I had met Gauracandranana Mataji last year at the Nrsimha Caturdasi Festival in Germany, and she had urged me to come for a visit. She had coordinated everything with the local authorities, and now here I was.....
I visited Ljubljana for five days, and the devotees kept me busy with various programs: the Sunday feast lecture, a series of evening programs on the topic of death, a SB class in the morning, and an introduction into the topic of 'Discovering Krsna's Culture'. I also met with a small group of councelors, trying to give inspiration for Devotee Care, and after the Sunday Feast we met with a nice group of ladies for a question and answer session, which brought about lively and deep discussions.
I discovered this part of the world to be a fertile preaching field. The standard of life is not as high as for example in Germany, and proportionally there is so much more interest in spiritual life and it's culture. People are open, and many preachers and Maharajas are frequently coming here to uplift the devotees. Now the interest in educating the devotees more deeply in regards to the importance of spiritual culture is also arising.
Ananta Prabhu, the temple president has the vision of developing the temple as a center for training and education. And he is eagerly welcoming the idea of having systematic courses on various topics in connection with spiritual culture.
The temple building is a former school - now we are offering the 'king of education' here.....
Two spacious buildings are giving excellent facilities for ashrams, offices, class rooms and a temple room with large Pancha Tattva being the presiding Deities of the establishment. Next door is also a Govinda's Restaurant which is visited by many people every day. So the facilities are excellent for spreading Lord Caitanya's Sankirtan Movement.
I enjoyed my introductory visit with the firm intention to return some time in the future.
On the 21st one Mataji drove me to the costal city of Rijeka, a two-hour's drive to the neigboring country of Croatia. In my childhood all these little countries were part of Yugoslavia, and I remember having been here twice during our summer holidays, almost fifty years ago. Together with my parents, sister and brother we used to visit the Island Krk, a popular place for tourists which we reached by ferry from Rijeka. Now there is a big bridge connecting the island with the main land.
ISKCON has been established here for around 30 years. The devotees are renting a flat in the city, and regular programs are being held. Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra were reminding me of Deities in Bangladesh - with round faces, which gives Them a special sweetness.
We conducted three evening programs on the topic of 'Death - our Final Challenge' which were very well received. The topic always stimulates the audience and gives a strong impetus to prepare for this final exam, by using our remaining time within this body in order to re-establish our relationship with the Lord. This will be our only wealth we will be allowed to keep.....
I stayed with devotees in a flat on the 8th floor, overlooking the coast with the island Krk. The memories of having been here as a child seemed so far away - indeed like in previous life time....
ISKCON owns here a nice house in the outskirts of the city, and very beautiful Gaur Nitai's are the Lord's of the establishment. The atmosphere is very homey - hospitable and warm, and the devotees were eagerly welcoming me.
I was scheduled to give the course "Women in Spiritual Culture" over the weekend, with the opening and introduction on Friday evening, and a rather intense schedule throughout the entire Saturday and Sunday.
Here are a couple of thought provoking quotes:
Yogesvara: Here's a problem. The women today want the same rights as men. How can they be satisfied?
Prabhupada: Everything will be satisfied. Just like our women, Krsna conscious, they are working. They don't want equal rights with men. It is due to Krsna consciousness. They are cleansing the temple, they are cooking very nicely. They are satisfied. They never say that "I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupada." They never say. This is artificial. So Krsna consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial (indistinct) (loud traffic noises). (Morning walk, Rome, 05/27/74)
Srila Prabhupada didn't want us to adopt American ways of life. After a Bhagavad-gita lecture Srila Prabhupada was asked if he was in this world.
He replied, "Just like I am in America. It is very easy to understand. I am not adopting any ways of life as the Americans. So I am not in America. Not only myself, all my disciples who are following me, they are also not Americans. They're different from American behavior, American ways of life. In that sense I'm not in America. I am in Vrndavana because wherever I go, in my apartment or in my temple, I live with Krsna and Krsna consciousness. I don't accept any consciousness of America. And I teach my disciples also to take to that consciousness. So one who takes to that consciousness, he is also not in America, not in this world." (Lecture, Los Angeles,12/16/68)
As usual Prabhupada's words make everything very clear - he wants us to transform our Western or American consciousness and ways of life into a Krsna conscious way of life, which is out of this world......
The ladies expressed their gratitude for receiving deep insights into Prabhupada's instructions, and the leaders of the yatra requested me to visit regularly to give further seminars and guidance on the topic of spiritual culture.
On the 29th of April I drove with Gauracandranana's family to Simhachalam/Germany.....
Your servant, Devaki dd