By Vraja Bihari Das

Continued from Vedic Culture in Russia Part -1 ‘I am a Musalmaan’ 

Beware of Lust!!

The contrasts in Russia are glaring.  As we were leaving for Moscow, I wondered why Govinda Prabhu instructed me to be careful of Russian women. The Turkish airlines hostess smilingly insisted we accept some drinks. I asked her what she had to offer. She said, “Rum, Brandy, Scotch, Whisky and Sprite” Radha Gopinath prabhu spontaneously composed a poem which the young attractive lady couldn’t understand; “aayi eka sundari, hath me lekar sharab; yeh chere ki muskan hai maya ka nakab….. maya ka dusra naam… Turkish airlines”. I knew we were now entering a country that would challenge our cultural moorings.

At the immigration counter at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, we were tense, not so much because of the risk we had taken to enter the country in the guise of tourists, but more due to the culture we were exposed. Suddenly a young couple in front of me let loose their animal instincts and I turned away to the other side, only to see a lady with practically no clothes on her body. I then turned right again, and a television scene showed a couple in the act of love making. Fortunately in the association of Radha Gopinath Prabhu, I survived the ordeal. Later we discovered this is a common sight in Moscow during summer- at a few traffic lights we saw couples express their love quite unabashedly as the others walked on unaffected by the spectacle. I bet in India this sight would attract thousands of passersby to a free entertainment show.

Later at the temple as Radha Gopinath Prabhu gave an ecstatic class on Srila Prabhupada’s spirit of preaching and sacrifice, a middle aged lady got excited. She got up from her seat and unable to contain her emotions, roared in delight, “I love you”.  She then offered a flying kiss, placing both her palms on her lips, making a loud smooching sound and offering it to Radha Gopinath Prabhu. Unaffected, Radha Gopinath Prabhu responded by smilingly placing his palms on his own forehead and then offered a flying dandavat at her feet. The two hundred plus devotees in the audience cheered loudly with a thunderous applause at Radha Gopinath Pr’s aplomb spontaneity and purity in recognizing this lady to be his mother. Later a group of young women came asking him to pose for a group photograph. He politely declined saying he was fallen and not qualified to be photographed along with them. Thus he nicely but respectfully avoided them. Then another woman came to ask him questions. He swiftly excused himself and was gone. Once in the Harinaam Sankirtana, a lady left her boyfriend, and came and danced next to Radha Gopinath Pr. Soon Prabhu disappeared. As these events unfolded in quick succession, I shuddered to think what would have been my response had I been treated like this. That’s when I realized the import of Govinda Prabhu’s statement.

Notwithstanding these stray incidents, Russia is tremendously inspiring. Most of the devotees are hard working and austere. They are very devotional in their practices and very humble. They follow the Vaishnava etiquette perfectly and on many occasions I was amazed by even new Russian devotees who behave and talk in the most exemplary Vaishnava way; they seemed to be following the culture even better then the Indians. They love to do kirtans and have a voracious appetite for hearing lectures. Once Radha Gopinath Pr asked the audience how much longer he should speak when he had already spoken for two hours – from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm, and the crowd spontaneously said “till 8.30 pm”

All devotees of the Moscow, including women, children, men and everybody else, are glorious, and a few bizarre incidents simply remind me that ‘exceptions only prove the rule..”

To be Continued… Miracle of Tulasi-devi

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