Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Travel Journal#7.24: Mexico Tour, Part 1

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 24
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2011, part two)
Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour to Mexico, Part I
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on February 1, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

For the last two weeks of December and the first week of January, I went with about twenty-four college-age Hare Krishna youth and three older devotees to over a dozen cities in Mexico, where we shared Krishna culture with the local people. Famed kirtana leader, Madhava Prabhu from Switzerland, came and to hear him sing for three weeks was absolutely wonderful. It was the best way I have ever spent that time of year, and many people appreciated the programs, chanted Hare Krishna, danced, and purchased spiritual literature. I include pictures taken by Manorama Prabhu, Rukmini Priya Poddar, and myself, and over 51 minutes of video.

In saying goodbye to 2011, I review the wonderful events I was blessed to attend that year.

I list all the devotees who helped me in my travels this year, as a way of thanking them, and also all those who helped me in the years since 2001, when I started traveling to Europe. If you helped out and I did not mention your name, let me know, and I will try to make up for it.

Currently I would like to go to India, but I am about $150 short on the price of a ticket from Europe to India. If you would like to help out, click on the “Donate” button below.

Guru Prasad Swami spoke to our party and also spoke at an initiation ceremony, and I share his realizations.

Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour to Mexico, Part I

The Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour to Mexico has been happening for the last several years during the students’ winter break from school and college. Twenty or thirty Hare Krishna children and a few adults put on Krishna festivals in twelve to fifteen locations each year, as well as visiting the pyramids and beaches in Mexico. This year, on the dashboard of the bus, we had
famed kirtana leader Madhava Prabhu’s personal deity of Haridas Thakura, along with the bus tour deities of Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai.

Madhava Prabhu sometimes led kirtana for as long as two hours while we were traveling on the bus, and it was so absorbing no one thought two hours had passed.

Our evening programs at yoga places were the chanting of Hare Krishna with instruments, but at the other places, the majority, we also did a drama on
Bhagavad-gita, two or three Bharat Natyam dances, and sometimes played a brief video, Vrindavan: Land of Krishna, with a Spanish soundtrack. 

Madhava Prabhu (center) would play at every festival, accompanied by Ananta Prabhu (left) on the drum, and Mother Jaya Sita, a professional cello player (right). 

Manorama Prabhu, our fearless leader, was often seen at our festivals filming videos or taking still pictures. We are so thankful for him purchasing the bus, organizing the festivals, getting sponsors for the tour, and emptying the sewage, so we would not have to do it ourselves and have bad memories of the experience. He is an emblem of tolerance and compassion. 

Nadia, Mohini, and Bhakti Lata (left to right), all from Alachua, were our bharat natyam dancers and many loved their performances.

In the Gita drama, Ananta (front and center), one of the most popular of the actors, is seen below illustrating the illusory happiness, and ultimately distress, that arises from getting material possessions, in this case, a new car.

Mother Bhakti Lata would implore the attendees to rise from their seats and then teach them her version of the swami step to induce the people to dance during the kirtan, and many would. Quickly, the dancing would surpass the basic step, and get more wild, as in Cancun below.

No event is complete without the distribution of spiritual food (prasadam). Either the bus tour devotees or local devotees or both would prepare prasadam for the event. Here in Tampico, the bus tour devotees, headed by Mother Jaya Sri Radhe, prepared food for the guests.

Mother Jaya Sri Radhe, head cook, and mother of the tour, serves rice with a smile.

I took lots of video, and that which covers the December portion of the trip is divided into three parts totaling 51 minutes altogether.

I will intersperse the videos covering the three parts of the trip with my description of them, but if you want to view the entire playlist of three videos at once, click on this YouTube playlist:

My main service was to distribute books and the Hare Krishna mantra posters and cards. I also kept track of the receipts for purchases.

We drove from Alachua, Florida, to Houston in one day and did an evening kirtana in the temple there.

The next day, we drove to Monterrey, where despite rainy weather, practically everyone in the audience danced. The prasadam the local devotees provided was wonderful, highlighted by samosas and halava.

