The devotees are renting a spacious house in a quiet residential area of a suburb of Munich. The facilities are very nice, nevertheless only a hand-full of devotees are living in the temple. Recently HG Prthu Prabhu (ACBSP) decided to base himself here to try and recruit new devotees to join the temple. Very enlivening news! He wants to specifically target the
students and young people - something I have also been meditating on for a long time.
On the 10th morning we drove out to Simhachalam - an ISKCON farm in the very Eastern part of Germany, (near the Polish and Czech border) which serves as the abode of Lord Nrsimhadev. They call it "Der Loewen-Tempel", or "The Lion-Temple" - very befitting and attractive to newcomers.
Since everyone comes together, there are also managerial events and meetings being conducted with annual reports of each and every yatra. So it offers a nice opportunity to gather information and receive an overview of what is happening in ISKCON Germany.
Dina Sharana Mataji, the GBC for Germany had invited me to give an introductory presentation to the German National Council on the topic of Devotee Care. I connected the topic to spiritual culture being the substance and contents of Devotee Care, and structures such as the Councelor System offering a supportive system. It was well received by the senior devotees and a humble beginning to raise awareness of this important topic.
It is interesting to observe how in former times care was strongly based on personal relationships. And as spiritual culture has more and more deteriorated, the relationships have become more impersonal, and thus the government has taken over the role of giving care - towards the elders, the diseased, the children, the mothers, etc.
Now in our ISKCON society we basically have those two options of approaching Devotee Care: we can either take the more organisational approach and immitate the system of the government offering care through organisational structures, which remains a rather mundane and impersonal way of caring. Or we can bring Devotee Care back to the basis of personal relationships, which would be more according to spiritual culture.
But this is not an easy task, since it requires an entire paradime shift - a transformation of our heart and consciousness, which Krsna consciousness is ultimately meant to bring about.
The Annual Meeting gave interesting informations of each and every temple's activities within the German yatra. I was inspired to hear that the devotees on Simhachalam are connecting also with the tourist scene, and they regularly receive visitors to stay in their Guest House. They advertise the temple as an ideal place to experience "A Time Out For The Soul", and they take nicely care of their visitors and introduce them to Krsna consciousness as far as the individual situation permits.
Also some attempts are made in various cities to preach to students at Universities - something which is certainly rewarding, especially if done systematically. So the entire meeting with reports was very enlivening to me, and I could sense that the Germany yatra is indeed very active and dynamic, thanks to Dina Sharana Mataji's hard work of tirelessly sacrificing her energy to serve the devotees under her care.
I used the festival to connect with many devotees and build relationships, and I also found the opportunity to share thoughts and visions with the present Sannyasis and Gurus on the topic of spiritual culture and our recently established Institute. I had very encouraging exchanges with Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Bhakti Busana Swami, Bhakti Gauravani Maharaja, Sacinandana Swami and Kadamba Kanana Swami.
Now during the festival the above personalities offered wonderful lectures, especially on Nrsimha Caturdasi, where the nectar was deeply churned and spiced with personal realisations. Narayani Mataji was also one of the guest speakers, and I had the good fortune to once again share the room with her.
Every morning Lord Nrsimhadev was greeted in a most amazing outfit - the Sandesh-outfit always being especially remarkable. On Nrsimhadeva's appearance day the Lord was offered an elaborate abhishek, and just like last year some senior ladies were also invited to bathe big Lord Nrsimhadev on the altar - indeed an exhilarating experience......
On Friday the 16th of May I caught a lift back to the Munich temple in order to attend the Ratha Yatra Festival on the following day. It was a relatively small event, but very sweet and nicely organised, even though the Munich congregation is not large. The thought deeply struck me how marvelous it is that in a German city such as Munich Lord Jagannath has the opportunity to ride through the streets, with police blocking the traffic and giving way to the Lord's parade. Truly Srila Prabhupada's miracle....!
On the next day I took the train to Heidelberg and gave the Sunday Feast lecture there. The devotees are renting a former Christian Community Center in a nearby town called Meckesheim, which is now transformed into a nice temple. We discussed the always intriguing topic of death, and the devotees responded with lively interest in the subject.
A nice kirtan and tasty feast was concluding the program.
It had been a short but sweet visit....
Early next morning I took a train to the Frankfurt airport and flew off to Kishiniev/Moldova....
Your servant, Devaki dd