Tuesday, August 05, 2008

travel journal#4.14: Polish Festival Tour - Last Half of July

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 4, No. 14
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2008, part two)
Polish Festival Tour
(Sent from near Kolobrzeg, Poland on 8/5/08)

Where I Am and What I Am Doing

I lived in a school with 200 devotees, half an hour from Poland's Baltic Sea coast. We did three hours of harinama and had a four and a half hour festival six days a week at different towns along the coast. Then on July 26, we went to Kostrzyn, a Polish city about an hour east of Berlin, to set up a spiritual cultural festival at the site of Przystanek Woodstock, the largest European outdoor rock concert.

A Prabhupada Story

Mother Sitala tells that in 1976 when Srila Prabhupada came to visit New Mayapur, where she resided, there were many difficulties there. There were difficulties in personal dealings between devotees, problems at the gurukula, a financial strain, etc. One day during his visit, Prabhupada toured the property followed by his disciples. He sat down and the devotees surrounded him. Srila Prabhupada then said to the devotees, "Krsna consciousness is so nice, what is the problem to execute it? What is the difficulty?" Sitala looked around, and she saw all the devotees smiling at Srila Prabhupada. A little anxious, she thought, "No one is telling Srila Prabhupada about the problems. Perhaps I should." Then she went through all the problems in her mind, one by one, concluding that each was not significant enough to bother Srila Prabhupada with. When she came to the end of them, she began to smile too. Looking around at all the devotees beaming at him, Srila Prabhupada said, smiling, "Yes, when we are Krishna conscious, there is no problem." For him there were no problems, and at least for the moment, there were no problems for the devotees sitting there in Srila Prabhupada's presence.

Devotional Notes

Notes from Indradyuma Swami's classes at the festivals:

God gave human beings extra intelligent above the animals not for science and technology but for God realization.

Just as when a student fails final exam, he has to take the course over again, the soul has to take another birth if he doesn't realizes his relationship with God.

There must be a balance between the spiritual and material, but now we are emphasizing the material too much. We destroy the environment because we act out of greed, not out of need. The solution is to lead a spiritual, more natural, way of life.

Bhagavad-gita is like a unabridged spiritual dictionary.

From an Indradyumna Swami ista-gosthis:

Before the marriage ceremony of three couples, the wind was so heavy it tore the decorative flap from one side of the stage. The sky was also cloudy. Amazingly enough, however, by the time of the marriage, the wind stopped and the sun even came out. Indradyumna Swami told us that on the stage, during the marriage ceremony, he mentioned that he would like to thank a very special person without whom the marriage ceremony would not have been able to happen, and that person is God. The people in the audience became thoughtful and glanced toward the heavens. Maharaja remarked that he likes Poland because the people actually appreciate such remarks.

Nothing can replace purity. We have our schemes for preaching and our financial programs, but without purity we have nothing. Why? Because we are simply instruments. For millions of years we have been engaged in sense enjoyment, and for just a few years, we have been practicing Krishna consciousness, so how can this movement be going on because of us. No, it is by the strong desire of Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and the previous acaryas that this movement is going on. We are the instruments, and if we do not remain fit instruments by maintaining our purity, how can there be success?

We are always happy because we are sharing Krishna consciousness with others. Not that because it is not sunny, we are not happy.

Notes from Indradyumna Swami's class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.45-46:

The holy name of the Lord is an incarnation of the Lord, and so the holy name has the same three purposes as other incarnations: to protect the pious, to reform the impious, and to reestablish the principles of religion.

Ajamila was especially sinful since as a brahmana advanced in knowledge, he still acted sinfully.

Wisdom from Bhaktivaibhava Swami:

It may feel artificial sometimes in our present state, but it is the quality of the soul to always glorify Krishna and the Vaishnavas, and to always render services.

Everyone is looking for Krishna, but they do not know it.

There is nothing more important than this sankirtana process.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati explained in a lecture in Puri that when Ajamila called Narayana, his son's name, he soon realized that his son could not save him. Then he remembered the original Narayana, and Lord Narayana sent His servants, the Vishnudutas to protect Ajamila.

A lawyer was taken by Yamaraja at the time of death. As the lawyer used to argue his cases, he protested, "How is it you are taking me? You have given me no warning. Warnings are always given before one is arrested for an offense."
Yamaraja asked him, "How many teeth do you have?"
The lawyer replied, "Two."
Yamaraja asked him, "What color is your hair?"
The lawyer replied, "White."
In this way, Yamaraja asked him about different symptoms of old age all of which the lawyer admitted to having. Finally Yamaraja concluded, "You say I have given you no warning, but I have given you so many warnings!"
In this way we are warned about impending death and should take spiritual life seriously.
Q: What is the most important instruction on chanting?
A: We must hear our chanting. Srila Prabhupada said than you can not artificially think of Krishna's pastimes while you chant, but by hearing the chanting you will become purified, and you will spontaneously remember Krishna's pastimes.

