“Seven temples on seven hills” (Album with photos)
Varsana Swami: When I moved to New Vrindaban in 1972, this community was a “spiritual frontier”nestled within the rugged foothills of Appalachia.It was a community of devotees who were dedicated to Srila Prabhupada’s vision for New Vrindaban which holds sacred two primary mandates: (1) to live in harmony with one another, depend on nature, and protect Krishna’s cows; and (2) to develop a replica of Vrindavan.
The entire community was comprised of men and women endowed with the pioneering spirit required to carve a community in the inhospitable West Virginia countryside. The devotees referred to this pioneering mood as the “Brijabasi Spirit” and the mantra which inspired and united that community was “seven temples on seven hills.”
“Seven temples on seven hills” became the mantra of the entire community when Srila Prabhupada wrote to Hayagriva on November 18, 1968, “But now, let us build at least seven temples. On seven hills we will build seven main temples as in the original Vrindavan: Govindaji, Gopinatha, Madana-Mohana, Shyamasundara, Radha-Ramana, Radha-Damodar, Gokulananand.”
Bhauma Vrindavan folklore is divided regarding which of the seven temples was constructed first. Some say Madan Mohan Mandir while others say Radha Gopinath Mandir was the first. In New Vrindaban, we began construction of Radha Gopinath Mandir (across from the Palace of Gold) in order to provide a suitable residence to Their Lordships Who are already residing on the premises.
A few weeks ago, half a dozen devotees gathered at Radha Gopinath Mandir to offer practical service in fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s vision of “seven temples on seven hills.” ISKCON pioneers and second generation devotees offered service at Sri Sri Radha-GopinathMandir to install the expanded metal lathe over the steel frame. My godbrothers Gaura Sakti das (a New Vrindavan resident) and Akhilananda das(from Ohio) provided guidance and inspiration to the younger men. Second generation Dhruva das from Alachua and Bhakta Jake from Michigan were amongst the fortunate recipients.
The camaraderie, team spirit and working relationships were reminiscent of the Brijabasi Spirit upon which this community was founded. All the work is being done by volunteers, and all the steel and masonry sand are donated.
In the photos, you can see the installation of the metal lathe. The lathe goes on both sides of the steel, and it is ideal to install both sides at the same time. This lathe will hold the cement stucco that will provide the form, mass, strength, and eventually the artistic embellishments for the dome.
Short pieces of PVC-coated tie wire are used to hold the lathe tight to the steel structure. These are inserted from one side and twisted on the other side to draw the metal lathe tight to the steel. The crew completed half of one side in just a few hours.
The lathe will be installed from the top down, so workers can stand on the steel frame while working. The cement stucco will be installed from the bottom up, giving strength from the bottom up.
We will continue the construction during the Kulimela and 24-hour Kirtan Festivals, June 15 – 19. If you desire to participate in fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s vision for “seven temples on seven hills,” please contact us at DhamSeva@gmail.com.
– Varsana Swami
Find them here: https://goo.gl/7Evp44
Sadhu Sanga Retreat (2016) (Album with 107 photos)
5th Annual Sadhu Sanga Kirtan Retreat at Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina, USA (2016) Photography Courtesy: Arjun Bhattacharyya
Find them here: https://goo.gl/RdEqkL
June 1. ISKCON 50 – S.Prabhupada Daily Meditations.
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami: Swamiji’s Kirtana.
When the kirtana suddenly sprang up from the Swami’s cymbals and sonorous voice, they immediately felt that it was going to be something far out. Here was another chance to “trip out,” and willingly they began to flow with it. They would surrender their minds and explore the limits of the chanting for all it was worth. Most of them had already associated the mantra with the mystical Upanisads and Gita, which had called out to them in words of mystery: “Eternal spirit … Negating illusion.” But whatever it is, this Indian mantra, let it come, they thought. Let its waves carry us far and high. Let’s take it, and let the effects come. Whatever the price, let it come. The chanting seemed simple and natural enough. It was sweet and wasn’t going to harm anyone. It was, in its own way, far out.
As Prabhupada chanted in his own inner ecstasy, he observed his motley congregation. He was breaking ground in a new land now. As the hand cymbals rang, the lead-and-response of the Hare Krishna mantra swelled, filling the evening. Some neighbors were annoyed. Puerto Rican children, enchanted, appeared at the door and window, looking. Twilight came.
To read the entire article click here: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=20490&page=9
ISKCON-Delhi: Festival of Inspiration – 28 May, 2016 (Album with photos)
Several thousands attended ISKCON’s Festival of Inspiration to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Lord Sri Chaitanya.
India’s Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma inaugaurated the event and spoke on how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement is about devotion and compassion. He thanked ISKCON for taking India’s culture around the world.
