Prabhupada’s Vision: Our Mission.

New Vrindaban Recipes: Community, Camaraderie and Cookies

Dharmakala Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple Kitchen Cooking Biscuits 1984

Dharmakala Cooking Biscuits in RVC Temple devotee kitchen – 1984.

By Madhava Smullen

Dharmakala Dasi’s destiny seemed set from the start – she grew up with the smell of fresh baked bread and cookies lingering throughout her home.

“My parents had eight kids, so we didn’t really go out to eat – my mother just cooked constantly to feed us all,” she says. “So being around it all the time, I started cooking myself when I was a little kid. I baked my first brownies at the age of seven.”

But with all that good old-fashioned home cooking, Dharmakala never tasted anything quite like the Sunday Feast at the Hare Krishna temple in Ocean City, Maryland, in 1972 – “It was totally out of this world,” she says. And it was this that would lead to her cooking for Lord Krishna, and becoming synonymous with New Vrindaban’s celebrated history of prasadam baking.

First, though, she joined ISKCON in Ocean City, then moved to New York, where she was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1973. There, she began baking “Prabhupada cookies” and offered her first cake to the Lord, a huge multi-layered whipped mango affair for Radhastami.

Prabhupada New York Henry Street Temple 1973 Dharmakala

Srila Prabhupada outside the Henry Street Temple 1973 – Dharmakala offering obeisances on left.

In July 1974, Dharmakala decided to move to New Vrindaban, West Virginia, where she received second initiation the following year, and thereafter began cooking daily for the Deities for approximately the next fifteen years.

New Vrindaban, a remote, austere rural community, couldn’t have been more different from New York City. Dharmakala prepared the legendary 4pm offering of fried curd, milk sweets, cookies, cheesecake, and more using a wood oven and wood stove that had to be constantly stoked.

“There wasn’t anything electric at all at the Bahulaban kitchen – everything had to be done by hand,” she says. “The curd used in the cheesecake had to be kneaded out by hand to smooth it, as there were no blenders.”

The upside to the simple life was that all the dairy products were made from the milk of the sacred village’s protected cows, which was thick with cream. It was this cream that was separated from the milk and used in Dharmakala’s much coveted maha-prasadam condensed milk, or kheer, which was often served with peaches, strawberries and bananas.

“The feasts and Deity offerings in Bahulaban back then were so outrageously opulent you wouldn’t believe it,” Dharmakala says.

Until 1989 – during which the kitchen moved from Bahulaban to Radha Vrindabanchandra’s current temple – Dharmakala cooked full-time for the Deities and devotees.

As well as the 4pm offering, she also made popcorn, cereal, breadsticks and other snacks for the devotees in the afternoon, and cooked chapatis over gas flames on a large griddle for lunch.

New Vrindaban ISKCON Bahulavan 1975 Barn Janmastami

New Vrindaban’s 6th Annual Janmastami celebration. Group photo taken at the Bahulaban Barn in 1975 (Dharmakala pictured).

“Together our team would do a thousand chapatis a day,” she says.

But over the years, Dharmakala became most famous for her baking.

In the mornings, she often baked bread for the devotees. On Sunday feasts and festivals, she would make orange cake, date nut bars, or apple and rhubarb strawberry crisp for 800 people, sending huge trays to locations all over the community.

And nothing was ever half-baked – if you’ll pardon the pun – with Dharmakala.

“Whatever I did, I would do to the best of my ability,” she says. “For instance, instead of just making normal sugar cookies for the 4pm offering, I’d make coconut walnut squares or sandwich cookies. That would be two Prabhupada cookies with a filling of fresh strawberry jam and an icing glaze on top.”

Dharmakala worked very hard, often spending eleven-hour days from 10am to nearly 9pm in the kitchen, with no days off.

“I remember being eight-and-a-half months pregnant with my daughter Dinataruni one Thanksgiving, and baking as many pumpkins as I could for pumpkin pie well into the night, because we didn’t have any canned pumpkin,” she says. “The next morning, I went in, made the crusts, and finished up ten trays of pie with fresh whipped cream on top. All while I was about to pop!”

But for Dharmakala, the memories are good, full of the kind of loving exchanges between godbrothers and godsisters that Srila Pabhupada formed ISKCON to facilitate.

Prabhupada 1973 NY Henry Street Temple - Dharmakala lower right corner

Prabhupada 1973 NY Henry Street Temple – Dharmakala lower right corner

“Kuladri’s wife Kutila taught me how to make milk sweets; Prabhupada’s servant Nanda Kumar oversaw the kitchen; and Hari-Kirtana, Vraja Kumari and Gita from Canada were my chapati crew,” she says. “Everybody was working together, and it was such good teamwork and camaraderie. It was devotional service for us, and we just wanted to make a nice lunch for Krishna. You just had that intention that it was going to turn out great, and it always did.”

After 1989, Dharmakala stopped serving full-time at the temple kitchen, but continued to make cakes for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations held in New Vrindaban, a service she offers to this day.

“I make chocolate, carob, and vanilla cakes, carrot cakes, and more,” she says. “Whatever people want. I always use organic, non-GMO ingredients. I use organic flour, demerrara sugar or Sucanat, and for vegan cakes, I make my own soymilk from organic soybeans.”

In 1995, Dharmakala started her own company, “World’s Best Cookie,” selling to health food stores and coffee shops along the East Coast. Her products include raisin, chocolate-chip, carob-chip, and pumpkin-spice oatmeal cookies, along with wheat-free raisin and chocholate-chip options, and an energy cookie.

Dharmakala Baking Worlds Best Cookies

Dharmakala Baking Worlds Best Cookies

So far, she has made 500,000 of these, all by hand, in pink ovens decorated with hearts and the inscription “Baked with the intention of love,” at her bakery on the ECO-V farm. What’s more, each and every cookie is offered to Srila Prabhupada, whose murti oversees the bakery from his vyasasana. He reminds Dharmakala of a special loving moment.

“I remember that when Prabhupada visited New Vrindaban in 1976, he was giving out cookies in the tiny Bahulaban temple room,” she says. “It was absolutely packed with devotees, and I was eight months pregnant with my son Suddha Sattva and afraid that I’d get pushed or shoved. So I hid in a corner to the side of his vyasasana, and just held out my hand, and he gave me a cookie. I put it in my beadbag, then held out my hand again, and he gave me another cookie. And again, and again. I left with six cookies!”

Today, after decades of service cooking for the Lord and his devotees and raising her five children, Dharmakala is still living in New Vrindaban. And just as it did back in the ‘70s, it’s the camaraderie and devotee association that keeps her there.

“My friends are the reason,” she says. “We all built this place together. So we’re like family.”

And when asked what advice she has for the next wave of New Vrindaban residents, Dharmakala suggests trying out the simplicity that made those early days special.

“Turn off the electric, get away from your computer, and see what you can manifest,” she says. “And, in the kitchen as well as in life, work from your heart!”

Dharma Food Logo - put at end of article

Dharmakala’s Coconut Walnut Squares

“I love this recipe because it’s super rich and opulent. It has been a favorite at New Vrindaban for years, since I used to make it in the Deity kitchen for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Vrindabanchandra.”

Makes 18 squares.


1st layer:
1 cup of butter (melted)
½ cup of brown sugar
2 ½ cups of flour

2nd layer:
1/3 cup of yogurt
2 cups of brown sugar
¼ cup of flour
1 cup of shredded coconut
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ cup of chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind
½ teaspoon of salt

Glaze (optional):
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of butter (melted)
3 tablespoons of lemon juice.


To make the first layer, mix the ingredients together and press firmly into a 9 x 12 inch baking tray.

Before putting the first layer into the pan, make sure the inside of the tray is lightly greased with butter (or vegetable oil). Next, sprinkle a small amount of flour over the butter (or use parchment paper). This will help minimize sticking.

Bake the first layer for approximately 10 minutes at 400 F. Remove from the oven and and cool slightly.

To make the second layer, mix all ingredients and spread over top of the first layer.

Bake at 350 F for around 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove tray from oven and allow to cool.

For the glaze, combine ingredients together, stir until smooth and drizzle over the entire tray.

Finally, cut into 18 good-sized squares, offer and serve.

November 2015 Brijabasi Spirit Newsletter

Dedicated to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Pushpanjali offerings for His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada November 15th, 2015 New Vrindaban.

Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day Festival 

Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day is a very significant day for his disciples, grand disciples, and members of ISKCON, the International Society For Krishna Consciousness. It is a special occasion for devotees to come together to share and remember Srila Prabhupada. Devotees not only share and remember him, but they also meditate on his instructions to carry on his movement, which is very pleasing to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. On this occasion, devotees offer their homages and prayers to His Divine Grace and seek his blessing to remain in service of guru and Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasasan

The festival began with an inspiring class given by His Holiness Varsana Swami, who enlivened devotees by showing his appreciation for his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. Sankirtan Prabhu then continued with a slide-show presentation describing how the Hare Krishna Movement came to the west.

