Sunday, July 30, 2006

Realizations After the Polish Woodstock Festival

I left my bag at the site and so had to return the next day. I was fearful of returning as I might get engaged in physical labor which has never appealed to me, but I did not want to ask the devotees to get my things for me so I decided to go myself. It turned out to be Krishna's mercy on me that I could distribute the five Krishna—Reservoir of Pleasure which I had in my bag and collect three emails.

It is always an emotional experience to go to the site the next day. The torrent of mercy has become a trickle. The last day of Woodstock, hundreds of thousands of people were hearing about Krishna and getting Krishna prasadam, and now it was down to only hundreds of people getting prasadam, a very few at a time. It is simultaneously exhilarating to think how so many people benefited in a spiritual way, and depressing to think that such a large event will not happen till next year, so I always end up crying on the bus upon as I reflect on the abundant mercy of the festival and see the partially dismantled site.

I went to the few people taking prasadam and asked them how the food was and showed them the Krishna—Reservoir of Pleasure, telling them they could have it if they read English and they promised to read it. I try to choose the people who eat all the food on their plates since I think they are more appreciative. They are also less distracted by eating.

The previous day Indradyumna Swami engaged us in picking up trash in front of our festival. I found 12.10 zlotes while doing that and decided to use it to pay for food for the occasional people I meet who could not afford the 3 zlote (90 cent) meal. One boy liked the prasadam so much he wanted I second plate but didn't have enough money, and he was so grateful when I bought it for him. He said he could read English so I gave him a Krishna—Reservoir of Pleasure and took down his address.

I told one young girl in Polish, that if she could read English, I would give her this English book I had on Krishna. She agreed. Questions I couldn't ask her in Polish, I asked in English and she answered in Polish. I think I got more practice speaking Polish that day than the rest of the trip. And this girl was so liberal as to say I spoke Polish well. She was from Koszalin, a city on the Baltic coast, and I told her about the summer festival tour. She asked when the festivals were, I said I could email her the times. When she wrote her email address in my book she also wrote Hare Krishna and a bunch of hearts, and when I chanted kirtana to myself, she chanted along. She wanted to get a Krishna music CD, and I told her about our web sites in Polish and English where she might find some music. She seemed charmed by the devotees.

A boy from Gdansk, also on the Baltic coast, was also interested in hearing about our summer tour and considered that Kolobrzeg was not too far to travel for another Krishna experience. He also expressed interest in CDs of Krishna music.

A young architectural student and her boyfriend from Krakow who spoke English nicely inquired if we had a center there. I said we have no temple, but that they could write Trisama Prabhu about regular devotional gatherings in their area. I encouraged her to use her architectural skill to build at least one building for the glorification of God in her lifetime and that would be her perfection, and I told her about our proposed city of Mayapur. They also got my final Krishna—Reservoir of Pleasure.

Out of books, I was less inclined to stay and talk with people, so I took the next ride back, happy that by Krishna's grace I was able to cultivate a few more souls as Krishna's Village of Peace 2006 came to an end.

The remaining 9.10 zlote I gave to pay for the books I distributed.

I asked different devotees to tell me their experience of Woodstock:

Kavicandra Swami always likes opportunities to spread spiritual wisdom and so came back to the Woodstock festival once again. He felt there were less violence and better questions than before. "When we talk of Krishna we create an atmosphere where people can take shelter. Some devotees are always asking for mercy, but if you look up mercy in the dictionary, you find that it is something that is given. Actually we have so much mercy already, we do not need any more. We need to give out the mercy we already have and if we do that, we will find that we get more mercy."

Caturatma Prabhu came from Alachua for his second Woodstock festival, and it was nice for me to connect with one of my friends from there. He loved leading harinama, answering questions, and the association of Indradyumna Swami, so he was very happy at Krishna's Village of Peace. I asked him about his realizations, and he shared them with me:

"The most enlivening thing was the appreciation of the devotees by the young people there. They all either liked the devotees, liked what the devotees were doing, or liked the food." Caturatma served the prasadam (spiritual food) on several occasions and saw the positive reactions of the people, especially the universal "thumbs up" mudra. "These Polish kids are intelligent, and they can even think when they drink." He mentions that beer drinking is so popular in Poland the people have developed the ability to function normally after a few beers to the extent of still being able to ask intelligent philosophical questions. Also their questions indicate they have some prior knowledge of Eastern philosophy. I asked him what he would tell about his experience to his friends, and he said he would like to bring his whole Sadhu Sanga men's group there. They are mostly Prabhupada disciples with a lot of talent and could contribute in many ways and would have a great time, but it is probably not practical to organize.

Caturatma Prabhu also felt that Krishna was individual arranging experiences for him to help him in specific ways where he needed help and that was very powerful.

Nirguna Prabhu, who came to the last Woodstock, returned again, this time teaching yoga in addition to answering questions. He felt that the young people there accepted the devotees as authorities more this year.

Mahaprabhu Prabhu, a disciple of Radhanatha Swami from Mumbai, found the young people inquisitive and tolerant of other views. He is optimistic that just as the some of the hippies who came in contact with Prabhupada became devotees, some of these young people will become devotees by contact with Prabhupada's followers. In this world, no one wants to benefit you, without demanding anything in return. If we befriend these people, and they appreciate that we sincerely want to benefit them, they will be attracted.

Radhe Govinda Prabhu was in charge of the garbage this year and doing that was the high point of the festival for him. Once he just finished with the garbage as the Ratha-yatra returned, and he offered obeisances to Lord Jagannatha and felt satisfaction. He also reflected on watching the devotees and the nondevotees at the end of the festival. The nondevotees were wiped out and appeared disappointed, but the devotees were wiped out but smiling.

Nanda Kumara Prabhu recalls seeing how much love the boy Maharaja gave special mercy to showed for Maharaja as he participated in the final kirtana. Nanda Kumara starting picking up trash during that kirtana , and some of the appreciative young people helped him. People were always coming up to the devotees at all times in all places asking nice questions. We need more Polish speakers everywhere to answer them for next year.

Our security department had the realization that if you have bands play music that is too heavy, it brings out anger in the drunken people, and results in fights. Apparently there were two such bands like that, who were good musicians, some of whom were devotees, but whose music stirred up some people's anger. Once someone attacked the speaker in the questions and answers booth, late on the final evening. So for next year some adjustment will have to be made.

As for my realizations, they are spread throughout this story. The quote from Mother Theresa from Kolkata painted on the stairwell of the Kostrzyn school again comes to mind. "The greatest joy is to give to others." And what to speak of if the gift is love of God, the eternal gift, and the way to attain it. Lord Caitanya has descended to give the highest benediction of love of God to the most unqualified people. To be connected with His auspicious mission is the supreme benediction.

"The fruits [of devotional service] ripened and became sweet and nectarean. The gardener, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, distributed them without asking any price. All the wealth in the three worlds cannot equal the value of one such nectarean fruit of devotional service. Not considering who asked for it and who did not, nor who was fit and who unfit to receive it, Caitanya Mahaprabhu distributed the fruit of devotional service. The transcendental gardener, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, distributed handful after handful of fruit in all directions, and when the poor, hungry people ate the fruit, the gardener smiled with great pleasure" ( Sri Caitanya-caritamrita 9.27-30). So my realization is that the great gardener Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu smiled with great pleasure to see the otherwise unfortunate, drunken people singing and dancing and pulling the cart of Lord Jagannatha, and by His smiling glance, everyone connected with the event became blissful.