 km to see a beautiful waterfall!

Maharaj also agreed to give a “children’s class”. He told the story from the Krsna book where Kaliya is defeated. Some of the kids got a bit wild at the end and Maharaj said that this always happens when he teaches children because he was like that himself in his younger years and the kids can sense it. On that evening Maharaj sang in the final slot of a 12 hour non-stop kirtan.

On 28 July, we departed Switzerland and travelled back to London.

Visit Flickr to see all the photos. 


Categories: Personal Blogs

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:32
Thursday, August 4th, 2016Eagle, Nebraska
Inside Out
As mentioned, we have broken into night-time walking.  En route to our starting point, an officer stopped us.  Apparently, Mandala (the driver) went 20 miles over the normal speed through town.  Well, it was hard to notice there was a town.  It was tiny.
The officer went through the usual procedure, asking for papers and license.  Mandala complied and as he was handing over documents, despite the darkness, the officer noticed the passenger.  Up until now it looked like a $240 fine was coming Mandala’s way.
“Oh, are you the Walking Monk?” the officer asked.  “They told us you were coming this way.”
Now, I would have to admit, the officer, from the beginning, was one of those stern and cold types.  Meeting someone different, however, seemed to lighten him up a bit.
Mandala and I were both relieved that, in the end, no fine was due us.  Just waving!
Taking to the bike trail, in the dark, after the trail-end of a tornado storm whipped through the area, was rather exhilarating.  I was surprised to walk head-on into a massive spider web with its web-designer crawling all over my neck.  Remember, it was pretty dark, but that was the worst of it.
I came to one conclusion about self-analysis.  There’s more darkness inside of us than what is outside.  I began to chant at that point, hoping to turn myself inside out.
May the Source be with you!
16 miles
Categories: Personal Blogs

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:29
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016Elmwood, Nebraska
For “Walking Monk” a Long, Hot Trek
Mandala and I decided, or rather the fireball (the sun) decided, that we would tackle night hours again.  The evening breeze was enlivening as we left the Omaha area and headed towards Lincoln, Nebraska.
Local radio had covered our story and so did the Omaha World Herald Newspaper.  Under the title above, Maggie O’Brien wrote:
“The Walking Monk” made a stop in Omaha on Tuesday as part of his journey across America to celebrate his faith and promote an active, healthy lifestyle.
“It’s about going back to the basics,” Bhaktimarga Swami said.  “Like Gandhi said, a simple life, high thinking. I see this as doing both of those things.”
Swami, 63, is a Hindu monk from Canada. He is walking from New York to San Francisco to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Hare Krishna religious movement, which emphasizes spiritual well-being and clean, simple living.
Swami changed his name from John Peter Vis when he became a monk in 1973. He wears an orange robe and black Crocs on his feet.
He considers walking an ideal form of exercise, he said, because anyone can do it, and it allows time for self-reflection.
This tour is broken into three parts.  He started last fall in Boston, went to New York, then into Pennsylvania.  The second leg started again in Pennsylvania over Mother’s Day weekend and took him to Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska. He arrived in Omaha on Tuesday.
Next up is Grand Island on Wednesday, where he’ll stop his journey before completing the third leg of the trip next summer.
Swami, who also practices yoga, said he started walking long distances to get away from the chaos of the world.
He has walked across Canada four times.  He’s also trekked through Ireland (he said it was wet), Israel (dry), Ghana (hot) and Trinidad (humid).
It hasn’t been easy walking through the Midwest, he said.  Swami usually gets up at 4 a.m. to beat the heat and averages about 20 miles a day.
“It’s been a hot, sweaty summer,” he said.
May the Source be with you!
19 miles
Categories: Personal Blogs

Tuesday, August 2nd. 2016

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:24
Tuesday, August 2nd. 2016Cherry Hills, Nebraska
What the Blazes!
Maggie asked me if I had ever been in Omaha or Nebraska before, now that I’ve officially walked into the city.
“When we were growing up, on Sunday we would watch Mutual of Omaha’s TV show ‘Wild Kingdom,’ about African wildlife.  That is my reference to Nebraska,” I said to Maggie, one of the journalists with the Omaha World newspaper, the major paper in the state.  She was interviewing me.  We both had a good laugh.  I guess she has friends in the yoga industry because she also knew that OM is a sacred Sanskrit word, and I said, “If you were to further analyze, Maha mean--” to which she jumped in with “Great!”
Maggie O’Brien went on to write a beautiful article about our walking mission.
Now, what about our walking mission through Omaha and region?  Mandala, my support person, and I had decided that walking during the course of the day was too much.  I started trekking through a rain storm to begin with.  Then the weather turned into a densely humid, sun-blazing dynamic.  Unbearable!  Rainstorm! Sun storm! Brain storm!
“Let’s try night-walking,” I suggested.  “There’s this lengthy bike-trail called Keystone Trail.  It’ll be safe and we can walk it in the cool night.”
Mandala was game and so we set out on the adventure.  The sun sank at 9 p.m.  I hit the trail.  Mandala was there for me, pumping me with juices and water at intersections.  Though temperatures didn’t go below the 80’s for some time, and muggy weather persisted, we pushed a six and a half-hour, non-stop trek and completed it at 3:30 a.m.
Jaya” means awesome, in Sanskrit.
May the Source be with you!
19 miles

