Prabhupada’s Vision: Our Mission.


ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 03/24/2018


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 03/24/2018

Mission Statement: ECO-Vrindaban promotes simple living, cow protection, engaging oxen, local agriculture, and above all, loving Krishna, as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON New Vrindaban.

Participating Directors: Chaitanya Mangala (chair), Makara (minutes recorder), Olivia, Ranaka, and Vraja.

Participating Advisors: Kalakantha.

1. Ranaka’s Monthly Report

• At the Temple Barn, Ananda Vidya & Lalita Gopi are currently milking 7 cows: Jamuna, Surabhi, Laxmi, Sita, Anjali, Sriya & Maliti. Milk production is up to 32 gal per day.

• Anjali freshened on Feb 19th with a bull calf named Nimai. Nimai was delivered in normal fashion with no problems during delivery but had internal issues along with apparent brain damage. The Vet gave him a 50% chance of survival and he died 11 days after his birth.

• On Feb 27th Sriya gave birth to a healthy heifer calf named Gaurangi.

• Subhadra is due the end of May.

• There are 5 heifers residing at the Temple Barn: 15 month old Vamsika, 7 month old Lalita, 3 month old Gopi Katyayani and 3 week old Gaurangi.

• Parvati continues to reside with Dharma for breeding at the Valley Barn. Jaya Radhe is still residing in Nandagram with Madhu for breeding. Usha has been confirmed pregnant and moved out from Madhu’s area.

• Ananda Vidya continues to produce approximately 15 pounds of butter, 15 gal of yogurt, and 1/2 gallon of Ghee on a weekly basis, & delivers them to the temple. He made and waxed two (8″ diameter x 3.5 inch high) wheels of Colby cheese this month and plan to produce 5 lbs. of Mozzarella cheese for Palace Pizza to be served after their Maha Cleanup this weekend.

• Ananda Vidya & Lalita Gopi finished clearing out the upstairs of the Temple Barn.

• Ray has been working on cleanup of the former Brose trailer site and is approximately 85% complete. The scrap wood has all been burnt, trailer frame cut into 3 pieces with cutting torch and all scrap metal piled for loading. Ray is repairing a brake cylinder on the F-800 flatbed truck, this will be used to haul the metal to the recycling center in Wheeling. When cleanup is complete, the lot will be available for rent to Suchandra, our garden manager, who plans to move a trailer on to it.

• Ray has also been cleaning up the area next to the old Brick Yard building. Scrap metal from there is also piled and ready to be hauled to the recycle center. The brush & scrap wood pile was burnt along with a general cleanup & reorganizing of the area.

• Repair work on the Nandagram field house: 2 new sink faucets installed, repairing water lines to the tub & repairing drywall on the basement ceiling below the tub.

• Ray continues moving hay from the Valley Barn to Nandagram.

• Chaitanya Bhagavat works with Hari Chand in the Ox Program for 1 hour each morning along with daily Nandagram herd care. Hari Chand has been measured for a new Yoke & Britchen so he can be trained for pulling.

•  Chaitanya Bhagavat has also been working on the Bahulaban fence line getting it ready for Spring along with Nandagram fence maintenance.  Repair work was also done on the Feed Isle.

• The garden crew, presently composed of Suchandra, Vidya, Lila, Mukunda dasi & Radhanath das, gathered together for a general communication & coordination on 3/16/18; it was a productive meeting that gave much hope for the upcoming season.

• Suchandra & Ryan, along with Ray on the tractor with the front loader, have cleared the old mulch & plastic off the Community Garden beds. This year we are planning a new system of weed control using reusable ground cover and some hay mulch when needed; this system will be much less labor intensive.

• Ray moved a dump load of well composted material from Nandagram to Vidya’s garden & 5 buckets to the Nandagram garden.

• The Valley Barn potato field has been spread with manure. We are also planning on growing potatoes in the Community Garden this year.

• Vidya has started over 1000 plants for the gardens consisting of peppers, tomatoes, basil, snapdragon, marigolds, statice and rosemary.

• Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary: Ranaka spoke to Dr. Sastri and informed him that the ECO-V board agreed to his request of taking responsibility for 5 of his cows. Ranaka informed him that he would need to have a veterinarian issue a valid CVI (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, i.e. health certificate) before moving the animals to New Vrindaban and that we would be ready to accept them from the middle of May onward. Dr. Sastri will get back to Ranaka when he has things ready on his side.

• Passing of Nandini: Nandini, a 10 1/2 year old Jersey brought to New Vrindaban from Canada by Nila Gopal & Sukhayanti, died of cancer on March 6, 2018 at Nandagram. Her profile: Nandini was a bit of a loner who stayed mostly to herself but still enjoyed attention in the form of petting from devotees. She was also very protective of the calves in the herd & would always stay by their side.

2. Spring Joint Board Gathering Review

The weekend had a different format from what we’ve organized the past few years. The facilitators, Gopinath Bloch and Rebecca Mintz, did an excellent job directing the energy and setting a positive mood. Through various exercises, open dialogue and a planning session, a progressive division of responsibilities for ISKCON New Vrindaban was discussed, both for the immediate future and over a 5-year time frame.

3. Inviting ECO-V Staff to Board Meetings

Some of the feedback from the spring meeting brought to light a need for increased interactions between the members of ECO-V. The bi-annual weekend gatherings allow opportunities for exchanges between the staff and board. Additionally, the board would like to periodically invite staff members to attend monthly board meetings throughout year. The first opportunity will be in April 2018.

4. ECO-V Website Feedback

Overall, the look of the website is appreciated. Ideas for improvement: Change the photo on front page – possibly make a slideshow there; get new photos of cows and gardens from Erin and Hari Bhakti; add a link to Prabhupada’s Palace website; make a page about Srila Prabhupada, his cow protection local agriculture vision for New Vrindaban and include photos of him with Kaliya, ISKCON’s first cow.

5. IMCPA North American Team Building Conference

Kalakantha prabhu shared information about the upcoming ISKCON Ministry of Cow Protection & Agriculture conference. This event will be held in DeLand, Florida the end of June 2018 and will include strategizing about next year’s North American farm conference, tentatively planned to be held in New Vrindaban. He invited a couple of representatives from ECO-V to attend. Jamuna Jivani has already volunteered to participate.

6. ISKCON Communications Grant

WHEREAS: ECO-V wishes to support Anuttama prabhu, and his ISKCON Communications efforts, especially in appreciation of their ongoing promotion of simple living, cow protection and local agriculture projects throughout ISKCON.

RESOLVED: The ECO-V board approves a grant of $2,500 to ISKCON Communications for 2018.

Here’s a link to the ECO-Vrindaban website.

For regular updates, please visit, like and follow the ECO-V Facebook page.

New Vrindaban Days – Chapter 1


New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary

New Vrindaban Days

As New Vrindaban enters its 50th anniversary (1968 to 2018), I wrote this series of articles for the Brijabasi Spirit in an attempt to give the reader not only an “understanding,” but more importantly a “taste,” of what life in early New Vrindaban was like – through the stories of one devotee’s personal journey.

The title of the series, “New Vrindaban Days,” is a tribute to the wonderful book “Vrindaban Days: Memories of an Indian Holy Town” written by Howard Wheeler, aka Hayagriva Das, one of Srila Prabhupada’s earliest disciples, a co-founder of New Vrindaban, and, a great writer. As with Hayagriva’s book, this series focuses on a period in the 1970’s.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank Chaitanya Mangala Das, for spending untold hours assisting me in refining my writing for your reading pleasure.

I will attempt to tell these stories in some semblance of a chronological order, beginning with my first meeting devotees in 1968, leading to my arrival in New Vrindaban in late 1973 and carrying through to the official opening of Srila Prabhupada’s Palace in 1979.

In this article there may be some topics describing my life before joining up with the devotees. They are only meant to give the reader insight into the background and mindset of the author.

Advaitacharya Das

Chapter 1: Every Journey Begins With a Single Step

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 02/18/2018


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 02/18/2018

Mission Statement: ECO-Vrindaban promotes simple living, cow protection, engaging oxen, local agriculture, and above all, loving Krishna, as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON New Vrindaban.

Participating Directors: Anuttama (partial attendance), Chaitanya Mangala (chair), Jamuna Jivani (board secretary), Makara, Olivia, Ranaka, and Vraja.

Participating Advisors: Bhima (partial attendance), Jaya Krsna, and Kalakantha (partial attendance).

