A look at the worldwide activities of the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
ISKCON Guru Tours Fiji Meets Leaders
Suva, Fiji The Right Honorable Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, prime minister of Fiji, and several government ministers recently met with one of ISKCON's present spiritual masters, Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Gurudeva, at the home of Khur Ram Latchan, a member of Parliament. Mr. Latchan hosted a special evening reception at his home in Wainibokasi, to which he had invited government leaders to welcome Srila Gurudeva.
Srila Gurudeva often visits Fiji, where he has a number of disciples. In his address to the prime minister and five hundred other guests, Srila Gurudeva explained ISKCON's standing as a bona fide, nonsectarian religion. He described the Society's plans for developing a gurukula (a Krsna conscious school) in Lautoka by January 1988. He also said that ISKCON plans to open an orphanage, a temple complex with an adjoining guesthouse, and another restaurant Fiji's third that serves krsna-prasadam,vegetarian dishes offered to Lord Krsna.
Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara responded to Srila Gurudeva's talk by saying, "I am delighted to hear of the Society's future plans." Also present at the reception were Minister for Primary Industries Charles Walker and Minister of State of Forests Ratu Sir Josia Tavaiqia. Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami garlanded them with flowers offered to the Deity of Lord Krsna and presented the prime minister with The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking. The prime minister maintains a vegetarian diet, according to the Fiji Sun.
Besides meeting some of Fiji's leaders, Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami delivered public discourses on Krsna consciousness during his visit to Fiji. He lectured in Lautoka, Lambasa, Ba, as well as at the Civic Center here. At these programs the local Hare Krsna devotees performed sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They also served prasadam to the guests and distributed books on Krsna consciousness. The Hare Krsna movement in Fiji has a following of twenty thousand devotees, and Vasudeva dasa oversees the movement's affairs here.
Srila Gurudeva told one of his audiences: "Many think that the well-being of the body is the equivalent of the well-being of the soul. Even the diseased and dying are still attached to the body. Yet the body is the cause of our suffering. Each of us is a spirit soul with its own form and personality. We can realize our real self in this life."
ISKCON Moves to New Temple in Bangalore, India
Bangalore, India A Deity installation followed by a Ratha-yatra parade and a three-day festival recently made frontpage news and heralded the opening of ISKCON's new temple building in Upper Palace Orchards, a residential area here.
The new Deities of Krsna and Balarama come from the holy city of Udupi, which is located on the west coast of southern India. Udupi is famous as a place of pilgrimage because of the temple Sri Krsna Matha, which was founded by Srila Madhvacarya in the thirteenth century (See BACK TO GODHEAD, Vol. 20, No. 6). Before Their Lordships Krsna and Balarama were flown to ISKCON's new Bangalore temple, His Holiness Visvesa Tirtha Swami and His Holiness Sri Pejavara Mutt, priests at Sri Krsna Matha, performed elaborate Vedic ceremonies to invoke auspiciousness.
When the Deities arrived at Their new home, Srila Jayapataka Swami, one of the present spiritual masters in the Krsna consciousness movement, installed Them in the ISKCON temple during a fire sacrifice and bathing ceremony. Later, the local devotees distributed prasadam for six hours.
The next day, the Deities were taken on procession in Ratha-yatra carts exactly resembling those used in Udupi. Carts of this design have been a tradition in that city for seven hundred years. The ISKCON carts were designed and built by Rasanatha dasa.
His Holiness Vibhudesa Tirtha Swami, a prominent spiritual leader in Udupi, inaugurated the procession, while Minister of Tourism and Youth Services Dr. Jeevaraj Alva and Minister of Labor Sri D. Manjunatha swept the road before the carts with golden brooms. Elephants, folk dancers, chanters, and floats led the gala procession.
Minister of Health Dr. Timme Gowda, Mayor Sri B.K.M. Gowda, and Minister of Public Works Sri Deve Gowda also attended the festival.
At the three-day festival in Bangalore's largest auditorium, Srila Jayapataka Swami chanted Hare Krsna, lectured, and took written vows from hundreds of participants that stated they would chant the Hare Krsna mantra one hundred and eight times daily.