Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 12
By Krishna-kripa das
(June 2009, part two)
East Germany Festival Programs and the Slovenian Padayatra
(Sent from Prague, Czech Republic on 7/17/09)
East German Festival Programs
Slovenian Eco Caravan Padayatra
Book Distribution Story
Insights from Lokanath Swami, Kadamba Kanana Swami,
Prithu Prabhu, and Others
Excerpt from a George Harrison Interview
My reason to go to Leipzig was to take part in a couple of outreach events, Cottbus Open, and a harinama at festival in Dresden Neustadt (New City), a place of alternative people. Both were during the same weekend, so we camped out at a Cottbus city park and did a day trip to Dresden Neustadt for a Saturday afternoon harinama. It was the fourth year the Leipzig devotees set up a camp at Cottbus Open, a festival with vendors and a few stages with bands.
We did a harinama around town before the festival got going. At the festival, devotees distributed mango lassi, yogi tea, pakoras and chutney, sweet balls, rice with vegetables, a few other things.
In their yurt, they had Deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra, Gaura-Nitai, Giri-Govardhan, and a picture of Srila Prabhupada and Pralhada-Nrsimha. They had bhajanas amplified with a good sound system with all the instruments and voices separately microphoned and mixed together. They distributed food till 11:00 p.m. and chanted till 1:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday just till 7:00 p.m., when a thunderstorm curtailed the event.
Throughout the evening many people came and listened, some participating in their own ways.
In addition, the devotees had a stage with a drama and a devotee playing songs with spiritual lyrics on a guitar.
The drama was a humorous spoof on Darwin and his theory of evolution, and involved a spider who explained and demonstrated, both to Darwin and the audience, the difficulties entailed in evolving from an insect who chased its prey to one who constructed and utilized a web for the purpose. It also starred God, who appeared at the end and briefly described a little about his creation. Hrdaya Gauranga Prabhu from Berlin, the script writer who starred as the spider, hopes to visit Bhakti Marg Swami in Canada, and develop his dramatic talent while assisting him there.
Leipzig temple president, Sad-bhuja Prabhu and head pujari, Ramananda Gopala Prabhu, each told me how they find each year the residents are more comfortable with the devotees presence there, more spiritual food is distributed, and more people ask questions. According to Ramananda Gopala, they especially want to hear from the individual devotees how they became interested in Krishna consciousness. Prithu Prabhu said of the event, that he felt Srila Prabhupada was pleased to see the devotees’ presentation there. As we have no temple with regular programs in Cottbus, next month the devotees will do a follow up program for those who have to have some interest.
The devotees from Leipzig, Berlin, and nearby areas cooperated nicely together. The prasadam for devotees was pretty good, except once we had halava alone for our second meal, not ideal for old timers like me. The new bhaktas were really surrendered to doing the needful to help out. Gobhati and Mohini Prabhus, from Jena, are a nice bhajana couple, expertly playing the instruments and singing together.
For more pictures from our festival at Cottbus, click on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/--iskcon--leipzig--/sets/72157620152830129/
The Dresden Neustadt harinama was nice with about fifteen devotees. I distributed invitations the whole time, perhaps three or four hours, and many people took them. Certainly it was a place of alternative dress and hair styles. Some intersections had bands playing that drowned out our party, and others had no competition.
We did harinama in the center of some of these intersections for some time before moving on. A few people danced with us. Devotees do monthly programs in Dresden.
I like riding the trains in Europe. Since usually I am doing outreach in the cities, the train rides give me a chance to see the beauty of God’s creation. I can have my warmth, my comfortable seat, my computer, and my view of nature, all at once.
These mountains in Austria are awesome, with the rushing streams in the valleys beside them, waterfalls decorating their sides, and with misty clouds passing by their sides and summits. Green farm land is on their lower slopes. Europe is so very green. Man is always trying to conquer nature and is proud of his successes, but the greatness of the mountains makes man seem small indeed.
