Monday, July 07, 2008

travel journal#4.12: European Harinamas / Prabhupada Nectar

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 4, No. 12

By Krishna-kripa das

(June 2008, part two)

Greece / Sofia / Prague / Brno / Bratislava / Poland

(Sent from near Kolobrzeg, Poland on 7/7/08)

Where I Am and What I Am Doing

In Sofia, I learned that Thessaloniki, the Greek city where my friend Tara Prabhu lives, is just six hours south on the train, so I decided to visit him. Bhakta Efi, from Israel, who likes Tara, came along. Ultimately Efi decided to travel with me and join the Polish tour. We did harinama in Greece, returning to Sofia to do a harinama the next day on our way back to Prague, where we did two harinamas, including one with Trivikrama Swami, the next two days. After Prague we went to Brno and did harinama there and the Saturday weekly program. Next I went to Bratislava to do the Sunday feast lecture and morning class, and back to Brno for another harinama before traveling 18 hours on five trains from south Czech to north Poland for the Laksmi-Nrsimha traveling festival tour, where I will be through mid August.

Devotional Notes

Nectar from Trivikrama Swami:

Bhakti Caru Swami said in an Orlando lecture: "You have your cell phone which you carry with you always. You should be like that with Bhagavad-gita."

We become weak when we chase after sense objects because we become dependent on them.

Q:(By Chandrashekhara Acharya Prabhu) The purport to Bg. 9.28 says one who is always thinking of how to spread Krishna consciousness is liberated, but we have experience that some such devotees have obvious anarthas (unwanted desires). How do we reconcile this?

A: If they really are always thinking of spreading Krishna consciousness, we should consider the anarthas to be insignificant. Of course, they may be only thinking of spreading Krishna consciousness part time, as an ordinary person works five days and takes the weekend off. Also they may be working fulltime to spread Krishna consciousness, but have some material motive like fame. Service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to be on the liberated platform.

Nectar from IDS lectures on the Polish tour:

"Although in life we careful to always know where we are going next, we do not know where we will go at the time of death—we make no plan nor do we know how to make a plan—this is a serious omission."

"This is a whole festival without any beer and everyone is happy." [For Poland and many European countries this is amazing and impressive.]



Nectar from Trivikrama Swami:

Srila Prabhupada was strong because his faith was unshakeable. But he was soft like a rose and gave his association to others, although he did not have to.

Once while giving a lecture in Minsk, Maharaja asked if any of the devotees had had dreams of Srila Prabhupada. About a hundred devotees raised their hands. He asked if any of them would share their dreams, and one former Harikesa Swami disciple agreed. He was so distraught when his guru fell down because he felt if his guru was so advanced and he had failed, then how could he succeed? That seemed like an impossibility. He went to sleep in this depressed state. Srila Prabhupada appeared to him in a dream that very night, and spoke the following words: "Who says impossible? I am still here."

Srila Prabhupada liked bhajanas and would regularly sing them, therefore, we should include bhajanas in our daily sadhana.

A devotee asked Srila Prabhupada why Lord Caitanya did not spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Srila Prabhupada answered that Lord Caitanya wanted him to get the credit. This is not an exaggeration.

We do not have to present ourselves as saviors, we just have to cooperate with Srila Prabhupada.

A really great leader can create a movement that will continue after he leaves. There are so many charismatic leaders, but they cannot keep their movements going after they leave. Yet Srila Prabhupada is doing that.

When leading devotees left, people asked Srila Prarbhupada, "Why?" He said that they were not sincere.

Srila Prabhupada left his movement in the hands of his disciples, not his godbrothers. Prabhupada had the expertise to spread this movement all over the world, and he trained his disciples in that way. He said that we should be friendly with his godbrothers, but not that we put them in the center.

Nectar from Mother Sitala:

Mother Sitala, Hari Sauri Prabhu's wife, and their daughter, who was initiated by Indradyumna Swami last fall, both are here on the tour. Sitala often tells Prabhupada stories in her classes.

