They have been devotees for many years and eagerly opened their home to welcome me during my ten-day visit to the Bangalore yatra.
Bangalore is a large city and has three ISKCON temples - the main one being the Nrsimha Giridhari Temple. It is the most established one and has nice facilities with a beautiful temple, gorgeous Deities, a Goshala, and many wonderful devotees.
There is also the old Jagannath temple, which is at present in rented facilities, with an upcoming big temple project right behind it. And in the outskirts of Bangalore is another smaller Jagannath temple.
On the weekend I offered the course "Women in Spiritual Culture" to the ladies of the congregation of the old Jagannath Temple. We had an intense schedule, introducing the topic on Friday evening and continuing on Saturday and Sunday with six hours of presentations each day, including discussions and humorous role plays. In this way we managed to conclude the entire course.
Once again I enjoyed my time in the association of these wonderful ladies, who were so eagerly participating in the seminar and who were receiving a deep transformational experience which brought their spiritual practice and understanding to higher dimensions. I received heartfelt expressions of gratitude and appreciation, little gifts, and requests to visit again soon. I could sense that my presentations on spiritual culture coming from a German woman's mouth had a profound impact on them and simply charmed their hearts.
The largest group of around fifty sweet and enthusiastic ladies I met when I was visiting the Nrsimha Giridhari Temple. They had arranged a two-day program of around five hours' seminar sessions each day, and the ladies welcomed me with open and inquisitive hearts. We had a short lunch break and took prasadam together, and they had gone out of their way to meet my dietary needs and cook with only little oil and no chili.
Many intelligent and educated ladies shared with me personally, how much they need to receive education and training in these topics of spiritual culture, and how relevant this knowledge is for their practical life. Even here in South India in our devotee communities marriage problems are becoming more and more common, and even divorce is sneaking into devotees' lives.
And in this course they found so many answers and valuable tools how to avoid such tendencies.
Let us try and understand that Krsna has given us a perfect system in order to create harmony and stability in this material world. Whenever we are disregarding Krsna's system, and we think our system is better, then we will suffer some reactions. This principle is there in all regards.
So marriage problems, divorce, and even abuse, violence etc towards women we can understand as a global reaction to not following Krsna's system. Krsna recommends that women should be protected at all stages of life. If we disregard this, then there will be some chain reactions. It is so simple! Prabhupada says, that Krsna consciousness offers a spiritual solution to every material problem. Also to these problems there are indeed spiritual solutions. What would be the value of Krsna consciousness, if we could not offer a solution and explanation?!
But so often we don't want to recognise and accept Krsna's system, and we simply go on pointing the finger at others (in this case at the men), and we think we can find a solution in this way. Not very intelligent indeed!
Some evenings we spent in deep and thought provoking discussions with Madhusudan Prabhu and his good wife - sometimes until late at night. They had so many questions, and we had a wonderful time together - true sadhu sanga. During those ten days I had almost become part of their family, and I felt so warmly accepted and cared for by them.
Some days Madhusudan Prabhu would exclaim in excitement: "Mataji, today I have learnt something from you - I want to share with you.....!" And he would share his latest realizations in all humility. He is a successful businessman, and at the same time his heart is full of longing to become a strong devotee and go back to Godhead. I enjoyed sharing various principles of how to progress in spiritual life, and he eagerly absorbed them like a dry sponge. I always feel most satisfied if I am able to serve senior devotees by giving some little inspiration and encouragement.
One evening we went to visit "Hare Krishna Hill", the gigantic temple which had been an ISKCON project in the past, and in the name of ritvik philosophy it had fallen into private hands. Kali Yuga is the age of hypocrisy and cheating, and since we are keeping our doors open for everyone, these tendencies also sometimes enter our ISKCON society. Here one person is making big business in the name of spirituality. He ran off with this huge, opulent project, claiming that he is the real follower of Srila Prabhupada, by creating another ISKCON society and stating that the temple is actually in the name of "his ISKCON"...
But those who are a little perceptive can feel that the real spirit of Prabhupada, of bhakti and preaching are missing. Even looking at the Deities and Srila Prabhupada I could sense a strange feeling in the heart - as if They weren't there....!
It is a big commercial set-up, with fancy gift shops, prasadam court, etc. Masses of people visit the temple every day, and the owner makes a huge amount of money. The entire establishment is managed by a professional business company. I was told that the owner has around ten more of such "temple-businesses" in various parts of India.
Of course, ISKCON has filed a court case against him, and in the first hearing ISKCON won. Now he has taken it to the Supreme Court in Delhi, and we are hoping to win once again.....
My tour around India was coming to an end - it had been exciting to explore a new preaching field. I had a sweet time in the association of wonderful ladies, and the seminar was wonderfully accepted - far beyond my expectations. My visions were thoroughly confirmed: that even here in India this topic of ladies within spiritual culture is highly relevant, and training and education so urgently needed.
And indeed it opens the doors to solid preaching opportunities....!
On the 13th of November I flew off to Dhaka/Bangladesh....
Your servant, Devaki dd