Sankirtan Prabhu giving powerpoint presentation

Devotees gathered in front of Srila Prabhupada to share their personal appreciations; Nityodita Prabhu invited the devotees present to share their interaction with Srila Prabhupada and how he inspires them in their Krsna Consciousness.

Mother Madri sharing her appreciation for Srila Prabhupada

What followed was a pushpanjali offering to Srila Prabhupada and an ecstatic kirtan where everyone danced very joyfully with gratitude.A grand feast cooked by Prabhupada’s disciples Advaita Prabhu, Kaladri Prabhu, Katila, Madri, Gopisa, Tejomaya, Jayasri and others followed the kirtan. Our locally well-known cake maker, Lakshman Isvara, made a gigantic cake for Srila Prabhupada’s pleasure. Later in the evening, there was also a program at Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold where devotees gathered to offer more stories and appreciations.

We would like to give a special thanks to Lokadristi devi dasi, Harinam dasi, and Bhaktin Stacy for decorating Srila Prabupada’s vyasasana so nicely.

Srila Prabhupada Ki- Jaya!

Govardhan Puja & Diwali Celebration

With the autumn season ending, the time of Kartik at its peak and thanksgiving just around the corner, this year’s Govardhan Puja Festival set a sweet mood for family bonding and devotee association.

This year’s festival had an extra sweet mood with many New Vrindaban community devotees participating. Devotees prepared sweets for Govardhan and made a transcendental Govardhan Hill, headed by Mother Sundari. The Govardhan hill was made of delicious halava, potatoes, squash, cookies, sandesh, and sweet balls. Three Govardhan Silas sat comfortably on top.

The abhiseka started around 5pm when devotees met in the Temple room to bathe the Govardhan sila with scented water, honey and other bonafide liquids. Sankirtan Prabhu, known for his storytelling, gave a class about Govardhan Lila which followed by an evening Aarti, Govardhan Puja Song with the community members and the circumambulation of Govardhan Hill. ?The community members were very blessed to have Varsana Maharaj who joined the evening program to circumambulate Govardhan Hill.

Then, there was a feast prepared by Sivaraj and Sri Rupa Prabhus: a combination of rice, dhal, two subjis, puris, pakoras, sweet rice, and many, many other sweet offerings!

On Saturday, the New Vrindaban Preaching team hosted a Diwali Festival in honor of Lord Ramachandra’s return to his Kingdom of Ayodhya. Many guests came to offer candles which were set around the temple room in front of Radha Vrindabana Chandra and Srila Prabhupada as an offering to Lord Ramachandra. A fire sacrafice was also offered to honor this auspicious night; the celebration ended with fireworks at Kusam Sarovara. 

All Glories to Lord Ramachandra!

Kartik 24-Hour Kirtan

The end of October came suddenly and kirtaniyas arrived from all over the world to New Vrindaban to participate in this year’s Kartik 24 Hour Kirtan event.
The festival began Friday evening October 30th with an inauguration kirtan from 7-9 pm. Amala Kirtan Das led the kirtan as guests tricked in to attend. In the morning, Srimad Bhagavatam class was led by Varsana Maharaj and shortly after devotees congregated in the temple lobby for harinam to the Palace of Gold to retrieve Srila Prabhupada’s bongo drum, a common ritual for the 24 hour kirtans. Amala Harinam was our first kirtaniya followed by Rupanuga das from New Vrindaban and many others.

The festival continued with a Kartik mood and sweet Damodara prayers sung both in the morning and the evening. Our special guests Agnideva, Karnamrita Dasi, Ajamil, Amala Harinam, and Amala Kirtan kept the temple room roaring with the Holy Name.
Both Saturday and Sunday lunches were cooked by Radha devi dasi and her sisters. T-shirts with Srila Prabhupada’s plea to Krsna, “Make Me Dance” inscribed on the front, were being sold in the temple lobby along with Mother Jaya Sri’s famous organic, homemade donuts.

We would like to thank all the New Vrindaban community members who attended and volunteered their time for the pleasure of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Vrindabana Chandra. We would also like to especially thank all the kirtaniyas who came to share the Holy name. The 24-hour kirtan event in New Vrindaban continues to be a truly memorable event.

Srila Prabhupada playing kartals, Paris.
Srila Prabhupada:  “I am always praying to Krsna that the New Vrndavana attempt will be more and more successful and ideal for your country. That is my only prayer.” – Letter November 10th, 1975 from Bombay.


