A look at the worldwide activities of the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Indians President Attends ISKCON Conference
Bombay The honorable president of India, Shri Giani Zail Singh, recently accepted the invitation of Dr. T.D. Singh (Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami Sripada, one of ISKCON's present spiritual masters) to attend the last day of the World Congress for the Synthesis of Science and Religion. Dr.T.D. Singh is the director of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, which organized this historic congress here in January as part of the festivities commemorating the five-hundredth anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance day.
In a meeting with Dr. Singh and His Holiness Krsna-Balarama Swami last winter, President Singh promised to attend the congress. At that time he had expressed great concern for the border areas in eastern India, since he felt that the Vedic culture was being forgotten there. The younger generation there seem to have lost their feelings for the rich heritage of India, he observed. To Dr. Singh the president said, "Since you are from that area [Manipur], you should preach very strongly about the Vedic culture for the well-being of the masses. We have nothing against other religious groups, but our children should be brought up in a predominantly Vedic atmosphere."
President Singh was pleasantly surprised to know that Dr. T. D. Singh is planning to build a huge cultural center in his native district of Manipur for the propagation of Vedic culture, art, and science. Dr. Singh presented the president with a Hindi copy of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Speaking in Hindi to Krsna-Balarama Swami, President Singh said, "Science is meant for man, and man is meant for religion. 'Religion' is not an adequate translation of the term dharma. This world congress is very nice because it is combining religion and science. I always thought and meditated how religion and science should be combined. It's greatly appreciated that you have taken up such a big task."
International Crowd Converges on Mayapur
Mayapur, West Bengal Over a thousand ISKCON devotees from five continents have registered to attend the festival here this March marking the five-hundredth anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance. ISKCON leaders in India will welcome both the devotees and tens of thousands of Indian pilgrims this year.
The festival begins on March 11 with an international parade through the streets of Calcutta. The parade will feature five floats depicting the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, and the devotees will carry the flags of their respective nations to demonstrate the unity of Lord Caitanya's movement.
Arriving in Mayapur the following day, the festival goers will spend the next week making outings by foot, bus, and boat to holy places in the surrounding area. Seminars on topics ranging from book distribution and computer programming to Bengali cooking and music will occupy the second week.
ISKCON's beautiful Mayapur project features carefully tended gardens decorated with fountains and ponds, and a miniature zoo with two elephants, a flock of flamingoes, and other exotic animals. Fifty new terra-cotta murals and twenty sculptural displays will delight this year's visitors, who also will take advantage of the many shops and food stands. This is the sixteenth year ISKCON devotees have traveled to Mayapur en masse to celebrate Lord Caitanya's appearance anniversary.
Fiancee Fasts, Frees Moscow Hospital Inmate
Stockholm, Sweden ISKCON devotee Mitravinda-devi dasi (Marie-Anne Farrow) fasted for twenty-one days outside the Soviet Embassy here to secure the release of her devotee-fiance from a Moscow psychiatric hospital. Dressed in her wedding gown and carrying a large photo of Vedavyasa dasa (Valentin Z. Yurov), Mitravinda attracted the attention of journalists and of the Soviet consul general, who tried to persuade her to end her demonstration. Mitravinda refused, and Soviet authorities later released Vedavyasa and flew him to Stockholm.
Through the cooperation of the Swedish government, Vedavyasa was able to visit the United States, where he rallied support for the release of twenty-five other devotees imprisoned in Soviet hospitals, prisons, and labor camps. Amnesty International has received information about the plight of these devotees, has adopted them all as "prisoners of conscience," and has begun work to gain their release.