CHAPTER 16: We Get the Visas

We Get the Visas

Volume 1, Chapter 16

F r i d a y  J u n e     2

Today I held initiations in the courtyard of the temple. I accepted two boys, 17 and 23 years of age, as disciples. Because they are sankirtana partners I called them Nakula dasa and Sahadeva dasa, after the twin sons of Madri, the wife of Pandu.

Besides a crowd of 300 devotees, many of them congregation members, there were a number of people from the neighborhood. There also must have been fifty Muslim children, and during the two -and-a-half-hour kirtana that Sri Prahlada led afterwards, they chanted Hare Krsna and danced in ecstasy as their parents looked on from the rooftops or over the walls of our temple.

It always amazes me to see Muslims intermingling freely with devotees and attending our functions. The temple is situated in an area where the houses are packed closely together, but no one seems to mind our kirtanas. But every morning when Govinda Maharaja or I give Srimad-Bhagavatam class, the local mosque, just fifty meters away, blasts the reading from the Koran over its loudspeaker to the area’s Muslims. The devotees attending class simply move in a little closer to hear the Bhagavatam speaker.

Before we took rest, a devotee brought us our passports. He had managed to get visas for us from a government offiice, with a bribe on the side. Now we were legally in the country and could legally leave as well. It was a great relief for us. Tomorrow night we plan to fly further into central Asia, to Bishkek on the border of northern China.

As I fall asleep I curse the mosquitoes. There is no relief from them, especially because in Azerbaijan and Russia you cannot buy mosquito repellent. It doesn’t exist. For me it is “the most amazing thing.” I searched shop after shop for mosquito repellent the other day, until Uttamasloka told me that Russians don’t even know what it is.