This year, I took a break from attending the entire Polish festival tour, seeing that they have an abundance of devotees on harinamas there, and my role was relatively minor. Instead I decided to investigate other harinama opportunities in Europe. I recalled reading about the Slovenian Eco Caravan padayatra in a 2003 BTG article and Lokanath Swami, who was coming to its beginning, encouraged me to attend.
Padayatra plays an important role in our ISKCON outreach because it contacts people who would not otherwise have a chance to meet the devotees. Such people would either have no clue about Hare Krishna or just some rumors or speculation, mostly erroneous.
Haridas, the Padayatra horse, his cart, and his caretaker.
Hare Krishna Dasa from Italy can play accordion and sing for 5 hours with great devotion.
Organizer Bharata Dasa plays on mrdanga, and I dance behind.
When the people meet the padayatra they see a lot of colorful, friendly people singing and dancing, and sharing food and books.
Most everyone is smiling to see us, and almost all take prasadam. On good days, the devotees distribute 200 books, 1000 pieces of prasadam, chant for six hours, and travel an average of twelve kilometers or about eight miles. They give everyone a brochure, written in Slovenian, German, and English, which describes how the planetary crisis we are facing is largely an effect of bad karma and it can be changed by reconnecting with the supreme conscious person through devotional practices such as the chanting mantras like the Hare Krishna mantra which is especially powerful being composed of names of God and when chanted aloud by a group. The brochure also mentions cultural programs they do for four evenings at the some of the towns they pass through during their sixteen-day trek.
The padayatris do not just go down the main streets of the towns, but, to increase the number of people they meet, they go along many side streets, and people often smile and wave from their apartment windows. The devotees on the team are very hardworking, dedicated, and organized, and it is impressive to see their presentation. On the first day, we had about fifty devotees, but that reduced to twenty or thirty, for the succeeding days.
For me, being accustomed to going on the Polish summer festival harinamas, it was quite a different experience. They harinama were six hours instead of three hours, and so really tested the limitations of my material body. It was also austere living in a different school each night, instead of the same one, some with limited facilities. Also fewer people were contacted since the Polish festival devotees are known to distribute 7,000 invitations in just three hours, and so the outreach of the padayatra seemed a bit small time in comparison.
In reality, the Slovenian Padayatra is no less important since for many of the people, it will be the only chance this life to contact the devotees, and so for those souls residing in rural Slovenia, its existence has all the importance of the world.
Also the Slovenian padayatra distributes quite a large quantity of books, comparing favorably even to their Christmastime Prabhupada Marathon, a very great accomplishment.
Despite walking and singing for five or six hours and setting up and breaking down their camp at a different school each day, the devotees had an hour and twenty minute morning program including mangala-arati, the Nrsimha prayers, tulasi-puja, greeting of the Deities, guru-puja, and a twenty-five minute Srimad-Bhagavatam class!
One day I gave the Bhagavatam class which was on Rsabhadeva’s teachings. The verse described that association with those lusty after the opposite sex is the path of degradation. To emphasize the point, I quoted a verse by Lord Krishna to his friend Uddhava which says that association of the opposite sex and persons addicted to enjoying the opposite sex is greatest cause of bondage and misery. Thus it was very amusing to me that on that very day on padayatra, as we passed through a underpass, I saw the following graffiti scrawled on the wall:
We are fortunate that we can cultivate attraction to Krishna and be spared the tragedy resulting from mundane attachments. And not only that, we can help to protect others from being victimized in this way as well, by giving them a higher taste of spiritual pleasure.
Seeing the padayatra reminds me of Lord Caitanya’s desire that His holy name be chanted in every town and village of this world. Many such padayatras taking place in all the countries of the world could gradually make this prediction come to pass. Why not think of attending one near you? And if there is not one in your country, why not think of organizing one? It could start small and grow, as interest increases and more people come forward to contribute and participate.
For more photos of the Slovenian Padayatra, click on: http://www.harekrisna.net/ekokaravana/ and click on each of the 15 links on the left side for the photos for each of the 15 days of the event.
