26th - 29th December 2022, Sadhu Vaswani Mission held the year-end Sadhana Camp in the holy land of Shirdi. Themed Discover Your Divinity, this 4-day retreat marked the 26th Sadhana Camp and was held at St. Laurn Spiritual Resort, Shirdi. Guided by Didi Krishna Kumari, the retreat featured inspirational talks by her, AV of treasured moments with Dada, recorded discourses and Q&A by Dada J.P. Vaswani, recorded discourses by Sadhu Vaswani, group activities, meditations, bhajans-kirtan, and mantra chantings.
A total of 366 participants from across India and the world, including London, New York, Dubai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Indore, Hyderabad, Goa, Pune, Mumbai, and Bangalore, among others, attended the camp. Amongst them was one of the youngest participants, 12-year-old Jayesh Gehani, attending his 4th camp.
26th December 2022, the early hours of day 1 of the Sadhana Camp at St. Laurn Spiritual Resort, Shirdi was fused with activity yet marked by silence and profound calmness. The foyer at the resort held a divine ambience with an imposing idol of Lord Ganesha welcoming one and all with his gracious glance. Ahead, in the hallway, was a grand statue of Sai Baba greeting the guests with ‘Om Sai Ram’ on the plaque. Other Sai Baba statues around the property gave the Camp a blessed ambience. The hotel is infused with a soft Om Sai mantra playing from morning till late at night on the premises. The atmosphere was both serene and peaceful. All registered participants arrived individually and in groups and soon settled in. Accommodation for men and women was separate.
Soon it was time for the first session at noon. Didi Krishna Kumari, along with devotees, performed the Ganesha Aarti at the foyer. A short one-hour bhajan and kirtan session followed at the camp hall. In the 4 pm session, Didi Krishna lit the akhand jyot and gave her inaugural talk and welcomed all participants and applauded them for leaving aside everything from their otherwise busy lives and attending the 4-day camp. She then asked the participants, “For what purpose have you come here?” the question drew many responses including “to draw closer to God, to evolve, to get peace of mind, to go within,” among others. Didi Krishna then encouraged everyone to write down their purpose of coming to the Sadhana Camp, actually define it, and in the 4 days that follow, come closer to the purpose. She said, “We need to carry the camp with us in our daily life. That’s the purpose of the Camp.” She further added, “Identify one weakness and overcome it within the next 4 days.”
Sadhu Vaswani’s recorded discourse on ‘What seeds are you sowing?’ was played next. This was followed by a recorded talk of Dada on ‘Drop the veil of forgetfulness’. In his message, he said, “Dive within you and realize your true self, your radiant self. Once you have realized this, it is the end of your quest.”
The final day’s group activity was on ‘Buddha Board – Escaping the Tunnel Vision Trap’. It highlighted how everything – joy and sorrow is passing, and one must try to have inner balance and view situations as fleeting. Concluding, participants were given a 31-day challenge where they had to choose 1 among 3 card options – silence, sense control, and balance. Dada’s recorded talk that followed brought the message, “Always remember you are a student, He is the one teacher – teaching us through life experiences.”
This year, Dr. Harish Wadhwani, music maestro, added his touch to the Theme Song of the Sadhana Camp 2022 – which was sung at the end of the sessions of the Camp:
Atham pyaas preetam achee tokhay paayaan.
Dinai janam amolak
Ajaayo naa vinaayaan
Ajaayo naa Vinaayan
Dada Tokhay paayan.
Atham pyaas preetam achee Tokhay paayaan
Bin toh ai mithaa na byo kuch maan chaiyaan
Na by kuch maan chaahiyaan.
Bharay hin sansaar mein
Na byo kuch maan chahiyaan
Na byo kuch maan chaahiyaan
Dada tokhay paayan.
Tokhay paayan Tokhay paayan
Dada Tokhay paayan.
