Before leaving I always spend a lot of time meeting with devotees privately, and we also had a meeting with our girls living in the brahmacarini ashram.
The ashram has become more stabel now, especially since our beloved Nalini Mataji is there to help taking care of the girls. We almost have the atmosphere of an extended family, with two elderly ladies as mother and grand-mother educating and caring for the young girls, some being a little more experienced than others.
Training the ladies is of greatest importance, especially since the success of a marriage is mainly dependant on the wife's behavior and service mood. Better to go through the beating of the false ego in the brahmacarini ashram and become humble there, rather than battling out the ego clashes in marriage and straining the relationship, which too often ends in divorce.
Even Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur liked to keep his temples in debt, just to keep the devotees busily engaged. Some little financial pressure helps to remain disciplined and to overcome tama guna and laziness. And it is simply part of life in the material world: we all have to maintain ourselves somehow and make ends meet.
We also had several meetings in regards to the planned installation of our marble Gaur Nitai for next summer. We are moving forward to changing the standard to "brahmanas only" for the services on the altar and in the Deity kitchen. For this we can go back to the minimal standard for Gaur Nitai, which is very simple: without raja bhoga offering and artik, no evening dressing, and no Mangal sweets. And after some time we can again gradually increase the standard.
I had discussed this with Nrsimha Kavaca Prabhu from the Ministry For Deity Worship, and we had concluded that we will increase the quality for the sake of reducing the quantity. And then we would finally do things the way Prabhupada had wanted it to be done - that the cooking for the Deities and all the puja would be performed by brahmanas only. What a nice feeling to be back on track....!
Then we could apply to get the permission from the Ministry Of Deity Worship for the installation. And we are envisioning a wonderful event for this installation - a memorable example of Vaisnava hospitality with a lot of devotees visiting from other yatras, and with Niranjana Swami and Bhakti Vaibhava Swami coming to invoke Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda to appear through their wonderful and pure hearted chanting of the holy names. And we could even invite some pujaris from Mayapur to do the installation
ceremony - with Mayapur flair and culture.....!
Something to look forward to.....!
One of the main functions of the mind is to make plans, and the best way to absorb the mind is by flooding it with exciting plans in devotional service.
This year I can clearly perceive the fruits of spending more time in one yatra - Kharkov, rather than traveling widely. The yatra is becoming more and more stabel with devotees increasing their faith into the leadership of the community and the process of devotional service in general. It is very natural: when more experienced devotees show interest in the development of a yatra with its individual devotees, this increases faith and stability, because people feel cared for and sheltered.
The relationships amongst the devotees are developing nicely, and people become more eager to take responsibilities and make a commitment in service. I feel very inspired with the way things are developing here, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue being part of this community in the future years to come.
On the 10th of September I took the night train to Odessa, together with Acyuta Priya Mataji as my assistant and translater.
We visited the Odessa community for five days over Radhastami, and the devotees kept us busily engaged with Bhagavatam classes, the Sunday feast lecture and several meetings and evening programs.
On Radhastami I was invited to give the morning class on deeper aspects of Srimati Radharani, and also the general festival lecture in the afternoon.
In this part of the world not so many devotees understand that on any Vaisnava festival the main important program for the practicing devotees is the morning program, where we hear deeper discussions on the more confidential aspects of the appearance of the Lord and His incarnations. The afternoon program is more meant for the visitors who don't have a deeper attraction to hearing and serving, and who just come to attend the program.
Thus most devotees here think that the festival day only begins in the afternoon.
The program for Radhastami was simple but nice: with an abhishek, lecture, kirtan and feast. The altar was nicely decorated, and we inspired the devotees to collect some Marygolds to decorate the altar in Vrindavan style. I couldn't help myself and snuck on the altar to hang up a few garlands in decoration....
How can there be Radhastami without engaging in some practical service to Srimati Radharani.....!?
Devotees were eager for association and guidance, and I shared some ideas on how to improve the Deity worship, especially also in regards to conducting festivals - one of my favorite topics: cultivating Vaikuntha atmosphere.....
On the 15th evening we took the night train to Simferopol/Crimea to attend the famous Bhakti Sangam Festival, together with a big group of devotees. We had booked three train carriages for all of us, and it was wonderful to travel like this, not having to worry about non-devotees being around eating un-bona fide foods.
Some devotees had prepared some prasadam, and on the next morning they went through the carriages to serve the traveling Vaisnavas. And people were impressed and charmed that I had taken the cheapest ticket to share the same austerities with all of them....
Your servant, Devaki dd