The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
ISKCON's first temple opens again in July, at 26 Second Avenue in New York. This is the small storefront where Srila Prabhupada started ISKCON in 1966. It had formerly been a shop and still bore the name "Matchless Gifts."
After three years, ISKCON moved on to larger quarters, but now devotees are opening the original place again. It will serve as a reading room, a memorial to Srila Prabhupada, and a full-time center for spreading Krsna consciousness. The place next door—a laundromat in the old days—will become a Hare Krsna restaurant.
The temple will reopen with a festival on July 11—twenty-five years from the day of ISKCON's founding.
ISKCON has secured a ten-year lease on the property, with an option to buy. There's a fund-raising campaign to help the project. For details, see page 60.
San Francisco celebrates its twenty-fifth annual Rathayatra festival, the Festival of the Chariots, on August4. The mayor, Art Agnos, has proclaimed the occasion Rathayatra Day.
Bhagavad-gita on computer disks has been released by the Bhaktivedanta Archives. The computerizedGita includes the Sanskrit transliteration, the full text, and Srila Prabhupada's complete purports. Included is a versatile program for making searches. (For ordering information, see page 59.)
Boy George has filled the British air-waves with the chanting of Hare Krsna. The popular singer's recordBow Down Mister, his "Krishna anthem," has been high on the British charts.
Though George says he's still "too materialistic" to live the devotees' life-style, he's "totally sympathetic" to Krsna consciousness and "quite happy to promote it." Ultimately, he says, "the song is just meant to make people feel happy."
A 90-room villa serves as ISKCON's new center near Padua, in northeastern Italy. The devotees purchased the villa, a former monastery between Padua and Vicenza, to replace their old center, a smaller, rented building near a Padua factory.
Poland got a taste for big Krsna conscious festivals in May, as the Gauranga Bhajan Band toured the country with chanting, spiritual food, and multi-projector slide shows.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has enhanced its main European production center, in Sweden. The center puts out books in more than twenty-seven languages. It's now set up to come out with two hundred new titles a year.
People in Romania are reading their first Vedic scripture—Sri Isopanisad, published in Romanian by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Thousands of people feasted on prasadam, spiritual food, served by ISKCON at the annual rice-and-yogurt festival in Panihati, West Bengal. The festival, held June 24, celebrates a feast thrown for Lord Caitanya's devotees 500 years ago.
In America, the festival is also held at the end of June in Atlanta, Georgia.
The giant Rathayatra festival takes place in Puri, Orissa, on July 13. ISKCON holds its Rathayatra festival in Calcutta the same day.
For more detailed news, ISKCON puts out a monthly news-paper, ISKCON World Review. To subscribe, see page 58. Any news from your town or village? Please let us know!
Here's news from the two places most sacred to Hare Krsna devotees: Mayapur (90 miles north of Calcutta) and Vrndavana (90 miles south of New Delhi).
Direct Telephone Service Installed
Phone calls can now go in and out of Mayapur directly. With tens of thousands of pilgrims visiting Mayapur every year, the Department of Telephones has put in a new exchange, sparing callers from having to go through local operators.
New Kitchen Building for Gurukula
The gurukula school has a new kitchen building. Designed to cook for and seat 300 people, the building is being built in phases. The first phase—the ground floor—should be done by now. The next phase—another floor—will be added next year. The kitchen is being built with donations from Switzerland.
Helping Build New Places to Stay
An architectural school dedicated to cost-efficient technology is helping the Mayapur project build a new guest-house and a new residence for unmarried men. The work is now in progress.
Laurie Baker's architectural school has worked in South India the last thirty years to promote the use of local materials for cost-efficient building, with a minimum of steel and cement.
Eager to spread such techniques to other parts of India, the school has sent to Mayapur an engineer, a supervisor, and four masons. They'll stay as long as needed to train ISKCON's construction team.
The new building for men will house 200.
It's Monsoon Time in Mayapur
The rains in Mayapur are enormous. If you're planning to visit, bring your own boat.
From August 25 through August 28, Vrndavana celebrates its most widely attended festival, Jhulan Yatra, Lord Krsna's swing festival. During the festival, small Deities in Lord Krsna's temples enjoy swinging on ornate swings. The temples also sponsor rasa-lila dramas and dance performances. During this very pleasant time—after the summer has broken and the monsoon rains have passed—the population of Vrndavana is said to increase tenfold.
At the start of July the Padayatra will leave the state of Karnataka and cross into Maharashtra. There the devotees will stop first in the city of Kohlapur, known for its temple of Maha-Laksmi, visited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Traveling northeast, the devotees will reach Pandharpur, the home of Lord Vithala, the Visnu Deity worshiped by the saint Tukarama. When the devotees arrive, at the end of July, they'll be just in time for Sayana Ekadasi, when the temple of Lord Vithala celebrates its biggest festival of the year. Thousands of pilgrims attend from all over the state of Maharashtra.
Then the Padayatra will walk on to Nasik, on the bank of the Godavari, one of India's seven sacred rivers. It is at Nasika that Laksmana, the younger brother of Lord Sri Ramacandra, cut off the nose of the ogress Surpanakha, and it is here also that the demon Ravana kidnapped Lord Ramacandra's wife, Sita.
This year the celebration of Kumbha Mela will be taking place at Nasik, and the Padayatra will enter in time for the holy bathing days at the end of August and beginning of September.
About twenty kilometers west of Nasik, the party will also visit Tryambakesvara, the source of the Godavari.
From Nasik, the Padayatra will head northwest into the state of Gujarat.
On October 23 through November 21, in a separate party, ISKCON's pilgrims will walk through the holy land of Vrndavana, where Lord Krsna performed the transcendental pastimes of His childhood and youth.
Earlier this year, the Padayatra in Navadvipa, West Bengal, went so well that next March it will become part of ISKCON's annual Mayapur-Vrndavana festival.
Padayatra started in England at Newcastle on May 1. A spokesman for the party said, "We are walking to share a more simple and spiritual way of life and to show its benefit in our relationships with each other and the environment."
By the end of June the Padayatra will have passed through Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leicester. Its next big festivals: July 3 in Northampton, July 8 in Luton, July 10 in Watford, and finally July 14 in London.
After England: Holland, Belgium, and France. By the third week in September the Padayatra will take part in ISKCON's festival of the chariots in Paris. From there it will take the Deity of Lord Jagannatha on a 230-kilometer procession south to New Mayapur, the Hare Krsna farm near Chateauroux.
Meanwhile, starting April 1, for six to eight months a Padayatra will be traveling from Florence to various places in Italy.
For more information about Padayatra, write to:
M-119 Greater Kailash 1, New Delhi 100 048, India
Phone: 641-3249 or 641-2058
4969 Mills St., Apt. 10, La Mesa, CA 91941
Phone: (619) 461-2594, Fax: (619) 463-0168
Bhaktivedanta Manor, Letchmore Heath, Watford, Hertfordshire WD2 8EP, England
Phone: (09) 2385-7244