1. Ranaka’s monthly report

  • Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi are currently milking five cows: Jamuna, Surabhi, Laxmi, Sita, and Malati. Milk production is approximately 20 gal. per day.
  • Sriya and Anjali are both due to freshen this month. Subhadra is due in May.
  • There are three heifers residing at the Temple Barn: one-year-old Vamsika, five-month-old Lalita, and two-month-old Gopi Katyayani.
  • Parvati is residing with Dharma for breeding.
  • Jaya Radhe and Usha are still residing in Nandagram with Madhu for breeding.
  • Ananda Vidya continues to produce approximately 15 lbs. of butter, 15 gal. of yogurt, and a half gal. of ghee weekly, which he delivers to the temple kitchen. He now has a larger cheese press and mold which holds four gallons of milk at a time. He made and waxed a wheel of Colby cheese last week, which will be aged for 2.5 months.
  • Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi continue to clear out and clean the upstairs of the Temple Barn.
  • Ray is about half finished replacing the siding around the front entrance to the school building, but due to poor weather, no further progress has been made. The materials needed to finish the job have been received.
  • Ray finished the loading chute at Nandagram, and repaired the bullpen there, as well as the greenhouse. Vidya’s greenhouse still needs to be finished.
  • Ray continues moving hay from the Valley Barn to Nandagram as weather permits.
  • Caitanya Bhagavat works with Hari Chand in the ox program for an hour each morning, along with daily Nandagram herd care.
  • Ray and Caitanya Bhagavat have completed the permanent loading chute at Nandagram along with some repair work on the bullpen.
  • Suchandra is finishing seed orders, as well as cleaning and organizing the Community Garden shed. She has noted repair work that needs done of the fence there.
  • Suchandra, Ray, and Ranaka are planning a walk through in the Community Garden this month to discuss manure-spreading and tillage plans.
  • Ranaka has been providing financial information to Ram Associates, the auditing firm ECO-V hired every year since 2012 for  internal auditing. They are aiming to have the 2017 financial statements finished in time for the March 2018 onsite meetings.
  • Rakta the cow passed away on February 12th at the age of 23. She had been in good health despite her old age, so her sudden passing came as a surprise. After some years of providing milk, Rakta retired and spent her days grazing and relaxing with the retired herd. She got along well with everyone, cows and cowherds alike. She was one of the oldest cows in the herd, but always remained young in spirit.

2. Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary Adoption Request

A subcommittee, consisting of Chaitanya Mangala, Jamuna Jivani, Makara, and Ranaka, made some calculations which showed taking on these five cows would mean at least 16 years of responsibility and over that time cost approximately $143K.  After some discussion, it was determined that absorbing these animals would not interfere with ECO-V’s goals of maintaining 8 to 10 milking cows, and an overall herd size of approximately 100, as was expressly desired by Srila Prabhupada. The Board agreed to adopt these cows. Ranaka will speak to Dr. Shastri to work out the arrangements for their arrival and care.

3. INV Request for Promotional Budget

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to support INV’s ongoing promotional efforts.

RESOLVED: The Board approves up to $1,000 per month towards INV’s promotion of activities in New Vrindaban, for up to 10 months.

4. Website

The ECO-V website is now live at eco-v.com. Jamuna Jivani and Makara will continue to maintain, improve, and add to it over time.

For regular updates please visit and like the ECO-V Facebook page.

Back to Godhead: New Vrindaban – An Overview in Honor of Its 50th Anniversary


Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead Magazine, January/February 2018 issue

New Vrindaban: An Overview in Honor of Its 50th Anniversary

By Satyaraja Dasa
Archival Research by Chaitanya Mangala Dasa

New Vrindaban Radha Vrindaban Chandra Govardhan Hill Kusum Sarovara ISKCON

A view from Govardhan Hill of Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s temple and guest lodge, with Kusum Sarovara Lake and the peackock and swan aviary in the foreground.

With the successful worldwide celebration of ISKCON’s fiftieth anniversary in 2016, another semicentennial event naturally follows in its wake: commemoration of the founding of New Vrindaban in 1968, two years after ISKCON’s founding. By establishing this farm community, Srila Prabhupada hoped his followers and eventually the rest of the world would embrace the Krishna conscious ideal of “simple living and high thinking.” This could be accomplished, he taught, by underscoring five important components of a back-to-the-land Vedic ideal, beginning with (1) cow protection, (2) simple living, (3) spiritual education, and (4) holy pilgrimage. Under the right direction, he added, these four can lead to the most important component of all: (5) loving Krishna.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Welcome Center 50th Anniversary

Vasudeva Dasa invites guests to the community’s Welcome Center.

This article has two parts. The first is an overview of New Vrindaban – what it is, how it started, and what it has accomplished. The second focuses on four devotees who bring to life the five components that Prabhupada mandated for New Vrindaban. While the community has produced a multitude of devotees who could be singled out for their consummate service, these four, each with a penchant for one of the initial components mentioned above, will serve as a sample. Their stories show how the fifth component, loving Krishna, is the natural result of properly engaging in New Vrindaban’s central activities.

Part I: Origins and Development

ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada Bahulaban

Srila Prabhupada delivers his Bhagavat Dharma discourses during the 1972 Vyasapuja & Janmastami celebrations on Govindaji Hill at the Bahulaban farm.

 

ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada Palace of Gold 1976

Srila Prabhupada tours his under construction Palace during his final visit to New Vrindaban in 1976

Vrindavana is Krishna’s paradise in the spiritual world, the kingdom of God described in the ancient wisdom texts of India. A replica of this realm exists even today as a village in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India, where Krishna walked the earth some five thousand years ago. Soon after Prabhupada arrived in the West, in 1965, he envisioned yet another replication of Vrindavana – New Vrindaban.1

Prabhuapda ISKCON New Vrindaban 1969

Srila Prabhupada’s first visit to New Vrindaban in 1969.

In May 1956, Prabhupada wrote a two-part Back to Godhead article about the potential for such a project in the Western world. The article promoted the notion of a community of devotees living close to nature according to the principles of the Bhagavad-gita. He called the project Geeta Nagari (the name of his subsequent farm in Port Royal, Pennsylvania).

New Vrindaban ISKCON Oxen Cow Protection ECO-Vrindaban

Hauling wood with oxen, 1975.

Vrindavan’s initial Western counterpart came to be through the agency of two early disciples, Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Dasa. In the winter of 1968 they saw a brief newspaper article in which an enterprising landowner-turned-yogi, Richard Rose, mentioned that he was looking for people to create an ashram in Marshall County, West Virginia. “The conception is one of a non-profit, non-interfering, non-denominational retreat or refuge,” read the almost prescient article, “where philosophers might come to work communally together, or independently, where a library and other facilities might be developed.”2

ISKCON New Vrindaban Radha Vrindaban Chandra

The front entrance to Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s temple, guarded by Jaya and Vijaya, the Vaikuntha Gatekeepers.

Several months later, Kirtanananda and Hayagriva, who had temporarily developed a strained relationship with their spiritual master, set out on their own to visit the land. They negotiated with the owner and reached a provisional financial agreement. Kirtanananda settled there for a few months in a farmhouse in the woods.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Govinda's Restaurant

Guests enjoy sumptuous Prasadam at Govinda’s Restaurant.

That summer, he and Hayagriva visited Prabhupada in Canada to make amends. His Divine Grace “forgave his renegade disciples in Montreal with a garland of roses and a shower of tears.”3 With Prabhupada’s approval they returned to West Virginia and leased the property. A month later Prabhupada wrote to them, “Now we can work with great enthusiasm for constructing a New Vrindaban in the United States of America.”4

ISKCON New Vrindaban Guest Lodge

Recently renovated Guest Lodge.

Excited about his new project, Prabhupada had his secretary, Brahmananda Dasa, write to the various ISKCON centers asking those devotees who were able and inclined to support New Vrindaban by visiting if not staying on and lending manpower.5 He had already given the land its special name in an earlier letter: “You have New York, New England, and so many ‘New’ duplicates of European countries in the USA, why not import New Vrindaban in your country?”6

ISKCON New Vrindaban Guest Lodge

Updated Guest Lodge rooms.

