By Madhava Smullen
For thirty years, a very special Lord Nrsimhadeva Deity has protected the devotees of New Vrindaban and all of North America, and received their love and service.
Now, residents of the West Virginia village want to invite people from all over North America to come celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of His installation, and to behold the only full-size Nrsimha Deity on the continent, on His sacred appearance day.
Sculpted by artist Soma Das in New Vrindaban and installed in 1986, the ferocious half-man, half-lion Lord with his deep black skin and golden mane stands at a towering seven feet tall next to his boy devotee Prahlad – so the celebration is sure to be an awe-inspiring spectacle.
Although the original installation was on January 6th, this year’s epic three-day anniversary festival will run from Friday May 20th – Nrsimha Chaturdasi – to Sunday May 22nd.
On the first day, all the devotees will bathe the full-size Deities with a variety of liquids including milk, yoghurt and ghee from New Vindaban’s own protected cows. During this maha-abhisekha, one thousand Nrsimha Kavachas will also be knotted together into one huge garland, and offered to the Lord.
On Saturday, the Nrsimha Kavacha mantra will be chanted 108 times during a fire sacrifice to invoke the feral Lord’s protection, and the thousand Kavachas will be distributed to the guests.
And on both days, there will be dramatic retellings of the story of Nrsimhadeva and Prahlad by award-winning storyteller Sankirtan Das; roaring kirtans, special Nrsimha aratis; and delectable feasts – with many of the community devotees bringing offerings from their homes. Sunday, meanwhile, will wrap things up with a Govardhana parikrama and Sunday Feast.
But perhaps one of the biggest treats of the festival will be the Nrsimha Katha on both Friday and Saturday. Senior Prabhupada disciples Urmila Dasi and Srutakirti Das will speak about Lord Nrsimhadeva’s loving pastimes; Soma Das and other early New Vrindaban devotees will share their memories of sculpting and installing the Lord thirty years ago.
Back then, Soma recalls, New Vrindaban devotees had longed to install Nrsimhadeva for protection for many years.
“Then one day, I was walking from Prabhupada’s Palace down to the old temple at Bahulaban,” he says. “I had already finished my japa, and I remembered reading in the Nectar of Devotion that performing service in your mind is as good as performing it in real life. I started to meditate on making a beautiful Nrsimhadeva Deity, and installing Him in a wonderful temple. So when I was asked later if I wanted to sculpt Him, I was over the moon!”
Like most of the pioneering devotees building up New Vrindaban at the time, Soma, then 32, had no professional experience or education in sculpting. Instead, he had learned on the job; his many sculptures, including a giant Gaura-Nitai and bas relief forms of Jaya and Vijaya, already adorned the community.
Beginning work on Lord Nrsimhadeva and Prahlad Maharaj in October 1985, he first formed the Lord from clay. While doing so, he consulted the Shilpa Shastra and other Vedic texts, particularly the descriptions of Nrsimha in Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam.
He also consulted Sri Vaishnava priest Sampat Kumar Bhattacharya, head of the Tirupati temple authority TTD, who had been personally praised for his expertise by Srila Prabhupada.
It “just so happened” that as Soma was sculpting Lord Nrsimhadeva, the Bhattacharya was visiting nearby Pittsburgh to open a South Indian temple there – the first time a Sri Vaishnava priest had ever done so outside of India.
“He came by, approved my work, and answered all my questions,” Soma says. “Like the whole process, it seemed like divine arrangement. It really felt like Lord Nrsimhadeva wanted to appear in New Vrindaban, and I was just working for Him. It didn’t even feel like I made Him.”
The Deity was completed quickly, in only three months. Kumar, Sudhanu and their mold shop crew made plaster molds from Soma’s clay original and poured in epoxy resin mixed with granite dust and ground-up West Virginia coal for the jet black color. Prahlad, meanwhile, was cast out of cultured white marble.
