26th January 2012 – a day when the entire nation of India was celebrating the Republic day, a group of western yoga students arrived at Govardhan Eco-village.  Govardhan Eco-village is spread across 60 acres near the Sahyadri mountain range, a two hour drive from the city of Mumbai. The group of 16 yoga students from different parts of the US, was led by Gopi Manjari Devi, the founder of Yoga Mandali in Saratoga Springs NY. Also accompanying them was the angelic singer of Vedic hymns, Gauravani, of the famed band ‘As Kindred Spirits.’ Hosting them all was Radhanath Swami, the author of ‘The Journey Home’ and the spiritual mentor at Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Community, Mumbai.

The group arrived at the eco-village at 9 pm on 25th January and got their first experience of the eco-friendly cottages at Govardhan Ashram. Impressed by the aesthetic quality and the eco-sensitivity, the visitors found the guest facilities at truly remarkable. Staying in the heart of the Govardhan Eco-village farm community, the yoga students were gearing up to get a first hand experience of  “simple living and high thinking”. Post breakfast, on the 26th, Radhanath Swami had an interactive discussion with the group. He shared his experiences in the science of yoga and explained how yoga deals with purifying and controlling the mind by engaging it in the service of love, devotional service. Radhanath Swami explained that when we place our love in our natural relationship with God, then we could see opportunity in every situation.

After some soul-nourishing talk, it was time to nourish the body. Feasting on special cuisines prepared by the experienced chefs at Govardhan Eco-village, the guests had their lunch relishing the company of Radhanath Swami who joined them. After a short while there was some fun and splashing with the guests swimming in the chlorine-free bio-swimming pool, another attraction at Govardhan Eco-village. In the evening it was time to rejuvenate with some yoga. Led by Gopi Manjari the entire team got into some action in the Yogashala. And ending the day on a high note, there was a spectacular musical performance by Gauravani. Set in the Ashram auditorium, Gauravani led the group into an enchanting trance with his soul stirring music, that lasted for about an hour.

The next day began with more yoga following which the group was taken for a tour, where they witnessed several aspects of Govardhan Eco-village namely, the Goshala (where the cows are cared for), SBT, Biogas plant, Cow products manufacturing unit etc. Breaking through the morning chills, the sun was beaming high and bright as the students began exploring the village. Walking past the cottages they entered the Soil Biotechnology plant, where they were explained how this eco-friendly sewage treatment process works. Impressed by this patented concept, some of the guests actually went near the final stage tank to inspect the quality of the water. And indeed they were pleasantly surprised to see the clean odor-free water coming out from a treatment plant that used no chemicals or machines. And right next to the plant was the huge nursery where many plants are grown organically. Strolling in the nursery they saw many flowers, ornamental plants and medicinal herbs.

Then they headed towards the Goshala or cow barn. Walking past the mango orchid, the guests came to the cow grazing area, where the cows were lazing around basking in the warm sun, ruminating, looking like meditative sages. Although scheduled to spend only 10 minutes at the GEV Goshala, they ended up spending half an hour caressing and feeding the cows, who reciprocated actively with the yoga students.

Captivated by the beauty of the special breeds of cows (Tharparkar and Gir), it was time for many cameras to flash, with each one capturing their fond interaction with the cows. Then the guests were shown the various cosmetic and lifestyle products manufactured at Govardhan Go-utpadan (cow products manufacturing unit at GEV). Highly impressed by various products, the guests then spent a good half an hour shopping for their favorite cow products, which they wanted to take carry back home to US.

Later they toured the community kitchen and saw how the eco-village utilizes the cow dung for generating biogas, which is used as fuel in cooking. The tour ended with a stroll in the garden where many vegetables and fruits are grown organically. After a long walk touring the guests then headed back to their cottages with a few taking body massage at the Ayurvedic Wellness Center at Govardhan Ashram.

Gauravani Buchwald, sharing his experience in the retreat said, “Thank you for the kindness you showed our group. The food was out of this world and the association was sweet.” Enlivened by the experience at Govardhan Eco-village, Gopi Manjari devi commented, “This farm is setting an example for the world. The aesthetics create inner peace, but meeting people who serve here infuses even greater harmony and peace – they are the life force behind – and this life force is also present in the food. A very deep inspirational place!” She added, “I feel blessed being here.”

To read more about the Govardhan Eco-village click here.