Soquel, California — Saturday, May 1st

Summer in Russia

May already! Time to start getting ready to go to Russia again. Avadhut Maharaj wants me to come on a three-month tour later this month, visiting Russia, Siberia, and the Ukraine.

Besides the main focus on Moscow and Saint Petersburg, there are some big festivals scheduled for the months ahead: at least three EthnoLife Festivals, the Grushenski festival, and some others that I could attend. Also, under the direction of Avadhut Maharaj:

Naradev Prabhu is trying to arrange for me to visit Siberia (Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk and Tomsk) later this month.

Amarendranath Prabhu is coordinating a tour for six or seven cities within a 200-kilometer radius of Moscow (Tambov, Saratov, Balakovo, Penza, Samara, Tolyatti).

Mukunda Prabhu will set up a tour for the Ukraine: Kiev, Odessa, Zaporizhzhya, and possibly Donetsk.

I am just waiting for the invitation for my new Russian visa (my old visa expired ten days ago). Once I have that, I'm off!

Soquel, California — Monday, May 3rd

Lord Nrisinghadev's appearance

Today is Lord Nrisinghadev's appearance day. The half-man, half-lion incarnation of Lord Krishna appeared in this world to protect His devotee, Prahlad Maharaj (paritranaya sadhunam), and to kill Prahlad's atheistic father, the demon Hiranyakashipu (vinasaya ca duskrtam).

Prahlad's own father was his enemy; Hiranyakashipu persecuted his son unmercifully, but because Prahlad is a suddha bhakta, a pure devotee completely dependent on the mercy of Lord, his wicked father was unable to kill him.

To show the value of devotion (bhakti), Prahlad Maharaj had to endure so many tribulations. His unfaltering, exclusive devotion to the Lord — even in extremely adverse circumstances — shows that however impossible our fight with maya may seem, we will ultimately be victorious if we are able to see the friendly hand of God everywhere.

In Sri Guru and His Grace, Srila Sridhar Maharaj says:

Krishna is all-conscious. The response to our devotional efforts will come from Krishna according to our attentiveness to Him. He is everywhere. In the conception of infinite, everywhere there is center, nowhere is there circumference.

Prahlad Maharaj saw the center present everywhere. Hiranyakashipu asked, "Is your God in this pillar?" Prahlad replied, "Yes. He is there." And when Hiranyakashipu demolished the pillar, Lord Nrisinghadev came out.

To prove that the words of His devotee were true — that He is everywhere — the Lord burst out of the pillar to kill the atheistic non-believer, the demon Hiranyakashipu.

Let us therefore worship that all-pervading, all-seeing Lord:

ito nrsimah parato nrsimho
yato yato yami tato nrsimhah
bahir nrsimho hrdaye nrsimho
nrsimham adim saranam prapadye

"Nrisingha is here, Nrisingha is there; Nrisingha is wherever I go. Nrisingha is outside, Nrisingha is within my heart; I surrender unto that primeval Lord Nrisingha."

Soquel, California — Thursday, May 6th

Going to the source

I am going to leave for Russia sooner than I thought, because I am going to go by way of India. I do not have my Russian visa yet, because my invitation letter from Russia is taking a little longer than expected (after September 11th, most countries now require an invitation letter with any visa application).

So, I'm thinking, I can wait for the letter in Calcutta just as easily as I can here in California...

Since I am going to be in Russia for at least three months, trying to faithfully represent Srila Govinda Maharaj's beautiful conception of Krishna consciousness to sincere seekers in that country, it will be good for me to again immerse myself in that unique conception of divinity before I leave, at the wonderfully purifying lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva.

In Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion II, Srila Guru Maharaj says:

Kirtan is to cultivate oneself and help many others to cultivate at the same time. But when you have no capital of your own, if you go to preach you will meet such opposition (asat-sanga) that the ankura, the bud, will be nipped. In that case, if you are kanistha-adhikari, neophyte, don't go to attack others without vigorous backing.

Kirtan means to preach, or to attack others, in a sense. Don't venture, as a kanistha-adhikari. You will be turned into an atheist! Only after passing through the proper stages — sravana-dasa, varana-dasa, sadhana-dasa, apana-dasa (the phases of hearing, acceptance, practice, and attainment) — can you can preach independently. Otherwise, only with the help of someone in prapanna-dasa (full self-surrender) can you go to preach.

And in Sri Guru and His Grace, Srila Guru Maharaj reiterates:

As long as one is not completely established in Krishna consciousness, he must have some connection with superior aid. Then he will be safe. If we are to fight face-to-face with maya, illusion, help from the higher agency should be our only resource.

So before going to Russia, I am going to the source.

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