Memories of Yoga in Bulgaria

Madhavi d.d. Bulgariaby Madhavi d.d.

My mother died in full consciousness in sidhasana on 17.01.1977. She was one of the first disciples of Venzeslav Evtimov. She started to practice hatha yoga after cancer had been discovered in her breast at very advanced stage. Then she was 46 years old. Doctors said she would live only a few months so she could do whatever she wanted. I found a book for hatha yoga. As far as I remember the author was Esudian. I was very busy engaged in creative work that consumed all my time so I didn’t have time for exercises. But my mother, for my great surprise, after she read the book started to practice asanas without a teacher. First she fasted 14 daysGuided by Dimkov, she drank only herbal tea. She lost weight and she was practicing asanas. She became very flexible. She surprised everyone with standing on head asana, lotus and other difficult asanas.

Venzeslav Evtimov, teacher in Kirov technical school, was giving a free yoga course. Before this he had a serious disease. He was a follower of Hindu tradition. He was honest, moral with fiery spirit and great charm. He attracted many people in his course. My mother became his disciple. And I also was attracted by her influence. Then I didn’t know about the great spiritual master Peter Dunov who had inspired many people to become vegetarians. Two years before that I became a vegetarian without knowing why. I worked in a circus. I travelled for 13 years and every free minute I stood in front of the animals and I was watching them.I gave up meat because I wasn’t a lion and I didn’t have to eat what beasts eat.

I attended regularly Evtimov’s course and I was good in asanas. I got energy that helped me to do my duties. Once I couldn’t attend the course. My mother told me that Evtimov went abroad and there would not be a yoga course anymore. I cried a lot. I felt great emptiness. But I had a friend – Ani Pavlova. She was a strong seeker. We were travelling in the nature and were talking about yoga. We were reading and translating Russian books. We were discussing and were practicing. We were seeking and God was giving.

Dev murti came. He was 70 years old but he looked like 40. He taught us tobe vegetarians and to practice asanas. He gave a lecture at my mother’s home and then in my home. In my home he showed a permission for opening a vegetarian restaurant. He gave all the money he had earned in circus. He showed Neti for cleaning the nose. We all were ill and he was healthy.

Once a Sai Baba disciple came together with her husband. They made a fire ritual.Then Indradevi, Sai Baba disciple came. She made a course for few people at closed doors. She had bodyguards – young men. She was 90 years old but she had tremendous energy.
Later professor Goyal came who trained Soviet spacemen. He didn’t give a course but we were following him wherever he went.
Later professor Dayal and his wife came. They were disciples of Maharishi Mahesh and were teaching transcendental meditation. Ani Pavlova, George and me were given personal mantra. We were meditating a lot.

I was practicing meditation many hours. I started to develop paranormal abilities. I started to see in the future. I knew what would happen during the day. I started to see beautiful sceneries. I also saw sometimes a man with white clothes, white beard and white hair. I meditated regularly every morning and I told my best friends – KubratTomov and Ani Pavlova what I had seen. I shared my experiences with many people. Later when I read the book Concentration and meditation by Swami Shivananda I realized I shouldn’t had done this.

George was the first who was initiated in Krishna consciousness. He was studying Hindi in university. He was reading Bhagavad-gita in English. His tutor doctor Varna had given it to him. He was telling us about Gita. It was very interesting and we were listening for hours.

One day he called me and said: “We have guests. Come together with Ani.” They were Dhira Krishna and Krishna ksetra. They were cooking in a small kitchen where he slept on the floor. There was only one little room where his parents and his sister lived. It was very uncomfortable but boys didn’t complain. We all admired these young boys so bright, humble and loving. They gave us to prepare vegetables. Ani said what kind of yoga is this? What is this cooking? She was laughing with tears. I also found it funny but I managed to control myself. I was watching these young people and I admired their love and humility. They only asked us how we could get married since we couldn’t cook. They cooked gulabjamun and sabji. We went to Ani’s place. Her husband had made pop corns. Ani had bought Turkish delight. Boys made kirtan. Our singing was terrible. They spoke about Krishna and Prabhupad. They spoke also about the benefit of the maha-mantra. Then they distributed the prasadam. We were so delicious things for the first time. They told us to take from the gulabjamun and to give it to our relatives. I took few balls and called KubratTomov. He came and immediately ate the balls. In these days there wasn’t a variety of food and it was a difficult time for vegetarians. There were some vegetables in the groceries – cabbage, potatoes, beans, really salty pickled vegetables from a barrel and a lot of meat everywhere. It’s true that we had only two types of cheese, but in contrast to the present ones, they were from real milk and very tasty. However, our guests didn’t eat anything that was not prepared by a devotee, so we could offer them nothing.

After less than a week Dhira Krishna and Suhotra Swami arrived. I accommodated them at my mom’s place. They slept there, cooked at Madri’s, we had a kirtan in my place or at the home of some of the people who were engaged in yoga practice. At one of these gatherings, a random guest asked them: “Where are you going to sleep tonight? “ They surprised me with their sharpness of mind when they answered: “Under a tree”. They invited us to take initiations. I accepted immediately, as did Maria and Emiliya. Ani declined. The devotees left, but forgot their temple at my mom’s place. I went to give it back to them, but Ani said: “You, fool, they left it to you on purpose”. Later, I handed it to Radhavallabha. I was very worried about Ani. I loved her a lot and I felt sad when she didn’t want to take an initiation. We’ve taken so many different initiations and joined so many diverse schools, but when she finally got excited from the appearance and behavior of these young people, she declined to get initiated.

Some time passed, probably a week or two, and Dhira Krishna and Krishna Kshetra came. We received our initiation at Maria’s. I had Kubrat Tomov, Hristo and Ani invited. Ani didn’t come. It was 7th or 8th January 1979. It was wonderful, there was prasad (Dhira Krishna used to cook really well) and at the end the guests left. We were told to chant mantras regularly. There was no literature in Bulgarian, we didn’t know how to cook, we had only been trying to sing.

Dvarakesh arrived, a really nice and virtuous boy. He came often, which was risky both for him and for us, he tried to bring us together, since we were so riff-raff. We didn’t know each other that much, but he wanted us to spend as much time as was possible together. We, the Bulgarians, are not so easily amenable. Wherever we are, we are torn by divisions. The Master Deunov has said it too, that the Bulgarian is a stubborn person and he will suffer a lot. I can’t describe to you what kind of difficulties we experienced. The jealousy, the ambition…I don’t want neither to remember, nor to tell about it.

Dvarakesh was very kind and patient with everybody. There was this girl Krisi, her mother disturbed me often to complain about her daughter – supposedly, Krisi was nervous, made scenes, like she was somehow bewitched. All the young girls were in love with Dvarakesh and fighting for his attention. Of course, this hindered our service; thank God that he was advanced and above all that he didn’t pay any attention to these things. At Krishna Janmastami, Deva Mrita and a Hindu came. Unfortunately, I can’t recall his name, but he looked like a statue, he was SO perfect. We gathered at a country house in Simeonovo. There were a lot of guests invited.

Before, when Dvarakesh used to come often, he would ask me: “Madhavi, aren’t there any young people around here?” Aren’t there any boys?” That’s why, when for Krishna’s birthday I invited one girl, an artist, and she asked me: “Can I also bring one other boy, he’s also a vegeterian?”, I answered positively. Radi came, who later become Radhavallabha. There was plenty of people, we sang a lot; Deva Mrita, together with the Hindu, made an incredible kirtan performance. They sang wonderfully, danced, it was all at an exceptionally high level. But already, at that time, I could feel that our guest from India was very worried. His worries became my own. There was one boy, Stefcho, he was standing throughout the whole thing at the entrance door of the villa, nervous about what could happen to us. What we were doing was very dangerous, but we were young, we didn’t realize it and Krishna was surely protecting us.

From that moment on, Radhavalabha almost broke my phone by calling to ask me: “When will they come again?”. He used to come to me with a bag of groceries so he can cook prasadam and if I was not there, he wouldn’t have a bite for 2-3 days. Radi become very engaged in studying English. His mother was well-off and hired a good teacher for him. He was smart and disciplined and advanced very quickly. Before getting initiated, he could already deal with the language on his own. Dvarakesh used to visit us often. It was a real celebration when that happened, we lived with the memories of it once he left and we anxiously awaited his next visit. Radi’s initation was performed at Madri’s place. She called me and told me: “Come quickly, cause our boy will be recruited”.

From that moment on, Radhavalabha took everything in his own hands. Truly, this boy, who grew up on the street as a leader of the neighborhood kid’s gangs in all their youthful follies, experienced a complete transformation. First he cleaned his room and made it very orderly. He built a temple in one of the corners, which was really beautiful, with wood-carving and marble stands. His room had one small window, with a view of the wall of the nearby resident building. At Madri’s place it was nice and sunny, but she had a mother and a son with whom she used to live. I had a huge living room, but I and my daughter used to sleep there. Lila Sikha also had a separate room, that’s where Radhavalabha and Lila Sukha moved the temple to. Murtis were also brought, for the first time ever in Bulgaria. Many guests used to come, I think that around the same period Radhavalabha took in and trained his friend Kamen, who is presently in Sweden. The only setback was that Lila Sukha’s home was in a bad neighborhood, far away and unsightly.

Once, I had a terrible cold and my throat hurt a lot. Radhavalabha called and asked me to go. It was a foggy, cold day; when I arrived I was frozen to death, but right at the entrance was Radhavalabha with a cup of hot, sweet milk, insisting that I drink it immediately. I felt much better. I will never forget his concern for all devotees. He took special care to make sure that they all were healthy, established progress in their education and most importantly, in their service. At the morning I took a shower with ice-cold water and even though the heating was cut off at Lila Sukha, there was not the slightest trace of my cold anymore.

I want to note that in the beginning of any spiritual practice, at least that’s how it was with me, and it was even more salient in the case of Radhavalabha, as well as with other people who were engaged with spiritual practices, there is a certain degree of fanaticism. For example, I have a sin towards one nephew of mine. One early morning, I was chanting a mantra and someone rang at the door. I didn’t expect anyone and decided not to interrupt my practice, but the ringing was repeated with insistence. I opened and scolded my nephew; a doctor and a smart boy, he was running late for the train and begged me to give him some Italian magazines. My daughter read Italian and they spoke with Dvarakesh in the language. I became really mad at my nephew and was not polite at all for he had interrupted my practice. This is something for which I will regret my whole life. I have 2-3 cases when I have done something wrong and these occasions remain like thorns in my mind. When I remember them, they sting mercilessly. In short, at the time I’ve fallen prey to my own fanaticism.

The same happened with Radhavalabha. There was a kitchen in his home, which he shared with his mother. Half of it was full of flowers soaked in water. Buckets, basins, pitchers, pots, it was really difficult to pass through. That’s why he separated the kitchen in two sectors. He drew a huge white line in the middle of the room. Half was to be for his mother and the other half – for him. His half was bursting brightly with order, beauty and cleanliness. His mother’s was a nightmare. The woman (her name was Dora), used to work all day down at the street, where she had a small flower shop. The saddest part was that she was crippled, one of her legs was amputated and she could just not keep her home clean. Dora was an exceptionally intelligent woman, with a great sense for beauty; her bouquets (which were very exquisite) could not be find anywhere in Sofia. She loved the devotees very much and helped us financially a lot. She was glad to see us and talk with us. Her fate was really interesting, Radhavalabha often used to tell me about her, but this is not to place to explore this subject. Maybe one day I will tell you only. about her

After Radhavalabha was initiated, cleaned his room and separated the kitchen in the middle, he became very rude with everyone that he thought was hampering him from fulfilling his duties properly. Dora even confided to me that a relative came from the countryside that invaded his territory and he almost got in a fight with her. Yes, he really became very demanding and rude with everybody. His mother started asking: “What happened? He was such a gentle and kind son, why did things turned around so bad, so quickly?” I tried to soothe her and said: “Everything will be fine, you’ll see, this is only temporary.” In the same period of time, Radhavalabha destroyed the horoscope that was made for him by Nikolay Doynov when I brought him there once. When he used to come to me, he would grab a book that was not from ISKCON on the way out and throw it in the garbage bins downstairs. This period was short, thanks God, but was really testing for all of us.

Irinka showed up, she used to come to me at 7 in the morning and leave at 7 in the evening. We learned how to cook together, but we could never manage the time properly. She would ask one question after another. I didn’t know much, so I didn’t know how to respond, but she kept inquiring. Radhavalabha came one day and said: “Why do you bear with her asking questions all day and wasting your time? Better ask her to wash the windows”. I said that they are too big, but he insisted and I allowed her to clean up the window in the kitchen, since it was a small one. She probably did something like that for a first time in her life. By the end, both her and the house were dripping in water. Irinka was a wonderful devotee, the most selfless and dedicated, from whom many of us could have learned a lot, but she was not handy or experienced. She was not in a good relationship with her own mother and confided that she had not taught her anything that a girl should know.

We were at home for a kirtan, we had one every Sunday. Everybody used to bring a pot with prasadam. I prepared two things, while Radhavalabha brought most of the things, which were also better prepared than any other. We sang, we read and discussed. It all ended with prasadam. Once, Radhavalabha was by the opinion that one of the meals should be taken with yoghurt. We had none, so he sent Irinka to find some. It was already 10pm, there were no round-the-clock shops as there are now. I got very worried about her, where would she find milk at night, but she came back; turned out she had found some so we ate around midnight. From all those abundant prasadam made with ghee (food back then was really cheap), I became fat. I used to work in folk art jewelery and souvenir shop. There were two shops in Sofia and sales were very good. I had been working in the cooperative for 9 years, out of them I spent only 3 in a team, after that I completed my orders from home. My kitchen served the purpose of a workshop, while my daughter played in the living room. The atmosphere was creative, later on – spiritual. Following my initiation, I worked on sacred images and made embossed figures of our architectural and cultural monuments on well-formed wooden canvases that can be hung on walls. The figures were selling well, we had plenty of orders, but with the sacred images, which were exceptionally beautiful, I encountered some obstacles. The Holy Synod intervened and did not allow their sale outside of the country, supposedly they had the exclusive right to do so. At the time there was very little demand within the country for souvenirs with religious subject-matters. Everyone was atheistic. I continued making jewelery, but I had serious problem with some chemicals because of it: (хертер?), Cobalt(II) naphthenate, acetone, which smelled terribly. Once I completed my labor service requirement, I stopped doing it and until I reached retirement age I was renting out my mother’s property. At that time I had plenty of spare time to invest in spiritual practice. Life expenses were really low at the time. When guests came, so I could prepare prasadam and help financially the group, I would go with a bag of books, mostly love novels from my husband and my youth, and get for them between 30-50 leva from the neighbourhood second-hand bookshop. That was a lot of money. Once there were no more novels, I would sell out some of the stuff that my mother had prepared as my daughter’s dowry. Everything that I didn’t like I brought to the market in Poduene, where a man with a small shop would buy from me anything. The money I spent to accept the guest we had. I will never forget the visit of one devotee who came from the temple in Germany. One day Prema Rasa Das, Radhavallabha and this devotee were traveling by tram from our place to Lila Sukha. The tram was full with people, everybody was pushing towards others. The tram was shaking over the turns and the people were leaning over each other. This devotee was so pure, with such a pure glow on his face, so tender and sensitive, young and beautiful. The poor devotee was trying to stay away from the passengers, shrinking himself as much as possible but the other passengers didn’t feel it the same way and were pushing themselves towards him. Radhavallabha and I hardly managed to save him from the crowd. I wonder now why did that happened, we didn’t have money or there were no taxis or what. I don’t know why we made the mistake to let such a fine spiritual being to go over that struggle. He never came to Bulgaria again.

During the time when Radhavallabha became fanatic he made many of the new devotees cry. Krisi, Irinka, Lora, Stiliana. With the last one he was very rude because she had taken drugs. It was good that he accepted her in the group. She was giving a lot from herself, chanting, cooking but her couldn’t overcome her desire to become close with him. She was always trying to meet him in a more isolate place and touch him. He was getting furious. My daughter started to have nightmares because of his rudeness. I decided to stop inviting the devotees at my place. When Radhavallabha was calling on the phone for kirtan which we were doing on Sundays, I was saying that I was busy and I was not able to have guests. Two weeks passed. On the third week he asked me to meet him at the park. When we met Radhavalla started crying from the bottom of his heart and asked me to excuse and forgive him. I said that there was nothing to forgive but I didn’t understand what the point was to get together when he constantly was upsetting the girls. I thought we were together to improve ourselves, to serve and advance, not to fight and annoy each other, envy or fight who had to be first. We didn’t have to turn serving into competition. I was asking him to explain to me what the point was because I didn’t understand it. Radhavallabha said “Madhavi forgive me. But you know when too many sharp stones come together they have to strike and hit to get rounded.” We started the meetings again at my place and Radhavallabha became even softer that cotton with everybody. He had a lot of everything: mind, craftiness, leader qualities, love, but also a lot of passion and desire for fast advancement. He was under the zodiac influence of Mars and that showed in everything – in his character, features of his face and his handwriting as well. He had always and everywhere to be first, defender of the weak and fighting with everybody who wanted to get better than him. Actually the sacrifice he made for all of us, had been predicted in his natal card even before he had been born. After he passed away I was thinking a lot about his horoscope and also what he had told me about his parents and how he had come to his world but this is another story to tell.

Sometimes we were going to father Nazariy in the Kokaliane Monastery with big backpacks, sleeping bags, Bhagavat Gita and a lot of prasad. We were giving some of the food to Nazariy and he was happy with us. We were climbing up to a meadow. There we were making a Krishna temple there with the few materials we had and garlands from field flowers. Radhavallabha was reading Bhagavat Gita, talking to us. He had already learnt to speak English. We were freely singing and taking prasad. Everything was delightful except for the tension between Madri and Radhavallabha. Being the oldest I was trying to soften the atmosphere but it wasn’t easy. Radhavallabha had many virtues but he couldn’t sing. He was asking my daughter to teach him. The three of us had excursions together and there she was freely teaching him and he was practicing. He wasn’t good but he had a big desire and put a lot of effort. Madri didn’t feel good that I had excepted Radhavallabha in the group of devotees and I had given him the chance to advance and become the leader of the group. She was constantly saying “Be aware when Radi sneakes into your house.” She meant that he could marry my daughter. “You’ll see when you get kicked out of your house” she was saying. I would like to highlight that when Radhavallabha came to my house and was attending the first kirtan at Krishna’s appearance day, when he met the devotees for the first time, when he accepted to chant, cook for Krishna, sing, read, learn English he said to me that he had not come either for me or my daughter. He had come for Krishna. And I believed him. I didn’t care what he had done before he met the devotees, whom he had communicated to, which women he had slept with. I knew that he had lived a bad life. Recently I read also other facts about him. I am not surprised. He could have also been that person described. He was not hiding anything from his previous life. The important thing is that when he met the devotees he changed his life completely. Before Vishnupad was about to come and stay with Dvarakes in my living room, Radhavallabha gave order to my daughter and we both brought all the carpets outside the building and beat and washed them. My daughter and Radhavallabha washed all the windows. The house was perfectly cleaned. And Radhavallabha said to me “Madhavi, I am doing all this for Krishna and Vishnupad who is going to spend the night here”.

Vishnupad and Dvarakes arrived on the 40th day after Liudmila Jivkova had passed away. There were no people on the streets of Sofia. Everybody was hiding in their houses. Madri and Lila Sukha came with big bouquets of roses. At these days many roses were growing in the parks. I made the beds with bed covers from my daughter’s trousseau. We made something like a throne on the bed where Visnhupad was going to sleep and decorated everything with lots of rosees. The house was beautifully scented. Vishnupad and Dvarakesh came accompanied by Radhavallabha.
Visnupad was carrying a pink pillow which he had always with him. All of us were enthralled. A short lecture followed, kirtan and then piano improvisations. Vishnupad sang and played very well.

Early in the morning Dvarakes put to dry the dhoti of Vishnupad which he had washed himself. My daughter and I were afraid to touch anything, we didn’t know what to do, how to behave with these young men who looked like they had come from a different realm. The few initiated devotees came again. We had kirtan again with piano accompaniment. It was delightful. We were both excited and afraid. I don’t remember whether we offered prasad to the guests. We couldn’t even cook well. Madri used to cooked delicious meals but from our Bulgarian cuisine. Lila Sukha couldn’t cook at all. Once she offered Radhavallabha halva which was very dark. When he asked why the halva was so dark she replied that she had put too much cinnamon. Radhavallabha said that the halva was dark because she had overburnt it. Once I offered Dvarakesh cabbage sarmas (Sarma is a dish of cabbage leaves rolled around a filing usually based on rice and vegetables. It is traditional dish in Bulgaria and other Balkan countries) which weren’t cooked enough but he never complained. My daughter still finds it difficult to cook. She says it is hard enough to cook for herself what about for guests.

We were so excited, we wanted to hear and learn from the guests who had come here, and we couldn’t understand that cooking and offering prasad were one of our duties and service. Gour Sundar Das always remembered to offer his food to Krishna after he already ate. Radhavallabha unlike the rest of us learnt to cook very quickly. Besides his many talents he became an excellent cook.

Shorty after Visnupad and Dvarakes’ s visit one Hungarian devotee came to Bulgaria. His name was Krishna Ananda. He stayed at my place. He slept in the kitchen in his sleeping bag. At that time we had a gorgeous Siamese tom-cat which Radhavallabha named Chandra. He was eating only small fish uncooked of course and he carried them all over the kitchen. You can image how Krishna Ananda felt sleeping on the floor in his sleeping bag and Chandra tossing fish all around his head. That boy never said anything or complained. Poor devotees… they underwent so much because of us… the unlearnt freshly initiated devotees.

All of a sudden Radhavallabha disappeared. Krishna Nanda went out to look for him every day but he had gone underground completely. He tried to tell me something in Russian but I couldn’t get a thing. My daughter was abroad. I only understood that Krishna Nanda was worried but I didn’t understand why. The day after the Hungarian devotee had left Radhavallabha visited me. I told him that I had looked for him and we had a guest who had been searching for him every day. Radhavallabha said “Madhavi please trust me.”. I asked him what he meant. He replied that Vishnupad had ordered him so, he was our guru and we had to listen to him.

I was very confused and worried. I understood something was going on that was out of my perspective. Radhavallabha was smart and intuitive. He felt that I was very worried and very carefully explained: “You have to choose whom you want to stay with. With the Hungarian devotees or with me? ”. I became even more confused and sad. I asked what happened and why that was necessary. Dvarakes was so adorable, the devotees were visiting us often and helped us a lot. Radhavallabha said that he also loved them but our guru had said so. I felt I was about to faint. Radhavallabha asked again whom I was going to stay with and I had to decide but he told me also to trust him. I replied to Radhavallabha that I had brought him to Krishna consciousness, I observed his fast advancement, all the good things we was doing, his change to better, he was young and smart. Whatever he decided I was going to stick with his decision. We never discussed it again and there was also little time. Shortly afterwards the community life Radhavallabha and the young devotees which he had trained and who started real spiritual life together was painfully put to an end. The center we had was closed and everything there confiscated. Radhavallabha, Irinka and many of the young devotees were arrested. When Radhavallabha was released from prison he visited me. He said: “ I will tell you everything. I don’t want you to hear it from someone else. Madhavi, you and your daughter are on your own. (Lila Sukha and Madri had decided to stay with the Hungarian devotees) I don’t want something to happen to you. If I get affected, my mother has money and she can support herself somehow. You and your daughter are alone. There is no one to protect you. It was good you were away when the change happened.” Now I know he had been already followed by the police at that time. He knew it and he decided to be more careful. I found out recently that the devotees had problems with the police then and the first deities which had been brought to Bulgaria by the Hungarian devotees were taken by the police. After that Lila Sukha left to Sweden. She did not know details how the Bulgarian devotees got to prison. I am thankful to Krishna and Radhavallabha that they saved and protected me. At that time I had problems with my sick father and also my daughter was far away from me and I didn’t know how to help her.

Radhavallabha told me how the police investigators had asked him to sign a declaration that he would not have continued to go to parks and talked to the young people there about Krishna. He said that he had not signed the declaration. During the first days in prison he did not eat anything. The guardians there got afraid that he could have died starving and they let his mother bring him a box with apples. All the time he spent with the police investigators he talked only about Krishna. The young learned investigators were listening to him with great interest. (I don’t doubt Radhavallabha was talking about Krishna. When the police asked me to go for interrogation I gave them a long lecture about the benefits of yoga in Bulgaria and the investigators were also listening to me carefully). The prison guardians allowed Radhavallabha to have shower every day and cook his own food in the kitchen. He was giving prasad to the other prison mates. He wasn’t depressed after he got out. Actually he was very enthused that he could have served Krishna talking about him all the time. He only mentioned about one old guardian who could have drowned him with a drop of water if he could have had the chance.

One day I was walking to my father’s place. In front of the Music Theatre I met Radhavallabha. I was so much into my thoughts and if it had not been him to greet me I would not have seen him at all. I used to walk and chant saying the mantra on each step. There were very few cars on the streets and it was easy to walk and chant. Radhavallabha looked anxious and worried about something. His eyes were nervously rolling from left to right. We said goodbye but I kept thinking about his strange behavior.

Radhavallabha was very practical, stable and emotionally strong. He was giving me useful and good advice when I had problems. He helped me to send my daughter to Austria. We did not know where or to whom exactly she was going. My daughter could not leave the country because her mother was practicing yoga and her brother was an archimandrite (post of a priest in Orthodox Chiristianity) in a monastery. All of a sudden an agency ordered her to go abroad to save a group of Bulgarian musicians. Their pianist had left them and if there was no one to replace him the whole group had to come back to Bulgaria. I was very worried. Radhavallabha was calming me down and told me not to be afraid. If she did not like it she would come back. It was not that simple as we thought it but that is another story to tell.

I couldn’t understand Radhavallabha’s bizarre behavior when we met. Later when I talked to his mother she told me “Didn’t you see? He had a red scar around his neck. Somebody tried to strangle him in the park.” Radhaballabha used to go there to chant. That was the last time I ever met him.

Shorty afterwards Madri and Kamen visited me to to tell me that Radhavallabha had been struck by a car and was in very serious condition in a hospital. I was out of my mind. I had problems with my ears. I could not hear with one of my ears but when I heard that I became almost deaf. I asked them to explain again and again what had happened.

The devotees from Plovdiv (town in Bulgaria) also came to the funeral. They had prepared a lot of prasad. Radhavallabha’s mother was in shock. I didn’t dare to either talk to her or touch her. She was overwhelmed with grief. The master Petar Danov says that mothers like her are called divine mothers. The worst thing that can happen to a mother is to loose her child especially at their best, their most highly creative age. I was walking after the coffin and I turned my head upwards and in my thoughts I asked God why that had to happen. And I saw a white pigeon flying right over my head. I told Madri and she saw the pigeon as well. We could not tell Dora. She wasn’t herself. I thought that I if had embraced her and talked to her, her unbearable pain would have become even stronger.

Dear kids, this is how things happened. After Radhavallabha passed away and later Dvarakes as well a page of my spiritual life ended. Madri died. Lile Sukha had left to Sweden before that. Kamen also disappeared. My daughter was also away. She was reassigned to work from Austria to Germany. I didn’t keep in touch with the devotees from Plovdiv. My father was very old and I had to take care of him. I remained friends with Ani Pavlova and Kubrat Tomov (he lived close to me), also with Toni Vicheva who was a follower of Yogananda, and with some of Ani Pavlova’s disciples. I was reading a lot, chanting, always offering my food to Krishna, serving prasad to everyone who came to my house. The group of Ani often asked me for advice how to cook and especially I helped them when they had guests from abroad. In return they were inviting me to excursions. Ani was often travelling to India and we were talking about her journeys. I kept meeting with people having spiritual practice, also with others who were interested or involved in yoga practice but respected my way of life. I was offering them prasad. I tried to read to them Bhagavat Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam. Some were listening with interest, others got bored but kept coming. I think that all the people I was meeting sincerely respected me and what I was doing but did not have the will or the desire to participate. A young boy named One day I met Evgeni at the park – he was with the devotees before and Gopati knows him. Since then we meet regularly. He lives very close to me. We read together. He has the books in Russian. We discuss with each other what we have read. Whoever even once has seen Krishna, chanted or eaten prasad he could never reject Krishna. That is a higher taste and if you are able to have it once it will always stay with you.

I am happy that there are many active people now. Krishna helped many of us to find the way to advance depending on the level we had reached from our previous lives. The important thing is that Krishna consciousness is not prohibited in Bulgaria anymore.

When I was talking to father Boyan (the son of my husband from his previous marriage) I was often saying to him “I am a more devoted nun than you although I live in the Sofia downtown and you live in a monastery”. They drink a lot of alcohol there at the monastery and Boyan left this world young. Generally I love people but I don’t feel well in the company of material people who talk only about money and sex. I don’t communicate much with non devotees except when it is necessary. Sometimes they come to me because they not only like the prasad but they also hear something interesting about the meaning of the human life. I can’t take anything from them but after all we live in a society not in the forest. I can’t isolate myself completely from the outer world. I don’t go anywhere, only sometimes I go to kirtan. I don’t need to go anywhere. I love nature. I used to go in the countryside every week. I was picking herbs and I was making a good seasoning with different herbs and grass. In the mixture I was also putting some curry powder and turmeric. That’s why I named it “Friendship between Bulgaria and India”.

I regret that because of my old age I can’t participate as often as I would like to and as I did in the first years of my spiritual life. I am very happy about you and I love you all my beloved Bulgarian devotees.

No Comments