The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
An ISKCON leader presented two papers at the annual convention of the American Academy of Religion, the largest body of religion professors in America. In his first paper, presented before the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies (SHCS), Sripada Tamal Krsna Goswami discussed the role of Western converts in Hindu-Christian studies and their influence on the Hindu community in America. After the presentation Tamal Krsna Goswami was elected to the board of directors of the SHCS.
The second paper, presented during a session on new religious movements, discussed heresies within the Krsna consciousness movement.
Nearly ten thousands scholars attended the conference, held last November in New Orleans, Louisiana.
In Detroit, the procession of Lord Jagannatha's giant hand-pulled car brought joy to the residents of Motor City.
The Bhaktivedanta Cultural Center opened in October in Phoenix, Arizona. The 7,500-square-foot building houses asramas, guest rooms, a library, a gift shop, a large kitchen, a 3,000-square-foot temple, and space for a planned Govinda's Restaurant. Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna from Jaipur will preside.
The ISKCON center in Berkeley, California, set up a library of Srila Prabhupada's books and other Vedic literature in honor of the Centennial year.
ISKCON leaders met with Indian Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda at his mansion in October to request the printing of a Srila Prabhupada commemorative stamp.
The governor and the chief minister of the state of Haryana joined ISKCON leaders for a conference on "Prohibition and the Bhagavad-gita." The conference was co-sponsored by ISKCON and the Haryana government. The government has recently instituted statewide prohibition.
The conference was held at Kurukshetra University in New Delhi. Kurukshetra is where the Gita was spoken by Lord Krsna five thousand years ago. The speakers at the conference: Governor Mahavir Prasad, Chief Minister Bansi Lal, and ISKCON leaders Gopala Krsna Goswami, Radha-Govinda Swami, and Sridhara Swami.
ISKCON has organized a National Youth Program for college students in 250 cities, to encourage them to explore their cultural and spiritual heritage. The program includes lectures, seminars, essay writing, debate contests, and panel discussions on India's rich spiritual history.
At least 150,000 people in Mumbai received Krsna-prasadam on ISKCON's Feed the Word Day. Five hundred volunteers cooked, and four hundred more distributed the prasadam, delivered in forty trucks.
Books newly published in the Marathi language: The Laws of Nature, Introduction to Bhagavad-gita, Message of Godhead, and the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
More than a hundred devotees toured Vrndavana, Krsna's holy land, during ISKCON's tenth annual Vraja Mandala Parikrama, held during the month of Kartika (October-November).
A politician in Rajasthan has suggested that the devotees of ISKCON must be working for the American CIA. Back to Godhead suspects that the politician must be working for Pakistan.
Devotees from around the world will gather in Mayapur, West Bengal, in March for ISKCON's annual Gaura Purnima celebrations, honoring the appearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (See page 61 for the festival schedule.)
ISKCON's Rathayatra in Mumbai will be held March 6.
Devotees and neighbors planted three thousand trees and four thousand shrubs on the grounds surrounding the new access road to Bhaktivedanta Manor. The Manor's long battle for public worship ended last year when the British government granted ISKCON permission to build a road bypassing Letchmore Heath, the local village. The planting, which took place on weekends in November and December, fulfilled a pledge to the British government to preserve the integrity of the local green belt.
San Jose, Costa Rica, has a new temple, in a former hotel next to ISKCON's downtown restaurant and boutique.
Brisbane's springtime city parade was the venue for ISKCON's first Rathayatra festival in that city, held last September. Because the parade took place at night, devotees lit the chariot's canopy from the inside and decorated the chariot with hundreds of lights. Two hundred devotees danced and chanted in front of the chariot and the 200,000 spectators.
November 23 marked Feed the World Day, when ISKCON volunteers in sixty countries distributed Krsna-prasadam to over three million people worldwide.
ISKCON's Governing Body Commission (GBC) has started its own web site to exchange information with devotees and nondevotees alike. The address: http://www.swami.simplenet.com/gbc
Devotees from Padayatra America flew to the Caribbean last October to hold Padayatras in Jamaica, Anguilla, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. In Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, twenty-five years ago devotees had been thrown out of the university by Communist students and then deported by the government. This time, residents and students gave the devotees an enthusiastic welcome.
Padayatra West Africa
Alhaji Leteef K. Jakande, former president of Lagos State, cut the ceremonial ribbon, and twenty devotees left on a three-month journey of 3,700-miles (6,000 kilometers) through twelve West African countries.