Friday, December 19, 2014

Vaikuntha Ekadashi Celebration at ISKCON Bangalore

Vaikuntha Ekadashi (Jan 01, 2015) is one of the major festivals celebrated in the temples of South India. This festival commemorates the moksha of Sri Nammalwar, a great devotee of the Lord in the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, a devotional line which is originated by Goddess Lakshmi Herself. It is believed that on this day, Sri Nammalwar attained moksha (reached the pinnacle of devotional service i.e., the abode of Lord Vishnu – The Vaikuntha). Devotees also believe that every day the devatas offer their prayers to Lord Vishnu on the doors of Vaikuntha. Since one day of devatas is calculated to be equivalent to one year of human beings, Vaikuntha Ekadashi is celebrated once a year.

Temples erect a special door on their north entrance which is called as Vaikuntha Dwara. Generally the utsavar of the temple Deities are seated on this door as the presiding Deities of the Vaikuntha Dwara. Devotees believe that passing through this door, guarantees them moksha.

Vaikuntha Ekadashi celebrations at ISKCON Bangalore is one of the largest celebrations, the others being Tirupati, Sri Rangam and Bhadrachalam. Thousands and Thousands of devotees throng temple from 6 am onwards to have glimpse of Sri Srinivasa Govinda and pass through the beautiful and ornate Vaikuntha Dwara.

The festival celebrations begin in the morning, from 3:30 am onwards with Suprabhata Seva to Sri Srinivasa Govinda, followed by an elaborate and grand Panchamrita and panchagavya abhisheka to the Deity. The Deity also receives ceremonial bath from herbal water, sacred water and fragrant flowers. A grand arati with multiple artistic lamps is offered to the Lord after the abhisheka.

The utsavar Deity of the temple is taken in a procession around the Rajgopura (the main gopura of the temple) and then adorned on the Vaikuntha Dwara. Then follows the grand opening of the Vaikuntha Dwara at 7 am which is memorable sight to behold; one can only experience such divinity.

Temple remains open throughout the day with devotees continuously thronging for darshan of the Deity and passing through the Vaikuntha Dwara. ISKCON Bangalore is well equipped with the amenities like drinking water, hygienic toilets, and well-maintained Q systems to receive the pilgrims. Best time to visit the temple is during the afternoon or in the early morning hours before 10 am in order to have wonderful darshan.

Kalyanotsava, the sacred marriage of Sri Krishna with His consorts Satyabhama and Rukmini is performed as part of the celebrations.

Another such celebration is Laksharchana. 14 devotees continuously chant 108 names of Krishna from morning till night. Devotees take a vow to chant more than 1 lakh names of the Lord for the world peace and prosperity. This year ISKCON Bangalore has announced that Laksharchana will also be performed specifically in the name of devotees free of cost. This is for the first time that such facility has been offered to devotees on such an auspicious occasion. Devotees can give the names of their family members, relatives, etc in whose names they wish the puja to be performed at the link: www.iskconbangalore.org/online-puja. Once submitted, devotees shall receive acknowledgement e-Mail to confirm their submission. They request devotees to utilize this opportunity and receive the blessings of Sri Srinivasa Govinda.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rupees one crore Donated for Bhojanamrita Kitchen

Kurushresta Dasa receiving 1 crore check
The Hare Krishna Movement (HKM), Hyderabad is setting up a fully automated centralized kitchen to cook food for 15,000 people in less than 4 hours at Narsingi,  at a cost of Rs. 1.1 crore sponsored by Aurobindo Pharma Ltd. 
The kitchen facility will serve free food in Government hospitals under the Bhojanamrita Programme and also 
supply subsidized meals for the needy at various locations in the city of Hyderabad in partnership with GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation). Apart from this, the kitchen will also provide food in market yards for farmers and hamalies.
Bhojanamrita is a project initiated by HKM Charitable Foundation to feed underprivileged (inpatient) attendants on a daily basis in government hospitals.
Underprivileged patients in government hospitals need help and assistance of family members during the course of treatment. The help & encouragement of these attendants is as important as the treatment, if not more! In life threatening diseases like cancer, the role of attendants is even more important.
 However, in government hospitals, there is a system to take care of food needs of the patients but there is no system to take care of their attendants. This makes the situation awkward since the attendants of underprivileged patients will go hungry since they won’t be able to work for their food. This is where Bhojanamrita comes into picture.
Patients’ attendants receiving free food under Bhojanamrita programme at a hospital in Hyderabad.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Akshaya Patra Raises $247,000 at S.F. Bay Area Gala