Soon after the arrival of Brahmananda’s letter – that same month, in fact – New Vrindaban’s first deities of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna made Their appearance as well: A small pair of bell-metal murtis, compliments of a devotee who had just returned from India. Prabhupada was delighted. “I am very glad to learn that Harivilas has given you a pair of Radha-Krishna Murtis, so it appears that Radha-Krishna is very kind on you, because you went to Vrindaban to live there but circumstantially, you could not live there, and you left. Krishna has given you New Vrindaban, as well as, out of His good will, He has come to you. It is very surprising. So please welcome the Deity and install Him in a nice throne.”7 These deities would eventually be called “Little Radha–Vrindaban-Chandra,” after the main deities of the temple, installed three years later. Also in 1968, Kirtanananda brought from Montreal Jagannatha deities to be worshiped on the community’s small altar.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Radha Vrindaban Chandra

Inside Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s temple.

With deity worship in place, a set of clear instructions from their spiritual master, and new devotees trickling in, New Vrindaban developed, steadily if also slowly. Despite frigid winters and austere conditions, sincere and determined devotees gradually made the journey and helped develop the small, humble ashram into a thriving Krishna conscious village. Cows, central to the New Vrindaban paradigm, were soon bought and bred. Calves were born, and a very real bovine presence gave the land the feel of its namesake. Hand-tended gardens were set in place, providing food for the community and flowers for the deities. Oxen and horses were trained to pull plows and wagons, resulting in small agricultural miracles. The fields gave birth to crops of corn and hay, harvested and stored in silos for the cows to eat during New Vrindaban’s cold winters. All the while, devotees were learning the philosophy of Krishna consciousness under senior disciples. Simple living, high thinking.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Hare Krishna 24 Hour Kirtan

Devotees blissfully raise their arms and Chant Hare Krishna during one of New Vrindaban’s biannual 24 Hour Kirtan festivals.

Spring of 1969 saw Prabhupada’s first visit to the farm, and he loved it. He stayed a little over a month, but he made it clear that New Vrindaban was home. After he left, he continued to guide his disciples on transcendental life in a rural environment through many letters and even a few subsequent visits, in 1972, 1974, and 1976.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Radha Vrindaban Chandra

The main altar.

By August 1970 almost fifty residents were living at the community, and the number would keep growing. Beautiful hand-carved white marble deities were imported from India and installed on Janmashtami, August 13, 1971, and after that, New Vrindaban grew like wildfire.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Kirtan Janmastami

Kirtan during the 2017 Janmastami celebration.

Throughout the 1970s, cows, peacocks, and additional land were acquired, until New Vrindaban –initially some 138 acres – would eventually boast nearly 2,500, with devotees anxious to join from all quarters.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Narasimha Nrsmha

Arati to Lord Narasimhadeva and Prahlad Maharaja.

Hayagriva wrote in 1972: “In ’69 and ’70 we built cottages and gradually expanded to include a dozen people. Then in the winter of ’70, we began making Spiritual Sky incense and distributing it through the city temples. This proved to be a real gold mine. By the spring of ’71 sufficient money came in to enable us to buy the other two farms [nearby], and as soon as we did people started pouring in.”8 Kirtanananda Swami became a leading ISKCON sannyasi, and his project became one of ISKCON’s premier pilgrimage sites, with devotees worldwide attending its many annual festivals.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Six Goswamis

Murtis of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan.

A tour de force development was Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold. (See my article in Back to Godhead, May/June 2016.) Conceived in 1972 as a comfortable residence for Prabhupada whenever he visited New Vrindaban, it was still unfinished when he departed this world in November 1977. The idea morphed into its being a memorial shrine, and with that vision the devotees continued to work on it as a lasting tribute to Srila Prabhupada. Upon its completion in 1979, it exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams – a dazzling, highly wrought, even otherworldly palace of marble, gold, carved teakwood, and the blood, sweat, and tears of numerous dedicated devotees – a fitting tribute to the modern world’s greatest spiritual master.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Kusum Sarovara, Yogashala, Gardens

An aerial photo of the heart of New Vrindaban. Srila Prabhupada’s Palace is on the upper left. Thirty foot tall Gaura Nitai sculptures can be seen in the center, just above Kusum Sarovara Lake and below Govardhan Hill. To the right are cabins, Yogashala and Community Gardens.

“It’s hard to believe that Prabhupada’s Palace is in West Virginia,” wrote the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky. “In fact, it’s hard to believe it’s on this planet.”9 Life magazine told readers that the Palace is “a place where tourists can come and be amazed.”10 The New York Times summed it up: “Welcome to Heaven.”11 The Palace was unquestionably a highpoint in New Vrindaban’s achievements, and throughout the 1980s it reaped the benefits of the devotees’ monumental endeavor.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Swans Lake Gaura Nitai

Swans gracefully glide across the lake in front of Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s boat house and Gaura Nitai.

Unfortunately, Kirtanananda Swami, though a qualified and noble leader in many ways, temporarily brought New Vrindaban to its knees, leading it into questionable and deplorable realms, some illegal, for which he was reprimanded and given a jail sentence, as were others. Naturally, the Governing Body Commission of ISKCON deposed him, for his wayward activity was not representative of the movement’s ideals and teachings. Thus he was excommunicated from the movement in 1994.

Throughout the 1990s and into the early years of the twenty-first century, New Vrindaban suffered, even as the Palace, at first, continued to thrive and receive many visitors. But signs of decay soon appeared. New Vrindaban’s troubles became the stuff of books and news articles, causing even sincere followers to leave. Various deviations continued to occur. As a result, from the early 1990s until only recently the Palace suffered financially, causing maintenance to be neglected and an overall downward spiral, but one that was not to last.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Kusum Sarovara Lake Yogashala cabin

A guest cabin and Yogashala viewed from across Kusum Sarovara Lake.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Yogashala

Paul Chang leads a yoga class at the Yogashala, built in 2017.

As the first decade of the twenty-first century came to a close, a new day dawned, and New Vrindaban started to rebuild. By 2011 a new team of dedicated devotees picked up where the old crew had left off, with some of the older devotees staying on and gaining new momentum. New acolytes joined hands with New Vrindaban stalwarts and worked diligently to revamp the original spiritual vision of Prabhupada’s first farm community. It is now on solid ground, with the community learning from previous mistakes. Indeed, fifty thousand tourists and pilgrims still visit each year.12In recent years an ambitious multi-million dollar renewal effort has been set in place, with an enthusiasm that rivals the Palace’s initial construction.13

Part II: The Five Principles of New Vrindaban

ISKCON New Vrindaban ECO-Vrindaban ECO-V cows

Subhadra, Jaya Radha, Vamsika, three young heifers, graze in the pasture outside the temple barn.

Here we briefly survey the five components that Prabhupada mandated for New Vrindaban: (1) cow protection, (2) simple living, (3) spiritual education, (4) holy pilgrimage, (5) and loving Krishna.

  1. Cow Protection
ISKCON New Vrindaban ECO-Vrindaban Cow Protection Nandagram Farm

Sukhayanti Dasi, Nila Gopala Dasa, and their two young daughters, Sudevi and Rangadevi, greet Sriya at the community’s Nandagram Farm.

“Krishna by His practical example,” Prabhupada wrote, “taught us to give all protection to the cows, and that should be the main business of New Vrindaban.”14 Apropos of this, New Vrindaban is home to the first and longest-running cow-protection program in ISKCON and the Western world. It has been in operation since the spring of 1969, when the community’s first cow, Kaliya, made her way into the association of devotees. The heroes who have championed the cow program at New Vrindaban are many, but one devotee in particular has worked hard to make this a reality.

ISKCON New Vrindaban ECO-Vrindaban ECO-V Ranaka Cows

Ranaka Dasa, who has steadily cared for the cows in New Vrindaban for more than 40 years, stands with the three heifers shown in a previous photo.

Doug Fintel was born in 1954 in Norfolk, Virginia. Raised on a farm in northwest Iowa, he migrated to the mountains outside Denver, Colorado, where he deepened his love for nature. His involvement in the counterculture of the 1960s reached a highpoint when he met the devotees of Krishna, particularly Padmanabha and Mahotsava, a husband-and-wife team looking for interested seekers in that part of the country. Doug had started a firewood business, but the devotees won his heart, and he began to think how he could engage as one of them more directly.

Twice daily, every day of the year, Ananda Vidya Dasa and Lalita Gopi Dasi lovingly milk the protected cows that provide dairy products for the deities and devotees.

Frequenting the Denver ISKCON temple in the winter of 1976, he liked the idea of a farm community dedicated to Krishna, and New Vrindaban seemed a natural fit. His general psychophysical makeup and his background in rural America made him just the right man for a back-to-the-land Krishna conscious environment, especially for the plow department and farm work. He has been in New Vrindaban, serving faithfully, since before Prabhupada’s departure from this world. In fact, he had heard about Prabhupada’s love for New Vrindaban’s cow-protection program soon after he joined ISKCON in 1977. New Vrindaban was abuzz with Prabhupada’s recent visit. Madhava Smullen writes,

In 1976, when [Prabhupada] visited New Vrindaban for the last time, the community was caring for four working teams of oxen and over 150 cows. A new barn had been erected in Bahulaban [one of New Vrindaban’s first sectors], and Prabhupada visited it to see the cows and four newborn calves. He let one of them lick his hand as a devotee told him how the cows were yielding about 120 gallons of milk every day, which they were turning into ghee, cheese and buttermilk. Prabhupada was pleased.15

Doug, initiated as Ranaka Dasa, gradually became more and more involved with New Vrindaban’s cows and is now, with their help of course, producing “ahimsa milk” – consciously trying to avoid any pain for the dairy cows on the farm.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Ratha Yatra Wheeling

New Vrindaban devotees show festival participants how to chant japa during the second annual Wheeling Ratha Yatra.

Ranaka is looking for a sustainable model for the future.

“In the past,” he says, “New Vrindaban was known for its huge dairy production, but we couldn’t take care of the cows properly. So we’re looking for balance, a sustainable model for the future, where the cows are happy and produce in abundance. I think we’re getting there.”

  1. Simple Living
ISKCON New Vrindaban Wheeling Ratha Yatra

Dasarath Dasa serves prasadam during the Wheeling Ratha Yatra festival.

Prabhupada sometimes referred to self-sufficiency with the phrase “simple living,” reminiscent of his ISKCON Statement of Purpose #6: “To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.” Using the things of this world in God’s service is real renunciation, or saintly life. It is called yukta-vairagya. As Prabhupada wrote: “Yukta Vairagya means that we should simply accept the bare necessities of our material part of life, and try to save time for spiritual advancement. This should be the motto of New Vrindaban.”16

SKCON New Vrindaban Wheeling Ratha Yatra

The 2017 Ratha Yatra procession.

One New Vrindaban devotee who embodies that mood is Vidya Devi Dasi. Born in Wisconsin as Mary Smith in 1949, she and her husband, Madhava Ghosha, now deceased, came from rustic, agrarian backgrounds and had always put a premium on intelligent agriculture, even before they joined Prabhupada’s farm community. Her ancestors were among the first settlers in Wisconsin, developing sophisticated agronomical techniques early on.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Garden Vidya Dasi

Vidya Dasi show some of the loki squash grown in her garden.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Festival of Colors Pittsburgh

Devotees from New Vrindaban helped organize the first Pittsburgh Festival of Colors, in April 2014.

“It’s in my DNA,” she says. “I was born on a farm, and I’ve been living close to the land from childhood.”

She arrived in New Vrindaban in 1972 and met Madhava a few years after settling there. They devoted their lives to gardening for Krishna, growing vegetables and flowers for the community while raising their five children. She’s especially fond of the gorgeous and variegated gardens at Prabhupada’s Palace, which she nurtured from the ground up, their beauty competing with the Palace itself.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Flower Garden

Devotees pick flowers in the deity’s flower garden.

But even prior to the Palace, she and the other New Vrindaban farmhands performed natural miracles. By 1974 the Bahulaban temple garden expanded to 1.5 acres, with similar large gardens in the sections of New Vrindaban known as Vrindaban and Madhuban. Plantings included more than thirty kinds of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, along with oats, which became a staple in New Vrindaban.

Teams of horses plowed the fields. Devotees involved included Varshana Swami (then Kashyapa Dasa), Tejomaya, Manonatha, Madhava Ghosha, Advaitacharya, and Tapah-punja, among others. A greenhouse, built in 1975, extended growing periods and allowed flower growing during winter.

Vidya also started a side business, called Nature Crafting. She would grow and sell tomatoes, herbs, flowers, and other crops, and she would teach the locals the value of organic gardening for both consumers and the environment. She laughs as she remembers how they would grow gourds of all shapes and sizes. These became among their most popular items. She would paint them and turn them into birdhouses and even Jagannatha deities, which sold well. Prabhupada’s strong endorsement for this kind of work came in 1976: “Yes. Anything grown in the garden, that is hundred times [more] valuable than [if] it is purchased from the market.”17

ECO-Vrindaban (ECO-V), a nonprofit organization, was started in 1998 to care for New Vrindaban’s cows, and in 2014 it also took responsibility for locally grown crops and flowers, continuing and expanding New Vrindaban’s self-sufficiency program. By caring for New Vrindaban’s bovine life, particularly by milking its happy and productive dairy cows, and by developing sustainable agriculture, ECO-V has been realizing Srila Prabhupada’s vision of simple living for the devotee community.

  1. Spiritual Education
ISKCON New Vrindaban Pilgrims Labor Day Festival

Pilgrims enjoy tasty prasadam outside Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s temple during Labor Day festivities September 2017.

Prabhupada often said that people are suffering due to a lack of knowledge. His hope was that through spiritual education, people would become happy. This aligns with his ISKCON Statement of Purpose #1: “To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.”

ISKCON New Vrindaban Pilgrims Janmastami Prasad

Prabhupada wrote, “It is necessary for the leaders of the Krishna consciousness movement to start educational institutions in different parts of the world to train children, starting at the age of five years. Thus such children will not become hippies or spoiled children of society; rather, they can all become devotees of the Lord. The face of the world will then change automatically.”18

ISKCON New Vrindaban Pilgrims

Specifically for New Vrindaban, he wrote, “Please now try to organize a children’s school. This is one of our programs in New Vrindaban. . . . You can form a school committee and get it recognized by the Education Board. Then more children will be sent.”19 The realization of Srila Prabhupada’s educational dream for New Vrindaban has been spotty, with various successes and failures. But the community continues to keep the goal in mind, and various attempts are being made to implement both children’s schooling and higher education.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Sankirtan Ruci School Gopal's Garden

Sankirtan Dasa & Ruci Dasi greet guests after a Mahabarat dramatic storytelling at the University of Cincinnati.

Sankirtana Dasa and Ruci Devi Dasi, Andy and Ruth Fraenkel, are two names that stand out in the realm of New Vrindaban education. The couple met in college in 1968, were initiated in 1973, and arrived in New Vrindaban by 1976. And for the next forty years, Ruci, especially, dedicated herself to teaching preschool and elementary school to prepare children for a life of devotional service to Krishna, but no less for the rigors of living in the outside world. While Sankirtana has underlined the importance of education through storytelling and dramatic performance, for which he has won significant accolades and awards, Ruci has concentrated her focus on schools and an academic environment.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Gopal's Garden Ruci Dasi Education

Ruci Dasi in her classroom.

Way back in the 1970s when the New Vrindaban school was called Nandagram, the small classrooms for boys and girls gradually grew into one of the largest ISKCON gurukulas in the world. But the ashram-based facility was shut down by the end of the 1980s. Then, from 1989 to the late 1990s, there was a day school, which grew into Gopal’s Garden, opened by Ruci in 2007. Gradually, the New Vrindaban educational system evolved into a homeschooling cooperative that keeps improving.

“Today,” writes Madhava Smullen, “[Ruci] continues to teach at the Gopal’s Garden Homeschool Co-op, established in 2007.” There she provides a balanced blend of standard academic subjects and Krishna conscious education. At the end of each school year, she produces an anthology of the students’ writings and illustrations, now used in ISKCON schools worldwide.

  1. Holy Pilgrimage
ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's Palace

Guests are lead on a tour through the interior of Prabhupada’s Palace.

Among the several farm projects and rural communities started by Srila Prabhupada, only New Vrindaban was given the mandate to build replicas of holy places of Vrindavan: “There will be seven principal temples, namely, Govinda, Gopinatha, Madana Mohana, Syamasundara, Radha Ramana, Radha Damodara, and Gokulananda.”20

ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's Palace of Gold

Srila Prabhupada’s Murti in his study depicts him in a writing pose.

Thus, from its inception New Vrindaban was seen not only as a pilgrimage site in its own right, but also as a reproduction of the original pilgrimage site – Vrindavan itself, home to the original temples of the Goswamis, leading followers of Lord Chaitanya.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's Palace of Gold

Damodara Dasa leads a group through the Palace’s main temple room.