Srila Prabupada’s Arrival Festival in Butler, PA

“Hari Bol!” during Butler Festival, October 24th, 2015

Butler, PA, the place Srila Prabhupada started his preaching in the West, is a special thirtha for all ISKCON members. To honor the 50th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s Arrival in America, ISKCON New Vrindaban organized a festival in Butler which took place on Saturday, October 24th , 2015. Devotees came from all over America for the event, including devotees from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Columbus, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Toronto, New Vrindaban, and New York. As the 50th anniversary for Srila Prabhupada’s Arrival Festival began, devotees merrily greeted one another and assembled outside for Harinam. From the 3rd story of the often-mentioned YMCA to the Argarwal condos where Srila Prabhupada stayed for a month, the Harinam Sankirtan party paraded the streets while steaming up the falling rain. Bhakti Marg Maharaj and Nityodita Prabhu took the lead and others followed with dancing feet.

The party then commemorated in the ballroom hall for the special speaking presentations. Vrindavan Das, the New Vrindaban Director of Communications and event organizer, introduced the guest speakers who took turns appreciating Srila Prabhupada and telling personal anecdotes and their exchanges with His Divine Grace. Speakers included Mother Krsna Nandini, Sikhi Mahiti Prabhu, Mother Jaya Sri, Mother Visvadika, Akhilananda Prabhu, Jaya Krsna Prabhu, Subavilas das, Archalata devi dasi and Nityodita Prabhu.

Harinam Kirtan before the feast.

The event concluded with a 20-minute dancing Harinama party inside the ballroom where all attendees gathered to chant the Holy Name, laugh and dance, with the encouragement of Bhakti Marg Maharaj who is known to bring the life out of people through his unique and unifying dances.

After catching sweet breaths of ecstatic kirtan air, the crowd simmered to a cool, offered humble pranams to their spiritual masters, and assembled in line for a grand feast cooked by Radha devi dasi and her sisters.

Srila Prabhupada disciples pray before honoring prasadam.

We would like to thank the special guests who brought their sweet stories, the YMCA hosts, Ballroom hosts, Jaya Krsna Prabhu, representative of the New Vrindaban temple which sponsored the event as well as Vrindavan Das, the festival organizer. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Upcoming Events!



November 22nd, 2015 :       Utthana Ekadasi (break fast Monday the 23rd 7:16 – 10:31 am)

November 26th, 2015 :        Thanksgiving Lunch for community members

November 27th-28th, 2015 :   Thanksgiving Festival

December 5th-6th, 2015 :          ISKCON New Vrindaban and Eco-V Open Joint Board Meetings (Schedule Below)

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, December 4th.
7:30 pm to 8:30 pm: Dinner Prasadam with Board Members & GBCs (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)
Saturday, December 5th.9:45 am to 1:30 pm: Department Head Presentations for 2015 (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 (under the Lodge)

6:00 pm to 7:30 pm: Srila Prabhupada Sangam & Dinner Prasadam (at his Palace)

Sunday, December 6th.

10:00 am to 1:00 pm: New Vrindaban Community Tour (various locations, weather permitting)

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm: Sunday Program & Feast (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

3:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Lifetime Community Service Appreciations (under the Lodge)

Questions or comments please call 1-304-843-1600 ext.111 or 106

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 11/08/2015

Eco Vrindaban logo New Vrindaban

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 11/08/2015

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, Kripamaya, Madhava Gosh and Ranaka.

Participating Advisors: Jaya Krsna, Sri Tulasi Manjari, Radha-Krishna

Participating Managers: Mukunda, Nitaicandra

Recording secretary: Jamuna Jivani

1. Bahulaban Water Test Results

In May 2011 ECO-Vrindaban had a local water source tested at Bahulaban by an independent professional laboratory. This was done in anticipation of the Snyder gas well (that would soon be drilled on a neighboring property) and was meant to set a baseline for future testing.

In August 2015 ECO-V requested a second set of tests be performed by the same lab. The results were compared with those from 2011, which confirmed there has been no negative change in water quality.

ECO-V remains committed to monitoring water quality at Bahulaban (and other sources near possible future gas well sites) in order to inform people of any change in status.

To this end, in February 2014, ECO-V resolved:

“If requested by the legal owner of an affected property, ECO-Vrindaban shall ensure testing of any water supply within a thousand feet of well pads located on either ISKCON New Vrindaban or ECO-V managed properties, in accordance with a regimen prescribed by an industry expert.”

