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.


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)


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.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Srila Prabhupada is a Mahasadhaka in the true sense: Pejavara Vishwesha Tirtha Swamiji

ISKCON Bangalore: “It is due to Srila Prabhupada that the bhakti siddhanta advocated by Sri Madhavacharya reached an international level. The word Mahasadhaka clearly applies to Srila Prabhupada,” said His Holiness Sri Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swamiji of Paryaya Sri Pejavara Adhokshaja Matha, Udupi on the occasion of a Seminar and Kavya Goshthi held at Rajangana, Krishna Matha, Udupi on July 3, 2016.
This event entitled ISKCON Sahitya Sambhrama was organized by ISKCON Bangalore in association with Paryaya Sri Pejavara Adhokshaja Matha, Udupi. The seminar was on the book Mahasadhaka, a Kannada biography on Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, written by Dr. Babu Krishnamurthy.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Swamiji said, “Srila Prabhupada holds the credit for spreading the philosophy of devotion to Sri Krishna along with a revolution in moral living all over the world.” Drawing a comparison between the Sri Krishna Matha and ISKCON to two branches of the same tree, he expressed his wishes for their unceasing growth.
Justice Sri N. Kumar, Retd. Judge of the Karnataka High Court said, “Srila Prabhupada is a great personality who created awareness among lakhs of people in the Western countries about the power of devotion to Lord Krishna. At present there is a need to reach his thoughts to Indians more than the Westerners. This task has to be taken up by ISKCON. The teachings of Srila Prabhupada are relevant even today considering the increasing terrorism and frivolous arguments in the world.”
Delivering his chief address, Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya, an eminent Scholar and Padma Shri awardee said, “Prabhupada had the wonderful power of logical sense combined with Krishna bhakti. It was to his credit that he eliminated the hippie culture from the world.”
Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, President of ISKCON Bangalore who presided over the ceremony mentioned in his talk that Srila Prabhupada visited Udupi in 1961 and took the blessings of Udupi Krishna, a few years before leaving to America to preach.
“Today the simple fact that thousands of devotees as well as non-devotees all over the world, who are reading his books, are being influenced and are transforming their lives, proves that he is still living in his books,” he said.
“The Western scholarly world lacked the authentic presentation of the complete Vedantic truth of personal God or the personal aspect of the Absolute Truth, Para Brahman. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada has not only transplanted the Vedantic philosophy in its completeness to the Western world, he also transplanted the culture and lifestyle of India through which they can practice the philosophy of real life.”
The ceremony was graced by His Holiness Sri Sri Vishwa Prasanna Tirtha Swamiji, Junior Pontiff of Paryaya Sri Adhokshaja Matha. Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa, Senior Vice President of ISKCON Bangalore was the Chief Guest. Dr. Babu Krishnamurthy, the author of Mahasadhaka, Prof. Mallepuram G. Venkatesh, Former Vice Chancellor, Karnataka Sanskrit University, Sri B. Gopalachar, Director, Sri Vadiraja Samshodhana Pratishthana, Udupi and Sri Stoka Krishna Dasa, Vice President, ISKCON Bangalore were among other dignitaries present in the ceremony.
The seminar began with a review of Mahasadhaka. Dr. Raghavendra Patil, Dharwad, presided over this session. Dr. C. Nanjundaiah, Adichunchanagiri, Smt. Mala Manjunath, Bengaluru, Dr. Rohinaksha Shirlalu, Puttur, Dr. B. Shivarama Shetty, Mangaluru, Dr. Rajashekhara Halemane, Ujire were among the scholars who presented their views on the biography.
In the second session of the seminar, Prof. Sidduyapalaparavi, Gadag, Dr. M. A. Hegade, Sirsi, Dr. Bairamangala Ramegowda, Bengaluru, Sri Tirumala Rao, Bengaluru and Dr. S. K. Sureshacharya, Udupi participated in a conversation with Dr. Babu Krishna Murthy and expressed their opinions about the book.
The seminar was followed by a Kavya Goshthi (reciting of poetries on Sri Krishna, composed by renowned Kannada poets) in the presence of His Holiness Sri Sri Vishwesha Tirtha Swamiji and Sri Sri Vishwa Prasanna Tirtha Swamiji. Nine renowned poets from the state recited poetries at this program.
The valedictory ceremony was presided over by Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa. Dr. S. R. Leela, Sanskrit scholar and former MLC, Bengaluru delivered the valedictory address. Sri Lakshmisha Tolpadi, a well-known thinker and Sri D. P. Ananthacharya, Trustee, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Tirupati were the Chief Guests.
The event was attended by many eminent scholars and celebrities from different parts of Karnataka.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Iskcon organises Iftar Samabesh

TIMES OF INDIA: KOLKATA: Nabadwip, boasts of a heritage of brotherhood among varied communities for more than 500 years. Back in the 16th century, it began when Sri Chaitanya MahaPrabhu sowed the seeds of an eternal relationship with the then magistrate, Chand Kazi by means of congregational chanting. In fact, the acquaintance blossomed into an uncle-nephew relationship. Soon after this incident Chand Kazi approved MahaPrabhu to perform Harinama Sankirtan without any government interruptions.

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