Dear disciples and friends,
Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
It has been two months since I last wrote to you. I’m sorry about that. But I have been extremely busy since then, using practically every second I have had to edit the Vraja Mandala Parikrama DVD, which I hope will be ready to come out for Gaura Purnima. It is an extremely big job, but a very nice one, and I think that you will all find it very interesting. Probably there will be about 4 or 5 discs covering the whole month long parikrama, plus maybe some extra classes from during the whole event.
Too much has happened since I last wrote to you during the parikrama, and I cannot cover it all in detail, so now I will just give you a brief summary of what I have been doing since then…
I was on my way back to Durban for Govardhana Puja when I last wrote to you.
we had been at Kamyavana in Vraja Mandala, in the middle of the parikrama, and I caught a bad cold there. Actually many of the devotees were staying at the asrama of one person known as the “Prema Avatara” – supposedly a divine incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Krishna Himself – and some of them were finding it very difficult to keep straight faces around the man, as he was obviously not what he claimed to be, but seemed intent of putting himself forward as such. During one ecstatic evening arati he came in very flamboyantly and danced in front of the kirtana in a very overdone way. Finally one of his followers gave him some fireworks which he set off in the middle of the kirtana, causing quite a stir. Fortunately he withdrew from the kirtana at that point. I say fortunately because I think some of the devotees were going to forcibly eject him if he didn’t.
Anyway, the I went back to Durban for the Govardhana Puja and Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day festivals, which were, as usual very nice, and then I returned to Vrindavana for the last few days of the Vraja Mandala Parikrama, to oversee the videoing. Fortunately the devotees who were doing it all – Svarupa Damodara prabhu, the manager, Vaisnava Carana, the main camera operator, and Avadhutacandra the second camera operator – are by now quite experienced, and they were basically covering everything quite nicely.
After that I went through Dubai again, and then to Mauritius for 10 days. It was a nice break, as after some time the hectic travelling gets a bit much for my slightly elderly material body. I stayed at the home of my disciples, Harideva and Manasi Ganga, and Harideva’s mother, Gaurangi. We did a number of very nice programmes, but the highlight was a special hall programme at a place named Belair, where there is a very active Nama Hatta group. About 300 devotees and well wishers gathered and we concluded the programme with a roaring kirtana, which had many of the people dancing in ecstasy. To become absorbed in kirtana is one of the most important parts of Caitanya, and there are many scriptural statements supporting that, like:
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krsnasya
mukta-sangah param vrajet
“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.” (SB 12.3.52)
So we really need to regularly have big kirtanas, and let go of our inhibitions and dance and chant wholeheartedly with the other devotees.
When I came back to South Africa from Mauritius I did some programmes around Durban and Johannesburg, and then went to Lithuania for a special Russian course. I have been trying to learn Russian from a teach yourself type of book for some years, but unfortunately I have not been able to make so much progress, so I wanted to see if I could really learn something and make some real progress.
Every day I have been studying under the guidance of professor from the Vilnius University, for 4 hours a day. It has really been a little austere some of the time, but through this intensive study I have definitely been able to learn quite a lot, and I’m glad that I have taken this step. During the stay there I have been staying at the house of Ananda Caitanya prabhu, a devotee I have known ever since I started preaching in the former Soviet Union, and his wife, Vidya, in their very comfortable house. I have given a few programmes in the Vilnius temple, and the temple in nearby Kaunas, plus done some Nama Hatta programmes, so it has been worthwhile all round.
Right now I’m on the way to Cape Town, where tomorrow (the 26th) will be the first Rathayatra festival. I’ll let you know what happens there after a little while.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well wisher,
Bhakti Caitanya Swami