The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
The High Court has turned down an appeal to let people keep coming for worship and festivals at ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Manor. Unless reversed, the decision means the Manor will have to close its doors to the public after a grace period of two years. The Manor is the site of the oldest Hindu shrine in the UK.
In response, the Manor has taken its case one step higher, to the Court of Appeal. Will the Court hear the case? As this magazine goes to press, we're still awaiting word. If the Court agrees, they'll hear the appeal about six months from now. The two-year grace period begins only after all appeals have been decided.
About 250 schools have invited Hare Krsna devotees to visit Religious Education classes this year.
Krsna steals butter and gives it out to the monkeys in a new book for children, The Butter Thief, by Chris Murray and Kim Waters Murray. Lots of colorful pictures. Published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Forthcoming from the BBT: Prayers of King Kulasekhara, a twelfth-century south Indian text, translated, with commentary. Begun by Srila Prabhupada, completed by his disciples.
Bhagavad-gita in Gaelic is waiting to be published. The translation is done. Funds are needed for printing. If you'd like to help, write: Svarupa Damodara Dasa, Corneenflynn, Glenevlin, Cavan, Republic of Ireland.
Swedish devotees have opened a second Hare Krsna restaurant in Stockholm.
Hungarian and British devotees will tour Hungary again in October. On their previous tour, last September, they held festivals in fourteen major cities. Average attendance: 750. Budapest: 2,200.
A Bulgarian edition of the Krsna book has been printed in Sofia, and ten thousand Romanian books have been sent to Timisoara, in western Romania.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Seventeen thousand Russians mailed in to buy Bhagavad-gita in response to a newspaper item. Last summer a weekly newspaper, Arguments and Facts, ran a letter from someone who'd seen ISKCON's subway posters for the book. What was the Gita about, he wanted to know. The paper ran a reply by Krsna Kumara Dasa, president of ISKCON's Moscow temple. Result: In the space of a month, 17,000 people wrote in to order books. Even months later, orders were still coming in hundreds a day.
The next Russian book has gone to press Srimad-Bhagavatam, Second Canto.
Shoppers at Moscow's GUM department store bought fifty thousand to a hundred thousand Krsna conscious books every week last December. Devotees sold the books from twenty-five tables in the store.
Russian TV has been broadcasting the glories of Krsna. In December came a 45-minute film called "Devotees," in January a film on the saint Haridasa Thakura. TV ads for Bhagavad-gita have shown nightly.
Two hundred Moscovites a day enjoy meals at Cafe Govinda, a prasadam restaurant stall at a suburban Moscow train stop.
Fifteen kids in Moscow now attend gurukula, a Krsna-centered school. Classes are held in two rented rooms in a school two blocks from the ISKCON temple. There is talk of starting gurukulas in Armenia and Ukraine.
Devotees in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, have purchased a two-story building downtown for an ISKCON temple. ISKCON now has two temples in Yerevan one downtown, the other on the outskirts. The money for the new center was given by Harivilasa Dasa, an American devotee of Armenian descent.
Devotees in the former Soviet Union are waiting to see how the breakup of that nation will affect them.
A "family reunion" will bring together devotees from the early days of the Hare Krsna movement in Australia. It will take place in Melbourne in May, to mark seventeen years since Srila Prabhupada opened the Melbourne temple.
"We're going to search out and invite all of Prabhupada's disciples and churn the nectar of his activities here in Australia," says Subhalaksmi Dasi, coordinator for the event. "We hope to attract devotees from all over."
For more information, contact Subhalaksmi Dasi or Kurma Dasa at ISKCON Melbourne, P.O. Box 125, Albert Park, Victoria 3206. Phone: (03) 699-5122.
Kids up to fourteen can attend ISKCON's school at Murwillumbah, New South Wales, since the government okayed two more grades.
Diverse cities celebrated the Festival of the Chariots during the last few months. Among them: Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, Kiev, Rio de Janeiro, Povoa de Varzim (Portugal), Durban (South Africa), and Chandigarh (India).
25th Anniversary Celebration
Distinguished guests and ISKCON members came to Mayapur in November to celebrate ISKCON's 25th anniversary. High-court judges, central goverment ministers, and members of the West Bengal legislature spoke to crowds in praise of ISKCON. Among the speakers: Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India. The celebrations took place for a week, during the Rasa Purnima festival.
Some sixty devotees toured Assam, Orissa, and West Bengal, holding nightly programs in major towns. The tour started in November and went on for ninety days. It was sponsored by ISKCON Mayapur and Nama Hatta regional congregations. Attendance: up to 20,000 people a night.
