I have simply been very busy with so many enlivening and exciting activities, that I have not found any time whatsoever to write.
And I have almost lost all hope to ever be able to catch up....
Leaving the Bhakti Sangam Festival in Ukraine on the 22nd of September I flew to Stockholm/Sweden and visited the devotees in Almvik.
The next day was Radhastami, and devotees gathered for an evening program in nearby Korsnas, where beautiful Gandharvika Giridhari are residing. We were swinging the Deities in nice kirtans, and a most delicious feast concluded the program.
I spent one week in the association of the Almvik devotees.
We conducted the very first little Youth Retreat in order to bring new devotees to our village community. Even though only a hand full people took part, it was nevertheless a wonderful and inspiring experience. We spent three days in yoga classes, a cooking session, philosophical presentations and evening kirtans, trying to bring searching souls closer to Krsna.
Almvik offers a wonderful atmosphere and environment for such kind of retreats. There are countless souls out there who are searching for a deeper meaning of life - who are ready to embrace Krsna consciousness! We only have to make a concentrated endeavor to reach out them.....!
And to conduct such retreats is not difficult at all! It is simply a matter of giving quality time to them in a selfless mood of service....
I also spent time with the devotees in meetings, making plans for further preaching events, and for our next year's Bhakti Sangam Festival which will take place in July.
As Prabhupada expresses in SB.4.22.39: "A devotee with intelligence plans so many things for the service of the Lord in Krsna consciousness that stagnant material desires become overflooded by the desire to serve the Lord."
This is one of my secrets in Krsna consciousness: to engage the mind in making plans for preaching. Then there is no room for any kind of plans for sense enjoyment.....
On the 1st of October I flew to Stuttgart/Germany to visit my mother for three days. She is 82 years old now and almost blind. Despite her difficult situation she is mastering this phase of her life in a glorious way, determined not to move to an Old Age Home but rather living in her house in the village.
Meanwhile she has arranged for a good support system of paid people who come and take care of her at various times of the day.
She is always eager for deep and meaningful discussions, and I shared some insights of my seminar on "Death - our final challenge" which I gave at the Ukrainian Festival. She is always grateful for such exchanges, and she commented: "People cannot speak about death - especially those who are just about to face it. Isn't this amazing?! One would think those people are open for this topic....!"
On the 5th of October I arrived in Vrindavan to stay for just over two weeks. I lived at the Kirtan Ashram and settled into a regular scedule of going to the temple in the mornings and taking my lunch at the VIHE at the Goshala in the association with the Bhakti Sastri students.
We had some amusing adventures there with the monkeys, who also came to join our lunch. We were sitting on the open veranda to take prasadam, and one devotee had to stand on guard with a big stick. Nevertheless, the monkeys were so bold! Sometimes they dared to run through the ile of sitting devotees and steal prasadam from their plates: samosas, gulab jamons and chapatis! This would happen so fast - within seconds, and even the best guard was not able to chase them away! It was indeed amusing and added the Vrindavan flavor to our lunch prasadam, remembering Krsna feeding the monkeys with butter.....!
My favorite place of pilgrimage was Prabhupada's rooms in the temple compound - I went there every afternoon and chanted japa. It became a nice meditation, and I felt Prabhupada's presence while praying to him to give me strength and guidance in my service.
In one morning lecture Kadamba Kanana Swami explained that the two most holy places of all holy places in Vrindavan are Srila Prabhupada's Samadhi and his rooms at his house. And he further elaborated how the big gate entering Vrindavan when coming from the main road leading to Agra was built to honor Srila Prabhupada on his return to Vrindavan, after leaving to preach in the West. And Maharaja wonderfully concluded: "To get entrance to Vrindavan one has to go through Prabhupada's gate....!"
On the 21st of October I flew to Tirupati to attend the GBC meetings....
Your servant, Devaki dd