“Activities exhibited by Krishna Himself at Bhauma Vrindavana, the Vrindavana-dhama existing on this planet,” wrote Srila Prabhupada, “are not different from His activities on the planet Goloka Vrindavana. This is proper realization of Vrindavana anywhere. In our Krishna consciousness movement we inaugurated the New Vrindavana activities, wherein devotees are always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and this is not different from Goloka Vrindavana.”21

ISKCON New Vrindaban Radha Kunda Gopinath Mandir

Varsana Swami stands near Radha Kunda, with the partially completed Radha Gopinath Mandir in the background.

One person who has taken the pilgrimage aspect of New Vrindaban to heart is Varshana Swami. Born John Mowen in 1950, he hails from Morristown, New Jersey, but spent many of his early years on his grandfather’s farm in Pulaski, in upstate New York. He also studied theology at St. Andrew’s College, but quickly decided that he could best pursue God in the forest, where he could pray and contemplate divinity without disturbance.

SKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's Palace of Gold

Prabhupada’s bedroom has walls inlaid with Italian Botticino marble and a ceiling with nearly one thousand hand-painted flowers.

It was in the forest that he met the devotees. He returned with them to the Brooklyn temple and took up devotional practices. This was in 1972. Relocating to New Vrindaban, he was initiated by Prabhupada a year later. He has been there ever since.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's palace of gold

A walkway behind Prabhupada’s Palace features tree planters with lotus designs.

Varshana Swami gradually became known for landscaping, carving the holy area out of the existing contours of the West Virginia foothills. He has “excavated” replicas of Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda at Govardhana Hill in New Vrindaban, and is gradually constructing Radha-Gopinatha Mandir, the first of Srila Prabhupada’s proposed replicas of the seven main temples of Vrindavan. This has become a prized pilgrimage spot for visitors. As time goes on, the other temples will manifest as well, and pilgrims will come from all over the world, as they do now to see the Palace of Gold. Varshana Swami clearly has a calling to liberate these holy places from the raw landscape that is New Vrindaban.

  1. Loving Krishna

Ultimately all four of the above components work in concert to bring about love for Krishna, the fifth, if also the primary, principle of the New Vrindaban way of life. The third of the seven purposes of ISKCON is “To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).” This is where New Vrindaban ultimately hopes to take the people who live there, and to carry all its visitors on that journey as well.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's Palace of Gold

Sunrise seen through one of the four corner chattras that adorn the exterior terrace of Prabhupada’s Palace

Notes

  1. The earthly replica of Vrindavana in the spiritual world is spelled “Vrindavan” on modern maps. Srila Prabhupada used the Bengali-style spelling when naming “New Vrindaban.”
  2. Richard Rose, The San Francisco Oracle, December 1967.
  3. Hayagriva Dasa, “Chant,” Brijabasi Spirit, November 1981, p. 20.
  4. Letter from Prabhupada, 8/23/68. Quoted in Hayagriva Dasa, “New Vrindaban,” in Back to Godhead, Feb. 1, 1969 (Vol. 1, No. 23). Online version: http://www.backtogodhead.in/new-vrindaban-hayagriva-dasa/
  5. Brahmananda’s letter, dated September 7, 1968, and approved by Prabhupada, summed up their master’s vision for New Vrindaban in those earliest days: “It has a farmhouse and several other structures, a well, streams, hills (Govardhan, as named by Swamiji [Prabhupada]), pasture grounds (a cow will be acquired soon), ghat, pond, woodland, all situated on 138 acres. Prabhupada has requested that 7 temples be established there. Its main activity will be cow protection and to show the world that simply by living with cows and land and chanting HARE KRISHNA a perfect society will prevail. . . . A great deal of work is required and Swamiji has requested at least four devotees to go there immediately. New Vrindaban lacks [such] so-called necessities as hot running water and toilets, so that only stout and sturdy devotees are needed, especially those with carpentry experience and can do manual labor.”
  6. Srila Prabhupada letter to Hayagriva, 3/17/68.
  7. Srila Prabhupada letter to Kirtanananda Swami, 9/22/68.
  8. Howard Wheeler, “New Vrindaban: A Hare Krishna Community in West Virginia,” Mother Earth News,July/August 1972.
  9. “Children of Krishna: Seeking heaven in West Virginia,” Courier-Journal Magazine (Sunday, February 10, 1980).
  10. Hillary Johnson, “Children of a Harsh Bliss: In a West Virginia Commune, an Extraordinary Look at Life and Love Among the Krishnas,” Life(April 1980).
  11. Edward Schumacher, “West Virginia Marvels at Indian Palace,” The New York Times(Monday, September 3, 1979).
  12. Sarah Pulliam, “A lower-key kind of Krishna,” Columbus Dispatch(July 18, 2008).
  13. http://www.palaceofgold.com/history.html
  14. Srila Prabhupada letter to Hayagriva, 6/14/68.
  15. http://www.brijabasispirit.com/2016/01/07/srila-prabhupada-kaliya-iskcon…
  16. https://vanisource.org/wiki/680614_-_Letter_to_Hayagriva_written_from_Montreal
  17. https://vanisource.org/wiki/760803_-_Conversation_C_-_New_Mayapur
  18. Srimad-Bhagavatam4.12.23, Purport.
  19. https://vanisource.org/wiki/691207_-_Letter_to_Ranadhir_written_from_London
  20. https://vanisource.org/wiki/680823_-_Letter_to_Kirtanananda_and_Hayagriva_written_from_Montreal
  21. http://vanisource.org/wiki/CC_Madhya_7.69
  22. http://www.brijabasispirit.com/2016/10/16/new-vrindaban-devotees-serve-P…

About the Author: 

Satyaraja Dasa

Satyaraja Dasa

Satyaraja Dasa (Steven Rosen) is an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is also founding editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies and associate editor of Back to Godhead magazine.

Extra

Going Forward

On the central altar of the New Vrindaban temple stand Sri Sri Radha–Vrindaban-Chandra – Radha with Krishna as “the moon of Vrindavana.” They are accompanied by deities of Gopala Nathji, Gaura-Nitai, Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra, and Narasimha and Prahlada. Opened in 1983, the temple is elegant beyond words and competes with the Palace for the devotees’ attention.

But the land and the cows will always hold a special place in the hearts of New Vrindaban residents. Although the landscaping and the development of various farm projects have been ongoing since the community’s inception, there is more to do.

Recently a Yogashala opened just down the road from the main temple, and it hosts courses on yoga, meditation, and kirtana. This is part of a new outreach program meant to augment the Palace as a draw for outsiders. But the Palace is still the main attraction. New Vrindaban remains a holy place for pilgrims and a destination for many Western tourists, mainly because of the Palace of Gold.

Madhava Smullen wrote in October 2016:

It’s a reasonable expectation: this year, overall tourism at Prabhupada’s Palace already increased from 20,000 annually to approximately 30,000. Vrajadhama [now Vrajakishora Dasa, the new manager for Prabhupada’s Palace] attributes this to stronger social media presence, as well as an increasing interest from TV, radio and print media.

“It’s really about getting ourselves out there,” says Vrajadhama. “Because we have so much to offer. People are becoming aware that we’re doing a lot of work here, and that we’re ready to reintroduce ourselves to the world. They’re excited about that, and they want to come and see what we’re up to.”22

Apropos of New Vrindaban’s readiness for the future, the year 2018, its fiftieth anniversary, promises to be a major step forward. Several steps, in fact. To begin, five main events will commemorate the fiftieth in glorious New Vrindaban style. People will come from around the world for two weekend extravaganzas, particularly for congregation/donors, that start off the festival year in March and April. VIP events for West Virginia government officials and ISKCON dignitaries begin in May.

During the summer there will be an open-house weekend for the public, with advertising that is sure to bring busloads of tourists from around the country and devotees from around the world. Finally, the main event will be a huge semicentennial celebration in September, commemorating the founding of New Vrindaban. In addition, all of New Vrindaban’s usual annual events will continue in a bigger and better way, including Gaura Purnima, Nrisimha Caturdashi, Festival of Inspiration, 24 Hour Kirtan, Janmashtami, Radhashtami, Wheeling Rathayatra, Prabhupada’s Appearance Day, and the Festival of Colors.

Timeline

1968

January 22

First known mention of “New Vrindaban” in a letter from Srila Prabhupada.

August 8

Founding of New Vrindaban with Hayagriva’s signing of a 99-year lease.

August 23

Prabhupada’s letter to Kirtanananda and Hayagriva fully authorizing the establishment of New Vrindaban.

1969

Spring

Purchase of Kaliya (the community’s first cow) and the start of ISKCON’s cow-protection program.

May 21–June 22

Srila Prabhupada’s first visit.

1970

August

First New Vrindaban Janmashtami festival.

1971

Winter

Large Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra carved in Pittsburgh by Nara Narayana Dasa.

August

Janmashtami: Radha–Vrindaban-Chandra installation ceremony at the Vrindaban farmhouse.

1972

May

Bahulaban temple opens, and Radha–Vrindaban-Chandra move there from the Vrindaban farmhouse.

August 31–September 8

Srila Prabhupada’s second visit.

New Vrindaban sees the arrival of its twenty-first cow.

1973

Spring

Guruban property purchased (future site of Prabhupada’s Palace).

June 2–3

Groundbreaking ceremony for Prabhupada’s Palace and Govindaji Temple.

Installation of Radha-Madhava at Madhuban and Radha–Vrindaban-Natha at Vrindaban.

August 23

New Vrindaban Community, Inc. incorporated by Hayagriva, Paramananda Dasa, and others.

1974

April

First issue of Brijabasi Spiritnewsletter published.

July 18–23

Srila Prabhupada’s third visit, and the first to his future palace.

1975

August

113 total cows in the herd: 47 milk cows, 27 heifers, 35 oxen, and 4 bulls.

September

New Vrindaban: The Spiritual Frontier, ISKCON Cinema movie released.

Fall

Big Gaura-Nitai deities move from Buffalo to New Vrindaban.

1976

June 21–July 2

Srila Prabhupada’s fourth (and final) visit.

1977

January

Kaliya, the first New Vrindaban and ISKCON cow, passes away at Vrindaban Farm.

1978

150 total cows in the herd.

1979

September 2

Dedication ceremony of Srila Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold.

1981

Labor Day

Dharmasala guest lodge opens.

Spring

Varnashram College, a vocational school for teenage boys, starts (35 students by spring 1983).

1982

March/April

Palace Gift Store and Restaurant opens.

Guest cabins open.

The State of West Virginia recognizes New Vrindaban as an unincorporated town.

1983

January

Cow population approximately 300.

March

WV Dept. of Highways adds New Vrindaban to official state map.

July 4

Radha–Vrindaban-Chandra’s Temple of Understanding opens. Deities move from Bahulaban. Sri Gopala Nathji installation.

1984

January

Two temple lakes completed, Kaliya Ghat (now called Kusum Sarovara) and Chaitanya Ghat.

1985

Winter

Large Gaura-Nitai sculptures dedicated.

Spring

Govardhan Dairy is opened in Valley Barn, built to handle 200 milking cows.

1986

January 6

Nrisimhadeva and Prahlada deities installed.

March

Malini the elephant arrives.

1987

March

Kirtanananda expelled from ISKCON.

June

Prabhupada’s Palace rose garden wins prestigious award from All-American Rose Selections.

1988

February

New Vrindaban expelled from ISKCON.

Difficult period, experimentation with Vaishnava/Christian blend.

1991

June 26

Census: 300 residents (131 adults).

1994

March

New Vrindaban officially excludes Kirtanananda Swami.

May

Brijabasi Spirit returns focus to Srila Prabhupada and his vision for New Vrindaban.

1995

Winter

Danavira Goswami and his Rupanuga Vedic College move to New Vrindaban, as does ISCOWP (International Society for Cow Protection).

1998

February

New Vrindaban provisionally accepted back into ISKCON. ECO-Vrindaban (GEETA) started.

2000

May

Inaugural Festival of Inspiration.

Fall

New Vrindaban fully accepted back into ISKCON.

2006

March

Prabhupada’s Palace formally recognized by GBC as Smriti Samadhi.

2007

June

Inaugural 24 Hour Kirtan Festival.

September

Gopal’s Garden Home School Co-op opens.

2008

September 11

New Vrindaban Community, Inc. name changed to ISKCON New Vrindaban, Inc.

2010

April

Palace Renovation Committee started.

2012

April

Start of construction for Radha- Gopinatha Temple by Dham Seva, Inc.

July 10

CNN calls Prabhupada’s Palace one of the “8 religious wonders to see in the U.S.”

September

Inaugural Festival of Colors.

2014

Summer

Renovations on Palace entrance and front steps begin.

2016

December

Prabhupada’s Palace front steps renovation completed.

July 16

First Rathayatra in Wheeling, WV.

2017

April 15

Yoga Shala inaugurated.

Autumn

Prabhupada’s Palace outer wall renovation completed.

2018

New Vrindaban’s Fiftieth Anniversary.

2019

Celebrations to come:

April

ISKCON Cow Protection Fiftieth Anniversary.

September

Prabhupada’s Palace Fortieth Anniversary.

Back To Godhead: New Vrindaban’s 50th Anniversary 2018


For the first time in 37 years, New Vrindaban is the featured article on the front cover of the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of Back To Godhead magazine. Perfect timing, as the village residents and well-wishers begin their 50th anniversary celebrations!

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

Back to Godhead New Vrindaban 50th Anniversary 2018

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 02/11/2018


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 02/11/2018

Mission Statement: ECO-Vrindaban promotes simple living, cow protection, engaging oxen, local agriculture, and above all, loving Krishna, as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON New Vrindaban.

Participating Directors: Chaitanya Mangala (chair), Jamuna Jivani (board secretary), Olivia, Makara, Ranaka, and Vraja.

Participating Advisors: Jaya Krsna

1. Welcome New Directors and Advisors

The ECO-V Board welcomes three new directors: Jamuna Jivani, Makara, and Olivia; and one “new” advisor: Kripamaya.

2. Ranaka’s Monthly Report

  • Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi are currently milking 5 cows: Jamuna, Surabhi, Laxmi, Sita, and Malati.
  • Milk production is holding steady at approximately 20 gal. per day.
  • Sriya and Anjali are both due in February. Subhadra is due the end of May.
  • There are three heifers residing at the Temple Barn: one-year-old Vamsika, four-month-old Lalita, and one-month-old Gopi Katyayani.
  • Parvati has been moved from the Temple Barn to the Valley Barn for breeding with Dharma.
  • Jaya Radhe and Usha are still residing in Nandagram with Madhu for breeding.
  • Ananda Vidya continues to produce approximately 15 lbs. of butter, 15 gal. of yogurt, and half gallon of ghee on a weekly basis, and delivers them to the temple.
  • Ananda Vidya is getting good results producing skim milk soft-pressed American cheese and Colby cheeses on a small scale.
  • Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi are gradually clearing out the old lumber from the upstairs of the Temple Barn.
  • The siding around the front entrance to the school building remains about halfway finished. The material to finish the job, along with lumber to finish the loading chute at Nandagram, was ordered this week and will be delivered on Friday. Work will resume on both projects when the weather permits.
  • Greenhouse repairs at Vidya’s and Nandagram still need to be finished.
  • Ray is moving hay from the Valley Barn to Nandagram to keep them supplied through the rest of the winter.
  • Caitanya Bhagavat continues working with Hari Chand in the ox program for an hour each morning, along with daily Nandagram herd care.
  • Caitanya Bhagavat, Ray and Ranaka decided on a proper fencing scheme to divide up the barns and pastures at Nandagram, along with upgrades for the bullpen and shed area. Ray and Caitanya Bhagavat have completed approximately 70% of a permanent loading chute, and repaired one of the sliding doors and floor at one of the barns.
  • Suchandra and Vidya have been putting in seed orders and determining their ground cover needs for the upcoming season. Suchandra has also been removing old mulch and plant residue, along with putting down some ground cover in walkways at the Community Garden when the weather permits.
  • Suchandra, Ray, and Ranaka are planning a walkthrough at the Community Garden to discuss manure spreading and tillage plans for that area.

3. 2017 Finalized Operating Budget Approval

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to review ECO-V’s income and expenses for the previous year.

RESOLVED: The Board approves a finalized operating budget of $296K for 2017.

4. 2018 Operating Budget Approval

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to set projections of ECO-V’s income and expenses for the upcoming year.

RESOLVED: The Board approves an operating budget of up to $350K for 2018.

5. External Funding Request: IMCPA 2018 Grant 

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to support self-sufficiency and cow protection throughout ISKCON.

RESOLVED: The Board approves a grant up to $5,000 to the ISKCON Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture, towards its expenses for 2018.

6. Internal Funding Request: March 2018 Appreciation T-shirts & Plaques

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to acknowledge key community members, as well as offer a token of appreciation to the INV and ECO-V staff and volunteers.

RESOLVED: The Board approves up to $4,000 as a budget for plaques and t-shirts to distribute during the March meeting weekend.