Although the devotees were pensive because there was only one chance for the cast to work, they breathed a sigh of relief and awe when on the fateful day, Kumar opened the molds to reveal the beautiful Deities of the Lord and His devotee.
“I remember we all ran over to see Him come out of the mold,” recalls Madhurya-lila Dasi. “It was amazing.”
Meanwhile, all the different Deity worship departments at New Vrindaban were in marathon mode as the installation date loomed.
Ishani headed up the jewelry workshop with a small core group, including Madhurya-lila, Gopi, and Janaki, and got help from anyone else she could. Her team created pieces by soldering brass or copper jewelry findings together, electroplating, cutting crystals to create jewels, and hammering relief designs by hand – all of it learned through books and on the job.
“We were working from 7 in the morning until probably 10 or 11 at night,” says Madhurya-lila. “And I’m pretty sure all of us pulled at least one all-nighter.”
Despite this, Madhurya-lila – who will also create the Lord’s jewelry for the 30th anniversary — says she loved it. “There was a team spirit that I’ve rarely experienced anywhere else in my life. I would go back to that jewelry shop in a heartbeat. There’s no place I’d rather be.”
The result of all this dedicated teamwork was a gorgeous full set of golden jewelry set with red and green jewels for Prahlad and Nrsimhadeva: a large tubular crown, sudarshan chakra, conchshell, earrings, necklaces, arm and ankle bracelets, and tilak and belt. Ishani created the Lord’s eyes as well, along with Kuladri Das.
The Deity Sewing Department, headed by Adhara Dasi and her dedicated crew of women, also worked around the clock in the months leading up to the installation day, creating new outfits for the Lord and His boy devotee. These included a beautiful yellow dhoti and crimson chaddar lined with gold for the Lord, a purple dhoti with violet chaddar for Prahlad, and a velvet backdrop adorned with winding flowered vines.
For the installation on January 6th, 1986 and surrounding three-day festival, hundreds of devotees from all over North America gathered for ecstatic chanting, dancing, feasting, dramas and more – just as they will on the 30th anniversary celebration.
Gaura Keshava Das, a brahamana priest who had been trained in South India by Sampat Kumar amongst others, performed the elaborate installation rituals, including fire sacrifices in the yajnashala outside the temple, and Prana Pratistha.
“This involved touching the heart of the Deity, and inviting the Lord to please expand His heart and reside within the Deity, and accept the worship of the devotees,” Gaura Keshava recalls.
During this process, four strong devotees carried the 400-pound Lord into the temple room. A blindfold was removed and His eyes were ceremonially opened. He was then installed with much pomp upon a beautiful golden altar and throne cast by Kumar in New Vrindaban.
From then on, Lord Nrsimhadeva was very merciful to all the New Vrindaban devotees, and especially the Prahlad-like children – in the 1980s, the older gurukula boys would perform all His morning aratis, while once a week the women and younger boys and girls would worship Him.
Today, His early servants such as Srimati, Jayasri and Lokadristi continue to worship Him alongside new pujaris like Abhinandana Das.
And now, at this May’s unmissable 30th anniversary celebration, we’ll all get to feel His love and protection, as we hear from those who were there how He appeared all those years ago in New Vrindaban.
Please read full April Brijabasi Spirit Newsletter at https://us10.admin.mailchimp.com/campaigns/show?id=645913
ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 03/20/2016
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, Bhima, Chaitanya Mangala, Kripamaya, Ranaka and Sri Tulasi Manjari.
Participating Advisors: Jaya Krsna, Radha-Krishna, Vraja
Participating Managers: Mukunda, Nitaicandra
Recording Secretary: Jamuna Jivani
1. Exploring ECO-V’s Future Role
Kripamaya raised some general questions regarding the future role of ECO-V in the continued evolution of the New Vrindaban village. After an initial discussion, the Board members concluded it would be best to discuss these broad range of topics in person and to include more people in the discussion.
