The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
BTG columnist Ravi Gupta received an honorable mention by the newspaper USA Today in its "All-USA '97" college academic team search, which recognizes the country's best students. Ravi, age 15, is a third-year student at Boise State University in Idaho.
The Florida Journal of Anthropology has published a scholarly article on the Hare Krsna movement's daily prasadam distribution program on campus at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Conclusion: "The devotees are being generous without being wealthy, but for them it is a spiritual investment for themselves and for humanity." The program has been running continuously for the last twenty-five years.
The Vaisnava Institute for Higher Education (VIHE) held an eighteen-week course in the basics of Krsna conscious philosophy last summer in Towaco, New Jersey. The course is still offered at ISKCON's center in Vrndavana, India, where it began it 1986. It prepares students for the Bhakti-sastri degree, the first of three levels of scriptural attainment designated by Srila Prabhupada.
Devotees in Spanish Fork, Utah, have begun constructing a 10,000-square-foot temple complex atop a hill on a fifteen-acre site. The project is expected to take two years.
The rock band Aerosmith has apologized for an album cover that offended the sensibilities of devotees of Lord Krsna. The cover used computer graphics to turn a painting of Lord Krsna into a caricature. Thousands of Hindus protested to the Sony Corporation, the company that put out the album.
The use of the painting infringed upon the copyrights of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, the publishing arm of the Hare Krsna movement. Facing a lawsuit, Sony settled with the Book Trust out of court. The album cover will not be reprinted.
India and Nepal
ISKCON's Sridhara Swami gave the concluding speech at the Hope '97 World Conference on AIDS and Drugs, held in Mumbai last March. In attendance: more than two thousand scientists, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, researchers, and social scientists, representing fifteen countries.
ISKCON Ahmedabad opened its grand new temple on April 16 and 17. Parama Pujya B. V. Puri Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada's respected godbrother, presided at the installation ceremonies for the Deities of Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri Radha-Govinda, Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman, and Sri Srinathaji. Chief Minister of Gujarat Shankersinha Waghela and the Ramayana storyteller Murari Bapu were present to grace the occasion.
The celebrations included a week of evening cultural performances by renowned artists. Meenakshi Sheshadri and Hema Malini presented devotional ballets. Bhupendra Singh, Manhar Udhas, Manju Batia, Pandit Jasraj, Purushottam Upadhyaya, Hansa Dave, and Anup Jalota were among the other prominent artists performing in honor of the new temple.
Look for pictures and more details in a coming issue.
ISKCON Vadodara plans to open its new temple in August, on Janmastami.
The devotees in Bangalore installed the Deities in ISKCON's majestic new Bangalore temple on April 30. South Indian brahmanas joined His Holiness Jayapataka Swami and ISKCON devotees from all over India to perform the sacred rituals.
In the main temple stand Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri Radha-Krsnacandra, and Sri Krsna-Balarama. Separate shrines provide for the worship of Lord Nrsimhadeva and Lord Srinivasa (Venkatesvara Balaji). Week-long festivities celebrated the event.
The opening ceremonies for the entire temple complex are scheduled to take place on Janmastami. The temple is a massive structure entirely in the South Indian tradition yet bearing distinctive modern features. It is sure to become a Bangalore landmark.
Pictures and more details will appear soon in BTG.
ISKCON New Delhi has postponed the opening of its new temple complex till October.
ISKCON Jaipur has acquired a new site for its temple, near the present temple location.
ISKCON Allahabad has signed a fifty-year renewable lease for 2 ½ acres centrally located near the bank of the Yamuna. ISKCON plans to use the site for a temple.
The devotees at ISKCON's center in Bhubaneswar have installed a murti (carved form) of the late ISKCON spiritual leader Sripada Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja at his samadhi (the holy place of his burial). The installation, in April, marked the first anniversary of his disappearance.
ISKCON Patna dedicated the land for its "Glory of Bihar" cultural project, nearly two acres in a fast-developing area on the outskirts of the city. The dedication took place on Rama Navami, the appearance day of Lord Ramacandra.
The day before, ISKCON Patna held a Rathayatra festival, and in the evening Hema Malini staged a benefit performance for the new Patna project.
New Radha-Krsna Deities in Nepal were installed in April at ISKCON's Kathmandu center. The center overlooks the city from four acres of land on the holy Vishnumati River. The Deities are called Radha-Govinda Hari.
The TV serial showing Srila Prabhupada's life is moving up to a prime-time slot. The serial, Abhay Charan, will air on Sundays at 10:30 A.M. on Doordarshan 1. The serial will be shown from its beginning, starting on August 24, the day before Janmastami.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has published Bhagavad-gita As It Is in Singhalese and five new books in Assamese.
ISKCON Calcutta's annual Jagannatha Rathayatra festival takes place on July 6.
Nearly six million newspapers throughout Scotland carried a pamphlet last year about Srila Prabhupada inserted by devotees in honor of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial.
ISKCON London will hold its annual Rathayatra festival on July 6.
Government leaders in northern Nigeria heard from ISKCON leader Bhakti Tirtha Swami last November. Bhakti Tirtha Swami met with the leaders of the Kaduna state at the State House and spoke on the inner development of man as the path to peace. The area has a history of ethnic violence.
The prime minister of Guyana, Cheddy Jagan, met with Bhakti Tirtha Swami last spring shortly before Mr. Cheddy passed away. He received some of Srila Prabhupada's books and a copy of Bhakti Tirtha Swami's book Leadership for an Age of Higher Consciousness.
Last year, with Padayatra walking festivals in more than thirty countries, devotees reached their goal of one hundred Padayatras by the end of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial year. On Srila Prabhupada's order, his followers had begun conducting Padayatras in 1975.