Volume-1 Chapter-10: Shocking Stories of a Russian Hospital

By Indradyumna Swami

Saturday May 27, 1995

I was exhausted from many days of traveling and had difficulty rising this morning. Seeing my exhausted state, Govinda Maharaja told me to stay back from the program. With a little extra time I tried to answer some correspondence but fell asleep at the computer. It was the first time in months I had had a moment to attend to my correspondence. I feel bad because I know there are many disciples who are anxiously awaiting replies from me. I have more than three hundred letters to answer. But what can I do? My schedule is so intense, always traveling here and there with so many preaching engagements. My dear disciples, please forgive me.

I have also had to adjust my Deity worship. Several years ago I had an hour or more each day to offer puja to my Deities. But as the years have progressed and my responsibilities have increased, other services have taken priority. At the moment I am simply traveling with my Nrsimha salagrama. The puja takes me only ten minutes. I wear the salagrama around my neck during the day, instead of leaving Him unprotected in the apartments or hotels I stay in. For the time being, I have turned the worship of my other Deities over to several of my disciples in Poland.

My dear Lordships, please forgive me. Please accept my constant preaching to the conditioned souls and my disciples as my service unto You.

This morning Sri Prahlada took off the bandage on his right hand, and to our great relief his hand had healed properly. A few days ago he had injured it in a kirtana. A devotee dancing wildly had knocked Sri Prahlada into the wall, badly smashing his hand. I had the devotees take him to the hospital.

Upon his return Sri Prahlada had told us shocking stories of the state of affairs in a Russian hospital.

The devotees had accompanied him to the emergency room, where people, many in bad condition had been waiting in line for four days to see a doctor. The room was filthy, and the nurses were not caring for anyone. A man in great pain kept falling off his stretcher. No one came to help him, so Sri Prahlada and the other devotees would pick him up and put him back on the stretcher each time.

While the devotees were waiting for a doctor, a man came up to Sri Prahlada and asked if there were any Hare Krsna sisters present. He meant a woman devotee like a nun. He explained that his father was dying next door and he wanted a Hare Krsna nun to perform the last rites. Sri Prahlada looked around for a woman devotee, and seeing that none had come to the hospital with them, apologized to the man, who went away disappointed.

Somehow after only three hours Sri Prahlada was able to get treatment by a top neurosurgeon, who confirmed that his injury was not serious. In their ensuing discussions Sri Prahlada was shocked to 40 Diary of a Traveling Preacher learn that the doctor and most of his same caliber, earn a salary of only 100,000 rubles a month – about twenty American dollars.

A great risk in traveling in Russia is that if we would ever require serious medical assistance, the medical standard is so bad. Equipment in most places dates back to the 1960s. Proper drugs are scarce, even in big cities.

Recently my eighty-two-year-old disciple Kisori dasi had a two-hour surgical operation in Odessa without any anesthetic. I asked her how it was possible, how she tolerated the pain. She said she had no choice but to scream “Hare Krsna” at the top of her lungs during the operation.