Categories: Personal Blogs

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:19
Monday, August 1st, 2016Omaha, Nebraska
In Any Case—Kind
I hadn’t quite entered the largest city of Nebraska, nor truly entered the state yet, but being that our hosts live in Nebraska, some time was devoted to milling around the edges of the city of Omaha.
I met Ray at a gas station.  Ray was curious, warm and inviting.  While gas was being pumped into his boss’ vehicle, Ray came toward me to ask, “A monk?” 
A friendly dialogue started from there.  He introduced me to his co-worker who was in the driver’s seat and just outside the driver’s seat, with the door open, a young woman known to him for two days--as Ray explained--started being frivolous.  By that I mean, necking with Ray’s friend, quite out in the open.  She even gently grabbed him in a certain region in a kind of lover’s horse-play.  It was a scene monks just don’t usually view.
Ray and I went on about the simplicity of a monk’s lifestyle as a renunciate.  He was keen.
“Can I be a monk?”
“Oh you could.  Your buddy’s got a ways to go (Laughter).”  My remark didn’t halt the frivolity.
This reminds me of a time when I went to a costume house to purchase items for a theatre production.  It was in Gainesville, and a couple--customers who came to rent or purchase--mistook me for being part of the staff, dressed-up.  The woman was particularly all over the man, in love, but in the shop.  He figured it out that I was a customer and a genuine monk.  So he told her, “Chill, I think he’s the real thing,” respecting my vocational position.
Anyways, the couple of today showed less shame, but I won’t judge them in any major way.  They were kind to me and that seems to matter.
May the Source be with you!
12 miles

Categories: Personal Blogs

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:03
Sunday, July 31st, 2016Panora, Iowa
Before Omaha
Either before or after they pass me, most cyclists don’t have a clue as to who or what I represent when they see the saffron/orange cloth from the distance.  Some, however, I could hear saying, “Monk” or “Swami” while in their own conversation, far enough away that they think I’m not hearing them, but I am.  I even heard one cyclist remark among his peers, “We’re supposed to say ‘namaste,’ instead of ‘Hi.’”
In the very least, passersby with their fast bikes take note that “here’s someone a little different.”
When I met Dave, 61, retired, he asked about my stance on Christ.
“He’s the perfect son!”  I stated.

“What made you leave Christianity?”
“I never left.  I added on Krishna.  The fundamentals are the same.”
Dave agreed.  The values are universal.
Sam, I also met for the second time on the trail.
“I looked you up on the internet.  You’ve been to all kinds of places,” he said.
“Like Ireland, where it’s so wet?”
“And Israel, which is so dry?”
“I’m sure!”
I explained that as a sanyasi, a monk, there’s an obligation to see the world.  With that, I implied that we view the world from the angle of sacredness.  The world is divine, after all.
May the Source be with you!
14 miles

Categories: Personal Blogs

Recordings: July 2016

Here is a big catch-up on all the recordings of lectures and kirtans by Kadamba Kadamba Swami from the month of July. The class in Berlin on 05 July was given in German so we have not included that. There are some videos available from the Czech Summer Camp. Those will be posted shortly. 

**Download ALL

England – London Ratha Yatra Weekend





Italy – Sravanam Kirtanam Retreat










Czech – Summer Camp











Radhadesh – Bhakti Tirtha Swami Disappearance Day





Categories: Personal Blogs

Improving our spiritual life

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 10 April 2016, Durban, South Africa, Sunday Program Lecture)

Let us dedicate our whole life to Krsna. Let us gradually get rid of interruptions. It is said that pure devotional service is that which is uninterrupted. But what we do is a little service and then we think we deserve some sense gratification, “Okay, I did some service at the temple, so now I can watch TV.” In this way we are interrupting our service but gradually, we have to un-interrupt it. There should be no more time in between. Everything should be service. Every place should be a holy place. Your home should be a temple, your car should be a temple and even at work something sacred should be there. Somehow or the other, every place should be dedicated to Krsna, every action should be dedicated to Krsna. In this way, we can improve our spiritual life.

Categories: Personal Blogs

Gateway to the Ganges

Daily life in the Indian holy cities of Rishikesh, Haridwar, and Devprayag. A short video by Brandon Li.

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