The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
An eighteen-year-old Krsna devotee won first prize for his sculpture at a Pennsylvania regional art fair. His entry: Lord Krsna in His form as Lord Nrsimhadeva killing the demon Hiranyakasipu. During the fair, thousands of students and parents viewed the sculpture, and a printed explanation of the Nrsimhadeva pastime. The devotee, Jaya Caitanya Dasa, is a student in high school.
Devotee-made Govinda's Bliss Bars are spreading joy from health-food stores across America and onboard flights of Air New Zealand. The sale of the fruit-and-nut bars started from the San Diego temple kitchen a few years ago as a way to give people a taste of Krsna-prasadam. Now Govinda's Bliss Bars is an international business with nine employees, its own offices, and professional equipment.
Jayanta Dasa, who helps run the business, says, "Govinda's Bliss Bars may be mass produced now, but they're still made with devotion and offered to the Deities."
Pilgrims to the Rainbow Gathering feasted on food offered to Krsna and enjoyed the taste of His holy names. For the ten days of the annual national gathering, held last summer in the Ozark mountains, an all-woman crew of devotees from Columbus, Ohio, spread the chanting of Hare Krsna and served Krsna-prasadam to about 1,500 people a day.
Tens of thousands of British Hindus celebrated a triumphant Janmastami at Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON's estate outside London. In 1994, ISKCON had been fined £30,000 ($45,000) for ignoring a local ban on its public festival. This year, the Minister of the Environment granted the public the permanent right to attend, and a court of appeal slashed the fine to £5,000. Janmastami celebrates the day of Lord Krsna's appearance.
Devotees have completed a new access road to Bhaktivedanta Manor. ISKCON had volunteered to build the road to keep the local village free of traffic, and the Environment Minister made building the road a condition for keeping the Manor open to the public. The devotees pulled off the work in months, in time for Janmastami.
Thousands attended this summer's London Rathayatra, the biggest ever.
Krsna's Village of Peace dominated the "Woodstock" festival held in northern Poland in July, according to a major Polish newspaper. The three-day festival drew fifty thousand people a day. At least a thousand were always in front of the Hare Krsna stage, chanting with the devotees. When devotee bands performed on the main stage of the festival, tens of thousands of young people chanted Hare Krsna with them.
Jurek, the festival organizer, highly popular in Poland for his charitable work, delighted in the devotees' presence. He, his wife, and his secretaries dressed like devotees to attend a marriage of seven couples in the Hare Krsna tent. Devotees distributed twenty thousand plates of prasadam.
Apple Computer named a Krsna conscious CD-ROM September's "enhanced CD of the month." In fact, Apple says, it's one of the five best enhanced CDs ever produced. An enhanced CD lets your computer play music and display video. The Krsna conscious CD, called "Satisfaction Guaranteed," features songs of the Krsna conscious rock group Matchless Gift, from Eastern Europe. The video includes a biography of Srila Prabhupada, and Krsna conscious art with explanations. It was produced by Brahma-muhurta Dasa of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust on an Apple Macintosh computer. Apple is showing it around as an example of what their computers can do.
ISKCON congregational members from ten countries met this summer for a week of seminars near Pula, Croatia. Attendance: 450.
The Chechan war claimed the life of an ISKCON devotee in Grozny, the Chechen capital. The devotee, twenty-year-old Andrei Savitsky, was killed when a rocket attack hit City Hospital Number 4. He was one of a team who for nearly two years have been distributing Krsna prasadam in Chechnya through ISKCON's program Food for Life.
More Rathayatra festivals: Amsterdam, Paris, Bulgaria, and elsewhere.
The holy city of Dwarka is the site for a new ten-room ISKCON guest house, now under development. A charitable friend donated the new place, and ISKCON leader Maha-Visnu Goswami is seeing to the project. Donors wishing to help are invited to get in touch with him. Visitors wishing to stay at the guest house are asked to let him know in advance. For the address and phone number, please see page 57.
Now published in Bengali: the entire set of Srila Prabhupada's multi-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam. Translator: Srila Prabhupada's disciple Sripada Bhakti Caru Swami.
ISKCON Calcutta celebrated the Jagannatha Rathayatra in grand style. The procession and a return procession seven days later featured three chariots, numerous floats, and thousands of people taking part. Among the prominent: film star Hema Malini, cricket star Saurav Ganguli, and former Chief Air Marshall O. P. Malhotra. Between the two processions, ISKCON held nightly spiritual programs at Deshapriya Park.
National Youth Program forms a part of ISKCON's Srila Prabhupada Centennial celebrations. The program includes a National Essay Contest, a National Intercollegiate Debate Competition, and a series of seminars and panel discussions. The topics for the essays, debates, and discussions are designed to stimulate students to delve deeper into their spiritual and cultural heritage. The national program covers 7,000 colleges in 250 cities in India and Nepal.
Janmastami at ISKCON Bombay was huge, as usual. Attendance: 400 to 500 thousand people.
A half-hour TV program about the Hare Krsna movement was aired on Janmastami by Doordarshan, Indian national television. The program "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna" was written, produced, and directed by ISKCON devotee Sri Krsna Caitanya Dasa.
An international group of cyclists is taking a pilgrimage along the Yamuna River during Kartika (October-November) to promote awareness of threats to the forests of Vrndavana. The journey was organized by the World Wild Fund for Nature through its Vrndavana chapter. The chapter was pioneered by Ranchor Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's from London.
The consul general of India officially opened the new ISKCON temple in Sydney. Formerly a funeral parlor, the newly renovated building is now a lively temple at an ideal location in North Sydney.
The Nigerian spokesman for a UN anti-drug program commended ISKCON for "freeing unfortunate Nigerian youth from the slavery of drugs." The spokesman, Mr. Antonio Mazzitelli, offered his praise at the University of Lagos, at a conference on health and social vices. The conference was sponsored by the United Nations International Drug Control Program, for which Mr. Mazzitelli is the Nigerian representative.
More than one thousand students and guests enjoyed prasadam, and many more learned about Srila Prabhupada, at a booth run by Hare Krsna devotee Locana Dasa at Taiwan Normal University's fiftieth anniversary celebration last summer. Locana Dasa, who was born in Portugal, is studying Chinese at the university.
Devotees in Costa Rica have built a gurukula school at their New Goloka Vrindavana Farm, outside San Jose. Sripada Bhakti Abhaya Carana Swami organized the fund-raising for the school.
A boat temple plying the Amazon will bring Krsna conscious festivals to villagers. The two-story boat is 52 feet long (16 meters). It can carry fifty people and has its own kitchen. Devotees at Nova Jharikhanda, in the middle of the Amazon forest, launched the boat.