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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Hare Krishna Convention-2009 In Bangladesh

Monday, 06 April 2009 / Published in Announcements / 5,746 views

By Devaki devi dasi

Around one thousand enthusiastic devotees gathered for four days at the holy place of Rupa Sanatan Smrithi Tirtha situated in the Jessore District of Bangladesh in order to celebrate the first annual Hare Krishna convention. As guest speakers we welcomed HH Lokanath Maharaja, HH Bhakti Charu Maharaja, HH Prabhavisnu Maharaja and his Grace Hari Sauri Prabhu, with HH Bhakti Purusottama Maharaja being the host of the event.

The main theme of the gathering we found in one of Srila Prabhupada’s famous letters: “Now I want that we shall concentrate on making our devotees Krishna conscious and ourselves becoming Krishna conscious, and not be so much concerned with expanding ourselves widely but without any spiritual content. Just like boiling the milk, it becomes thicker and sweeter. Now do like that – boil the milk.”

We remembered how Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was meeting with His associates and followers in an intimate setting – behind closed doors, under the exclusion of the general public. In the same spirit we were careful to have only practising devotees attend the auspicious event.

Throughout the day we were absorbed in hearing about deeper aspects of devotional life, and the evenings were spent in wonderful kirtans. It was HH Lokanath Swami’s first visit to Bangladesh, and his wonderful kirtans were the center of the festival. Bangladesh is famous for having the best musicians, and devotees were playing a variety of musical instruments including violine, sitar and other string instruments. The stage was beautifully decorated with fresh flower garlands – witnessing the kirtan scene was simply a transcendental feast for the mind and heart: a glimpse into the spiritual world. I couldn’t help but remembering the wonderful sight of the abhishek of the Pancha Tattva Deities in Mayapur this year, and those kirtans transmitted the same taste and flavour – simply out of this world. With descriptions of the first Kheturi festival in mind we had no doubt that the transcendental atmosphere and pure chanting had attracted Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates to participate in these kirtans.

The accomodation and living conditions at the festival site were simple, nevertheless all the devotees were very joyful and deeply satisfied at heart, since it was the very first time they had experienced such kind of uplifting event.

We concluded the festive gathering with a public pandal program on the last evening, which was attended by around 40.000 people throughout the day and evening, coming from the 96 surrounding Hindu villages. Various dignitaries and political leaders attended the program in the evening. HH Lokanath Swami and His Grace Hari Sauri Prabhu took the opportunity to travel further in a small group of devotees to visit Kheturi Dhama.

Inspired by HH Niranjana Swami’s annual festival in Ukraine we decided to regularly arrange for this ‘boiling-the-milk festival’ at Rupa Sanatan Smrithi Tirtha in the future years to come.

Your servant, Devaki dd

Bhakti Bhrnga Govinda Swami's Kazakhstan deportation case closed
Conclusion of Varnasrama college-2009 at Krisna Balaram Ksetra

6 Responses to “Hare Krishna Convention-2009 In Bangladesh”

  1. Rajashekhar Das says :

    Hare Krishna, Devaki mataji,

    I was one of the fortunate ones to be in this massive sadhu sanga convention. Along with the discourses by all the invited dignitaries, I also got to learn how one should be instrumental in making a festival like this happen, how one can inspire and motivate the devotees to pull out such a big operation based on Srila Prabhupada’s guidance and one how one can be so affectionate and motherly towards her juniors raising above cust, creed and nationality. Therefore I would like to offer my humble obeisances and convey my gratitude to this one devotee, the author of this article.

    It was a good start to inspire all the devotees nationwide, to take them to the wide arena of KC. I look forward to take part in the upcoming one as well.

