This Alachua Pilgrim

by Gregory

Vrindavan. Recently, I was thinking and reading about Vrindavan. I thought about how it would be to go to Vrindavan. How does it happen? How would I do it?

To learn, I checked and researched. I found the ISKCON Vrindavan website. I saw Visit Vrindavan and Travel Assistance and read.

The information stated, “The most convenient airport for coming to Vrindavan is Delhi.” So, I searched several websites for flights from Jacksonville, Florida to Delhi, India. The flight times varied: 20 hours, 24 hours, 26 hours, 30 hours. All with two stops.

Then, I learned that the distance from Delhi to Vrindavan is about 165 kilometers. Some methods to travel are train, bus, and taxi. The time for the trip is roughly two to three hours. In Vrindavan, some accommodations listed included guest houses, hotels, and apartments.

When I studied a map of Vrindavan, I noticed the area of Raman Reti. On the website, I read, “As the name ‘Raman Reti’ (playing in the sand) suggests, Raman Reti is the place located in Gokul, Mathura where Laddu Gopal (childhood name of Krishna) was believed to play with his friends near the bank of the Yamuna during his childhood. The sand-filled place is very relaxing and is used by sages and saints to perform sadhana of Lord Krishna and do tapasya here.”

Also, on the website, I read, “It is also said that Krishna and Radharani would meet here every night before going down to Vrindavana to enjoy their pastimes.”

I remember that the ISKCON of Alachua temple name is “New Raman Reti”. On the website in the Welcome to New Raman Reti page, I read, “Disciples of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder/acharya of ISKCON, founded New Raman Reti in 1977. It was named after Raman Reti in Vrindavan, India – a place of white sands where Lord Krishna and His brother Balarama performed Their childhood pastimes.”

Then, on the ISKCON Vrindavan website in Vrindavan Highlights, I read, “According to Srila Prabhupada, if one visits a holy place, he should search out the devotees residing there, take lessons from them and try to apply such instruction in practical life. Krishna is always present with His devotees and by their presence any place can become the place of pilgrimage.”

The full truth of the statement rang out to me.

Yes, going to the Alachua temple for aratis, kirtans, feasts, festivals, service to chop vegetables, wash dishes, or serve prasadam, and more can be a pilgrimage every time.

At a distance of about eight miles from my house, I drive, though I consider a bicycle ride or a walk on a day. Also, from my workplace, which is about four miles. All these options could be pilgrimage, regardless of the distance or the method of getting there. I understand that a pilgrimage is based on purpose, the deliberate intention of traveling to the place, which includes the traveling as well as the time and actions while there.

In addition to the Alachua temple and activities, the pilgrimage includes the people, as Srila Prabhupada noted: their greetings, welcomes, talk, association, and participation for prayer and service together. I am enlivened, rejuvenated, and thankful on every occasion.

One special time is when I arrive during the morning japa period. I park my truck on the side of the dark drive, then walk over toward the lights of the temple. Whether walking and chanting around the outside of the temple along the veranda, or inside the temple circumambulating the tulasi, standing, or sitting, the presence of the devotees chanting and the mix and blend of the devotees’ voices chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is always fulfilling and inspiring.

In addition to visits to the temple, I realize that traveling to my Bhakti Vriksha group meetings at the home of Ramiya dasa prabhu and Ananta dasi mataji is another special pilgrimage repeated every week. Every week, I turn in their drive, park beside the usual trees, step under the night-blooming jasmine at the porch entrance, remove my shoes, enter through the front door, offer obeisances to the deities, and greet the hosts. More often than weekly, I give thanks for Ramiya dasa prabhu and Ananta dasi mataji, and for all in the group for their association, for the privilege to learn, give, receive, share prasadam, and participate in service to each other, all in service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, our Lord Sri Krishna.

It is a new but familiar pilgrimage every visit that I value and cherish.

While I will keep a notion of the possibility of traveling to Vrindavan some day, I understand that my views about what a pilgrimage is have changed and expanded.