IndiaWest: Milpitas, Calif. — Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest NGO serving daily midday meals to children in India, raised over $247,000 at their annual Food for Education Benefit Gala on Dec. 6 at the India Community Center. 
A crowd of more than 250 philanthropists, business, and government leaders was welcomed by the foundation.
Barbara Kinney, award-winning photojournalist and White House photographer to President Bill Clinton, was the evening’s keynote speaker. She spoke about her travels and showed pictures of the Bill Clinton Foundation’s trip to Akshaya Patra schools and kitchens last July in Jaipur and Lucknow.
“Visiting the kitchens was a very eye-opening experience,” Kinney told India-West. “I loved seeing the smiling kids and was amazed at how much of an impact a meal can make in helping kids pursue their dreams.”
Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Indian American philanthropist, entrepreneur, and chairman of Akshaya Patra USA, noted the organization’s goals to feed five million children daily by 2020 and welcomed all event attendees.
The event also featured Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka as the guest of honor, who spoke about the importance of meeting the primal need for food to prepare for the world of tomorrow. Infosys has been an integral part of the Akshaya Patra foundation since its inception and donated 147 crore rupees last year to the cause.
The CEO of Akshaya Patra USA, Emily Rosenbaum, told personal anecdotes about her travels to India, and talked about Akshaya Patra’s impact on eradicating poverty and malnourishment in ten states, 24 kitchens, and 10,601 schools throughout India.
While Dance Dil Se gave a dance performance, high school students Sachin Sadana and Ishika Goel spoke about the new Akshaya Patra Youth Ambassador program for high school students who have committed to raising awareness and funds for the cause. Actress Richa Shukla hosted the event.
According to a spokesperson, the gala raised $247,396 — enough funds to feed nearly 17,000 children across India for an entire school year. With just $15, Akshaya Patra feeds a child for an entire academic year.
Rosenbaum said, “The compassion of the Bay Area community and synergy with feeding 1.4 million children at over 10,600 government schools is self-evident. We thank each and every guest and supporter.”

Akshaya Patra has also implemented a new program for hosts to throw parties that feed children through Akshaya Patra called “Care to Celebrate.” 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Iskcon wants MHA to consider relaxed visa norm for ageing members

Photo Credit: Sahit Abuja
NEW DELHI: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) has requested the Union home ministry to consider a relaxed visa regime for a small group of its aging foreign devotees wishing to spend their last years in India.
Iskcon governing body commission member GK Goswami and president of Iskcon, Baroda, BG Das, met MoS Home HP Chaudhary on Tuesday and requested for a considerate view to be taken of the cause of their some foreign devotees who wish to breathe their last in India. Iskcon pointed out to the minister that it has a group of foreign devotees who are aged, have spent long time in India with it and now wish to be here till they die.
"They consider the land of Mathura, Vrindavan and Varanasi as holy where they wish to breathe their last here in the lap of Lord Krishna rather than abroad. We have made a request to the minister to make an exception for them and work out an arrangement by which they can stay here for long and do not have to go back repeatedly to their home abroad and re-apply for visas," Das told ET.
He said there have been cases where foreign devotees in their 70s and 80s have to travel back abroad and return to India, given the visa regime, and are not able to spend longer time here. "Frequent travel abroad and re-applying for visas is a drain on the resources of these aged devotees. We have requested for an exception to be made for them. Iskcon devotees have made a hospital for the terminally-ill devotees in Mathura where people wish to stay and breathe their last," Das said.
Home ministry officials said visas for Iskcon foreign devotees are generally granted under the tourist visa category which are valid for 180 days for a single visit and they can re-enter within 60 days of the last departure within this period.

