these headlines in the newspaper and a half page story accompanied by photos
of His Divine Grace and our devotees on Hari Nama Sankirttan, Milan prepared
for the arrival of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj and his
entourage of devotees on August 30, 2000.
Above, Srila Govinda Maharaj in Milan.
Right: Sri Munindra Mohan Prabhu at the booktable.
Below: The wonderful facilities for the tour in Italy.
Including Srila Govinda Maharaj
and the twenty devotees travelling with him, there where over 150 devotees
gathered for the Italian Festival -- "Festa Sankirttan!" The Italian
devotees headed by Sripad Munindra Mohan Prabhu, Krishna Kanta Devi Dasi
and Sripad Mohita Krishna Prabhu, organised a grand programme at a resort
named Monte Barro, near Lecco in the foothills of the Italian Alps close
to Milan. Many devotees assisted including Sripad Jayanta Krishna Prabhu,
Srimati Braja Mohini Devi Dasi and the new initiates Srimati Krishna Kumari
Devi Dasi, Adavay Krishna Prabhu and many others.
The resort had over sixty
private rooms for the devotees with a large meeting room for Kirttans and
programmes, two dinning halls and ample kitchen facilities. Devotees came
from all over Italy, Germany, England, and many other European countries
including 17 devotees and guests from Hungary. Pilgrims also came from farther
afield including Mexico and the U.S.A.
Srila Govinda Maharaj was very happy there and all the devotees received
so much nourishment from his inspiring words and his transcendental presence.
Relishing every word from His Divine Grace, the devotees heard Srila Govinda
Maharaj explain the sweetness of The Absolute. Srila Govinda Maharaj spoke
many times about the importance of chanting the Holy Names of Krishna and
avoiding the ten offences to the Holy Names. He also explained how the Holy
Name is so merciful that by chanting, then the Holy Name Itself will help
us overcome our offences.
On Sundays many people normally come to Monte Barro to enjoy the
beautiful natural environment. But this Sunday due to the numerous favourable
television and newspaper reports about Srila Govinda Maharaj, many more
guests came and attended the programme there and heard from Srila Govinda
Maharaj, participated in Kirttan and took Prasadam. It seemed like everyone
in the area had heard about the festival and in a very friendly way they
greeted the devotees on the streets, giving them small gifts and waving
and smiling at them. Even the local Catholic priest gave a positive endorsement
in a newspaper interview.
Srila Govinda Maharaj was extremely happy to see his dear friend
Sripad Bhakti Madhur Bon Maharaj who travelled from Rome where he has a
preaching centre. Sripad Bon Maharaj was very happy to be there with His
Divine Grace and to also see his other friends again after so many years.
We were all astonished to see the photographs and drawings of the large
temple and ashram that is almost finished near Rome. Sripad Bon Maharaj
and only a few devotees have been working tirelessly for over a year on
the construction, and expect to have the grand opening very soon.
A public programme was arranged in a yoga centre in Milan. Again
the many guests who came were able to have that rare association of a pure
devotee: His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj. One young lady who attended
was so moved by the sweetness of Srila Govinda Maharaj and the devotees
that she returned to Monte Barro, took initiation, and not only spent the
remainder of the festival in Italy with His Divine Grace, but she also travelled
to Switzerland with the devotees, to attend the programmes there!
During the festival many other sincere seekers offered so much service
and several took initiation including ten guests from Hungary and several
from Milan. Now we are seeing the community of devotees in Milan is expanding
nicely with the Milan Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Ashram Italia in the centre
where Sri Bala Gopal Giridhari is being worshipped by the devotees.
I offer my dandavat pranams to all the Italian devotees and all the
world-wide devotees who by their generosity, energy and dedication made
this "Festa Sankirttan" so successful!