Tuesday, September 02, 2008

travel journal#4.16a: Wroclaw, Leipzig, Berlin, Bremen

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 4, No. 16a
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2008, part two)
Wroclaw, Leipzig, Berlin, Bremen
(Sent from Tampere, Finland on 9/2/08)

Where I Am and What I Am Doing

After to the Polish festival tour, I went with Giridhari Prabhu to Wroclaw, where I spent three days, waiting for the start of the Czech Woodstock, which I will describe in the next article, as it requires a whole article itself. After that I went to Leipzig and Berlin, on the way to Bremen, Germany, where I caught a flight to Finland. Airport security threw out my less than 100 ml of sun screen merely because it was in a bottle marked 200 ml, although I showed them that the bottle was clearly less than half full! I plan to write the company for compensation. Fortunately there was a power outlet at the boarding gate, and I could work on this journal! Now I am in Finland, researching an article on the Finnish yatra, especially its programs for academia, for Back to Godhead and meditating on speaking on the glories of Radharani for Radhastami.

Devotional Meditations

Thoughts from Indradymuna Swami’s lectures:

Religion is meant to purify ourselves. If we do not become purified, we are either following a bogus religion or incorrectly following a real religion.

As a brahmana, Ajamila knew what was sinful and yet he acted sinfully. The holy name, however, delivered even him.

The holy name, like any incarnation of the Lord, is meant to protect the pious, to rectify the demoniac, and to reestablish the principles of religion.

Festivals like the Polish Woodstock are golden opportunities to share Krishna consciousness with many thousands of people. Such chances happen only a few times in our entire lives.

Tale from the History of Krishna Consciousness in Bulgaria

My friend Jagannatha Misra Prabhu, who led harinama this year on the Polish tour, told me some of the interesting history of Krishna consciousness in Bulgaria. After the Soviet Union collapsed, many religious groups appeared in Bulgaria. At one point, the Bulgarian parliament met for seven days to decide about prohibiting several of these “new” religions. Hare Krishna was first on their list. The devotees chanted in front of the parliament from early in the morning each day. They also distributed a statement of their philosophy and a list of their leading members and their occupations. This was so effective that by the end of the week, the parliament decided to ban all the new religions except Hare Krishna. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church was infuriated with this decision, and decided to put all their energy into stopping the devotees. However, on that very day, a split occurred in the church, and so instead, they put all there energy into fighting between the two divisions. That dispute continues even today. In this way, Krishna protected His devotees, who are able to carry on their distribution of spiritual knowledge there in Bulguria.


Although there are not many devotees in Wroclaw, and I was one of the two or three at the morning program and evening kirtana, I was reminded how nice it is to do the devotional activities Srila Prabhupada has given us, even in the association of just a very few devotees.

Another Venue for Sharing the Mercy

Visvarupa Prabhu, a book distributor based in Wroclaw, told me of an innovative program he does in the lake filled region of northeastern Poland. He and a couple friends rent a boat, and go from one port to another, doing bhajanas and distribution of prasadam sweets for about two hours every evening. Since the boats are a bit expensive, he meets more upper class people. Sometimes the people even invite the devotees on their boats to play for them. It is a combination of a vacation and an opportunity to share spiritual nectar. The downside is it is a bit pricy; the most inexpensive boats rent for $1000 for two weeks.

Lots of Love in Leipzig

Taking four trains, two buses, and a tram, I traveled from Trutnov, Czech, to Leipzig, Germany, arriving in time for the end of the Prabhupada Vyasa Puja feast. I told the prasadam server I would take one of each of the sweets and received a plate with fifteen different desserts! Although half the devotees left for a program with Kadamba Kanana Swami in northern Germany, in that small, recently created temple ten devotees came on harinama with me one day and eight the next! I was so inspired by their enthusiasm, I decided to make the carob coconut burfi I used to make for harinama when I lived in San Diego and Alachua. One devotee took the trouble to roll it all into balls. They are a cooperative bunch of devotees there. On our second harinama, several people stood and watched for some time, several promised to come to the temple, one wanted her picture taken with us, another drew a sketch of our party (above), and yet another wanted the recipe for our sweet. All in all, I was pleased both by the response of the pubic and enthusiasm of the devotees, and I hope to return to Leipzig during the first half of June next year, during which they participate in two well-attended public festivals, doing a lot of kirtana and prasadam distribution. Kadamba Kanana Swami also likes the Leipzig temple since the youthful devotees are very enthusiastic, their minds free of the complaints which sometimes haunt those who have lived through decades of temple life.

Bliss in Berlin

Both days I was in Berlin we did harinama, and I made carob-cocnut burfi for distribution. The first day, one mataji surrendered to driving four brahmacaris to Alexanderplatz, a crowded area great for harinama. One man who saw us chanting was impressed with our sincerity and called the temple about our program the next day. As it turns out, we met him again on harinama the next day and gave him a ride back to the temple for the program. His story is that he came to the temple in Berlin twenty years ago. I talked to him after the program led by Kadamba Kanana Swami, and he said he had a good time. On the second harinama, nine men, mostly brahmacaris went out. We met someone from Scotland, and he also came to the Saturday program. The practicality of harinama as a way to interest people in coming to the temple could not be more obvious than we experienced in Berlin. We also realized it was a great idea to do harinama just before the weekly feast program to generate interest, and even bring people to the temple. My thanks to the Berlin and Leipzig devotees for encouraging me by doing harinama for four days out of my five-and-a-half-day visit to Germany.

ekala malakara ami kahan kahan
ekala va kata phala padiya vilaba
ekala uthana dite haya parisrama

keha paya, keha na paya, rahe mane bhrama

ataeva ami ajna dilun sabakare

yahan tahan prema-phala deha’ yare tare

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute? It would certainly be a very laborious task to pick the fruits and distribute them alone, and still I suspect that some would receive them and others would not. Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Krishna consciousness movement and distribute it everywhere.” (Cc. Adi 9.34-36)

“Here Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu indicates that the distribution of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra should be performed by combined forces. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He laments, “How can I act alone? How can I alone pick the fruit and distribute it all over the world?” This indicates that all classes of devotees should combine to distribute the Hare Krishna maha-mantra without consideration of the time, place or situation.” (Cc. Adi 9.34, purport).