    Rajashekhar Das

  2. pustakrishna says :

    The Rupa Sanatan Smriti Tirtha history can be better elaborated upon by others but I want to share this. Over 10 years ago, His Holiness Mahavishnu Swami came through California, both Los Angeles and San Francisco, to both participate in the summer Rathayatra celebrations, and to collect funds for the Rupa Sanatan Smriti Tirtha building project. He stayed in our home in Santa Cruz, California for a day or two before we took him up to San Francisco, a two and a half hour car ride up the coast. He was selling colorful beadbags with beautiful hand embroidered Krishna conscious designs on them, made in Russia, and also hand embroidered T-shirts. He showed me photos of the foundation of the building which had stalled due to lack of funds. He spoke of how the surrounding Moslem farmers used to look at the foundation and laugh, that it would never be completed. This did not deter the optimistic Mahavishnu Swami. I knew him well from our earlier days of doing Sankirtan in the streets of London, from the Bury Place Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in the early 70’s. He and a core of British brahmacharis were a joy to be with. Their happiness, friendliness, and natural Krishna conscious humility, symbolized by Tribhuvanath Prabhu and others, was a very welcome flavor compared with my American Godbrothers who had a slightly more aggressive mentality at times (forgive me, just a generalization not meant to offend anyone in particular). Keep in mind that the American vaishnavas helped to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world initially, much to their credit and determination.
    However, how difficult it is to establish a vaishnava monument and temple to Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatan Goswamis in a predominantly Moslem area. What determination of Mahavishnu Swami and others who saw this project through! It is really amazing and proper recognition needs to be given lest we forget the sacrifices of these souls. Results may not always come quickly. Sometimes the seed of a project, like the seed of bhakti, takes time to bear fruit. It is an example worth remembering, and again shows how determined the servitors of Srila Prabhupad can be. In conclusion, they exemplify the three words (utsahan niscayad dhairyat=enthusiasm, determination and patience) recommended by Srila Rupa Goswami. Sincerely, Pusta Krishna das

  3. Pusta Krishna prabhu’s comments are well taken. In fact, as it was mentioned at the festival, he was one of the first ISKCON devotees to go into Bangladesh. There was one particular incident where he and the devotees he was with were obliged to leave the country and were put at high risk.

    None of us at the festival knew all the details of this incident although I recall him telling something about it when we were traveling together on Srila Prabhupada’s party. It would be great if he could narrate it here, for posterity.

    Yhs, Hari-sauri dasa

  4. pustakrishna says :

    Gargamuni Swami was in Gainesville, Florida, introducing Krishna consciousness to me and others under the trees in the Plaza of the Americas. In around January, 1971, he received a letter to go to East Pakistan, later to be known as Bangladesh. Krishna’s Personal darshan captured me with His love, and I left college only weeks before graduating, having already been accepted to medical school. Three years before, I was in a motorcycle accident caused by another individual, and I received three thousand dollars in settlement. Gargamuni Swami wanted to get that to go to East Pakistan, and I said that I would do it, but only if I could accompany him. He was a little reluctant, since I was a brand new bhakta. He, however, agreed, and we hitch-hiked up to Brooklyn, New York where we obtained passports and visas.
    We flew to Dacca, East Pakistan arriving late one night in around late February, 1971. We took a cab to the International Hotel, and noted enroute in the night that there were some cars turned over, and fires in the street. Then, early the next morning, we awoke to the sounds of the tropics. We heard tropical birds calling and the like. It reminded me of Tarzan movies. We went to the American Embassy in Dacca to register, and enroute saw black flags on rickshaws and everywhere else, and the people everywhere were shouting “Jai Bengla, Jai Bengla” with their clenched fists up in the air. We discovered that we were in the midst of a revolution. The East Pakistanis were trying to break away from the strong rule of the West Pakistan government.
    We went to the Gaudiya Math Ashram in Dacca. All we had were orange backpacks, and of course Gargamuni Swami carried his tridandi. When we arrived, the vaishnavas greeted us incredibly warmly. Surely they had never seen white vaishnavas before. They sat us down and literally washed our feet and gave us a room, and cared for us with unsuspicious kindness. Later we sometimes heard criticism of the Gaudiya Math within ISKCON, but I must tell you that these humble vaishnavas were all that one could hope to become in Krishna consciousness, servants of the servant. They arranged several preaching programs at their ashram for Gargamuni Swami to lecture at, and arranged a trip overnight up the river for a preaching program north of Dacca. That city did not simply have wild monkeys…there were wild gorillas, truly!
    Continued….Pusta Krishna das

  5. pustakrishna says :

