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of a Traveling Preacher, Volume 3, Chapter 39
By Indradyumna Swami
His Holiness Indradyumna Swami is a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada and regular contributor to CHAKRA
planning our next festival in Lodz (the second largest city in Poland), we
received a call from town council officials in Gorzow Wielkopolski, the capital
of northwest Poland and the site of our final program last autumn. They
desperately wanted us to participate in their upcoming annual city festivities.
We explained that we were in the middle of a tour in the center of Poland and it
would be difficult for us to move our whole show north. The town secretary said,
"Your program last autumn was the biggest festival we've had in years (8,
000 people attended), and without your presence at our annual event we're afraid
we'll get a poor turnout. "
explained that we'd take a loss financially by breaking down and going there, to
which the secretary replied, "You name the price - we're willing to pay.
told him what the cost would be, and after negotiation he agreed a price
including transportation and lodging for 100 devotees. The next day we were off
to Gorzow Wielkopolski, leaving a small team of devotees to prepare the Lodz
northwest, devotees felt Krishna was giving us a little rest and recuperation
from the difficulties we've been facing in the area of Lodz. In a recent meeting
with our professional security team, the manager of the firm soberly told us,
"Do you know that in choosing Lodz to hold your festivals this spring, you
picked one of the most dangerous areas of the country?"
ray of sunlight came on the journey when we received a call from the Gazeta
Lubuska, Poland's most widely read newspaper. Word spread quickly about our
participation in the Gorzow Wielkopolski festival, and the newspaper wanted
information. Because time was short, the reporter said, "You write the
story and we'll print it. " That was a first for us in such a prestigious
we arrived in Gorzow Wielkopolski we were escorted to a hotel not far from the
festival site and introduced to the woman in charge of the city Cultural Affairs
Department. She showed us the poster the council was putting up all over town.
It had our stage program hour by hour, and at the bottom of the poster listed
the festival sponsors: the European Union, Polish National Television, Polish
National Communications, and several national banks. Devotees smiled upon seeing
the poster; here in Gorzow Wielkopolski we were being treated like stars. When
we asked the lady for permission to do harinama the next day, she said,
"You don't even have to ask. In fact, if you don't chant on the streets
we'll never invite you back to our town!"
harinama the next day, Sri Prahald was distributing invitations when he was
approached by a man who presented him with his card. It read: "Town
Secretary - Gorzow Wielkopolski. " The official said, "Can you tell me
how to get in touch with the Hare Krishna reggae band, Village of Peace? We're
planning a big concert here in a month and want them to play. " He added,
"Personally they're one of my favorite bands in Poland. "
man was surprised when Sri Prahlad replied, "Yes, of course I can help you
- I'm the lead singer in the band. "
the five days of festivities in Gorzow Wielkopolski, at which the crowds
delighted in our show, Nandini dasi and Radha Sakhi Vrnda dasi traveled north to
the Baltic Sea coast to make arrangements for our summer festivals in that
region. Their first stop was Trzebiatow, a town of 15, 000 people. Because it is
near the base where we start our summer tours, we have always begun our summer
festivals there for the past 11 years. Our festival has, therefore, become a
tradition in the town, and each year every man, woman and child attends. They
know many of our bhajans, songs, and plays by heart - and most teenagers know
the words (in English) to the Village of Peace reggae songs.
going to Trzebiatow City Hall, Nandini and Radha Sakhi Vrnda ran an errand at
the post office. They were in non-devotional clothes, but as soon as they
approached the counter the attendant called out, "The Hare Krishnas are
here!" and all the postal workers crowded around.
asked, "When will the festival be? Will there be the Ramayama again? Who
are the special guests this year?" Nandini and Radha Sakhi Vrnda politely
answered all their questions, and then hurried to City Hall to meet the lady in
charge of the city's Cultural Affairs, Mrs Novak. Arriving a few minutes before
closing, they were told by her secretary (who didn't bother looking up from her
computer) that Mrs Novak had already left work. As the girls turned to leave the
secretary looked up, and seeing them called out, "Oh, wait a minute! Are
you from the Hare Krishna festival?"
turned and said, "Yes, we are. "
secretary said, "Please come back. Mrs Novak will see you now. "
Novak then opened her door and welcomed the girls in. She said, "We were
wondering when you would come. You know the Hare Krishna festival is the biggest
annual event in our town. "
leaving Trzebiatow, Nandini and Radha Sakhi Vrnda visited Kolobrzeg, one of the
biggest and most prestigious resort towns on the Baltic Sea coast.
