Thursday August 14

I am staying at the flat of Bhavana das and his wife Irena. They have a nice place just inside the city. After a short rest, bath and setting up Srila Prabhupda, we headed out to the new temple in the city center.

Macedonia yatra is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and they just paid about 60,000 euros for a small two story building in the city. Its the first place they have owned outright. Tucked in behind a restaurant its hard to spot. But it has a nice vibe to it, and the small wooden Deities of Nitai Gaurasundara are among the most beautiful I have seen. You can fit about 60-70 persons in the temple room and they are painting the walls with beautiful murals of Caitanya and Krsna lila.

There was a very good attendance for my first seminar. About 40 devotees turned up–not bad for a yatra of 70. Most of them are grhasthas and work during the day so my programs will be in the evenings, except for the weekend.

I did my usual introduction and then let the devotees choose the topic. The majority preferred Chanting and for two hours they sat eager and attentive as I gave the overview.

I like the Chanting seminar. It takes about 10 hrs to complete in multi-sessions. The opener includes reading out the original leaflet Srila Prabhupada printed up when he first went to America:

[From TD 3] August 4, 1976 New Mayapur FrancePrabhupäda’s original mission statement”Someone brought Çréla Prabhupäda a copy of the original leaflet he had printed in India when he set off on the Jaladuta to come to the West in 1965. Çréla Prabhupäda was curious to see it, asking me to read it out to him. His picture was on the front, with the title reading, “Çrémad-Bhägavatam, India’s message of peace and good will. Sixty volumes of elaborate English version by Tridandi Goswami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Carried by the Scindia Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., Bombay, all over the world for scientific knowledge of God.” “While Prabhupäda relaxed behind his desk, I read out the body of the text. “It says, ‘The sufferings of the entire human society can at once be brought under control simply by individual practice of bhakti-yoga, a simple and easy process of chanting the holy name of God. Every country, every nation and every community throughout the world has some conception of the holy name of God, and as such either the Hindus or the Muhammadans or the Christians, everyone can easily chant the holy name of God in a meditative mood, and that will bring about the required peace and good will in the present problematic human society. Any inquiry in this connection will be gladly answered by Sri Swamiji.

“The Hindus generally chant the holy name of God in sixteen chain of transcendental sound composed of thirty-two alphabets as Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The Vedic literatures like the Upanisads and the Puranas recommend chanting of the above-mentioned sixteen holy names at a stretch, and Lord Sri Caitanya, whose cult of chanting the holy name of God gave special importance on these transcendental sounds. In this Age of Kali, or the age of hate, hypocrisy, corruption and quarrel, the only remedial measure is that every man should chant the holy name of the Lord, both individually and collectively.’”Then it went on to give the English translations of the eight prayers written by Lord Caitanya in glorification of the holy name. It ended with some highly complimentary reviews of Prabhupäda’s translation of the Çrémad-Bhägavatam. [end quote]

And that was followed by a funny story that Srila Prabhupada told us about an exchange he had with his godbrother Bon Maharaja. It illustrates his determination and fix-pointed mentality in coming to the West:

 August 2, 1976–New MayapurI am not going to learn all these things.[in conversation with Harikeça and me about his attempts to introduce Vedic culture in the West] Prabhupäda was also laughing. “Our Bon Mahäräja, once I was eating in his festival and … He’s a baòa-sähib [literally a “big westerner]. So he has given fork and knife. So I did not know, I do not remember even which way I took fork. So Bon Mahäräja began to criticize, ‘You are going to foreign country you do not know which hand to take this fork and knife?’ So I told him, ‘I am not going to learn all these things. I am going to teach them something else–to forget it! You went to learn all these things. But I am not going to learn anything.’” [end]

 Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

Needless to say, the seminar went over extremely well. The devotees here don’t get much association with senior devotees. Bhakti Vaibhava Maharaja comes through fairly often but not so many others.

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