BY JANANANDA GOSVAMI
Srila Prabhupada said …
I am very encouraged by the report of how nicely our books are being distributed. This is our main business all over the world. If you give full attention to this, there will never be any shortage of funds.”
“Preaching means book distribution.”
“Whenever I get report of my book selling I feel strength….You should know that in this work your have Krishna’s blessings.”
“If he buys one book his life may be turned, that is the best preaching work.
“Krsna must see that I am giving service to Krsna. That’s all. That is wanted. Not that you have to judge that you have approached so many men; nobody became Krsna conscious. That doesn’t matter. But you have gone there. You have endeavored your sincere effort. That is recognized by Krsna. That is the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa: [Cc. Madhya 7.128]
“Whomever you meet, you give him, you inform him the instruction of Krsna.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu never said that “You see that he has actually become Krsna conscious.” Never says. You simply say and go and say. That is your business.”
Philippines October 2008
A tiring flight on Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Manila. Cramped up in the plane. Queue for hours to get on the plane. You get what you pay for. We arrive at Clark airport an ex US air force base, to be met by 8 brahmacari devotees from Manila. Immediately we set off for a small town – Udaraneta, 3-4 hours drive away. Driving in the Philippines is really hairy as we narrowly miss a couple of accidents on the way and pass the tree where a few weeks earlier the devotees had written off one vehicle. Here there is a small Hindu temple which also serves as a base for ISKCON programmes in the area. Quite a few Indian and already practicing Filipinos gather and kirtan begins and evolves to the street. We rock our way into the market and the people rock back swinging and swaying, waving and smiling. Large numbers of kids run towards us. Hands up! They are very simple and do it immediately. Chant Hare Krishna. They roar in response. Dancing freely through the streets the kids love it. Old ladies join in. People waving and swaying from balconies from inside shops and from their cars.
Back at the temple we have an evening programme – well attended by mostly Indians. After the programme we drive further north, to stay with a devotee who has constructed a large Temple on his property.
Kirtan in Udaraneta
Make others happy
In a Hindu Temple in Udaraneta
Anantacarya’s ashram on the left and Temple building on the right
Bay of Islands
After the full morning programme and prasadam we go for a short harinama in the neighbouring town. We proceed on to the “Bay of 100 Islands” a popular tourist attraction. The Islands have very unique features. About 11 of us take a boat into the bay and around the islands. The rain comes down but the kirtan goes on. Don’t stop – keep chanting in the boat as we float. After bathing in the warm clear ocean we make our way back to Manila a 5 hour drive, arriving at 1.30 am the next morning. we stop at a gas station – there is a cattle truck next to us full of Brahman cows or bullocks off to the slaughterhouse. We chant to them loudly and feel so sick. The cows look back sorrowful. One has tears rolling out of its eyes. What a cruel world we make.
Not much time to rest and it’s the morning programme, followed almost immediately by the Sunday feast programme in the temple at 11.am. We must move quickly as 3 of us have a flight at 2.30 pm to Davao, the second largest city in the Philippines.
A few of the unique 100 Islands
The capital of the troubled state of Mindanao. There have been centres here before and quite successful. The people are mixed Christian and Muslim and are very simple and open. We go straight to a public programme in a conference room of a hospital in the city. Quite surprisingly there are dozens of Indian students walking around the hospital grounds. I thought that this was going to be our audience but not one of them came. The crowd was almost exclusively local and very enthusiastic especially for kirtan. After a long day we take a few hours rest to leave at 5.am the next morning for a 3 hour drive to another destination, which is right on the edge of the war zone.
Dancing at Davao hall programme
College programme in Davao
In the University grounds
University students join in
It’s mahaprasadam time
A Hairy Journey
The roads, the car, the multitude of unexpected events on the road, remind one of driving from Calcutta to Mayapura. Baladeva drives and he has not had too much experience either especially with a small car. Somehow we get there even though feeling like we have just been in a washing machine. Hey! What’s that – men riding buffalo’s – it’s quite common in these parts.
On the War Field
Straight on the stage in the open field of the University grounds. Some students gather around despite the hot sun and the bhajans go on. Books go out although most of them cannot afford them. In the afternoon we go for Nagar sankirtan around the grounds and the response is far more interactive with many students enthusiastically joining in with the chanting and dancing. There are armed guards all over the place to protect the University in case rebels attack – they are in the hills around and fighting is taking place very close to here. One can see how much potential University preaching has here in Philippines. In the evening we try to drive back – 6 of us now plus lots of luggage in this tiny little car. The rain is pouring down, the windscreen wipers barely work, the inside of the windscreen is covered with some kind of grease which we cannot get off and the headlights don’t work. Coupled with all the other obstacles driving becomes dangerously impossible and we have to stop to rest for the night in an amazing bamboo hut.
Kalimasada and Kirtan
Next morning we drive almost straight for another college programme in Davao. Here one initiated disciple of Tamal Krsna Gosvami has introduced a process of mind control and healing called Kalimasada, which is still practiced in Indonesia. He seems to be having quite a lot of success as many schools and colleges in the area are inviting him.
Today however he has arranged for us to make a presentation on Bhagavad Gita. Our efforts seemed very rewarding and in the end practically all the students (100+) were dancing and singing.
