…..They definitely did it, right, and not only did they send me to the West…I had to leave the Krsna-Balarama mandir due to circumstances, (it’s a well-know story by now) no, not “shoo!”- Jaya! Gaura-Nitai- Jaya! It was all-blissful, it was actually all-good – couldn’t immediately see that I must admit!- because I was a little injured, not just emotionally but also physically. And I came back to Europe from a hot place like India and I was freezing! And I was weak because I had this heavy accident, and I was in Europe and it was that winter…I just stayed the winter there and it was -20C! It was a cold winter, so you know, I was so scared of catching pneumonia because I was so weak, so I had to get out of that place. But I also couldn’t handle India because in India it’s Bahut Garam! Bahut Garam! Bahut Garam! Bahut Garam! Bahut Garam! That was also not feasible for me at that point you know! Too much Garam! So the only possibility was a place in between. So well, I looked at the map, got the globe out, gave it a spin and just went like place in between- BANG! And there it said- DURBAN!!!
So Lord Caitanya sent me to Durban! Why? I don’t know! I mean, I came in at the time, I had some blood pressure problems- they were very low, very low- 45 by 55, which doctors can confirm, it’s was a bit on the low side and I had problems with anything that glitters it made me dizzy, so you can imagine how I felt when I stepped into the Radha Radhanatha temple!!! So it took some adjustments when I first came here, it was a little difficult, but I could see, Lord Caitanya sent me here. So I stayed about four months that time and I did Ayur Veda and I did this and that and most of you didn’t see much of me because I was in a room most of the time, resting and recovering. But Ranchor was my neighbor and we played harmonium together and that’s how it started; he had a good harmonium- in those days! Anyway, everything is temporary in this world!
So I won’t delay with the story but I came to South Africa and I was very comfortable in Durban and I made many friends and I went to many Nama hattas over the years and I came back every year and what shall I say, eventually I almost became the member of the family- almost, just about! And I felt like that, I felt South Africa became sort of a home and I couldn’t sort of leave it out of my life anymore. But as I was sitting here in Durban, somehow or other I started to feel guilty, I started to feel guilty. I was thinking, “Hmmm yes, what am I doing here, you know? I’m on the ‘Swami’ program in Durban, it’s sort of pretty nice- my shoes go on a cushion, flower petals around it to decorate them and “What would you like to eat today your majesty? Shall we call the car please?” There was a vice president here who was in another country in Africa for a while and he use to say, “There are two types of devotees in ISKCON- the demigods and the ordinary ones!” And I said, “I guess I’m one of the demigods!” Anyway, so I started to feel guilty, I started to think, “I’m here in Africa and I’m just…what am I doing to really…for Lord Caitanya, what am I doing for His mission? What am I doing to spread Krsna consciousness and to take it to the African people?” I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing much. I did go to a little program with Govinda Carana, I went to his preaching center in Umlazi and I went and I did harinamas there, I went to the university- Mongusutho- so many places I went, I did something but it was patch work! It wasn’t really serious roll-up-your-sleeves, grit your teeth, get into it and get serious and do something to make a difference.
We can give out a bin of biryani- that always goes well and that’s great! And we can go some squatter camps and do the hot harinam and undoubtedly the mercy goes out, but does-it-make-a difference? Does it actually bring Krsna consciousness to the people of South Africa? I don’t know; I guess it does but very slow. So I thought let’s try and do something to put it in the fast lane. Then I heard that these devotees in Soweto, who always come for all the Ratha Yatra’s, that when they received Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja’s Ratha Yatra video, they took especially the kirtana DVD, and as soon as they got it hot off the press, they put it in the video slot and they played it the whole night and they danced in front of the TV! Now, that did something to me. I don’t usually cry tears when I hear stories of Srimati Radharani; I’m like that you know, I don’t know, I’m too fallen, I’m not so advanced. When I hear stories of rasa-lila – no tears; I like the stories but no tears. But when I hear stories of African people dancing in front of the TV watching the kirtana, then I cry tears. I even got to watch out right now…
Because, to see Lord Caitanya’s mercy go out to the people of every town and village of the world, to see it, that is for me most wonderful because I’m seeing that pictures, the pastimes that are above in the spiritual world have come down to the ground, that they have come into my ugly, illusory world- “Oh have you also heard about the ugly, material world? The Age of Kali? It’s rapid, it’s everywhere, it’s bad- the material world?” No! In the midst of that bad material world, something very beautiful is happening, something amazing is happening- Lord Caitanya is touching the people everywhere! One year, here in Durban during Ratha Yatra, there was a swami visiting from the Gaudiya Math, and nice swami. So they sort of asked me to kind of look after him. So we walking in the parade and at one point, the Maharaja he said, “Oh! Preaching, preaching, preaching in the West is very difficult- very, very diificult,” he said, “because the people, they don’t follow any standards. You’re trying but they don’t follow any standards.” I said to him, “Well, I appreciate that, I appreciate; that is true that in the West the standards are a little lower than in India, I know that. It is a fact, even in South Africa the standards are not as high as they are in Sridam Mayapura or in Vrndavana Dham. It is a fact; we become a little compromised with the modern way of life, you know what I mean! Such is life! But look, look, look at these African devotees- look at them- we are walking in the parade, we are talking. They’re not talking, not one of them is talking. From the beginning of the parade, from the beginning of the kirtana, not one of them has been talking, from the beginning of the kirtana they have been into it- absorbed! They have danced, they have chanted with their whole heart!” I said, “In that way, in that way they are lifetimes- lifetimes- advanced!”
