It was exciting to be back and meet all the wonderful devotees of the
community, after having been absent for almost eight months.
Devotees received me at the train station with smiling faces, affectionate
words and glances and a beautiful garland....
A couple of years ago I had decided to stop my fast traveling pace and
rather give more attention to one particular yatra within Ukraine, by giving consistent inspiration, guidance and vision for the further development. And this yatra has been Kharkov.....
Devotees have eagerly reciprocated with my humble attempts to serve and
inspire them, and I could sense that things were gradually moving forward
and becoming more solid.
The Deities are more in the center of the entire community, and devotees are
becoming increasingly inspired to serve Them.
As Srila Prabhupada had pointed out: the standard of the Deity worship is
almost like the pulse of the community - it gives an indication of the
spiritual health of the devotees, the level of consciousness. Deity worship
is simply the practical application of our philosophy of offering everything
to Krsna first, and to sacrifice our energy to give pleasure to the
I had arrived just in time to introduce the celebration of the Panihati
Chipped Rice Festival, which fell on the 2nd of June.....
I had been meditating on this event for several months as this pastime is
one of my very favorite one's - the story of how Ragunatha Das Goswami
received Mahaprabhu's mercy.....
I had bought one kilogram of chipped rice in Bangladesh and since then had
carried it around in my suitcase, determined to use it for making the
original and traditional preparations of the two kinds of chipped rice:
soaked in yoghurt, and soaked in condensed milk, with bananas, sugar and
camphor. In Caitanya Caritamrta we can find the descriptions - half of this
scripture consists of recipes of all kinds of tasty preparations which
Mahaprabhu and His associates liked to eat.
I inspired some matajis to make little clay pots in order to decorate the
altar, depicting this wonderful pastime.
After several attempts and experiments we found a good mixture of salty
dough, fine sand and clay to make little pots in various shapes and sizes,
which we were baking in the oven. I joined the fun and conducted the clay
pot production, and we painted them brown with simple white designs.
I requested a couple of matajis to make a backdrop for the Deities by
enlargening the beautiful painting of this lila which we can find in the
Caitanya Caritamrta. After overcoming the initial doubts and hesitations
whether this will be possible with such short notice, we indeed managed to
blow up a foto of this painting!
And we even found some traditional camphor suitable for eating in order to
make the chipped rice preparation.
The festival fell on a Saturday which was a perfect arrangement. On this day
we have the regular Saturday feast, when all the practicing devotees come
for the morning program. We have a longer morning class on this day, and
then serve a nice feast with prasadam almost as opulent as on the Sunday
Thus it has become a very nice event of the entire week - when the regular
devotees get together, hear and chant, and also plan and discuss further
So we used this Saturday program of the 2nd of June to remember the famous
and wonderful lile of Ragunath Das conducting the Chipped Rice Festival on
Lord Nityananda's order. I enjoyed elaborating on the pastime, which gives
us so many valuable instructions - the main one being that we can receive
the mercy of Krsna only through Guru, and the mercy of Guru only by pleasing
Serving and pleasing the Vaisnavas is one of the main secrets of success in
The mood was very sweet and festive, and the altar looked so beautiful with
all the clay pots being around Lord Nityananda and Caitanya, and the
wonderful painting in the background....
Next year we could make some figures of devotees out of clay, and put them
all around the Deities to further depict the lila - a lila outfit so to
speak. Such preparations of decorations to Mahaprabhu's lilas are very
absorbing to the mind and bring the pastime indeed to life.....
On the next day I requested the backdrop as Mahaprasadam and hung it on the
wall in my little bhajan kutir, ten minutes' walk from the new temple.
And every day I have been looking at it, remembering the pastime....
For the following weeks I settled into a very regular program of walking
every morning to the temple and attending the morning program, enlivening
the SB class with comments and questions and giving the young devotees an
opportunity to learn how to give class.
Every week I gave the morning class on Saturdays, and also the Sunday feast
lecture, which are the main programs of the community. Over several Sundays
I developed the topic of "Death - the final call" - a topic which I find
very fascinating and intriguing. Death is a mystical transformation, a final
exam, and it is well worthwhile making an attempt to understand it more
deeply and consciously prepare for it. Once we make endeavors to consciously
prepare, then we will lose our fear of death. Then death becomes the joyful
moment when we can receive the ticket back to Godhead and board the plane -
something to look forward to....
Why fighting and delaying this very special moment.....?!
Krsna has been waiting for us to return to Him for so many life times......
And I spent a lot of time every day meeting with devotees and giving
encouragement and inspiration - something which is most essential for our
ongoing spiritual nourishment.
It almost can be seen as a full-time service - simply to have time for
devotees, to hear and listen, and to give support and care....
And we were very busy preparing for yet another exciting event - to conduct
the two-week course "Exploring the roots of spiritual culture".....
Your servant, Devaki dd