September 8th-11th, marked the third annual Bhaktifest, a four day music festival featuring non-stop kirtan concerts, along with yoga classes, meditation, vegetarian cuisine, and midnight fire ceremonies (pujas), all set in the tranquil beauty of the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, California. For the second year in a row Radhanath Swami attended Bhaktifest taking part in many of it’s featured events including the opening puja ceremony, several lectures and many of the kirtans.
Radhanath Swami also sat on a panel for a discussion on the subject of bhakti, along with Shyam das, Sacinandana Swami, David L. Haberman – the Department Chair and Religious Studies Professor at Indiana University, and Ram Das of Mandala Publishing. The event was attended by approximately 4000 guests. As the interest in yoga in America has grown over the past decade from the counterculture to the mainstream, an interest in bhakti, yoga’s devotional element, has grown within the world of yoga enthusiasts. Bhaktifest is a prominent manifestation of this growing interest. “Many of us have a lot of enthusiasm for kirtan and bhakti”, said Gaura Vani, from the kirtan group As Kindred Spirits. “Radhanath Swami’s presence at Bhaktifest has really added a strong traditional foundation to that enthusiasm which is very grounding and inspiring. Along with Shyam Das and Sacinandana Swami and I feel he is deepening the genuine tradition of bhakti in Bhaktifest and helping to lift the joy of the festival even higher.”
Radhanath Swami also met with Shiva Rea, one of America’s most well known yoga teachers. They shared a discussion on the history and teachings of Sri Chaitanya who’s lineage he represents and who’s teachings Shiva Rea has included in her yoga classes for many years. “Swamis presence was warmly received and appreciated by all”, shared Sridhar Silberfein the founder of Bhaktifest. “His patience love and devotion as well as compassion in speaking and dealing with everyone who came into his surroundings was overwhelming.”