“In this Age of Kali, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna. Simply by chanting the holy name, one associates with the Lord directly. Anyone who does this is certainly delivered.” —Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 17Travelling Rathayatra
Tired but enlivened we arrive at Oslo International airport from Prague. First ever visit to Norway. We are supposed to be met here by Parasurama prabhu and his party who are touring Scandinavia for 10 days but no sign of them. After waiting a while we struggle to look for some kind of phone contact. Mahavisnu Swami comes running into the arrival lounge in his ever blissful way. Off we go in the travelling camper van. Inside there are 10 devotees who have been driving all day from Stockholm where they had put on a Rathayatra festival in conjunction with the local devotees. Now we are on our way for a Rathayatra the very next day. And where is the cart? – It’s on a trailer behind the camper van together with Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra. Parasurama is a tireless trooper in Lord Caitanya’s army. He drives for hours at a time, organises, leads kirtans arranges the cart and innumerable other services always in the highest of spirits. Also on board is Giridhari prabhu who has been continuing the festival programme in the UK set up by Tribhuvanatha prabhu.
Oslo main street
As soon as we reach the city it’s straight out onto the streets of Oslo even though they had just driven 8 hours. What a surprise – Oslo is now a real cosmopolitan city – no longer the conservative Scandinavian image of the past. People are more than reciprocal. Famous for being cold and stand offish but they soon warm up when you have such enigmatic devotees – Parasurama on his Ukulele, Maha Visnu Swami on the accordion, and 10 other devotees dancing ecstatically playing drums and karatals.
Parasurama leading kirtan in Oslo
The dynamic duo - Mahavisnu swami and Parasurama
The next day is Rathayatra. The party stays next to a lake for the night. What normally takes a temple weeks or more to arrange costing thousands of dollars is about to happen almost on the spot. Two hours before the scheduled start of the Rathayatra the team arrive in town to set up. They are expert and everything is ready on time. The rain is pouring down. The streets are quiet. Jaya Jagannatha! as Mahavishnu Swami, soaked but blissful, chants fully enthusiastic. Everyone dances.
Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra in Oslo
The chariot rolls – the rain stops. Lord Jagannatha emerges onto the main shopping street of Oslo to the surprise of all – The devotees are small in number but they have big hearts and they love what they are doing. Naturally if you love what you are doing then the people love it too. Blacks, Muslims, Chinese, tourists, locals – everyone gets the mercy. All we have to do is to expose people to the most natural thing of all – Krishna. We reach the final square where some local congregational devotees have arranged prasadam. A few hundred people come forward . There is no temple here to speak of, but potential is great. Parasurama and his troopers pack up and leave for the next destination – Gothenburg – another 400 km drive. It's Harinama the next day.
GOTHENBURG - SWEDEN
We drive to Gothenburg for Harinama – a rather dull looking city - but the Harinama is far from dull. The reciprocation is amazing with hundreds of passers by joining in spontaneously holding hands spinning around , dancing in circles, break dancing with us, jumping, clapping. The Swedes seem like a great potential for KC. If only we had more devotees actually going out and letting people know we exist there might be a lot more devotees. Today in Gothenburg there are thousands of youngsters from all over the world here. It’s some kind of world youth soccer contest. It’s so wonderful to see so many of them just so happy to join us in the kirtan. Street drama – the drowning man.
Ecstasy in Gothenburg
Mahavisnu Swami leading kirtan at the Rainbow festival
On to Malmo for tomorrow is Rathayatra there. On the way we stop at a Rainbow festival (a kind of hippy new age gathering) in the bush. A couple of hundred are gathered. We chant and they almost all join in full force in the transcendental vibrations. One of the leaders approaches me – “man we really don’t want you to come here and start imposing your worship system here. We want everyone to find it themselves. Amrtananda Ma (the hugging guru) told us that there is no-one to worship – no Krishna no Rama no Jesus only yourself.. But we carry on – they all love it.
Funny how people like to tell you not to accept authority or worship anyone – except them.
Next day we drive to Malmo for a Rathayatra that day. Small congregation but a great city – the Kirtan and the parade are great. Prasadam is going out on the parade – street drama. I had a bit of a chest accident the night before and was more or less grounded but could not help but to wonder at the power of Lord Caitanya’s mercy and the devotion of these devotees. Some devotees had come from Copenhagen Denmark – just across the water from Malmo, and the party was pretty strong.
Chant and be Happy at Malmo Rathayatra
That night itself they packed and off to Copenhagen. Another Rathayatra. This time devotees had come from far and near. The local temple have arranged a big festival in the main square at the end of the parade. a big audience despite the sporadic rain.
Kadamba Kanana Swami is here – also Govinda from Aindra’s 24 hour kirtan party, and Naresvara prabhu to name a few. A big crowd at the end - dances, kirtans, a great feast, a transcendental magic show by Parasurama – he really gets the audience going and preaches like anything as he goes. We put on a couple of dramas despite the battle wounds – they went down well. Lecture. A great festival. We leave as soon as the festival is over. Pack the cart and drive through the night into Germany. Para and crew are going back to the UK and they drop me in Bremen. There we link up with devotees and are off to Hanover for a couple of days.
Hanover - A small but lively Namahatta is here. Quite a few devotees in the area. Germany seems to be really coming up in Krishna consciousness these days with lots of upbeat preaching going on. The Harinama here is very sweet as we wind our way through the main park and around the large lake. Off to Leipzig. This is the first city in the ex communist block to receive a consignment of books back in the early 80’s A very nice enthusiastic temple is here with a strong core of devotees. The city has definitely still got the air of East Germany about it but the Harinama transcends the externals.
Hanover in the park
Dancing with the drinkers in Kadan Czech republic
Back to the UK – Newcastle Harinama in the city. We wind our way through the backstreets of the city and encounter various new species of humans– One of them the Goths. Young kids in all black. Pagans? We don’t care. They are Krsna’s servants.
Let them have the holy names and they love it. Newcastle is Britain’s number one beer drinking city and even at 5 in the afternoon the streets are overflowing with drunks. Nityananda would love it here as we meet quite a few modern Jagai’s and Madhai’s. Its one of the hottest days I can ever remember here. I started a centre here back in the early 80’s.
Millennium Bridge Newcastle
Devotees on Millennium Bridge Newcastle
Gaura Nitai whom I travel with
dharma-sthapana-hetu sadhura vyavahara
puri-gosanira ye acarana, sei dharma sara
"A devotee's behavior establishes the true purpose of religious principles. The behavior of Madhavendra Puri Gosvami is the essence of such religious principles."
When a television interviewer asked Srila Prabhupada by what behavior one could recognize a true follower of Krsna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada replied, "He'd be a perfect gentleman, that's all." And in translation the Bhagavad-gita verses listing eighteen items of knowledge (Bg. 13.8-12), Srila Prabhupada translates the word amanitvam as, "one should himself become a perfect gentleman and learn to give proper respect to others." Although in ordinary usage the word gentleman may refer to a man of wealth and aristocracy, we use it here to describe a devotee's high standard of honorable and considerate behavior. The polite and humble behavior of a devotee can be appreciated even by the nondevotee. A devotee is not arrogant, boorish, or inconsiderate of others. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.29), Narada Muni explains that he was favored by the Vaisnavas because, "I was gentle in behavior, and all my sins were eradicated in their service." Commenting on this verse, Srila Prabhupada remarks, "One should not be misled by a pseudo-devotee. He himself must be plain and gentle to receive the instructions of such a pure devotee."
World Holy Name Week
|September 2008 ~ Issue 1 : : email: firstname.lastname@example.org|