Unfortunately, because of opposition in the city council we often struggle each
year to secure a site for our festival program. Undaunted, the pair approached
Kolobrzeg City Hall and were surprised to meet the newly elected deputy mayor,
who turned out to be very friendly.
course, you must do your festival again this year,” he said. "I was a
reporter for a local magazine a few years ago and I attended one of your
festivals. It was wonderful! You just pick the spot you want and you can do it
for free. "
said, "Some influential people in your town are much opposed to our
festival. Aren't you afraid they might try to stop you from helping us?"
deputy mayor replied, "You know that politicians always grant each other
favors. I have a few favors coming my way in this town, and I'll use them for
your festival. Don't worry, you just tell me where you want to do the program.
girls looked at each other and smiled, then Nandini replied, "We want to do
our festival on the boardwalk, next to the main beach entrance, on July 21 and
22,” which are two of the most important days of the summer.
deputy mayor gasped, and then collecting himself smiled and replied,
"Anything for my friends. "
didn't appear so easy at their next stop, Swinoujscie. Another of the biggest
towns on the coast, the city council wasn't interested in cultural activities
this summer - they were interested only in making money. Nandini and Radha Sakhi
Vrnda were shocked when they were told that the city council had rented the
entire boardwalk (part of which we rent every year for our festival) to two
businessmen who planned to sell beer and rent the space for small business
enterprises. When they asked the council secretary if they could have the
businessmen's phone numbers, he laughed and said, "They wouldn't be
interested in talking to you. "
and discouraged, the ladies went to the boardwalk to speak to the local people,
to find out if there was any private place left they could rent for the
festival. They got the same news - two businessmen had rented it all for the
summer. No one else was going to get even an inch of that land. Feeling
hopeless, the pair entered a café to make a phone call. While waiting in line
for the phone, they overheard two men sitting nearby, laughing and boasting
loudly, "We got the whole boardwalk! Can you believe it? We're going to
make a fortune!"
a golden opportunity was at hand, Nandini walked over to their table and said,
"Excuse me gentlemen, are you the businessmen who have rented the boardwalk
for the summer?"
we are,” one of them replied.
said, "We were praying we'd meet you. We'd like to rent part of the
boardwalk for a couple days this summer. "
man replied, "I'm sorry, we've already rented the area for the entire the
summer. What did you want to sell - beer?"
Nandini replied, "We're from the Hare Krishna festival. "
she said that, both men's eyes lit up and they exclaimed simultaneously,
"The Hare Krishna festival!"
man who had been speaking said, "I've been to three of your festivals. In
fact, every summer my little girl looks for you everywhere on the beach. She
loves going to your festivals and dressing in a sari. "
other man said, "We'll find a space for the Hare Krishna festival. Just
name the location you want. "
at Radha Sakhi Vrinda, Nandini replied, "We want to do our festival on the
main boardwalk near the beach on July 14 and 16,” two more of the biggest
summer days along the coast.
of businessmen smiled and said, "We'll give you that space only if you do
four days of festival. If you're going to do it - do it big. Those will be the
four biggest days of the summer in Swinoujscie, as we'll be organizing little
events along the boardwalk. We'll charge you only for the electricity you use.
other businessman said, "And I've got another proposal. I've watched you
singing and dancing in the streets each summer for years, and I figured out that
is the secret to your success. There's something special about your singing.
That's why you get so many thousands of people at your festivals! Instead of
singing to advertise your festival, can I hire you to sing and market my
products? I'm sure I'll become a millionaire!"
laughed and said, "The chanting works because it glorifies Krishna. He's
the success behind our festivals. He makes all the arrangements because He wants
these festivals to go to every town and village. Radha Sakhi Vrnda and I have
personal experience of this!"
numberless incarnations of the Lord are described in the Sruti and other Vedic
literature, who except for the Lord Himself has the power to describe the
glories and opulence of Lord Gaura? How many times have the devotees personally
seen that their beloved Lord Gaura is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord
Hari? Alas! Alas! Still the fools refuse to believe that Lord Gaura is the
Supreme!" [Sri Caitanya-candramrta - Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati]
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