The Slovenian devotees explained that during the Prabhupada marathon one year, a party of book distributors decided to distribute books in the same place that they did the padayatra earlier that summer. One might think that the people there would be less receptive because they are already bought books before and that it would be better to go to a new place, where people did not already have them. However, the devotees found that because the people so much liked the padayatra, with its prasadam, devotees, and books, they bought more books than the average person, and thus that party that distributed to the padayatra towns won the marathon.
Insights from Lectures, Talks, and Readings
After our eighteen-month long original padayatra reached Mayapur for the 500th anniversary of Lord Caitanya’s birth, Lokanath Swami eagerly told Hridayananda Dasa Goswami that he wanted to continue for ten years, till Srila Prabhupada’s centennial. Instead of being impressed, Hridayananda Maharaja said, “Why not keep it going for 9,500 more years? [till the end of the golden age of Lord Caitanya.]”
The Slovenian padayatra visits different towns in that country each year. Lokanath Swami suggested that they make a plan to go to every single one.
When you are a little sick you go to the doctor, but when you are too much sick the doctor goes to you. The people are too much sick, so we are going around to the people with the holy name, the medicine for this age.
We may think that we are bringing the Deities of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda on padayatra, but in reality Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda are bringing us on padayatra.
One time when Maharaja Prataparudra looking at the Deity of Jagannatha, in place of Lord Jagannatha, he saw Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He rubbed his eyes, confused by his vision. He then twice asked the pujari what he saw, and the pujari replied each time that he saw Lord Jagannatha as usual. So in this way, Maharaja Prataparudra saw Caitanya, and the pujari saw Lord Jagannatha, and therefore it is said, “He who is Krishna, is also Gaura and Lord Jagannatha.”
Lokanath Swami reminds us that after offering obeisances to the Deity, we should stand before Him and offer prayers.
When Lord Caitanya saw Maharaja Prataparudra sweeping the street in front of Lord Jagannatha, He was impressed. The king could have easily hired so many sweepers to do that service, but instead, he performed the service for Lord Jagannatha personally.
Lord Jagannatha’s chariot does not move as a result of the pullers of the ropes, but according to the will of Lord Jagannatha.
Lord Jagannatha’s eyes are wide open as he was amazed to hear of Rohini tell of the symptoms of the traumatic feelings of separation from Him that His friends from Vrndavana experienced as a result of His leaving them. Thus Lord Jagannatha is in the mood of “Where are my devotees?” “How are they doing?” Lord Caitanya is looking for Krishna, and Krishna, as Lord Jagannatha, is looking for His devotees. Thus They are a great combination.
The Hare Krishna mantra is a Radha Krishna mantra. When we chant Krishna, Radha is pleased, and when we chant Hare, addressing Radha, Krishna is pleased, and it goes on like that as we continue chanting the mantra.
The Lord’s teachings are good for all times. By hearing even one instruction, one can perfect his life.
The man eats. The hog eats. The hog is not enjoying less. The man must work so hard for this same insignificant pleasure. Lord Rsabhadeva advises one think about this, but the popular mantra today is “just do it.” Don’t think about it.
People now cannot discriminate between the human life’s goal and the animal life’s goal. They have made the goals the same.
People are undergoing inconvenience or austerity, but it is not divine.
If you are looking for happiness, be prepared to suffer, for they are part of the same package.
In this age, just to stay together is a big austerity.
Without going out to the people they have just some vague idea of what is Hare Krishna.
Lokanath Swami describes the austerities of the Vraja Mandala parikrama and their result in the slogan, “From blisters to bliss.”
In Brhad-Bhagavatamrita there was a debate in Brahmaloka among the personified scriptures over whether mantras alone can give liberation, and the agamas won the debate by showing conclusively that mantras about the Supreme Personality of Godhead can give liberation. However, some confidential literatures left the assembly during the debate, displeased with the focus on liberation, and when Brahma invited them to return after the debate, they expressed that mantras glorifying the Lord do not only bring liberation but pure devotional service and love of God.
