Wednesday, October 31, 2007

University of Bhagavata Culture

GRAND OPENING: November 21, 2007

The University of Bhagavata Culture (UBC) in Imphal, Manipur, India, is a center for learning about the deeper meaning of life and the universe. The concept of this university is woven around the transcendental teachings of Srimad Bhagavad Gita and TSrimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic literatures.

This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krsna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana

(Srimad Bhagavatam 1:3:43).

The University of Bhagavata Culture is the first of its kind in the world. Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Manimandir is the centerpiece of the University complex. Guided by the vision of Srila Prabhupada, the UBC will serve as a catalyst for presenting Bhagavata Culture globally in the 21st century and beyond for the welfare of humanity.

The Sanskrit word ‘Bhagavata’ means ‘pertaining to Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord’. This comes from the root word ‘bhaga’, which means ‘opulence’. The Supreme Being who possesses all opulence in full is known as ‘bhagavan’ and Bhagavata Culture is the art of dovetailing all human endeavors in the service of the Lord. This is a universal and entirely non-sectarian conception as explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam (SB 1:5:22), and is described concisely by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in his writings.

Bhagavata Culture further teaches that whatever talent, ability or skill we may possess can be used in the glorification of the Supreme Lord. For example, a mathematician can sing the glories of the Lord with his mathematical talent. Similarly a poet can sing the glories of the Lord through his choicest poetical expression, and religionists of various traditions can sing the glories of the Lord with their own religious experiences. This is the import of ‘yaduttamaslokagunanuvarnanam’, and this is the real purpose of the University of Bhagavata Culture.

The main focus of the University will be on the cultivation of moral and spiritual values through applied spiritual science and technology as realized by the Bhagavata sages. Some of the departments of the University will be:
1- College of Bhagavata Science and Philosophy
2- Bhaktivedanta Institute of Science and Religion
3- College of Vedanta and Science
4- College of Sankirtana
5- School of Inter-religious Studies
6- Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva Niketan (Caitanya School of Vaisnava Vedanta Philosophy)
7- Ranganiketan School of Performing Arts
8- Bhagavata School of Drama
9- Chitragada Women's College of Vocational Training
10- School of Vaisnava Theology
11- School of Theo-Biology & Bio-Medical Ethics
12- Babhruvahana School of Martial Arts and Vedic Administration
13- School of Languages (Sanskrit, etc.)
14- Dhanvantri School of Medicine (Ayurvedic, Naturopathy & Yogic Science Systems of Alternative Healthcare)
15- School of Bhagavata Arts and Crafts (Sculptures, murtis, instruments, etc.)
16- School of Vedic Mantra Recitation
17- Varnasrama College (College of Brahmacari / Grhastha, etc.)
18- Veda Vyasa Library

Monday, October 22, 2007

Govardhan Puja / Dipwali

Govardhana Puja is the celebration of Krishna’s pastime of lifting Govardhana Hill. As Srila Prabhupada relates in the Krishna book (chapters 24 and 25), Krishna dissuaded his father, Nanda Maharaja, from performing ritualistic sacrifice to the demigod Indra, and encouraged the residents of Vrindavana to worship Govardhana Hill.

All the cowherd men of Vrindavana had arranged to worship King Indra. Because Vrindavana is a village of vaisyas (farmers and dairymen), and especially dependent on the rain to grow crops and feed the cows, the cowherd men felt obliged to offer Lord Indra some worship in order to ensure regular supply of rain.

However, Krishna persuaded His Father, Nanda Maharaja, to abandon the worship of Lord Indra and to use the preparations he had already made to worship the cows, the brahmanas (priests) and Govardhana Hill. He instructed His father to prepare delicious foodstuffs from the grains and ghee collected for Lord Indra’s yajna. Krishna ordered that this feast be offered to Govardhana Hill with Vedic mantras chanted by qualified brahmanas. He instructed that the cows be decorated and fed to their satisfaction. Then keeping the cows before them, the inhabitants of Vrindavana were to circumambulate Govardhana Hill.

When all these activities had been carefully performed, Krishna expanded Himself into a gigantic, transcendental form and declared to the inhabitants of Vrindavan that He was Himself Govardhana Hill, and accepted all the offerings made during the ceremony.

Being proud of his position as King of the Demigods, Lord Indra took great offense at his sacrifice being cancelled, and attempted to chastise Krishna and the inhabitants of Vrindavan by calling the samvartaka clouds (used to inundate the world at the end of each cycle of yugas) and instructing them to totally destroy the residents, the cows and the village of Vrindavana.

