The city of Sochi, on the Black Sea in Russia, hosted the Winter Olympics several years ago. Krsna consciousness came to Sochi in the late 1980’s and today has an a large temple with an enthusiastic group of devotees whose presence adds a special charm to the city.
On May 1st, when the people of Krasnodar, Russia, came out in mass to celebrate Worker’s Day, we stayed home and celebrated the Lord in our local temple with kirtan, classes and Sri Krsna prasadam. The city was bursting with celebrations!
“’I’ve spent many days in Vrindavan! I’ve chanted Radha’s name!’ Only these words will be my strength as I fall deep into hell due to my karma.”
[ Srila Prabodhananda Saraswati, Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛtam 9.84 ]
Translated by Hari Parshad Das from the Sanskrit available at Gaudiya Grantha Mandira. Printed in Issue 376 of Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindhu, published by Gopal Jui Publications.
“I pray that I may engage in the service of the moving and non-moving residents of Vrindavan. What are Brahma and the other demigods in comparison to them? The residents of Vrindavan are more glorious. They are very dear to Vraja’s king. Their forms are eternal, spiritual and full of nectar. Their glories are limitless. They are the root that sprouts into the bliss of the Upanisads.”
[ Vrindavan Mahimamrita, Sataka One, verse 61 ]
The city of Sochi in southern Russia was a milestone in our tour through Russia. The warm weather, the scenic views and the beauty of the Black Sea were overwhelming. But far greater was the association of the 400 devotees living in Sochi and their taste for Krsna katha, chanting the holy names and their constant endeavour to bring others into the fold.
St. Petersburg is without exception the most beautiful city in Russia. With a rich cultural heritage it proudly represents the history of Russia going back hundreds of years. Our photographer, Ananta Vrindavan dasa, did an excellent job in catching the charm of the city, as well as the blissful programs we held with all the wonderful devotees in St. Petersburg. We have one last stop on our journey through Russia: Moscow!
Dear disciples: Please take the time to listen to, “Disciples of Kali” on www.narottam.com. Given in St.Petersburg, Russia on May 4, it contains important instructions on why we shouldn’t criticize devotees.
“O swan gliding in the lakes of the Vraja-vasi’s love, I wish that I may wander everywhere always chanting and drinking the nectar of Your names. Those most sweet names arise from the ocean of Gokula and spread the glories of Your infinitely varied dress and ways of acting. As I wander, behaving like a madman, may I distribute joy to everyone in all the worlds.”
[ Brhat Bhagavatamrta 1.7.143 ]
Towards the end of our Russian tour we visited the devotees in St. Petersburg, the cultural capitol of the country. In 6 weeks we had travelled over 10,000 kilometres from the far eastern city of Vladivostok. St. Petersburg was built over 300 years ago by Peter the Great. Our devotees have been active in the city since the late 1980’s. As everywhere we immersed ourselves in Krsna katha and endless kirtans!
Our visit to Moscow was the last stop on our preaching tour of Russia. There we discovered literally thousands of devotees, the fruit of Srila Prabhupada’s visit to the capitol in 1971. We arrived on Victory Day, a celebration by the Russian people of their victory over the Nazis in World War II. Red Square was alive with a show of military might. As we stood there we pondered that Srila Prabhupada also came to the same square during his visit to Moscow. In our heart’s we quietly celebrated his victory in bravely and boldly establishing Krsna consciousness in the country many years ago.
This coming extended weekend: May 188.8.131.52 [ Friday evening through Monday noon ] we will be live-streaming the Sadhu Sanga Retreat kirtans in Boone, North Carolina, USA. Over 2,300 devotees will be joining many of ISKCON’s most well known kirtaneers for wonderful kirtans. Srimad Bhagavatam classes will also be shown. Timings are for Eastern Standard time, USA. Please join us for heaven on earth!
The link for devotees to RSVP is: Sadhu Sanga 2018 LIVE – Veuwr.
“Yes, we shall base our preaching work on Lord Caitanya’s formula: sankirtana. After all, He is God, and if He recommends, what is the question of failure? That is not possible. If we simply stick to this program as I have done it since the beginning – namely, kirtana, preaching, kirtana, distribution of prasadam—if you do like this only that will be sufficient. Of course, you may make the kirtana as nice as possible, with dancing, many kholes, karatalas, conches, etc. If you preach sincerely, anyone will listen and become convinced”
[ Srila Prabhupada, letter to Sudama das, Bombay, November, 1972. Painting: Lord Caitanya with the Chand Kazi ]
As the spring tour winds down we find ourselves in the wonderful association of the devotees in Dnipro. This is an ideal place to wrap up the last 6 weeks of travel in Russia and Ukraine as the devotees here have an insatiable taste for the Holy Name and dancing in kirtan. Whether it be in a public setting such as the Rathayatra in Dnipro, a festival celebrating the association of devotees, or in powerful temple programs, devotees love kirtan. As a team we feel quite humbled to have been blessed to serve Srila Prabhupada sharing his message of Krsna consciousness with these devotees.