The festival saw several stunning presentations by national and international artists. These included Odisi Dance on Dasavatar, Shadow Play, Drama on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
A kirtan team of members from Urugauy, Venuzeual, Uganda, Russia, Spain, India, Mauritius enthralled the audience with their meditative and uplifting kirtans.
ISKCON Sannyasis and members spoke on the legacy of Sri Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada.
Find them here: https://goo.gl/h5Z96j
Prabhupada Festival 2016 — New Dvaraka, Los Angeles (playlist of 10 brief clips)
Srila Prabhupada: Lord Krishna stresses the importance of remembering Him. One‘s memory of Krishna is revived by chanting the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord. (Bhagavad-Gita 8.8 Purport)
Watch them here: https://huzzaz.com/collection/prabhupada-festival-2016-new-dvar
Living Your Calling in an Age of Confusion.
On the evening of Friday, May 6th, New York’s Bhakti Center partnered with Upbuild to hold a dinner event featuring a talk by Radhanath Swami on the topic “Living Your Calling in an Age of Confusion”.
Upbuild is an educational social enterprise created by Rasanath Das and Hari Prasad, who both used to live and serve at The Bhakti Center as monks. Upon graduation from the monastic order they went on to launch Upbuild which aims at maximizing the human potential by creating environments that inspire genuine purpose and authentic connection. Among the dinner’s 100 guests were many leaders in business, journalism and other creative fields.
Below are excerpts from Radhanath Swami’s talk on how true wealth and happiness are found through finding and sharing the divine love that lies within the soul.
Living Your Calling in an Age of Confusion.
Radhanath Swami: The times like we are facing these days are periods in human history that could potentially bring a rise in enlightenment, or just the opposite. Times of difficult, individually and collectively, are crossroads where we have to really question our lives.
What gives a thing value to a person’s heart is not the monetary price of it, or how it may stimulate the eyes or the mind. What gives value to anything is the exchange of love.
What is valuable? Things can give some degree of pleasure to the senses and the mind but things can never give fulfillment to the heart. Only love can do that. The nature of the heart is to love and be loved. The heart is starving for love. If it is not nourished, no matter what we get, we can never be satisfied and we can never be an instrument to give true satisfaction.
When we realize that love within us, and make it our life’s service to be an instrument of that love, which is expressed through compassion for the body, mind and souls of others, then our life is truly meaningful and fulfilling. With that integrity we can work harder than anyone, if that is required, but it is not motivated by greed, envy or arrogance – it’s motivated by love. By really caring and wanting to make a difference.
The greatest thing that we can pass down through our legacy is compassion, love and care based on moral values – principles of spiritual integrity. There is a saying, that if you lose your wealth you lose nothing, if you lose health you lose something, and if you lose your character you lose everything. Of course we need wealth and we see that when the economy is struggling it can really bring out the worst in people. But where there is compassion, where we see humanity and life itself as a family, then we will make our policies with the mindset that we are caretakers of each other, whether we are in investment bankers, farmers or even swami’s.
To read the entire article click here: http://goo.gl/WWhNI9
Door to door book distribution.
Bhakta Akshay: Since the start of this year, in the mood of Haridasa Thakura and Nityananda Prabhu, I’ve been doing a lot of what I think is an under-rated form of book distribution: door to door. I was inspired by a devotee friend, who used to be a Jehovah’s Witness.
She said that they are really systematic. They keep notes and even revisit favorable people they’ve met. I adopted this systematic approach in distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, and I now make notes on the favorable people I meet. I revisit them and bring them gifts, prasada, and beads.
It’s been less than half a year, and I’m really pleased with the results.
While the quantity of books going out may be less than through other forms of book distribution, door to door may be more powerful, because you can cultivate the really favorable people you meet in the comfort of their homes.
Already, by Krishna’s mercy, I meet regularly (roughly once a week) with a really nice lady and discuss the Bhagavad Gita in her own home. I simply revisited her and brought her gifts like prasadam and beads. Before I knew it, she invited me into her home and wanted to discuss the Bhagavad Gita with me on a regular basis.And this isn’t the only case like this. I’ve met dozens of people who receive me favorably when I revisit them.
By Krishna’s mercy many of them are willing to let me in to talk about Krishna conscious philosophy. You can really feel the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura, the original door-to-door book distributors. It’s also great for those of us who aren’t full-time sankirtana devotees. Right now I’m a student, and I mainly go out when people are getting back from work and on weekends. I really wish door-to-door book distribution would catch on. I’ve seen too many devotional creepers wither away, because no one watered them. Door-to- door book distribution solves this problem by letting us cultivate the people we meet.
Your servant, Bhakta Akshay