    In addition to the preaching programs, they fed us sumptuous prasadam. I recall how these relatively tiny men, by American standards, could ingest such hugh mounds of rice and dahl. I was absorbed in chanting japa and reading the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, and whatever other books Gargamuni Swami had. There were few books then, and they were treasures!
    I was striken with dysentery and high fever. One night in March, 1971, we heard machine gun fire, other guns, and what sounded like bombs. I was so sick that I simply turned over and tried to rest…my head exploding from fever. The next morning we took a rickshaw to the American embassy. It was incredible! All of the black flags that we had seen daily were nowhere to be seen. We passed a shanty town where days before there were countless huts with aluminum roofs. It was about a square mile or so. Overnight, the place was completely leveled! When we got to the American embassy, they told us that our lives were in danger if we stayed, and they advised us to get out of East Pakistan. However, there was no way out. It took us about another month before we got a flight out. Now, everywhere were the tall West Pakistani Punjabi-resembling army. They were fighting the students then at the Dacca University, the last stronghold of resistance. Essentially, the powerful West Pakistani army overwhelmed the unarmed East Pakistani people.
    We eventually flew from Dacca, via Ceylon (Pakistani Airlines could not fly over India) and then to Karachi, West Pakistan. We stayed about 4 days at the Salvation Army in Karachi. I recall how one muslim man with a whip struck me with the whip in the streets of Dacca.
    When we arrived in Bombay (later called Mumbai), we saw posters across main streets announcing the first preaching pandals that Srila Prabhupad was holding with his predominantly American disciples. We went to the location of the pandal, but the program that day was already completed. One devotee told us how to get to Akash Ganga,
    a high rise that Srila Prabhupad was using to house the devotees with a temple room as well. When we arrived, several days before Lord Chaitanyadeva’s Appearance Day, we entered the room of Srila Prabhupad where about 10 other disciples were seated, and we offered our full dandavats. This was the first time that I had physically met Srila Prabhupad. He was very happy to see us.
    continued…Pusta Krishna das

  6. pustakrishna says :

    Srila Prabhupad was very happy to see us, as he was aware that war had borken out in East Pakistan about one month earlier. He said that he was indebted to us that we had risked our lives for Lord Chaitanya. He inquired who I was and Gargamuni Swami introduced me. Srila Prabhupad asked me what I liked most about the Krishna consciousness movement. I replied, “The Bhagavad Gita As It Is”. He said that is very good. After I left the room, and Srila Prabhupad was alone with Gargamuni and Brahmananda Swamis, Srila Prabhupad told them that day, that he would make that boy a sannyasi. Fourteen months later, in June 1972, that came to pass.
    Srila Prabhupad gave me first initiation along with one other person. The other young man was a follower of Sai, who brought many to Krishna consciousness, with his charismatic personality and he used Srila Prabhupad’s books. Srila Prabhupad personally performed the fire yajna (the only time I ever saw him do this). He named the other person, Tushta Krishna (one who is satisfied with Krishna) and then His Divine Grace gave me the name Pushta Krishna (“one who gets strength from Krishna”). From that day on, Srila Prabhupad always showered his mercy and affection upon me.
    Gargamuni Swami went out successfully making life members in Bombay, while I stayed back at the temple, happily cleaning the temple room floor, chanting japa, and reading the books that were available. AFter some time, Gargamuni Swami and I went on to Old Delhi, establishing a place there for programs, and then on to Vrindaban in the summer of 1971, where we had a small place in Brahma-Ghat. The two of us, the only two white vaishnavas in Vrindaban, performed sankirtan on the streets, begged for food door to door, and lost many battles to the aggressive monkeys. Becoming very ill there my self, I returned to the US vias London (where I again met with Srila Prabhupad) and where I was hospitalized for several days. I met the beautiful souls of the Bury Place Temple, and Tribhuvanath Prabhu befriended me. Those were magical and simple days in Krishna consciousness.
    We had heard, but could not be sure, that the West Pakistani Army had attacked the Dacca Gaudiya Math, and several bhaktas were killed. My non-sectarian mood in Krishna consciousness is deeply influenced by the kind souls of that ashram.
    Pusta Krishna das