Glimpses of a wonderful preaching event
Dear Maharajas and other devotees! Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
We just finished Padayatra Slovenia and here are some glimpses of this wonderful preaching event. This year Padayatra lasted only 11 full days but never less it was like a peak of the December Marathon. We decided that we will distribute mainly Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and Teachings of Lord Caitanya because we have full go down of them. Like every year we were four or five book distributors along the bullock cart and of course a few matajis with full baskets of cookies. In the main group there were around
40-50 devotees enthusiastically chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Kirtaniya was Hare Krishna Prabhu, an older devotee from Italy. While going from town to town, from village to village people who saw the caravan would be simply amazed. In great wonder they would come out and devotees would all smile and wave to them and we would “attack” them with prasadam and Srila Prabhupada’s books. Every day we distributed around 200 books. Normally this is not possible. For example I was doing the same villages 2 years ago and I could hardly distribute 10 or 15 books there but now people were just melting while seeing Bhima (an ox) and blissful devotees. Sometimes they would already come out with some lakshmi in their hands or with some water to drink. It was not unusual scene that ladies would embrace the sankirtan devotees after receiving the books. In regular sankirtan these things does not happen often but here everything was a little mystical. People would feel the spiritual potency and the unity of the devotees. Hare Krishna Prabhu was playing accordion, which is the national instrument of Slovenia. Bhakta Joze distributed a book to one man. When the man saw that the leader is playing on accordion he emptied the wallet completely and in great joy received more books.
The publicity was also very good. Padayatra appeared in local newspapers, radio programs. We had even TV presentation, speaking directly about karma, chanting Hare Krishna. Then the TV speaker would ask me about the book I had on the table in the studio. He would pick up the Bhagavad-gita and put it in front of a camera for about 10-15 seconds and I would explain how in this book we had all the answers who is God, where we are going after death and what is the purpose of life. At the end the man asked how we say goodbye and I said Hare Krishna. So he concluded the show with a loud “Hare Krishna!”.
After that many people already knew that our caravan is walking in their area. Then the sankirtan would be even easier. Sometimes we would just say “Here we aaare!” and they would say “O, so nice, can I give you something?” Well…
Good thing was also that local devotees were engaged. In every town in which we would arrive the local devotees already prepared the stage for the bhajans and they themselves would play. We would have a puppet show with Krishna and cowherd boys for the children. Matajis had some dance and latter the kids would join them. They would put gopi dots on their faces, sometimes even tilak and the parents would simply smile. And we would just pump out the books around the show.
More than 20 devotees from congregation with their families joined us full time. In this way we had great opportunity to accociate with them more closely not just ‘haribol’ on Sunday Feast or some pizza party. It was complete absorbtion in the preaching mission. We would all come out of comfort zone, sleeping on the floor, tolerating scorching heat durring the day, long walks and cold shower in the morning, but everyone would be completely blissful.
In one city we had only two kilometers from one school to another where we slept. But we were walking for more than 7 hours because we were going in every street up and down. That day they took 344 books, mostly Srimad Bhagavatams First Canto. The kirtan was so intense that people would be scared. You can imagine 50 fired up devotees loudly chanting in front of someone’s house. Then my mantra was “Hope you are not afraid because we are chanting so loudly?” And they would say “Hhhm, of course not…” then I would laugh and say “Then this is for you…”
One nice thing is that by Padayatra the SKT zone is not burned. For example, just one month ago we were doing BD in the area where Padayatra passed one year ago. We thought that people would say “Again you…” but no, people would even proudly say “Yes, yes, we saw your group last year and we tried your cookies…” Many times they would like to know more about this movement and the philosophy. By walking through towns and villages like this, we felt that prediction prithivite ache… is really going to happen. We thought that if we would have the manpower we could open a nama-hatta in every town.
All the devotees felt great mercy of Sri Sri Panca Tattva and guru parampara. On the ratha we had Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities which were years ago worshipped by Manidhara Pr. and after by Rohinisuta Prabhu. So we called them Sankirtan Deities. Lomancita pr. would sometimes distribute books to the people and then he would bring them to the ratha and showed them how to touch the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and Gaura Nitai. Amazingly people were not speculating and they would also take the dust on their forheads.
We had a great honor to have three Prabhupada’s disciples among us. Manidhara Pr., Tattvavit Pr., and Divya Purusa Pr. They all gave us their valuable association and encouragement to continue with the preaching mission. Especially Manidhar Pr. was all the time speaking about Prabhupada and book distribution. We asked him how he is still so inspired for BD although he is not doing it full time anymore. He answered that when he remembers how dear was book distribution to Srila Prabhupada, he is automatically inspired.
The last day we were passing by one factory and all the workers were interested what is going on and they all came out. The lady owner flip out and called the police. Police asked why we are disturbing the people… At that moment we remembered the words of our spiritual master that if demons are flipping out that means we are doing something substancial. So we all happily continued with the Padayatra.
Together we distributed 2413 books. Out of these more than 1500 SB. Srila Prabhupada’s formula “double it” is really working. Five years ago devotees distributed only 45 books, next year 150, then 600 and last year 1130 and this year 2400. Hope next year over 5000. Anandambudhi vardhanam… Kathancana smrte yasmin…
Last day we had long ecstatic kirtan late in night. We could all see how Srila Prabhupada moorty is smiling. At that time we felt that our lives are perfect.
We were most happy when we were completely absorbed in book distribution on Padayatra. We strongly felt the blessings of the spiritual master and Srila Prabhupada and their divine presence in our hearts. Everything was clear, simple and nice.
Of course, now we are back in conditional reality, struggling with our mind and senses. But just remembrance of these happy moments is giving us life.
Dear all merciful devotees of ISKCON, please bless us that we can continue and expand such programs all over the world and in this way be instruments in Lord Caitanya’s prediction that chanting of the holy names will be heart in every town and village.
Sankirtan Yajna ki Jay!!
Your useless servant Vasudeva Datta das, TSKP Slovenia