The following day in Tampico many people arrived in the auditorium before the program, and we had positioned the book table in front of the entrance, so many people looked at the books and CDs. I was surprised that we sold 2,000 pesos of books and 1,000 pesos of CDs before the program even started! After the program we distributed another 1,000 pesos of each! The total distribution was about 6 hard bound Gitas, 13 medium books, 46 small books, and 17 of Madhava Prabhu’s CDs. Many people in the audience sang, as you can see in the picture below, and many also came up and danced in front, between the seats and the stage. An amazing fact is that the organizer is not even a Hare Krishna devotee, just someone who read about the cultural tour on the internet, who contacted Manorama Prabhu, and who started regularly organizing programs for him in Tampico about three years ago.

The next program was at yoga cafe in Oaxaca the following evening. It was a smaller venue and a smaller crowd but we still distributed 1320 pesos of books and 1430 pesos of CDs. Many people danced with great enthusiasm. Mother Varsana-rani (wearing the blue-green sari below), a Russian disciple of Indradyumna Swami who just joined us, regularly travels on the Polish tour. She was very good in inspiring the people to dance.

The hosts were helpful and friendly at Shambhala, a yoga retreat place on a resort beach at Puerto Angel, where there were fewer Mexicans and more tourists. I talked to people from Holland, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia, America, and Canada, and I was happy because I could talk with more people. I told a couple from Oakland, who was present at the end of the evening, about our Berkeley temple. The girl had previously visited our temple in Amsterdam where her mom, also accompanying her, resided. Although many people danced with us, Shambhala was a different story as far as distribution of literature and CDs. We sold 300 pesos of books and a single CD. It was like the people were already were satisfied with their own understanding of spirituality, and so they were not inquisitive. It can be a challenge to interest the yoga community in Krishna consciousness. They are inquisitive to the extent that they encountered yoga, were attracted and became committed, but they may not be interested in going beyond hatha-yoga to bhakti-yoga and thus perfectly benefit their souls in addition to their bodies and minds.

The next day we stayed at the beach. There was the Pacific Ocean, a fresh water lagoon, and a bathroom and showers available. There were even fresh coconuts, reminding me of Mayapur, which many devotees liked. Some enterprising devotee ladies put the bus deities on a surf board in the lagoon. I hoped we would have a kirtana, but all the big kirtana people were involved in a athletic game. In retrospect, I realized I would have been more satisfied if I did some kirtana on my own or with a few others not involved in the game.

We spent two days in Tuxtla, December 22 and December 23, one of my favorite cities on the trip. The first day we did a two-hour harinama at two parks in the evening to advertise our festival to the next day. The first park had a daily concert in the evening, and we arrived just before it started so people who came for the concert turned out to hear our harinama as well.

Some people took pleasure dancing with us. The next park was ten blocks away, and devotees decided to just walk without singing to save energy. For me, to walk without chanting is a waste of time, so I took up the harmonium and began to sing the first tune I learned and the one I know the best, as we walked to the central park. We found a place where several sidewalks converge, and a crowd of people began to grow as the chanting group attracted them. Several of our girls danced and induced people from the audience to dance as well. Bhakti and Mohini demonstrated some of their Bharat Natyam steps, and Datta did tricks from his magic show. The invitations for our program the next day finally arrived, and we distributed them. Our organizers, as with Tampico, also not Hare Krishna devotees, got us permission to chant inside a mall for one hour, something we would not dream of doing in the USA. Three hundred people came to our evening festival, and many enjoyed singing and dancing in a big way (see below). We sold 13 CDs and almost 3,000 pesos worth of books, one of the biggest days.

