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Salted Bread A True Story
Salted Bread A True Story
Description
From the Editor

Religious persecution is nothing new, and those willing to suffer and be martyred for their faith have always been among us. Yet this account of the dedication and difficult struggle of Krishna’s devotees in the former Soviet Union is especially inspiring and moving. Sarvabhavana tells his story simply. He writes as if a willingness to endure torture for a spiritual mission is ordinary. Yet, when we travel with him on his search for meaning, his time in the army, his selling of scripture, his time in prison, and his visit to India, we wonder what we would do in similar circumstances and ponder the depth of our own faith and dedication.

It has been a great privilege to edit Sarvabhavana’s account of the Krishna Consciousness Movement in Armenia. Readers curious about religious movements, Soviet history, and human psychology will find it fascinating. Those who wish to deepen their internal and external dedication to the mission of Lord Caitanya will find it nourishing and strengthening.

Introduction

This true story, which I have named Salted Bread, is an unusual and painful, but at the same time encouraging story that I have heard from my father throughout my life. Sometimes, when my father would talk to his friends or our guests, they would ask him about his coming to Krishna consciousness and how he and the other early recruits to the Hare Krishna Movement developed Krishna consciousness in the then former Soviet Union. I used to listen to him with great attention and interest. He told these stories, of what he likes to call his “painful but blissful past,” in many ways with different moods and emotions. Sometimes he would describe things very briefly without getting into details, and sometimes, depending upon the listener and the purpose, he would speak about many details for a long time. Sometimes, when reporters or devotees who were writing about this subject would come to us, the conversation would go on for a much longer time. Hearing over and over about my father’s experiences in jail, I felt very sorry about how heartlessly police officers tortured him for no reason. When I compared his past tribulations with my bedtime stories from the Vedic literatures the Mom or Dad would tell me every day, especially about Haridasa Thakura and Prahlada Maharaja, I started to see my father in my childish mind and heart as a hero, and a very dedicated devotee of Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada.

Sometimes, I used to ask my father questions about the 730 days he spent in a Soviet prison. Sometimes he would be so emotional that I could see his tears, as well as sudden changes in the tone of his voice and the color of his face. I remember him becoming especially emotional when anyone asked him about his friend, Sachisuta das (Sarkis Ohanjanyan), who left his body on December 26, 1987, in one of the cruelest Russian prison camps (YU-25/B in the Orenburg Territory). My dad and Sako, as my dad used to call him, were best friends from their childhood, and they loved and respected each other very much. They were in kindergarten together and went to the same high school. They served in the Russian Army for two years, and after that they joined ISKCON-the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (also called the Hare Krishna Movement)-together in Armenia. Unfortunately, due to Soviet laws, they were taken to jail soon after joining ISKCON for the so-called crime of printing and distributing the holy scriptures from India, such as the Bhagavad-gita, that were secretly translated into the Russian and Armenian languages.

Many people after hearing of my father’s past, asked him to put his life story in writing, but he didn’t have time to write it down. He never seriously considered it because, as he used to say, he did not consider himself a good writer, and he didn’t know if anyone actually needed to read all these painful stories. Many events have been forgotten in the course of time, or as he says, no longer evoke the same feeling and emotions when he talks about them. But, even after so may years, what I am about to tell you is far beyond my imagination – sensitive, sad and encouraging too. I will try my best to retell everything I have heard from my father, and I hope this will help my readers to become more serious about Lord Krishna’s teachings and philosophy. This story is written as my father told it in his own words, with his voice. I am just the recorder.

I would just like to add that, as a result of the personal sacrifice of these early devotes, eventually the Krishna Consciousness Movement was registered officially in Russia and today there are more than one hundred large and small ISKCON Hare Krishna temples in the territory of the former Soviet Union. I offer my humble respects to all those sincere souls who sacrificed their lives for these great achievements.

