Back to Godhead often brings you India's holy sites. In this issue, for the first time, we bring you a whole state Manipur.
When Lord Krsna descended five hundred years ago as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He predicted that someday Krsna consciousness would spread to every town and village in the world. Not long after Lord Caitanya left this world, devotees in His line carried Krsna consciousness to Manipur. So since the seventeenth century the people of Manipur, like the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, have been Gaudiya Vaisnavas, devotees of Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Manipur was not an Indian state when the people there became Gaudiya Vaisnavas, and in many ways its culture was quite different from that of Krsna pilgrimage centers in India like Vrndavana and Mayapur. But Krsna consciousness took hold there, thanks to an intelligent and pious king who saw Krsna consciousness not as a foreign religion but as the Absolute Truth.
Because Krsna consciousness is the original pure consciousness of every living being, it has nothing to do with race, nationality, or ethnic origin. Yet Manipuris worship Krsna with their own colorful traditions. Unique Manipuri styles of art, music, and dance express familiar Krsna conscious themes. And the people of Manipur worship Krsna in ways they find natural for them. People anywhere in the world can do the same.
To some degree that's already happening, by the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. When Prabhupada's followers gather in India for ISKCON's annual festivals, thousands of devotees from dozens of countries, speaking dozens of languages, chant Hare Krsna together as one. And we often notice in a lead singer's style the flavor of a far-off land.
Vedic scriptures tell us that Lord Caitanya's advent launched a 10,000-year period in which Krsna consciousness will become prominent all over the world. What will it be like to live in a world where almost everyone is Krsna conscious? Manipur gives us a clue. While the Vaisnava culture there may not be as strong as it once was, it is still strong nonetheless. And the response of the people to the pure Vaisnava teachings of Srila Prabhupada gives hope that it can become still stronger.
Manipur is a difficult place to visit, because the government allows few foreigners to enter. But last spring BTG editor Jayadvaita Swami was part of a group of ISKCON devotees allowed a short visit. His report opens our special 21-page section on this unique state.