July 29 – August 10, 2005
By Indradyumna Swami
After the difficulties we went through on July 7, I started having nightmares every night. One evening, after a week, I talked about it with Sri Prahlada das. “It’s been a long time since I had a Krsna conscious dream,” I said. “Since the tour started in May, I’ve only been dreaming of war or being chased or having to hide. I know it’s the result of preaching in a society often opposed to what we do, but I wish there were some relief, at least in sleep.”
“I know how you feel,” said Sri Prahlada. “I’ve been having some bad dreams lately as well, but things will change when we go to the Woodstock festival in a couple of weeks.”
“That’s true,” I said. “There’s no opposition at Woodstock. Jurek Owsiak, is always keen to have us there.”
“Sure,” said Sri Prahlada. “your mind will relax once we get there. It’ll make you feel good to be somewhere where the organizer is not only our friend but also gives us carte blanche to preach any way we want.”
That night I was still a bit apprehensive about going to bed. As I lay down I remembered Sri Prahlada’s words: “Things will change when we go to Woodstock …” I soon fell fast asleep.
In the middle of the night I awoke with a start. “Prahlada!” I called out. “Prahlada!”
Sri Prahlada, who was sleeping just a few meters away, woke up. “What is it Gurudeva? Did you have another nightmare?”
“No,” I said, “I just had the most wonderful dream!”
“What was it?” Sri Prahlada said excitedly, rolling over in his sleeping bag to look at me.
“I dreamed we were in a tour committee meeting,” I said, “when suddenly there was a knock on the door. I said, ‘come in’, and a celestial boy walked in. he had a soft glow about him. he knelt down in front of me without saying anything and handed me a large piece of rolled up paper. The paper was also glowing. I opened it, and it read, ‘See you at Woodstock. Signed, Lord Nrsimhadeva.’ Then I woke up.”
“Wow!” said Sri Prahlada. “What a dream!”
“Yeah,” I said. “Finally I dreamt something spiritual, but we can’t take it too seriously. I remember reading where Srila Prabhupada said that dreams are generally nonsense, although when you dream of the spiritual master or Krsna, it’s nice.”
I lay back down and had the soundest sleep I’d had in months.
The next week and half of our summer tour went well. We sent a separate group of devotees to Kostrzyn , the site of the upcoming Woodstock festival, to begin setting up our village, Krsna’s village of Peace.
A tent company arrived in Kostrzyn around the same time to erect a 100-meter-long tent for our main programs. Our men would work 12 days to set up most of the 20 smaller tents that would display different aspects of vedic culture including yoga, meditation, and reincarnation. There was lots of other work to be done as well: installing electrical poles and lines, digging ditches for water pipes, pouring gravel on the dirt roads to offset any mud in case of rain, putting up fencing around our three-hectare plot. Jurek expected close to 500,000 people, and we knew many of them would come through Krsna’s village of Peace to have a look.
A few days later Sri Prahlada asked me if I had had any more Krsna-conscious dreams. “No,” I said, “and I don’t expect to either. That last dream was one in a million. I’m still in anxiety.”
“Now what?” Sri Prahlada asked.
“Krsna’s village of Peace is a huge responsibility,” I said. “Tens of thousands of people will visit us. We have to make sure they all get the best possible impression of Krsna consciousness. That’s my real dream: that our village will be a big success. Anything could go wrong—the weather, the transport of the 22 tons of food we’ll be cooking, the health department’s final permission to cook, the journey of the 500 extra devotees coming in from all over the world to assist us …”
Sri Prahlada smiled. “Don’t worry, Gurudeva,” he said. “Lord Nrsimhadeva said he’ll meet you at Woodstock.”
We both laughed.
“It was just a funny dream,” I said.
“But nice,” Sri Prahlada said with a wink.
During the last festival on the Baltic Coast, I had just finished my lecture on stage and was walking to the book tent when my cell phone rang.
“Hello?” said the voice on the phone. “Guru Maharaja, can you hear me?”
The sound was distorted, but I could understand. “Yes,” I said.
“I can hear you. Can you hear me?”
“This is Narottam das Thakur das in Mumbai,” came the reply. “I have some wonderful news for you. I just found an old Nrsimha Deity in an antique shop. I couldn’t resist and bought Him for you.”
“For me?” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “to protect you and all the devotees on your festival program. I’ll try and send him to you somehow.”
Then the line broke.
Suddenly I remembered my dream, and I began to laugh. “If he shows up for Woodstock,” I thought, “that will be a dream come true.”
Three days later, after a drive of several hours, Jayatam das and I were nearing the site of the Woodstock festival. “hey,” said Jayatam, “look how many kids are here already, and the festival is still two days away.”
As we drove through a forested area, we passed four armored police vans, parked just off the road.