After Tuxtla we went to Agua Azul in the Mayan part of Mexico. There is a really wonderful multiple waterfall, with the river falling over several different rocks. It is a tourist place. We played this game called Secret Santa in which we put all of our names in a hat and each chose one. We had to buy a Christmas present for the person whose name we chose, something of around $5 in value. Those kinds of games are not so fun for me as I hate shopping and have no sense of certainty about what to get anyone. I ended up choosing a girl I knew from the Polish Festival tour, and Jaya Sri Radha offered to trade me as she got a boy. I accepted the offer, as it is not recommended for brahmacaris to meditate on girls, which I would ended up doing for the next week, thinking of a gift. Besides I probably would not have chosen a very nice gift. I asked the boy whose name I got if he had any clue about what to get a boy his age. He explained it was not a question of boys or girls but that we had to get to understand the person and get a sense of what they would like. He also said you could always just get a T-shirt which is something probably anyone could use. Furthermore, he explained that we should package the gift in a creative way, and put our personality into it. I decided to pray to Krishna. Just under an hour before my last chance to buy a gift, I went through the souvenir shops and I asked other devotees for their advice. Other devotees suggested T-shirts, so I decided to go for that. Because my person, Devananda liked math, I decided to choose a T-shirt with a calendar on it, and a Mayan calendar rather than an Aztec one, because we were in the Mayan part of Mexico, and a T-shirt with Agua Azul, the name of the waterfall resort, on it. Mohini suggested a dark color rather than white, which shows the dirt, and thus my gift was decided. And it was $6, near the right range. I wrapped it between two paper plates fastened together with band-aids. After leaving the forest area in our bus, we saw a gas station with a Christmas tree in the parking lot, and decided to stop there and exchange gifts.

It was so amazing to see a decorated Christmas tree appearing as we emerged from the Mexican (below). It was funny that it turned out Devananda and I were the last people to exchange gifts, being Secret Santa for each other, and he got me a bathing suit, which was something I had forgotten to bring, and which proved very useful.

In addition to sharing presents, we also had a piƱata which we took turns swinging at, hoping to break it, and grab the candy that falls out. In the photo below, Madhavi tried her best.

Nuno, who has a yoga ashram called Uno Astrolodge in Tulum, invited us to stay over and do kirtana there. We chanted two hours in the evening and an hour and a half the next morning. Many of the people really loved chanting and dancing. The ones I talked to were happy to hear of our restaurant with its two weekly programs in nearby Cancun. One viola player chanted with great happiness, other people listened with great concentration as a meditation.

One man (see below) who did the Buddhist Vipasanna meditation told me many people in his sangha of meditation practitioners, probably due to their Christian upbringing, although appreciating some benefit from Vipasanna meditation, realized a need to look beyond it for fulfillment through more devotional activities. It reminded me of the Vaishnava understanding that only through devotion to the Lord can our soul be satisfied for we are His children and parts of His very self.

The girl below loved our chanting and was interested to hear of our two weekly programs at our restaurant in Cancun, not so far from her home.

This video shows our programs from Houston through Tulum:

The morning we spent at the yoga ashram, I got up at 4 a.m. and chanted for two hours facing the ocean. There was a strong sea breeze, but it was so warm I did not need a sweater. Recently I had been reviewing chapter 10 of Bhagavad-gita and the whole time I chanted japa on the breezy beach I was thinking how Krishna says, “Of bodies of water I am the ocean, . . . and of purifiers I am the wind.” (Bhagavad-gita 10.24, 31). Thus I felt happily surrounded by Krishna as ocean and wind as I chanted His holy names.

On the bus an ocean of conversations of varying relevance entered my ears in addition to my japa most every day but at Uno Astrolodge only the sea breezes accompanied the Lord in His sound incarnation, appearing in my ears.

At our program in Cancun, one man who chants Hare Krishna and has Bhagavad-gita As It Is was returning home in a taxi. Seeing “Krishna Culture Tour” written on our bus, he inquired and was happy to learn of and come to our the festival. As usual many people danced in the kirtana. We invited interested people to the programs at our restaurant in Cancun.

In Izamal in the Yucatan, there was family all of whom, the parents and the kids, loved our festival and thanked us profusely with all their hearts as they left. It was heart-warming to see such appreciation. Photographer Rukmini Priya Poddar described them as, “an enthusiastic family that became so inspired by our program, they insisted on getting a photo with me and Nanda and exclaimed, ‘We’re a Hare Krishna family!’”

