My dear disciples and friends,
Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I last wrote on July 1st, when we were about to hold the Palanga Rathayatra festival, on the coast of Lithuania.
The festival went well, although there was quite a lot of rain before it, and there weren’t so many people around. I particularly enjoyed doing the Questions and Answers with Mahadyuti prabhu, a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada who used to be Temple President in Soho St, London. He brought with him an old friend of mine, Nrihari prabhu, originally from Congo, but resident for many years in London
Nrihari is a master kirtana leader, and as soon as he got into it the devotees became ecstatic. His style is strong but very sweet and deeply felt, and when he gets going he is surely one of my favourite singers. Arjuna das, a famous musician from Estonia, also led ecstatic kirtana…
The next day we drove to Jurmala in Latvia for the next Rathayatra. The actual Rathayatra was on the 3rd, so we went out on harinama when we arrived on the 2nd. The weather was beautiful and everything seemed to bode well for the next day. Smita Krishna Maharaja from Sweden joined us here, also, and added another very nice dimension to the festival programme.
We stayed in a beautiful holiday resort about 2 hours drive from Jurmala, and when we woke up the next morning the weather was practically perfect. The sun was shining, there were no clouds and there was no wind, so we were all hoping that it would be ideal conditions for the Rathayatra.
Unfortunately, as we drove the long drive to Jurmala, clouds began building up, and at the moment we hit the streets rain started falling. It was on and off into the evening, and for most of the festival it was 90% devotees in the audience. Jai Sacinandana (DJ List) came from Moscow to do some Krishna conscious DJing for us, which was interesting, and got everyone dancing, and then we launched into the final kirtana.
It was a few minutes before 11 at night when the final kirtana began, and just as we started the MC told me “we have to stop at 11! The police are here and they insist!” As a result we only managed to have a 10 minute kirtana, but the devotees made up for it with incredibly wild dancing.
The following day, the 4th, we drove to Estonia, to Parnu, a holiday resort town on the coast there. On the 5th we did a nice Rathayatra, going onto the beach with the Rathayatra chariot and the Deities, and then to an outdoor arena outside a large restaurant.
The local City Council had got behind the festival and advertised it and even donated money towards it, so when we started the stage programme there were about 200 people sitting around the arena and more outside the restaurant, and they stayed for the whole time.
We all took turns leading kirtana, but then Nrihari prabhu took aver again, and things really took off.
The next day I flew to London where I was to spend two nights before returning to South Africa. On Saturday night, the 8th, about 40 or 50 of us went out on harinama through the West End of London, particularly the main entertainment area, Piccadilly. Parusrama prabhu, who heads up the Saturday night harinama programme there, led us out, singing nicely and playing a ukulele (a small instrument like a miniature guitar).The devotees were dancing in great ecstasy, and the people in the area responded amazingly positively. Many would join us and dance for a little while, and everyone was smiling blissfully.
We reached Leicester Square and I led kirtana for a while, and then Parasurama asked me to say something. There were at least 200-300 people gathered around, the majority of whom had come to the entertainment area to drink and have a really materialistic “good time”, so I tried to angle the short talk towards them. I told them “this Hare Krishna mantra is known as the maha mantra, or the greatest mantra, and it is very powerful. It has a great effect on whoever chants or hears it. In fact it’s so powerful that generally we only allow people who’re over 18 to chant it, otherwise it may be a little too much for them. Some of you look like you’re too young to be able to handle it!”
Everyone laughed and we started singing again, and moved down the street. At least 15 young people from the crowd joined us and were singing and dancing wildly with the devotees. One of the young boys came up to me and asked me “what does it mean? What do the words mean?”
I explained to him and he said “wow! It’s really powerful!” He then continued on singing and dancing with wild abandon.
The following day, Sunday the 8th, I attended the Vyasa Puja festival of Tamala Krishna Maharaja near Bhaktivedanta Manor, and then that evening I flew to Johannesburg, where I am now.
I let you know shortly what happens next.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well wisher,
Bhakti Caitanya Swami