The area of Cologne is very densely populated, and in a radius of around one hundred kilometers are probably around three hundred devotees living, which is a lot for Germany. Many of these devotees are from Russia and Ukraine, who are very eager and active. There is also a very active Indian congregation - in fact one Indian devotee is the Vice President, which nicely builds the bridges between the nationalities.
Rama Gopal Prabhu, who is the father of the temple is very keen to bring in elements of Devotee Care, which is so important in order to nourish devotees spiritually. The motto of Devotee Care is "more devotees - happier devotees." And the foundation is the principle of giving and accepting shelter. Without this basis there is no meaning to Devotee Care. Giving and accepting shelter is what makes relationships deep and meaningful. Without giving and accepting shelter our life and our relationships remain superficial, external and selfish.
One morning we went on a little harinam in the nearby shopping street, and I distributed invitation cards to the Sunday program. It was fun, and we met so many favorable people.
On Saturday afternoon we went on a bigger harinam in the center of the city, where the world famous Cathedral is. Since it was during the autumn holidays, there were many tourists in the city visiting the huge cathedral to take darshan. I was shocked to see how degraded and low class people appeared to be: many young people in obnoxious appearance - dirty and wretched looking, with crazy hairstyles, displaying their choice of being homosexual or lesbian. And elderly people who seemed to have spent most of their life pursuing sinful activities, and the regular consumption of alcohol had made them dull headed and gross.
Germany is certainly not any longer what it used to be....! The opulence had degraded them.
Once again I realized that I had been born at the best time of the Germany history - enough years after the second world war in order to recover from it, and early enough to beat the heavy degradation. In 1958 when I was born life was still OK in Germany, especially in the villages....
One evening we conducted a Matajis' program at the temple, and many nice and sincere ladies came. We discussed to importance of mothers within spiritual culture - a topic which is always so relevant and eye opening to the ladies.
On Sunday I was invited to lead the japa workshop in the late morning, which was well attended. Devotees very much appreciated the discussions, and I also built in a little japa exercise in order to deepen the learning experience. It was a good appetizer for the Holy Name Retreat which we are planning to conduct in Goloka Dham early next year.
Then the main Sunday program began with a nice kirtan lead by Tota Gopinath Prabhu who is originally from Ukraine. For the lecture we took the small Gaur Nitai Deities in the next door Kirtan Hall, which the devotees have started to rent since the temple room cannot accommodate the growing community any longer, especially during Sunday programs and festivals.
I continued the discussions on the glories of Srimati Radharani, and we concluded the festivities with a pushpa abhishek for little Radha Krsna Deities, and a wonderful feast. Around 150 devotees had assembled, which is a good number for this part of the world, and many of them had come from far away, driving for two or even three hours in order to reach.
My visit to Cologne was truly inspiring to me, and I decided to spend more quality time here in the future, maybe twice a year. When the leaders are eager to move things forward and involve us traveling preachers, then we can actually offer some service to the devotees of the yatra by giving inspiration, guidance and visions through principles. And the local leaders eagerly accept them and try to put them into practice. Then the cooperation becomes like a well tuned football team, where we play the ball to each other....
Alakananda Mataji returned to her home in Belgium, and we were looking forward to meet again in Mayapur. I took the train to Munich on the 11th of September to continue my tour around Germany.
I was invited to conduct two evening programs on the topic of spiritual culture. Since there are many young families with children in this yatra, I dedicated one evening to the topic of the importance of mothers.
I had observed that so many young ladies don't like to be mothers, thinking their children to be an obstacle in their devotional life. And of course the child can strongly perceive this and feels neglected, unwanted and not loved. And as a result the child becomes very misbehaved, simply to attract the mother's attention. After all, how else is the child able to get the attention of his mother?! And of course the mother becomes even more irritable and constantly chastises the child, which leaves emotional traumas on the child's mind. And naturally, when the child is grown up it will not like Krsna consciousness very much. The Samskara is deeply engrained in his heart that this Krsna consciousness was taken his mother away from him.
The Sunday program we dedicated to the topic of the false ego. Around 30 people assembled - not enough for a big and important city such as Munich! The prasadam was very opulent and tasty, cooked with love and devotion.
On Monday the 15th of September I continued my journey to Berlin, traversing once again the entire country from South to North, by one of those most comfortable German trains.....
Your servant, Devaki dd