In the afternoon we go for Harinama in the city.
Next morning we go by boat to Samal – a beautiful tropical Island. The water is almost crystal clear with easy views of the seabed. We alight from the boat and then board a truck to take us high up the hill on a very rough road into the inner Island, to the house of a Catholic priest and his family. What? That does not equate. That’s what I asked, but was told that his family have formed a break off group which allow marriage but still follow the other principles. We arrive in a hidden village in the jungle. Coconuts, jackfruits, bananas, papayas, mangos. pineapples, corn. Fruits grow in abundance as do vegetables and flowers. This is completely off the beaten track. It’s like India with a lot of green grass and tons of trees. – a bit of a hidden paradise unknown to the rest of the world. People live in simple bamboo houses. Kirtan all the way and then again Harinama around the village. We go inside the little Church – the kirtan is ecstatic with loads of kids joining in with us. We stop wherever there are a few people gathered and so many of them join in, especially the kids who obediently do whatever you ask them. Hands up and repeat Hare Krishna and that’s what they do. Many of them follow us back to the place we are staying. The Priests family are looking after 10 kids of others in an interesting ashram situation.
In the garden they have constructed shrines to mother Mary, Jesus, and one very interesting one of St Miguel killing Lucifer, being watched by Gabriel, the guardian angel and mother Mary.
The lively evening programme is well attended and the audience is captivated by the kirtan, bhajana, spontaneous drama which got all the kids involved and running for their lives, talk and finally prasadam which was completely finished. The kids are taught not to leave anything on their plates. Perhaps being so poor has it’s advantages as in the modern civilized world kids practically waste as much as they can and don’t care about it. Neither do the parents. Here they even say their prayers before eating and wait for everyone to have their plates before eating. They show great respect to elders, they are submissive, enthusiastic to serve and chant and dance. They are honest and orderly – they queue very nicely. If they are asked to sit they immediately sit. They humbly accept what they are given. Honest kids. Well I guess this is because they are uncivilized, without all the modern gadgets most kids live on and without the advanced education and communications available in most places. It’s disgraceful – they are disciplined and good mannered. It appears preaching here could have terrific results.
The journey back is even more bumpy – in a lorry. An hour or two across mountain roads to a different ferry. The devotees stand in the back and hold on like……No internet cafes or mobile connections for miles.
Samal Island – Chant Hare Krishna and hang on
Baby Jesus – Baby Krishna
Happy Village Kirtan kids
Kirtan in the church
Pictures to the spiritual world
The slaying of Lucifer
We fly to Cebu – another large city where previously we had our main centre – The Hare Krishna Paradise.
Now the centre is in a house of a devotee family. Most of the devotees are young children – all very enthusiastic and trained in devotional service. It’s very enlivening. Not enough time – we have to move on.
Gaura Nitai in Cebu
No senior preacher has been here for about 12 years. Consequently the devotees in these parts become weakened and when devotees from the Gaudiya Matha visited naturally many of them took advantage and shelter from them. This phenomenon is common. We need more preachers to keep in touch with devotees. Not that we sit and expect everyone to come to us. The programme is in a Catholic seminary in the afternoon and the next morning in the park.
In the afternoon it’s another boat to another island – Iloilo. In all places the reception indicates terrific potential. On this Island it is said there are still Rakshasas in some parts. Yes witchcraft is quite common in this country. Devotees are poor – they cannot afford even to pay our taxi fees and have nowhere for us to stay. Most of them live in very small shacks or their families are not in favour of KC – its’ a very strong Catholic country.Manila
Many times in the airports the official ask us to chant right there – we do kirtan with drum, accordion and karatals to their delight. When we arrive back in Manila 15 devotees greet us with thundering kirtan right inside the terminal – It’s just like the old days.
The Sunday feast again – very well attended and as usual – lively ecstatic kirtans. Filipinos are really into kirtan and they are good singers and attracted to music.
On Monday we go to the small town of Alaminos where we have a 9 hectare farm which the devotees hope to move onto soon. In the temporary accommodation there are Deities of Nitaisundara Gaura Nataraja and Doyal Nitai Gaura Hari. We go for harinama in the nearby city of San Pablo – again the sound system does not work – which has been the case on every Harinama so far. Speaker or no speaker the Harinama is ecstatic with 30 devotees dancing and chanting. Evening and morning there are programmes in the centre and then we visit the farm. As we are leaving the driver gets the car stuck in the ditch. Hours battling to get out. All part of the fun. The farm is very tropical with its own waterfall. Rich soil and just about anything grows including countless bugs. Chikus, mangoes, bananas, coconuts, papaya, pineapple, and many vegetables are growing.
View of the farm in Alaminos
Next day back to Manila and more Harinama and programmes. The biggest Harinama yet – around 80 devotees in the city centre of Manila. This is followed by the opening of a downtown preaching centre. – it’s so packed the devotees are spilling over onto the paths outside. There are so many devotees here in the Philippines. It seems like many are just hiding in the background. Let’s bring them back into the foreground. Actually everyone is a devotee. Our business is just to remind them of that.
Blissful slum dwellers in Manila
Night kirtan in Manila central
Sri Sri Radha Madhava in Manila