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Wednesday, April 9th, 2003

St. Petersburg
Walking on ice

At the mangala arati, Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Madhavasundarjiu gaze down benevolently at us from Their magnificent alter. The back half of the temple room is still under construction, but will be completed before Srila Gurudeva arrives at the beginning of August.

We sing the morning bhajans then I am asked to say a little about myself and my recent sannyas ceremony to about ten devotees who live in the temple, and a few have come over early to attend the morning program. Amrita Mayi Devi Dasi interprets for me...

For breakfast, I have something I have not eaten since about 1967 — a hot bowl of porridge. I'm told it's a Russian staple. After breakfast, Aditi Devi Dasi, through Amrita Mayi Devi Dasi, interviews me for the Russian newsletter, Sadhu Sangha. She asks how I came to Krishna consciousness, how I met my gurudeva, what my plans are for the future...

The St. Petersburg Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is built right on the shore of the Baltic Sea, now frozen. After the interview, I want to step out onto the Baltic Sea, just so I can say that I did so. A bunch of us step out onto the frozen bay, and scooping up some snow in my hands for the first time, I make a startling discovery: snow is cold!

Well, "da" (yes) and "duh"... I guess since my only sensory experience of snow was through the tactile pages of books and comics and the optical medium of pictures and movies, I expected it to be... well, not exactly warm, but not quite so cold either.

Anyway, I've had enough of all this snow for now, and since it's almost lunchtime, it's back to the temple to partake of another Russian national dish, a steaming bowl of borsht — beet soup.

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At the evening program I stress the value of sadhu-sangha and vaisnava seva. Through sadhu-sangha we will get a desire for seva. Service is valued above all else, even chanting on your japa mala...
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