Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk.
Krishna-kripa Das: I share some fascinating material on Hare Krishna devotees surviving the war in the former Yugoslavia by Vrsabha Prabhu of Croatia.
Vrsabha Prabhu: Material opulence can never give us satisfaction. There was one beautiful opera singer who was very fat and voluntarily ate a tape worm, hoping that would help her become more shapely. It worked, but unfortunately the worm did not leave enough to nourish her, and she ultimately died. Other people who were rich and famous, not being satisfied, turned to drugs and ruined their lives. So many examples are there, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monoe, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, etc.
Many people received Srila Prabhupada’s books in Yugoslavia, but most did not take them seriously. When the war began, however, people began to take the books off the shelves and read them.
Sarajevo is a city in valley, and Serbian soldiers surrounded it. Only a one-kilometer tunnel the residents had dug could take people out of the city. One man, who read the books and heard there were devotees in Sarajevo, wanted to go inside the city. No one could believe it. He did and found the devotees and became one.
The UN donated two truck loads of ingredients to devotees distributing food in Sarajevo.
The devotees in Sarajevo were so enthusiastic to hear about Krishna, they would walk across the city at the risk of being shot by Serbian snipers, either coming or going to the Sunday feast. One invalid devotee had a friend who would bring him and his wheelchair, one at a time, down 14 flights of stairs and push him 7 kilometers to the Sunday feast.
There is one Croatian devotee Madhavananda who was captured by the Serbians, who put him to work in a death camp. He refused to eat meat, and said, “You can kill me but I will not eat meat.” They needed him to dig ditches, so they gave him vegetarian food. He would preach Bhagavad-gita to people in the camp, whether they were Croatians or Muslims. Serbian army people noticed that the people who heard his preaching were easier to control, so they told him to give classes twice a day and gave him an office to prepare for them. Previously before being captured, he had organized a gurukula in one city because the men were engaged in the war and the city was filled with women and children who were unengaged. He taught them verses and bhajanas and the chanting of Hare Krishna. Even so many years later, he still gets messages on Facebook or by email from kids who were there, thanking him for taking care of them.
One woman who came to Hare Krishna in Sarvejo during the war, considered, “When I was chanting Hare Krishna in a mood of helplessness and praying to God, I was in bliss, I complete forgot about my identification with the material body. That was best time of my life.”
One person who later became a devotee but was an atheist at the time, when he saw a line of Serbian tanks approaching him, addressed the Lord, “Dear God, if you really exist, get me out of this situation.” Dark clouds appeared, lightning struck his machine gun, which exploded and blew off his boots and left him unconscious. He was moved off the battlefield and was saved. Many of his friends were killed.
Sometimes war causes people to take shelter of God. Many people in Bosnia, and also in Croatia, became devotees because of the war. Not a single devotee in Bosnia died or was injured.
Just one virus, so small you cannot see it, can reduce a body builder, who has worked out for years, to a skin-and-bones guy like me.
God does not need money from us. He is the richest person in the world.
God demands us to give up only that which is not good for us anyway, sinful activities.
Comments by Bhakti Rasa Prabhu:
One of the consequences of misusing of our independence is that we come to this world. You can say “if things are so nice in the spiritual world, how could anyone one leave?” but by eliminating the possibility of one leaving, you eliminate their free will.
It is comforting to reflect, “Our karma is temporary, but we are eternal and Krishna is eternal.”
Comment by Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu: Suppose after 45 years of marriage to your wife, you find out the only the reason she married you was someone put a gun to her head, how would you feel? In the same way, Krishna is looking for freely given love.
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