Friday, December 5, 2014

ISKCON Mumbai’s Chamcha Balaji Subhash Implicated Further

Balaji Subhash (420)
ISKCON Mumbai’s image received another blow, as one of its agents was allegedly involved in kidnapping, intimidation and intending to harm. Balaji Subhash an agent of ISKCON Mumbai, a notorious character is allegedly now involved in criminal acts and a complaint has been filed against him by an activist. Cubbon Park police are investigating the matter further and Balaji Subhash has obtained anticipatory bail from the court.
It may also be recalled that Balaji was jailed for 32 days for alleged involvement in extortion and blackmailing of ISKCON Bangalore. ISKCON Bangalore had filed complaint against Balaji Subhash and the matter was handed over to CID for further investigation. The CID has already filed charge sheet against Balaji Subhash and the matter is under trial before the 1st ACMM court. This very same accused was allegedly employed by Varada Krishna Das, the President of Narasimha Giridhari temple of ISKCON Mumbai, HBR layout in Bangalore. Varada Krishna Das also has been charge-sheeted as the co-accused in this case by the CID. He was prima facie found to be instigating Balaji Subhash into criminal acts.  Varada Krishna Dasa is also under trial in the same court. We had already reported on this matter before in another article placing records of Varada Krishna Dasa’s telephone conversations with Balaji Subhash.

Now this time round it seems that Balaji is not satisfied with his illustrious criminal records but wants to add more feathers to his cap. This time, again, a criminal intimidation and blackmailing case against Balaji Subhash has come to the fore. Briefly it is like this. One Rafeeq Durbar in need of cash deposited gold ornaments worth about 65 lakhs with Davanam Jewelers. Davanam Jewelers is co-owned by the well-known politician and Energy minister Sri D.K.Shiva kumar. Balaji himself admits in many places that he is an admirer and follower of D K Shiva Kumar. Rafeeq failed to get cash in return for his gold; he filed a case of cheating in the high court against Davanam. This is when allegedly Balaji & company attacked and threatened Rafeeq to withdraw the case. News9 a regional English channel has aired anextensive documentary about the fracas between Rafeeq and Balaji.
Conman Balaji Subhash is a professional blackmailer who also does so- called “sting” operations and extorts money for his living. He has morphed many pictures of his with leaders of society to deceitfully validate his so-called powerful influence
Energy minister Sri D. K. Shiva Kumar
Energy minister Sri D. K. Shiva Kumar was himself an agent of ISKCON Mumbai. He worked hand-in-hand with ISKCON Mumbai to harass and make false accusations against ISKCON Bangalore of misusing government rice in the midday meal scheme. The minister himself admits that he was associated with slain full-time goons. Sri DK Shiva Kumar is also facing serious graft charges against himself and several cases of corruption are pending before various courts. It is not a mere coincidence that this tainted minister earlier hurled several false allegations against ISKCON Bangalore which are just verbatim repetitions of many false allegations levelled by ISKCON Mumbai’s followers and agents against Iskcon Bangalore.It may also be recalled that this very same minister had put pressure and forced the government to form House committee enquiry against Akshaya Patra, an initiative of ISKCON Bangalore. During some of the enquiries conducted by the committee it was found that many of ISKCON Mumbai followers were found to be in regular consultation with Sri DK Shiva Kumar. Infact Sri DK Shiva Kumar tried his best to stage manage the committee and even got Varada Krishna Dasa to depose and explain to committee even before ISKCON Bangalore could give its side of story. Later on the committee exonerated ISKCON Bangalore and Akshaya Patra foundation and found that the charges levelled by the Sri DK Shiva Kumar were false. Infact the committee went to appreciate the various services rendered by ISKCON Bangalore.
Varada Krishna Dasa (Trump Card)
It seems birds of the same feather flock together as the self-made gurus of ISKCON and their agents want to associate with criminals and politicians of low repute and engage in activities disturbing the various services rendered to the deities by devotees of ISKCON Bangalore. It is very sad that self-made gurus who are involved in cheating innocent devotees are associating people of similar mentality and are unceasingly engaged in maligning the devotees of ISKCON Bangalore.
These acts will not bear fruition as ultimately victory will be on the side where there is truth. By cheating one may for some time disturb the services but ultimately victory will be for sincere service. Now various conspiracies attempted by ISKCON self-made gurus and their notorious disciples like Varada Krishna Dasa are getting exposed and the law is taking its course. CID has filed charge-sheet against him and found him to be prima facie guilty of instigating someone into criminal acts of blackmailing and he is under the scanner of the court. When this is the case, it is very unbecoming of ISKCON Mumbai to allow Varada Krishna Das, to remain leader or even a member of the Narasimha Giridhari temple of ISKCON Mumbai located in HR layout. It is indeed a written testimony of how low the credibility of ISKCON Mumbai and their self-made gurus is sinking to.  They are stooping so shamelessly low, that they are associating with criminals and tainted politicians to perform insidious acts against ISKCON Bangalore.
Await more reports on further exposes…

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why did BBT made radical changes to Page 1 of Caitanya-caritamrta?

