Friday, November 20, 2015

President cites Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to talk about tolerance in India

Times Of India: Agra/Mathura: President Pranab Mukherjee, clearly at pains to reiterate his anxieties on rising intolerance in the country, especially after Dadri, on Wednesday spoke about Chaitanya's arrival in Vrindavan some 500 years ago and wondered if tolerance and "acceptance of dissent" are on the wane in India, a country, he said, has "amazed" the world in the past with its unity in diversity. "People should learn from Chaitanya," he said.

Addressing a gathering of more than a thousand people, including ascetics, scholars and Krishna devotees, at a function organized to celebrate the 500th year of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's advent in Vrindavan's Parmeshwari Devi Dhanuka Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Mukherjee said there are seven major religions being practiced in India, more than 100 languages are spoken here and over 1,600 dialects are used in the country — an excellent example of unity in diversity.

"Living with diversity, finding unity in diversity has been practiced in India for centuries. This has amazed people across the globe — how India, in one system of administration, in one Constitution, in one way of legal jurisprudence and functioning, has managed to remain united," he said.

The President laid emphasis on civilizational values as the reason for the country living together with 128 crore people, the second largest population in the world, representing almost all major religions of the world.

"All three major ethnic groups, Dravidians, Caucasians and Mongoloids, live in one piece of land. In the whole of north-eastern India, you will find concentration of Mongoloid people. The whole of south India, you will find Dravidian people and in north and north-west, (there are) people belonging to Caucasians group. All these major ethnic groups live in one state. It has been possible because of our cultural values, civilizational values, which have been taught to us over centuries and which has descended on us and we have nurtured it, which is a part of life and therefore it is no cliche to us," the President added.

Ever since the Dadri lynching and subsequent events, Mukherjee has been repeatedly appealing for tolerance and pluralism.

Citing teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a revered monk and a reformer in medieval India, he said that people should learn the lesson of love, service, humanity and communal harmony from the saint who devoted his life to society. The event was also attended by UP governor Ram Naik, Mathura MP Hema Malini, leader of UP Congress legislative party Pradeep Mathur.

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was also expected to attend the programme, left Vrindavan soon after welcoming the President at the helipad. A souvenir highlighting Radha Tattva, a Vedic concept defined by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was also released on the occasion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Akshaya Patra With UNICEF’s ‘World’s largest Lesson'

Under this campaign, specifically created lesson materials including an animated film by author and education expert Ken Robinson will be provided to the children. These materials will acquaint kids with the Global Sustainability Goals. A downloadable comic book created by Karl Kesel, Grace Allison and Josh Elder would also be a part of the study material ensemble.
“The World’s Largest Lesson is a fantastic opportunity to tell all children, everywhere what the Global Goals are and how they can play their part to make sure they are achieved,” said Richard Curtis, founder of the campaign.
Anthony Lake, executive director for UNICEF said, “The campaign will do more than teach children about the global goals. It will engage them in the effort to achieve those goals- educating them about the challenges that are shaping their futures and encouraging them to drive change in their own communities.”
Supporting this drive is Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides midday meal to 1.4 million children every day. Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman, Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “ We are proud to be associated with this drive started by UNICEF. Children are the future of the global civilization. By imparting them knowledge about sustainability goals, we are in a way making our future better.”
Bollywood Superstar Hrithik Roshan has been roped in to be India’s brand ambassador for ‘ The world’s largest lesson’. This puts him in the league of other global brand ambassadors for the drive including Nobel peace prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, footballer Neymar Jr, Freida Pinto , Kolo Toure, Dani Alves, UNICEF ambassadors Nancy Ajram, Serena Williams and eminent advocate for UNICEF, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

No HC relief for ISKCON's yatra at Shivaji Park

Times Of India: Bombay High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a plea by International Society for Krishna Consciousness to hold the Jagannath Yatra at Shivaji Park.

A bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said ISKCON must move the bench which summarily dismissed its plea on February 12. The judges pointed out that Supreme Court which heard ISKCON's appeal against the dismissal had not set aside the HC's order. The apex court granted ISKCON liberty to apply afresh, it added.

