The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
College Preaching Going Strong
Gainesville, Florida Students in colleges and universities all over North America are regularly hearing about Krsna and receiving His prasadam (spiritual food), according to the second North American College Newsletter, published here recently by the ISKCON College Committee. The newsletter presents a summary of college preaching during the fall of 1988.
Srila Prabhupada encouraged his disciples to spread Krsna consciousness among the student community, and many devotees have taken up the task. At some colleges, devotees have held programs for many years, and their efforts are bearing fruit. Devotees from ISKCON's temple in San Diego have been holding an evening program once a week on the campus of U.C. San Diego for about seven years. Thirty to forty students attend each week and several persons have become devotees of Krsna as a result of the program. At San Diego State University, fifty to sixty students attend a similar program weekly.
Atadhvaja Swami runs the college preaching program at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Amarendra dasa, now with the ISKCON Office of Legal Affairs, started the program sixteen years ago, and it's been going on ever since. Devotees serve a thousand plates of prasadam a week on the campus plaza. A popular University of Florida T-shirt announces "cosmic lunches on the Plaza of the Americas with the Krishnas" as a main motive to attend U.F. The devotees recently bought a nine-bedroom, five-bath fraternity house, and they are renting rooms prasadam included to students. The renters must also follow the regulative principles (no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication, and no gambling).
M.I.T., Penn State, Michigan State, Windsor University, Boise State, Louisiana State students on these campuses and many more are getting a real education by associating with the preachers of Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement
Druze Eager for Srila Prabhupada's Books
Tel Aviv, Israel Members of the Druze sect, an Arab community living in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel that practices a special closed religion of its own, are buying Srila Prabhupada's books in great quantities. For the last thousand years, the Druze have maintained their close-knit identity and distinctive faith. Their religious system is guarded in secrecy, and only a few elite members have access to their ancient scriptures. The Hare Krsna devotees in Israel have discovered, however, that the Druze believe in reincarnation and are genuinely attracted to Srila Prabhupada's books.
Although the books are in Hebrew, which most Druze don't read, a team of six Israeli devotees sells an average of twelve sets of Srila Prabhupada's books a day. The sets consist of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam (Vol. 1), Krsna book, and two volumes of Caitanya-caritamrta.
Salman Falah, the minister of education for the Druze people in Israel, recently bought a set of the Hebrew books as well as a thirty-volume English set. He is developing a thesis that the Druze religion came from Indian scriptures. He ordered fifty Hebrew sets of Srila Prabhupada's books for the institutions under his supervision.
The late Druze leader and Sanskrit scholar Kemal Jumbalat translated some of the Vedic literature into Arabic, and one of his books was about Krsna.
In Cyprus, presidents Spyzon Kypsianou and Yozpos Volsiliou, as well as government ministers, high-court judges, and other famous Greek personalities, have received Srila Prabhupada's books. Bhakta Thzasos Constantinon has produced an audio tape of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and other devotional songs that is being well received in the Cypriot market.
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Devotees in Malaysia put on six Ratha-yatra festivals there last year, during which they distributed twelve thousand pieces of literature about Krsna consciousness and twenty thousand plates of prasadam. ISKCON Malaysia has one thousand life members, who receive a full set of Srimad-Bhagavatams, monthly Back to Godheadmagazines, and a local newsletter.
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The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) announced a fifty-percent increase in the number of big books (hardbound, 250-plus pages) distributed last year over the previous year. There was a ten percent increase in income. Owing to a significant reduction in operating costs, the BBT came close to achieving the goal set by Srila Prabhupada of spending fifty percent for book production and fifty percent for other projects. In 1988 forty-nine percent was spent on book production, half of that for reprinting.
The following books were printed: Teachings of Queen Kunti, Teachings of Lord Kapila, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Science Of Self-Realization, Bhagavad-gita As it Is softbound, and a twelve-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam.
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West Australia's largest newspaper, The West Australian (circulation 330,000), ran an extensive article on the devotees there. The article included an interview with Prabhavisnu Swami, ISKCON's governing body commissioner for Australia. Another favorable article appeared in Musical Express magazine, praising Gopal's vegetarian restaurant. Columnist Michael Dwyer wrote, "The Bhagavad-gita teaches that vegetarianism is good for your karma, your body, and your consciousness. So before you even consider the taste and the value, there are three very good reasons to try Gopal's."