Dhira Govinda Dasa: Below is an exchange of correspondence, referred to in the Caitanya-caritamrta-Page 1 section of Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link, between Dhira Govinda dasa and a BBT representative. The topic is a change that was made on the first page of the most recent edition of Sri-Caitanya-caritamrita. Following the correspondence I make some comments.
Dec. 19, 1999
Dear Dravida Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhuapda.
Below is the letter I sent to … with the BBT question that he has referred to you. Thank for your attention in this matter. Hare Krsna.
Your servant,
Dhira Govinda dasa


December 13, 1999
Dear …,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I have a BBT-related question.
On my Prabhupada Vedabase, which I obtained from the BBT archives in 1996, a paragraph from the introduction to Chapter One of the Caitanya-caritamrta reads:
“The direct disciple of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami was Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, who accepted Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti as his servitor. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, who initiated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn initiated Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, the divine master of our humble self.”
In the recent edition of Caitanya-caritamrta (9-volume edition) the passage reads:
“The direct disciple of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami was Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, who accepted Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti as his servitor. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn accepted Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, the divine master of our humble self.”
On the Vedabase edition, which I assume is the original version dating back to the 1970s, it is stated that Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji initiated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn initiated Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji. In the 9-volume edition it is stated “…Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn accepted Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji…”
I’m curious about the reason for the change. Did the original editors make a mistake–e.g., not properly hearing Srila Prabhupada’s voice on tape? Or is it assumed that Srila Prabhupada made a historical mistake when he stated that Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji initiated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and the 9-volume editors corrected this mistake? Or for some other reason?
Thank you for your attention in this matter. Hare Krsna.
Your servant,
Dhira Govinda dasa
[end of letter written by Dhira Govinda dasa]