2. Mukunda’s Monthly Report

  • Bahulaban Barn. The restoration of the exterior is nearly completed by Vyasasan prabhu. It is expected to be finished in November.
  • Recycling Project. Mukunda contacted the County authorities connected with this. He plans to meet with them sometime in November.
  • Guest Lodge Outdoor Water Filling Station. Other construction steps that need to happen prior to installation are in progress. With winter upon us, it may be spring before this station is installed.
  • Soil Erosion Prevention Policy. Although an official policy has not been adopted yet, greater awareness of our earth moving responsibilities is manifesting. Recently, nice soil erosion prevention methods were used around the G7G, after the removal of the old pole barn.
  • Village Council Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is working with Jaya Krsna prabhu to identify discussion topics for the upcoming Community Dialog, scheduled on December 5th, 2015.

3. Nitaicandra’s Monthly Report

  • Oxen. Three of the oxen had to be banded due to the failure of their first castration. This will be resolved going forward by always including a veterinarian in the process.
  • Bahulaban Barn. Parts of the setup are not fully secure for large animals; smaller boards have to be replaced with larger and stronger ones.
  • Cows. The cows that summered at Bahulaban were moved to the Valley Barn for the winter. There are plans to send out a notice before the cows are moved back to Bahulaban in the spring to invite any who would like to participate in the walk.
  • Flowers Gardens. Nitaicandra met with Vidya and Gosh to discuss how ECO-V could assist them in growing flowers next year. From that Nitaicandra opened up a new flower bed at their house for marigolds. This last season the temple garden had some sort of disease that affected the marigolds. Next year there will only be test plots of the large marigolds in temple garden and G7G.
  • Deity Flowers. Nitaicandra met with Jaya Krsna and Abhinanda Prabhus to discuss flower types and quantities requested for next year. He will research the ability to grow the flower types desired.
  • Apple Harvest. Nitaicandra finished sorting the locally grown organic apples; some of which were used as part of the feast served at the 50th Anniversary Celebration in Butler PA.
  • Paw Paws. Nitaicandra checked on some local paw paw trees, researched pollination methods, and plans to pollinate the trees in the spring.
  • ECO-V Facebook Page. He started regular Facebook updates with action photos from the field. This is getting a strong response and seems to be increasing online interest in our activities.

4. ISKCON New Vrindaban and ECO-V On-Site Joint Board Meeting Weekend

The next on-site weekend will be December 4-6, 2015. Activities will begin after lunch Friday and conclude Sunday evening.

Open Invitation: December 4, 5 & 6, 2015

New Vrindaban Logo color

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, December 4th.

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm: Dinner Prasadam with Board Members & GBCs (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

Saturday, December 5th.

9:45 am to 1:30 pm: Department Head Presentations for 2015 (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 (under the Lodge)

6:00 pm to 7:30 pm: Srila Prabhupada Sangam & Dinner Prasadam (at his Palace)

Sunday, December 6th.

10:00 am to 1:00 pm: New Vrindaban Community Tour (various locations, weather permitting)

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm: Sunday Program & Feast (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

3:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Lifetime Community Service Appreciations (under the Lodge)

New_Vrindaban_ISKCON_Logo_Small  Eco Vrindaban logo New Vrindaban

Service in Separation: Honoring Srila Prabhupada on His Disappearance Day

ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada at his Palace

Srila Prabhupada’s Murti at his Palace of Gold

By Madhava Smullen

“It was devastating,” says Advaitacarya Das, bowing his head.

Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day is coming up on November 15th in New Vrindaban. And Advaita, who has been a resident since the early 1970s, is recalling the day in 1977 when he and the other devotees at Prabhupada’s first farm community heard the news of his passing.

“We had had a couple of false alarms, and we thought it was all going to be okay. We weren’t going to lose Prabhupada. Then the news hit, and it was like coming out of the fourth round pumped and ready to go, and taking a right cross to the head.”

Advaita recalls snow falling softly outside as the devotees chanted Je Anilo Prema Dhana, everyone sobbing openly as they sang. Even as they mourned, however, they planned a celebration of chanting, dancing, and feasting; for a pure devotee’s passing on to be with Krishna eternally is also a cause for rejoicing.

“I remember walking down to the outdoor kitchens we called ‘the pits’ to cook with everybody,” Advaita says. “We were heartbroken, yet simultaneously kind of ecstatic. It was such a mix of emotions.”

Devotees fasted all that day, and in the evening spoke their remembrances of Srila Prabhupada at his Palace, which, at that time, they were still building as a home for him. They had spent the day beautifully decorating his Vyasasana in fall colors, and his picture smiled out from it – the same place where his murti now sits. After offering him a huge feast and honoring the prasadam, they then chanted kirtan throughout the night.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Varsana Swami Prabhupada Palace Sangam 2014

Varsana Swami shares memories about Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance.

