72nd issue - Nitya-seva Newsletter
2023. October, November, December
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Jaya Radha-Syama!
The last few months of 2023 were brightened by the wonderful month of Kartika. During this time, devotees the world over try to take the opportunity to deepen their spiritual practices, often taking vows aimed at the same. The Kartika month is also marked by the daily commemoration through song of the sweetest of pastimes, the Damodara-lila, where baby Krishna steals butter and is chased and tied up by His doting mother. Also during this month falls the Govardhana-puja festival. Many devotees prepared sweet offerings for the New Vraja Dhama festival; the mountain of delicacies being consumed by Govardhana-lal sitting atop a huge cake.
It is also exceptionally auspicious to go on parikrama during this Kartika period, and many devotees from various countries had the good fortune to do so this year in Krishna Valley. In particular, our first international Kartika parikrama, organised by the local devotees, attracted devotees from Scotland, Croatia, Slovakia and Germany, to name but a few. The participants of the week-long retreat daily visited one of New Vraja Dhama’s holy places in the mornings (Rama-gata, Varsana, Gokula, Nanda-grama, Govardhana, Radha-kunda, Syama-kunda) and heard the pastimes that take place there. The afternoon activities were varied and included Harinamas, an ox-cart tour, and a goshala visit, and the days ended with Gaura-arati and Damodarastakam. One of the main purposes of New Vraja Dhama is to serve as a pilgrimage place for devotees from all over the world, so we hope this retreat will grow and become more and more successful year on year.
As usual we finished the year with the Srila Prabhupada book marathon. 250 devotees participated in the book distribution in Hungary, giving out a total of 31,000 books to spread the glories of Radha-Syamasundara and Gaura-Nitai. It is a period of sacrifice, but also great bliss for those involved, as they feel reciprocation from Their Lordships for their heroic efforts.
In this issue of the Nitya-seva newsletter, we would like to present to you a couple who are both uniquely wonderful; Manohara Das and Meghambari Devi Dasi. Meghambari initially met the devotees through Ayurveda classes in 2016 at the Goranga Yoga Centre in Istanbul. She recalls her amazement at how devotees were “serving everyone unconditionally and how they were kind and respectful towards all.” She later developed a great appreciation for Srila Prabhupada's books, and today she is a very dedicated member of the Turkish devotee community.
Book distribution is Meghambari’s favourite service, although Turkey is not the easiest location, as such distribution is not looked upon too favourably by local authorities! However, knowing how important it is for her Gurudeva, His Holiness Sivarama Swami Maharaja, she made a vow in 2021 after her initiation ceremony that she would distribute 1,000 books in the coming year. She fulfilled that promise. The next year, Sivarama Maharaja told her to double her score! Now she is the top book distributor in Turkey and is full of new and creative ideas to help people access Srila Prabhupada's books. As street book distribution is banned in Turkey, she sells books at book fairs in Istanbul and Ankara, to her neighbours, doctors, her Ayurveda and Astrology students, and even on Instagram! To quote her: “I see the smile of my Gurudeva every time I distribute a book, and to make him happy is my greatest desire.”
When she first visited Krishna Valley, Meghambari was so mesmerised by the beauty of Radha-Syamasundara that she didn’t want to leave. Later she visited with her husband, but was worried about his reaction towards Krishna consciousness. One evening, on a festival day, she was searching everywhere for him, and to her great surprise she found him in front of the altar dancing! He started to develop a deeper relationship with the devotees and received initiation last September in Turkey. He distributes prasadam regularly and helps with many important services at the Goranga Yoga centre. He is a very positive and helpful person who is liked by all, but Meghambari says his most important service is that he helps her in her book distribution efforts.
Meghambari heard about the Nitya-seva project on her first visit to New Vraja Dhama. But because everything was still so new for her, she was unsure if she wanted to participate. But by the time she returned she was in no doubt that she wanted to serve the Divine Couple in this way as well. No doubt the mercy she received from Lord Gauranga for her preaching services was instrumental in her coming closer to Radha Syama!
On behalf of the Nitya-seva team your servant,
11th January, 2024., New Vraja Dhama