Haribol Dhira Govinda Prabhu
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Thank you for your inquiry concerning the Caitanya-caritamrta changes. I agonized over this one for some time, consulting several senior devotees before making this change. Here was my thinking: First of all, there is no tape of this passage. Rather, it derives from an excerpt of the CC Srila Prabhupada published in March of 1960 in the BTG. Here is how the passage read there (from the latest VedaBase):
btg march 1960 quote———
Viswanath Chakrabarty accepted Jagannath Das Babajee from whom Srila Bhaktivinode Thakore was initiated and Srila Gour Kishore Das Babajee the spiritual master of Om Vishnupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad–the Divine spiritual Master of our humble self.
——–
Notice that while Srila Prabhupada does say that Bhaktivinode Thakura was initiated by Jagannatha das Babaji, he doesn’t say that Gaura Kishora das Babaji was initiated by Bhaktivinode, which was added in the 1975 edition of the CC. Historically, neither is accurate if we accept the usual sense in which Srila Prabhupada used the word “initiated.” So just on the grounds of bringing the new edition closer to the original words Srila Prabhupada wrote, no longer having Bhaktivinode initiating Gaurakisora is justified. But we are still left with Jagannatha das initiating Bhaktivinode.
Before we proceed, I tracked down the source upon which Srila Prabhupada based this passage in his BTG and CC, and that is the song by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati called “Sri Guru-parampara”. You’ll find it in the latest edition of the Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas, and it is included in the supplementary literature on the latest Vedabase. The actual relationship among all the principals is illuminated there.
The final bit of research that went into my decision was finding support for Srila Prabhupada’s strict use of the word “initiated”. I found this at Adi11.13:
Among his many disciples, Sriman Srinivasa Acarya was the most famous and the most dear, but it is doubtful that he was his initiated disciple.
This indicates that in this very book (CC) Srila Prabhupada reserved the phrase “initiated disciple” for a formal initiation, and that he felt that the word “disciple” is perfectly appropriate for someone who receives siksa but not diksa from a superior.
So now we have these considerations:
On the side of not changing the “initiated” phrases we have the strong bias against changing the books unless absolutely necessary and the fact that Srila Prabhupada did indeed say that Jagannatha das Babaji initiated Bhaktivinode.
On the side of changing we have this:
How the parampara is listed and perceived is very significant for all devotees. Many devotees know, and soon all devotees will know, that Jagannatha das Babaji did not initiate Bhaktivinode Thakur in any way that is normally understood from Srila Prabhupada’s books, other statements, or practice.
Removing the idea that Bhaktivinode initiated Gaura-kisora (a removal supported by the ms) but leaving the other “initiated” will seem to be a gross oversight, since neither initiation is historically accurate.
Leaving one or both “initiated”s will strongly imply that the use of the phrases “direct disciple” and even “accepted [as his disciple]” indicate formal initiation as we know it in ISKCON, which is far from the truth. (Narottama may have “accepted” Visvanatha as his servitor, but it wasn’t on the physical plane, since there is a gap between their lifetimes; likewise between Visvanath and Jagannatha das.)
This last was the weightiest argument, in my view, for changing the passage.
——–
So, after weighing these arguments carefully and consulting with several learned Godbrothers (who came out in favor of change, but not unanimously) and agonizing for several days, I decided to remove the “initiated”s.
Hoping this meets you well, I remain
Your servant,
Dravida dasa
[end of letter written by the BBT representative]
Of concern is that the explanation for deleting the word “initiated” seems to be largely based on the understanding of the word “initiated”, “as we know it in ISKCON”. Perhaps when Srila Prabhupada used the word “initiated”, he did so deliberately, and the meaning of the term as it has come to be understood in ISKCON is faulty. That is, instead of making changes in this passage based on what we think Srila Prabhupada may have meant, it may be fruitful to consider that the current conception in the organization of the word “initiated” is not perfectly consistent with Srila Prabhupada’s understanding of the concept.
One possible way that this could be true is by referring to one of the definitions that Srila Prabhupada often gave for diksa, or initiation. Namely, Srila Prabhupada frequently equated diksa with the process of imparting transcendental knowledge, or divya-jnana. In the purport of Madhya-lila, 15:108, Srila Prabhupada quotes Srila Jiva Goswami as follows. “Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as diksa.” Also, in the purport to Madhya-lila, 4:112, Srila Prabhupada writes “Diksa actually means initiating a disciple with transcendental knowledge by which he becomes freed from all material contamination.” In a lecture on July 29, 1968, Srila Prabhupada said “This is called initiation. Or initiation from the very beginning. This is called diksa. The Sanskrit term is called diksa. Diksa means… Di, divya-jnanam, transcendental knowledge, and ksa, iksa. Iksa means darsana, to see, or ksapayati, explain. That is called diksa.” This is similarly confirmed in several lectures and conversations (e.g., June 17, 1976 initiation lecture; July 11, 1976 lecture; February 22, 1973 lecture; December 29, 1973 lecture; January 27, 1977 conversation).
Perhaps Srila Prabhupada was referring to diksa, or initiation, in the sense of “transmitting transcendental knowledge” when he used the word “initiated” to describe the relationship between Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. The ISKCON Governing Body Commission has asserted that Srila Prabhupada is the “preeminent siksa guru” for all ISKCON members and that “ISKCON members shall be trained to place their faith, trust and allegiance first and foremost in the Founder-Acarya who is the preeminent siksa guru for every member of ISKCON.” The Vaisnava who is the preeminent instructor, or siksa guru, and who, more than any other Vaisnava, is worthy of faith, trust and allegiance, may also be considered to be the primary deliverer of transcendental knowledge. Imparting transcendental knowledge, or divya-jnana, is the essence of initiation, and thus the primary deliverer of transcendental knowledge may be considered to be the diksa guru, at least in a transcendental sense, though not necessarily in a formal sense.
In expounding these thoughts my hope is that, with a clearer, deeper, and perhaps synthetic understanding of initiation, or diksa, our Vaisnava society may be able to bridge some gaps and resolve some divisive conflicts. This paper makes no pretense to resolve issues, though I believe that the points described herein are important for discussion. Srila Prabhupada wrote (CC Adi 1:35 purport) “A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden.” We know that Vipina Vihari Goswami initiated Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, but Srila Prabhupada also wrote, in the original version of Caitanya-Caritamrita, that Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji initiated Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. Perhaps changing Srila Prabhupada’s words is the appropriate solution to resolve this, though perhaps it may also be fruitful to consider other solutions by looking more closely at various definitions of “diksa” and “initiation”. Hare Krsna.

The Weightiest Argument

May 17, 2006
by Dhira Govinda dasa
“Leaving one or both ‘initiated’s will strongly imply that the use of the phrases ‘direct disciple’ and even ‘accepted [as his disciple]‘ indicate formal initiation as we know it in ISKCON, which is far from the truth…        This last was the weightiest argument, in my view, for changing the passage” [Letter excerpt from Dravida das regarding the change on Sri-Caitanya-caritamrta page 1].
“The revision is small and in itself, we believe, of no great consequence” [Jayadvaita Swami, regarding the revision on Sri-Caitanya-caritamrta, page 1].
In May, 2005 I fortuitously encountered Jayadvaita Maharaja at a Sunday feast program in Alachua, and he shared with me about recent, somewhat extended deliberations, and conclusions, of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) directors concerning the revision on the first page of Sri-Caitanya-caritamrta. In July, 2005 I received the article that he wrote, on behalf of the BBT, about this matter. This article is now apparently receiving increased attention. Jayadvaita Maharaja wrote “In particular, Dhira Govinda Prabhu questioned it and asked us to reconsider it. We took his request seriously.” The BBT directors did devote extended hours to this topic, and I sincerely appreciate their earnest attention to the matter.
My perspective is that the revision is of profound consequence. Perhaps of even greater moment is the fact that the BBT directors believe that the revision is “in itself,… of no great consequence.”
On June 16, 2000, about half a year after he wrote the letter from which the excerpt at the start of this posting is taken, Dravida das who had written “This last was the weightiest argument…”, wrote to me as follows:
“Aside from the passage itself, I can easily see the following syllogism flowing from your notes on diksa: Diksa is really the imparting of transcendental knowledge. Srila Prabhupada is the pre-eminent imparter of transcendental knowledge for all generations of ISKCON devotees, now and in the future. So Srila Prabhupada is giving diksa to all who take knowledge from his books, tapes and other media. He who gives diksa is the diksa-guru. One is enjoined to have only one diksa-guru because the acceptance of more than one is strictly forbidden in the sastra. Therefore Srila Prabhupada is the only diksa-guru for all ISKCON devotees for the next ten thousand years.
“I don’t think I want to go down that road.”
[end of letter excerpt from BBT representative]
I feel compelled to state that this article is not about whether “Srila Prabhupada is the only diksa-guru for all ISKCON devotees for the next ten thousand years.” My views about Srila Prabhupada’s relationship with the members of his movement are expressed in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link and other essays. My original correspondence with BBT representatives concerning the book change on the first page of Sri-Caitanya-caritamrta is available in Appendix C of the second printing of Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link, and a short chapter discussing ramifications of this change is included as Chapter Three in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link.
This article is about an apparent knowledge filter that is active in decisions regarding revisions to Srila Prabhupada’s books. From what I am able to discern, the psychology underlying the emendation under discussion embraces a priori assumptions regarding which roads may be traversed. Rather than impartially presenting Srila Prabhupada’s words with an eagerness to discover which roads open, there seems to be an attitude, albeit subconscious, of pre-determining which paths are permissible for visitation, and accordingly adjusting Srila Prabhupada’s writings.
While recognizing the attempts of the BBT representatives to transparently represent Srila Prabhupada, it seems that in this instance Srila Prabhupada’s clear intentions are obscured for the reader due to a filter composed of presuppositions. These assumptions perhaps have not been closely examined, or at least are not readily apparent to many current and future readers of Srila Prabhupada’s books.
In an article dated May 6, 2006, Bala dasa Prabhu similarly addresses the topic. “This is a very troubling development for yet another reason. For this justification is laying the ground for making ANY further change to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that the GBC deems fit.” Notwithstanding the distinction between the GBC and BBT, Bala dasa’s essential point seems to be a caution regarding the peril implied by application over time of this “weightiest argument” to revising Srila Prabhupada’s books.
Apart from future considerations of damage caused by this gatekeeper mentality, I believe it relevant to contemplate present effects. The revision to the first page of Sri-Caitanya-caritamrta (CC) is one of thousands of changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. Perhaps the knowledge filter has been productive in more than this one case. Maybe it has had its effect in two or three, or perhaps dozens, of the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books. We might fruitfully deliberate on the influence this has had on the Vaisnava society.
I suggest that sober reflection on the substance of this one change, to CC page 1, and the paradigm of thought that engendered this change, would tremendously impact the philosophical, political, economic, social and spiritual culture of persons and groups that are influenced by the consciousness and determinations of the BBT and GBC. Acknowledgement of this “great consequence” by the BBT directors, or any one of them, would in itself provide momentum for this impact, and would launch torpedoes at embedded institutional structures.
In his Foreword to Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link Ambarisa dasa Prabhu quotes Herbert Spencer. “There is principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. That is contempt prior to investigation.” Contemporary ISKCON policy and thought as a basis for changing Srila Prabhupada’s books carries serious risk of “contempt prior to investigation.” Such a strategy seems to be dedicated to institutional preservation more than to authentically representing Srila Prabhupada. I assert that we may trust that authentic representation of Srila Prabhupada is the strongest assurance of protection, integrity and healthy expansion that an organization may enjoy.
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Hyatt Place Hampi awards grant to Akshaya Patra Foundation

On #GivingTuesday celebrated on December 2nd Hyatt Place Hampi, of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, awarded Akshaya Patra with a USD $15,000 grant to aid the Foundation in its cause. This initiative was a part of the Hyatt Community Grants, a philanthropic programme that enables Hyatt colleagues to take part in charitable giving.
The Hyatt Community Grants programme which has been running for seven years is celebrating its milestone of reaching two million dollars in grant funding since its inception.
The grant was presented at the Hyatt Place Hampi to Sooraj Ravindran, Manager, Corporate Partnerships, and Chetan D, Manager-Operations, Bellary, representatives of Akshaya Patra by Sameeth Guha General Manager; Debasish Shah, Executive Chef and Kanika Mehra, HR Manager, of the Hyatt Place Hampi.
Hyatt Community Grants is a part of Hyatt Thrive, the company's global corporate responsibility programme. Through Hyatt Thrive and the combined support of over 95,000 Hyatt associates from over 570 properties globally, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation makes a concerted effort to create a positive global impact. We are proud and grateful that Hyatt Hotels has chosen to partner with Akshaya Patra on this special occasion of #GivingTuesday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

ISKCON Hyderabad nod a major boost for Metro Rail

THE HINDU: While the suspense continues about the probable alignment changes on the Metro Rail corridors, a significant breakthrough has been achieved in providing the right of way at a key site. The ISKCON temple authorities have agreed to allow the overhead viaduct across their property without affecting their two main structures.
Senior Metro Rail officials, declining to be identified, indicated that a broad agreement was reached with the temple authorities to permit construction in 18 meter wide corridor inside, on crossing Sangeet crossroads junction. A sum of close to six crore rupees is to be paid as compensation for acquiring 6,000 sq.yards of the land.
It comes as a shot in the arm for the beleaguered Metro Rail officials as the issue was hanging fire over the last couple of years and had become a major bottleneck on corridor three – Nagole – Shilparamam - Raidurg route. Apparently, patient negotiations with the property owners concerned and the Government’s support has ensured some recalcitrant cases to come around.
Senior officials are now quietly confident of acquiring parts of a prominent club in Begumpet too.
“Over the years we have managed to take over more than 1,000 properties along with old Gandhi Hospital land and defense properties through persuasion and attractive compensation package,” they point out. 

Court cases
Still about 500 properties including 281 key ones have to be acquired. Some of these also come under Urban Land Ceiling Act and Government Vested Municipal (GVMs) properties – listed as Government lands on official records. Thus far, 156 GVMs have been acquired while 100 more are left.
Significant number of remaining GVMs are on the Greenlands-Jubilee Hills route (4.5 km), also on corridor three. Only a few piers or pillars of viaduct of 117 planned have come up on this stretch due to a court case by the affected persons. The HC has already heard both parties and final judgement is awaited.

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