On February, 12th and 13th ISKCON Russia celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was in the summer of 1971, when ISKCON founder Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) visited Moscow, and started to teach and spread the science of Krishna-consciousness in the former Soviet Union.
To honor this event, there was a festive night in the temple of the Moscow Society for Krishna Consciousness at Leningradskii Prospekt, with speeches by Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, the spiritual leader of the Russian members of the Society for Krishna Consciousness, and a concert by the popular Vaishnava group “Gopal Bhadjan”. The musicians presented a new song entitled “Prabhupada is arriving to the West” and a new album.
In recent years, the number of officially registered Hindu religious organizations in Russia has been growing quite persistently, now is about 90. There are around 500 religious groups in more than 180 cities, with an approximate total membership of 150,000.
Experts in studies of Indian culture and sociology of religion believe that by now, the Russian Krishna devotees have been successfully integrated into the general society, as they had developed new ways of interaction with the public, as well as the government.
Besides their well-known religious public activities, such as collecting charity, book and distribution, Russian Krishna-believers are actively involved in the popularization of healthy life style, offering their personal examples of how to live without alcohol, drugs, smoking and how to protect family values.
Despite all these activities, Russian people in general still don`t have sufficient amount information about Krishna-consciousness and its followers. It is largely due to the lack of their presence in the mass media, as after an initial period of an overall public interest in religion in the early 90s, the Krishna devotees` way of being without political and criminal involvements, generally does not represent a lot of media attraction.
Today Russian Krishna-devotees prepare for their spring pilgrimage to India to celebrate Gaura-purnima, the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Russian pilgrims are well known at many of the important sacred places, such as Vrindavan, Mayapur, Puri, or the Himalayas, where, in some cases, they have impacted the local infrastructure by building their own guesthouses, or organizing their own summer festivals.