Peninsula of Ukraine in order to attend the Bhakti Sangam Festival.
Devotees received me at the small airport and drove me to the Festival site
at Evpatoria, a holiday resort on the Black Sea.
event which over the years had become so dear to me.
I met my assistant Alakananda mataji, and we were accomodated in a
comfortable two room appartment together with one mataji from Hungary, who
had come to promote Sivarama Swami's books.
As usual the Ukrainian devotees manifested excellence in receiving and
serving their guest speakers and VIP's. Absolutely everything was perfectly
arranged: the laundry service, the room cleaning, internet, etc. The
prasadam arrangements were perfectly adjusted to any dietary needs and
desires - all our individual requests were minutely fulfilled, with fruits
of our choice being brought every day to our rooms.
The devotees were serving with cheerful and happy smiles, eager to please
their honored guests...
This year more than seven thousand devotees attended the event, and so many
wonderful Sadhus gave their association: Sivarama Swami came for the very
first time, and also Bhanu Swami, Suresvara Prabhu and Madhavananda Prabhu.
Indradyumna Swami was there, Devamrta Swami, Prahladananda Swami,
Candramauli Swami, Bhaktivaibhava Swami, BB Govinda Swami, Caitanya Candra
Caran Prabhu, Jaya Sila Prabhu and Yadubara Prabhu. And above all: Niranjana
Swami, who was as usual the most affectionate and caring host of the event.
I had decided to speak on the topic of "Death - our final challenge" and
gave a five session seminar on this theme. It was well attended, and
devotees found it to be very relevant and thought provoking. Some even
suggested that I should compile a book out of it....
Death is indeed a topic which we don't so often discuss, and yet it is so
extremely relevant to all of us. Once we get a deeper understanding of this
mysterious transformation, then the urgency for developing Krsna
consciousness becomes so much more clear and evident.
The festival was a wonderful opportunity for me to serve the devotees by
making myself available to whoever was eager for association. Once again I
realized how much the devotees are in need of guidance and care, and how
much they are searching for sheltering relationships - somebody who is
selflessly giving time, attention and encouragement.
My humble attempts seemed like a few drops of water falling into the
For me personally the most important day of the festival was the day of my
initiation - making once again the commitment of taking Diksha of my Guru
Maharaja Srila Niranjana Swami. I had arranged for new cloth, new japa beads
and new neck beads, and it felt great to sit once again in the fire yajna,
giving the vows and aspiring to fully take shelter of a true representative
of the Lord.
Guru is the person who we serve in the same mood as if he is Krsna Himself:
with the same intensity and devotion, being ready to do anything for his
pleasure, being ready to sacrifice our personal comfort and
pleasure - ready to sacrifice our very life in his mission.
According to the intensity of our desire Krsna sends at the right time the
right personality to take us further on our way back to Godhead. And they
are all part of Guru Tattva....
Bhavananda Prabhu had started my spiritual life, and Prabhavisnu Prabhu had
taken me further. Without him I certainly would not be in Bangladesh today.
He had done so much for me, giving me the first discipline and training, and
guiding me through the difficulties of my grhastha life.
I will be eternally grateful.
Now it felt good to move on and be firmly sheltered once again.
Sitting together in the yajna with all the bhaktas and bhaktins made me feel
like I am once again starting my spiritual life....
Maharaja called me up with a smile and said: "Devaki wants to give her vows
I promised to chant twentyfive rounds on Ekadasi - something I had not
promised in my last initiation....
I had requested Maharaja to allow me to keep the same name. I thought it
might be too confusing for the devotees if I had all of a sudden a new name,
especially in Bangladesh.
Besides that I am rather attached to my name - Bhavananda had given it to
me. My karmi name starts with a 'D', and before taking initiation of
Bhavananda I had been pondering what name I would receive: Devahuti,
Draupadi or Devaki.....
And I was intensely desiring to get the name Devaki....!
I had been thinking to myself: "Such a nice name - wouldn't it be amazing to
get this name....!?
And surely enough - when Bhavananda gave me the beads he called out in a
deep tone of voice: "Your name is Devaki Devi Dasi."
Needless to say - I was completely blown away.....!
And for this life time I wanted to stick to this name....
Now, after the fire yajna I cheerfully went around to ask for Guru Daksina.
Devotees gave me generous donations, and everybody was happily smiling and
In the afternoon when giving my seminar I concluded with a humble request
for Guru Daksine, and devotees came forward to the Vyasasana and showered
laxmi on me - I could hardly gather it fast enough.....!
It was a very blissful atmosphere, and devotees were happily giving their
blessings and approvals.
The same evening I briefly spoke to Maharaja offering my humble donation - I
had topped up my collection to a round figure.
I reported: "I went around and asked for Guru Daksine....!"
Maharaja laughingly exclaimed: "You did....?! So, and how did you go....?"
It almost sounded like he was greeting me after a day out on collection.
I somewhat proudly reported with a happy grin: "Pretty good - more than six
hundred Dollars, just within an hour or so.....!"
Maharaja nodded approvingly, and with a smile he added: "At least it was not
On the 22nd of September I flew off to Stockholm/Sweden....
Your servant, Devaki dd