The night session was ‘treasured moments’ where participants fondly reminisced their memories of and with Dada. Pushpa Shivdasani from London shared how she knew nothing of Dada, and yet when she came in contact with him once, he drew her spirit to him. Dr. Harish Wadhwani from London too shared his bond with the Master saying how he experienced direct instructions from Dada through the songs he was asked to compose. He has worked on over 300 compositions. Yet another participant, Sapna Kalwani from Bilaspur recalled how her aunty was so sick that the doctors had given up on her. But within a week of approaching Dada, she became normal. Krishna Bajaj from Pune spoke of the transformative power of Dada’s sheer presence and how without exchanging a single word and just sitting by his side changed his life forever.
Following the personal experiences, a video clip of treasured moments featuring Dada and devotees particularly at the earlier Shirdi Camps conducted years ago was shown. The emotions and devotion was on such heights that everyone in the audience rose and gave a standing ovation to Dada.
Starting Day 1, each night the sessions were concluded with the mahamantra chanting and guided meditation.
A first time attendee, Padma Ramsinghani said in awe, “It is so peaceful here as if in another world.”
The schedules for day 2 and day 3 included morning havan, mantra chants, discourse by Sadhu Vaswani and guided meditation by Dada J.P. Vaswani. A yoga session for physical and mental well-being was also conducted. Those that couldn’t participate in the yoga activities went for a silent walk.
Day 2, 27th December 2022, started with a meditation on Love for God. The noon session had guru bhajans, followed by a group activity on silence. The message behind the activity was, “Just as we brush our teeth every day, we need to make silence a routine in our lives.” Obstacles in observance of silence were also discussed, followed by solutions in which tools to observe silence were given – the 1 per cent rule where the participant is required to observe silence just for 5 minutes a day, the second tool – implementation intention – ‘I will sit at ______ time and _____ location. This also had an SOS where the participant could use ‘If _________ then ________ to observe silence. The third tool was mandala meditation. One of the participants, Ranee Vaswani, remarked, “This group activity was so serene and calming; it helped me concentrate on the Name Divine.”
Dada’s recorded talk for the day was – Purify Your Inner Self. In his message, he emphasized how the first step on the spiritual path is inner purification and urged all to shut the bodily doors and turn the attention inward. He said, “We commit so many sins through these doors, ears, eyes, and so forth. We must pray to God each day and appeal to Him, ‘just for today, may I not commit any sin.”
Soon, bhajans and kirtan followed. ‘Om Satnam Waheguru, Dada Make Me Worthy of You!’ echoed aloud.
Next was Didi’s talk. It was initially interactive, where she asked the participants how day one had made a difference to them. Then she gave a profound message when she said, “we know so many things but we don’t even know ourselves. We think we are the body and we don’t put in the efforts not have the time or inclination to know ourselves. That’s why we need to unfold the divinity within us.” She then quoted Dada, “To know yourself is to lose yourself and that’s the paradox of life.”
A recorded Question & Answers session with Dada followed where several interesting responses were given by Dada wherein he spoke of how householders can attain God easier than sanyasis (renunciate), how work can be worship if it is made as an offering to the Lord, among others.
It was time again for ‘treasured moments’. Marsha Wadhwa from the USA spoke about how introverted and shy an individual she was and today she has gained the confidence to be able to talk to a room full of audience. This, she said, was because of her association with Dada, meetings, and volunteering at the Sadhu Vaswani Mission with the Public Relations Office and Moment of Calm Dept. Another participant, also a singer, Neal Talreja, said, “He never fails me, Dada never fails me!” Drshika Advani, another singer, offered a poem aspiring to have the ability to sing for Dada birth after birth. Chandru Mohinani shared the many miraculous experiences he had after praying at the Great Master’s Sacred Samadhi. Nilesh Tejwani and his daughter Jagruti eloquently expressed their belongingness to Dada. AV of Dada followed the live experiences.
As the day came to a close, a staff trainee at the resort said, “The guests of this group treat us with so much love and keep blessing us. It is overwhelming.”
On day 3, 28th December 2022, in his recorded ta lk, Sadhu Vaswani spoke of the glory of the Guru where he said that the Guru refers to us as his friend – dost, pyara. Are we even worthy of his friends? We are seeped in sins yet he calls us his friend with warmth and affection. Even when the world calls us a sinner, he continues to remain our friend. Therefore, you must be in the company of saints.
