During the revolution, everything was taken from him, then, it seems, they were shot, therefore, in the family, communism was considered a great evil.
Everything that the school gave, I did not accept as the truth, especially since I was familiar with the reverse side of the “coin”. Most surprisingly, it was this that helped me become interested in Krsna consciousness.
The first acquaintance took place in 1982 through a communist pamphlet, which described various religious movements. It spoke of Krsna Consciousness. In it, devotees were portrayed as lunatics, dressed in sheets and with shaved heads who repeat the same incoherent words and look terrible. In these descriptions, a part of the Maha Mantra was given. I thought that these must be good people, and the words that they repeat probably make sense. I had a desire to learn more about this.
I was then interested in mysticism, learned to manage other people’s thoughts, shape desired events, influence people. My hippie friends shared these interests. They communicated with devotees, and it was from them that I saw some of Srila Prabhupada’s books. But philosophy and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra were reinterpreted by us in our own mystical way, therefore I did not think of God as a person, as One who is able to fulfill any desire. I used the mantra for mystical purposes or simply sang it to different melodies, because I was fond of music and heard the Beatles singing Hare Krishna. I had no idea about all the principles, but I knew for sure about vegetarianism. This made me happy because I didn’t like to eat meat since childhood and threw it in the window when my parents turned away. So I took vegetarianism and followed it relatively strictly for a year.
Somehow a friend dragged me to visit his parents. They prepared meat dishes and hospitably made everyone eat. I ate one cutlet and immediately felt that I was poisoned. It was a good experience for me to make the final choice.
It is interesting that since childhood I loved to sit on the floor, eat with my hands, and my parents hardly taught me to eat with a spoon, which I also threw out at every opportunity. My mother made a horoscope on me several times, and each time it turned out that in a past life I lived in India.
Of course, my acquaintance with Krishna consciousness was superficial, and I could not understand Bhagavad-gita correctly. I was indignant that the topic of mystic yoga that interests me was presented briefly and in only one chapter, where the author said that this was not for our century. But since the Hare Krishna mantra was mentioned on every page, apparently, it still affected me.
Although I did not have a shortage of money, my father organized a business and wanted me to support it and earn money myself. But I completely lost interest in this activity. Although I still spent a lot of time in the casino and enjoyed the fact that I was losing heaps of money, I realized more and more that these were the last chords of my sinful life and that it was impossible to live on like that. In the end, I was gripped by a deep depression, and no pleasures were no longer pleasing.
Three years before, a friend and I tried to cross the border of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to go to India. We had the absolute belief that if we chant the Hare Krsna mantra, then we will succeed, and we will be able to go through the Pamir, which is part of the Himalayas. We had no idea what it was. A little later, when we went to the museum of local lore, I saw the fauna and flora of the Pamirs. Tigers, wolves, bears, kites; I realized that the Lord then saved us from this stupidity. But at that time, we already bought climbing equipment, a small supply of some “humorous” products and went to the mountains with the determination to go through the Himalayas to India.
When we climbed to a height of several hundred meters, we saw a young woman who ran and cried in dismay. She ran to us with a request to find her husband. Her husband went to the mountains, she could not find him and said that he was on the verge of suicide.
We went in the direction that the woman showed and, indeed, found a man right on the edge of the abyss. We began with great enthusiasm to preach to him:
– Life is beautiful, there is no need to take special care of temporary manifestations of joy and grief, everything is under the control of Krishna.
This man was so overwhelmed by our enthusiasm that he decided not to jump off a cliff. We went down together. They invited us to their home. We had to postpone our trip, this was Krsna’s hand.
We were fed, and the owner began to talk about how he had served in prison for several years. After his release, he did not have the opportunity to support himself and his family, so he decided to commit suicide. We realized that we can tell this person everything as it is, that he will probably not tell anyone about how we were going to cross the border, that we are against the communist system and therefore wanted to leave for India.