On a petition by Wecom Trust, the HC on May 5, 2010 directed the Park to be notified as a silence zone considering the schools and hospitals in its vicinity. It carved out three exceptions - Republic Day, Maharashtra Day and Dr Ambedkar's death anniversary . On January 31, 2013 the court directed that Shivaji Park shall not be used for non-sporting activities. While permissions were subsequently granted, the court ultimately ordered that except for permitted events, others will not be allowed without its prior permission.

ISKCON's advocate argued that before HC rejected its plea, it was allowed thrice to hold the rath yatra. She also submitted that the State government has not notified the 45 days of exemption when the ground can be given for non-sporting events.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

PM to lay foundation stone for ISKCON Golden Temple

The Hindu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu would lay foundation stone for the first Golden Temple in the State by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) on Vijayadasami Day (October 22).
Preliminary works like construction of sheds and rearing of cows at the Cow Protection Centre (Gosala) began a few months ago at Lord Krishna’s temple close to Kondaveedu Fort of Guntur district with a budget of Rs. 200 crore in 80 acres of land given by the State Endowments Department.

Rare Deity

A rare deity of young Krishna, locally called as Venna Mudda Gopaludu (butter Krishna deity), was found during the excavations at the Kondaveedu fort belonging to the 13th century during 1998 it inspired ISKCON to construct a golden butter Krishna temple at Kondaveedu.
It was sculpted during the period of Sri Krishnadevaraya and this golden temple is going to revive the religious cultural heritage of Kondaveedu.
The top of the temple and sanctum sanctorum would be gold-coated with 24 carrot gold and Rs.100 crores will be spent exclusively on temple complex and rest of the Rs.100 crores on other structures.
“We have appealed to the State government to allot 150 acres near Kondaveedu Fort, but there was a single piece of land of 80 acres without any legal complications, where the ISKCON started works,” said Saint Satya Gopinath Das, Project Director of Kondaveedu Golden Temple Project and president of ISKCON, South India.
The surroundings of the temple will host pavilions for different attractions from Mahabharata and Ramayana. The temple complex will also house an international school, a medical centre, a religious theme park, a museum with the history of Kondaveedu, a Vedic school and a cow protection centre.

Major tourist attraction

“This is expected to be a major tourist attraction near the proposed new capital,” said Saint Gopinath Das. He further added that Amritsar, Punjab, is famous for Golden Temple and later Sripuram Golden Temple of goddess Lakshmi was constructed in Vellore. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana did not have golden temples till now though they boast of rich culture and tradition.

Three phases

He said that the project would be completed in three phases and ISKCON planned to promote spiritual heritage, hence started Iskcon-Kondaveedu Spiritual Heritage Revival Project (IKSHR).
It will create a comprehensive spiritual tourist attraction zone in 80 acres of land, he added.
ISKCON is planning to construct the temple near Kondaveedu Fort in Guntur district

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Peeping Toms Incident at ISKCON Kolkata Uncovered

A devotee sent me an incident happened at ISKCON Kolkata.

I was always under impression that there is a group that is creating and spreading unnecessary rumors about ISKCON until I was personally subjected to an incident that shattered by beliefs.

During the end of April 2015, our family in the company of our neighbor family decided to organize a spiritual trip to Puri and Mayapur.  After our darshan and trip in Puri, it was time to go to Mayapur. We had a old mataji who was travelling with us who was frail enough and needed frequent rest before we proceeded further.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
When we reached Kolkata, it was a complete city bundh and we tried to check into some hotels, but did not like the place much and myself being a Life Patron Member of ISKCON "SJM 0051" we checked in to ISKCON Kolkata where the rooms were alloted in a flat instead of temple premises. This is a triple bedroom flat converted into 4 bedrooms with one common toilet.

Next day, we had to travel to Navadwip Dham, we had a whole day of time to rest and organise ourselves.  The neighbor family mataji who was given common toilet to use was washing loads of clothes of her family in the bathroom.  Of note, she was without clothes on herself.

