Thursday, September 30, 2010

Travel Journal#6.16: Trutnov, Wroclaw, Cologne

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 16
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2010, part two)
Czech Woodstock, Wroclaw Ratha-yatra, Cologne Harinama
(Sent from Stuyvesant, New York, on September 30, 2010)


Trutnov Open Air Festival (Czech Woodstock) 2010
Wroclaw Ratha-yatra 2010

Harinama in Cologne

Insights from Navina Nirada Prabhu


Dhruva Prabhu suggested I include my itinerary for upcoming travel:

September 30-October 1: Stuyvesant, New York
October 2: 12-hour Kirtana, Manhattan
October 3: 1:30-4:30 p.m., harinama at Tompkins Square Park
October 4-5: Bhakti Center, Manhattan
October 5, evening: Sacinandana Swami program, Manhattan
October 6-8: Philadelphia
October 8, 7 p.m., Harinama, South Street, Philly
October 9-11: Albany, New York

October 12: Manhattan

October 13: 12:30- 3:30 p.m. Harinama, Univ. of North Florida, Jacksonville
October 13-20: Gainesville

October 15: Gainesville Ratha-yatra

October 16: chanting at the U.F. Homecoming game

October 20-November 17: Tucson
November 17-November 30: Gainesville

Where I Went and What I Did

We left Leipzig by train on August 19 to attend Trutnov, a Czech rock concert where the Hare Krishnas have a camp with lots of spiritual music and food, and the blessings of the Trutnov organizer, Martin, who puts Lord Jagannatha’s smiling face on the all the festival ads, wristbands, the main stage itself, and even the plastic beer mugs. After Trutnov we went to Mother Isvari’s place near Rybnik, Poland, to recover from Trutnov, and celebrate Lord Balarama’s appearance day with a nama-hatta program. On August 26, we attended the second annual Wroclaw Ratha-yatra, then spent one day in Wroclaw and one day on the Poland farm. Then we went to Warsaw, for their Balarama festival, during the Sunday feast. Tribhuvanesvara Prabhu led great kirtana, and the feast was very satisfying. On August 30, we started by train to London, stopping in Berlin for dinner, and Cologne, for a day, to do harinama. Then we ended up in Brussels for the evening of August 31.

Trutnov Open Air Festival (Czech Woodstock)
August 19-22, 2010

The first day, I saw three people from previous years. It seemed more people chanted this time than previously. People even stood on benches dancing with upraised arms, a new development. The first night, we tried to stop the kirtana twice, but people wanted us to keep going. We finally ended at 2:10 a.m. Once I counted seven people happily chanting along at 1:00 a.m.

Other days we stayed up even later, once ending at 5:00 a.m. There were always people ready to hear, sing, and dance, until the end. The picture above was taken at 3:20 a.m.

We did Ratha-yatra from the school we stay at, to the downtown area, and then back up the hill to the Trutnov site. Some people pulled the cart, and others sang and danced. Two girls who must have spent half their time in our tent joined our return Ratha-yatra, back to the school that was our base. On that return Ratha-yatra, some people even lay down flat on the street before Lord Jagannatha

When Prabhupada disciple, Jay Gurudeva Das, did Hare Krishna chanting with electric guitar and synthesizer, one very large, jovial, young man who obviously had a lot of beer, jumped up on the stage and tried to chant into the microphone. He attracted a lot of attention. He had a good voice, but because he had so much beer he messed up the mantra a lot, although we showed him a couple mantra cards. Jay Gurudeva was good at letting him do his thing but not steal the show. Although Jay Gurudeva had just sung many of the same tunes as last year which had gotten many people dancing, this year for the first hour, practically no one danced but me. Not even those who I had seen dancing and chanting the night before would dance, not even when I tried to encourage them. But when this man spontaneously came up on the stage, he attracted people’s attention, and then thirty people got up and danced with enthusiasm.
[Click here to see Facebook movie showing about the above.]