7. Celebrate the Cow Festival

ECO-V board members are interested in organizing and hosting an annual festival as a way of honoring our cows, as well as educating others about them. Olivia volunteered to develop a proposal for this festival.

8. Tattva’s Property Purchase 

On January 16th, 2018 ECO-V purchased the property formerly owned by Tattva, Amritanam & family for $252K. The property includes 61.8 acres along with a house, barn, and outbuildings. More discussion is necessary to decide how to best utilize this new asset, but the intention is to use it in the development of future homesteads.

9. Annual Grant for Gopal’s Garden 2017-2018

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to support the educational needs of the youth in New Vrindaban.

RESOLVED: The Board approves $15,000 for the Gopal’s Garden School 2017-18 academic year.

10. Director Commitment Agreement

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to clarify the roles and responsibilities of its directors.

RESOLVED: The Board adopts a Director Commitment Agreement, which all directors are requested to sign and submit to Ranaka for official ECO-V records.

For regular updates please visit and like the ECO-V Facebook page.

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 01/07/2018


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 01/07/2018

Mission Statement: ECO-Vrindaban promotes simple living, cow protection, engaging oxen, local agriculture, and above all, loving Krishna, as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON New Vrindaban.

Participating Directors: Anuttama, Chaitanya Mangala (chair), Kripamaya, Ranaka, and Vraja.

Board Secretary: Jamuna Jivani

1. New Directors

After four months as a board advisor, and four years as board secretary, Jamuna Jivani was elected to an initial one-year term as a board member.

After eight months as a board advisor, Makara was elected to an initial one-year term as a board member.

After eight months as a board advisor, Olivia was elected to an initial one-year term as a board member.

2. Directorship Renewals

Anuttama was re-elected to a three-year term as a board member.

Vraja was re-elected to a three-year term as a board member.

3. Kripamaya’s Retirement as Director and President, and Selection as New Advisor

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to simultaneously honor Kripamaya’s approximately 20 years of serving on the ECO-V board and as acting president, and to keep him involved in a consultative capacity.

RESOLVED: The Board accepts Kripamaya’s retirement as a director and president and selects Kripamaya as an advisor for a one-year term.

SPECIAL NOTE: Kripamaya prabhu is a founding member of ECO-Vrindaban, serving from 1998 to 2018. The ECO-V Board reluctantly accepted his request, expressed deep gratitude for his many years of participation, and is glad to know he will continue as an advisor.

4. Board Chair

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to appoint members to fill the organization’s roles for 2018.

RESOLVED: The Board designates Chaitanya Mangala as the ECO-V Chairperson for one year, ending with the January 2019 annual meeting.

5. Board Advisors

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to maintain a team of advisors.

RESOLVED: The Board renews Bhima’s role as advisor for another one-year term.

RESOLVED: The Board renews Jaya Krsna’s role as advisor for another one-year term.

RESOLVED: The Board renews Kalakantha’s role as advisor for another one-year term.

6. Officer Roles

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to appoint individuals to fill the officer roles for 2018.

RESOLVED: The Board designates Vraja as the ECO-V president for one year, ending with the January 2019 annual meeting.

RESOLVED: The Board designates Ranaka as the ECO-V secretary and treasurer for one year, ending with the January 2019 annual meeting.

For regular updates please visit and like the ECO-V Facebook page.

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 12/17/2017


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 12/17/2017

Mission Statement: ECO-Vrindaban promotes simple living, cow protection, engaging oxen, local agriculture, and above all, loving Krishna, as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON New Vrindaban.

Participating Directors: Chaitanya Mangala (chair), Kripamaya, Ranaka, and Vraja.

Participating Advisors: Jamuna Jivani (secretary), Kalakantha (partial attendance), Makara, and Olivia.

1. Ranaka’s Monthly Report

  • At the Temple Barn, Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi are currently milking 6 cows: Jamuna, Surabhi, Parvati, Laxmi, Sita, and Malati. Milk production is approximately 20 gal. per day.
  • Ananda Vidya continues to produce approximately 15 lbs. of butter, 15 gal. of yogurt, and 1/2 gal. of ghee on a weekly basis, and delivers them to the temple kitchen.
  • Malati gave birth to a heifer named Gopi Katyayani last week. Shortly after giving birth she came down with what is commonly referred to as “milk fever,” which is caused by reduced blood calcium levels. She improved after the vet injected her intravenously with calcium and steroids, and has reentered the milk herd in a normal condition. The vet suggested that, in the future, we administer calcium gel as a precaution for all of the cows when they give birth. This will now become standard practice.
  • Sriya and Anjali are both due in February. Subhadra is due the end of May.
  • There are now three heifers residing at the Temple Barn: three-month-old Lalita, 11-month-old Vamsika, and newborn Gopi Katyayani.
  • Jaya Radhe and Usha are still residing in Nandagram with Madhu for breeding.
  • Last Sunday, we had a gathering at the Temple Goshala of 11 local New Vrindaban devotees and five members from the Catholic group, Wild Church WV. There was a nice interfaith service followed by dinner in the temple prasadam hall.
  • Ray is about halfway finished with replacing the siding around the front entrance to Gopal’s Garden school building. Work will resume when weather permits.
  • Ray picked up the materials needed for the greenhouse repairs at Vidya’s and Nandagram. He will work on them this month.
  • Ray has been working on projects at the ghee plant during the cold, wet winter months.
  • Caitanya Bhagavat has been working with Hari Chand in the ox program for an hour each morning, along with daily Nandagram herd care.
  • Caitanya Bhagavat, Ray and Ranaka have scheduled a walk around at Nandagram next week to decide on a proper fencing scheme to divide up the barns and pastures there and to discuss the best place to build a permanent loading chute.
  • Suchandra, along with her partner Ryan, have agreed to take on the responsibility of overseeing the food and flower gardens for the 2018 growing season.
  • Ranaka will meet with Mukunda dasi and Radhanath das to coordinate their activities for the coming season.

2. Fall 2017 Joint Board Meetings Recap

Chaitanya Mangala reported on the joint board meetings that were held November 10-12:

  • There were several changes to the regular schedule. Saturday morning ECO-V presented along with Gopal’s Garden, the Spirit Garden, and the Village Council. INV will be the main presenters in Spring 2018. This helped the presentations go more smoothly, as it allowed each group to have more time to share their information.
  • The new Yoga Shala created a warm, relaxed, and inviting setting.
  • The recent passing of Syama Kunda prabhu deeply affected the overall mood and created a very sober atmosphere throughout the weekend. His memorial ceremony was moving and greatly appreciated by both his immediate family members as well as his extended spiritual family in the New Vrindaban community.
  • There was a Parikram tour Sunday morning that went well. Participants visited Tattva & Amritanam’s property, Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha’s Mandir, Srila Prabhupada at his Palace, & Govinda’s Restaurant kitchen.
  • The service appreciation ceremony moved to Saturday, and Sunday afternoon was reserved for an open conversation and a presentation by Professor Burke Rochford. This time we honored Rasalila Dasi & Ranaka Dasa.
  • Ranaka’s wife, Elena, helped organize and distribute the gift t-shirts. The Palace Peacock design was quite popular with the recipients. The ECO-V Board wants to specifically thank Elena for volunteering to do this service.

3. ECO-V Website Update

Jamuna Jivani resumed work on the website from earlier in the summer, and Makara also volunteered to help with this project. They are gathering some more material and writing the last of the content. They aim to have everything to the web designer within the next week.

4. Online Cow & Cowherd Campaign

ECO-V’s new Facebook campaign consists of two weekly posts; one featuring a cow, and the other a cowherd/gardener/staff. These posts provide information about their personality and history (for the cows) and about their service, history, etc. (for staff). This was the idea of Sukhayanti and Nila Gopal, and they are putting together the content, with the help of the ECO-V team. This has been a very popular campaign, as thousands of Facebook users have been reading and appreciating these posts each week.

5. Cow Adoption Request

The Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary, located in PA, requested ECO-V adopt five of their cows, as the director, Dr. Sankar Sastri, is nearing retirement. In order to understand the situation more fully and to be able to make a clear decision, Ranaka will find out:

  • more about the age and health of the animals, as well as what the sanctuary’s expectations and financial contributions would be
  • what ECO-V’s capacity is to care for these cows, as well as how that might impact a timeline and trajectory for its own herd
  • INV’s interest in fundraising to help cover the costs for the long term care of these animals

6. Gita Nagari Grant Request

Devotees at Gita Nagari are building a new feed area and manure storage facility for their cows. The total cost is $268K. They were successfully awarded a grant of $134K from the USDA. It is a cost share grant so they have to raise the balance. Dhruva Maharaja dasa, the President of Gita Nagari, asked if ECO-V would help them complete the project.

