Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Akshaya Patra's Annapurna Yojana Offers Food for Rs. 10 for Poor in Chandigarh.


Press Room: Annapurna Akshaya Patra Yojna initiated by Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF), in alliance with Chandigarh UT Administration, was started to provide an affordable, hygienic and nutritious diet to people. Under this scheme, food packets worth Rs 10 were distributed by the UT Administration, but only 500 people could avail the meal as the entire stock was sold within an hour.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

UP CM AkhileshYadav Performs Ground Breaking Ceremony for 11 Akshaya Patra Kitchens


The Hans India: The Akshaya Patra Foundation is set to launch eleven new kitchens in in partnership with the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Akhilesh Yadav announced the setting up of eleven new kitchens with the ‘Shilanyas’ (Ground Breaking Ceremony) on 26 December, 2016 at Lok Bhavan, New Secretariat – Lucknow. These kitchens will start providing mid-day meals to children in the next academic year and increase the reach to over 1 lakh children per kitchen every day in due course. 
There were a host of dignitaries present at the occasion including Shri Ahmad Hasan–Cabinet Minister for Basic Education,  Shri Kailash Chourasiya – Minister for Women & Child Welfare, Shri Wasim Ahmed – Minister for Child Development &  Nutrition, Primary Education and Energy, Shri Rajendra Choudhury – Cabinet Minister for Political Pension,  Shri Ram Govind Choudhury – Minister for Panchayat Raj, Shri Pradeep Mathur – MLA, Mathura constituency, Shri Alok Ranjan – Chief Advisor to Shri Akhilesh Yadav, Shri Rahul Bhatnagar – Chief Secretary, Shri Ajay Kumar Singh – Secretary, Basic Education,  Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa, Vice Chairman – The Akshaya Patra Foundation and Shri Suvyakta NarasimhaDasa – President, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, UP.
Akshaya Patra is currently feeding 1,05,000 children from its Vrindavan kitchen and 66,000 children from the Lucknow kitchen (which was inaugurated by Shri AkhileshYadav on 15th March, 2015), totalling to 1,71,000 children across 3021 schools in Uttar Pradesh. With the introduction of these new 11 kitchens, the reach will be expanded to serving more than 13 lakh or 1.3 million beneficiaries per day, which makes this the Foundation’s largest intervention in India.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa said, “We are humbled and honoured with confidence reposed on us by the Honourable Chief Minister Shri Akhilesh Yadav and the Government of Uttar Pradeshfor sponsoring the land and the kitchen facilities as a step to end class room hunger in the region. It is due to this unflinching support that Akshaya Patra is poised to feed more than 1.3 million children in Uttar Pradesh on a daily basis, which is a shining example of a successful Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the field of nutrition, education and child welfare not only in India but across the world. We are deeply committed to work with the Government to construct Akshaya Patra kitchens and provide healthy and nutritious mid-day meals to children.”
The districts where the eleven new kitchens will be constructed are Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur, Etawah, Kannauj, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Rampur and Ballia. It was a landmark event in which the ground breaking ceremony for establishing all the eleven centralised kitchens was observed simultaneously, signalling the delivery of better nutrition, better education and a better future for the beneficiaries.
Acknowledging this momentous event, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman – The Akshaya Patra Foundation, said, “I sincerely thank the Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Akhilesh Yadav, a dynamic and visionary leader whose progressive policies have been instrumental in the all–round development of the state.This encouragement and support will help the Foundation take greater strides towards its mission of feeding 5 million children every day by 2020.”

Friday, December 23, 2016

Indrani Mukerjea wants to donate Rs 175 crore to ISKCON trust

MID-DAY: Indrani Mukerjea, the main accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, yesterday told the court that she wants to donate 75 per cent of her wealth, as well as her organs. 

To both her wishes, the court said she doesn't need its permission for acting on them. According to CBI records, the net worth of properties registered in her name is around Rs 250 crore, excluding the cash in her 10 bank accounts in the city. 

An investigation done by the CBI till now has revealed that Indrani had fixed deposits of Rs 80 lakh in her parents' names, which were transferred in her name in 2013. At present, the current value of FDs in Indrani's name is around Rs 6.92 crore — Rs 4.85 crore with Syndicate Bank, Rs 8 lakh with Axis Bank and Rs 1.32 crore with 
IndusInd Bank.


Besides this, her immobile wealth includes office premises in Phoenix Tower in Lower Parel, which she had rented out for `4.40 lakh a month, and flats on the 4th and 5th floors in Worli's Marlow building, of which one has been gifted to her daughter Vidhi; in the other, Indrani stayed with her husband Peter till the two were arrested.

In Betim, Goa, Indrani owns two flats bought for `62 lakh each. She also had office premises in Gurgaon, which was reportedly sold for `42 lakh. The probe has also revealed that Indrani owns properties in London's Snake Park. 

The day in court
Around 2.45 pm, when the court called out the Sheena Bora case, Indrani's lawyers Sudeep Pasbola, Gunjan Mangla and Ayaz Khan informed it that they would start their arguments on the point of charges against her by the CBI today (Friday). 

After that, Indrani, who was sitting in the third row with her escort officers, came forward and told the special CBI court, presided over by judge HS Mahajan, that in the last 15 months she has spent in jail, she has seen too much grief around her and hence wishes to do something for the poor. "Though I am a British citizen, I have spent almost my entire life in India. I am used to this simple life," Indrani told the court.


"Whether I get convicted or acquitted by this court, I want to give away 75% of the wealth I have earned to the Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON) and an NGO working with women and children."

When the judge told Indrani that she need not inform the court, Indrani replied the jail authorities has asked her to, adding, "I also want to donate my organs."

After Indrani walked out, when the judge asked Peter if he wanted to say something, he replied, "My organs are fine, I don't intend to donate them as of now."

Permission granted
The court has also granted Indrani the permission to perform the final rites of her father on December 27. Its order stated the jail authorities should leave early in the morning on December 27, so that she can perform the last rites either at home or in a city temple, giving her time till 7 pm for it, and then return to jail.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bengaluru mayor tastes Akshaya Patra mid-day meal


The Times Of India: The Akshaya Patra Foundation, operator of the world's largest Mid-Day Meal Programme, is driving its food truck to the residents of Bengaluru, so that citizens can taste the food and give feedback.

This 'Taste of Joy' was inaugurated by the mayor, G Padmavathi on December 14 at the BBMP office, after the inauguration, the food was served to the public.

The aim of this campaign was to serve a hot and nutritious Akshaya Patra meal to the people of Bengaluru. Citizens could then post their feedback on social media sites using hashtags such as #foodforeducation #zerohunger #tasteofjoy and #menuforhope.

The food truck will also be going to different places across the city to increase awareness about the importance of eradicating hunger from classrooms. G Padmavathi said that the taste of the food helped in bringing students to school everyday and that the superior quality of the ingredients and the high nutritional value of the meal would help the children grow as well.

Shridham Krishna Dasa, chief projects manager, The Akshaya Patra Foundation said "Over the years, both children and their parents have tasted Akshaya Patra's food. Now we are taking it to the people, whose feedback and inputs help us add more strength to children's ascent. It overwhelms me that, as the first citizen of Bengaluru, our Mayor has tasted the Akshaya Patra food and has shared good feedback. We are also glad that the 2000 people liked our food and showed their support for the noble cause by sharing their feedback."

The "Taste of Joy" food truck will be going to the Nayandahalli Metro Station on December 15 at 5.00 pm.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pourakarmikas to get mid-day meals

The Hindu: Bengaluru: Over 25,000 pourakarmikas will be served breakfast every day starting Tuesday. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will flag off the programme in the East Zone.

The programme was part of the 2016-17 BBMP budget in which Rs. 10 crore had been earmarked for this initiative. The meals will be provided by Akshaya Patra Foundation of ISKCON. Each meal will cost the civic body Rs. 20 and will be served in the ward offices, mustering centres and other BBMP buildings in each ward.

Senior civic officials said that the scheme will be launched only in the East Zone on Tuesday and cover 6,000 pourakarmikas. “We will expand the programme to other zones with every passing week and cover the entire city in eight weeks,” a senior official said.

Vrindavan to get World’s tallest religious skyscraper


New Indian Express: A 700-foot structure with 70 storeys — a skyscraper temple-cum-heritage centre — the world’s largest religious structure, will be built by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh.
Reporters from Bengaluru were recently taken on a guided tour of ‘Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir’ to witness the ongoing construction. Work on the foundation piles, which run as deep as the height of the Qutub Minar (239.5 feet), was getting completed at the venue.  
The temple will be taller than St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, which soars to 421.91 feet. A grand temple of Lord Krishna at the centre, a theme park and facilities to carry out many social programmes form the major components of the edifice.

The goal of the project is to acknowledge and celebrate on an epic scale the depth of the ennobling influence Lord Sri Krishna has had on humanity, said Naveena Neerada Dasa, Head of Communications of ISKCON Sree Radha Krishna temple in Bengaluru.
“It is our aspiration to create a world class and iconic monument for Sri Krishna in the holy land of Vrindavan and proudly, place Krishna on the world mindscape and Vrindavan on the world map,” he says.
Skyscraper details
The temple, planned on 5.5 acres, will have a grand temple of Lord Krishna, a theme park and several facilities for social intervention programmes.
In connection with Lord Krishna, the social programmes include welfare programmes for widows of Vrindavan, restoration of Yamuna river and restoration of important sites in Braj.
“The forests of Vrindavan will be recreated around the temple. Spread over a sprawling 26 acres and designed by leading international landscape designers, the twelve forests of Braj will come alive here,” Naveena Neerada Dasa said.
The fascinating aspect for visitors would be a capsule elevator that will rise through the temple core taking visitors through different planetary systems in the universe according to Vedic literature, accompanied by a stunning light-and-sound show.
“The elevator will take visitors to the viewing gallery on top for a breathtaking view of Braj Mandal,” said an official communication. The project will also have apartments and villas around it, which will be sold to devotees to raise money for the skyscraper.
The construction will be earthquake-resistant and state-of-the art. Numerous consultants of different faiths from across the world are involved in it while its structural consultant is Thornton Tomasetti, who has designed the tallest buildings across the globe, including Petronas Towers and Shanghai Towers.
The project cost is expected to run into `800 crore, of which  `50 crore has been spent for piling work. Donations from devotees are expected to fund this iconic structure.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

ISKCON at 50: A Review

Back To Prabhupada, Issue 50, Winter 2015/16

ISKCON will organize a number of self-congratulatory events this year to celebrate it having come a long way in reaching its 50th Anniversary. However, as this review of ISKCON's "accomplishments" after 50 years shows, it has only come a long way away from the ISKCON that was established 50 years ago by Srila Prabhupada.

Key area comparison

On the following 2 pages we have made a comparison in key areas between the ISKCON Srila Prabhupada established and the ISKCON of today, 50 years on. Please examine it. These comparisons demonstrate that today's ISKCON is a completely different entity from the original ISKCON. Not only is it a different ISKCON, but none of the differences have been authorised by Srila Prabhupada, and therefore are just straightforward deviations. To make the comparison simple and easy to understand, it is largely restricted to titles and pictures. But it is self-explanatory. And we have given all the evidences for these differences and why they are deviations in previous issues. For example, in regards to the introduction of demigod worship into ISKCON temples, we have noted Srila Prabhupada stating:
"[...] this Krsna consciousness movement simply advocates worship of Krsna to the exclusion of the demigods."
(SB, 4.31.14)
And Srila Prabhupada never sanctioned the opening of schools that provide regular material education accredited by the government. Rather, he stated that:
"Our school will not be government recognized because we cannot follow the government syllabus. We want to teach only Krishna Consciousness." 
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 12/4/72)
And in regards to how ISKCON celebrates its festivals, we have noted Srila Prabhupada warning:
"So far the Road Show and this Yoga Village are concerned, these things should be stopped. Simply perform our kirtana. If we divert our attention in this way, the whole thing will gradually deteriorate. [...] Such inventing spirit will ruin our this movement. [...] Stop all this. Simply have kirtana, nothing else." 
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 5/11/72)
And so on. We can note that Srila Prabhupada's warning that the "inventing spirit will ruin our this movement" is actually applicable to all the deviations we have listed ISKCON engaging in.

Two ISKCONs

As the chart overleaf documents, the differences between ‘ISKCON at 50' and the ISKCON Srila Prabhupada established are not just restricted to the key issue of "who is the Guru", but in every key area. We are in effect talking about two completely different "ISKCON"s. These differences, such as going outside of Srila Prabhupada's recorded teachings, are just as fundamental as whom one officially accepts as their diksa guru at an initiation ceremony. For it becomes irrelevant to claim that "only Srila Prabhupada is the diksa guru" if one does not accept "only Srila Prabhupada as one's authority"! Hence, we have seen that even those who pay lip-service to the position of Srila Prabhupada being the only diksa guru in ISKCON, will also share some of the deviations in these other key areas which are listed in the chart overleaf.
Due to space restrictions, we are limited to only offering differences in 12 areas. We could actually have listed many more. But what is given here is more than enough to document that ‘ISKCON at 50' is not the ISKCON Srila Prabhupada established.

ISKCON leaders agree

Below, ISKCON leaders themselves give their own "review" of today's ISKCON. And we will see that these leaders, who are themselves actually responsible for the state of affairs in today's ISKCON, agree with our analysis of ‘ISKCON at 50' offered in the chart overleaf.
Firstly, there is general agreement about the fact that today's ISKCON is a different and deviant ISKCON to that established by Srila Prabhupada:
"There's even a whole book written about it called Hare Krishna Transformed, by E. Burke Rochford, Jr. about how the movement has deliberately changed from what Prabhupada instituted. [...] I see ISKCON as being increasingly off course."
(Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Lecture 24/8/11; Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"[...] we have lost our way from Srila Prabhupada's mood, mission, and methods for how to progress and how to attract the conditioned souls."
(HH Kesava Bharati Dasa Goswami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"[...] if current trends within ISKCON are not addressed, we are already on our way down the path to a slow death of assimilation and irrelevance."
(Badrinarayana Swami, GBC, "Who Are We and Where Are We going? A Fight for the Soul of ISKCON", 2015)
In addition, there is also agreement in specific key areas of deviation highlighted in the chart. For example, here are statements about the changes in ISKCON in regards to: focusing on Indian congregations, making money off of Vedic teachings, paying salaries, and establishing non-gurukula schools:
"[...] appreciating his [Hridayananda Dasa Goswami's] genuine desire to reach significantly beyond the comfort-zone of Indian congregations and to recover the trajectory of significant world-change envisioned by Srila Prabhupada."
(HH Krishna Kshetra Swami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014, emphasis added)
"As far as income amidst formal preaching work; we have to be careful to not sell (make money off of) Vedic teachings."
(HH Bhaktisiddhanta Swami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"I strongly disagree with the practice of the temple managements' paying a salary to full-time grihasthas and pujaris in various temples wherever I visited. The is not according to Srila Prabhupada's orders. They may be provided with living facilities but no salary."
(HH Navayogendra Swami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"So like this, schools and colleges, Srila Prabhupada was very clearly against mundane education which is why he set up gurukulas. Nowadays, schools in ISKCON, they proudly announce that ‘Our school is affiliated with the Cambridge Board' ".
(HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Lecture, 24/8/11)

Conclusion

Thus, our review of ‘ISKCON at 50' as being a different and deviant movement must be accurate if even ISKCON's leaders agree. After all, they should know -- they caused it! Thus, 4 decades of deviation since Srila Prabhupada physically departed is hardly a cause for celebration.

ISKCON at 50: Not Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON 






Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bengaluru civic workers to get Akshaya Patra meals from November

Economic Times: About 28,000 civic workers who toil to keep the city clean will get hot meals served by Akshaya Patra from November, Bengaluru Mayor G Padmavathi said Friday. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

ISKCON Mysuru celebrates Vijayadashami with Dance & Drama


THE HINDU: ISKCON Mysuru conducted the groundbreaking ceremony for its ‘Nava Brindavan Dham’, a project to build a Sri Radha Krishna temple and a cultural centre on a nine-acre campus, during its Vijayadashami celebrations on Tuesday.
The seventh annual ‘ISKCON Dasara’ was celebrated on the ISKCON premises in Jayanagar to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.
Madhu Pandit Das, president of ISKCON Bengaluru and chairman of Akshaya Patra Foundation, was the chief guest. Bharatanatyam dancer Vasundhara Doraswamy and troupe presented ‘Sri Rama Kathamrutha’ — a dance-drama based on Valmiki Ramayana.
Following this was the captivating vista of Sri Krishna and Balarama, adorned as Sri Rama and Lakshmana, going on a ride on the ‘Gaja Vahana’ while the devotees enjoyed pulling the chariot, a release said.
The burning of 60-foot effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Meghanad, marking the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, was another highlight.
There were loud exultations from the crowd as the effigies burnt down to the sound of firecrackers. The festivities were attended by more than 10,000 devotees, according to Jai Chaitanya Dasa, president, ISKCON, Mysuru.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Amid row over quality, Kuppam seeks Iskcon’s midday meal

Students say a prayer before taking their midday
meal at a school near Tirupati.
The Hindu: Despite the queries raised over the quality of the midday meal served by the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (Iskcon) to the government schools in and around Tirupati, the demand for it seems to be growing, as the VVIP constituency of Kuppam has requested it to extend its scheme to the segment.
Iskcon has been serving meals to 50,000 students in 10 mandals of Chittoor district ever since the government handed over the task to it in 2004.
This includes students of seven schools run by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). Under the banner of Iskcon Food Relief Foundation (IFRF), the mammoth kitchens in Tirupati and Chinnagottigallu prepare meals for 35,000 and 15,000 children respectively.
In tune with its rigorous norms and food practices, Iskcon does not use onion, garlic and egg in the food. The rural palate that salivates for spicy food apparently did not like the idea and complaints of ‘unpalatable food’ arose from rural schools.
“The use of onion and garlic in food triggers passionate feelings like anger, lust and greed. Hence we consciously avoid them,” says Madhugopal Haridas, who heads the Iskcon’s midday meal and catering section.
Though buttermilk is not mandated, it is served every alternate day, until it became a burden recently due to the piling up of bills receivable from the state government.
Caught in dilemma
“The education officials want us to stick to the menu, but the students like the variety we serve. We are caught in between. Instead of eggs, we serve bananas and chikky, which are equally rich in calories. The complaints are made by some vested interests trying to defame us,” clarifies Leela Parayana Das, Iskcon’s public relations officer in Tirupati.
Meanwhile, Kuppam Area Development Authority (KADA) Special Officer Syam Sundar recently requested Iskcon to launch the midday meal scheme in Kuppam and even allotted a building at Thummisi village. The Iskcon management is undecided yet, keeping in view the ‘unpalatable’ approach taken by the officials towards them.

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