All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga

I'm not in Russia, but Vaikuntha

a 19th World Tour Dispatch

by Divya Shakti Devi Dasi

St. Petersburg, 12 August 2002

My obeisances to all the devotees,

Here goes my unprepared attempt to try and reveal my over-flooding amazement and awe at the beautiful, most dedicated Russian devotees.

Jiv jago!!! This is certainly a definite wake up call for me. All I can really do is talk about these dedicated hard working servitors here at our Russian mission and pray that I can pick up on their mood of selfless service.

Gurudeva's morning darshans have now been moved from his quarters to the main Temple Room for there were just too many devotees trying to sweetly cram their way in through his door. Srila Gurudeva said just today at the morning darshan, "After a few years Russia will be more than Bengal. Everywhere there is pollution in religion but not in Russia!"

Everything is very, very, very big in Russia and that includes the devotees' hearts to please Sri Guru and the Vaishnavas. My biggest amazement is the Temple construction. It was designed by our beloved Jagannath Vallabha Prabhu, and it is just perfect. There is even a parikrama path around Their Beautiful Most Merciful Lordships, Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Radha Madhavasundarjiu.

Today Their Lordships wore the most gorgeous outfits. These were made by Kaliya Damana Prabhu's wife who is a fashion designer. This outfit is most amazing with Sri Radha's veil reaching almost to the sky, the picture of this outfit I am sure will be shown to all of us on the web. Kaliya Damana Prabhu himself is the head cook of the Temple, and his offerings are just heavenly.

Everyone has their designated duties and all wear name-tags written in English and Russian so that everyone knows everyone's name and what service they are doing. I am simply enlivened by the devotees' service attitude, for every day they are scrubbing the Temple Room floor with scrubbing-brushes and cleaning everywhere with dusters and cloths. They are all day cleaning and sweeping.

The construction of the Temple grounds is just amazing, there are even bird houses in the trees to accommodate the singing birds! The garden is amazing too, for daily we are picking vegetables to cook for Sri Guru and Their Lordships. Carrots, cauliflower, beets, different types of squash, zucchini, parsley, lettuce.... There are many apple trees too, and other fruits like raspberries and edible flowers that Vijay Raman Prabhu loves to pick and offer. I must say this also, that even the flowers are all very, very big and beautifully perfect, not to speak of the perfect weather we are having here.

We have had so many preaching engagement programmes with our dearmost Srila Gurudeva. The devotees have assisted the preaching in many ways, headed by our beloved Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Prapanna Tirtha Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharyya Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Pavan Janardan Maharaj and Prabhu Chidananda. Indeed Prabhu Chidananda yesterday led Harinama Sankirttan around the Temple grounds. He was extremely fired-up. If you have ever been in one of Chidananda Prabhu's kirttans then you know he just goes on and on and on.

I feel very fortunate, too, to be here with Yudhamanyu Prabhu Seva Vikram for he is taking such wonderful notes of everything, so the morning darshans are all pretty much being revealed to you all. Jamuna Priya Devi Dasi is capturing so many precious moments of beloved Gurudeva in photos and in audio. Sureswari is oh so enlivened by everything and everyone, and there is no keeping her out of the kitchen. Our sweet little Kamala Devi is cooking up a storm, making so many beautiful sweets. One day Gurudeva called her the 'gulabjaman lady.' And Tunga Prema Devi -- well her service attitude cannot be beaten.

In such an environment and in such association it is not possible not to be enlivened -- you just want to try and serve everybody. Like Chidananda Prabhu says after the 'Jay Om...' prayers: "Everybody, ki jay! Gaura Premanandi, Hari bol!"

There was a fire yajna yesterday with sooooo many initiates receiving second initiation. I believe there are over 30 new initiates so far.

The other day we were taken on a little boat ride which was most sweet with Sripad Tirtha Maharaj heading a very fired-up kirttan down some of the many canals and rivers in St. Petersburg. Then the day before yesterday we visited the 'Hermitage' which, I was told, is to be the most famous museum in the world. This was most enlivening with Sri Gurudeva heading up our tour of the museum and being wheeled around by Srutasrava Prabhu. I am sure you all have seen some pictures posted on the website too.

I am leaving out so much, but I wanted to say a little something about our Russian Mission and the time spent here with Srila Gurudeva and all of the sweet, humble devotees in our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, St. Petersburg. I have tried my heartfelt best, but you know I am not a writer but am just trying to serve somehow.

Praying to become a selfless servant of the servant of the servant.

Oh so humbly,
Divyashakti d.d.

Other dispatches and pictures from St. Petersburg as well as from London.
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