One lady wanted to organize a festival in large city nearby called Merida from which many in the audience came. Many danced happily in Izamal as you can see below:

In Playa del Carman, a young Hungarian lady and her three friends, who do yoga together loved the kirtana. She had been to our temple and restaurant in Budapest, and had even been to our New Vraja farm near the Balaton. She and her friends were telling how they took pictures of themselves before and after the kirtana, and were amazed to see how radiant they became from the kirtana. They were happy to find out from Paulina, a local devotee, that we have monthly programs there in Playa del Carman. A mother from Toronto was happy to learn that we had a center in her town. I think of Krishna consciousness being more attractive to younger people but she got much more into the kirtana than her teenage daughter. In the picture below, you can get a feel for the size of the crowd there. That picture is just part of the crowd.

Near the ruins in Palenque, Martin from Germany, a friend of Nuno, invited us to do kirtana at his little alternative community. He and his friends chanted with us for two hours and then got into some more eclectic chants for another half hour. One lady there had lived in our temple in Heidelberg and at the Nrsimha farm in Bavaria. You could see she had a deep attachment to kirtana from her past devotional service. She was up dancing before the others and sang meditatively and smilingly. She feels Krishna has guided her to this community and wants to develop it. Another couple who visits from Leon one month each winter, recalled their association with Mahajan, former temple president of ISKCON Leon, and how they were once in a conversation with Hridayananda Goswami who came to lecture. Thus several people became reminded again of Krishna from our visit there.

Guru Prasada Swami traveled with us to Veracruz, the home of Eka Bhokta Prabhu, a former resident of Alachua. The swami gave a little talk on the beach, preceded by a kirtana of Madhava Prabhu. Our program there was in the crowded town square. One lady and her daughters watched for two hours with great delight. She spoke English excellently, being an employee of the U.S. Government in Mexico City. One older man asked if he could dance to the kirtana on the stage during the first kirtana. Manorama told me to tell him to wait till the final kirtana. He could not stay so I danced with him in front of the stage to make him happy. I would dance with mantra cards in my hands and give them to people who looked at our program with interest. A couple Mexican book distributors greatly assisted us in our distribution of literature. Just see the size of the crowd and their enthusiasm at Veracruz:

This video shows our programs from Izamal to Veracruz:

At Orizaba we did a New Year’s Eve program from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The program was advertised around the city:

A highpoint for me was meeting some people who came last year and liked it and returned. I saw them reading the mantra from the flyer and taking pleasure singing along. The program attendance dropped after 8:30 p.m. as in the pious city of Orizaba, people spend New Year’s Eve in church. As midnight approached we had a lively kirtana on the bus to celebrate the New Year. Nadia made hot chocolate and served out cookies to celebrate. This video shows our New Year’s Eve program in Orizaba:

The year ended but the Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour to Mexico continued, and so I will describe the rest of it in my next issue. Don’t miss it.

If you would like to support my going on the tour, I am still $200 short. Click on the following link to help out:

For more photos of the tour, see the following devotees’ photos on Facebook:

Manorama Dasa:, Albums Mexico, Mexico II, and Mexico III.

Rukmini Priya Poddar:, Albums named with Mexican cities.

Summary of the Year

I did a six new events, three new Ratha-yatras this year, and harinama in at least a couple of new cities. The six new events were a five-day harinama tour with Janananda Goswami, Parasurama Prabhu’s nine-day Scandinavian Ratha-yatra tour, the Kirtan Mela in Germany, and this Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour to Mexico. All were wonderful experiences sharing Krishna with others except at Kirtan Mela when we shared kirtana with ourselves. Then there were the Crawley Ratha-yatra, Cardiff Ratha-yatra, and the New Orleans Ratha-yatra. I also went to harinama in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Cavan, Republic of Ireland. Although we had done harinama in Berlin many times, the three-hour one on Radhastami was special. I also attended a nama-hatta program in Crawley. On top of that I presented a paper on Srila Prabhupada’s empowerment and his ability to to empower others at an academic conference in Leeds. I felt happy to go new places and do new things, but still I do not do so much for this glorious mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as I should. I hope I can be more useful in the coming year.

The events I liked and repeated included the Ocala Regional Rainbow Gathering, St. Augustine, Tallahassee and Philadelphia Ratha-yatras, Queen’s Day harinama, Munich Ratha-yatra, Nrsimha Caturdasi at Simhacalam, Birmingham 24-hour kirtana, London Ratha-yatra, Stonehenge solstice festival, Croatian harinama tour, Poland Woodstock, Czech Woodstock, Polish tour, and the Ukraine festival.

