A look at the worldwide activities of the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
ISKCON's Pada-yatra Continues
Uttar Pradesh, India ISKCON's walking tour of holy India (pada-yatra), which met it's goal of traveling 4,500 miles from Dvaraka, on the west coast, to Mayapur, West Bengal, the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is now proceeding westward. The goal is Vrndavana, Uttar Pradesh, where Lord Krsna enacted His childhood pastimes fifty centuries ago.
Along the way pada-yatra participants have been holding public festivals, congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, and free distribution of prasadam (vegetarian food offered first to Lord Krsna and then distributed for the spiritual nourishment of everyone). Pada-yatra participants also visit many of India's sacred pilgrimage sites.
The pilgrims arrived in Mayapur in March of this year, just in time for the special celebrations commemorating the five-hundredth anniversary of the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Shortly after the celebrations, the pada-yatra began the 1,850-mile journey to Vrndavana.
During May and June the pilgrims journeyed west through the state of Bihar. In Patna, the capital of Bihar, the mayor and other dignitaries came out on the road to receive the procession. During two days of programs in Patna's prestigious Krishna Memorial Hall, the mayor and several cabinet members spoke highly to the crowds of the social and cultural significance of ISKCON's pada-yatra.
As the pada-yatra moves through India, the devotees continually chant the holy names of God as prescribed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They also visit many places of Lord Caitanya's pastimes.
The main holy place in Bihar is Gaya, where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu first met His spiritual master and received the inspiration to begin the Hare Krsna movement. The devotees visited here, as well as nearby Bodh-gaya, where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, having realized the futility of material life. At Bodh-gaya the pilgrims were received by the head monk of the main Buddhist temple, who showed the devotees the place of Lord Buddha's trance, beneath the sacred Bodhi tree.
In Uttar Pradesh, the next state along the route, the pada-yatra visited Varanasi, where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had instructed Sanatana Gosvami, who gave up his position as a government minister to become one of the leaders of the Krsna consciousness movement in the late sixteenth century. Also, in Varanasi Lord Caitanya had debated with the renowned monist Prakasananda Sarasvati, converting him and his sixty thousand disciples to Krsna consciousness.
The pada-yatra participants spent the four months of the rainy season in Allahabad and began walking again at the end of September.
Island Temple Opens In Northern Ireland
Lisnaskea, Northern Ireland Guests from all over Ireland, as well as from England and the United States, traveled to the lake island of Inish Rath here last July to celebrate the opening of a new ISKCON temple. The installation of beautiful four-foot-high Radha-Krsna Deities highlighted the festivities.
The seventy full-time devotees in Ireland worked for two years restoring the island's Victorian mansion and converting it into a temple. An ornate gold-leafed and silver-plated altar built at ISKCON's community in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, arrived just in time for the opening ceremonies.
The twenty-two-acre island is situated a quarter of a mile from the shore of Lough Erne. The temple's forty-foot barge carried guests to the island, where the temple grounds include spacious lawns, rose gardens, a four-hundred-year-old tree, a covey of peacocks, and a pond with a fountain. About half the island is wooded.