Suddenly she screamed out for help and husband rushed to see what had happened.  Our family members also who was in adjacent rooms went out to see what had happened.  I was taking my bath in my room, hence I was not the witness of whole episode.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
Upon inquiry, the mataji alerted the husband from inside that there is someone peeping over her from the gap below the exhaust fan ventilator.  The husband called upon the attendant and informed him about the incident.  The attendant's attitude and response looked very suspicious to him and he asked him to open the adjacent room to see who was inside.  All of them were surprised to see who came out of the adjacent bathroom.  A devotee whom they all saw a while ago with the robes of chanting bag, white dhoti and kurta, kanti mala, walked out of the bathroom and as you can see from the photos the arrangement is so hidden and smart that one can never imagine that such a thing can take place in ISKCON.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
When I came out after my bath, I was narrated what had happened.  I called the reception to inform them such a thing had taken place.  To my shock of life, I was told that

"We are devotees of Krishna and practising Bhakti yoga for more than 15 years, so we will not do such cheap things, if you wish to vacate, you may leave now"

It didn't take much time for me to understand that ISKCON what I had understood over these years is totally different from what I was hearing and seeing there.  I came to associate with ISKCON devotees in 2009 and liked and cherished every moment.  In between, came across many news articles that was not in favor of ISKCON and when I discussed the matter with other devotees, I was being convinced that it was a mere rumor spread by MPD team and I should concentrate on my devotional service.  Somewhere in Russia, something good happens to some devotee of ISKCON, everyone shares the moment of joy, but when a female is treated as an object of sense enjoyment by a devotee ISKCON, no one is ready to answer or take responsibility of what happened.

What kind of ISKCON is this ? A bunch of hypocrites are better than these people in the robes of devotees.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
The name of the peeping tom was Gauranga Das I was told.  The matter was discussed with Temple Manager, I don't remember the name, who apprehended the devotee in front of us.  He initially gave different versions of the story which was not convincing to any of us present there. He finally fell to mataji's feet to apologize, we thought, for what had happened.  He maintains that it was our misunderstanding about the episode and the manager also could help much on this as he said more evidence and proof was required, which we felt was nonsense.  The mataji anyway forgave the devotee, so do we.

Before we left, we took some snaps and wrote the message on walls and doors to alert other matajis about peeping toms.  We paid our room charges and left to Mayapur the next day.  The devotee in question was promoted to main reception area from the maintenance he was doing in the flat.  A different story was spread in the temple already among the devotees that some third person who was not part of the temple was peeping into mataji's bathroom.  The husband of the mataji for ISKCON's unfortunate / fortunate timing is that he belongs to TV and Media who works with many news channels in Karnataka, but out of respect for Srila Prabhupada, we all decided to conceal this matter without making it public, but keeping quiet is a biggest crime than committed.

Peeping Toms ISKCON Mumbai Sexual Harrasment
What happened after this incident is something that I have to think about and alert the neophytes who flock to ISKCON without any knowledge of the rascals in there.  The information was passed onto many top personalities of ISKCON viz., Jayapataka Swami, Doyaram Das, and Bhakti Purushottam Swami, who never cared to reply to the mails.  I informed the incident to Jagannath Mandir, Bangalore with whom I usually associate.  I spoke to some devotees in Mayapur who all looked at me as if I had done a big crime against ISKCON by posting the incident on FB and Whatsapp.  My admin rights to temple FB page that I created was removed and I am looked at as a rebel of ISKCON now.

After all this, it was time to say goodbye to ISKCON.  Though my faith on Srila Prabhupad continues.  I continue to distribute Gita to people and tell them to chant Hare Krishna and be happy.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Devotees Death: Four ISKCON Management Members Detained By Police

Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON Mangalore Logo
INDIA TODAY: The Karnataka police have detained four members of the management of the Iskcon centre in Dakshina Kannada district in connection with the death of one its followers under mysterious circumstances.

The Karnataka police have detained four members of the management of the Iskcon centre in Dakshina Kannada district in connection with the death of one its followers under mysterious circumstances.

Ravi Kumar (25), who hailed from Bengaluru, was found dead at Adamkudru near Kallapu on the outskirts of Mangaluru (Mangalore) in Dakshina Kannada district on Sunday by a fisherman. An MTech from a reputed national institute, Ravi Kumar had become a follower of the Iskcon without the consent of his parents. Now, his parents have blamed Iskcon for Ravi's death.

He had joined the Iskcon centre in Balmatha near Ullal in Dakshina Kannada district four years ago after completing his MTech. He was in regular touch with his parents, who insisted that he returned to normal life. However, it is said that Ravi was adamant about leaving Iskcon. Since Saturday, he went missing and his parents alleged that Iskcon representatives did not give any satisfactory answers for the same.