You may ask why I named this book, Salted Bread. The answer is that during my father’s two years of imprisonment he used to eat mainly three slices of bread a day. All ISKCON devotees are strict vegetarians, and as he describes, “There was nothing vegetarian available in jail but bread. But, no one will be able to eat just bread by itself for a long period of time, especially bread of such poor quality. So, in order to make my mouth produce water to swallow that type of bread, I had to add salt to it.”

According to my understanding, eating bread and salt for such a long period (730 days) is a very difficult task, and as you will learn from the look, this was one of the most painful experiences of all for my father. So, for that reason, I named this book Salted Bread.

CONTENTS

Dedication3
Acknowledgements 4
From the Editor 5
Introduction 8
Chapter One – The Beginning 11
Chapter Two – Entering into the Spiritual World 35
Chapter Three – Right Time for Decision50
Chapter Four – On the Way to Krishna58
Chapter Five – My New Lifestyle61
Chapter Six – My First Arrest71
Chapter Seven – In Every Town and Village81
Chapter Eight – Preaching Is the Essence103
Chapter Nine – My Last Arrest117
Chapter Ten – Entering into Hell130
Chapter Eleven – Who Is Crazy?147
Chapter Twelve – Unwanted Days165
Chapter Thirteen – The Court Decision187
Chapter Fourteen – Entering the Labor Camp203
Chapter Fifteen – The Special Mercy of Krishna222
Chapter Sixteen – Behind Birth and Death229
Conclusion 247
Appendix I, Srila Prabhupada in Russia267
Appendix II
The Story of Haridasa Thakura 277
Names of Some Early Glorious Devotees in the Former Soviet Union 284
Sanskrit Words Used in Salted Bread 287
Who Is Srila Prabhupada? 291
An Explanation of the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra by His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada 294
Relevant Verses from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 297
Note on the Country of Armenia 306
International Religious Freedom Report 308
Epilogue – Recent Problems in Armenia 318
Appendix III
About the Author 323
History and Summary of the Abuse in Armenia 326

Salted Bread A True Story

Item Code:
IDK881
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2007
ISBN:
9780977978564
Size:
8.9" X 6.3"
Pages:
327 (Illustrated Throughout In Full Color and B/W)
Price:
$30.00   Shipping Free
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From the Editor

Religious persecution is nothing new, and those willing to suffer and be martyred for their faith have always been among us. Yet this account of the dedication and difficult struggle of Krishna’s devotees in the former Soviet Union is especially inspiring and moving. Sarvabhavana tells his story simply. He writes as if a willingness to endure torture for a spiritual mission is ordinary. Yet, when we travel with him on his search for meaning, his time in the army, his selling of scripture, his time in prison, and his visit to India, we wonder what we would do in similar circumstances and ponder the depth of our own faith and dedication.

It has been a great privilege to edit Sarvabhavana’s account of the Krishna Consciousness Movement in Armenia. Readers curious about religious movements, Soviet history, and human psychology will find it fascinating. Those who wish to deepen their internal and external dedication to the mission of Lord Caitanya will find it nourishing and strengthening.

Introduction

This true story, which I have named Salted Bread, is an unusual and painful, but at the same time encouraging story that I have heard from my father throughout my life. Sometimes, when my father would talk to his friends or our guests, they would ask him about his coming to Krishna consciousness and how he and the other early recruits to the Hare Krishna Movement developed Krishna consciousness in the then former Soviet Union. I used to listen to him with great attention and interest. He told these stories, of what he likes to call his “painful but blissful past,” in many ways with different moods and emotions. Sometimes he would describe things very briefly without getting into details, and sometimes, depending upon the listener and the purpose, he would speak about many details for a long time. Sometimes, when reporters or devotees who were writing about this subject would come to us, the conversation would go on for a much longer time. Hearing over and over about my father’s experiences in jail, I felt very sorry about how heartlessly police officers tortured him for no reason. When I compared his past tribulations with my bedtime stories from the Vedic literatures the Mom or Dad would tell me every day, especially about Haridasa Thakura and Prahlada Maharaja, I started to see my father in my childish mind and heart as a hero, and a very dedicated devotee of Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada.

