Diary of a Traveling Preacher
HH Indradyumna Swami Maharaj
After much discussion, we decided not to involve the local police in the discovery of the microphone and radio transmitter planted in Nandini dasi and Radha Sakhi Vrinda dasi's room. We know that their investigation would not go far. Last year, the police investigating the attack on our festival in Tomaszow Mazowiecka discovered that it was nine young men from a nearby Catholic seminary that committed the crime, but the culprits were never brought to justice. Had they been, the police themselves would have lost their jobs.
The only action we can take in the current case is preventative. We have hired one of the best security companies in Poland to protect our festivals. The company has advised us to secure our vehicles at our base each night to prevent tampering. We will also be installing a professional surveillance system consisting of four cameras at our base and at festivals.
Tensions were high among devotees as we set up our second festival of the spring tour in Naklo, but we relaxed when the chief of the security group told us they could handle any situation and that we should not worry. As crowds of people started flowing into the festival grounds, we became locked into our duties and were oblivious to the dangers of the material world. The blissful mood of the festival quickly absorbed our guests, and the program went on as it always does, engaging thousands of conditioned souls in various forms of spiritual activities.
We held the festival in an outdoor amphitheater. The police estimated that 4000 people came the first day, but only 1500 the second day because of intermittent rain. On that occasion, people sat in the amphitheater peeking out from under a sea of colorful umbrellas.
The day after the festival, I asked Vara-nayaka das, Nandini and Radha Sakhi Vrinda when they would meet the Mayor of Swiece. The town's deputy mayor, the head of the Catholic Action Party, had defiantly told us that we would never get permission to do a festival in his town. Nevertheless, the mayor was considering granting permission for the festival after a well-known pyschologist from Swiece approached him requesting him to do so. But days were passing and we had not heard anything. I was beginning to think the mayor may have succumbed to pressure.
That evening Vara-nayaka received a call from Swiecie that permission for the festival had been granted. He was offered no explanation. However, I wanted to know how Krsna's mercy had unfolded, so I had Nandini call the psychologist and inquire if she had anything to do with the decision. The psychologist laughed and said, "Yes, of course my intervention helped. When I visited the mayor for the second time, I could see that he was hesitating to agree to the festival. I returned two days later with a long list of signatures from the citizens of Swiecie, demanding that the Festival of India be allowed in our town. I told him there were many more people ready to sign the petition and even demonstrate in front of the town hall. Hearing that, he immediately granted permission."
The next morning as we prepared for harinam in Sepolno, the site of our third festival, I found my disciple, Jayatam das, sitting in our temple room writing a letter. When I inquired to whom he was writing, he replied it was an 18-year-old girl who had just taken serious interest in Krsna consciousness. Her father had recently died of cancer. For years he had been studying the Bhagavad-gita, which he had purchased from a devotee on the street of his town. Afraid that his family members would not understand his deep interest in an eastern religion, he had kept the book hidden from them. When about to die, with his family members surrounding his bed, he told his daughter to look behind the bookshelf and pull out a book wrapped in a white cloth. Reaching behind the bookshelf and finding the Bhagavad-gita, she gave it to her father. With trembling hands, he unwrapped the book and gave it back to her. With his dying breath he told his daughter to follow the path of spirituality within it. After her father's departure she read the book day and night, and when she finished she visited the nearest Hare Krsna temple, buying more books and japa beads.
We spent two days doing harinam in Sepolno. On the first day, I realized that we had done a festival there three years ago. I called Nandini and questioned the logic of coming back so soon. I said, "We were here just a few years ago. It seems a bit early to come back. I can't image many people coming."
Besides that, the day of the festival we received information that the local priest had pronounced that any children who attended would be denied holy communion, and thus salvation. We also learned that teachers in the local schools were warning their students not to attend the festival because we were a "dangerous cult".
My hopes for a successful festival dimmed further when dark clouds loomed in the sky the morning of the event. Rain is our ultimate opposition, and there is certainly nothing we can do when it pours on our programs. "If it should start to rain," I thought, "combined with the fact that we had a festival here only a few years ago and that the local priest and teachers are canvassing against us, it will be surely be a disaster."
When I arrived at the festival site in the afternoon, I almost lost all hope. We had been allotted a beautiful little park in the center of town by the city authorities, but the festival crew had instead set the festival up in a nearby dirt parking lot on top of a grassy knoll. By the time I arrived it was too late to correct the error - it takes six hours to set the festival up, and five hours to break it down.
Then one hour before the festival was to begin, the clouds opened and torrential rain engulfed the scene. As I saw the parking lot encircling the grassy knoll turn into a sea of mud, I thought, "There's no way people can get to the festival through that mud. It's all over," and I laid down in the back seat of my van in disappointment. Eventually I fell asleep.
One hour later, a devotee woke me up saying, "Srila Gurudeva, look at this.
You're not going to believe it!"
I sat up quickly and looked out the window. To my amazement, there were hundreds of people with umbrellas coming towards the festival. "It's nice they're coming," I said, "but how in the world are they going to get into the festival? Look at the mud!"
To my astonishment, people then started slowly wading through the mud. At first it was just a few brave souls, then others also stepped in the mud and crossed on to the grassy knoll. Then a resourceful man took some stones and pieces of wood and, placing them in front of himself as he went along, created an impromptu bridge across the mud. Throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening that little bridge served its purpose, as more than 1800 people crossed over the mud to the festival.
I was so astonished by the people's determination that at one point I asked Jayatam to ask them why they were so intent on coming to the festival, despite the fact that we had been there only a few years ago and that they had to negotiate a sea of mud. I was amazed by their response - most remembered the festival and enjoyed it so much that there was "nothing in the world that could stop us from coming back again," as one man said.
My apprehensions had been unfounded. Neither time, bad publicity, foul weather nor mud could keep the people away from our festivals once they had tasted the bliss. I marveled at the mercy of Lord Caitanya to attract conditioned souls back home, back to His lotus feet. That night, as the festival concluded, I looked to the sky beyond the dark clouds and rain and tried to envision the beautiful form of that golden avatar, whose mercy is greater than any previous incarnation.
rakso daitya kulam hatam kiyad idam yogadi vartma kriya
margo va prakati krtah kiyad idam srstyadikam va kiyat
mediny uddharanadikam kiyad idam premojjvalaya maha
bhakter vartma karim param bhagavatas caitanya murtim stumah
"What benefit did the world attain when Lord Rama, Lord Nrsimha, and many other incarnations of Godhead killed so many raksasa and daitya demons? How important is it that Lord Kapila and other incarnations revealed the paths of sankhya and yoga? How glorious is it that Lord Brahma and other guna-avatars create, maintain and destroy the material universes? How auspicious is it that Lord Varaha lifted the earth from the Garbhodaka Ocean? We do not consider any of these activities to be very important. The most important thing is that Lord Caitanya has revealed the great splendor of pure love of Krsna. Let us glorify that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu!"
[Srila Prabodhananda Saraswati: Sri Caitanya-candramrta, Chapter 1, Verse 7]