The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Calcutta's Food for Life program distributes prasadam spiritual food to a thousand people a day. Local ISKCON life members sponsor the program.
Twenty cows will enjoy lifetime safety in a gosala (cow-protection center) ISKCON plans for the Rajpur area of Calcutta. A generous devotee donated two acres of land for the gosala.
ISKCON has acquired Bhakti-kuti, the house in Jagannatha Puri where the great teacher Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura spent his last three years on earth. ISKCON has a renewable 99-year lease. If you'd like to help renovate the holy site, write to Jayapataka Swami at ISKCON Mayapur.
Devotees are refining their knowledge and skills at courses run by ISKCON's Vaisnava Institute for Higher Education. Twice yearly in Mayapur and Vrndavana, the Institute holds one-month courses in scripture and culture. The next session starts in mid-January. For more information, see page 55.
ISKCON devotees will dedicate ISKCON's Krsna-Balarama temple in Bhubanesvara, the capital of Orissa, on January 28. A guesthouse, part of the project, is still left to finish.
The Bhaktivedanta Archives is transferring audio recordings of Srila Prabhupada onto digital audio tape. So far, two hundred of the fifteen hundred hours of recordings have been transferred. The digital tapes are for archival preservation. For distribution, the Archives has begun making recordings on compact disks.
ISKCON Miami has moved to a new location, in lively Coconut Grove.
America's first Vedic college has won accreditation. Run by the Institute of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a Krsna conscious organization, the Florida Vedic College has been approved by the Florida State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities. To write for a catalog, see page 60, under "Education."
Bhaktivedanta Manor will be off limits for public worship after 1992, according to a decision by Chris Patten, the Secretary of State for the Environment. The decision came after neighbors of the Manor, north of London, complained that pilgrims visiting for Hindu festivals disturbed the peaceful enjoyment of their village.
England's Indian community is outraged. "We'd rather lose our blood than lose the Manor as our temple," said a congregation member. The community has formed the Hare Krishna Temple Defence Movement, with branches in many areas. They are campaigning for the right to worship at the Manor until an alternative temple has been established. The shrine at Bhaktivedanta Manor is considered the most important Hindu shrine in the U.K.
Her Majesty's Government has promised to help ISKCON find a a new temple site for worshipers who will be barred from Bhaktivedanta Manor. "But we want the government to work actively with us," says Akhandadhi Dasa, president of the Manor. "They're just going to sit back, but we want them to get to the point where they think, 'We'd better help them get their place.'"
Want to help? Write a few words in ISKCON's behalf to the Prime Minister: Mrs. M. Thatcher, P.M., 10 Downing Street, London SW1, England.
Thirty thousand tourists visited ISKCON's Radha Desa temple in Belgium this summer. Historical interest and Krsna curiosity draw tourists to the temple, a chateau in the village of Septon, a hundred kilometers from Brussels.
The Dutch government is helping ISKCON's "Food for Life" distribute prasadam in Amsterdam. The government supplies butter, grains, and vegetables for the program.
A touring party of fifteen devotees has been playingto packed houses in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.
The party offers Hare Krsna chanting, and refreshments of Krsna prasadam. Especially attractive: Krsna conscious books in the local language.
In Budapest, 800 people crowded into a hall built for 400. In Prague, 1,200 people came; in Belgrade and other Yugoslavian cities, 2,000 people; and in Bucharest, 3,500 people for two consecutive nights.
The devotees in Yugoslavia say their temples cannot accommodate all the people who want to join; the devotees encourage them to practice Krsna consciousness at home.
Devotees in Budapest have acquired a new temple building downtown. They bought the building with money they earned selling books.
Large runs of Srila Prabhupada's books have been rollingoff the presses in Hungarian, Bulgarian, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, and Polish. In Serbo-Croatian, the language of Yugoslavia, all of Srila Prabhupada's Srimad-Bhagavatam is now in print. Latest printing of Polish Bhagavad-gita: 100,000 copies.
