Dear disciples and friends,
Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I am writing to you from Murmansk, north of Moscow, in the Arctic Circle.
Materially it’s a rather forgotten place, and spiritually it’s a little like that also. There is a small temple here which once was a thriving centre, many years ago, but now it’s really very quiet. Even though ISKCON owns the property, and it’s completely paid for, and there is a community of maybe more than 100 devotees in the area, only about 10 or so have been coming for my programmes the last few days, and it’s not really so exciting.
After the Angarsk Festival I went to Moscow for Janmastami. It was a nice festival, attended by about 5000 devotees, most of whom were local Russians.
The devotees in Moscow have been through great difficulties with their temple project. First of all they were “given” an excellent piece of land near the centre of the city, and they moved onto it with their Deities, Sri Sri Dayal Nitai Saci Suta, but when it was finally to be signed over to ISKCON, at the very last minute the city administration decided against it, and rather sold it to the wife of the Mayor.
The devotees were then told to vacate immediately, although they had absolutely nowhere to go, as their previous temple had been taken from them by the city authorities and then bulldozed to the ground, so they staged some demonstrations and tried to gain support internationally. After they had applied a lot of pressure in many ways they were given another piece of land, this time on the edge of the city, but it was much larger, and more suitable in certain ways, being in a nice natural location but right on some of the main public transport arteries.
In the meantime the city authorities somehow decided the devotees could stay on for some time on the land they had previously been supposedly given, and now they think they may be able to carry on there for as much as two years more. Krishna has rather extraordinary ways of working!
I gave the morning Srimad Bhagavatam class in the temple, speaking on
mumucur munayo devah
mandam mandam jaladhara
avirasid yatha pracyam
disindur iva puskalah
“The demigods and great saintly persons showered flowers in a joyous mood, and clouds gathered in the sky and very mildly thundered, making sounds like those of the ocean’s waves. Then the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, who is situated in the core of everyone’s heart, appeared from the heart of Devaki in the dense darkness of night, like the full moon rising on the eastern horizon, because Devaki was of the same category as Sri Krsna.”
Srila Prabhupada comments: “As stated in the Brahma-samhita (5.37):
tabhir ya eva nija-rupataya kalabhih
goloka eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhuto
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
This verse indicates that Krsna and His entourage are of the same spiritual potency (ananda-cinmaya-rasa). Krsna’s father, His mother, His friends the cowherd boys, and the cows are all expansions of Krsna, as will be explained in the brahma-vimohana-lila. When Brahma took away Krsna’s associates to test the supremacy of Lord Krsna, the Lord expanded Himself again in the forms of the many cowherd boys and calves, all of whom, as Brahma saw, were visnu-murtis. Devaki is also an expansion of Krsna, and therefore this verse says, devakyam deva-rupinyam visnuh sarva-guha-sayah.
At the time for the Lord’s appearance, the great sages and the demigods, being pleased, began to shower flowers. At the seashore, there was the sound of mild waves, and above the sea there were clouds in the sky which began to thunder very pleasingly.
When things were adjusted like this, Lord Visnu, who is residing within the heart of every living entity, appeared in the darkness of night as the Supreme Personality of Godhead before Devaki, who appeared as one of the demigoddesses. The appearance of Lord Visnu at that time could be compared to the rising of the full moon in the sky on the eastern horizon. The objection may be raised that since Lord Krsna appeared on the eighth day of the waning moon, there could be no rising of the full moon. In answer to this it may be said that Lord Krsna appeared in the dynasty which is in the hierarchy of the moon; therefore, although the moon was incomplete on that night, because of the Lord’s appearance in the dynasty wherein the moon is himself the original person, the moon was in an overjoyous condition, so by the grace of Krsna he could appear as a full moon. To welcome the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the waning moon became a full moon in jubilation.”
The following day of course was Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa Puja, and we had a nice programme in the afternoon, with about 3 hours of Prabhupada katha from Bhakti Vijnana Maharaja, Vijaya prabhu, the GBC Minister of Book Distribution and myself.
[singlepic=312,240,240,,left]Then on the 6th I headed off for Murmansk. I have been coming here every year for the last about 6 years, but things have not changed so much. The devotees developed a very successful cake business, which is still going on, so I inspected the cakes and did a little quality testing. I must admit they were very good. There are different standard lines of cakes they make, with names like Mayapur, Gauranga and Nitai, and the people of the city really appreciate them, and call them by their names.
Tomorrow, the 10th, I’ll fly back to Moscow and then on to Simferopol in Ukraine, where the annual devotee festival will take place. They are expecting more than 2000 devotees, so I’m sure it’ll be very exciting.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well wisher,
Bhakti Caitanya Swami