Srila Prabhupada made the following Srimad-Bhagavatam verse, which he quotes in its Preface, his life’s mission: “On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” (SB 1.5.12)
In the verse, “By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact”, Srila Prabhupada explained the word “almost” in different ways. Once he said that we tend to become proud of our scholarship and thus chanting “Hare Krishna,” which reduces pride, is required in addition to hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam. We cannot be proud of our chanting, since it is only by the mercy of the holy name that His glory is revealed, not our personal endeavor.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in The Bhagavata and Its Ethics made the point that most people imprison knowledge in their minds as a magistrate imprisons a criminal, but it is better that the knowledge is lived and the acquired realizations are shared. The scripture declares the truth is within the heart of the realized soul.
Srila Prabhupada is unique in an entire day of Brahma for his great distribution of Krishna consciousness from East to West. Krishna appears only once in a day of Brahma and Lord Caitanya appears just once after Him. And this spreading of the teachings of Lord Caitanya all over the world, was done once, and Lord Caitanya selected Srila Prabhupada to do that service, and he did it. Therefore Srila Prabhupada is unique in an entire day of Brahma. There are other groups split off from ISKCON and others split off from the Gaudiya Math, but they all are resting on what Srila Prabhupada has done.
Once Srila Prabhupada said, “Now it is too late to stop this movement.” Like a contagious disease, at a certain point it is too late to stop.
In Caitanya Bhagavata it is described that many brahmanas wanted to offer lunch to Lord Caitanya, however the Lord said that He would only eat with a lakh-pati, a master of one hundred thousand. The brahmanas were dismayed thinking he meant one who had one hundred thousand rupees, but the Lord explained he meant one who daily chanted one hundred thousands names of the Lord or sixty-four rounds. This is where the idea of daily chanting sixty-four rounds came from.
Srila Prabhupada promised that if we chant sixteen rounds and follow the four regulative principles we can go back to Godhead in one life. Some tell their followers they need only chant four rounds, but the question is “Can those gurus guarantee their followers will go back to Godhead?”
We must be careful about adding too many new rules and regulations and making the process too difficult for people to follow and thus doing a great disservice to Srila Prabhupada.
Our mission in relation to the other groups of Vaisnavas is to rise above over the platform of competition. There will not be a unity of Vaishnavas until we can all respect each other’s service.
Q: Is Narada a person existing in one universe or a position?
A: He is a person, not a position, but he can expand himself into other universes also.
Q: What evidence is there about this idea of expansion?
A: In Vaikuntha, the associates of Narayana, can manifest additional forms to enhance their service, while maintaining their own forms as well. This is described in Brhad-Bhagavatamrita.
There are two aspects to chanting:
1) We are making an offering to Krishna.
2) We are taking darsana of Krishna in the form of sound.
It is a meditation. Prabodhananda Saravati asks Krishna when He will appear in his meditation.
When the devotee falls down, Krishna cries even more than the devotee does.
The difference between bhava and prema, is that bhava is like a single ray and prema is like the sun. There are no obstacles in prema, but there are some miseries in bhava.
It was a blessing to have Prithu Prabhu at the Cottbus Open assisting the Leipzig and Berlin devotees at the festival in a city park. He is a pioneer of preaching at gatherings, purchasing his first yurt in 1981. It was twice the size of the one we had, and he would have eighty or a hundred people chanting and dancing inside. He would go to Rainbow Gatherings around America and sometimes as many ten people would join the Krishna movement on the strength of his presentation.
He specializes in real life stories that show the reality of karma in action, and told the devotees a couple.
He tells the story of his father, a devout theist, and his father’s childhood friend, an atheist. As a child Prithu’s father gave his friend a sandwich. His friend not wanting it, threw it away. Prithu’s father indicated that what we are given to sustain ourselves is a gift from God and should be respected, but his friend retorted, “I don’t believe in God.” Many years later, they were united again, this time in a German concentration camp, where they were both tortured, Prithu’s father most brutally. When the British officers liberated the camp, a doctor examined them, and noted that Prithu’s father’s friend was so undernourished that he would die, lamenting that had he had just one more slice of bread, he would have survived. The dying friend spoke to Prithu’s father with urgency, “Remember that time I threw the sandwich away?” Prithu’s father nodded, and his friend collapsed into his bed, never to stir again.