If we have faith but no taste, we may not continue for long. By the blessings of the devotees, we can get this taste, and so we should always associate with the devotees in such a way that we will get their blessings.

Q: How can I surrender to Krishna?
A: Chant Hare Krishna. Krishna is His name. But we think, "That is too easy," and we look elsewhere.

The word "medhi" refers to the pole that the oxen walk around. Thus a grhamedhi is one who walks around in circles with his home in the center, not breaking out of the orbit of familial activities to pursue spiritual life.

Notes from Bhagavatam classes:

Trisama Prabhu, a veteran of the Polish tour, recounted an incident when Pankajangrhi Prabhu joined the tour for three weeks, a few years ago. The devotees who had to stay back at the base to do service and could not attend the festivals requested to have a meeting with Pankajangrhi Prabhu. When he addressed them, tears came to his eyes, and he said, "What qualifications do I have to address you. You are doing the best thing." He continued, "We must remember the most important thing is service. Without that, nothing would go on." The mood changed, and the devotees forgot their fatigue and began to glorify Lord Krishna. 

Festival Experiences

One day on the harinama at Miedzyzdroje, I saw a girl perhaps ten or twelve years old running as fast as she could down a side street toward the middle of our chanting party. When she reached the party, she immediately joined us behind the group of ladies at the beginning and began to copy their dancing movements with great accuracy. After two or three blocks then she disappeared and returned in five minutes with a smaller girl about half her size, and the two of them walked behind the last row of women in the beginning of the party following their dance. I wondered whether she had remembered us from a previous year, but I did not know enough Polish ask her. I wished I had a movie camera to capture her enthusiasm.

Ewa, one inspiring and aspiring disciple of Indradyumna Swami engaged a friend of hers, named Aleksandra, who lives in Niechorze, one of the towns where we have festivals, in translating her Polish to English so she could speak with me. I later asked Aleksandra how long she had come to the festivals and what she likes most about them. She said she has been coming to them for fifteen years, and that she likes everything about them. When I pressed her further, she mentioned the food and the kirtana were special favorites. Two years ago she won a sari in the evening dance contest. Out of curiosity, I asked her age, and she said seventeen—she had remembered coming to our festivals since she was two! Later I saw her in the vegetarian cooking lesson booth. She is developing a desire to learn vegetarian cooking, and she helped us clean up our cooking tent at the end of the evening.

I was very impressed with Bhaktivaibhava Swami's handling of questions in the questions and answers tent, and I felt I learned a lot I could use in my own attempts to present the philosophy of Krishna consciousness:

This mission of human life is to develop a higher consciousness. "Higher" means moving toward the eternal. The soul is eternal. The body is temporary. Thus reincarnation must exist. It is not a belief but a necessity, if we accept the soul is eternal.

Everything here is temporary. It is like a film we see for half and hour and then it is over. Why does the pattern of three colors on the white screen stir up emotions in us? It is because the images are reflections of the world around us. Similarly this world is an attraction because it is a reflection of the spiritual world.

Happiness in this world is based on agitating the senses, and then pacifying that agitation.

The foremost cause of developing the desire for liberation is association with persons already practicing the process of liberation.

What we require now is knowledge, not just another speculative theory. Knowledge is satisfying.

You can have so many doubts, therefore, we have a practice that yields realizations to clear the doubts.

Q: Do you have tolerance of other religions?
A: Yes. Veda means truth. We accept the truth wherever we see it in other religions, but we cannot accept when untruth is promoted as truth.
Q: Do you have Satan?
A: Not as a separate competitor to God, but as God's illusory energy who separates us from God.
Theistic graffiti:
Nietzsche: "God is dead.
God: "Nietzsche is dead."

Explosions never create order. Otherwise you could to a big business: first set off an explosion, then wait for the pieces to fall into place, forming a house, and sell it, making a lot of money.

To create cells, which are highly complex, and the bodies formed of them, which are still more complex, is so complicated that we cannot believe that anyone can possess such a brain. But God actually has such a brain.

Q: Why is it so difficult to follow a program of self-improvement?
A: Habits are so deeply rooted. Seeing successful examples around us can give us faith that self-improvement is possible. We cannot give up if success is not immediate. We should be like a child learning to walk, who does not remain sprawled out on the floor when he falls, but tries again and again, finally attaining success.

The aura is the effulgence of the prana.

When we say, "We are not the body", it does not mean that the Hare Krishnas hate bodies. Just like if I say, "you are not your car." I am just trying to stress that you are more important than your car. Similarly, the soul is more important than the body.
satam prasangan mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karṇa-rasayanaḥ kathah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati

In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin (SB 3.25.25)