Chapter 21: If Mohammed Can’t Go to the Mountain . . .

June 4–17, 2002

By Indradyumna Swami

The pressure to find land along the Baltic coast increased when locals told us that the mayor of Swierzno would definitely not be reelected the following year. It was only through her influence that the school director had agreed to rent to us the facility this year. Also, we discovered that people are purchasing all available property because they expect land values to increase when Poland joins the EEC eighteen months from now.

But our busy festival schedule hardly allowed us time to search for property. We were holding a large festival every weekday except Mondays, and on the weekends. All 280 devotees rise at 5:00 a.m., and no one goes to bed before 11:00 p.m. The Polish tour is an intense but fully satisfying program. Thousands of people receive mercy every day. This program can only be compared to drinking hot sugarcane juice: it burns the lips, but it’s too sweet to stop drinking it.

So we were having trouble finding land, but it is said, “If Mohammed can’t go to the mountain, the mountain must go to Mohammed.” By the Lord’s grace, this proverb came true at our recent festival in Pobierowo.

While I was watching people take prasadam in the restaurant tent, I noticed a young girl carefully choosing a number of sweets and savories at the counter. The care with which she made her selections impressed me, so I approached her and said, “You seem familiar with the food.”

“Yes,” she replied, “I know exactly what I want.” “Have you eaten this food before?” “Yes,” she said, this was her sixth festival.

Surprised, I asked, “How old are you?”

“I’m ten. I’ve been coming to your festivals since I was four. Can you please serve me one of those pakoras?”

I served her and then left the tent to check on the festival. Thousands of people were walking the festival grounds, and I could hardly make my way through the crowds to the book tent. When I arrived, I noticed a woman in her early twenties looking through Bhagavad-gita. She was wearing a sari, but I didn’t recognize her; I didn’t think she was one of our tour devotees. Also, she had put on her sari in an unusual way, and she was wearing only a semblance of tilaka on her forehead—it was dark gray and oddly shaped. A number of devotees were staring at her, so I decided to speak to her. “Excuse me, are you visiting us from a particular temple?”

“No,” she smiled, “I’ve never met devotees, although I’ve been longing to for years. Association with devotees is important. In The Nectar of Devotion association with devotees is listed as one of the five most important items of devotional service.”

Amazed, I asked, “If this is the first time you’ve met devotees, how is it that you’re dressed like this and quoting scripture?”

“I live in a small town in northeast Poland. I found out about Krishna consciousness on the Internet five years ago. Soon after I made myself some japa beads and have been chanting every day. I also have an altar with Gaura-Nitai Deities that I carved and to whom I offer my food. I came to Pobierowo with my parents on vacation and was delighted to see the devotees singing Hare Krishna on the beach. I came to the festival today to find a spiritual master. May I ask you some questions about Krishna consciousness?”

“Of course,” I replied, and we talked for two hours. I then asked several of the devotee women to take care of her, including showing her how to properly wear a sari and tilaka. I walked back to the restaurant reflecting on how the Lord mercifully directs us back to the spiritual world.

Then a middle aged woman approached me and said, “This is a great festival! You should come more often.”

“I’m glad you appreciate it,” I said. “By the way, you look wonderful in those gopi dots.”

“I got them at the Indian makeup tent. I had to wait one hour, but it was worth it. I also enjoyed reading the displays on reincarnation and vegetarianism. After getting a bite to eat at the restaurant, I’m going to watch the theater.”

“How did you learn about the festival?”

“My secretary told me,” she said, as we entered the restaurant tent and sat at a table together. “It would be wonderful if you would come back each year.”

“Actually, we would like to purchase land near here as a base for our festival tour and an eventual tourist attraction.”

“That’s a good idea,” she said. “I’ve heard the local people say how much they love you. You’ve been coming here for years with your festival programs. Are you having any luck finding property?”

“Not really,” I replied. “We’re so busy with these festivals that we don’t have time to look.”

“Well, maybe I can help you. Here’s my card. Come to my office on Monday and we can talk.”

With that, she got up and went to the front of the stage where the Ramayana Theater was just beginning. I was in a hurry, so I stuffed her card into my kurta pocket and left to check on the Indian dancers, who would be performing next.

As I ascended the stage, I saw the same woman sitting in the front row enjoying the theater. After the Indian dancers had performed, I gave my lecture and noticed that she was still sitting there. Out of curiosity I reached into my pocket and took out the card she had given me. I handed it to my translator and asked him to translate it for me. He read:

Mayor of Pobierowo

Head of Parent-Teacher Association

Director-in-charge of Regional Land Sales

I can only imagine what the large crowd of people must have thought of me as I stood there in front of them, my mouth hanging open and unable to speak. My only thought was, “My dear Lord, out of your kindness the mountain has come to us!”

ananyaS cintayanto mam, ye jana˙ paryupasate

tesham nityabhiyuktanam, yogakshemam vahamy aham

“But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.” (Bg. 9.22)