March /April, 1990
TWO OR THREE times a year at the Hare Krsna farm in the Bavarian Forest of Germany, the four devotees who make up the Gauranga Bhajana Band* get ready for a tour. [*The Gauranga Bhajana Band will tour Poland in May for thirteen days.]
Till last year, they'd mainly toured Germany. But lately they've been moving through Eastern Europe.
On the farm, forty kilometers from Czechoslovakia, fifty from Austria, the devotees spend a few days in practice, and then they're ready. They don't pretend to be professional musicians; they're devotees giving philosophical and spiritual ideas through culture.
Some fifteen or twenty devotees travel on the tour, running the sound system, cooking, chanting, dancing, and distributing books.
I recently traveled with the band for seventeen days in Romania and Czechoslovakia.
The program was simple: devotional songs with traditional instruments, then a multi-projector slide show, a philosophical talk, and congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra.
In Cluj, Romania, some young women who had been sitting next to the projection booth deluged me with questions during the intermission. What's tilaka? What about reincarnation? What about everything.
When the program was over, they were nearly in tears at the thought of leaving.
In Iasi, a so-called model city in eastern Romania, near the Soviet border, the young Romanian who had organized our tour told us that people were shocked at our openness in speaking publicly on God consciousness. Only one or two months before, this would have been a punishable offense.
For each of our two programs in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, over three thousand people showed up. During the chanting of Hare Krsna at the end, many literally jumped out of their seats. They flooded the stage with flowersa tradition for a performance appreciated. The holy name of Krsna had melted their hearts.
In Czechoslovakia, people had a different mood. Many took notes during the lecture. Others followed the tour from city to city.
And it was in Czechoslovakia that we discovered the bliss of asking the audience to move away the chairs and learn the "swami step"the way Srila Prabhupada taught us to dance.
Nitya Trpta Devi Dasi joined the Hare Krsna movement in 1975 in Los Angeles. For ten years she worked in Photoloka, the photography department of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Then she migrated to Italy, where she and her husband set up Krsna Vision, a creative source for Krsna conscious multi-projector slide shows.