By Tejasvi Krishna das
Out of nowhere a line of armed police cars ripped across the street behind us, turning around we saw another line of police vans racing across the street ahead as if closing a trap. Sensing that something serious was definitely unfolding we nevertheless continued the kirtan
Saturday the 12th of December 12:00 AM we sat out from the Copenhagen Hare Krishna temple, Nava Srivas Angam, to mount a big Harinama and prasadam distribution during the Climate demonstration from the Danish Parliament to the COP15 meetings at Bellacenter. We were all excited since we knew that more than 90.000 people were to participate in the protest march. We arrived well in time and started distributing sweets from our Food for Life rickshaw, kindly donated by His Grace Parasurama Prabhu in London. Pretty soon we were dancing enthusiastically in circles and drawing attention from the crowd. Some joined in with their various musical instruments, while others danced happily within our circle with their outlandish costumes. Even the so-called hard-core climate activists could not help but moving to the rhythm of the kirtan expertly lead by His Grace Chaitanya Candra Prabhu. After a long build up in front of the Parliament the massive crowd started moving along the demonstration route. We were in the middle of a great big carnival chanting the holy names with more power and enthusiasm than ever, but little did we know what lied ahead. A few of the devotees started dropping back and we lost sight of the devotees with the Food for Life rickshaw, nevertheless the main bulk of devotees felt urged on by the appreciation drawn from the crowd and continued on.
Entering into Amager part of Copenhagen the scene was about to change abruptly, a trial was set for the devotees in the service of the Lord. A group of ten or so black clad youth stormed trough the crowd of peaceful demonstrators, and following the wave there were sounds of police sirens and flashing blue lights both in front and to the rear. Out of nowhere a line of armed police cars ripped across the street behind us, turning around we saw another line of police vans racing across the street ahead as if closing a trap. Sensing that something serious was definitely unfolding we nevertheless continued the kirtan. People were getting nervous however, some of them were drawn to join our kirtan, sensing it was a safe haven in the fearsome ocean of uncertainty surrounding us. What was the police up to? Were we all going to be arrested, why could we not just continue ahead with our peaceful demonstration? Pretty soon a group of 20 devotees and demonstrators were dancing in a circle with our Matajis taking turns spinning with the demonstrators. The atmosphere was getting heavy but our determination to keep up the kirtan continued unabated, by then we had already been going for three hours, and although my arms were tired from beating the mridanga the rhythm somehow just kept flowing. What was to happen, what could we do? The answer was to simply chant as we always do, in any circumstance the answer is the holy name. Embracing the holy names as our only shelter, the line of police men drew closer picking out the demonstrators one by one and handcuffing them with plastic straps. The demonstrators were all placed one in front of the other directly on the cold asphalt in long lines.
Eventually the first devotee was grabbed by the police who proceeded to tie his hands at the back with plastic straps. If they only knew what they were doing, they are stopping the kirtanparty of Lord Chaitanya!!! Soon my turn came and I was taken away from the kirtan by two policemen. They informed me that I was ‘bereaved of my freedom’ and that they would put me in handcuffs. What on earth is happening? Did we really make a great mistake to join the demonstration today? Were the devotees all going to be traumatized now? Thoughts were racing though my head, and sure enough this was going to be one of the great trials in our lives. Kesava Priya Mataji urgently needed to go to the toilet but was denied by several policeofficers, ‘just wait a while’ ‘Others also have to go!’ were the answers she got. Soon other demonstrators had the same experience, the police were not going to let them get up no matter what they said to them. Like this one hour was passed on the ground and then finally on shop was opened so that a few demonstrators could start relieving themselves. But for many it was already too late, they had no choice but to relieve themselves in their pants. After a couple of hours a few demonstrators got cramps, one demonstrator got epileptic seizures and had to be driven of by ambulance. The police kept giving the same answers to the crowd’s pleas – soon busses will come and we would all be driven away. Before the first bus came we had already been three hours on the ice cold ground. Trembling we sat and contemplated our situation while trying to fix our minds on the Holy names. Already we are trapped in this body, yet at that point it become more obvious since we were now even further bound. The little freedom of action the illusory energy gives us in this world makes us think that we can go on as independent controllers and enjoyers forever, but the folly of that concept now became transparently clear to us. Thank you Krishna for this moment of sobriety. With the sense of helplessness of the situation we continued on chanting and praying for the shelter of the Lord.
Finally after three hours our turn came to be taken on a bus and driven of to a large makeshift policestation during the climate meetings. There we were kept in the bus for six hours until police officers came to take our personal details. We were told that we were not to be pressed for any charges, but we had simply been arrested out of ‘preventive measures’. Altogether since we were arrested at 16:00 we had spent eight hours in police custody. In the days that followed the media approached our communications minister Keshava Priya Mataji and she appeared in the two largest Danish television channels and three of the larger newspapers – ‘We are a revolutionary movement, but our revolution is not with violence, it is with love, peace and respect.’ The media coverage has been very favourable, and because of this ‘Hare Krishna’ has been on everyone’s lips in Denmark for the past week.
Actually after the ordeal, standing on the train station upon being released, I asked our youngest bhakta in the temple; would you do the same thing if you knew the risks involved? He answered a resounding affirmative.
We all gratefully accepted the trial as Lord Gaurangas mercy and we remain ever thankful for the opportunity to serve His sankirtan mission. Sri Harinama sankirtan yajna ki Jaya!
The kirtan leading up to our arrest was filmed and has been put on youtube,
Apart from the Harinama and the media coverage, His Holiness Smita Krishna Swami gave two seminars at the Peoples Climate Summit, we distributed over 2000 plates of prasadam and 20 books throughout the eleven days of the COP15 meetings and had a photo exhibition of our Food for Life program.
Your servant, Tejasvi Krishna das Nava Srivas Angam, Copenhagen