Vaishnava Oasis At The Moscow Book Fair
Photos by Alexey Koshelev and Ananda Govinda das
This year, the Moscow International Book Fair (MIBF) went on for a week and ended on September 10th. For the third time in a row the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) has been taking part in this important book forum.
This year the BBT presented a larger booth of 18 square meters. Designers worked at the stand and thanks to them, according to some visitors, they turned the booth into a “vaishnava oasis without walls and partitions”.
The center of the booth was a Bhagavad gita composition, which consisted of books with names of different branches of knowledge and symbolized the following statement from Srila Prabhupada’s book The Nectar of Devotion: "Srimad-Bhagavatam” is the desire tree of Vedic wisdom". Veda itself means "the collection of knowledge." And whatever knowledge is required for human society is perfectly presented in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
There are different branches of knowledge in the Vedic writings, including sociology, politics, medicine and military art. All these and other branches of knowledge are perfectly described in the Vedas. So, as far as spiritual knowledge is concerned, that is also perfectly described there, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is considered to be "the ripened fruit of the desire-fulfilling tree of the Vedas”.
The brightly lit booth which did not have walls or any barriers symbolized ISKCON's openness to the world and to all visitors, the blue sky with white clouds, green carpet that looked like fresh grass, the shining Bhagavad-gita full of spiritual knowledge and light, and finally the library of Vedic Cultural Center with lots of books.
The choice of the design wasn’t random but represented some sort of meditation on the Vedic Cultural Center which will be constructed in Moscow. Talking about the functional structure of the future Vedic Cultural Center, it was emphasized that there would be a library of Vedic literature which would give access for a broad circle of readers to the richness of the Vedas, the collection of Vedic heritage, its translations and commentaries as well as the works of modern researchers of Vedic culture. So, the library of BBT booth was a small rehearsal for the big library of Vedic Cultural Center which will be constructed in Molzhaninskiy region north of Moscow.
Interviews with unique visitors, talking with the most interesting people, the presentation of construction project of Vedic Cultural Center in Moscow, the performance of musicians, dances, mehendi arts, Vedic sweets and many other things were waiting for the visitors of our pavilion.
The visitors of the BBT exhibition were given the opportunity to talk personally with Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Jaya Madhava Das, one of the first vaishnavas in Russia, the President of Moscow Krishna Consciousness Organization Radha Damodar Das, Prabhupada Das, Vijitatma Das, Mahabuddhi Das, Yadunandana Das, Ambarisha Das.
Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Niranjana Swami, one of ISKCON leaders and gurus, visited the BBT stand on the last day of the exhibition on September 10th. During his visit Niranjana Swami talked to the participants of the project and gave an interview in which he stressed the importance of taking part in such events.
In a hospitable and warm atmosphere the booth's visitors asked questions about the philosophy, the purpose of life, about vegetarianism and other things and the devotees answered them sincerely and thoughtfully.
Some of the visitors passed by saying that they didn’t have time or that they were not interested in spiritual literature, some of them stayed near the stand and asked questions, turning over the pages with great interest and grasping the meaning of the books, some of them examined carefully the brochures and spoke inspiredly to the devotees.
When talking to the visitors devotees found out that many of them already had Srila Prabhupada’s books including “Bhagavad-gita”, but they didn’t have time to read them.
The publishing house BBT took part in Moscow International Book Fair for the first time in 1977, when it was first founded. Srila Prabhupada’s books were presented on the second book fair in 1979. BBT stopped taking part in the fair due to the persecution of vaishnavas by Soviet authorities and it resumed its participation only in the middle 1990s. After a short break the books of BBT publishing house appeared again in MIBF in 2010 and since then we take part in the fair regularly.
MIBF is always a great event, which attracts social attention to books and reading. The forum is observed by thousand of journalists who represent dozens of televisions and radio stations. The exhibition provokes great interest among readers. On the opening day of MIBF the national contest “The Book of the Year” is summed up. This authoritative review has been determining the main achievements of home book publishing industry for more than 10 years.
The professionals of book industry from dozens of countries, specialists of hundreds of domestic companies assemble traditionally in the exhibition. Different meetings with authors, presentation of new products, conferences and seminars are organized. In different years the honored guests of the exhibition were Italy, Belorussia, India, Ukraine, China, France, etc.
45 countries, more than 200.000 publishing houses represented, 1.000 accredited journalists from hundreds of Russian and foreign media, more than 200 famous authors and publicists and 200.000 visitors from Moscow and other cities and countries attended the 25th Moscow Book Fair.