Lord Krishna offered protection to the cowherd men and women by lifting Govardhana Hill so they could shelter underneath from Indra’s wrath. Krishna exhibited His supreme mystic power by holding the mountain aloft for seven days with the little finger of his left hand.

Devotees celebrate this remarkable pastime by observing the festival called Govardhana Puja.


Ratha Yatra in Soweto

by Kadamba Kanana Swami

Soweto with its 2 million people, is the heart of South Africa, the stage of oppression for Black South Africa. Where in 1976 african high schoolkids protested against education in Afrikaans instead of their own language, a protest which was crushed by the local police firing bullets in to the crowd. That day Soweto had enough and the revolution began. Soweto today is going through face-lift, it has the second biggest shopping mall on the African sub continent, and it will host the 2010 Soccer Worldcup finale in Orlando Stadium. Still there are plenty of people living in tin sheds in extreme poverty. ISKCON has had a small temple there since 1995, run by Mahaprabhu, a dedicated Sowetan disciple of Giriraja Swami, who maintains a regular Food for Life program. On October 13 & 14 a historical event took place, Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha Yatra festival came to town. Amongst the crowds were several busses of African students from all over the country and also many schoolkids joined in as well as devotees from all over South Africia and many more local people.

Andrew Whitlock, a reporter wrote the following;“Soweto residents were treated to a new experience at the weekend when the first ever Rathayatra (chariot festival) was held in the township. The colourful festival has been held in India for thousands of years and has also been held in most major cities worldwide. Hundreds of Hare Krsna devotees from around the country, descended on Soweto to follow the three-metre high chariot through the busy streets, and were joined by excited residents, many of them young children. The first Rathayatra was held in the West some forty years ago after the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (Iskcon) founder, Srila Prabhupada, brought Krsna Consciousness to America. "We are very happy that this event is taking place in Soweto for the first time" said Dobsonville resident Lehopo Lechaba. "You are promoting God and that is great after all the crime and violence we have had here. I really like what I am hearing today," he said.

After a short journey through the streets the chariot, carrying five of Iskcon's leading spiritual masters arrived at Mofolo Park, where guests were treated to a free lunch and an afternoon of singing and dancing.”

It was quite a happening on the open air stage in Mofolo Park. Besides powerful kirtanas by various sannyasis, and the famous plays of Bhakti Marga Swami, there was also ample opportunity for local talent to perform on the stage with lots of Hip Hop, traditional Zulu dances and more Local TV celebrities came and the band Dhira from Europe was a big hit. It was very nice that everyone got an opportunity to actively take part in the festival and make it their own. Our guess is that Ratha Yatra has come to Soweto to stay!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bhaktivedanta College Lays Cornerstone For New Building

On October fourteenth, a warm and sunny day, devotees at Bhaktivedanta College and Radhadesh (Belgium) celebrated a cornerstone-laying ceremony at the construction site of the College’s first residential building. Guiding them in this auspicious and elaborate ceremony was Sadya Sresta Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s from Spain, who was the head pujari at Radhadesh in the early 1980s.

He turned the site into a sacrificial arena by arranging sectors on the ground according to the rules of Vastu, which are meant to please Lord Vishnu and the demigods. The devotees and guests were touched by his expertise, deep devotion, and the colorful scene he created.

Representing ISKCON’s Ministry of Educational Development was Laksmimoni Dasi, who is also the first Dean of Students at the College. She said, “Srila Prabhupada often commented that because universities do not teach the science of the soul, they offer an education that is equivalent to so many zeroes. But by placing Krishna, the One, in front of all the ‘zeroes’ they will have a huge number and perfect the educational process. Bhaktivedanta College aspires to create students who understand that One and will teach others.”

Hridaya Caitanya Dasa, the temple president of Radhadesh and Co-GBC for the Benelux, said, “This ceremony is a humble beginning. Krishna willing, it can expand to a whole Vaishnava campus, a great resource for establishing Krishna-conscious teachings in universities worldwide. We all like quick investments, such as filling up the tank with petrol so that we can continue driving. But investment in education is a long-term one, and we need to have faith that this investment will fructify in devotees becoming committed to giving their lives to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada’s mission.”

The College Principal, Yadunandana Dasa, said that by educating devotees the College is carrying out its most important task: preserving Srila Prabhupada’s legacy. He said that the building confirms that Bhaktivedanta College is in Radhadesh to stay. He thanked those whose contributions were essential: Bhaktivedanta Library Services, headed by Visnu Murti Dasa, for donating the land; Sham and Saroj Idnani for providing initial funding for construction; the College trustee and administrative director, Jaya Krsna Dasa, for organizing plans and permissions, and backing up the project with personal resources; and the Radhadesh community and management for offering ongoing support.

Bhaktivedanta College needs three buildings to host its envisioned education for the next decade. The residential building will accommodate thirty-three students, teachers and staff members. A school building with classrooms, a library, and offices will be the next project.

Bhaktivedanta College started operating in September 2002, and six students received the first Bachelor of Theology degrees (in partnership with the University of Wales Lampeter) in June 2007 with high grades. The sixth academic year (2007-08) started with fourteen enthusiastic, devoted students from New Zealand, India, Iran, Russia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, and Canada.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

24-Hour Kirtan - New Vrindavan

Recently, some of the best kirtan singers in North America came together in New Vrindavan, West Virginia, for a 24-hour kirtan to glorify the holy names of Krishna. Here are the streaming audio live recordings of this historic event.

(Acyuta Gopi Dasi sings at the 24-hour kirtan)


Caitanya Ananda prabhus interview

Caitanya Ananda faced the challenge of his life last December. Doctors concluded that he has an incurable cancer, melanoma. Nothing could prevent the disease from being spread, neither the best western or ayurvedic remedies nor the natural herbs. This interview has been done in June on a train from Mumbai to Mathura. Caitanya Ananda prabhu was already then in the terminal treatment.

I got my first Prabhupada’s book in 1994 in London, explains Caitanya Ananda prabhu on an express train through Gujarat. One friend of mine had heard about Hare Krishna mantra and he wanted to prove that this mantra did not work. We went to sing maha-mantra on the campus area of the University of Technology. Some years passed after that, and in 1999, I made a new year promise to follow the principles of bhakti yoga. I noticed that this process works really well.
I was convinced that we are not our bodies. I had many interesting discussions about these themes in my workplace. Anyway, I wanted to do more. I wanted to improve Krishna movement, and to spread Krishna consciousness. I felt that somebody was listening to me all the time. This Person was following what I was saying and wanting. One day, on a lunch hour, I met Janardan on the parking spot of Otaniemi. I wanted to buy all the books he had. He had only two sorts of books. I promised to pick up more books from the temple in the evening. I bought all books available. I also bought the Tulasi japa beads. I started to visit in the temple, give donations, and chant maha-mantra 16 rounds per day. With other members of the congregation, we also started to do Food For Life. We did it for couple of times. We went to the rock festivals where we distributed prasadam. I moved to the ashram.

When you compare what you expected, and what you received in terms of Krishna consciousness, is there some equivalence?

In the beginning, Krishna consciousness was a path for higher realization for me. I was convinced that this is the right path. At those times, it was important for me to debate these issues in my mind, and to understand them theoretically. A great surprise for me was the close interaction with God. This interaction was developed through the active devotional service. It was clearly manifested, that Krishna really is our most close and intimate friend.
The railway journey proceeds nicely. Mother Nartaki, one of the senior students of Srila Prabhupada, prepares evening meal for us. She offers prasadam with motherly warmth and care.

The main thing really is the personal interaction with Krishna, continues Caitanya Ananda while eating warm carrot soup. Environment is answering also our questions and doubts, he explains. It was an impressive experience about Krishna’s interaction, when the whole board of doctors walked to my treatment room (Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Mumbai). From the wet snowy market of Seinäjoki to this specific moment – all closer to Krishna. The Krishna conscious years of Caitanya Ananda prabhu can be crystallized in these sentences.

Among many other well-wishers, mother Laksmimoni also sent you a letter. Here is part of her message: “You got many people inspired about Krishna consciousness. You also inspired them to practice Krishna consciousness. And now your example is inspiring many people.” You have wanted to take Krishna consciousness as it is, I continue. Has it been difficult for you to take it on that way – with skin and coat?
Through training, it became clear to me, that there is a Higher Person behind everything. This Person also has a sense of humor, Caitanya Ananda tells smilingly. There were many different paths to choose, when I first time approached Krishna consciousness. I doubted all new and cheap paths. They were just full of empty promises. I did not trust them. Now I can see that many people, who were following those other paths, are not that active anymore. I started to write with Suhotra Maharaja, instead, and got the answers for my questions.

I repeat what Mother Nartaki said: “If the farewell parties are like the ones (in Bhaktivedanta Hospital), what kind of arriving parties there will be (in the spiritual world)!”
Your disease came as a full surprise for you at the end of the last year. I inquire.

The face expressions of the doctors were informative, when I first times visited in the Finnish hospital, Caitanya Ananda continues. The illness was serious, and this would mean changes in life. Western doctors were regrettable cautious to tell the truth. I understood, anyway, that everything was arranged by Krishna.

I have felt like being part of some movie. It has become clear to me that God is guiding everything. The final result will always be good. Even though, I have gone through some painful moments with this disease, the final result will be beautiful. We just need to have trust.