Sometimes, I used to ask my father questions about the 730 days he spent in a Soviet prison. Sometimes he would be so emotional that I could see his tears, as well as sudden changes in the tone of his voice and the color of his face. I remember him becoming especially emotional when anyone asked him about his friend, Sachisuta das (Sarkis Ohanjanyan), who left his body on December 26, 1987, in one of the cruelest Russian prison camps (YU-25/B in the Orenburg Territory). My dad and Sako, as my dad used to call him, were best friends from their childhood, and they loved and respected each other very much. They were in kindergarten together and went to the same high school. They served in the Russian Army for two years, and after that they joined ISKCON-the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (also called the Hare Krishna Movement)-together in Armenia. Unfortunately, due to Soviet laws, they were taken to jail soon after joining ISKCON for the so-called crime of printing and distributing the holy scriptures from India, such as the Bhagavad-gita, that were secretly translated into the Russian and Armenian languages.

Many people after hearing of my father’s past, asked him to put his life story in writing, but he didn’t have time to write it down. He never seriously considered it because, as he used to say, he did not consider himself a good writer, and he didn’t know if anyone actually needed to read all these painful stories. Many events have been forgotten in the course of time, or as he says, no longer evoke the same feeling and emotions when he talks about them. But, even after so may years, what I am about to tell you is far beyond my imagination – sensitive, sad and encouraging too. I will try my best to retell everything I have heard from my father, and I hope this will help my readers to become more serious about Lord Krishna’s teachings and philosophy. This story is written as my father told it in his own words, with his voice. I am just the recorder.

I would just like to add that, as a result of the personal sacrifice of these early devotes, eventually the Krishna Consciousness Movement was registered officially in Russia and today there are more than one hundred large and small ISKCON Hare Krishna temples in the territory of the former Soviet Union. I offer my humble respects to all those sincere souls who sacrificed their lives for these great achievements.

You may ask why I named this book, Salted Bread. The answer is that during my father’s two years of imprisonment he used to eat mainly three slices of bread a day. All ISKCON devotees are strict vegetarians, and as he describes, “There was nothing vegetarian available in jail but bread. But, no one will be able to eat just bread by itself for a long period of time, especially bread of such poor quality. So, in order to make my mouth produce water to swallow that type of bread, I had to add salt to it.”

According to my understanding, eating bread and salt for such a long period (730 days) is a very difficult task, and as you will learn from the look, this was one of the most painful experiences of all for my father. So, for that reason, I named this book Salted Bread.

CONTENTS

Dedication3
Acknowledgements 4
From the Editor 5
Introduction 8
Chapter One – The Beginning 11
Chapter Two – Entering into the Spiritual World 35
Chapter Three – Right Time for Decision50
Chapter Four – On the Way to Krishna58
Chapter Five – My New Lifestyle61
Chapter Six – My First Arrest71
Chapter Seven – In Every Town and Village81
Chapter Eight – Preaching Is the Essence103
Chapter Nine – My Last Arrest117
Chapter Ten – Entering into Hell130
Chapter Eleven – Who Is Crazy?147
Chapter Twelve – Unwanted Days165
Chapter Thirteen – The Court Decision187
Chapter Fourteen – Entering the Labor Camp203
Chapter Fifteen – The Special Mercy of Krishna222
Chapter Sixteen – Behind Birth and Death229
Conclusion 247
Appendix I, Srila Prabhupada in Russia267
Appendix II
The Story of Haridasa Thakura 277
Names of Some Early Glorious Devotees in the Former Soviet Union 284
Sanskrit Words Used in Salted Bread 287
Who Is Srila Prabhupada? 291
An Explanation of the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra by His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada 294
Relevant Verses from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 297
Note on the Country of Armenia 306
International Religious Freedom Report 308
Epilogue – Recent Problems in Armenia 318
Appendix III
About the Author 323
History and Summary of the Abuse in Armenia 326

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