Dear devotees and friends,
Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I haven’t written for some weeks due to be overwhelmed with too many things to do. It’s probably been the busiest period of my life. But as they say “no rest for the wicked”, so I’m sure it’s good for me.
Actually one of the main secrets of Krishna consciousness is to keep fully engaged in devotional service. Srila Prabhupada accepted the idea the “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” and we can certainly experience that it’s true. If we stop engaging the mind then it starts taking off in all sorts of extreme directions, so it’s better to have a little more devotional service than we can easily manage, rather than too little.
So anyway, the last time I wrote was at the end of the Navadvipa Parikama. There were many things I wanted to tell you about it, but you’ll have to wait to see the DVD set we’re making of it to find out !
Then I went back to Mauritius, which I have now become co-GBC for, with BB Govinda Maharaja, and found some of the situation there embroiled in unfortunate tenseness, and had to start giving a lot of attention to that.
I moved around South Africa for most of March and April. The highlight was the Durban Rathayatra from April 10 to 13. I think Their Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra devi were pleased, as it was one of the best Rathayatras we’ve had.
Two of my disciples from Pietermaritzburg in South Africa, Bhakta Rajesh and his wife Vraja Renu compiled a collection of diary entries of mine from earlier years and published them as a book “Travelling in the Service of Srila Prabhupada – Volume 1”, and we launched it at the Rathayatra. Harideva prabhu, an expert presenter and MC, announced it from the main stage, and told people that I would sign copies if they came forward immediately.
To my surprise only about 3 people came forward, and it took them some minutes to come. I thought this was going to be a big disaster, and became quite anxious. However the next day, the Saturday of the Rathayatra, I went to the tent we had to display the books and my DVDs, and found a number of people had bought books. I stayed there for about 90 minutes, and a steady stream of people came and I signed books and DVDs for them, so in this way everything was saved.
On the 20th of April Govinda Maharaja and I went back to Mauritius to make a concerted effort to help the situation there. Actually Mauritius is one of the best places in the world for preaching. The people are incredibly favourable to Krishna consciousness and supportive of our activities, but sometimes among our devotees a tendency arises to become political and then things become disturbed.
So Maharaja and I separated the two main projects, the Phoenix temple and the Bon Accueill farm, plus a group of devotees doing congregational preaching also wanted to take direct responsibility for their programmes, so we allowed that, and basically the situation seems to have become more peaceful.
Following that I returned to South Africa on the 26th, and then left for Moscow on the 27th. I landed there on the 28th and spent the night in the flat of Talavan prabhu, one of my disciples there, and then on the 29th set out for Izhevsk, about a 2 hour flight to the east.
I had never been there before and didn’t know what to expect, but to my surprise, when I walked through the airport there was a kirtana party mainly made up of my disciples from Kazan, about 400 kms to the south. The whole airport became transformed, and the people who had been on the same flight as me were smiling and appreciating the kirtana.
On the way in from the airport I talked to one of the leaders of the yatra, Vasudeva Suta prabhu, who is the husband of Madhavi Lata dd, one of my disciples there. He told me that the main industry there was making
firearms, particularly rifles. We drove through the downtown area and he pointed out a huge factory. “This is the main factory for Kalashnikov, the makers of the famous AK47” he told me.
I was shocked to hear that, as the AK47 is probably the most famous weapon in the world, and is used not only by the Russian army, but by about every terrorist and revolutionary in the world. I asked Vasudeva Suta “Who is this Kalashnikov person?”
“Mr Kalashnikov’s still living here in Izhevsk” Vasudeva Suta told me. “He’s a very famous man.”
That night and Thursday night, the 30th, we did programmes in the yatra’s normal Sunday programme place. They rent a room in the Kalashnikov Museum every Sunday! About 80 devotees gather each week in one of the display rooms of the weapons museum, surrounded by rifles and photos from the revolution in the early 20th century.
In the middle of the room are two huge statues of soldiers (with Kalashnikov rifles of course) so we named them Jaya and VIjaya.
Even though the environment was so unusual for a Krishna conscious programme, still, as the kirtana picked up and the devotees chanted and danced, the material situation was forgotten, and everyone relished pleasure on the transcendental platform.
So now I’m back in Moscow, and tonight I’m flying to a city named Omsk, further to the east. I had to fly back west to Moscow for two hours, and then I’ll be flying more than three hours east, as there is no direct
connection between Izhevsk and Omsk, except by train, which takes more than 24 hours.
I will keep you updated more regularly now.
Hoping this meets you well.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami