WHILE PREPARING this issue of Back to Godhead, some of our staff members are getting ready to travel to India for ISKCON's annual Mayapur-Vrndavana Festival in March. ISKCON has important centers in Mayapur, West Bengal, the appearance place of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Vrndavana (ninety miles south of New Delhi), the site of Lord Krsna's appearance and childhood pastimes. Srila Prabhupada started the Mayapur-Vrndavana Festival so members and friends of the Hare Krsna movement could come together in these holiest of holy places for pure spiritual association. The work of spreading Krsna consciousness around the world is demanding, especially in the contaminated atmosphere of the present day. The Mayapur-Vrndavana Festival is a chance for spiritual rejuvenation.
In India devotees get to see some of the great Vedic culture that guided Indian civilization for millennia. Although modern India suffers from the influence of the materialistic West, when one goes there one feels that the original culture is just below the surface. Srila Prabhupada used to point out that despite bombardment by Western materialistic propaganda, Indians remain attracted to spiritual subjects. For example, Srila Prabhupada would say, whenever there is a talk on spiritual topics thousands of people will attend.
Devotees attending the Mayapur-Vrndavana Festival witness the waves of people who visit ISKCON's Caitanya Candrodaya Temple in Mayapur for the anniversary of the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in March. Many of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have traveled long distances to touch the land that was touched by the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Devotees from around the world gain inspiration by seeing the simple, deep faith of these people, untouched by Western cynicism.
In Vrndavana, too, one sees many examples of unpretentious devotion to Krsna. ISKCON's Krishna-Balaram Temple, on the edge of town, gets a steady flow of pilgrims all year long. During festival times which are many here the town can get really crowded. At the ISKCON temple, devotees have to cordon off a part of the temple just to make sure they have room to chant and dance before the Deities.
The enthusiasm Indian people have for spiritual life has left its mark on the land in many ways. Anywhere you travel in India you find astounding temples and other sites of great spiritual significance. In this issue of BTG, we visit an old temple in Belur, Karnataka, in southwestern India. Like most of India's great temples, it was built by a devotee-king who wisely used his kingdom's resources to glorify Krsna and so gained eternal benefit.
In upcoming issues, BTG will take you to more of India's holy places. In the next issue: Naimisaranya, where the great Suta Gosvami spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam five thousand years ago.