Alaska/ Ravi Sharma। “In the midst of one’s busy life, there is a longing in everyone to be united with the Divine, to listen to the spiritual discourses, and read the Scriptures. With the challenges of meeting one’s daily needs of work, family, and social life, it’s hard to find time for spirituality, prayer, and divine experience. To help fulfil these noble desires, as well as to provide an opportunity for participants to experience the divine in a fun and memorable way, a seven-day cruise with spiritual teachings of Shrimad Bhagvat by Shri Rameshbhai Oza, popularly known as Pujya Bhaishree, was organized aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that departed from Seattle July 14th. Attended by 800 devotees, this Bhagvat katha was inspired by members of the Board of Trustees of the Sanskruti Foundation USA. The volunteer force is comprised of devotees from Detroit, Seattle, and many other cities across the United States, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Madagascar, and India as well.
The presence of divine Saints – Karshni Gurusharanananda Swami of the Udasin Ashram in Raman, Reti Gokul and Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, the spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh made for a special experience on this unique cruise. The collective presence of three holy sages created a supremely religious environment and devotees felt that they were in the presence of the divine trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. Specially prepared Jain vegetarian meals were available to devotees round-the-clock. The abundant comforts, good food, lack of any physical wants, and the relative isolation provided a perfect environment for devotees to develop focused attention and love for the most beloved scripture and their Lord. Pujya Bhaishree acknowledged the inspirations that he received with the presence of these holy sages.
Daily satsang inspired from the readings of Shrimad Bhagvat took the devotees into a different plane of existence. Devotees transcended current reality and were transported back in time and place to Vrajbhumi, where they participated in the divine birth of Lord Shri Krishna, watched his many childhood Leelas unfold before their eyes, enacted the Govardhan Leela, and participated in the wedding of the Lord with Shri Rukminidevi. Devotees stood and danced in unobstructed joy as Pujya Bhaishree would intersperse the discourse with melodious bhajans. The guru and devotees became one with each other, and together, one with their beloved Lord Sri Krishna.
Devotees and sages also attended some cultural programs which included musical and comedy sessions from the famous standup comedian Sri SaiRam from Gujarat, which had everybody laughing. On another occasion, devotees played Raas-Garba and they were joined by Pujya Bhaishree. Everyone took time for some shore excursions whenever the ship was docked on land.
Pujya Bhaishree and Pujya Muniji took a helicopter ride over a glacier and walks in parks that were filled with abundant natural beauty. Having this Srimad Bhagvat katha aboard a cruise ship was an unique event as the ocean is the residence of the Lord Ananta as he rests on Sheshnaga. In that sense, the participants felt as though they were in the house of the divine. According to Vedic scriptures, the ocean is also the father of Sri Lakshmimata and since all humans are children of Lord Vishnu and mother Lakshmi, Pujya Bhaishree compared the luxuries of the cruise ship with the pampering care of the maternal grandfather of humanity. Although holy vibrations are normally felt in pilgrimage places, Pujya Bhaishree specifically referenced the positive vibrations emanating from the Vyaspeeth located in the ship as it floated on the ocean
The holy book of Shrimad Bhagvat is unique in that Lord Shri Krishna resides within the scripture for the benefit of all devotees in this age of Kaliyuga. The Lord himself is an infinite ocean residing within this Holy Scripture, which is itself an ocean of love and devotion. This cruise katha was therefore extremely unique in that an ocean (Shri Krishna) present within an ocean (Shrimad Bhagvat) was present within an ocean (Pacific Ocean). For the first time, as per instructions from Pujya Bhaishree, the pothi (holy book of Shrimad Bhagvat) rested in a devotee’s room each night, instead of residing in a single location as per tradition. Devotees would gather and sing bhajans to Shri Krishna in these different locations.
While the katha delved into some deep philosophy ranging from “Who am I,” and the “creation of this universe,” and “how do we please our beloved Lord,” the devotees also were enveloped in the heavy outpouring of love for Lord Sri Krishna from hearing his childhood stories as well as stories of Raas-Leela. This occasion was unique in that devotees got intimate connection with Lord Shri Krishna, Shrimad Bhagvat, Pujya Bhaishree, Gurusharanananda Swami, and Pujya Muniji. This occasion was also unique as this event fell within the dates of Guru Purnima and Pujya Bhaishree’s upcoming 60th birthday on August 31st. Devotees celebrated both of these events in spirit and in person. This cruise katha was seven days of continuous celebration of Lord Krishna, his creation, his saints, and his devotees.”