Writings

Update from East Siberia

Dear devotees,

Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I last wrote from Moscow a month ago or a little more. Since then we have been through the Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Estonia) and are now in the middle of the Siberian Festival Tour.

The Baltics as always was nice. Krishna consciousness is fairly stable there. We stayed in Lithuania for about a week, and I had a set of MRIs done of my back by courtesy of Bhakta Nerijus from Kaunas, who is an orthopaedic surgeon and has very good contacts in the medical profession there. The scans showed that there is still a pronounced herniation of the lowest disc, sticking out about 8mm.

However it continues to not be very painful, and so we are continuing very our tour quite happily.

We travelled around the country with Ananda Caitanya prabhu, who is in the process of becoming a sannyasa candidate. He’s a good devotee with great experience, and is sincerely trying to preach Krishna consciousness
throughout the Baltic states, which is very pleasing.

One of the highlights in Lithuania was our visit to New Gokula, the farm project of Vaikuntanatha prabhu, one of the senior Lithuanian devotees. He and his wife and brother in law have bought a farm about 100kms from Kaunas, and they have introduced some wonderful Krishna conscious elements into the project. They have built a Radhakunda, and next to it a large Govardhana Hill, about 100 metres around, and it was nice to chant japa by them.

We then went on to Latvia, where our ISKCON Riga temple is one of the largest buildings in our movement in the former Soviet Union. It’s an old wooden building on one of the main streets near the center of the city, and the Temple President, Hrishikesh prabhu is in an ongoing process of improving the building and developing the restaurant and Krishna conscious shop.

From there we flew to Helsinki where we participated in the 50th birthday celebration of the Temple President, Tattvavada prabhu. The devotees surprised him with a very large cheese pancake (a Finnish specialty).

Next we went to Tallinn,Estonia by boat from Helsinki. We were met at the harbor by the Temple President, Ananda Vardhana prabhu and Yogeshcandra prabhu, and drove back to the temple. Ananda Vardhana is totally into harinama sankirtana, and within 15 minutes of our arriving at the temple we were out in the streets on harinama. The local people and tourists received the harinama very well, and we went out the next day, Saturday, as well.

From there we flew back to Vilnius on June 20th, and then flew the same night to Moscow and then to Omsk in Siberia.

A group of devotees led by Srimati devi dasi, accompanied by Gaurangi devi dasi, Adi Kesava das and Mayapur Lila devi dasi, have organized a major festival tour of Siberia, and they met us at the airport at 5.30 in the
morning. There are about 30 or more devotees on the tour, and they’re all travelling in a big bus owned by a devotee from Irkutsk, further east in Siberia.

So far we’ve travelled from Omsk to Novosibirsk, to Barnaul, then to Biisk, to Novokuznetsk, then back to Novosibirsk and most recently to Kemerovo. They’re all sizable cities in Siberia, and in each the devotees put on a detailed cultural programme for at least 2 hours, followed by a talk by myself and then a final kirtana.

Perhaps the most outstanding was in Biisk, where Krishna Misra prabhu and his wife Nadeshda arranged the best theatre in the town for our programme, which was full with about 300 people, practically all nondevotees.

Last night we had a programme in a hall in Kemerovo, attended by perhaps 150 people, many of them friends of devotees, and some nondevotees, and at the end we had a wonderful kirtana, with many of the visitors dancing and chanting happily with the devotees.

Right now we’re sitting in a train, travelling to Krasnoyarsk in East Siberia, where we’ll have another major programme tomorrow night.

Hoping this meets you well.

Your servant,

Bhakti Caitanya Swami

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