Krishna manifests Himself through bhaktas or devotees. Some neophyte devotees may seem to have only downing properties of Him. However, Krishna (and His mercy) can act also through the neophytes. Bhaktas really manifest Krishna’s caring and cherishing attributes. It really is an impressive feeling. That feeling can be experienced without any tragic setbacks. One just need to have a right attitude towards devotees, explains Caitanya Ananda prabhu about his main realizations of the last months.

In the West, we easily count everything in terms of profit, not as persons. Anyway, devotees have the same kind of potential as Krishna has. The attitude towards devotees should be honest and frank, according to the Vaishnava Etiquette.

What about Finnish sankirtana. How it can manage without your presence?
Well, Sankirtana movement is guided directly from the spiritual world. It is not even dependent on the physical presence of the devotees. Many great persons, like Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, have left sankirtana movement. As I told, I feel like being part of some movie. Superficially, it may seem that a good person has a bad end, but actually, everything goes really well. Krishna is not unthankful for the sacrifices that we have done. The final result will be perfectly fine.

What would you like to say for the beginners?
I have noticed two main pitfalls in the attitudes of the new generations. Phlegmaticism and apathy. The fire to reach other conditioned souls is often missing. We may get good results, and then think that we have a right to demand this and that. We may think that we do not need to work hard anymore. If one falls to those pitfalls, it is difficult to get up anymore. The guidance of others is taken capriciously.

The most important thing is to cultivate a proper attitude right from the beginning. We are not working for bolstering our ego. We are working for Krishna, as His instruments and servants. When Suhotra Maharaja was sick some years ago, we were doing a guru marathon. We were tired of travelling and staying up late at night. Despite this, for example, in Kankaanpää people just took without asking. It was not question of our instant well-being. Krishna was interacting to that attitude.

What has been the most difficult for you in terms of practicing Krishna consciousness?
Working hard, but not taking any results for oneself. Working with our own mistakes and weaknesses. Dirt from the heart needs to be purified with hard work. We are imperfect, which is against modern psychology. When we are consciously purifying ourselves, it gives a lot of energy to do sankirtana.

I still want to ask the last message for the Finnish yatra?
Thank you very much for the great support I have received from devotees – the temple personnel and the congregation. It has been nice to see how much compassion devotees have felt. It is important to develop stable understanding of Krishna consciousness. Without that, it is not possible to face all the challenges.

Caitanya Ananda prabhu left the material world in Vrindavana August 7, 2007 and thus returned back to Godhead according to all the authorities.

Tattvavada Das



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Invitation to Manipur

On behalf on His Holiness Sripada Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, we would like to cordially invite you to the Grand Inauguration of the Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Manimandir, the center piece of the University of Bhagavata Culture in Imphal, Manipur (India) for a six day celebration.

The festival will be held from November 20th to 25th, at ISKCON Manipur Campus.
It was Srila Prabhupada's direct instruction and desire to see a temple manifest in Manipur to preserve and revitalize the Bhagavata culture in this part of the world. In His divine purport, Srila Prabhupada mentioned:
"The Krishna consciousness movement, therefore, can be well spread in the state of Manipur by the cooperative efforts of the Krishna conscious devotees." (SB 9.22.32)

Manipur is a state located in North-East India. Flights to Imphal, Manipur are available from Delhi or Kolkata.

We pray that you may be able to grace this auspicious occasion with your presence.

Hare Krishna!

Yours in the service of Sri Guru and Gauranga, Ajit das, temple president, ISKCON Manipur & All the members of the Festival Organizing Committee

RSVP: Ajit das


Phone: 09436027881

Note: Any devotees who are not Indian nationals require a visa for the State of Manipur. We will arrange for the visa directly from Manipur. Please contact us for the information required to obtain the visa.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Newcastle RATHA-YATRA 2007

SUNDAY 7th October 2007

Everyone is invited to participate in the Ratha Yatra in Newcastle this Sunday. Due to a last minute decision in holding the event, we would appreciate as many helpers as possible. Contact Ananda-moya for details on 0412 474 295.

The festival is part of the annual Mattara cultural festival held in Newcastle each year,in which ISKCON has won the first prize twice in previous years for the best entry.There has been an absence of Ratha-Yatra in the parade for a couple of years so weare pleased to be part of the event again for the great benefit of the people of the city.

Parade start time: 11amStarting point: Lee Wharf Rd, Newcastle CBD (see map below for route details). Don't miss this opportunity to personally pull Lord Jaganatha and rapidly progress in your spiritual life!

Bring your family and friends along. All are welcome! Free Admission!