One good result this year is one girl from a Czech Republic festival ended up attending regularly harinamas and evening programs in Brno, where she goes to school. Meeting the Hare Krishnas, she explained, was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak year.

Returning to Gainesville we have found the devotees continued the harinama at the Farmers’s Market, and at least a couple people from there have become regular attenders to our Krishna House programs because of it. They also maintained the weekly teaching of japa to students as a meditation.

Otherwise, we were mostly planting seeds of bhakti through our chanting and festivals, and we hope they will sprout sometime soon. Give us your blessings.

Thank You to My Kind Supporters

As I it is the end of the year, I want to start by thanking all the people who made it possible to travel in fifteen countries this year. People often ask how I can travel so many places although I have no fixed income. Ultimately it is the mercy of the Lord, but it comes through different agents all of whom I am greatly indebted to. I felt bad for insufficiently thanking my many benefactors in previous years, so I thought I would take this opportunity to do it now, and regularly each year from now on.

I want to thank the following people for their kind support during the year of 2011, starting with those who contributed the most: Kalakantha Prabhu, Narayana Kavaca Prabhu, Gauranga (Belfast), Pat Beetle (my mother) , Daru Brahma Prabhu, Mother Sandamini, Niranjana Swami, Prema Sindhu Prabhu (Ohio), Bhavna (Crawley), Sivananda Sena (Rotterdam), Mother Krishnapriya (Antwerp), Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu (Ireland), Janananda Goswami, Navin Shyam Prabhu, Bhaktin Kruti, Acyuta Rupa Prabhu, Bhakta Alex (Flagstaff), Victor (my sister’s boyfriend), Subuddhi Krishna Prabhu, Karen (my sister), a Crawley nama hatta devotee, the Berlin temple, Jamuna Prabhu (Queens), Dhruva (Los Angeles), Bhaktin Miso (Rotterdam), Varaha Murti Prabhu, Shyamasundara Bhagavan Prabhu, Leipzig temple, Antwerp temple, Gaura Hari (UK), Pandava, Bhakta Alan (Belfast), Radha Govinda (UK), Gopa Kumar Prabhu, Mother Nikunja (Berlin), Govinda Prabhu (Bhaktivedanta Manor), Sruti Sagar Prabhu, a devotee lady from Belarus, Vaidyanatha Prabhu, Navina Nirada Prabhu, Punya Palaka Prabhu, a Czech gas station attendant, and people who gave me donations while I was chanting on the sidewalks and parks in Leeds, Newcastle, Amsterdam, and probably few other places. Beyond the donations of money mentioned above, Narayana Kavaca Prabhu kindly paid for my camera, luggage, and some clothes this year, and my Netbook computer last year, thus facilitating my service greatly.

Here is a summary of my expenses and donations in 2011.

Description Debits Credits
book purchases/sales 1.62 -27.27
donations from individuals and temples
unaccounted for donations
gifts to temples, devotees, and relatives 298.85
Internet, phone, and computer 81.29
necessities 13.86
outreach 3.59
food 56.79
travel 2474.38
total 2930.38 -2930.38

Apart from the donations and expense mentioned above, four devotees helped sponsor my trip on the Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour in December 2011: Radha Jivan Prabhu of Sacred Threads, Sesa Prabhu, Srikar Prabhu, and Vaishnava Das Prabhu, and I thank them for giving me the most wonderful devotional way I have found so far to spend the end of December and the beginning of January in my life, sharing Krishna culture through festivals in Mexico.

I began traveling in 2001 when I was inspired by Sridhara Swami to visit my diksa-guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, in Ireland and inspired by Indradyumna Swami to visit the Polish Woodstock. Pat Beetle, my mother, kindly paid for my ticket. I loved seeing all the Polish youth engaged in Krishna chanting and decided to go each year to the Polish Woodstock to assist with the festival. Dharmatma Prabhu, who helped Indradyumna Swami collect for the Polish festivals, kindly paid for my ticket in 2002. In 2003 and 2004 I went to the Polish Woodstock and a couple weeks of the Polish Festival of India tour on the Baltic coast, visiting Prague, Czech Republic, for the first time in 2004. Sadaputa Prabhu, who I was working with at the time, kindly paid for those trips.