Now, I understand and consider my travels in Alachua as pilgrimage in every sense and nuance of the term. And I consider myself as a pilgrim in Alachua seeking and growing when journeying close to home with familiar places and people. I know pilgrimage in Alachua is essential, the essence of me developing as a devotee to our Lord Sri Krishna.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

The book “Free To Preach” Is finally out! Thanks to…

The book “Free To Preach” Is finally out!
Thanks to all the donations and contributions from many devotees who have so graciously assisted us in our service, “Free to Preach” is finally off the printing press and ready to be delivered to your homes.
This book, by Prema Padmini devi dasi, is a touching and personal account of a grihastha couple spreading Krishna consciousness in a Muslim country in the Middle East. It is destined to both fascinate minds and touch the hearts of hundreds.
“If all can lend their might to fulll Lord Caitanya’s desires, the world will rapidly change and countless souls will get His causeless mercy. That everyone has the potential to become a preacher is such a dynamic idea that it dees my ability to glorify it enough. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura stated, prana ache yara sei hetu pracara, “Whoever has spiritual life and enthusiasm preaches.” How actively devotees preach the message of Lord Caitanya constitutes the practical index of their enthusiasm and life. May Free to Preach serve as an inspiration and practical guide for existing and potential preachers everywhere.”
H.H. Jayapataka Swami (Foreword, Free to Preach)
To purchase this book, please visit our website at
For more information, please write to us at

Govardhan Eco Village receives the Aqua Excellence Award

By Anand caitanya dasa

ISKCON Govardhan Eco Village (GEV, a 100 acre sustainable farming community and retreat center, based near Mumbai, India received the Aqua Excellence Award for the category of ‘Outstanding Contribution towards cause of Sustainability – Social Sector’ in the IX World Aqua Congress (WAC). The Award Ceremony was conducted during the Inaugural Session of IX World Aqua Congress, Conference on Water & Environment on the 26th & 27th November 2015 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. GEV received this award from Sushri Uma Bharti – Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

Every year the Aqua Foundation groups organizes the World Aqua Congress on a specific theme related to environment and invites abstract of papers from speakers all around the country. The IX world Aqua Congress was centered on the theme of reviving traditional water and environment conservation techniques. GEV’s abstract on the paper “Integrated Water Conservation and Protection Schemes for Rural Location” was accepted for the Conference. Following the award ceremony GEV was invited to present that paper to the various delegates present there. The conference was attended by various corporate heads, Government authorities, university professors, NGOs etc.

The “Aqua Excellence Awards” are the highest awards given by Aqua Foundation to its members, stakeholders and contributors in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the field of water, environment, energy, earth sciences, atmospheric sciences, planetary sciences, pollution control and sustainability solutions. Aqua Foundation honors, in each WAC, individual / nominees of corporate members who have made a mark in their respective fields of expertise or have made a significant contribution towards Humanity

Report Your CHAD Performance for Kartik 2015

Hare Krishna Dear CHAD Performers,

Please accept our most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupad!

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all our CHAD members who took up Kartik 2015 CHAD challenge. Now is the time to report your performance.

A 10 year old boy from Holland has shared his realization – ` If you do sacrifices for yourself you`ll go to hell, but if you do it for Krishna you`ll go to the spiritual world.`!

It is very important that you share your realization as it is a powerful preaching activity. All CHAD performance reporters will receive a special gift from our founder HG.Vaisesika Prabhu for your enthusiastic participation in the CHAD program! We will also make special offering of prayers to all the participants in the Gita Jayanti Celebration at ISV.

Please register, login and record your performance
Record a small video of your CHAD performance & email the link to We request you to keep the videos less than a minute.

PN: If you are unable to register or record a video you may also write your experiences to

You may answer the following questions in your video:-

How reading one chapter of Bhagavad Gita made a difference in yourself?
What is the secret source of your motivation and persistence to read one chapter of Bhagavad Gita everyday?
What is your message to inspire others to read one chapter Bhagavad Gita everyday ?

We humbly request you to continue with CHAD everyday. You may recite the chapter as outlined in CHAD Calendar or you may recite your own favourite chapter.

With Gratitude,


Vrinda Devi’s Sacred Kunda (7 min video) Indradyumna…

Vrinda Devi’s Sacred Kunda (7 min video)
Indradyumna Swami: Our parikrama party spent almost an entire day at the famous lake of Vrinda Devi, who helps Purnamasi plan Radha and Krsna’s pastimes in Vrindavan each day. ISKCON has developed the area in a very tasteful way, keeping the rural setting and spiritual ambience intact. Hearing and chanting the glories of Vrinda Devi helped us to all become spiritually enriched.
Watch it here: