Diary of a Traveling Monk

Volume 2, Part 2, Chapter 13

 

A U G U S T  12

 

They Thought We Were Russian Soldiers Dressed in Civilian Clothes

By Indradyumna Swami

7:10 a.m. Our water supply is limited again. We each have just enough to wash our faces and brush our teeth.

 

10:00 a.m. Managed to chant eight rounds before arati. Today I gave the Srimad-Bhagavatam class.

 

12:40 p.m. Listened to a tape of bhajans by Srila Gurudeva and one of my favorite lectures given by him in Moscow in 1990. It is from the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is very relevant to our situation here now. The verse reads:

 

anta-kale tu puruña

 

agate gata-sadhvasah

 

chindyd asaìga-sastrena

 

sprham dehe ‘nu ye ca tam

 

“At the last stage of one’s life, one should be bold enough not to be afraid of death. But one must cut off all attachment to the material body and everything pertaining to it and all desires thereof.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.15)

 

Garik came from the school. We were glad to see him alive.

 

2:40 p.m. Held a meeting about our situation. All ten devotees were present. Some say that we should stay here; others say we should try to leave. I argued that by staying here we are taking the greatest risk. I said, “Where is the guarantee that one of the missiles or shells that fly all day long over our roof will not hit our little brick house?”

 

At last everybody agreed that we have to leave.

 

We decided to send a few men to scout the countryside around us to find a road out of here. I was appointed to try to go back to the school to secure some parts for the van, which we might need to go a long distance. Just as we finished our meeting, Chechen fighters attacked a nearby building.

 

6:45 p.m. I left for the school with Garik, but as soon as we were a little distance from the house we were arrested by Chechen rebels. They thought we were Russian soldiers dressed in civilian clothes. They pushed us down a road to see their commander and on the way forced us to carry a big bag of frozen fish. Their headquarters were not far away, and their commander turned out to be an intelligent elderly man. He looked through our documents, talked to us a little, and set us free.

 

When we reached the school, we found it in a very bad condition. I took the parts we needed for the van and also found a map of the roads in and around Grozny. We left quickly because we heard shooting start nearby. On the way back, I saw the headless body of a Chechen rebel. I tried to keep my mind fixed on Krsna.

 

9:00 p.m. We had kirtana together. We decided not to listen to the news any more to save the batteries in our radio and not to become unnecessarily disturbed. The news is always bad, and half of it is lies.