2. ECO-V Brochure
Kripamaya expressed an interest in reviving the ECO-V brochure project in time for the 2016 festival season. Some Board members felt that the project should wait until the organization has put more substantial work into its current projects before doing so. Also, to reduce potential confusion with pilgrims to New Vrindaban, INV previously requested ECO-V to hold off promoting itself with a separate brochure. As an interim step, Jaya Krsna proposed including information about ECO-V in a new INV brochure that would highlight some of ECO-V’s activities. Meeting participants appreciated his suggestion and requested Jaya Krsna to move forward with this.
3. New Vrindaban Folklorist
Kripamaya, Radha-Krishna, Jaya Krsna and Chaitanya Mangala formed an ECO-V sub-committee to begin exploring options for this project and will present recommendations when ready.
4. Mukunda’s Monthly Report
Mukunda is currently in Florida finishing up a construction project this week and plans on being back in New Vrindaban by the end of March.
5. Nitaicandra’s Monthly Report
Nitaicandra reported on the previous month’s projects:
- Recently arrived back in New Vrindaban.
- Purchased approximately 20,000 heirloom seeds and 1,200 lbs of seed potatoes.
- No fruit trees will be planted this year in anticipation of the 17 year cicadas.
- Two calves were born.
- Moved tractor implements to Nandagram.
- Vidya hired Kacey to run the Teaching Garden & grow flowers.
6. ISKCON Ministry Grant Request
The ISKCON GBC Minister for Agriculture and Cow Protection, Kalakantha dasa, requested funding for the four upcoming continental farm conferences held in 2016 by the ISKCON Global Ministry and the Sustainable Vaisnava Communities Committee.
WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to support and encourage self-sufficiency and cow protection throughout ISKCON.
RESOLVED: The Board approves a grant up to $4,620 as follows:
1. $3,000 for the Minister’s travel expenses to participate in the four conferences, and,
2. $1,620 to sponsor the $108 registration fee for 15 attendees at the North American ISKCON Farm Conference to be held at Gita Nagari in August 2016.
For regular updates, visit the ECO-V Facebook page.
By Abhay Charan dasa
(New Vrindaban, West Virginia, March 28th, 2016)- Govinda’s Restaurant, the only vegetarian and vegan restaurant in the Ohio Valley area, officially opened for the season on Friday, March 25th, to the delight of visitors and locals alike, having been closed for the winter. This hidden gem, tucked away in the serene Appalachian foothills, is definitely a must go.
Govinda’s Vegetarian Restaurant offers a wide range of menu options for its visitors. While authentic Indian cuisines is the specialty, delicious Italian dishes, including lasagna, pasta and pizza are on the menu. For the not so adventurous palate, American dishes such as veggie burgers and a Philly cheesesteak are also included. Healthier menu options like a new salad bar, green juices and smoothie bar will be added this year, as well as a variety of tasty vegan dishes, such as vegan wraps and Daiya cheese pizza.
Most of the vegetables used in these delicious preparations are literally garden fresh and some produce comes directly from New Vrindaban’s organic garden, while almost all of the milk comes from New Vrindaban’s cruelty-free, protected cow program established in 1967. “We use organic, non-GMO foods as much as we can and try to use only the most natural ingredients possible”, says Vasudeva dasa, the General Manager of the restaurant. Soon, he hopes to produce enough vegetables from the local garden to supply the restaurant year round.
Govinda’s recently welcomed new kitchen manager, Dina Mani dasa, who owned two successful restaurants, and brings over 15 years of expertize to the team. He is excited about adding healthier menu options and plans to add to the already robust International menu. Guests will be pleasantly surprised with the affordable menu pricing and selection available. Don’t miss the special buffet offered on weekends priced at just $11.99.
In preparation for the busy year, the restaurant was repainted and renovated with an expanded storage room and kitchen areas, as well as a new dining section that will accommodate more guests. Beautiful new décor was added throughout the restaurant, including paintings, fabrics and elegant lotus lights, that brighten the area.