After listening, he said:
– That goal is difficult to achieve, because in the mountains the transitions are carried out only on goat paths, literally 10-15 centimeters wide, and the gorges are many kilometers deep, often these are just icy slopes. There are many predators in these mountains. There you can freeze, fall into the abyss or become the prey of animals. But even if this does not happen, then border guards flying in helicopters can shoot you, because it is impossible to land in the mountains. And when they see some kind of movement in the mountains, they simply shoot, not worrying about anything else.
– Is it possible to come up with something? He said:
– You can get a driver at a transport company, if you have rights and, when you work for about a month, then you can try to break through the border by truck. Not far from this place runs the route to Turkmenistan. Of course, they will shoot and pursue, but at least there is some chance. And when you go far enough into the territory of Turkmenistan, you will not be persecuted.
My friend had a driver’s license, but, having imagined this picture, we realized how little chance we have of remaining alive, even by truck, and decided to postpone the border crossing and return to Russia.
Before I met the devotees, I was no longer pleased with any of the pleasures of life. The first devotee I saw was Yadukuleshvara, originally from Sukhumi. He wore kanthi-mala beads around his neck and a bag with a rosary, although then the persecution of the devotees only ended, and many were still afraid of the persecution of the authorities.
I remember that I approached him from behind and said loudly:
– Hare Krishna!
He got scared and thought it was the KGB, but, looking back, he saw me and was delighted. He began to ask:
– How do you know about Krishna Consciousness? Then he invited me to the Sunday program.
I had a deep feeling that as soon as I arrived, I would immediately have to give up sensual pleasures and completely turn my life around. I thought that I was not ready for this, and found some excuses. He gave me the apple offered, saying:
– This is prasadam.
Of course, I had no idea why the apple is called prasadam, but, realizing that this is an unusual apple, I ate it. And, really, his taste seemed unusual to me.
For another week I tried to live the old life, enjoy, but, nevertheless, I kept in touch with the devotees by phone and asked them philosophical questions. And so, a week later I decided to go on a Sunday program, already realizing that I want to leave my material life forever.
When I arrived, I was most struck by the relationship between the devotees, very close and personal. These people are really happy for each other. The same Yadukuleshvara came up to me and asked a question:
– Do you chant the Hare Krsna mantra? I said:
– I repeat sometimes. He asked:
– Repeat on the rosary?
But I did not know anything about it. Then he gave me the rosary, which consisted of 27 beads (prison version) and explained:
– Four circles on them will make one real circle, and all in all 16 large circles need to be repeated every day.
And the next day I began to repeat 16 circles. It took about an entire day because I did not know how to do it right. Repeating very slowly, about eight or nine hours, I could hardly speak the words of the mantra at all, because my throat ached. Instead of a counter, I had matches, so I counted my first laps. After some short time, I told my father that I was leaving, that I had found myself, that I would no longer be engaged in either business, or everything that I had done before, and that I was not interested in all this anymore. Father, laughing, said: “Whoever you were, and hippies and anti-Soviet. You have the most motley biography. And this is another page that will simply turn over and everything will go back on track. ” I did not argue and convince my father that it was serious with me, and left, giving him, finally, “Easy Journey”: “This book was written by a very wise man. Read it and you will understand everything yourself. ”
I was gone for two weeks. I lived in an ashram and distributed books. When I came to visit, my father said that he did not understand anything in this book and how to believe such a thing. I explained that there is a key to these books – chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. I handed him the rosary and left again for a couple of weeks.
When I returned next time, I saw that my father was already attending all Sunday programs, repeating 16 circles and talking with devotees whom he had found. I did not live at home anymore; I traveled around the cities a lot and distributed books.
At that time Indradyumna Swami visited Russia. They showed me his photograph, gave me lectures, and I immediately realized that this was my guru and that I needed to receive initiation from him. In 1990, I saw him and asked for refuge, and in 1991 I received the first initiation. At first this choice was subconscious, but now I see that the Holy Name was the main inspiring force in my spiritual life from the very beginning. And Indradyumna Swami completely devoted his life to preaching the Holy Name all over the world, and, obviously, this is the hand of Krishna, since I accepted him as my spiritual teacher.
