The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
To get much of our news Back to Godhead teams up with ISKCON World Review, the newspaper of the Hare Krsna movement. For more detailed news subscribe to ISKCON World Review (see page 57).
At least twenty million people heard or saw Drutakarma Dasa (Michael Cremo) during his recent US tour to promote The Hidden History of the Human Race, a book of which he is a co-author. Drutakarma was interviewed on more than fifty TV and radio stations in fourteen cities. Hidden History exposes a major scientific cover-up in the study of antiquity and human origins.
A new community hall is being completed as part of expansion for the Houston Hare Krsna temple. The hall will be done by the end of May. Capacity: 700 people.
A Columbia University conference featured ISKCON devotee Bhagavata Dasa, a nutrition consultant, speaking on "Veda and Ayur Veda in the Modern World." The conference, held in October, focused on "Health, Science, and the Spirit." It was sponsored by Columbia's Dharam Hinduja India Research Center.
Readers of Boise [Idaho] Weekly voted Govinda's the city's best restaurant for vegetarians. The restaurant is run by the Gupta family, who also run the local Hare Krsna center. The Weekly honored the Guptas at a party in the Boise Convention Center, where the Guptas passed out 700 servings of Krsna-prasadam. Mrs. Gupta (Aruddha Devi Dasi) also writes a Sunday column on Krsna consciousness for The Idaho Statesman (readership: 60,000).
The first Hindu member of congress in North America recently visited New Vrindaban, the Krsna conscious community in West Virginia. Mr. Jag Bhaduria is a member of the Canadian Parliament, where he has introduced (apart from legislation) vegetarian lunches.
Devotees are raising funds to buy land for a library and bhakti-yoga center in Bangor, Maine. The Institute for Spiritual and Environmental Awareness (ISEA), headed by Sandhini Devi Dasi, has undertaken the project. The peaceful, forested state of Maine attracts many people interested in spiritual life. ISEA hopes to open its doors on Srila Prabhupada's Centennial Appearance Day in 1996. ISEA has also pledged to get 100 subscriptions to Back to Godhead in honor of Prabhupada's Centennial.
Devotees have installed Deities of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda in Coventry, making it the third ISKCON center in England with installed Deities. Unlike most ISKCON centers, the one in Coventry has no full-time temple staff. Instead, members of the congregation take turns spending the night at the temple to attend to the worship of the Deities.
A new music book offers songs of the Hare Krsna movement, with proper musical notation, and explains all the services and ceremonies that take place in Hare Krsna temples throughout the day. The book, The Hare Krsna Music Book, includes twenty-six bhajanas (devotional songs) and thirty-two tunes for the Hare Krsna mantra. The book has been compiled by Joan Wilder and published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
The Grand Inaugural for the Puspa Samadhi memorial to Srila Prabhupada took place in Mayapur, West Bengal, on February 26. Devotees installed a murti (statue) of Srila Prabhupada, amidst festive ceremonies, and heard a spiritual address from Srila Prabhupada's Godbrother Sripada B. R Puri Maharaja. Leading the celebrations was Prabhupada's disciple Ambarisa Dasa (Alfred Brush Ford, great-grandson of the auto magnate) and his wife Svaha Devi Dasi (Sharmila Bhattacharya Ford).
Rathayatra, the festival of the chariots, was celebrated at the end of March in Kuruksetra and Bombay.
Devotees fed twenty thousand poor people in Baroda, Gujarat, on January 14, the auspicious day known as Makara Sankranti. The prasadam distribution took place at five sites. Ten cooks and forty-five helpers used nearly five thousand kilograms (eleven thousand pounds) of ingredients to prepare the meal of vegetables, halava, and rice pulao.
The newspaper Vecernji List (Zagreb Evening News) reviewed the book, Prabhupada, by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, last December. The Croatian translation of the book, a biography of Srila Prabhupada, was on display during an observance for Vedic Literature Month at a hall in the center of Zagreb.
Prabhupada, the review said, is "a unique literary piece that is living spiritual knowledge, inseparable from the life of the person Prabhupada." The review concluded, "This is a book that must be lived."
A dentist and a former ballet dancer have started Hare Krishna Food for Life in Zagreb. The program brings prasadam meals and Krsna conscious programs to orphanages, old-age homes, camps of Bosnian war refugees, and psychiatric and convalescent hospitals.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Devotees have mounted a campaign to stop the ongoing religious repression and harassment of devotees in Yerevan, Armenia. In one development, the American embassy in Yeravan, Armenia, has produced a report on the mistreatment of devotees in Armenia. The report will be included in the US Department of State's 1995 human rights report on Armenia. Both the Swedish embassy in Moscow and the German embassy in Yeravan have requested copies of the report.
Devotees have prepared a document on the persecution in Armenia. Among the influential people who have received the document are the Armenian delegate to the Conference for Security in Central Europe, held last November in Budapest, and British minister of parliament David Atkinson, chairman of the Council of Europe's nonmember countries committee.
Mauritius ISKCON put on a three-day children's festival in December, working with the Mauritian Ministry of Arts, Culture, and Youth Developments. A two-mile procession with kirtana was held each day. The procession on the last day was the fifth Mauritius Rathayatra parade.
Padayatra South Pacific
A Padayatra to get ready for the Srila Prabhupada Centennial will begin in July. Stage one (six weeks): Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Organizers encourage French-speaking devotees to take part in the New Caledonia segment, scheduled for the last week of July. For more information, phone Mandapa Dasa (+61 02 906-5576) or write to ISKCON Sydney.
Padayatra Europe will start in mid-May from the ISKCON farm in the Czech Republic and walk north to Wroclaw, Poland. From July to the end of August the Padayatra will walk east from Wroclaw to Krakow and then to Lvov, Ukraine, arriving there in mid-September.
Several devotees from England, Russia, and Turkey are planning to hold a Padayatra in Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel in September. For more information contact: Airavata Dasa, ISKCON, 3-C Albert Road, Calcutta 700 017, West Bengal, India. Phone: +91 (033) 2473757 or 2476075
For more information about Padayatra, contact:
62, Sant Nagar, New Delhi 110 065, India
Phone: +91 (011) 646-9633; fax: +91 (011) 647-0742
Padayatra England and Europe
Bhaktivedanta Manor, Letchmore Heath,
Watford, Herts. WD2 8EP, England.
Phone: +44 (92) 385-7244