“I was happy to be greeted by such a cheerful host. I really enjoyed the ambiance and the food was astounding. I hope to get back there soon as this is the only vegetarian restaurant in the area,” says Robert Steltenpool.
From the friendly staff and stunning atmosphere to the amazing gourmet cooking, it is not hard to see why over 20,000 delighted customers visit Govinda’s annually. Govinda’s has been serving delicious international cuisine for over 20 years and is sure to have something for everyone.
Currently, Govinda’s is opened on weekends, Friday – Sunday from 3 pm – 9 pm and beginning May 1st, will be opening from 12 pm – 9 pm every day. The restaurant is conveniently located at 3759 McCrearys Ridge Rd., Moundsville, WV 26041. You can contact us at 304 843-1600 ext.101. https://www.facebook.com/Govindasnv or http://www.palacelodge.com/services.html
By New Vrindaban Communications and Devotee Care Team
Caregiving is an integral part of family life and often has the spouse or parent putting his or her needs on the back burner. Many New Vrindaban devotees have played the role of caregivers and have never been recognized for all their efforts.
We would like to acknowledge these devotees, beginning with Mother Vidya, who was Madhava Gosh Prabhu’s caregiver for over ten years while he was in various stages of disease and deterioration. To care for someone over such a long period of time takes great patience and strength of character.
Mother Vidya has also quietly played a role of keeping in touch with devotees who have left New Vrindaban. This has all been done without compensation or acknowledgment. This shows a true caregivers heart of generosity.
Triyadisha devi also spent the last few years giving care to Vidura Prabhu, while his body slowly dwindled away. She was an ever-faithful companion who never crossed him, though it was sometimes challenging to watch him suffer in silence. At the very end, though not tech savvy, she managed to turn on Srila Prabhupada’s voice, and supported her husband to his very last breath being an example of true servitorship.
Another stalwart in caregiving, Manasa Ganga devi actually had a job caring for the disabled and handicapped over 15 years ago. Around the same time, she also cared for Mother Adhara devi, New Vrindaban’s head seamstress, who had a form of dementia – where she forgot everything except Krsna. To this day, Manasa Ganga is still actively and considerately supporting devotees, listening to their concerns and calming their anxieties.
Advaitacarya Prabhu and his wife Madri devi cared for Maha Yoga, who was institutionalized most of his life. Advaita and Madri took it upon themselves to visit Maha Yoga in Pittsburgh, provide special prasadam, and listen to him talk about Krsna until he recently left his body. They considered it their honor and privilege to have his association.
Lalita Gopi devi is a caregiver who goes above and beyond the call of duty. For over ten years she has assisted Pradyumna Prabhu and Rukmavati devi in caring for their children. She has also cooked for Jaya Murari Prabhu and Varsana Maharaja for years until her other duties consumed her time. Recently, as apartment manager, she put her heart and soul into cleaning up all around the apartments for the pleasure of the devotees. Her over-the-top determination shows a heart of compassion.
Other caregivers include, Lila Suka devi, who is always trying to help others. She has spent many hours assisting Lila, along with Jayasri devi and Gopa, by providing meals and transportation. Gopa has spent many hours sitting and listening to Lila. Behind the scenes these devotees offer their time and energy in caring for others.
Over the years, Patrick and Dharmakala devi have served Jaya Murari Prabhu by doing laundry, delivering meals, giving rides to town and calling or visiting him on a regular basis. These kinds of services give a shut-in devotee the sense that they are valuable gems.
Along with the disciples of Varsana Maharaj, Madri devi, Gaura Shakti’s wife, has continually been a support by organizing meals and cooking for Maharaja. Many other devotees have provided a large variety of services to assure proper health care and healing for Maharaj.
Although the majority of caregivers have been women, Gopisha Prabhu has offered heating pads and special oils to help the soar muscles, of many an ailing devotee. He was also a support for both Madhava Gosh and Vidya, especially in the last few years.
