culture, which He has provided to support our spiritual development. Once
understanding the underlying principles, values and wisdom forming the
foundation of this culture, we can enter within it and derive tremendous
devotional enlivenment and benefit.
On the 17th of June we received fourty ladies in Kharkov/Ukraine, who came
from various parts of Russia, Moldova, Latvia and Ukraine, eager to take
part in this two-week course "Exploring The Roots Of Spiritual Culture".
I had been meditating upon and developing this course over several years and
first taught it in Mayapur last January, and it left powerful impressions on
the hearts of the participating ladies. This encouraging response inspired
me to offer it far and wide to as many Vaisnavis as possible.
And now the time had come to teach it for the first time in Ukraine....
Prema Mataji had arranged the registration for this course, and she had
found suitable accomodation for all the ladies in a nearby hostel of a
college. The school holidays had begun and all the girls had gone home, and
the director was happy to earn a little extra money for the hostel of the
school by allowing our ladies to stay there.
It turned out to be a perfect arrangement.....
Our audience was a good mixture. Some senior ladies had come, and also some
new devotees were there, all between 19 and 65 years of age.
The scedule was rather intense: after the general morning program we had a
3-hour session in the morning and two to two and half hours in the
I had prepared good and concise hand-outs for everyone on each lesson, with
lots of nice quotes, and also two interesting articles which I managed to
get translated into Russian.
The whole thing is a very systematic and well structured program unfolding
all the eternal truths, principles and deep wisdom underlying spiritual
culture. One could describe it almost like a re-programming course, which
deeply changes our whole world view of what it means to be successful
within a woman's body. The day and reality of the materialist is becoming
our night, illusion and ignorance so to speak....!
It was so much fun to be in this course - a truly transformational
The ladies who were participating had come with open minds and thus allowed
new discoveries to profoundly impact their hearts.
They realized new dimensions of spiritual practice which was almost a life
changing learning experience for them.
It was simply amazing to see what deep transformations everyone experienced.
On the last day Aruna Locana Mataji, a senior devotee from Kiev presented a
very sweet poem - "Mataji Devaki Astakam". She sang it with the Kevalastakam
tune, describing how this course changed everyone's hearts, and every single
person in the room was moved to tears, including myself....!
All the girls were so happy and blissful - it was like putting fish back
into the water! We had such a wonderful time - the sweetest and deepest time
I have ever had in the association of women....!
One thing really struck me: this course finally gives a deeper understanding
and insight into Srila Prabhupada's statements in his books about the
position and nature of women - something which really has been missing in
By Krsna's mercy I am also becoming more expert in teaching - learning the
art of drawing things out of "my students" so they eagerly participate and
contribute. Every morning we were starting with a little skit prepared by
various groups, summarizing the topics of the previous day and always
showing the materialistic culture and spiritual culture. Some of these skits
were so sweet, deep and also funny....! Sometimes I couldn't help shedding
tears - out of laughter, and sometimes because my heart was so moved by the
deep expressions and realizations of these girls!
During the course I came across the following quote from Prabhupada:
> "Now we have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful
> that if we expand too much in this way that we shall become weakened and
> gradually the whole thing will become lost. Just like milk. We may thin it
> more and more with water for cheating the customer, but in the end it will
> cease to be any longer milk. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously
> and make it thick and sweet, that is the best process. So let us
> concentrate on training our devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of
> Krishna Consciousness from our books, from tapes, by discussing always,
> and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions."
> Srila Prabhupada letter to Hamsaduta, June 22, 1972
So I saw this as a confirmation that this is what I should be focussing on
in the future: the Holy Name Retreats, and this course!
Lifting people out of their usual distractions is extremely helpful when
trying to give them something deeper and more of permanent value. So having
devotees come together from far and wide for two weeks in quality
association indeed gives the possibilities to affect them on deeper levels.
On the 29th of June everyone departed to their home towns - the ladies were
sad to leave and were embracing each other with tears rolling down their
In those two weeks we had come very close - almost like an extended family
of sisters, mothers, aunties and grand-mothers.....
And I was preparing for yet another wonderful event - a Holy Name Retreat
for the Kharkov yatra.....
Your servant, Devaki dd