Varsana Swami, another longtime resident, had an experience similar to Advaita’s.

“It was dark outside — there were no lights installed inside the Palace at that time,” he says. “And it was the darkest night for us. We were all crying and faltering, and the devotees were literally holding one another up. We felt so weak. How could we go on without Srila Prabhupada?”

As they chanted together throughout the night, their mood of separation intensified beyond anything they had ever experienced before. Devotees were ready to give up their lives for Prabhupada. And then, suddenly, at around three in the morning, the mood shifted.

“We were borne aloft on a tide of perennial joy,” says Varsana Swami. “The devotees could not contain their ecstasy as they danced in jubilation throughout the night. We talked to each other, and the experience had been unanimous: we had never felt so close to Srila Prabhupada before.”

This, according to Varsana Swami, was Srila Prabhupada’s final lesson: that the deepest sacrament of the Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta is service in separation – a relationship which never ends.

Ever since, devotees at New Vrindaban have been observing Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance day in a similar way – with chanting, remembering, and feasting – and trying to develop that relationship in a deeper and deeper way.

This year is no different. Community residents as well as devotees from nearby cities like Pittsburgh and Columbus will gather for this special, intimate festival, beginning with a Bhagavatam class on Srila Prabhupada’s contributions and teachings at 8:00am.

At 10:30am, there will be bhajans, remembrances and homages to Srila Prabhupada by his disciples and grand disciples; and at 1:00pm, pushpanjali, guru puja and kirtan in Radha-Vrindabanchandra’s temple room.

New Vrindaban Bahulaban Pits Sobhavati, Sankirtan, Bhokta, Advaita, Kutila, Kuladri 1977 or 1978

Advaita and other Brijabasis cooking a feast in the ‘Bahulaban Pits’, late ’70’s.

Then, at 1:30pm, a sumptuous feast offered to Srila Prabhupada will be served. It will be prepared amongst others by Advaita, who put all the love in his heart into cooking something special for Prabhupada on that momentous day back in 1977, and will do the same on November 15th this year. He’ll be joined by many of the friends he cooked with at Srila Prabhupada’s Appearance and Disappearance Day festivals over the years at New Vrindaban, including his wife Madri, Sudhanu and his wife Lajjavati, Tejoymaya Das, and perhaps Kuladri and his wife Kutila too.

“It’s always the best feast of the year,” says festival organizer Vrindavana Das. “They’re so delectable, absolutely mouth-watering. I can never forget those feasts!”

From 6 to 8:30 in the evening, the Brijabasis will gather at Srila Prabhupada’s Palace, just as they did back on that transformational night in 1977.

“The Palace is Srila Prabhupada’s home, and everyone feels so connected with him there,” says Vrindavana. “So the memories shared there are especially sweet and moving. You can really feel Prabhupada’s greatness through the stories about how he was able to relate to each devotee differently based on their mood and relationship with him. For younger devotees like myself, who didn’t have personal association with Srila Prabhupada, it’s really inspiring to hear how he encouraged and motivated his disciples in devotional service.”

And ultimately, that care is the essence that senior devotees like Advaita would like to see carried over from earlier festivals to today’s celebrations of Prabhupada’s appearance and disappearance.

“That’s what the devotees celebrated in Prabhupada – we all knew that he cared about us,” Advaita says, and the emotion comes through in his voice. “We were wretched creatures, but Prabhupada opened his arms to us. And that’s what made us love Prabhupada.”

“So we need to show real love, real appreciation, real care for the devotees, like Prabhupada showed to us,” he concludes. “And that’s what will revive the community spirit that made those early festivals so special.”


Govardhana Puja to Uplift Devotees with a Mountain of Sweetness

Govardhana Hill in New Vrindaban

Govardhana Hill in New Vrindaban.

By Madhava Smullen

It’s not something you see every day.

A group of young girls and boys are huddled in the middle of the temple hall, some shocked and some cheering. They’re looking unbelievingly at the particularly effulgent boy at their center as he lifts an impossibly heavy burden.

The young boys and girls might be made of cardboard, but their emotion and the divine pastime they’re portraying shines through as if it’s really there. The hill Lord Krishna’s lifting, fashioned out of cloth by artist Laksmana Dasi, looks like it weighs a ton. And above it, hanging high above the the temple hall, the demigod Indra grips a dark cloud and peers over the edge as shimmering icicle lights make it look as if it’s really raining through flashes of lightning.

It must be Govardhana Puja at New Vrindaban.