And in this way, if this movement comes together and brings the people of the whole world together, then we will see that everywhere in the world, the Lord has distributed some strength because when it comes to kirtana, you got to do it! Well the Indians are trying! They’re trying nicely, isn’t it Savya Saci? They’re trying! When it comes to dancing, you know, they do a few steps! Not bad! Keep it up! But lifetimes ahead- lifetimes ahead. So anyway, after I heard that story about dancing in front of the video, then that’s when I said to myself, these devotees in Soweto must have a Ratha Yatra! That is the point where I said that they must have a Ratha Yatra.
Okay I pushed it…you know how it is: you come with a new idea and it takes some time to digest it through the committees, because that’s part of life! These days there’s many committees everywhere and there’s always things to digest and that’s part of life these days! So it took a little time. But then it finally came to the point where it was my birthday- last year- and I was here in Durban, I had planned a private little party somewhere because I was going to do a public one in Europe and you’re allowed to have only one and not two parties a year! So I said I’ll do a private party and I had it all lined up in a house of a disciple and not too big the house, you know! Make sure not too many people could fit! Good, everything was lined up well! And then, I gave the morning class and I told no one about my birthday, and then suddenly the door burst open- Indradyumna Maharaja, B.B Govinda Maharaja, they appeared with a big cake and I knew- I was in trouble!!!
And I sure was, I sure was! At one point they had pinned me flat on the vyasasana and Govinda Maharaja with full force, pushed this cake in my mouth and what do you do when he gets like that- it went in! But then they held my mouth open- and pulled it back out! And then the swamis- they ate it! But that was pretty bad! That was quite bad!
And while they were doing this, then they started glorification. And then they glorified me about taking charge of Ratha Yatra and I realized it was a conspiracy! I realized that they in this way pushed me into becoming Mr Soweto Ratha Yatra! No…so it’s not my glory, it’s their glory and I think that there are many, many others who are in the background who are the real people, like Mahaprabhu and Svaha, who are doing all the work really. They are organizing the whole thing and I don’t really have to worry too much about that, but one work sort of remained for me and that’s the money. So you know, I’m sorry to do it to you but I said, when they asked me to take this Ratha Yatra, I said, “We can only do it if we make it a national endeavour- a national endeavour.” So a national endeavour means me also- I’m part of South Africa- but it also means all of you- it means everyone. It really means everyone has to do something- something- only then can you do it. It’s the first one, we have to have a good show you know, and it’s like… everyone- nobody can escape to India! And everyone has to contribute something.
So I’m not so good at this you know- to pressurize people and go from, “And how much will you give? And R4000 and who will come with 5! And who will come with 10! And who will come with 20…” and do it like an auction and have the doors closed in the back and nobody gets out and everyone is cringing! I’ve been in some of these sessions and I cringed myself also! So I will not do that, I will not do that; all I’m saying is…I’m not a man of words, I am a man of action and I’m asking you today to do the same. So please come forward and give your name to Vibhu Caitanya, who will write it down. And if all you would come forward, if not one person- well the kids okay- but if no one walks away, if everyone gives his name and puts a number, I think then I can go and actually do what I’m supposed to do- organize a Ratha Yatra- instead of all day calling people, running around, go here and there and just sort of…I’m getting too old for it you know! I mean, it’s really taking too much energy, more than I have. So I want to finish it up today with your help. Thank you very much.