by Robert Phair
Earlier this month we visited Krishna Valley in Somogyvámos, Hungary, as part of our Pre-Slavic Culture in Europe: Literature Study project, for a peaceful & productive long weekend from 05-09 June 2014.
This eco-friendly, sustainable and mostly self-sufficient community is called New (Nava) Vraja Dhama because of its recognised resemblance to Sridham Vrindavan, the eternal place of Lord Krishna's pastimes. For nearly four decades Krishna Valley has developed under the guidance of HH Sivarama Swami who has provided practical and spiritual leadership as it has grown from a small outpost to a thriving community of over 200 devotees.
Our travelling sangha for this adventure consisted of bhakta Robert, bhakta John, Manu das and HG Mayesvara das. As with our other "Pre-Slavic" seminars, we met devotees from Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and the Netherlands, convening after a day of travelling for the morning temple programme and the seminar's beginning on Friday morning.
This started with a tour of the Temple itself which houses the awe-inspiring deities Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara and Sri Sri Lakshimi-Narasimha. Personally I perceived a powerful aura of peace projecting from the deities, stilling the mind and encouraging a mood of sattva even outside the temple perimeter into the square mile of the grounds themselves.
Among community members, stories abound of shared dreams and prescient visions in which the deity figures of Radharani and Syamasundara interact with the residents as living beings would. The sizes of the statues have been documented to measurably increase and decrease in size with the seasons according to sizes of food offerings, and sometimes the sweets are spontaneously rearranged from Srimate Radharani's purse in front of the sweet-toothed sila Govardhana Lal.
Our objectives in this ongoing EU-sponsored grant project, spanning mid-2013 to mid-2015, include the development of communication methods, organisational skills, teaching & technological competences, language independence, and creative design in support of the European Union's multicultural objectives and the efforts of our own Vaishnava community towards peer-to-peer teaching with spiritual literature. Our seminars over these few days included:
- Using progressive seminars to gradually introduce spiritual topics by beginning with topics of mundane interest
- Principles of transmission of knowledge through happy & supportive identification of student and teacher
- An organisational framework for inventive planning & problem solving (by Dr. Edith Best / Urmila devi dasi)
- The peer-to-peer counselling programme that helps bind the Krishna Valley community peacefully together
We were also warmly guided by Sivarama Swami who spoke of the community's foundations, as well as the spiritual foundation described in his colossal book Nava Vraja Mahima, a guided devotional meditation which details the correspondence between the features of Krishna Valley and Vrindavan, the holy abode of Lord Krishna. We even had an opportunity to relish this work with a long afternoon reading out in those pastoral surroundings themselves.
After the end of the conference, our Irish sangha was honoured with an invitation to play & sing kirtan with the devotees at the Krishna temple in Budapest. We now look forward to hosting our own visitors from the same partner countries in Dublin this November 2014, with one more road trip to Amsterdam in May of next year. Hare Krishna!