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to encourage and support cow protection throughout ISKCON, especially with our sister organization at Gita Nagari.

RESOLVED: The ECO-V Board authorizes a grant up to $10K to Gita Nagari for help with the completion of their new facility, contingent upon confirmation of their ability to raise the remaining funds.

7.  Five Year Acknowledgement

With the posting of the 12/03/17 board meeting minutes, ECO-V marked 5 years of steadily publishing them online each month. The Board noted this is likely a new record in New Vrindaban and thanked all who helped make this happen.

For regular updates please visit and like the ECO-V Facebook page.

Interview with Ranaka das


 

Ranaka Chaitanya Mangala New Vrindaban ISKCON ECO-Vrindaban Service Appreciation

Where is your hometown? 

I was born in Norfolk, VA where my father was in the Navy.  After his discharge from the duty, we relocated to my family’s home town in NW Iowa when I was 2 weeks old.  I lived in my family’s farm near Paullina IA until I graduated from High School at the age of 17 & moved to Denver CO in 1972, and then in the mountains near Evergreen until 1977.

What initially attracted you to Krishna Consciousness? 

I was  interested in Eastern Philosophy and had been going to lectures by different swamis, I became friends with a devotee who directed me to the Denver Temple.

When did you first meet devotees? 

I became friends with a devotee who had left the temple, he was living down the road from my place in the Evergreen, Co area in 1976. I visited and met the devotees at the Denver temple around December of 1976.

When & where did you first join ISKCON? 

I joined New Vrindaban in February 1977.

When & where did you get initiated? 

I was initiated in New Vrindaban in August 1977.

When & where did you get married? 

I got married with Elena, at the Wheeling Court House in August of 2000, and had a reception afterward at the Palace Restaurant, with many devotees in attendance.

When/where did you first hear about New Vrindaban? 

I heard from the devotees at the Denver Temple.

When did you move to New Vrindaban? 

I moved to New Vrindaban in Feb 1977.

What is your favorite part of New Vrindaban? 

Radha Vrindaban Chandra!

What were your main services in each decade, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, current? 

I was taking care of the cows and agriculture, from beginning to present.

What was your favorite service? 

It’s all been good.

Anything specific you’d like to mention about your family? (spouses, children, siblings, parents, etc.) 

My eldest son Kyle (Rama) is a high school math teacher, lives & teaches in SLO CA. He is married to Dara and has a one year old son named Riley.

My second son David (Raktak) has a vegan restaurant business, he also lives & works in SLO CA. He is married to Sarah and they have a 1.5 year old son named Arjuna and a newborn daughter named Amrita.

My third son Bryce (Ramesh) graduated from Wesleyan College in Middletown CT last year and is now enrolled in a tech school in Seattle WA, where he is seeking employment after graduation.

My fourth son Joshua Rama is 13, and is finishing his last year at Gopal’s Garden. He will move onto High School next year.

Any advice to newer and future residents?

Chant Krishna’s name and depend on Him in all circumstances, you will never be the loser.

 

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 12/03/2017


 

ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 12/03/2017

Mission Statement: ECO-Vrindaban promotes simple living, cow protection, engaging oxen, local agriculture, and above all, loving Krishna, as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON New Vrindaban.

Participating Directors: Anuttama, Chaitanya Mangala (chair), Kripamaya, Ranaka, and Vraja.

Participating Advisors: Bhima, Jamuna Jivani (secretary), Jaya Krsna, Kalakantha (partial attendance), and Makara.

1. Ranaka’s Monthly Report

  • Five cows are being milked by Ananda Vidya & Lalita Gopi at the Temple Barn: Jamuna, Surabhi, Parvati, Laxmi, and Sita. Milk production is approximately 17 gallons per day.
  • Asha has been retired from the milk herd and is now residing at the Valley Barn.
  • Malati returned to the Temple Barn and is due very soon.
  • Sriya and Anjali are both due in February. Subhadra has been confirmed pregnant and is due at the end of May.
  • There are two heifers residing at the Temple Barn: three-month old Lalita, and 11-month-old Vamsika.
  • Jaya Radhe has been moved to Nandagram for breeding with Madhu. Also, Usha is currently residing with Madhu.
  • Ananda Vidya continues to process approximately 15 lbs. of butter, 15 gallons of yogurt, and a half gallon of ghee on a weekly basis, and delivers them to the temple kitchen.
  • The Temple Barn had many guests over Thanksgiving, including Anuradha’s friends who volunteered during an evening milking. Also, Lilasuka and her extended family came for an evening milking.
  • Bhaktin Andrea has been coming every night to help with milking, as has Bhakta Kyle on occasion.
  • Ray completed the work on Dharma the bull’s outside pen expansion project at the Valley Barn. Dharma is content in his new outside space.
  • Ray replaced all of the old fluorescent bulbs and fixtures in the new vegetable processing room with LED lighting which is low-maintenance and energy efficient. In addition, he ran conduit and installed two electrical outlets, one of which services the new freezer.
  • Ray, with Robert’s help, replaced the old deck on the front entrance of Gopal’s Garden. With the help of Brikasanga, he is replacing the siding around the front entrance to the school building.
  • Ray will be handling repairs at the greenhouses at Vidya’s and at Nandagram this month.
  • Caitanya Bhagavat has settled into a winter program of working with Hari Chand in the ox program for one hour each morning, and caring for the Nandagram herd.
  • Suchandra cleaned out all the beds at the Teaching Garden and prepared them for winter by working them up and covering them with compost. Also, she finished planting 400 lily bulbs there. She will finish clearing the beds and digging out the dahlia bulbs at Vidya’s this month.
  • Robert cleared the beds at the Community Garden and readied them for next year.
  • In discussions with Robert, he shared that does not want to take on the responsibility of overseeing the vegetable gardens for 2018. That means ECO-V is still searching for a garden manager for the upcoming season.
  • 2017 Total Garden Yields

Produce delivered to the Temple Kitchen (does not include Freezer Stock):

  • Green beans – 336 lbs.
  • Cucumbers – 20 lbs.
  • Bitter melon – 30 lbs.
  • Summer and patty pan squash – 166 lbs.
  • Zucchini squash – 117 lbs.
  • Winter squash – 15 lbs.
  • Swiss chard – 78 lbs.
  • Basil – 7.5 lbs.
  • Kale – 23 lbs.
  • Lettuce – 8 lbs.
  • Carrots – 36 lbs.
  • Heirloom tomatoes – 122 lbs.
  • Roma tomatoes – 80 lbs.
  • Cherry tomatoes – 42 lbs.
  • Apples – 81 lbs.
  • Plums – 25 lbs.
  • Strawberries – 50 lbs.
  • Blackberries – 5 lbs.
  • Potatoes – 600 lbs.

Freezer Stock:

  • Green Beans – 54 gallons
  • Tomatoes – 33 gallons

Flowers:

  • Big marigolds – 27,000
  • Small marigolds – 25,000
  • Lilies – 525
  • Dahlias – 760
  • Zinnias – 1,500
  • Sunflowers – 575
  • Gladiolus – 75

2. Restructuring ECO-V

The Board explored ways we can encourage more people to get involved with ECO-V. Suggested strategies include:

  • Improve outreach to the local community
  • Connect with people from the WVU College of Agriculture
  • Build relationships with people from Grow Ohio Valley
  • Review wages offered
  • Continue to search within the broader community of devotees while making internal improvements within ECO-V and New Vrindaban in general
  • Attract WWOOFers – Start by offering room and board, then work to eventually be able to offer paid positions and offer training. Look for interpersonal skills within the existing staff to run such a program.
  • Look at possible interfaith connections
  • Reassess past experiences, consider how to highlight the uniqueness of the opportunities ECO-V and New Vrindaban have offer, and revise our methods of recruitment until we find the right people

3. Village Governance vs. Non-Profit Management

Chaitanya Mangala spoke about the need to identify the differences between village governance and non-profit management, and also to adopt language that helps differentiate between the two, so New Vrindaban residents & well-wishers can continue to develop a proper “self-governing village.”

4. Board & Advisor Application

The Board discussed the possibility of adopting an application recently developed by INV for director and advisor positions and also to explore other ways of increasing involvement with ECO-V. Chaitanya Mangala will share the INV application so it can be considered at the next meeting.

For regular updates please visit and like the ECO-V Facebook page.

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