More and more devotees had left the war zone, some had risked their lives and escaped under heavy machine gun fire aimed at their cars. Many devotees lost their homes and all their possessions. Mysteriously no devotees were killed.
The Russian freedom fighters were kidnapping men and forcing them to fight on their side. This was going on in the middle of the day, in front of the ATM machines, or outside the Super Markets: suddenly some fellows would grab some men and pull them into a nearby car, and drive off to their base to force them to fight.
The entire country of Ukraine was in a state of lawlessness, and rogues and thieves were expanding their criminal activities unpunished. The economy of the country worsened very rapidly, with an inflation increasing from day to day.
The Sunday before Janmastami I dedicated the entire lecture to the topic of Vaishnava Festivals being the Mother of Devotion, if we deeply absorb ourselves in giving pleasure to Krsna. This is the secret of celebrating festivals: intensifying our service mood and engaging the mind in making newer and newer plans for Krsna's pleasure and satisfaction.
But we were not giving up, endeavoring like Mother Yasoda when trying to bind Krsna.....
On Janmastami we had a nice morning program with two speakers, giving insights into the deeper aspects of Krsna's appearance in this world.
At 5pm we continued the program with a beautifully conducted and elaborate abhishek, accompanied by a very sweet and melodious kirtan, sung with a simple and pure heart.
Mangala Vaisnava Prabhu, one of our senior devotees gave a lecture, followed by Gaur Artik. The cultural program was very nice - no entertainment, but serious absorption in remembering Krsna. The children played a very sweet drama - I was impressed how nicely they memorized their roles and played with such deep absorption and innocence. Such engagements leave strong Samskaras on their little minds, which they will never forget. Also the matajis showed another drama, which was followed by the dramatic recitation of a Krsna conscious poem. A beautiful slide show called "Krsna meditation" caught our minds, showing pictures of various Radha Krshna Deities of ISKCON temples around the world, while Sahasra Ajit Prabhu read the 21st chapter of the tenth Canto entitled 'The Gopis Glorify the Song of Krsna's Flute'. After some bhajans and kirtan Sarvatma Prabhu gave a slide show reporting about the activities of our yatra.
It had been a wonderful day in deep absorption, with a festive and very devotional atmosphere permeating the entire temple.
I was invited to give the lecture, and I spoke strongly about the deeper meaning of Prabhupada being the Founder Acarya - a most important topic which Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu elaborates so nicely in his new book on this topic. We were hearing homages of Gurus, and many local devotees spoke very nicely in glorification and gratitude to Srila Prabhupada. After the puspanjali ceremony and final kirtan we concluded the celebration with a nice feast. Srila Prabhupada received many nicely cooked preparations - around 56.
Your servant, Devaki dd