The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Devotees have built a temple in Alachua, in northern Florida. The temple opened on Janmastami, the appearance day of Lord Krsna. Local devotees and congregational members contributed to the two-year fund-raising campaign for the 4,000-square-foot building.
The temple is located at New Raman Reti Farm, which devotees purchased in 1977 on the day Srila Prabhupada passed away. In recent years more than four hundred devotees have moved to Alachua, home of several important ISKCON projects, including Back to Godhead.
The Birla Institute is launching a program to offer a Master of Science degree in conjunction with the Bhaktivedanta Institute in Bombay. Graduates will receive a degree in Consciousness Studies. The Birla Institute is one of India's top technical schools.
ISKCON Bhubaneswar has received permission to renovate three holy places in Orissa: the temple of Lord Alalanatha, the samadhi (memorial temple) of Haridasa Thakura, and the birthplace of Srila Jayadeva Gosvami.
ISKCON devotees are also working on a reforestation project for Lord Jagannatha's forest, which supplies wood for His kitchens and the Rathayatra chariots.
Two hundred college students attended a Bhagavad-gita seminar sponsored last July by ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Youth Services in Secunderabad. Among the guest speakers: Mr. M. V Krishna Rao, Inspector General of Police. He told the students that by taking help from Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic writings one can easily journey through the ups and downs of life and reach the ultimate goal.
A Hare Krsna festival touring Poland attracted more than two thousand people this past summer at each of sixteen outdoor programs. At some programs, more than four thousand people attended.
Czech devotees have started a restaurant in Prague, in an old low-rent building provided by the city government and renovated and furnished with loans from friends. City officials attended the opening.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Twenty-five thugs stormed the Hare Krsna temple in Rostov-on-Donau, Russia, in June, and beat the forty devotees, including women, gathered in the temple for the evening service. Brandishing shovels and wooden clubs, the attackers beat the heads and ribs of the unarmed devotees, ten of whom were later hospitalized for concussions and broken bones. At the time of this writing, one devotee was in critical condition with a fractured skull. Police are investigating the attack.
Volunteers from Hare Krishna Food for Life brought relief to victims just twenty-four hours after an earthquake devastated the city of Neftegorsk, in the Russian province of Sakhalin, last June. Four devotees spent ten days in the city, distributingprasadam made from one ton of rice, beans, and vegetables supplied by the Russian Ministry of Emergency.
Gunmen shot dead a Hare Krsna leader while robbing his home in Sukhumi, in the breakaway Abkhazia region of Georgia. Igor Kortua, who ran the Food for Life program in Abkhazia, was killed in July as he tried to defend his wife from three gunmen, all Abkhazians, who wanted to steal her jewelry. The couple's young son was also wounded in the attack.
In Abkhazia, separatist forces fought a war against Georgian government troops from August 1992 through September 1993. Devotees have been working there for three years, providing food for refugees from the conflict. About 1,000 people are fed daily.
ISKCON leader Bhakti-tirtha Swami received a standing ovation for his speech on Sanatana Dharma ("Eternal Religion") at the main event of the World Hindu Conference last July in Durban, South Africa. Attending were President Nelson Mandela, members of his cabinet, scholars, religious leaders, and other dignitaries.
ISKCON devotees served prasadam to thirty thousand people attending the Conference.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute of Philosophy held a nine-day course on English, Sanskrit, scripture, and philosophy last June at Nova Gokula Farm in Brazil. Several of the teachers hold advanced academic degrees.
Devotees have opened a small center in Hanoi, Vietnam.
To get much of our news Back to Godhead teams up with 1SKCON World Review, the newspaper of the Hare Krsna movement. For more detailed news, subscribe to ISKCON World Review (see page 60).
Srila Prabhupada's Centennial
Nepal has released a one-rupee postage stamp honoring Srila Prabhupada's Centennial.
Devotees in Mauritius have launched a competition that includes a one-year course of study in Srila Prabhupada's biography.
In honor of the Centennial, ISKCON's center in Lagos, Nigeria, has pledged to hold chanting processions in 108 towns and villages and organize Food for Life programs once a month at the city center.
Devotees in Orissa plan to establish a government-accredited Vaisnava university at the birthsite of the Vaisnava poet Jayadeva Gosvami. The school will be named the Jayadeva Bhaktivedanta University.
Padayatra South Pacific
Devotees from four Australian temples joined local devotees for a three-week Walking Festival in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.
The Padayatra team from Bhaktivedanta Manor in England led walking festivals in Norway and Denmark last June and July, and in August moved on to Ireland.