A look at the worldwide activities of the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Krsna consciousness Legal in the USSR
Moscow After many years of struggle by members of the Krsna consciousness movement in the USSR, Soviet authorities have finally accepted Krsna consciousness as a legal religion recognised by the state. The legalisation is a great victory for the devotees here, many of whom have spent time in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and labour camps for their practice of Krsna consciousness.
The Committee to Free Soviet Hare Krishnas said that the legalisation was brought about in large part by the efforts of devotees around the world whose demonstrations, letters to Soviet authorities, and work with the media have drawn attention to the plight of the Soviet devotees.
As a recognised religion, the Krsna consciousness movement can now maintain a place of worship here. The devotees are looking for a building to rent and are making plans to eventually build their own temple. Because it may take some time before the legalisation of Krsna consciousness is recognised in other areas of the USSR, many devotees will be coming to Moscow from throughout the USSR to take advantage of the religious freedom here.
Despite the legalisation, however, three devotees remain unjustly imprisoned and subjected to inhuman treatment. The Committee to Free Soviet Hare Krishnas is working to free them and asks for continued support.
Soviet Devotee Meets With Pope
The Vatican Vedavyasa dasa (Valentin Z. Yurov), who was released from a Soviet psychiatric hospital in 1985, and several other devotees met with Pope John Paul II here in a private room knows as "the room of the holy throne." The meeting with the Pope was arranged by Father Sergio Merganzin, chairman of a freedom of religion conference held in Rome recently at which Vedavyasa spoke.
Vedavyasa presented the Pope with Russian translations of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. On receiving the books, the Pope said, "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna comes from Hinduism." When he was introduced to Italian-born Gaura Krsna dasa, the Pope remarked, "Hare Krsna Italiani."
Vedavyasa was released from a Soviet psychiatric hospital because of the efforts of his fiancee, Mitravinda-devi dasi, who protested in front of the Soviet Embassy in Stockholm. Since his release in 1985, Vedavyasa has been traveling around the world to talk about the persecution of Soviet devotee of Krsna.
India's Spiritual Renaissance, by Satyaraja dasa, is getting good reviews from scholars. Dr. A. N. Chatterjee, professor of history at Delhi University, said the book is "both historically accurate and spiritually uplifting." Ajjarapu Prabhakara Rao, of the National Library of India, said the book is "much needed and useful contribution to the study of Gaudia Vaishnavism." And Al-Hafiz B. A. Masrim, retired Iman (Sunni) of Shah Jehan Mosque in Working, England, said, "The non-sectarian message he brings out in Chaitanya's teachings is reminiscent of all true religions…. The essence of Chaitanya's message was non-sectarian devotion to the Supreme Lord, called by different names in different languages."
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Devotees in Regina, Saskatchewan, have moved from a large house in the downtown area to a church. They have built an altar and are raising money to install Radha-Krsna Deities. ISKCON has been in Regina for ten years, and around forty families there are life members.
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Samadhi Now!, the newsletter on the progress of the construction of Srila Prabhupada's Vrndavana samadhi, will now be published by Brahmatirtha dasa of Alachua, Florida. Money is still needed to complete the project. In North America, donations and correspondence should be sent to Brahmatirtha dasa, P.O. Box 819, Alachua, FL 32615. In Australia, to Naresvara dasa, P.O. Box 262 Botany, NSW 2019.
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On Rama-navami (March 26), Navayogendra Swami led the largest harinama sankirtana procession in the history of Udhampura, an important city in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Navayogendra Swami has been preaching in Udhampur for the last year.
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The government of Argentina has abolished all decrees that prohibited ISKCON's activities there for the past seven years. Government oppression was formerly so severe with raids on temples and burnings of Srila Prabhupada's books that the devotees were forced to operate under the guise of a welfare group whose only concern was to give food to the needy. They can now preach openly and have printed a Spanish edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. They also publish a bi-monthly magazine, entitled Atma-Tattva. The magazine is selling well, despite Argentina's suffering from one of the worst economies in the world. In Buenos Aires, devotees have opened the first Hare Krsna restaurant in Argentina.