Jasoda Gokularani devi has come from Los Angeles offering caregiving to Sikhi Mahiti, Madhava Gosh and Triyadisha. Her experience in this field has proved very helpful in giving proper and respectful care to devotees.
More recently in late January of this year, Sacimata underwent a hip replacement surgery. While at home recuperating, she had a stark realization of what it feels like to be bedridden. In this mood, she researched various support systems in town and worked to connect devotees to the Senior Center as well as requesting Das and Vrsni from Pittsburgh to install a Lifeline for Mother Sikhi Mahiti. Her aim was to help alleviate the various concerns experienced by devotees living alone and needing extra care.
Sacimata thus was inspired to initiate a new Extended Devotee Care Program in order to facilitate the needs of devotees in New Vrindaban. She and her daughter, Nityananda dasi, will be available by telephone and can assist devotees in receiving their proper care. Sacimata hopes that other community members will also be inspired to care for one another. You can reach Sacimata or Nityananda dasi at their home number, 304-845-1199.
There are many other New Vrindaban devotees who have been involved in giving care. If we wrote the whole list, it would probably include almost every devotee. Most of these community members have helped out of the kindness of their hearts. We cannot thank them enough.
Over the last two years there has been a real shift in the community’s perspective on devotee care, both individually and collectively. The Prabhupada’s House, used as the New Vrindaban Wellness Center, has been refurbished and is now designed to provide proactive and preventative health care and educational programs. This past weekend world famous caregivers Ekavira prabhu and Vraja Lila devi initiated new beginnings by conducting a japa workshop at the Wellness Center for the spiritual well being of all attendees.
Devotee care is also one of the four main areas of focus for the newly formed Village Association. There is a lot of excitement and energy to bring forth new relationships and to create a truly loving, caring family community.
We are ever grateful to Srila Prabhupada who showed by his example the need to compassionately care for the devotees by being das das anudas.
Here is the events schedule at the Radha Vrindabana Chandra Temple. Please come and celebrate this auspicious event!
The board members of ISKCON New Vrindaban and ECO-Vrindaban humbly invite all New Vrindaban residents and well-wishers to participate in the upcoming weekend activities.
Friday, April 15th.
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm: Rama Navami Celebrations & Feast (at Radha Vrindabanchandra’s Temple)
Saturday, April 16th.
9:45 am to 1:30 pm: INV & ECO-V Department Head Presentations for 2016 (under the Lodge)
1:30 pm to 2:30 pm: Lunch Prasadam (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)
2:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Community Dialog (Join us in a lively discussion about a number of current topics, under the Lodge)
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm: Rama Navami Celebrations (at Radha Vrindabanchandra’s Temple)
Sunday, April 17th.
10:00 am to 1:00 pm: New Vrindaban Community Tour (weather permitting, installation of Madhava Gosh’s appreciation plaque & spreading of his ashes at the Bahulaban Barn, visit the one remaining Madhuban Prabhupada Hut, brief stop at Sankirtan prabhu’s House for a “Holding Srila Prabhupada” photo, & a view of the new Temple area apartment buildings)
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm: Sunday Program & Feast (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Community Service Appreciations (we gather to celebrate the many years of dedication from Betty Hickey, Sukhavaha, Jaya Murari & Sarva & Viduttama)
What’s Happening in New Vrindaban Dham!
Please Read the Full Newsletter at What’s happening in New Vrindaban!
By Madhava Smullen
It’s hard to beat Festival of Inspiration for sheer variety.
This year’s ISKCON 50 special edition of the Appalachian spiritual retreat in New Vrindaban, West Virginia will overflow with the best Krishna consciousness has to offer: seminars, kirtans, entertainment, and the tastiest prasadam this side of the spiritual world.
Hundreds of devotees from all over the East Coast of the United States and Canada are expected to pour in for the May 6th to 8th weekend.
Each day of the festival will begin with an extended themed Srimad Bhagavatam class. Author Yogesvara Das will speak about his new biography of Srila Prabhupada for a mainstream audience, entitled “Swami in a Strange Land.” And the class on Sunday – Mother’s Day – will focus on the importance of honoring mothers in the Vaishnava tradition.