Once Prithu Prabhu was encouraging a young man to practice Krishna consciousness, but his family presented a great impediment. Prithu Prabhu suggested the new aspiring devotee to come with him to Vrindavana, and he lived there for several months, happily practicing Krishna consciousness. When he returned, however, his relatives were ready to challenge him. His aunt, a Catholic nun, preached to him for over two hours, but he did not say a word. When she finally finished, he simply said, “You may have your elaborate philosophy, but because you are eating meat, you will have to suffer.” She protested saying that was complete nonsense and that the Pope eats meat. He repeated the point, “You may say what you like, but because you are eating meat, you will have to suffer. Someday you will remember these words.”
Three or four weeks later newspaper headlines told of the shocking death of a Catholic missionary at the hands of cannibals in the remote country where she was preaching. It was that devotee’s aunt. A fellow sister, watching from the bushes, described how her friend was cooked alive in a kettle, spiced, and devoured by the maneaters for dinner. Apparentally, the Lord wanted to show that His devotee’s words were true, “because you eat meat, you will have to suffer . . . you will remember these words.”
Prithu Prabhu has a book in which he recorded powerful quotations. One that struck me was from Canakya Pandit, “To overpower the world with a single action, restrain your tongue from speaking ill of others.”
Our human form of life will be successful if we know something about Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. How will this happen? Krishna has given us sastra, so we can know what is to done and not to be done. (Bg. 16.24) Sastra includes the four Vedas, Mahabharata, Valmiki’s Ramayana, the 18 Puranas, and the 18 Upapuranas. Sastra, being given by the empowered Vyasa, is free from the four defects of the conditioned soul, (1) tendency to make mistakes, (2) imperfect senses, (3) tendency to be illusioned, and (4) cheating propensities. The Madayadis have no love for Krishna and so cannot give anyone love of Krishna.Gopala-tapani Upanisad mentions Krishna personally, and so He is mentioned in the Vedas. Vedas describe sambhanda, abhideya, and prayojana. But do not hear from the Mayavadi.
Q:What is the Mayavadi philosophy popular in the West and India even today?
A: Because people like to be in illusion. They can do their sense gratification and feel they have some knowledge.
Lord Caitanya wanted to bring all Vaisnavas to the conclusion of acintya-bhedabheda tattva.
Q: Who is preaching Mayavadi?
A: That is not our concern. We are just concerned with Prabhupada and distributing what he has given.
Mahaprabhu Gaura JPS:
Usually fathers desire their sons to become economically prosperous and enjoy sense gratification, however, Lord Rsabhadeva gives completely different instructions—to work for the bare necessities of life only and to be not attached to their homes, relatives, and wealth.
Householders can save valuable funds for devotional activities by buying secondhand items of comparable quality instead of brand new items.
At the zoo, they told us the seal sleeps twenty hours and eats fish for the other four. Some of the other people there thought that would be a very good life.
Jayapataka Swami told there was a study done asking people what they want to be in their next life. The top two choices of the ladies were (1) cats and (2) snakes, while the men chose (1) dogs and (2) horses. Neither wanted to be human beings!
Hare Krishna Prabhu:
We can gratify the senses but not satisfy the senses. Temporarily we diminish the lust by gratifying the senses, like putting gasoline on a fire temporarily reduces the flames, only to have them return in a greater way.
Old age is like a billboard advertising “Death is Coming Soon.”
We are refreshed by a cold shower, although it is painful, and similarly austerity, though painful, cleanses our minds.
“My life belongs to the Lord Krishna and there’s me dog collar to prove it. I'm just a dog and I'm led around by me collar by Krishna. . . . I’m the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna. I’m just a groveling lumberjack lucky to be a grain of dirt in creation. That’s how I feel. Never been so humble in all my life, and I feel great.”
prithi vite acche yata nagaradi gram
sarvatra pracara haibe more nama
Lord Caitanya said, “My holy name will be sung [preached] in every town and village.” (Caitanya Bhagavata)