Even in those early days Moscow had always been a difficult place to establish Krsna consciousness systematically. The city is so gigantic - fifteen million people plus another five million of commuters coming and going who are not officially registered. The energy in such huge cities is rather intense and impersonal, with everyone fighting for their survival. Furthermore Moscow has always been a very expensive place to live, and today it is one of the most expensive cities of the world. Over the years the devotees had experienced many set-backs, having been forced to constantly move from one place to another without any opportunity to purchase a good temple property. Also the government and church had given a lot of trouble to the devotees, and several times it had almost come to the point where Krsna consciousness was banned altogether. Thus the yatra had been experiencing many challenges, which had made it difficult for a steady community to develop.
I was invited to give a SB class, and on another morning I also visited the other much smaller temple of Lord Jagannath and gave the mornign program there. The smaller temple is situated in an old house - the mood almost reminded me of the very early days. A few bhaktas and brahmacaris are living here, under the guidance of HH Bhakti Ananta Krsna Maharaja.
One morning I visited the brahmacari ashram outside of Moscow which Bhakti Vijnana Maharaja has established. Around 40 nice and enthusiastic boys are living here, and their main focus is on studies. The set-up is perfect: a simple two-storey wooden building in a quiet and undeveloped part of Moscow, away from all kinds of mundane influences and energies. A good place for brahmacaris to be undisturbed in their spiritual practice and studies. The mood was very welcoming, and I offered a two-hour session from the course "Men and Women in Spiritual Culture". The boys eagerly participated and opened up for questions - I could sense how relevant and interesting the topic was to them. I took my breakfast with them outside on the lawn, and afterwards had a phone conversation with HH Bhakti Vijnana Maharaja who welcomed me to Moscow and was making sure that I was well taken care of.
On another evening I met with a nice group of senior ladies to discuss the principles of establishing a bramacarini ashram. We spent several hours churning the topic, and I tried my very best to inspire and convince the ladies of taking up this burden of love in order to give the ladies an opportunity for systematic training. We all know how important material education and training is for material success in life. In the same way, spiritual training and education forms the very foundation to spiritual success. It gives a solid basis to all other phases in life: the grhastha ashram and vanaprastha ashram.
We spent seven days deeply churning various topics centered around the principles of spiritual culture and receiving clear insights into Srila Prabhupada's instructions in his purports of the Bhagavatam. We followed our usual morning program, spent the day in the seminar presentations, and some evenings we were conducting sweet and prayerful kirtans. Such association amongst ladies is very powerful and transformational, and at the same time so sweet and deeply purifying on all levels. At the closing session we exchanged gifts and words of appreciation and gratitude, and our hearts were deeply moved.
"Now we have got so many students and so many temples, but I am fearful that if we expand too much in this way that we shall become weekened and gradually the whole thing will become lost. Just like milk. We may thin it more and more with water for cheating the customers, but in the end it will cease to be any longer milk. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously and make it thick and sweet, that is the best process. So let us concentrate on training our devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krsna consciousness from our books, from tapes, by discussing always, and
in so many ways instruct them in the right proposition."
Throughout my visit to Moscow I was reflecting on Srila Prabhupada coming here. He had this clear vision how Russia would be an excellent place for spreading Krsna consciousness, and now we have indeed so many Russian devotees! Now the time has come to vigorously boil the milk to make it thick and sweet, so that we all become burfi-like devotees: sweet and solid. If I can only contribute in some small way to this process, my life will be successful....!
On the 11th of May I flew on to Simferopol in Crimea....
Your servant, Devaki dd