On Monday, the police detained Tarunyasagara Dasa, Sharath Vihari Dasa, and two others from the Balmatha Iskcon centre and questioned them. Apparently, they told the police that they had no role in Ravi's disappearance. Ravi's parents have sought an impartial probe into his death.
ISKCON Mangalore Devotees
ISKCON Mangalore Devotees

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ISKCON Mangaluru Devotee Murdered

ISKCON Mangaluru Devotee Ravi Kumar Murdered
Ravi kumar
The Hindu: Body of a 28-year-old employee of International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Mangaluru, was found floating in the Netravathi in Ullal on Sunday morning.
The Ullal police said Ravikumar (28), a native of Thippenahalli in Bengaluru, had been working with ISKCON for over several months. He was missing for the last few days. The police said Clement, a fisherman, found a bag floating in the river.

When the bag was retrieved, he found decomposed body with a stone stuffed in the mouth.
The Ullal police identified him as Ravi kumar. The police said the wire of a mobile charger was found around the neck. Ravi kumar’s brother Narendra Kumar arrived in the city from Bengaluru and filed a complaint that his brother had been murdered.

Narendra Kumar has not mentioned names of persons he suspected, the police said.
The police said they have registered a case of murder and are investigating the complaint filed by Narendra Kumar.

The police said Ravi kumar had joined ISKCON soon after finishing his M.Tech from National Institute of Technology - Surathkal.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bahubali Movie: The Epic Similarities And The Real Story

Baahubali Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola
Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola
ISKCON Bangalore: The Beginning is a historic fiction inspired by the greatest epic Mahabharata and it has nothing to do with the story of real Baahubali. Who is Baahubali? 

Srimad Bhagavatam gives the list of kings who appeared in the dynasty of Swayambhuva Manu. Manu had two sons: Priyavrata and Uttanapada. Priyavrata married the daughter of Vishwakarma and begot ten sons. Three of them accepted the renounced order of life. Priyavrata divided the entire world into 7 islands and handed it over to his seven sons. The eldest son, Agnidhara, became the ruler of Jambudvipa. He married a celestial girl named Purvacitti and begot nine sons: Nabhi, Kimpurusha, Harivarsha, Ilavrta, Ramyaka, Hiranmaya, Kuru, Bhadrasva and Ketumala. He divided the Jambudvipa into nine tracts of land, called varshas, each named after his sons. 

The son of Nabhi, Rishabadeva, became the ruler of Ajanabha. He had one hundred sons headed by Bharata (after whom the tract of land called Ajanabha was named as Bharatavarsha). Rishabhadeva thought his sons how to rule the world. The instructions given by Rishabhadeva are recorded in the fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. You can read a synopsis of those instructions here. 

Transcendental Teachings of Rishabhadeva

 Instructions of Nava Yogendras
Transcendental Teachings of Rishabhadeva
 Instructions of Nava Yogendras
Nine of his sons became mendicant preachers and their instructions are recorded in eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. You can read the synopsis of their instructions here.
It is said that Baahubali was one of the sons of Rishabhadeva. When Bharata became the king, he wanted to establish his sovereignty over the entire world. The entire world accepted his supremacy and whenever someone opposed, Maharaja Bharata conquered them. Thus he became the emperor of the entire world. All his brothers, except Baahubali, accepted his supremacy and surrendered to him. Baahubali challenged him for a fight. To avoid further bloodshed, the ministers decided that the two brothers engage in a duel and decide amongst themselves who the strongest is.
Baahubali was victorious in the wrestling match (and thus the name Baahubali meaning mighty armed) but he felt disgusted that he had to fight with his own brother to attain material possessions which are temporary. So he decided to give up everything to become a renunciant.

Note: The above story of Baahubali is not mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam, but has its source in the scriptures of Jains.

In Karnataka there are 5 monolithic statues of Baahubali (also known as Gommateshwara) located in Shravanabelagola (57 feet), Karkala (42 feet), Dharmasthala (39 feet), Venur (35 feet) and Gommatagiri (20 feet). There are also temples in Kumbhoj (Maharashtra) and near Indore.

The story line adopted in the movie Baahubali: The Beginning has nothing to do with the historical Baahubali described in Jain literature. The movie is inspired by the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Bahubali: The Epic Similarities

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