Any event that features books automatically becomes a festival for the mind. So it was at the recent “Books of Russia 2010” fair.
The throngs in attendance proved the interest the Russian public has in reading, and amidst the stars’ biographies, self-help books, post-apocalyptic thrillers and other varieties of modern fiction and non-fiction, there were some more spiritual options.
Orthodox Christian publishing houses were granted free space at the fair by the government. They offered an books on how to build a happy family and how to bring up religious children. There were also many books on the lives of Russian saints and on the history of Christianity in the country.
Indeed, almost every faith was represented at the fair – books on Buddhism, Sufism, Judaism, Russian Vedas, Yoga, and offerings by devotees from the Sri Chaitanya Sarasvat Math.
The booth of the “Moscow Society for Krishna Consciousness,” however, was the only place to find the works of Srila Prabhupada. The devotees did not know what to expect, since this was the first fair in a long time, so they brought hundreds of books, not all of which were displayed but lay hidden in a special box.
The passers-by were friendly, one remembering food he had tasted at a temple many years ago in Begovaya, another asking for the present temple address, saying that he had been looking for devotees since a long time. One man came and started asking questions about the three gods of Hinduism – Vishnu, Siva and Brahma. When he was leaving, he told the devotees: “ Today I learned from you for the first time that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead!”
Such reactions showed the truth of the statement in the scriptures:
Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there.
On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.10-11
A few sets of Srimad Bhagavatams were distributed, as well as Bhagavad-Gitas, luxury editions of “Krishna” book, and other works such as “Perfect questions, perfect answers” and “Sri Isopanisad.” Overall, more than 140 people went away with a book. “The Favorite Recipes from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking” and “The Higher Taste”, as well as the ever popular “The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking,” were all favorites with the women.
Not only was the exhibition a chance to give people spiritual knowledge, it was also an official forum in which the Hare Krishna movement was able to gain a little more of the legitimacy that Srila Prabhupada always desired.
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Radha Mohan Das, Bhaktivedanta Manor
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ISKCON News Staff
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ISKCON Governing Body Commission
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Ekachakra Prana Dasa
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ISKCON Juhu Communications