Prithu Prabhu gave one of the best lectures I heard him ever gave. He talked about the body, subtle body, and soul. He talked about experiences he had of astral travel as well as a near-death experience. So as to relate to the young crowd, he talked about how he was the first person in his town to have dredlocks when he was a kid, and how he distributed drugs in one area in Germany as a youth. After telling about the subtle body, he introduced the soul and transmigration. He used a large plate, small plate, bowl, cup, and spoon, to visually represent the body, mind, intelligence, false ego, and soul. At the end, he recommended the people buy one of Srila Prabhupada’s introductory books.

One girl who liked Prithu Prabhu’s lectures bought the book he recommended. She, like many, came by at least three times a day to see and hear what was happening at our Krishna camp. Punya Palaka Prabhu found her blog where she described her experience: “I go to check the Krishna camp. I exactly knew that. There, in the Krishna camp, “it” all is and “it” is so strong. I’m still not sure what “it” is, but I’ve got the time to find out. I spent there less than an hour, but I got hit by the end of a lecture by one sympathetic, English speaking man. And it was a hit at the right spot. Then for some half an hour they were singing their Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,

Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare . . . And it was magic.” She mentioned that she liked that I took the trouble to explain some of the Bengali bhajanas that one devotees band was singing, and she learned that Krishna is one although having many names. She also described how some of us came off the stage with our instruments and sang while they were setting the stage for the next band. In conclusion, the girl wrote, “Actually, all the time I was moving between booths and the Krishna camp. And I just realized that regardless the situation, I feel always fine down there. They have brought buckets of energy in all of their mantras. And you won’t find anyone uncongenial or displeasing there . . . simply a wonderful group of people with wonderful energy.” If you know Czech or want to translate the whole article with Google, the links are Day 2 and Day 3.

One girl, who had come last year with two friends, came this year with some other friends, stopping by at least a couple times.

Our presentation this year was better in that we had mantra cards to give to all that wanted them, and we set up a booth for questions and answers, instead of informally answering people’s questions, so many more people took advantage of that opportunity.

In the morning the day after, one man and woman came up to Punya Palaka Prabhu, our Krishna Camp organizer, saying, “Your Hare Krishna Camp is a refuge for many of the participants. When they feel down they come to regain their energy—instead of some energy drinks, Hare Krishna Camp is better!” The man had been coming for years, and he was also among the group of some thirty who kept chanting and dancing by themselves on Friday night while we were setting up the stage for the band performance to come. . . . Both he and the lady said they had been bringing their friends and all of them had agreed, it was refreshing to join the chanting and dancing . . .”

After Trutnov, as Dhruva Prabhu and I were riding the train to our next destination, I could see at the rate we were going, we would miss our connection, so I searched for the conductor. I found two conductors but neither spoke English. I asked the four young people standing around if any of them knew English and would translate. One young man agreed. During their interaction with me, one his friends chanted his recollection of the Hare Krishna mantra, with a few words out of order, recognizing me to be a devotee. Thus when I thanked the man for his translation service, I gave him a mantra card as a present. The young man said with a smile, “Hare Krishna—that was the best song at the whole Trutnov festival!” And then he asked if I could sing the mantra one time for them, and I did, and then I asked them to sing it one time for me, and we chanted a couple more times, engaging a few more young people in the next carriage in hearing. The man’s comment was impressive to me, although a hundred bands had played on four stages at Trutnov, he considered Hare Krishna to be the best song at the whole event, and he wanted to hear it again.

Later when we got off that train, I decided to play harmonium and chant on the platform, down the whole length of the train and back, and I got a lot of smiles of appreciation, and I recognized some of the people who had attended our Krishna camp. I passed a few remaining mantra cards to the smiling people through the train windows. The conductors did not complain.

It was nice as always to see people happily connecting with Krishna through kirtana, prasadam, and the association of the devotees. For more pictures with descriptive captions, click here.

Wroclaw Ratha-yatra 2010

There are six YouTube videos one devotee, with the user name Arkadiusz108, uploaded about the Wroclaw Ratha-yatra. The first is below:

Here are links to the others: Video 2, Video 3, Video 4, Video 5, and Video 6.

After their first Ratha-yatra last year, the Wroclaw devotees performed number two this year. The authorities delayed approving their application until all the weekends were taken, and so the Ratha-yatra was on Thursday. There were fewer devotees there than last year, but plenty of guests. The stage show had more variety this year, and a greater number and variety of people watched it. Many were eager to take the temple invitations I was passing out. The prasadam was better and lasted longer. Bravo! During the parade one girl who had danced in our kirtana tent at Woodstock recognized me. She was happy to encounter the devotees again. And I gave her the invitation to our local temple and invited her to the Ratha-yatra stage show.

