The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Dr. P. V. Ranga Rao inaugurated the Bhaktivedanta Library at ISKCON Secunderabad on December 31, marking the preliminary phase of a proposed cultural, educational, and training center. Dr. Rao is the minister for education in Andhra Pradesh and the son of India's Prime Minister, Sri P. V. Narasimha Rao.
Addressing the one hundred devotees and guests present, Dr. Rao expressed his deep appreciation for Srila Prabhupada's work. He noted Srila Prabhupada's outstanding contribution of spreading Vedic culture by opening more than a hundred temples and printing more than a hundred million books.
Delhi's ISKCON Youth Services (IYS) sponsors monthly tours to Vrndavana. During the two-hour train ride, IYS members walk through the train chanting, dancing, and passing out Srila Prabhupada's books. The IYS has fifty registered members, all of whom follow the four regulative principles and chant a quota of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra every day. They hope to enroll a thousand IYS members by 1996, the centennial year of Srila Prabhupada's appearance.
Srimati Devi Dasi has organized a program whereby pilgrims in Sridham Mayapur are given a card with the Hare Krsna maha-mantra written on it and asked to chant it 108 times. In eighteen months more than 108,000 pilgrims have taken part.
Sridham Mayapur attracts and inspires VIPs from all over India. Here are some of the comments written in the ISKCON temple guest book in 1991:
"I am very much impressed! The cleanliness and upkeep are excellent, and the prasada served was most delicious. Such institutions are very rare."
G. B. Chugh
High Court Judge
"To get eternal peace one must visit, at least once in life, the holiest of institutions ISKCON. To realize the basic philosophy of the human life, all the individuals of the world should follow the ideals of ISKCON Mayapur."
Labour and Employment
Government of Orissa
"ISKCON Sri Mayapur is a great institution established by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. A noble man as he was, his charming personality, sincere devotion to Lord Krsna and his efforts for the salvation of the human beings have attracted people in India and abroad. The charming Deities, which are being worshiped with great devotion, made us feel the very existence of God."
Abanai Mohan Dutt
Supreme Court Judge
"ISKCON has established a modern asrama from where His [Caitanya Mahaprabhu's] work is carried on: the chanting of Hare Krsna and the practice of Krsna bhakti. We are greatly impressed. And, if we may say so,
P. D. Desai
Calcutta High Court
Commonwealth of Independent States
A hundred million people in the former Soviet Union were potential viewers of a forty-two minute television program on the Krsna consciousness movement. The program, which aired in January, could also be seen in Poland, Yugoslavia, and other European countries.
ISKCON's brightly colored float won second prize at Lautoka's Sugar Festival, the city's annual carnival, in December. During the parade, devotees passed out three thousand packets of Prasadam and a thousand copies of The Krishna Sun, ISKCON Fiji's quarterly newspaper.
Durban hosted its fourth annual Rathayatra festival, organized by devotees from ISKCON's Temple of Understanding in Chatsworth. Beginning on December 26, the five-day festival focused on ISKCON's twenty-fifth anniversary in the West. The festival was launched by the cutting of a 100-kg cake. Durban's mayor, Guys Muller, gave the opening speech, toured the festival site, and took lunch with visiting ISKCON leaders. In his speech he praised the devotees for promoting peace and culture in a strife-torn country.
The festival received extensive media coverage, including a front-page story in Durban's largest newspaper, The Daily News, and footage on two popular national television programs.
Two devotees recently traveled for thirty days through East Africa to spread Krsna consciousness there. Jalakara Dasa, from England, and Vidura Dasa, from Ireland, visited Kenya, Uganda, Zaire, Rwanda, and Tanzania. They distributed books in war-ravaged Uganda, dodged ravaging troops in Zaire, and had their car break down in the middle of the West Tanzania desert, where it's five hundred miles between gas stations (luckily, they made it to one).
During the trip, they laid the groundwork for Hare Krishna Food for Life programs in the cities of Kampala, Kigali, and Mwanza.
ISKCON Nairobi has received permission after twenty years to build a new temple on the site they now occupy. The plans call for the present temple, a former hostel the devotees bought in 1972, to be demolished in stages and the new temple erected atop the remains. The site is located on a hillside with panoramic views of central Nairobi.
Temple vice-chairman Umapati Dasa, originally from Benares, India, says that although the construction would cost about $800,000 too much for the small group of devotees there to collect ISKCON life members will donate construction materials that will greatly reduce the total expenditure.
Tangiers now has a chance for Krsna consciousness or bhakti-yoga, since yoga has no religious connotations in Morocco. Nayanabhirama Dasa, an early disciple of Srila Prabhupada, has moved there. He teaches English during the day and bhakti-yoga in the evening in the garage of an Indian friend. The population of Morocco is ninety-nine percent Sunni Moslem.
Two other devotees, Abhidheya Dasa and Gaura Bhakta Dasa, both originally from the Middle East, are spreading Krsna consciousness in North Africa from Morocco to Egypt, traveling through Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. During a recent one-month stay in Morocco, they sold eight hundred books on Krsna consciousness.
For more detailed news, see ISKCON's monthly newspaper, ISKCON World Review. To subscribe, see page 59. Any news from your town or village? Please let us know!
The members of Padayatra America are spending six months walking through central America. They finished the Belize portion of the walk (100 miles) in January and then spent a week driving 176 miles over treacherous dirt roads through the jungles on the way to Guatemala City. Although the trip was difficult the Padayatra vehicles suffered flat tires, broken springs, broken tail pipes, and worn-out brakes hundreds of people in remote towns and villages received Srila Prabhupada's books and heard the chanting of Krsna's holy names.
The devotees plan to walk through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and into Panama.
Malaysia's fourteen-day Padayatra last December went through the northern states of Penang and Kedah, covering the main towns first and then the rubber, oil palm, and cocoa plantations. The daily evening programs drew an average of about four hundred people. Because drug abuse and addiction is a great problem in Malaysia, the theme of the Padayatra was "Propaganda Against Drug Abuse" (PADA). During the walk, the devotees stopped at drug rehabilitation centers to put on Krsna conscious programs for the inmates.
Heavy rains marked the first day of the Fiji Padayatra in January, ending a six-month drought in western Viti Levu, Fiji's main island. About fifty devotees began the forty-kilometer walk from Lautoka City to Ba, and after a few days the number grew to 150. The padayatris passed out seven thousand pieces of prasadam and five thousand books during the pilgrimage.
Fifty devotees, led by Tamal Krishna Goswami and Lokanath Swami, walked through seven of the most prominent municipalities of Metro Manila in January. The procession included a colorful twelve-foot-high cart drawn by a pair of beautiful white bullocks. During the seven-day walk devotees passed out 25,000 brochures and small books and 30,000 bags of popcorn prasadam.