Dear disciples and friends,
Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
The last report was of my visit to South Africa a few days ago. I left there on the 22nd of July and flew from Durban to Johannesburg, then from Johannesburg to Dubai, from Dubai to London, then from London to Lithuania. Fortunately Dhanistha came to see me at the airport in London with her husband, Devadeva prabhu from Croatia, so that helped a lot, otherwise it was a remarkably dry experience, taking in all about 40 hours.I stayed over at Ananda Caitanya prabhu’s place in Vilnius, and the next morning, the 24th, we set out for the site of the annual Baltic Festival about 3 or 4 hours drive away. We arrived there around 2pm and there was a nice greeting from the assembled devotees, and I was fortunate to meet Hari Sauri prabhu, Srila Prabhupada’s dedicated secretary for so many years, who was giving a seminar on his experiences with Prabhupada.
There were a number of Prabhupada disciples there: Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Maharaja, Jayapataka Maharaja (for a day), Dhirashanta prabhu from England and Jagajivan prabhu from South America, plus also Bhakti Vijnana Maharaja from Moscow. It’s particularly nice to spend some time with Godbrothers, as they’re becoming more rare, and it’s hard to find gatherings of them.
Soon after arriving I began my new seminar on “Lessons From The Pastimes of Lord Ramacandra”. First I tried to stress how Lord Rama is Krishna Himself, although He is particularly manifesting certain qualities, and is not manifesting as completely as Krishna Himself. Krishna is known as Lila Purusottama, the Supreme Person who displays wonderful pastimes, whereas Lord Rama is known as Maryada Purusottama, or the Supreme Person who follows the rules and regulations perfectly. To illustrate Krishna’s nature as Lila Purusottama I told the story of the day it rained flutes in Vrindavana.
One day Krishna was meeting Srimati Radharani in Her rooms in Yavat, when suddenly who should walk in but Jatila, Her mother in law. Krishna had to literally dive out the window, leaving behind His flute, but fortunately Jatila is half blind and didn’t see who it was going out the window.
She told Srimati Radharani “that was Krishna, wasn’t it!” But Radharani denied it. Unfortunately though, Jatila then saw the Lord’s flute lying on the table and immediately concluded that He must have been there.
“That was Krishna! I know it! This is His flute! At last I’ve caught you red handed with that rascal!” She exclained.
Srimati Radharani didn’t know what to say, but bold Lalita, Her main girlfriend, stepped forward and very matter-of-factly declared “that’s not Krishna’s flute! Don’t be ridiculous!”
Jatila was astonished. How could Lalita deny that Krishna had been there, when the flute was such clear evidence that he must have been? “Well, how did this flute get here then?” Jatila asked scornfully, “you girls don’t play flutes! Only Krishna does! How can you deny the obvious!”
But Lalita was not the slightly bit discouraged. She folded her arms and declared with comlete conviction “don’t you know? Today it’s raining
“Raining flutes!” Jatila exclaimed. “That’s completely crazy! How dare you say such rubbish?”
Without hesitating for a second Lalita said “Look out the window then!”
Jatila went to the window, mumbling about rascal girls lying and talking nonsense, and then she looked outside.
Sure enough, it was raining flutes!
I then referred to Krishna Sandarbha by Srila Jiva Goswami, regarding when Lord Rama appeared. Some devotees think it was in the previous Treta yuga, but our acarya says: “The word “naradevatam” in this verse refers to Lord Ramacandra, the descendant of Maharaj Raghu and the word “atah param” indicates that Lord Rama appeared in the eighteenth cycle of four yugas.” Then he says “Some commentators think Lord Ramacandra appeared in the Treta-yuga of the twenty-fourth cycle of four yugas.”
Each cycle of the four yugas is 4, 320,000 million of or years long. We are now in the 28th cycle, so Rama appeared at least 4,320,000 x 4 years ago (18 million) or 4,320,000 x 10 (43 million years) ago.
We had nice kirtana that evening, and I started to get over the wear and tear of the horrible travelling I had been through.
We are in caturmasya right now, and I asked Hari Sauri prabhu if Srila Prabhupada had observed it at all when he travelled with him. You may be aware that during the different months of caturmasya our calendar says we should fast from certain foods, like milk for a month, or yoghurt for another month. Hari Sauri prabhu informed me that Srila Prabhupada didn’t observe it at all, but rather accepted whatever prasadam the devotees offered him.
On the final night we had what we call a Sadhu Sanga evening, during which all the senior devotees get together and discuss some Krishna conscious topic before all the devotees attending the festival. This evening we discussed sadhu sanga, or the association of devotees. I pointed out how, just as different of the gopis embody certain of Srimati Radharani’s qualities, like Lalita Her wit and Tungavidya Her diplomatic abilities, similarly different of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples embody different of his qualities.
Jagajivana prabhu sings very much like Srila Prabhupada. Hari Sauri prabhu knows all Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on what to do and not to do. Dhirasanta prabhu embodies his concern for children, The irrepressible Madhava Maharaja embodies Srila Prabhupada’s sastric knowledge, and Jayapataka Maharaja Srila Prabhupada’s Caitanya prema. The devotees appreciated this idea.
The next day was the closing day, and we had initiations. Madhava Maharaja was giving an initiation and asked that everything be done quickly so he could make a fast getaway as he had to drive a long way. I therefore cut down my initiation talk and handed over to him, only to find that he then went into an hour long talk on the ten offences, presented with great feeling an emphasis. When Madhava Maharaja starts talking about Krishna, it’s very hard to stop him!
I gave a number of initiations, including to the youngest person I have initiated so far. Malati is fifteen years old, and has been chanting 16
rounds for a couple of years now. Anticipating that some devotees might think she is too young, when I told everyone her age I first referred to a purport by Srila Prabhupada in which he says: “Any member of the family who is above twelve years of age should be initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, and all the members of the household should be engaged in the daily service of the Lord, beginning from morning (4 a.m.) till night (10 p.m.)ii”
Then I told everyone that Malati was 15, but Madhava Maharaja called out “15! Then she’s three years late!”
It is extremely nice to see such young people come forward and take Krishna consciousness so seriously, and to see them enjoy it deeply.
On the 29th evening we returned to Ananda Caitanya prabhu’s house in Vilnius, and the next morning at 0600 I had to fly to Moscow, and then at 7pm the same evening fly to Irkutsk in Siberia, where I am now.
It was about a 6 hour flight, but I didn’t sleep that night, and just chanted my rounds on the plane until we landed. It was an Aeroflot flight,
and they pride themselves on being very international and up with the times, but at the end of this flight things deteriorated. The weather in Irkutsk was too bad to land there, so we detoured to Bratsk, hundreds of kilometres away. Some of the passengers almost had a revolution, and the plane staff started panicking. Gone were the announcements in both Russian and English, and now there were only rushed announcements in Russian, and the whole atmosphere felt disturbed.
I looked out the window at Bratsk airport. Bratsk is really out in the sticks, although there are hardly any sticks here – the whole place is
desolate and deserted. It looked like a place left over from the Soviet empire, a place which no one cares about any more, and it made me think how this material world is such a forgotten and hopeless place, full of useless, forgotten conditioned souls. However Krishna is still there in everyone’s heart, and He arranges that the devotees go everywhere to preach His message. Even though Bratsk looks like such a pathetic place, still there are devotees there, holding regular Nama Hattas.
Somehow I managed to stay awake during the day and gave class in the evening in the Irkutsk temple, but by the time I lay down that evening I was out immediately!
I’ll let you know what happens here shortly.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well wisher,
Bhakti Caitanya Swami