Coming up on Thursday November 12th this year, the festival will see residents and visiting devotees absorb the Vrindavana atmosphere the makeshift hill creates during the morning program. They’ll also be invited to bring their own home Govardhana Silas to worship on the temple altar for the day. Then, around noon, they’ll head out for parikrama of the real life-sized Govardhana Hill outside.

“I am hopeful that our New Vrindaban will be an exact replica of Vrindaban in India,” Srila Prabhupada wrote to his early disciples, adding, “The hills may be renamed as New Govardhana. And if there are lakes, they can be renamed as Syamakunda and Radhakunda.” He later referred to New Vrindaban as “non-different from Vrindavana.”

dioramas - Govardhana Hill

Dioramas to be placed outside on Govardhana Hill.

The devotees attending Govardhana puja this year will get that experience as they begin the hour-and-a-half-long tour by viewing three new dioramas also created by Laksmana, now kept in the temple room but set to be placed on the Parikrama path. They show Uddhava speaking to Lord Krishna’s queens at Kusum Sarovara; Gopalnathji telling Madhavendra Puri in a dream to excavate Him from Govardhana Hill; and the Lord helping Srimati Radharani down from a tree.

Outside in the cool autumn air, the devotees will hear about Lord Krishna’s boat pastimes with the gopis while looking over the mirror-like waters of New Vrindaban’s Kusum Sarovara, where the community’s famous swan boat festivals are held.

Next they’ll hear about Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda’s pastimes as they gaze up at Their 40-foot-tall sculptures. They’ll see and hear the glories of Manasi Ganga; Lalita Kunda, where the aptly named Lalita Gopi Dasi has constructed a beautiful waterfall; and Gopisvara Mahadeva. And they’ll hear how Radha Kunda and Shyama Kunda were created in transcendental competition by the Lord and Srimati Radharani Themselves.

“When they sprinkle the water from the lakes on their heads, many devotees and pilgrims actually have tears in their eyes, because they’re so happy to be in this holiest of places,” says festival organizer and tour guide Gauranataraj Das.

The tour will end with kirtan and a class on the pastimes of Govardhana Hill at Aniyor, where the personification of Govardhana is said to have eaten all the offerings of the Brijabasis and called out, “Aniyor! Aniyor!” (“Bring more!”)

After lunch, the devotees will visit the goshala, where they will decorate Krishna’s beloved cows with maha garlands from the altar. Meanwhile, the children of Gopal’s Garden school will dip their hands in colored dyes and cover the cows with multicolored handprints.

Decorating cows New Vrindaban

Decorating the cows.

“It’s very fitting to honor mother cow on this day, as Govardhana means ‘where cows find shelter and protection,’” says Gauranataraj.

After 6pm arati, an offering of sumptuous food will be made to the Lord in the shape of Govardhana, with rice, dahl, puris, pakoras, sweet rice, ladhus, rasgulas, sandesh, and burfis all marked with signs and built to represent various holy places on the hill.

“And then there’s the most joyful, big, dancing kirtan around Govardhana Hill,” says ISKCON New Vrindaban president Jaya Krsna Das.

After everyone has finished jumping, spinning, running, laughing and calling out the Holy Name, they’ll sit down to honor a delicious feast, that will surely have everyone crying out, “Aniyor! Aniyor!”

But that’s not all. The festivities will continue on Saturday November 14th, with an extended Govardhana Puja/Diwali event for pilgrims who can’t make it during the week.

As well as all the same activities as on the 12th, this festival will include a special Diwali fire sacrifice to invoke auspiciousness, dramatic retellings of Krishna’s pastimes by award-winning storyteller Sankirtan Das, and the lighting of one thousand lamps for Diwali.

“We put the lamps on plates, which the pilgrims decorate with elaborate rangoli designs,” says Gaurantaraj. “Then we offer the one thousand lamps, and place them all around Srila Prabhupada and in front of Their Lordships. They create such a serene atmosphere and beautiful spectacle.”

Finally, the day ends with a sparkling firework display in the night sky.

“This festival reminds us that we also have Govardhana here at New Vrindaban, and that Govardhana is Krishna Himself,” says Jaya Krsna. “It’s a such a special, joyful, devotional event.”


2015 Festival Schedule.

Nitaicandra Das Becomes ECO-Vrindaban’s Ox and Agriculture Manager

ECO-Vrindaban logo New Vrindaban

Nitaicandra Das has always sought the simple life. It was while living in the forests of Trinidad, remarkably enough, that he received a copy of Srila Prabhupada’s “Science of Self-Realization.”