In 2005 I decided to take the Bhakti-sastri course in Mayapur, and I asked the devotees I knew from the eleven years I lived in Alachua to help me out. Lokavarnatam Prabhu, who had a thriving Internet business at the time, gave me enough for my ticket, and many other devotees helped out, including Prana Govinda Prabhu, Sesa Prabhu, Kaliyaphani Prabhu, Indupati Prabhu, Panchatattva Prabhu, Kishore Krishna Prabhu, Mother Anangamanjari, Urukrama Prabhu, Vidyananda Prabhu, and Vishnu Gada Prabhu. I raised enough money to go to Europe and India twice, without returning to America in between. During the time in India, Sesa Prabhu, Mother Nanda, Mother Sukhada, Nitai (SDG) Prabhu, Ekavira Prabhu, and Yadavendra Prabhu kindly gave me donations, and in 2006 Vaishnava youth from Idaho, Gopal Hari Prabhu, and Polish tour restaurant manager, Rasikendra Prabhu gave me donations in Poland. Later Bhakti Vijnana Goswami kindly sponsored my travel, visa, and accommodations in Russia to present a seminar on Sadaputa Prabhu’s videos at the Russian festival in Krinnitsa, and different devotees gave me donations in Russia and Ukraine. During the 2005–2006 and 2006–2007 winters in India, I worked for MIHET in exchange for room and board, and I thank them for that opportunity.

In 2007 Pat Beetle, Kalakantha Prabhu, Tara Prabhu, Aholavam Nrsimha Prabhu, Sri Prahlada Prabhu, Trilokatma Prabhu, Prema Sindhu Prabhu, Navin Prabhu, two congregational devotees from Tallahassee, Panchtattva Prabhu, Bhakta Victor from Tampa, Rtadhvaja Swami, Prahlada-Nrsimha Prabhu, the Munich temple, and Vraja Vilasa, Nitai, Krishna Kesava, Mahabharata, Gadagraja, Atul Krishna, and Dravida Prabhus gave me donations along with a few devotees in Ukraine. I also got a donation for participating in a Kolkata nama-hatta. In 2007 my mother contributed to a trip for the two of us to South India. In the winters of 2007–2008 and 2009–2010, when I was in Mayapur, I was taken care of the Shastra Prabhu and the harinama sankirtana office, as I did service for them, and I thank them for that most satisfying service opportunity. I hope to return there in February 2012.

In 2008 Pat Beetle, Ahovalam Nrsimha Prabhu, Indradyumna Swami, Mother Krishnapriya, Daru Brahma Prabhu, Sivam, Back to Godhead magazine, Tara Prabhu, the Bratislava temple, the Leipzig temple, the Rotterdam temple, Mother Syamanandini, two bhaktas from Slovakia both named Peter, Kalakantha Prabhu, Dravida Prabhu, Isvara Prabhu, Sridhama Prabhu of Daytona, Adi Karta Prabhu, Bhakta Jaroslav from Prague, and Badrinarayana, Lilasuka, and Carucandra Prabhus, a driver and a servant of the presenters at the Ukraine festival, a Ukrainian lady, the London temple receptionist, and an Australian gurukuli kindly gave me donations.

In 2009, Kalakantha Prabhu, Pat Beetle, Niranjana Swami, Dhruva Prabhu, Daru Brahma Prabhu, the Durban temple, Bhakta Matush, Kavicandra Swami, Sri Prahlada Prabhu, the Bratislava temple, Kadamba Kanana Swami, Paramesvara Prabhu, Bhakta Mike, Isvara Krishna Prabhu, Mother Krishnapriya, Mukunda Prabhu from London, Sivam, Anil, Trivikrama Prabhu, Krishna Vidhi Prabhu, my host in Lvov, Bhaktin Eva (from Czech), Tapan Misra Prabhu, Raja Dharma Prabhu (Paris), a black devotee from the London harinama, a devotee in Paris who used to drive Srila Prabhupada, Bernard, Rama Gopal Prabhu, Yasoda Dulal Prabhu, Mother Govinda Priya (NRS), another devotee lady from Ukraine, a college outreach devotee in London, a Bengali nama-hatta, and Bhakta Andres (now Ananda Seva Prabhu) kindly gave me donations. I also distributed a few books in Prague and did harinama in Bern and thus received donations, and I found some money on the ground a couple times.

