Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Serving the Russian-Speaking Community In Mayapur
By Kulavati Krishnapriya Devi Dasi, ISKCON News Staff Writer   |  Feb 13, 2024

Sharana Prada Das (2nd from left in the 2nd row) with the Russian-speaking community.

Eight and a half years ago, Sharana Prada Das came to Mayapur following his spiritual journey in the 1990s when he first discovered the philosophy he yearned for in Srila Prabhupada’s “Teachings Of Lord Chaitanya.” His relentless dedication in Mayapur has helped transform the Russian-speaking community into a vibrant cultural center.  

Sharana Prada Das shared that his motivation for this tireless community service is twofold: to offer a heartfelt homage to Srila Prabhupada and his spiritual mentor while also kindling the flames of devotion among all devotees. Here are some of the profound details he gave us about the various developments in the Russian-speaking community in Mayapur.

One of the primary causes of the establishment of a comprehensive support structure was the influx of a lot of Russian-speaking devotees, especially female devotees in Mayapur. Sharana Prada said, “There is an issue in Mayapur for families to live together. Many female devotees come to raise their children in Mayapur, and their husbands have to stay in Russia and earn money to support their families. Since a lot of people came, we organized a community.”

The community also takes care of the children. Sharana Prana continued, “We have a team of devotees who organize programs for children like educational classes, fun engaging activities, and more. We also have different outdoor school clubs. There is a devotional dance club managed by Nandrani Dasi for young girls that performs in different programs.” Additionally, there are a lot of single devotees coming to Mayapur so they organized a marriage department to facilitate marriages.

To tend to the spiritual needs of older devotees, a dedicated group of caregivers has been assembled that, in part, helps devotees with transportation to the Mayapur Community Hospital for free medical examinations. 

He revealed, “There are some old devotees who come here to live the last years of their lives. We provide free lunches for devotees who are above sixty years of age. From time to time, we also organize spiritual programs for them. We also have a group of devotees providing financial support to devotees whose pensions are not enough for a living.”

A tide of devotees from Ukraine, seeking shelter has also come to Mayapur. In response, Sharana Prada Das, in cooperation with other Russian-speaking devotees, successfully started thirty individual Namahattas. He remarked, “The devotees felt protected by the older devotees who facilitated these Namahattas, and this helped them. They felt connected and protected. When devotees feel protected and connected through community, it helps them give a lot more to the preaching. It takes a lot of effort to organize these small Namahatta groups.”

Initially, the harsh climate and a revolving door of leadership had left Russian-speaking devotees feeling isolated and adrift. However, with proper cooperation among the community members, the situation became less painful. Sharana Prada Das said, “Society, fundamentally, is an entity comprised of its people. Any project cannot take place without the devotees having a good relationship with each other. The devotees should take care of each other out of love instead of just doing it because they have been asked to.”

Looking to the future, the goal is to take care of devotees more and more and also to make sure that this culture continues, noted Sharana Prada Das. “We are putting a lot of resources like teaching the leaders and giving a lot of service opportunities. A new website is being developed with the Mayapur management team. It will be available in both Russian and English.”

Sharana Prada said that the community warmly welcomes all those who wish to extend their support. He said, “We always require volunteers who can help us take care of a devotee who is sick and not well. We also always require devotees who can help us in cooking for the Sunday programs.”

To learn more about these and other projects or offer your financial support, please contact Sharana Pradada Das via email.