25 October, Gwalior : After a successful janmastami program in Gwalior Central Jail, ISKCON devotees were invited again by the jail authorities. His Holiness Amiya Vilasa Swami, His Holiness Subhag Swami , and devotees from the USA, Germany, Russia, Peru, and Iran reached the jail , and like previously were welcomed with kirtana by 3000 prisoners.
His Holiness Subhag Swami convinced the Jail Supritendent Shri Krishna Prasad Shrivastava that the food given to the prisoners should first be offered to the Lord. Mr Shrivastava readily agreed to offer that day's food. His Holiness Amiya Vilasa Swami made all the prisoners chant one round of Hare Krsna mahamantra and lead an enthusiastic kirtana in the end.
DISTRIBUTING MERCY IN PAKISTAN
Famous speaker in Atma serial on TV Sarvabhauma Dasa recently toured Pakistan for the opening of the first Krsna Temple in Pakistan since partition . He was invited by Sant Yudhisthir Lal of Raipur.
On 22nd October, accompanied by 74 pilgrims, he left India by train for Ghotki, in the province of Sindh . Travelling under a special Pilgrimage Protocol agreement between India and Pakistan, the devotees were received by Government officials and the media at the border. The first satsang was at a Gurudwara in Lahore. After that , at Shadani Darbar, Sarvabhauma Dasa spoke on the Bhagavad gita for three nights . From there, the group visited three different towns having programs a long the way with thousands of people receiving them and taking part in the kirtanas.
When the group reached Ghotki, the site of the temple, they found that people from around 40 nearby towns in Sindh had gathered together along with many important saints to witness the establishment of the first Krsna temple to be built in Pakistan after Partition. In his address, Sarvabhauma Dasa stated: "Establishing a temple is like making a hospital for treating the perverted consciousness of the general populace. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that every town and village will receive mercy, that included Pakistan also, and Mahaprabhu's mercy will manifest here; only time is separating." Everyone appreaciated this very unique event with many Muslims also participating.
Next morning they reached an asmma on a small island in the River Indus (Sindhu), which had a beautiful diorama of Radha Krsna's Jhulan Yatra. Since the programs on the tour were being broadcast on TV, radio, and newspapers, Sarvabhauma Dasa's old friends noticed him and began inviting him to have programs in their homes and temples in Karachi like the year before. Last year he had done a program on one chapter of Bhagavad gita a day for 18 days and on the last day 3,000 people had attended . These people even got his special pilgrimage visa extended upto four months when it was due in just a few more days.
After this, there were programs on Srimad Bhagavatam for four days each in different homes in Karachi and on the fifth day there was a huge pandal at Kunja Bihari Temple, the largest temple in Karachi. Later Sarvabhauma Dasa travelled to Hyderbad, Mirpurkas, Shukkar, Mithi , Panoquil, Mirpurmatelo, and his hometown of Rohri. People were very anxious for Krsna consciousness at all these places. Even though Sarvabhauma Dasa wore a traditional devotee dress througout the yatra there was absolutely no inconvenience to him.
FOUNDATION STONE LAYING CEREMONY FOR NEW ISKCON CENTER AT PUNE
23 December, Pune: Festive jubilation marked the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new lSKCON temple, as over 5000 visitors from India and abroad participated enthusiastically. Expert priests from South India performed the rituals to the accompaniment of the chanting of Vedic hymns and offering of oblations to the sacrificial fire. Then students from the Bhakta Prahlada School presented a heart rending song depicting the history, vision , and the mission of the temple.
"The upcoming ISKCON temple will be the fulfillment of S rila Prabhupada visit to Pune 31 years ago," remarked His Holiness Gopal Krsna Maharaja, Governing Body Commissioner (GBC) for lSKCON, Pune. Also present gracing the occasion were His Holiness Lokanath Swami Maharaja, Bhima Dasa, Devakinandana Dasa, and Mahamuni Dasa. All the ISKCON leaders appreciated Radhesyama Dasa, President, ISKCON, Pune, and his team for the rapid progress made in the project over the last Installation of Lord Anamasesa (top) by senior devotees. Subsequently His Holiness Radhanatha Swami Maharaja, coGBC for Pune, stated, "The devotees should build the temple internally also by developing exemplary character and behavior so as to attract people to the devotional service of the Lord and thus fulfill S rila Prabhupada's purpose for building the temple." few months. Shriman Barhi Malhotra, vice-ch airman, Weikfield Industries, one of the leading industrialists of Pune and chairman of the advisory committee for the temple, felicitated all the major patrons of the project.
(Contributed by Dina Bandhu Dasa and Caitanya Carana Dasa)