Kadambda Kanana Swami kindly bought me a ticket to South Africa in 2009 so I could experience how the outreach programs are developing there and share it with others. Thus on my fiftieth birthday, I did harinama in a new city, Pretoria, in a new country, South Africa, on a new continent.

In 2010 Kalakantha Prabhu, Pat Beetle, Ahovalam Nrsimha Prabhu, Mother Sandamini, Daru Brahma Prabhu, Bhakta Peter, the Den Haag temple, Vrajendralal Prabhu, Vraja Vilasa Prabhu, Jaya Govinda Prabhu, the Leipzig temple, Naveen Prabhu, the Berlin temple, Vaishnava Prabhu, Bhakta Dave, people I met on harinama, my host in Lvov, Vijaya Prabhu (my driver in Lvov), Victor, Bhakti Rasa Prabhu, Mother Krishna Karsani, Gaura Nam Prabhu, people me and my friends distributed books to on harinama, an Indian man who bought a Hindi BTG on a train, a devotee (in exchange for a sweet), and the Soho St. temple, kindly gave me donations.

Over the last few years, Drutakarma Prabhu gave me a donation for proofreading Forbidden Archeology, Isvara Prabhu of Touchstone Publishing gave me a donation for proofreading Uddhava Gita, Kalakantha Prabhu gave me a donation for proofreading his book, A God Who Dances, and Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu gave me a donation for scanning the books of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami.

Thank you all for your kind support of my program of promoting the public chanting of the holy names of the Hare Krishna mantra in different towns and villages. I pray that Lord Krishna blesses you for your kindness, and that you advance in your devotion for Him.

My present ticket ends in London on February 12, 2012. I greatly desire to go to Mayapur for the Kirtan Mela on February 22–25, 2012, but I have only $250 out of the $550 I need. If any of you would like to help, you can send me money using Paypal by clicking the “Donate” link below.

Alternatively, you can deposit money in my Bank of America or Wells Fargo bank accounts. Send me an email for details at:

Thanks again for your help.

Insight from Devotees

Guru Prasad Swami:

As soon as we are interested in sense gratification, automatically we are thinking of ourselves first. When there is a question of service, then we are interested in the other person or in Krishna.

Prabhupada told his disciples that they were proof of the reality of Lord Caitanya's mercy.

Once the fired-up sankirtana devotees were running in kirtana and sliding, like you would slide into first base, however, when Prabhupada saw it, he stopped it.

If the holy name does not touch our real essence, what comes out will not be pure but tinged with this or that.

Q: What does it mean to chant from the heart?

A: The first ingredient is association with devotees, intense association (prasangam), as Lord Kapila says (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.25). Sometimes we think association with devotees means a pizza party.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explained the position of guru as difficult because if you think you are guru then you become gauru (cow). By if you do not instruct your disciples, you are irresponsible.

You cannot purchase a do-it-yourself pure devotee kit because association with pure devotees is so important.

One devotee was just reading and not doing service so the devotees complained to Prabhupada. Prabhupada replied, “Reading is not service?” The leaders were worried that all the devotees would stop doing service and just read. Then Prabhupada said, “Of course, if he is reading, then he will understand, you must serve.”

Every order of life has its challenges. To stage a good example as a grhastha is big preaching because show gives people a lifestyle they can follow.

Everyone has iPhones and iPads. “I” means ego.

Comment by Madhava Prabhu: Aindra Prabhu told us that japa is the foundation for good kirtana.


prithivite ache yata nagaradi-grama

sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

[Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:] “In every town and village of the world, My name [the holy name of Krishna] will be preached.” (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 4.126)