So I took vows, severe restrictions on my whole life, and I can’t regret it, because I already had experience in my life – satisfaction of feelings does not bring any happiness.
Bhakti Rasayana Sagara Swami accepted sannyasa on March 13, 2016 during the Gaura Purnima festival in Mayapur.
H.H. Indradyumna Swami was born on May 20th, 1949 in Palo-Alto (California, USA).
Leaving aside his university studies at an early age, Indradyumna Swami devoted himself to the search for spiritual knowledge. He finally reached his goal in 1970, when he discovered the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Detroit, Michigan. After several months of associating with devotees, he joined the temple on East Jefferson near the center of the city.
Within a week of joining, he began participating in and even leading harinam (congregational chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names) and book distribution parties. That same year, Indradyumna Swami met his eternal spiritual master, His pine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, and received both harinam and brahminical initiation from him.
Following the instruction of his spiritual master to “preach boldy and have faith in the holy names,” Indradyumna Swami left the USA in 1971 (only a year after joining) and headed for Europe where he would assist devotees in opening new centers.
Srila Prabhupada’s desire was that noble and educated men should dedicate there lives to spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world. In order to fulfill this desire of his spiritual master, Indradyumna Swami took sanyassa (renounced order of life) in 1979, at the age of 29. In 1983, he served as temple president for a few years at the New Mayapur Project in France.
Since 1986, Indradyumna Swami has been traveling and spreading the message of Krishna Consciousness throughout the world in countries such as the USA, Poland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia and South America. He is well-known as one of ISKCON’s most active preachers.
A shining example of his large-scale preaching is the traveling Festival of India tour which he organizes every year in Poland. These festivals attract thousands of people, who learn about and relish the nectar of Krsna Consciousness through music, dance, drama, spiritual discussion, and prasadam (food that is first offered to the Lord).
Since 1995, Indradyumna Swami has been writing his Diary of a Traveling Monk, which describes many of his adventures and realizations while continuously traveling.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in this world in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent religious scholar and the founder of sixty-four Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge. Srila Prabhupada became his student and, in 1933, his formally inititated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati immediately asked him, “You are an intelligent young man. Why don’t you preach the message of Lord Caitanya in English?” This request was to be the driving force in Srila Prabhupada’s life.
In 1936, Srila Prabhupada wrote to his spiritual master, who was then passing his last days on the planet. In the letter Prabhupada asked, “Is there any particular service I can do?” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta said in his reply, “I am fully confident that you can explain in English our thoughts and arguments……I have every hope that you can turn yourself into a very good English preacher.” Srila Prabhupada knew this was to be his life’s mission, and he began to prepare himself.
In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commnetary on the Bhagavad-gita, assisted the Gaudiya Matha in its work, and, in 1944, started Back to Godhead, an English fortnightly magazine. Singlehandedly, Srila Prabhupada edited it, typed the manuscript, checked the proofs, and even distributed the individual copies. The magazine is now being continued by his disciples in the West.
In 1950, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, adopting the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. He traveled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in humble circumstances in the historic temple of Radha-Damodara. There he engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multivolume commentated translation of the eighteen-thousand-verse Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.
After publishing three volumes of the Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, in September 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Subsequently, His Divine Grace wrote more than fifty volumes of authoritative commentated translations and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
When he first arrived by freighter, the Jaladuta, in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. He later related, “I didn’t know where to turn, left or right.” After a difficult six months, he rented a small store front on 26 Second Avenue and was affectionately known to his first disciples as “Swamiji.” Only after almost a year of great difficulty did he establish the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in July of 1966. Before he passed away on November 14, 1977, he had guided the Society and seen it grow to a worldwide confederation of more than one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes, and farm communities.
Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of several large international cultural centers in India. The center at Sridhama Mayapur is the site for a planned spiritual city, an ambitious project for which construction will extend for many years to come. In Vrndavana are the magnificent Krsna-Balaram Temple and international guesthouse, gurukula school, and Srila Prabhupada Memorial and Museum. Many other centers are located in dozen important locations in India.
Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution is his books. He wrote over 50 volumes of transcendental literature. From the original Sanskrit or Bengali texts, he would write word-for-word translations and comment on the texts in his famous Bhaktivedanta purports. He called these purports “my emotional ecstasies.” Highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, and clarity, they are used as textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into over fifty languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy.
In just twelve years, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times that took him to six continents and initiated 5,000 disciples. In the early morning hours, between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m., he would spend writing, and later in the day he would preach to all classes of people in public and in private. Prabhupada slept only 3 hours a day and ate only a handful of food. Even up to the day of his death, when his physical body was at its end, he was writing purports to the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. By any calculation, he was an extraordinary person and a saint.
His Divine Grace A.Ch. Bhaktivedanta Snami Prabhu Pada appeared in this world in 1896 in Calcutta (India). There, in Calcutta, in 1922 he first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, an outstanding philosopher and founder of sixty-four Gaudiya Maths (Vedic societies), liked an educated young man, and he persuaded him to devote his life to spreading Vedic knowledge. So he became the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada, who eleven years later received official initiation from him as a disciple.
At their first meeting, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur asked Srila Prabhupada to distribute Vedic knowledge in English. In the following years, Srila Prabhupada helped with the work of the Gaudiya Math, wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita, and in 1944 he began to publish an English-language magazine called Back Tu Godhead (Back to Godhead), published twice per month. Currently, his students continue to publish this journal in more than thirty languages ​​of the world.
In 1947, the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society, paying tribute to the philosophical knowledge of Srila Prabhupada and his devotion to God, awarded him the title of “Bhaktivedanta.” In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada moved away from family life, taking vanaprastha in order to devote all his time to scientific studies and literary work. He settled in the holy city of Vrindavan, where he lived in a very modest setting in the famous Radha-Damodara temple. For several years, Srila Prabhupada was completely absorbed in scientific and literary pursuits. In 1959, he renounced the world by accepting sannyas. It was in the temple of Radha Damodara that Srila Prabhupada began work on his masterpiece – a multi-volume translation and commentary on the Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata-Purana), a classical philosophical work in Sanskrit consisting of eighteen thousand verses. In the same place he wrote a small book, “Easy Journey to Other Planets.”
In 1965, the first three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam were published. Srila Prabhupada went to the USA to fulfill the mission assigned to him by the spiritual master. In the following years, he published over sixty volumes of translations, commentaries, and overview essays on Indian classical works on philosophy and religion.
In September 1965, when Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York on a cargo ship, he had practically no means. After living in the United States for almost a year and overcoming many obstacles, in July 1966 he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). When he left this world (November 14, 1977), the society he founded was a worldwide confederation of more than one hundred ashrams, schools, temples, institutes, and agricultural communities.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada founded the first experimental Vedic agricultural community in the United States. Encouraged by the success of this endeavor, his students have since created many. of similar communes in the United States and beyond.
In 1972, he introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in the West, founded in Dallas gurukulu. Srila Prabhupada’s followers, guided by his instructions, organized schools for children around the world, and the two main centers of the ISKCON educational system are now in Vrindavan and Mayapur (India).
In addition, Srila Prabhupada was the inspiration for the construction of several large international cultural centers in India. Around the center in Sridham Mayapur (West Bengal) it is planned to erect a spiritual city; the implementation of this ambitious project will take several decades. In Vrindavan, the majestic Krishna-Balarama Temple and a hotel for pilgrims from all over the world were built. ISKCON’s major cultural and educational centers are located in Bombay and many other large cities in India.
However, the most important thing that Srila Prabhupada left to the people is his books. Highly appreciated by scientists for their authority, depth and clarity of presentation, they serve as textbooks in many colleges and universities. His works have been translated into more than fifty languages ​​of the world. Bhaktivedanta Buk Trust (a publishing house founded by him in 1972) is the largest publishing house in the world publishing works on Indian philosophy and religion.
In just twelve years, despite his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada traveled around the world fourteen times to give lectures on all five continents. But, despite the utmost busyness, he never stopped writing his books. Srila Prabhupada’s works constitute a genuine encyclopedia of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.