By Niranjana Swami

From a lecture at Towaco, New Jersey, on June 11, 2023:

We had a retreat in Ukraine recently. We could not call it a festival because people would wonder why we were having a festival during a war. It was called the Nitai Gauranga retreat, and 1,300 devotees attended. It was at a ski lodge in a beautiful place in the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine. The devotees were so happy to see each other, being so much separated by the war.

There is a lot of conflict going on in the country still and a lot of missiles exploding. People cannot sleep because of the missiles exploding all night.

Two thousand devotees have left Ukraine.

In the maha-prakasa-lila, Lord Caitanya asked Gangadasa if he remembered the time that he was worried that he couldn’t protect his family from violence in his village. Gangadasa said yes. Then Lord Caitanya asked if he remembered thinking of drowning himself in the Ganges because he couldn’t protect his family. Gangadasa said yes. Then Lord Caitanya asked if he remembered that a boatman suddenly appeared out of nowhere and bought him and his family to safety. Gangadasa said he remembered, and Lord Caitanya said, “I was that boatman.”

Devotee care in Ukraine is the heartbeat of the yatra. There are 20,000 devotees in Ukraine. They have comradery and close sangas when they get together.

I never asked devotees for funds for Ukraine. Devotees inquired from me about the situation there and spontaneously offered to help.

Devotees from North America donated to supply generators and solar panels in response to me telling a leading devotee that the temples needed electricity.

Devotees in Ukraine distributed twice as many books last year during the 2022 marathon as compared to the 2021 marathon. The book distributors say that the people are really asking relevant questions and really looking for answers. In Kyiv several devotees distribute 100 books a day.

Share Your Care, which offers support to individuals, has given 3,730 devotees financial aid.

I can tell stories of how Krishna protected His devotees:

One devotee family was encouraged to move out of their apartment because things were getting worse. They took whatever possessions they could fit in their car and drove to western Ukraine. Two days later a missile entered their apartment and destroyed it, and the apartments on either side were destroyed and their neighbors died.

The devotees were regularly distributing prasadam in one city, Kherson. Once they forgot to bring Srila Prabhupada’s books with them to distribute. They debated about what to do and decided to go back and get the books. While they were getting the books, the place where they going to serve the prasadam was destroyed by a missile.

One devotee, who was a soldier, was in a trench with other soldiers, when a missile landed in the trench. The missile fell on the devotee’s shoe in such a way that the detonater did not fire. That devotee would always chant faithfully Hare Krishna for two hours every morning, and the other soldiers gained faith in his prayers seeing how they were protected in that way.

The devotees at the recent festival expressed so much gratitude.

One devotee made a very nice point: There are many uncertainties on the material side, where to live, how to make money, how to protect the family, etc., but on the spiritual side everything is clear. Srila Prabhupada gave us a program, and we just have to follow it.

681 devotees were given facility to live in temples in Western Ukraine.

112,000 plates of prasadam were sponsored.

Devotees are distributing food in 50 cities in Ukraine at 250 locations.

At Kharkiv they distribute 11,000 plates a day in metro stations.

Over two million, and probably by now, three million, plates of food have been distributed since the beginning of the war.

At the initiation in Towaco, the three devotees also pledged to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission in addition to the standard vows.

The initiates were a couple who became Radhika Mohan Dasa and Premamayi Radha Devi Dasi, and another a devotee, who was from Connecticut, who became Amrita Sundari Devi Dasi.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=109470

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