Diary of a Traveling Preacher
Because our flight arrived so late in Vladivostok, I didn't actually take rest until 6am. I laid on my bed and dozed off for a few hours, waking to the sound of men at work fixing the apartment above us. When I sat up I couldn't figure out where I was. It happens to me from time to time when I'm traveling and staying in a different place every night. Unable to get my bearings, I called out to Uttamasloka, who didn't respond. He was fast asleep in the next room. I grabbed my bag and took out my boarding pass from the flight last night. It read "Vladivostok," and I everything came back. I was at the end of the world.
As I was preparing to go to the temple in the late afternoon to give class, I decided to call Nandini and Radha Sakhi Vrnda in Poland. I was anxious for news about their trip to the north of Poland to secure schools for bases for our summer tour. I had a premonition that after the recent problems they had encountered in reserving a single school in Zary for the Woodstock festival in August, they may encounter similar problems in the northern coastal area as well. I was right.
Nandini informed me that all but one school in the north refused to work with us. Everywhere they went they received the same cold treatment. Finally, one sympathetic director of a school confirmed that only two days earlier the Catholic Church had sent its representatives throughout the entire coastal area, threatening that any school director who cooperates with the Hare Krsna movement will lose their job. Although a number of directors were sympathetic to our cause, they weren't prepared to take the risk. The single school that agreed to accept us was in Gryfice, our first base each summer. The director is our long-time friend and has the courage to stand up to the Church.
It is clear to me now that the Church has a strategy to try to stop us this summer. It is a well-coordinated scheme that is already in action. I doubt that it is limited to just scaring school directors into not helping us. I feel that we will soon be confronted by many obstacles they have planned. Securing only one base out of our normal three poses many problems for us.
The Baltic Sea coast is long and we cannot reach all areas from one base. I'll have to rethink our own strategy. We may have to revert to camping, but I know the Church will approach camp grounds as well. One school director offered to contact her sister, who owns a farm halfway along the coast. She suggested that we could stay there. Living in tents will be austere for devotees, but it may be the only option.
I discussed with Nandini about bringing the situation to the attention of the public. Many people love our festivals and they should know how the Church is scheming against us. One of my disciples in Poland recently wrote me a letter attesting to the fact that our festivals have made a big impact in the country:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
At the moment, I am traveling and distributing prasadam in the Silesia area.
During the December Marathon I was distributing books. I met many people who had visited your summer festivals last year. From those festivals, they received a very good impression of Krsna consciousness. As a result, most of them happily bought books from me. From this I could see potency of your programs.
Just today, a girl in a shop said that she knows what prasadam is. I asked where she learned this and she replied that she was at your festival in Pobierowo. She even showed me photos! In them I saw her dressed in a sari together with a devotee. She said she cannot forget the festival. As a result of your festivals we book distributors are finding people more and more enthusiastic, tolerant and well-wishing to devotees.
Sri Ram das.
Nandini said that she and Radha Saki Vrnda would be meeting the ISKCON Communication (Poland) devotees to inform them of the situation and ask that we make a plan together. I have some apprehension that the ICP devotees may not want to raise a fuss. Often their strategy is that diplomacy means to cool things down, not heat them up. But I will insist that we bring this issue to the public, if only because the future of the tour depends on it.
My blood was boiling as I put the phone down. The most frustrating thing is to fight an evasive enemy. It is obvious that the Church is trying impede our preaching, but who do we attack and where?
I couldn't calm down all the way to the temple for the evening program. Even as I sat giving Bhagavad-gita class, my mind was distracted by the recent events in Poland. Several times I lost my train of thought. So as to make some sense of the class, by incorporating my mood I gradually developed the theme into Krsna fighting the demons. I mentioned that demoniac forces also attack the Lord's sankirtan movement in Kali-yuga and that we have to call upon Lord Nrsimhadeva to protect us. With great enthusiasm I chanted several slokas that are one with my heart after many years of preaching:
vidiknu diknurdhvam adhau samantad
antar bahir bhagavan narasimhau
prahapayal loka-bhayam svanena
sva tejasa grasta samasta tejau
"Prahlada Maharaja loudly chanted the holy name of Lord Nrsimhadeva. May Lord Nrsimhadeva, roaring for His devotee Prahlada Maharaja, protect us from all fear of dangers created by stalwart leaders in all directions through poison, weapons, water, fire, air and so on. May the Lord cover their influence by His own transcendental influence. May Nrsimhadeva protect us in all directions and in all corners, above, below, within and without."
durgesv atavy-aji-mukhadisu prabhuh
payan nrsimho 'sura-yuthaparih
vimuncato yasya mahatta-hasam
diso vinedur nyapatams ca garbhah
"May Lord Nrsimhadeva, who appeared as the enemy of Hiranyakasipu, protect me in all directions. His loud laughing vibrated in all directions and caused the pregnant wives of the asuras to have miscarriages. May that Lord be kind enough to protect me in difficult places like the forest and battlefront."
Lord Nrsimhadeva, You appeared to protect your devotee, Prahlad Maharaja. Please help us, who are serving his desires to deliver all fallen souls rotting in this material existence. Alone we are helpless against the demoniac who aspire to stop Your sankirtan movement. Please give us the courage, strength and inspiration to be successful in Your service!