“What’s going on?” I asked Jayatam.
“There will be heavy security at Woodstock this year,” he said, “because of the bombings in London on July 7th.”
Finally we came to the Woodstock field. “look up in the sky,” said Jayatam.
I looked out the window and saw a big balloon, stationary and motionless in the sky above.
“It has a very sophisticated camera that will scan the entire Woodstock field,” Jayatam said. “That camera can read a newspaper in someone’s hand. They plan to use it to watch for drug dealers … and terrorists.”
I laughed. “looks like I’m not the only one in anxiety,” I said.
As we drove into the main entrance, I could only smile. The first thing we saw was our huge tent up on the hill, just off center on the festival grounds. A big sign was strung across it: “Krsna Village of Peace.” It could be seen from most of the festival grounds.
“We couldn’t ask for a better location,” I said.
“The whole country will see us,” Jayatam said. “We’re directly across from the main stage, so all the television cameras will be panning our village.”
I smiled again. “how many people will see those news broadcasts?” I said. I already knew the answer, but I wanted to hear it again.
Jayatam laughed. “Millions and millions!” he said.
“Param vijayate Sri Krsna sankirtan!” I shouted. “All glories to the sankirtan movement of lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu!”
We drove up the hill, and within minutes we were at Krsna’s Village of Peace. The devotee men were still busy with last-minute preparations. The village looked like the spiritual world—big, colorful, and magnificent.
As I walked into the big tent to see the new decorations on our main stage, I noticed a lone figure, sitting on a chair, right in the middle of the gigantic tent. It was an old man. I was curious, so I went up to him.
I smiled. “You’re early,” I said. “The festival doesn’t begin for two more days.”
He looked up with a sad, weathered face. “I’ve waited all year for you people to come back,” he said. “Not a single day passed that I didn’t think of your village. last year I was here every day.”
He looked towards the devotees decorating the stage. “It’s the only light in my dark existence,” he said.
My smile faded. “I’m sorry to hear your life is so hard,” I said. “life is always hard,” he said, “but recently even more so. My poor wife of 40 years just went insane. I would have gone insane too, but I knew you people were coming back. I find so much shelter here. It’s the atmosphere you bring, the spiritual atmosphere. you don’t mind if I sit here, do you?”
I put my hand on his shoulder. “Not at all, Sir,” I said. “Stay as long as you want.”
Most of our VIP guests arrived that day from overseas. When I learned that Deena Bandhu prabhu, my godbrother from Vrindavan had come, I went straight from the festival site to his room in the school where we were staying.
I entered the room and paid obeisances, and then we hugged. he’s a veteran of our program at Woodstock, and I was delighted to have him back. We exchanged pleasantries, and just as I was about to leave he handed me a small box. “Oh Maharaja,” he said, “one of your disciples sent this for you.”
It was heavy, and there was some tissue hanging out the side, so I assumed it was some maha burfi sweets, and I started to put it into my pocket.
Deena Bandhu smiled. “I think you should look inside,” he said.
I pulled the box back out of my pocket, slowly opened the lid, and pulled back the tissue. Suddenly I saw the most beautiful, intricately carved bronze Deity of lord Nrimsha that I had ever seen. I stood there dumfounded, my mouth open.
“They say He’s over 300 years old,” said Deena Bandhu. “You weren’t expecting him?”
“Well,” I said, “yes and no. I mean … you see …”
I didn’t have the courage to tell him about the dream. I quickly excused myself and left the room.
I got back in my car and pulled out my cell phone. “Sri Prahlada!” I screamed. “The most amazing thing happened! One of my disciples in India sent me a beautiful, ancient Nrsimha Deity. he’s small and very ferocious.”
“So your dream has come true,” Sri Prahlada said.
“Well …” I said, “yes, I guess it did. But you know what Srila Prabhupada said about dreams.”
I could almost see Sri Prahlada smile over the phone. “yes,” he replied. “Srila Prabhupada said that dreams of the spiritual master or Krsna are nice.”
That afternoon Jurek Owsiak, the main organizer of the Woodstock festival, visited our village and addressed 400 devotees assembled at the back of our big tent.
“We’ve been cooperating together for eight years at the Woodstock festival,” he began, “and through those years I’ve come to appreciate you and your ideals more and more. Consider the whole festival grounds yours. go everywhere and spread your message to the kids. Our work together has been recorded in heaven.”
We opened Krsna’s village of Peace the next day, one day before the main event. As we removed the barriers at the road leading into our village, thousands of kids streamed into our festival site. I knew some had come simply to be with us and wouldn’t leave the village over the next few days except to sleep in their tents. It happens every year.