The centerpiece of the seminars, meanwhile, will be two special panel discussions to commemorate ISKCON’s 50th Anniversary.
“In the first, entitled ‘ISKCON 50 Years Ago,’ early Prabhupada disciples like Malati Devi, Shyamasundar Prabhu, and Yogesvara Prabhu will talk about their struggles and victories in expanding the movement, and how Prabhupada encouraged and enthused everyone,” says organizer Vrindavan Das. “They’ll be joined by Sally Agarwal, who sponsored Prabhupada when he first arrived in the U.S.”
The second panel, ISKCON’s Future in North America, will be facilitated by Gainesville Krishna House Director Kalakanatha Das and feature Varshana Swami, Vaisesika Das, educator Urmila Dasi, and more. They’ll discuss how to learn from the mistakes of the past to improve the future, how to care for the needs of current devotees, and how to reach out to more new people.
And that’s just the beginning. New Vrindaban’s own Sankirtan Das will present his Powerpoint on Prabhupada coming to America, which has been very well-received in colleges. He’ll also facilitate an open discussion on developing strategies for presenting Prabhupada to the public.
Urmila Dasi will offer practical and clear instructions for overcoming obstacles in spiritual life, setting our “compass” to the right direction, and finding the ultimate spiritual attainment.
Kalakantha Das, who has spoken out in favor of women gurus in ISKCON, will talk about the role of women in the society, and about Krishna conscious marriage.
Veteran book distributor Vaisesika Das is likely to speak about his new book, Our Family Business, in which he shares key principles and techniques of book distribution.
And ISKCON pioneer Shyamasundara Das will tell amazing stories from his upcoming book Chasing Rhinos with the Swami about ISKCON’s early days in San Francisco and London, as well as about his travels in India and Russia with Prabhupada.
As usual, parents will be able to attend these and the many other seminars on offer while their children have fun at a supervised kids’ camp with face painting, clowns and more.
At mealtimes, devotees will sit at picnic tables on the sunny lawn and socialize as they tuck into a tasty blend of Eastern and Western prasadam. There’ll be lots of healthy options such as salad and soup, as well as traditional Indian dishes and comfort food like macaroni; while many of the dairy dishes will be made with the milk of protected New Vrindaban cows.
In the evenings, everyone will focus on singing the Lord’s praises. Friday will see the continuation of a bhajan program that became an instant hit when it was introduced last year.
“Devotees rarely get to sing bhajans, because at most kirtan festivals they only chant the Hare Krishna mantra,” says Vrindavan. “So they’ll appreciate the chance to sing traditional songs of the Vaishnava Acharyas with some of the best bhajan singers in ISKCON like Agnideva Prabhu, Havi Prabhu and Ekendra Prabhu.”
Participants will get to immerse themselves in the Maha-mantra too, however, with a Nama-Yajna on Saturday evening.
The grande finale will follow on Sunday, with the hugely popular Transcendental Entertainment show at midday. Ekendra Das will lampoon both ISKCON and material life through song as his comedic alter ego Yama Niyama Das Brahmachari, Bhaktimarga Swami and his team will bring one of their epic dramas, and more top performers are yet to be announced.
After the show, a traditional Sunday Feast of rice, dahl, subjis, pakoras, chutney, puris, sweet rice, and gulabjamuns will be served. Devotees will return to their homes satisfied, relaxed, and yes, inspired.
“This year’s festival is a great way to celebrate ISKCON’s 50th anniversary, with so many excellent speakers covering the achievements of the last 50 years and motivating us about what we can do in the next 50,” says Vrindavan.
“It’s also a wonderful opportunity for participants to get inspired in Krishna consciousness and then return to their communities and enthuse others in devotional service.”
To register, please visit http://www.festivalofinspiration.net/registration/
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Hari Bhakti-vilas 16.252