It was my first visit to Hungary - I could sense the communist past of the country and it's connection to the former Soviet Union. I felt immediately reminded of Ukraine or Moldova.
Arriving at New Vraja Dham, the devotees took me for a little tour around the property and the temple building, so I could orientate myself in my new environment. Everything looked so wonderful and impressive: a beautiful altar with Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara and Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and an oppulently designed temple room with golden decorations and colorful wall paintings depicting Krsna's pastimes.
It was indeed like arriving in the spiritual world.....
Throughout the summer season many tourists are visiting New Vraja Dham and are taken on guided tours around the temple and property. What a wonderful introduction to Krsna consciousness!
There is also a Gurukula for the children, and a nice goshala with happy looking cows. The devotees are trying to engage the bulls as much as possible in the agricultural activities of plowing the fields and pulling carts to bring in the hey. There is also a little village shop, where devotees can buy the basic necessities of life. 70% of all required fruits and vegetables are grown on the farm by devotees, and also preserved for the winter season.
The Deity department is very nicely arranged, with a high standard of worship. All the pujaris and helpers in the paraphernalia room are chanting at least eight rounds before offering their services, even in the early morning. The cooking for the Deities happens on stoves fueled with wood.
Their Lordships are certainly the very center of the entire community....
Devotees were telling me how they recently discovered one nursery selling Campaka plants. And Sivarama Swami immediately ordered to purchase them all! So I saw about fourty or more Campaka plants standing in a big tent and also in a glass house garden. Some of them were blossoming with pink and yellow flowers carrying their distinct fragrance. They are also my very favorate flowers, and I always remember my days as brahmacarini in the Sydney temple - a part of the world where Campaka trees are growing in almost every second garden! We used to regularly go out and collect them, and make the most beautiful garlands.
Here in New Vraja Dham the Deities were decorated every morning with Campaka flowers - how beautiful....!
I conducted the course "Women in Spiritual Culture" over five days, with three-hour seminar sessions every day. A nice group of matajis, most of them being senior and mature ladies, had been able to free themselves from their busy service schedule in order to be able to participate in the course.
Sivarama Swami had arranged for all the materials to be translated into Hungarian language, since most devotees are not so fluent in English.
The ladies eagerly absorbed themselves in the topic of discussion, and we spent a sweet and transformational time together, receiving deeper insights into the universal principles of Krsna's culture.
Time was passing very quickly, and the devotees regretted that there was no time left for further association and discussions on the next unit of "Marriage in Spiritual Culture".
In our little closing ceremony the ladies shared heart moving realizations, expressing how this course had deeply affected their hearts and world view, and how they wished they had received this knowledge much earlier in their lives.....
This community is certainly a very unique one, offering a wonderful opportunity for devotees to fully engage themselves in spiritual practice while being sheltered from disturbing elements of mundane influences. The ladies seemed peaceful and well taken care off, and the children looked well behaved and happy.
It would certainly be a perfect place to try and implement more and more aspects of spiritual culture - the basic foundation to it is already created. And adding the culture will bring even more sweetness and beauty into the community....
I spent one more day at the Budapest temple - a fantastic set-up for preaching: a former factory which had been transformed into the abode of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai, with a nice entrance hall with a restaurant and shop. Upstairs are great ashram facilities for brahmacharis and brahmacharini. Everything is very stylish and tastefully arranged - I could sense that Sivarama Swami personally must have given a lot of time and energy to design all the various details.
However, to have an impossible mission makes us feel more helplessly dependant on Krsna and Srila Prabhupada and thus deepens our spiritual life.
Maharaja ordered me to put some little booklets together on various themes of spiritual culture. He said: "Now we have an Institute - so we need some books...!" Several devotees had suggested this to me in the past. One mataji had already started to transcribe the first unit of the course, but Maharaja was not impressed with this idea, calling it the "lazy way of writing..."
His instruction has potency since he is a writing himself. So I accepted it as Srila Prabhupada speaking through him and giving blessings.
And I decided to begin by writing more articles for the dandavats website.
I gave two introductory sessions on spiritual culture to the devotees of the Budapest community, which were once again well received.
On the morning of the 22nd of June I flew off to Kiev/Ukraine....
Your servant, Devaki dd