PEOPLE IN MANIPUR have received ISKCON with enthusiasm because it reinforces Manipur's traditions of Vaisnava culture. During 1976 and early 1977, Srila Prabhupada made plans to visit Manipur, but was obstructed by poor health and difficulty getting entry permits for foreign devotees. ISKCON opened its first Manipur center in December 1977 in the capital, Imphal.
In 1981, through the efforts of leading Manipuri Vaisnavas and philanthropists, ISKCON acquired six acres of land as a permanent site for its projects. Among the major donors was Sri L. Kulabidhu Singh, an ISKCON life member and recent recipient of the Vikas Ratna award from the government of India.
In 1982 devotees started the Bhaktivedanta Institute Mission School. The school teaches the basics of Vaisnava culture and philosophy, along with academic subjects. More than 400 students are now enrolled.
In 1988, Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is first appeared in the Manipuri language, translated by the respected scholar Sri R. K. Shitaljit Singh. Translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam is in progress. ISKCON Manipur has its own press for printing smaller books.
Early this year, ISKCON opened a 44-bed nature-cure hospital and yoga asrama in the Langol foothills on the outskirts of Imphal.
Women play an active role in Manipuri cultural and devotional life. Some two hundred women from influential Manipuri families lead the ISKCON Women's Forum, which organizes and takes part in cultural events throughout the year.
In the spring of 1995, devotees undertook the building of a new temple, the Sri Sri Radha-Krsnacandra Manimandira. When completed in 1999, it will be the largest Vaisnava pilgrimage center in northeastern India.
Jivanuga Dasa, 32, a disciple of Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami, was initiated into Krsna consciousness in 1983. He is the associate director of Ranganiketan, the Manipuri cultural troupe. He lives with his wife in northern California.