for ISKCON News on July 22, 2011
A well-known ISKCON preacher from Moscow Carudesna Das has been given the highest rank in hinduism. His name is Bhaktivedanta Sadhu Swami now. The ceremony was led by Niranjana Swami, and among many others attended by Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, SDayananda Swami, and Nitay Caitanya Swami. The initiation was held in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Russian ISKCON.
The new Russian sannyasi (nee Enver Izmailov) was born in Grozny (Chechnya), July 1, 1967 into the family of Soviet intelligentsia. Later the family moved to Makhachkala. His father, Khadzhimurat Izmailov - PhD, taught in Dagestan University until his retirement. His mother was a biochemist. Enver graduated from high school in Grozny. He was very fond of physics and hoped to bind himself with this science. After high school he entered the Moscow Physical-Technical Institute, but failed because of ill health, and later enrolled at the Novosibirsk State University. Having finished high school, Enver taught for some time in a school because he already had developed its own pilot program in physics.
In 1991, his life changed dramatically. He met some Vaishnavas and was attracted by the knowledge of Krishna, and so devoted himself not to secular but to the spiritual sciences. He had never been interested in religion before, probably because of the common atheistic spirit, which prevailed in Soviet times. Although, despite the secularism, the Islamic world view was quite common among his relatives.
His parents, however, were atheists, but, according to Enver, very pious and honest.
During the dedication ceremony and presentation of the new sannyasi to the Vaisnava Bhaktivedanta Sadhu Swami’s sturdiness and straightforwardness in matters of faith were continuously mentioned by the speakers.
The Moscow correspondent of ISKCON News asked Bhaktivedanta Saddhu Swami several questions on the day of his initiation.
What is there within Krishna Consciousness movement that you are attracted by?
I like that it is a movement. In other words, anyone who seeks something really captivating looks for an opportunity to join a lively movement, which aims to change people’s life for the better.
The Hare Krishna movement is universal. Anybody can find himself here, irrespective of one’s religion, because there is only one God. The Hare Krishna movement means that we see the Lord as All-attractive. As for me, I like that there is no rigid hierarchy as in so-called “traditional religions”. We perform our activity not under the pressure of some hierarchical system, but simply because of the inspiration of other devotees of Krishna. We are inspired by their sincerity. It is natural that there are problems within the Hare Krishna Movement, because it is very young. We feel that not all of the people in our country understand its nature. Some people, for example, think that it is an Indian culture, and so it cannot be connected with Russian culture. But in fact all Russians have been used to living as a community, when people serve each other, and this is the principle of Krishna Consciousness. This is the movement of community.
In your opinion, what is the main goal of ISKCON Russia?
In my opinion the main goal is to specify its social status and to understand what our contribution to the Russian realm is. On the other hand, we must appreciate the uniqueness of our tradition, because in the of the material world these spiritual phenomena are a great rarity.
What do you think the main obstacles are to a dialogue between the Society of Krisna Consciousness and other traditional religious organizations and religions?
The main obstacle, in my opinion, is that religion has not yet realized that they have a common object of worship . And therein lies the reason for atheism in our community and its most dangerous and damaging derivative: corruption.
Nowadays we can often hear respectful religious organizations being reproached for doing politics. Is there such a risk for ISKCON?
I don’t think so, even in the future. Not only because there are not so many members, but mostly because it is considered disadvantageous for brahmanas to come into touch with mundane power. It was shown by Lord Caytanya. We also know that Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakura was very steadfast in these cases.
Is it possible, that a “national factor” will appear in the Krishna Consciousness movement, as there are so many nationalities among its followers?
It is even less likely, as there is an aspect of One God as Person in our tradition and deep understanding of the exciting nature of the eternal soul. It is immensely superior to the temporal factor of the artificial division of the solid basis of nationalism and therefore invalidates the possibility.
What do you think is the main cause of misery and permanent disorders in Russian society?
In my opinion, the revival of Russia and its worthy future depends on how quickly the Russians realize the value of community life. I think people will live in communities. They will not live in hierarchical structures, and they will create a community in which everybody sincerely helps each other, cares about each other and inspires each other. And God will be the heart of these communities. This is the future of Russia as all the formal structures are already outdated. People no longer trust the formal leaders; they want something honest and real. That's why the Hare Krishna movement, despite all the difficulties that we face today, will develop and become stronger because of the energy of the service, which is impregnated into the Society for Krishna Consciousness.
What do you think is the secret of success in a spiritual life?
To succeed in life it is very important to have an ultimate goal. This goal is as if you order something that could contribute towards personal growth, self empowerment and knowledge. Human life is empty without such a cause. Very often people do not understand the meaning of Spiritual Master or Guru. People think that a Gurudev is a boss who tells people what to do, that a guru is a kind of authoritarian personality, who towers over everybody. In fact, the purpose of guru is to reveal to us the way we, as individuals, can do something amazing in our lives. How we can serve God and people. It helps us to discover the real business of life. This is the meaning of teaching. A man is truly happy when he takes the position of student, that is, when he finds a true teacher, who opens his service. He begins to act as a student, and thereby serves the ultimate goal. He gets more power and a deeper spiritual understanding. After all, the true knowledge; the ability to do miracles and the ability to do something great, comes to a person by the grace of a Spiritual Master. It was through his will and faith in us that we began to do things that we previously were simply unable to?
Therefore, in fact, the Krisha consciousness movement, that was started by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, has saved hundreds of thousands of young people from the aimless life of drug addiction and other primal motives because they have received an inspiring message from the Spiritual Master. It has changed their lives dramatically. And it is Srila Prabhupada who has done it. That's why we praise him. And not because they blindly worship practices of ancient traditions. We bow in reverence before the Srila Prabhupada for his wonderful service, his love for all of us. Therefore, we serve in this movement, we serve consciously, it is our personal choice. This is the purity of our relationship with the founder of our Movement.
Bhaktivedanta Sadhu Swami is the third Russian sannyasi among the Hare Krishna followers. The first sannyasa was given to a current spiritual leader of the movement, Bhakti Vigyan Goswami in 2001, the second ceremony of initiation into sannyasa was in 2010 when Nitai Chaitanya Goswami received sannyasa. According to the vice-president of the Society for Krishna Consciousness in Russia Radha Damodara Dasa (S. Zuev), the number of sannyasis could double in the coming years.