For those who couldn’t make the climb up the hill to participate in our 16-hour stage show, prasadam distribution, and activities in our many tents, we took the festival to them. each day we held ratha yatra, pulling our huge cart through the sea of tents and people below our hill. From every vantage point at the festival you could see the cart towering 10 meters high, with it’s huge red, blue, and yellow canopy blowing in the breeze. The kids were spellbound.
When Ratha yatra wasn’t going on, we took huge harinam parties to every nook and cranny of the festival grounds. Often the kids would dance and chant hare Krsna with us. I knew such opportunities don’t come often in life, so I took full advantage of them.
Every day I made my rounds to all of our tents to make sure everything was going all right. One day, I arrived at the temple tent while Bhakti Charu Maharaja was leading a blissful kirtan. I had invited him as a special guest, and later that day I asked him how he liked the festival.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It can’t be understood just from photos or videos. you have to see it in person.”
I respect Maharaja as a dear servant of Srila Prabhupada, so I asked him another question. “Do you think Srila Prabhupada is pleased?” I said.
He looked surprised. “Of course he is,” he replied.
By the afternoon of the third and final day, we had distributed over 100,000 plates of prasadam. Long lines of kids continued queuing at the prasadam tent well into the night. It was so ecstatic
that at one point I couldn’t resist joining the team of 25 devotees distributing the prasadam.
As the wee hours of the morning came, we held our final kirtan on the stage in our big tent. There were a couple of thousand kids in the audience. These were the cream of the crop, the ones that had a developed an attraction for Krsna consciousness. After the kirtan I gave a farewell talk, and when I finished I noticed many kids had tears in their eyes.
Suddenly the whole event was over, just as quickly as it had begun.
later in the morning tens of thousands of kids were streaming out of the festival grounds. I saw a few carrying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Others had plates of prasadam wrapped in plastic, saved for the journey home. As we drove by on our way to break down our festival site, some of the kids called out to us: “Hare Krsna! Hari Bol! Thank you!”
“It was the best Woodstock ever,” said Sri Prahlada. “We were everywhere, on the hill and on the field. And everyone liked us. And you must be satisfied, Srila gurudeva. All your dreams came true.”
“yes, indeed they did,” I replied, with slight reservation. “What is it?” said Sri Prahlada, who knows my mind better
than anyone else.
“Well,” I said, “what really matters is whether Srila Prabhupada is satisfied.”
“He must be,” said Sri Prahlada. “Just consider how many people heard the holy names and took prasadam.”
“I understand that,” I said. “But wouldn’t it be nice if every so often there was a sign from him. Do you understand what I’m saying? Maybe I’m just being sentimental.”
Sri Prahlada’s face took on a serious look. “Why don’t you pray for that?” he said.
“It was just a thought,” I said, “but maybe I’ll take your advice.”
The next day I flew to Ukraine to spend a few days with a small group of devotees doing a festival program in Cremia, on the Black Sea. They had invited me to come and give them some advice.
They put me up in a nice hotel next to the beach, and as I lay down to rest, my thoughts drifted back to Poland and the great yajna we had just performed. My mind was racing, remembering all the preaching we had done. Finally I dozed off …. and was blessed with the most wonderful dream of my life.
I dreamt I was walking through a garden, chanting japa. Suddenly I saw Srila Prabhupada sitting in a small clearing some distance away, speaking to a few senior disciples. When he saw me he got up and to my astonishment, began walking towards me.
I started to offer him my obeisances, falling to my knees, but before I could go any further he reached me and lovingly hugged me. Still on my knees, my head was pressed close to his chest. his saffron cloth blew lightly in the breeze around me. he hugged me for a long time. In retrospect, it didn’t seem like a dream. It was more like a real-life experience.
I looked up and saw him gazing at me, his eyes full of love. “Srila Prabhupada,” I said, “I’m just your servant. I’m prepared to do anything to please you.”
Then he smiled and hugged me even tighter.
I woke up and sat up in my bed. I was stunned.
I reached for my phone and called Sri Prahlada, but he didn’t answer. Suddenly I realized it was 11 PM. I stayed awake most of the night. The next morning I called him.
“Do you remember how you advised me to pray the other day?” I said. “Well I had this dream last night …”
At the end Sri Prahlada laughed. “Put it in the diary,” he said. “Put it in the diary?” I said. “What will the devotees think?” “Probably they’ll think like Srila Prabhupada,” he replied, “that
dreams of the spiritual master are very nice.”
Later that day, I found the quotation from Srila Prabhupada about dreams:
So far dreaming is concerned, we regard dreaming condition as another form of illusion or maya, only more subtle, that’s all. But just like we may be serving Krsna in our waking state and thinking about him then, so also it is possible to dream about Krsna and the spiritual master … if we occasionally dream of Krsna, that is nice, that means you are making advancement in Krsna Consciousness.
[letter to Mahati dasi, 1977]