Come Celebrate with Us!
We would like to invite you and your family to celebrate Lord Ramacandra’s Appearance Day with us on Sat. March 28, 2015.
You will have the opportunity to:

Hear Rama-Katha
Bathe Their Lordships
Join in an ecstatic kirtan
Honor a sumptuous prasadam feast
Offer a special pair of paduka to the Lord

The Schedule is below.

ramnaumi poster 2015

Festival Schedule
12:30pm:  Arati
1:00pm:    Bhagavad-Gita Class
4:00pm:    Storytelling by Sankirtan Prabhu
5:00pm:    Shanti Havan for Kalash Donors
6:00pm:    Go-Puja
7:00pm:    Arati
7:30pm:    Rama-Katha
8:00pm:    Paduka Arpanam & Kalash Abhishek
9:00pm:    Dinner for  Kalash Donors
9:30pm:    Sri Rama Parivar Jhulan Yatra

Community Dialog on the topic of a possible “Village Council” at the onsite Joint Board Meetings in New Vrindaban

by Lilasuka dasi

The weekend of March 14 and 15, 2015 was a jam-packed, exciting and informative two days for New Vrindaban (NV). There used to be two weekends a year when the two Boards of Directors, namely ISKCON New Vrindaban (INV) & ECO-Vrindaban would get together with their managers and staff so all involved could connect and communicate. Starting two years ago, however, the joint board members decided to expand these weekend gatherings and open them up for all New Vrindaban residents and well-wishers to participate as well.

Devotees at the community dialog.

Devotees at the community dialog.

During the weekend of March 14 and 15, the activities were divided into four sections:

  1. morning: Dept. Heads presented their yearly reports- accomplishments and goals.
  2. afternoon the Community Dialog sessions were held – formal opportunities for board and community members to interact and share concerns with each other, the goal being to improve overall relationships. This year a Village Council idea was introduced.
  3. Sunday morning, everyone was invited to go on a tour of the spots around New Vrindaban that are being improved and/or renovated, such as the Deity kitchen at the RVC temple, and the ox barn at Bahulaban, and more.
  4. Sunday after the feast there were service appreciations given for some devotees who have been serving New Vrindaban for some time in different capacities but have recently stopped these services.

 

Jaya Krsna introducing the dept. head meeting.

Jaya Krsna introducing the dept. head meeting.

And, in between, on Sat. evening there was a relaxed, yet informative event at Prabhupada’s Palace. Sankirtan prabhu gave his dramatic, visual powerpoint  presentation called “How the Hare Krsna Mantra Came to the West”.

The account in this article is a glimpse into Saturday afternoon’s discussion, just one of the weekend’s events, to inform anyone who missed it. There will soon be a series of detailed articles written by Madhava Smullen who also participated in the weekend activities.

Of particular interest to the residents of New Vrindaban was a lively community dialog,, after lunch on Saturday March 14, 2015, which was well attended by many community members. Chaitanya Mangala introduced the topic of a possible Village Council for New Vrindaban, which is just in the idea stage with no details worked out yet. The proposed Council could ideally consist of a body of local devotees working together, where all residents could feel that they have an increased voice in their community of New Vrindaban.

Chaits mentioned how previously leaders of New Vrindaban had made valiant efforts to manage a community through a non-profit religious corporate structure, but this doesn’t work because the required legal structures have restrictions that can’t be transformed into a broader democratic system. Therefore, we need to approach this from a broader perspective.

Chaits emphasized three buzz words for such a Village Council: small, local and simple.

“Small: Let’s just have a few people on the Council, at least to begin with. Later it can expand as needed.”

“Local: The members should be available to regularly meet face to face, for optimum effectiveness and communication.”

“Simple: Let’s create as few pre-conditions as possible, so as not to restrict the group from starting. They can develop the rules they will operate under as they move forward.”

Chaitanya Mangala’s proposal for a “Village Council” is based, in part, on the following quote from Srila Prabhupada:


“Go on acquiring the surrounding lands and in this way we will establish a local self-governing village and show all the world a practical example of spiritual life as Krishna Himself exhibited in Vrindaban.” 

Here is a link:

 

Then the discussion was opened up. Devotees were expressing themselves very respectfully, but frankly as well. Many remarked afterwards that this was a mature discussion coming out of people’s honest desires to have a “village voice”. That is, the residents of New Vrindaban want a voice in how the community is run, so they spoke up frankly, but also showed much appreciation for the current leaders and managers and all the challenges they’ve faced.

At the community dialog.

At the community dialog.

The apathy in NV over the years was mentioned as one of the many challenges. This apathy has different sources. There is much skepticism that things will change, yet others still have hope. Some devotees have complained that, in their opinion, New Vrindaban is being run as more of a corporation than a spiritual institution. Some asked what kind of influence would a Village Council really have on the decision-making process in New Vrindaban. The NV Advocacy Sanga has been discussing many of these issues for the last year and a half.

One devotee appreciated that this year has been identified by Jaya Krsna prabhu as the year of “deepening relationships”. Just as we have to continuously deal with the structure of the roads and buildings of NV, dealing with ongoing devotee relationships is also essential.

A suggestion came up for us to possibly study how a few successful intentional communities run and what their successes are based on. Mukunda das said, “Those communities, although they may not be based on spirituality, have many of the “0’s” in the equation, but we have the “1” (Krsna) to make it perfect. So we can still learn from them.”

An old friend and well-wisher of the Hare Krsna movement, Burke Rochford, a professor of sociology, was present at the meetings. He expressed that he sees these types of dialogs as very important. He said that since Srila Prabhupada had set up New Vrindaban as a community, as opposed to a city temple, that we have had to face certain special challenges. He has also come to understand that the voices of the residents need to help shape the direction of New Vrindaban.

There was a short discussion on the topic of the Sunday feast. People were expressing both sides, namely what enlivens and what sometimes discourages the devotees’ attendance.

Although many topics were touched upon, the themes that were recurring throughout the afternoon were the need for the residents’ voices to be heard and the challenge of rebuilding trust. It was suggested that a Village Council could address these types of concerns for a win/win situation.

crowd at comm dialog4

The NV Advocacy Sanga announced that the Sanga will continue the discussion of a Village Council and try to come up with a solid proposal from their side. They also expressed their wish, along with the joint Board members, that this healthy, open discussion will continue in the community at large.

by Madhava Smullen

Poster for Website

Since its launch in 2000, Festival of Inspiration has been a unique standout of the festival season. It has just the right mix of enlightening presentations by ISKCON’s best speakers; top-quality entertainment from dramas to stand-up comedy; rip-roaring kirtans; and mouth-watering prasad.

This year, 600 to 700 devotees from all over the USA, Canada and beyond are expected to flood into the emerald hills of New Vrindaban, West Virginia from Thursday May 7th to Sunday the 10th for FOI’s unmissable 15th Anniversary event.

World-renowned kirtan singers Agnideva Das and Karnamrita Dasi will kick off proceedings on Thursday with an evening of ecstatic kirtan and bhajans from 6 to 10pm.

On Friday and Saturday, after a special themed Bhagavatam class by a VIP guest, the presentations will begin. With three on offer at once, devotees will have the chance to pick their favorite from 18 different seminars over the weekend.

Jayapataka Swami, making a rare appearance outside of India and his very first at Festival of Inspiration, is expected to draw quite the crowd for his presentation. He’ll also give one of the weekend’s special extended Bhagavatam classes.

Also presenting for the first time will be Vrindavana pilgrimage guide Deena Bandhu Das, who is expected to take audiences for a dive into Lord Krishna’s nectarean pastimes with his unrivaled storytelling skills.

Other speakers will include walking monk Bhaktimarga Swami; Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant Srutakirti Das; New Vrindaban’s own simple living expert Varshana Swami; and academic scholars Ravindra Svarupa and Radhika Ramana.

Also appearing will be Prabhupada’s early disciple Malati Dasi; respected educators Laxmimoni Dasi and Urmila Dasi; ISKCON Communications Director Anuttama Das, BBT editor Dravida Das; and inspirational university preacher Kalakantha Das.

Topics are expected to range from practical life skills such as public speaking to in-depth looks at the lives of Vaishnava saints, to Srutakirti’s wonderful stories of his time with Srila Prabhupada.

Attendees will also have the option to take part in two special 15th Anniversary treats offered simultaneously alongside the seminars. They’ll be able to join a host of renowned kirtaniyas for bhajans in the covered “yajnashala” on the temple grounds. And they’ll get to spend quality time with visiting Swamis and senior devotees in the question and answer tent.

Choose from many nectar seminars.

Choose from many nectar seminars.

Parents will be free to attend all of this, with experienced child-carers running an all-day Kid’s Tent where children will be engaged in a variety of fun Krishna conscious activities.

In the evenings, senior devotees and kirtaniyas will lead “Nama-Yajnas” from 7 to 10pm in the temple, delving deeper and more joyfully into the Holy Name.

Meanwhile Sunday morning will see devotees running to the community hall to save their seats for one of FOI’s most popular offerings – two hours of transcendental entertainment including an epic drama by Bhaktimarga Swami, and a collection of side-splitting comedy sketches by professional New York comedian Yadunath Das.

The festival will then conclude with a delicious classic Sunday Feast.

Of course, prasadam throughout the Festival will be top notch, with breakfast, lunch and dinner served every day, a variety of international menus, and healthy options at every meal.

“The prasadam at Festival of Inspiration is legendary,” says organizer Vrindavana Das. “Nothing can compare. We spend most of our budget on prasadam.”

Accommodation is also first class, with the recently renovated Palace Lodge offering fully-furnished onsite motel quality rooms with either double queen or king beds. Guests are advised to register early as onsite accommodation is expected to be booked by the end of March. For overflow guests, rooms will be booked at local hotels within a 15 to 30-minute driving distance.

“Festival of Inspiration is always a consistently enlivening experience,” comments Kalakantha Das, who has brought students from Gainesville’s Krishna House to FOI for years. “It’s uniquely educational in nature — you have a chance to hear from very experienced and educated devotees in interesting fields. Attendees get a good sense of the veracity of Krishna consciousness and the variety of ways that it can be practiced and experienced.”

“It’s a rare opportunity for devotees to come together for the purpose of association,” adds book distributor Vaisesika Das, who attended last year. “And the varied choice of presentations lets everyone fill up their devotional plates and eat to their full satisfaction!”

Register now by calling 304.843.1600 ext. 134 & 129, or visiting http://www.festivalofinspiration.net/registration/

For the schedule and more details, visit http://www.festivalofinspiration.net

New Vrindaban Hero's Journey

Prabhupada Vision New Vrindaban

New Vrindaban Prabhupada Palace

Srila Prabhupada in his Palace

Sankirtan dasa New Vrindaban

Sankirtan Das

Presentation created and given by Sankirtana Das.
The Program this Saturday at Prabhupada’s Palace starts promptly at 5:45 PM, beginning with kirtan followed by the “Presentation” at 6:00 PM, shown for your pleasure and education with open discussion afterwards. The evening Aroti will be followed by prasadam.
“Voyage to the West: Why & How the Hare Krishna Movement Came to America” -
A power point show of 130 pictures commemorating the 50th  anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America. The presentation will include  background & history  on the Movement’s origins in India, Srila Prabhupada’s improbable Journey to America, and the socio-political climate when he arrived here.
The show is prepared and presented  by Sankirtana Das, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, 40 year resident of New Vrindaban Community, a sacred storyteller and author of the award-winning book Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest. see www.Mahabharata-Project.com  and professional programs at  www.Sacredvoices.com

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