When Sitala was head pujari in Paris, she peeked through the curtains to watch Srila Prabhupada take darsana of the Deities. She was amazed to see two tears come straight our of Srila Prabhupada's eyes as he viewed the Deities. She felt a little embarrassed to be in the middle of their intimate exchange.

Srila Prabhupada cried tears of love out of gladness when Brahmananda Prabhu returned from Pakistan because there were reports of an American being killed there, and the devotees worried it was Brahmananda.

Sitala was once fanning Srila Prabhupada when Prabhupada indicated she stop. Later the temple president urged her to continue, and when she finally did, Prabhupada again indicated that she stop. She cried, feeling worthless because she was displeasing her spiritual master, and Prabhupada compassionately interrupted his class to say to her, in explanation, "It is not so cold."

Thessaloniki Harinama

Tara and his wife, Mother Radha Sakhi Vrinda, took care of me and my friend, Bhakta Efi, from Israel, so nicely. We had plenty of great prasadam, both during our visit and for our trip. Tara got all the devotees together for harinama. Their previous harinama was two years before, and I was glad that they were going out again after such a long time. They all seemed to be so happy on the harinama. One devotee lady, Syamapriya Dasi, visiting from Serbia, led the kirtana for some time with such delight, she appeared to be "Chant and Be Happy" personified. It reminded me of Sacinandana Swami who also chants with obvious delight. Later Tara told me, to my amazement, that the lady is actually a disciple of Sacinandana Swami! That is a good qualification for a disciple—to remind one of one's guru. Tara Prabhu and his friends are cultivating people through a yoga center in Thessaloniki, where the students chant Vedic mantras and take prasadam, as well as doing yoga, and some of their students happened to come by our harinama. They enthusiastically encouraged passersby to take the books and CDs we had for sale. One young woman, who came by was fascinated by everything Indian, and talked with one of the devotee ladies for half an hour. One student, who was studying photography, took several pictures of our party. Tara gave a free CD to some teenaged girls who were watching us for awhile. I am hoping the devotees can go out more regularly and experience and share the nectar of the holy name there in Thessaloniki in a public way. If you happen to be in the area, you might come by and encourage them, as there are just four of them there and not many visitors.

Sofia Harinama

This time the weather was good enough to do a walking harinama. We encountered a couple teenaged girls who were dressed just like hippies out of the sixties. They had in their knapsacks a couple small percussion instruments that rattled which they shook in time with the music as they danced with our kirtana party for ten minutes with great delight. Later Jagannatha Misra Prabhu explained that now in Bulgaria, people are fascinated with the sixties era. Later a young female photographer who had worked for the Sofia newspaper for two years took several pictures of our kirtana party from all different angles. She explained that she wanders around Sofia looking for potential objects to photograph, and she found our party. The harinama was nice way to spend the two hours between our train from Greece and our flight to Prague, and I am glad the devotees organized it.

Great Harinama on a Rainy Brno Day

In Brno, the train station has a lot of shops underneath and many people walking here and there. Because it was pouring rain outside, we chanted there instead. Sometimes in situations with lots of shops someone complains and we get kicked out but no one did. Also outside the train station, underneath, there is a place near a bus stop where frequently many people get off the bus and would pass our party. Some cities do not have a good place to chant in the rain, but I was grateful that Brno does. I printed an invitation for the upcoming Ratha-yatra, and one devotee lady successfully distributed them all, to my great happiness. A festival good enough to put on, is a festival good enough to advertise.

Back on the Tour

It is nice to be back on the Polish festival tour—to have Indradyumna Swami's association, to see some very dedicated devotee friends, and to see the many thousands of people coming in touch with a spiritual culture that offers them unlimited benefit even unknowingly—all are wonderful experiences.

Indradyumna Swami was amazed that the first festivals went so nicely as many key devotees from Ukraine were delayed by Polish embassy officials, who were not eager to issue them visas, and thus arrived for the third festival. 

Some pictures and videos of our festivals are available on

'sadhu-sanga', 'sadhu-sanga'—sarva-sastre kaya
   lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya

"The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment's association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success." (Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 22.54).