On June 24th we drove from Kemerovo to Tomsk, an uneventful journey of about 3 hours or so. The local leader, Carudesna prabhu, had gone to Moscow for a National Council meeting, and in his place Mother Vijaya Laksmi was trying her best to organize things.
I looked through the printed schedule of my programme and noticed the usual items – morning and evening kirtanas and classes, with darsanas here and there. But something unusual caught my eye. There was an item titled “Fire Sacrifice for the Pregnant Women”!
I asked Svarupa Damodara to find out what this meant, and he came back and told me that some devotees had organized a yajna to be performed in a forest area which would be attended by about 15 ladies who were expecting children shortly, to create auspiciousness for their coming deliveries.
It was the first time I had seen such an event on my programme!
We went to the Sunday programme in a hall in the university area of town. It was attended by about 100 of the local devotee community. We read from the third verse of Nectar of Instruction:
utsahan niscayad dhairyat
sanga-tyagat sato vrtteh
sadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati
“There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional
service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam [SB 7.5.23]-hearing, chanting and remembering Krsna], (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous acaryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.”
We focused on the second point, confidence, and stressed that without Krishna conscious confidence in the protection and mercy of Lord Krishna it is not really possible to have Krishna conscious enthusiasm or patience. In the purport Srila Prabhupada makes the point that one cannot do anything nicely materially or spiritually if one is not enthusiastic, so that is the first point. But without patience once enthusiasm may turn into the mode of passion, and one may become frustrated.
Then again if one is too patient then one may lapse into the mode of ignorance and become lethargic, so both these qualities are required. But if one is not sure that Krishna is in control and that He will always help His devotee then both one’s enthusiasm and patience will not be well founded, and sooner or later one’s endeavours will become undermined.
So this a type of formula for success in Krishna consciousness: enthusiasm, confidence in Krishna, and patience, combined of course with nice maintenance of our Krishna conscious standards, good association and following Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas.
The next day we actually went to the Pregnant Women’s Yajna for a short while, and I stressed how samskaras are there to create favourable impressions in the life and consciousness of a person as they make the transitions from one phase of their life to the next. In this way they are able to step positively into the new part of their life and become successful in it.
Then we went for a harinama in a downtown park. Several of us chanted while some of the ladies danced rhythmically, as passersby walked through the park. Some of the people took the colourful Russian Krishna conscious newspaper “Golden Way” and some of them took prasadam from the devotees, as the chanting went on.
Tuesday the 26th was Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi, and I took the opportunity to chant more. We had a morning programme in the Tomsk ISKCON centre, and then went back to our flat to continue chanting and see a few people. However the “few” people turned into quite a number, some with rather hair raising situations occurring in their lives which they wanted advice on, and before I knew it it was 3.30 and I had to go back to the centre to chant more with the devotees there.
I had hoped to chant 64 rounds, but by the time everything was finished I had only managed 32, but still I felt it was a worthwhile day.
On the 27th we drove back to Novosibirsk to do a programme in memory of Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja, who had passed away around that time two years ago.
Later I wrote to a disciple of his in South Africa: “I was in Novosibirsk in Siberia on the 27th. There is one of your Godbrothers there, Sudama Vipra, a very nice young devotee doctor. He asked me to dedicate the programme to Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja, so I told many stories of my experiences with him, and the devotees there really appreciated it a lot, even though only 3 or 4 had seen him before. Maharaja is a great soul, and you’re very fortunate to be connected with him. The connection lives on after our bodies, so if you work on your different projects, then I’m sure he will be happy. He is still there, and he is watching. I know that. A few days before we did the programme in Novosibirsk I was in another town, and Sudama Vipra phoned to ask if I could do the programme. We were discussing it and I turned around and saw on the wall a big photo of Maharaja looking straight at me, with his broad smile from ear to ear. I immediately agreed to the idea. Actually there are not so many photos of Maharaja around in that part of the world, so I took it as a clear sign from him personally. In the Novosibirsk programme we read his last letter, written some time in May, 2005. Right at the end he says he will help after he has gone, which is quite a thing to say, but with transcendental personalities like him it is not only possible, but is a definite reality for those who have some faith in them.”
The next day, the 28th of June, I flew to Moscow and was sitting waiting for my bags when who should come up to me but my disciple Jaya Sacinandana das, famous in Russia as DJ List, one of the most successful DJs in the country.
But now his head was wrapped in a bandage, and his right arm was in a plaster cast. I asked him what had happened and he told me he had been in a car accident in St Petersburg just a few days before, and now his arm was broken and he had stitches in his head. He said that all this had given him determination to be more serious in Krishna consciousness, and as we drove back to the flat he was chanting on his beads constantly with his left hand.
That afternoon he and his assistant Yevgeny drove me to another airport, Sheremetyevo, a 2 hour drive through hellish rush hour traffic, and I flew to Lithuania, where I am now. We are having the annual Baltic Rathayatra festival, and this afternoon we are having the first major festival, in Palanga, on the Baltic coast of Lithuania. About 150 devotees have gathered from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and it promises to be a wonderful occasion. Nrihari prabhu, and African devotee based in London is here, and has been leading some amazing kirtanas. I’ll try to get some video of some of them and put it up on the internet.
I’ll let you know how it all goes shortly.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well wisher,
Bhakti Caitanya Swami