Here is just a little update, dear readers, of the activities of ISKCON Johannesburg North. The highlight was, naturally, Deena Bandhu prabhu’s visit on Saturday the 22nd August. Otherwise, just fighting the good fight, I suppose…

The Janmasthami/Prabhupada Appearance Day weekend blew the wind into our sales, then promptly out again. All those late nights. A weekend of loss for my devotee friends: Jacques’ ex, a single mother of a seven-year old boy, was mercilessly shot by thugs; Krishnadas and his family lost their beautiful home; and the South African Vaishnava Community lost Madan Mohan prabhu, one of my dearest friends, on Janmasthami morning (Friday 14 August).

In the wake of Janmasthami, we were blessed with three programmes by His Grace Deena Bandhu prabhu – Krishna-Balarama Youth Group, Tuesday 18; Nandakishore’s Nama Hatta, Friday 21; and our very own ISKCON Rosebank on Saturday 22nd August. Hansa, “Krishna’s Florist”, kindly made a garland for Deena Bandhu prabhu. On each occasion, Deena Bandhu prabhu shared heart-warming stories of Prabhupada, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nandalala, Krishna. On Saturday night, he said you can go to Vrindavan without paying airticket or visa. Too true. There was a fair turnout of about 15 devotees and friends. I was thinking that the pastimes of Krishna in Vrindavan might be a little too much for the newcomers, but they were very appreciative of Deena Bandhu prabhu’s charming descriptions of Vraja and his sweet brijbasi bhajans.

Gaura Shakti and I gave our second Cooking Class that Saturday morning, much to the delight of our students. We kind of flopped the panir, but more than made up for it with the puris. Gaura made a perfect dough, got the students to roll their own puris and then had them throw the puris in boiling oil. It was one of those “Kodak moments”, with everyone cheering and exclaiming…nearly all the puris came out perfectly.

Gaura and myself went through to Lenasia again, to get darshan of His Holiness Bhakti Caru Maharaja on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25. It was thrilling, but a little sad also, to hear Krishnadas and Sharm matajis realizations after the fire in their house. I was amazed how bright-faced they looked considering the trauma they had been through. Krishna certainly favoured them. Thursday night we went to the Temple for Radhastami. Nrsimhananda prabhu gave a wonderful class, we took the feast with our friends Giridhari and Estelle, and left. Another hectic week, with food stalls wedged inbetween.

We had an intimate programme on Sunday the 30th August with Damian, Janine, Tamar, Lungile, Arne and Gaura. Janine said she had chanted with the devotees in Cyrildene about 20 years ago. ‘They would chant for hours. I loved it’, she said. It was very encouraging to have such an enthusiastic chanter in our midst. I kept the talk simple, explaining the Vedas and the importance of sabda-pramana. Tamara, a yogi in her own right, was also very enthusiastic. ‘Thank you very, very much’, she kept on saying to me. Lungile described some of his personal Kurukshetres with us…he is a spokesperson and representative for the National Postal Services…which was recently on strike. It was nice to chant in the association of such sincere souls.

When we are not going out on Sankirtan or to the market, I cook and invite neighbours and friends for lunch. That is how I spend my downtime (aside from internet or reading). Premkishore and I are planning to conduct weekly Friday night Harinams in the northern suburbs of Joannesburg, like Melville and Parkhurst. In honour of World Holy Name Week we will be having a Harinam procession at the Zoo Lake Yoga Camp on Saturday 5 September.

Forthcoming attractions at The Vedic City Project (ISKCON Johannesburg North) include: His Grace Partha Sarathi prabhu speaking on his experiences as a soldier and a monk on Sunday 20 September; and His Grace Vrishabanu prabhu speaking on Sunday 27 September.

Bhakta Arne is off to India at the end of September. We are also expecting Radhanath Maharaja’s Autobiography, ‘The Journey Home’, to arrive any day now. ‘The Journey Home’ is R250.

Jaya Srila Prabhupada! Jaya Sri Sri Panchatattva! Jay Sri Sri Nitai Gaurahari! Ki Jaya!