In the noon session, Dada’s recorded talk was on 3 Steps to Divinity. He said, “We are essentially seekers. We are living in separation from our Beloved, we need to turn to him. We are happy with what the world gives us, so the longing is not there, we are asleep. We have received this body to realize ourselves.” This was followed by a group activity, ‘Rewiring the Mind’ – You are the interior designer of your mind. An activity was conducted where participants were divided into teams of 10 each. Every team was given a teaching and they had to bring out the teaching by enacting a skit, singing a song, or any best suited portrayal. It was a hilarious and laughter-filled session which included not to look at the faults of others, seeing the good in others, looking at the positive points of the Camp, among others.
Didi Krishna, in her talk, encouraged everyone to ‘take a specific thing from the camp, not just teachings but something you can apply to your life’. She then gave the analogy of a sarovar – a sacred lake – where one takes a dip and, after purification, adorns new clothes. This camp she said aids one in staying connected with the Lord and adorning a new self one can step out of the camp.
The following recorded Q&A session highlighted the message - God is not a hard taskmaster; He is a loving mother. We must keep putting our best efforts of regularity and punctuality in our spiritual practices. There is not a temptation that you cannot overcome.
In the day’s treasured moments segment, several participants came forward to recall their memories. Among them was Raju Bharat, who was against the idea of godmen and saints. So much so that when Dada’s event was to be held at his hotel years ago, he was sceptical of Dada too. But association with Dada changed him entirely and he became a believer. He also shared an incident where his son contracted dengue and typhoid at the same time and the doctors gave up. In sheer desperation, he called Dada and miraculously, within 3 days his son began to recover gradually. He called Dada, ‘a miracle-maker’. He also recalled the message Dada gave him, “When all else fails, prayer prevails.” He concluded his experience with the thought, “Whenever you are weak, think of the Master.” Kanta Jethwani, another participant, spoke about how Dada held her hands through the pain and difficulties of life and foresaw situations. She asserted how even now, the Master is guiding her. Priyanka Nanwani, a girl with an extremely questioning mind shared how once Dada told her, “Even if you leave me, I won’t leave you.”
Finally, Ashwin Nariani spoke about becoming the Master’s hands and feet, before showing a video on the ‘Sadhu Vaswani Mission – Highlights of the year 2022’.
On this day, Didi Krishna distributed prasad personally to each and every one of the 366 participants and the resort’s hospitable staff. Following this, a palav – a Sindhi prayer was offered devoutly. The session ended with great applause and gratitude to Didi Krishna in a standing ovation.
One of the participants, Sailash Hotchandani, a senior financial analyst, expressed, “The Camp took us to Dada. We lived our old times and felt energised in his presence and remembrance.” Sailash has been coming to Sadhana Camps since he was 12 years old.
On day 4, 29th December 2022, the concluding day of the Sadhana Camp, participants completed the checking-out formalities and gathered for the final sessions of Sadhu Vaswani’s talk, Didi Krishna's talk, group activity and Dada's Q & A.
Sadhu Vaswani’s recorded talk was on ‘The most precious gift you can give to the Lord’. He said, “The Lord needs us, he needs our hearts. Give your heart to God alone and the way to do so was to become a servant of the satsang.” The guided meditation was on discovering divinity.
Didi Krishna in her takeaway message said, “Life will keep testing us when we go home. Let us call out to Dada in the ups and downs of life.” She then added, “The Camp starts NOW! And will continue until we meet again for the next camp!”
The final day’s group activity was on ‘Buddha Board – Escaping the Tunnel Vision Trap’. It highlighted how everything – joy and sorrow is passing and one must try to have inner balance and view situations as fleeting. Concluding, participants were given a 31-day challenge where they had to choose 1 among 3 card options – silence, sense control, and balance. Dada’s recorded talk that followed brought the message, “Always remember you are a student, He is the one teacher – teaching us through life experiences.”
Before everyone headed for departure, the management and senior staff of the resort was felicitated and vote of thanks was offered. Finally, all singers sang the shukrana song together in a chorus led by Kaajal Chandiramani.
The 26th Sadhana Camp was one seeped in devotion, meditation, and silence. A fitting conclusion to the year 2022.