Published On: Sun, Jun 16th, 2013

ShaktiFest 2013

June 16, 2013 (VNN) By Vasanti dasi

indradyumna-swOver the years, I had heard vaguely about Shaktifest and Bhaktifest, but never quite knew what they were.  This year, by Srila Gurudeva’s inspiration and understanding that the word shakti ultimately reers to Radharani, who is mula-sakti (the root of all saktis), parasakti (the superior absolute sakti, or power or energy), hladini-sakti (Krsna’s pleasure potency),  and so on, Syamarani didi insisted that we go. She called the organizer,  who had met Srila Gurudeva and had bought a giclee painting at the LA temple. He arranged for us to be there, even though we were last minute.

Once our booth was confirmed, we were overwhelmed with excitement. We immediately ordered 25 boxes of books, made signs for the booth saying Bhakti Books, Love from the Divine Goddess – Donate From Your Heart, Donations go to putting books in prisons and hospitals, and to ask about  We also printed Maha-mantra pamphlets, GVP Sponsorship brochures and Badger Festival flyer.

Sivananda sena dasa and I packed up our truck on Thursday and I drove the truck and he went on his motorcycle to Joshua Tree (2 and a half hours from Los Angeles). There was so much traffic on the freeway. He pulled up next to me and said he saw a van in front of us that had an Om sticker on it and did I have a book. I passed him a Secrets of the Undiscovered Self through the window, and then he pulled up next to the van and gave the book to the woman in the passenger seat. Sivananda loves doing that kind of distribution and calls it, Bumper Sticker Distribution. I saw the lady reading it I drove by their van. The festival had already begun.

We arrived at the Joshua Tree Metaphysical Retreat Center where Shaktifest is held, at 7:30pm and our booth had to be set up and ready by Friday morning. Sivananda and I set up until 1am and then he went back to Los Angeles to work on Friday.

There was a main stage where all the kirtan was being held from morning until night. Around the main stage were many vendors selling various organic and conscious products. Then there were a few different halls where yoga classes and talks were being held. The non-profit booths (which we were one of) were located in front of the Sanctuary Hall in a very peaceful environment near the food vendors.

Friday was a bit slow as people were working. Still, I had a wonderful day of meeting open-minded and nice people.

Sivananda prabhu came back on Saturday as did Sarasvati dasi to help with the booth. A few other devotees from LA were there and would also come to the booth and talk to people.

It was such a great place to be because everyone there was participating in kirtan and chanting the maha-mantra (along with other mantras too like Sita Rama, Govinda Jaya Jaya, Jaya Ma and Om Namo Sivah). So, when they would come to our booth and look at our books and art, it was so easy to tell them that these books and artwork explain everything they are doing here – the chanting and yoga.

The people loved our presentation. Vijay prabhu of the Kirtaniyas was there performing and he commented that our booth looked so professional.  Non-devotees we met who came to our booth were overwhelmed by Gurudeva’s books and posters. So many mentioned to me that our presentation and quality of our books and artwork is stunning and well-done. I felt so honored to be a part of Srila Gurudeva’s book production and distribution team.

Indradymuna Maharaja and  BB Govinda Maharaja from Iskcon were there with a few other devotees, and Sivananda prabhu knew them from the past. He gave them both many books with so much enthusiasm – especially Sri Brhad-Bhagavatamrta, Jaiva-dharma and Journey of the Soul. Indradumna Maharaja smiled and said, “Put this picture on Facebook.”

A highlight for me was meeting a lady named Beth. She was new to bhakti-yoga and I explained a bit about bhakti. I gave her a Way of Love and Secrets of the Undiscovered Self, and tried to give her a Jaiva-dharma. She said she wasn’t ready yet for the bigger study of Jaiva-dharma and would start with these small books. The next day she came up to me and said, “I have to give you a hug,” and she did. Then she said she is ready for the bigger study. She told me that that morning she was going to go to a yoga class and then she decided to not rush anywhere and to spend a bit of time with herself. She opened Secrets of the  Undiscovered Self and said she immediately got a warm feeling in her heart.

I then gave her the Jaiva-dharma and Sivananda spoke to her more. We are hoping to visit her in Arizona where she lives.

I realized that our not being at previous Shakti and Bhaktifests was a very big disservice to our Srila Gurudeva and guru-parampara. Over 1,000 people are attending this festival and looking for bhakti. Some are mislead by the mayavadism that prevails there, and by coming in contact with Srila Gurudeva’s books, they have the opportunity to understand what bhakti really is and can proceed on the bhakti-yoga path.  Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is arranging that this kirtan movement is becoming popular and mainstream in America. Individuals are doing yoga to kirtan. It is wondrous to see the mysteries of His movement.

We have booths for two more festivals in July and I am hoping to participate in two more in September.

Thank you to all our donors who help to make our participation in these festivals happen. They usually cost a few hundred dollars to be a part for the booth and then thousands of dollars to purchase the books from Bhaktistore and the posters from Bhaktiart,  along with other expenses of gas and supplies. We tell everyone we meet: any book, any poster for any donation and we mean it (because we know we have sponsorship). The people can feel our genuineness when we tell them any number of items for any donation, and they even can see our sign saying the same.

We look forward to participating in more festivals this summer.