Harinama in Cologne

Dhruva Prabhu is always up for visiting a new temple, so we stopped in Cologne as we traveled by train from Poland to London. At mangala-arati, there were only Dhruva and I, and MahaLaxmi, who we had met on the Netherlands padayatra. There are few temple devotees there, and even though it was one of their standard harinama days, we could not find local devotees to go. Fortunately MahaLaxmi, who was also traveling through Cologne and who has a nice voice, was eager to go out, so we chanted for almost three hours in a downtown market section. Once we came upon a very ornately decorated cathedral dating back hundreds of years ago, and we sat down on the steps nearby. One group of children from Spain enjoyed listening to us for a while. There were many people in the market section and near the cathedral, and we passed out invitations to the local temple. Now that I have seen what a nice venue they have for harinama, I will definitely go back. While returning to the temple, we chanted on the metro, but we saw some metro police, so we got off at the next stop and waited for the next train, so we were able to continue chanting the whole way back.

Insight from Lectures

Navina Nirada Prabhu:

Prayers are meant to worship the Lord not fulfilling our own desires.

One who asks the Lord for what he is already giving is less intelligent and even ungrateful.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura spoke for three months on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.1 at Radha-kunda.

Our words will lose meaning if we do not act as we say.

We repeat what we have heard and what we have realized. If we speak what we have heard but not yet realized, it will not be as effective

It is so noisy on the battlefield that the soldier touches his charioteer with his feet, either on the left or right to direct him. Thus the charioteer position that Lord Krishna accepted in relationship to Arjuna is a very menial one, but Krishna accepted it out of love for His friend.

Intelligence is measured by the extent one is willing to surrender to the Lord’s desire.

Many times you can go up to people and say, “This is a book about Krishna. You have heard of Krishna?”

Lord Nityananda has some kirtanas that went for months without disturbed by other things.

Lord Caitanya touched Prakasananda Sarasvati’s heart but humbly sitting where the people washed their feet. And so Prakasananda Sarasvati offered some service, thereby getting unknowing piety. Lord Caitanya furthermore explained out he was chanting the holy name because his guru found Him to fallen to study Vedanta.

Trnad api sunicena… is the access code which unlocks the holy names and other instructions for chanting.

Although we are only one of seven billion people on earth, still Krishna loves us.

To get people lower their defenses, we have to lower our defenses. But if we lower our defenses, we worry that someone may take advantage of us. But if Krishna is there to protect us, what do we need to worry about?

If Lord Caitanya gave sankirtana and prasadam for this masses but just spoke philosophy to the intelligent, why do we distribute these books? Because people are so unfortunate they are not willing to chant and take prasadam. They books are sankirtana in hard copy.

Unless you lead a virtuous life (the mode of goodness) you cannot taste real happiness.

Book distribution depends on four things:

1. Strong sadhana so you have some spiritual realization.
2. Having the books.
3. The more you show, the more you sell.
4. Organize.

We are not using holy name as a washing detergent to get free from sins but to serve the Lord.
Krishna protects his devotee’s vows. So let’s vow to take Krishna consciousness seriously.

If you care about others, you share with them. Srila Prabhupada came from the most exalted place, Vrndavana, to the most degraded place, the Bowery, to share the spiritual truth he had.

The Jews wear that little cap to remember that there is always something divine above them.

I ask the people, “Are you a rock star or a regular loser?”
Or else, I ask, “Which one of you is the smart one?”
Or else, I say, “This is for all the nice people. Are you nice?”

Krishna doesn’t need anything but our love.

One of the last people of the day was not so interested. Then she asked, “Does this book say anything about Kali-yuga?” I gave her a Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and said, “This is about the person who really saves the day in Kali-yuga.” She took the book.


pātrāpātra-vicāra nāhi, nāhi sthānāsthāna

yei yāńhā pāya, tāńhā kare prema-dāna

"In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead. (Caitanya Caritāmrita, Ādi 7.23)