By the mercy of Guru and Gauranga – returned safely to Johannesburg, three days ago, after an almost two month sankirtan mission in West Africa. I went to Ghana and to Togo, a small French speaking country sandwiched between Ghana and Nigeria.
It was like exploring new territory – What I discovered was a whole new world of pushing on Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON movement. I was in awe of the devotees there and there great determination to preach under sometimes austere conditions. The Radha Govinda temple in Accra Ghana, there have a nice van, that has about twenty devotees that travel round the countryside. They stop at small towns and villages andhave harinams, after which a devotee talks as crowds gather around to hear the holy name of the Lord and the message of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! This is the mission of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to go to every town and village and preach the the glories of His holy name. This is how Srila Prabhupada expanded his ISKCON movement – through missionary activities! So the devotees of West Africa have understood His mission. Next to the temple, there is a puspa samadhi of Bhakti Thirta Swami Maharaj. The devotees are doing very nice service at his samadhi – everyday His samadhi is cleaned and he is given prasad. Every Sunday, his disciples gather around his samadhi and have Guru Puja after which they go for the greeting of the deities. The temple is situated in the small village of Medie, a half an hours drive from the town center. The temple is on a main road, where people and heavy duty vehicles carrying building sand pass the whole day.
I also traveled to Togo, a small French speaking country next to Ghana. ISKCON has been there for about ten years now. They have a rented house they are using as a preaching center which is situated in the main town center. Over the years Krsna has kindly bestowed his mercy upon the devotees – they have been donated some land about a three quarter and a half’s drive from town – also in town they have been donated a small building with a small plot of land directly next to it – the building they are using as a gift shop and also to distribute their books. The emphasis on preaching there is on book distribution. We went on a harinam one Saturday to the market district – I was amazed to see young devotees, age no more than six years old distribute books. The Togolese people have the most effulgent smiles – I think there was hardly any person who I saw who was not smiling. They also have a small kitchen next to the house and are busy to start a restaurant. During my stay there, just about everyday, I would see people come and ask many interesting questions about devotional service.
The time is ripe – I am convinced, West Africa is ready for a Hare Krsna explosion!
My realization on returning back: Its good to get out of my comfort zone – this has made my determination to preach and continue distributing Srila Prabhupadas books more vigorously at my age. Bhati Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Maharaj said, one who has life can preach – I am just staying alive so that I may preach for the pleasure of Guru and Krsna!
My gratitude and thanks to his holiness Kavicandra Swami Maharaj, who invited me to go to west Africa and for his kind assistance to sponsor me to travel there. Indeed I am most indebted to Maharaj – the only way I can repay Maharaj, is to continue preaching, traveling and distribution Srila Prabhupadas books!