The Soviet Union now has more than one hundred ISKCON centers, large and small. In thirty-three centers, Gaura-Nitai Deities preside. These Deities are among fifty sets donated to the Soviet devotees last April by Radhapada Dasa (Sri Mahadeo Lal Tulsian), a devotee businessman in Calcutta.
Attendees at the latest Moscow Book Fair purchased 260,000 Krsna conscious hardbound books in three days. The books were all in Russian. "We can't print books fast enough to supply all the bookshop orders," says Brahma Muhurta Dasa, who oversees the printing. In 1990, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust printed more than one million hardbound Russian books. By now, they've all been distributed.
Among other printings: 10,000 Bhagavad-gitas in Lithuanian, 50,000 in Latvian, and 100,000 each in Ukranian and Georgian.
Devotees in Durban plan to start the second phase in building their temple complex. Joining the already completed temple will be a guesthouse, children's school, meeting hall, restaurant, bhakti-yoga academy, memorial to Srila Prabhupada, and kitchen for public distribution of food.
The devotees in Mauritius are finishing their temple on their six-acre farm in northeastern Mauritius. They are building a second temple, in the center of Mauritius, on another six acres. Mauritius, home for many Hindus, lies in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, off the southern African coast.
ISKCON Guyana has acquired twenty acres of land from the Guyanese government for use as a Krsna conscious rural community.
Donations have provided an ISKCON temple, asrama, and gurukula (children's school) in southern Trinidad. A generous Hindu donated the land one acre and devotees arranged the construction, mostly with donated materials.
The Supreme Court of Bolivia has ruled that ISKCON, banned in Bolivia for two years, is entitled to be legal.
Our newly started "news burst" format for these pages allows us to give you a panorama of what's going on with Krsna consciousness in different parts of the world.
For more detailed news, ISKCON puts out a monthly newspaper, ISKCON World Review. To subscribe, see page 58.
How do we find out what's going on? Mainly from devotees. So, devotees, when you have some news worth sharing, please send it on. It's enlivening for us to hear news from all over the Krsna consciousness movement. Let's keep enlivening one another.
The two most important places of pilgrimage for Hare Krsna devotees are Vrndavana (90 miles south of New Delhi) and Mayapur (90 miles north of Calcutta). In both places ISKCON has important projects. In every issue of Back to Godhead we'll bring you news of what's going on.
Srila Prabhupada's Samadhi
The samadhi (memorial) for Srila Prabhupada stands structurally complete. Now it needs finishing, inside and out.
Outside, the dome is now covered in polished marble. Matsya Avatara Dasa, a professional designer, has finished the design for the interior.
The memorial will be finished in three to five years.
"We're not going to slow it down, and we're not going to rush it," says Naresvara Dasa, chairman of the committee managing the construction fund. "We just want to do it nicely."
"The Mayapur gurukula is full," says headmaster Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami. "We can't accept any more kids until we get more asrama teachers." During last year's annual festival, twenty Western children joined the Mayapur gurukula. Sixty children were already there.
About half the children are Indian, the other half Western.
The gurukula village a secluded palm-shaded cluster of traditional Bengali dwellings has received about three new acres of land, for three more asramas.
Also on the new gurukula land is a new library, a two-story brick building with about one thousand books in Sanskrit, Bengali, Tamil, and English. The books are on the second floor, out of reach of the seasonal Mayapur floods.
A new German letterpress is rolling in Mayapur, printing Bengali books. Most of the text for Srila Prabhupada's books in Bengali is printed in Mayapur.
About 100 acres are under cultivation for grains, vegetables, and flowers. This takes care of most of the needs of ISKCON Mayapur. Mayapur's cows give more than enough milk for the devotees and Deities and enough ghee (clarified butter) for the Deities.
More Places to Stay
More housing will soon be available for ISKCON devotees and life members who wish to stay in Vrndavana. The Mayapur-Vrndavana Trust is designing apartments to build on 13,000 square feet of land behind ISKCON's Krsna-Balarama Temple. The Trust, established by Srila Prabhupada, recently purchased the land.