Yearly Worldwide Gathering
Devotees from around the world will gather for ISKCON's annual Mayapur-Vrndavana festival. It takes place this year from March 3 through March 31. New this year: One week on foot visting holy places in the Mayapur area.
New Press Rolling
The press is installed and rolling at the new Bhaktivedanta Book Trust building.
The first phase of a new guesthouse should be finished at the end of February. Now a new residence is going up for unmarried men. And about twenty new dwellings are being built for householders at the gurukula school.
Second Electrical Plant
A second electrical plant to power the Mayapur project should be ready in April or May.
Memorial to Srila Prabhupada Nearly Done
The samadhi shrine where Srila Prabhupada's body lies is at last nearly done. The scaffolding is down, and gleaming marble covers the shrine, inside and out. Left to complete: final work on lighting, grills, gates, and a few extras here and there. Embellishments can still be added, say the local managers, depending on how much money is on hand.
The samadhi stands in the entrance courtyard of the Krishna-Balaram Temple. The courtyard's front wall, sealed while the samadhi was going up, will be rebuilt with a newly designed gate.
"Save Vrndavana" Campaign Begins
Plant trees and protect Vrndavana this was the message as devotees and dignitaries gathered to launch the "Save Vrndavana" campaign.
The campaign aims at restoring and preserving the natural beauty of Vrndavana, which is being spoiled by pollution, misuse, and neglect.
The campaign is being sponsored by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The director for the project is ISKCON devotee Ranchor Dasa.
Among those on hand to launch the campaign were Dr. Karan Singh, former central government minister and ambassador to the U.S.A.; Saksi Maharaja, member of Parliament for the Mathura district; and Mr. Hari Krishna, the Mathura district magistrate. Vrndavana lies within the district of Mathura.
Local schoolchildren planted more than a hundred trees. National TV broadcast highlights of the program.
The campaign will plant trees and train the local people on how to care for the Vrndavana environment.
ISKCON has donated the land on which the first trees are being planted, by the pilgrim path near ISKCON's Krishna-Balaram Temple.
The campaign was launched on November 21, the appearance day of Vrnda Devi, the goddess who presides over the Vrndavana forests.
Advanced Courses Well Attended
About 170 devotees took part in the fall sessions of ISKCON's Vaisnava Institute for Higher Education. The Institute, which offers advanced training for ISKCON devotees, began a few years ago with hardly thirty students.
New Places to Live
Construction has started on householder dwellings being built by the Mayapur-Vrndavana Trust. The first thirty units should be done in twelve to eighteen months.
On March 3 residents of Vrndavana celebrate Siva Ratri by visiting the temple of Gopisvara (Lord Siva) and praying for devotion to Lord Krsna. On March 18 Vrndavana celebrates Holi. People throw powdered dyes here and there watch out!
April 17 marks the full-moon night for Krsna's springtime rasa dance at Govardhana Hill.
Toward the middle of March, summer comes in, and Vrndavana gets hot. It stays hot till June, when the monsoons arrive.
From Dvaraka, in Gujarat, on the shore of the Arabian Sea, the Padayatra heads for the Gujarati city of Ujjain, east of Ahmedabad. Ujjain is where Lord Krsna attended school as the student of Sandipani Muni. The Padayatra devotees will arrive there for the Kumbha Mela festival in mid-April. Next they'll walk on to Jaipur, in Rajasthan. They plan to reach Jaipur in May, then trek up to Badrinath, in the Himalayas.
Starts again in May. Route: Southern France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. In July the devotees will halt for two weeks in Barcelona during the Olympic Games.
On January 13, devotees started walking from Brisbane to Sydney. They'll reach Sydney on March 18, the appearance day of Lord Caitanya.
Devotees went on Padayatra in mid-January, starting on the island of Veti Levu and ending at Lautoka.
In the course of a two-week Padayatra in December, devotees held Festivals of the Chariots in two cities Penang and Kulim. Theme for the Padayatra: "A Pilgrimage Against Drug Abuse."
Started January 2 from Manila and walked throughout the island of Luzon. Prasadam for 4,000 people a day. Theme: "Steps Toward Peace and Progress."
For more information about Padayatra, write to:
M-119 Greater Kailash 1, New Delhi 100 048, India
Phone: 641-3249 or 641-2058
P.O. Box 3991, La Mesa, CA 91944-3991
Phone (7am-9pm), Fax (9pm-7am): (619) 463-0168
Watford, Herts. WD2 8EP, England.
Phone: (09) 2385-7244