Construction of the apartments should begin this year, says Advaita Acarya Dasa, secretary of the Trust.
For more information, contact Advaita Acarya Dasa, c/o ISKCON San Diego, or Tosana Krsna Dasa, c/o ISKCON Vrndavana.
For Srila Prabhupada's samadhi, where his body is buried, construction is going slow. "It's not only slow, it's aggravating," says Tosana Krsna Dasa, who is in charge of the project.
The slowness is due to difficulty in getting marble, with which the samadhi is clad. The project has used eighty truckloads so far; fifteen more are left to go. To prepare a truckload of marble takes two months. "We do it because it's the right material, and it's getting done, but it's slow and painstaking," Tosana Krsna says.
In Makranna, Rajasthan, where the marble comes from, competition is fierce. "When any good piece of marble comes out of the ground, there's twenty people waiting for it. Everybody wants marble."
And recently Makranna was practically shut down by communal riots.
"It's difficult," says Tosana Krsna, "but the work does get done. We're just going to persevere."
On a brighter note, the eight bronze bas-reliefs sculptured for the upper level of the samadhi have come out "fabulous," Tosana Krsna says. The reliefs, each about nine feet square, are still to be put into place.
The Krsna-Balarama Deities now stand on teakwood thrones, donated by Rama Dasa Adhikari (Sri Bhupendra Patel), of Mombasa, Kenya. Rama Dasa has also arranged a silver swing for the Deities. New thrones for the other Deities in the temple are on the way, donated by Sri B.P. Patel, another devotee from Mombasa.
Following the example set in Mayapur, the gurukula in Vrndavana has set up a gurukula village on land near the ISKCON gosala.
Plenty of Prasadam
Profuse distribution of prasadam, food offered to the Deity, is becoming a regular feature at ISKCON's Krsna-Balarama temple. All guests who visit in the morning receive a big leaf-cup of halava. For guests in the afternoon it's a leaf-cup of sweet rice. (In India, disposable cups are made not of styrofoam but of leaves abundant, cheap, and ecologically perfect.) On special occasions, guests are invited for a full feast.
The Vrndavana temple has recently been donated a van collecting grains and distributing prasadam.
Walking down the road, chanting Hare Krsna, going from village to village, town to town. This is Padayatra, "a foot journey," ISKCON's walking pilgrimage.
Lokanath Swami, 41, leads a party of some 30 devotees, Indian and foreign. It's pure and simple. In the morning they walk, and by afternoon they reach a new town or village they've selected for their stay. In the evening they hold a festival for the local people, with chanting, a short talk, and a Krsna conscious film. Then the next morning they're on the road again.
Last August the Padayatra devotees completed six years on the road. Apart from Punjab, they've touched every Indian state south of the Himalayas and west of Bangladesh.
In March last year they left Mayapur, West Bengal, and headed south. By November they reached Tirupati, in Andhra Pradesh.
Moving further, by now they're in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, on India's southeastern coast.
"The purpose," says Lokanath Swami, "is to spread Krsna consciousness and experience Indian culture."
Lokanath Swami has also started devotees walking in other countries. Last June devotees started a 1,500-mile walk from Boston to Miami. The walk began at Boston's Commonwealth Pier, where Srila Prabhupada first landed in America. By now it will have reached northern Florida.
Padayatra began its trans-Europe walk in Ireland last summer. "It was a trial run," says Lokanath Swami. "Or, rather, a trial walk." The walk will resume this May in Glasgow, Scotland, and continue into England. After England the planned route goes through Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Soviet Union as far as Moscow.
Padayatra New Zealand
Padayatra New Zealand will visit forty towns on the country's south island in January and February.
For more information about Padayatra, write to:
International Padayatra M-119 Greater Kailash 1, New Delhi 100 048, India
(Phone: 641-2349 or 641-2058)
10310 Oaklyn Drive, Potomac, MD 20854, USA
10 Soho Street, London W1, England