“Living off the forest wasn’t working out for me,” he says. “And once I read Prabhupada’s book I realized, ‘This is it, it’s all here – this society can fulfill my need to live simply.’”

As an ISKCON devotee, Nitaicandra has been growing organic vegetables for around twenty years, including previous stints at New Vrindaban in 1993 and 1999.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Nitaicandra Cows 2015 ECO-Vrindaban

Nitaicandra is greeted by several oxen at the Bahulaban barn.

For the past four years, he and his wife Sri Tulasi Manjari were caretakers at the ISKCON Escondido farm in California, supplying the San Diego and Laguna Beach temples with flowers, protected cow milk, and thirty different varieties of vegetables.

“At peak time in the summer,” he says, “We were providing the two temples with about 300 pounds of vegetables, 2,000 flowers – mostly marigolds – and 42 gallons of milk per week.”

From his construction and remodeling business, Nitaicandra also feels that he brings a knack for problem-solving – and a lot of experience working with different types of people – to his new role as ECO-Vrindaban’s ox training and local agriculture manager in New Vrindaban.

But perhaps most importantly, he brings a real love for Srila Prabhupada’s first farm project. He’s pumped about the exciting new energy flowing through the community, and glad to get the opportunity to serve in New Vrindaban once again. It is, after all, home to his guru Varsana Swami, who initiated both him and his wife on Nityananda’s Appearance Day in 2014.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Nitaicandra Cows Bahulaban 2015 ECO-Vrindaban

Nitaicandra is out standing in His field.

Nitaicandra has moved on his own for now, while Sri Tulasi Manjari – who is an advisor to the board of ECO-Vrindaban – stays in California to see their daughter Syama Sundari through her last year of high school and off to college, like her older sister Gaurangi. After that, Sri Tulasi and their fourteen-year-old son Sri Gopa Vallabha (aka Gopa) will move to New Vrindaban next summer.

Meanwhile Nitaicandra – always the hands-on type – started his new service during the second week of September, and is already out working with the ECO-V crew who have been training the oxen.

“It’s a long process,” he says. “It takes a few years to get them into the fields and working.”

Then there’s the local agriculture, which he sees as interconnected and working cohesively with the ox program. Food production, of course, is interdependent with the ISKCON New Vrindaban Deity, devotee, and restaurant kitchens, whose staff Nitaicandra hopes to develop and maintain a close relationship with.

“I’ll be working with them to find out what they need, and will try to supplement the produce they’re using,” he says.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Bahulaban Nitaicandra 2015 ECO-Vrindaban

Caitanya Bhagavat and Nitaicandra in the Bahulaban pasture.

He also hopes to collaborate on developing a menu more suited to local and seasonal crops, although he says that this will take some time as it will require a gradual cultural shift.

In the long term, the goal is to provide ISKCON New Vrindaban’s presiding Deities and residents with most of their fresh vegetables throughout the growing season, and to preserve enough by canning, freezing and drying to meet much of their needs during the winter too.

Finally, Nitaicandra will also be overseeing the flower gardens, which are providing more and more of the flowers used to decorate the Deities during the growing seasons.

He is excited about everything that’s ahead of him.

“When I hear about what the pioneer devotees did here, how pleased Srila Prabhupada was with this project, and how much he loves New Vrindaban – that’s what gives me enthusiasm,” he says. “So I’m just really happy to have this opportunity, and I hope that others will also be inspired to come to New Vrindaban, live simply, help with growing our own food and make a go at it.”

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 10/11/2015

ECO-Vrindaban Logo New Vrindaban

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 10/11/2015

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, Madhava Gosh and Ranaka

Participating Advisors: Jaya Krsna, Sri Tulasi Manjari and Radha-Krishna

Participating Managers: Nitaicandra

Recording secretary: Jamuna Jivani

1. Mukunda’s Monthly Report

Mukunda reported on the previous month’s projects:

  • Bahulaban Barn: The restoration of the exterior is nearing completion. At some point a decision needs to be made as to how the upstairs will be used. In the meanwhile it will remain locked for the winter.
  • Village Council Steering Committee: The Committee prepared a one-page presentation about a proposed Village Association and a short survey that will soon be presented to some local devotees for feedback.
  • Bahulaban Water Test: The results are expected by the end of October.
  • Recycling Project: Connecting with the Marshall County authorities has been a challenge. Mukunda desires to meet people who can help move this project forward. He will network with a group of like-minded “green” people who meet monthly in Wheeling.
  • Temple Barn: The goshala received some maintenance repairs, but needs more: fencing, gutters, insulation, etc. Mukunda, Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi have made a prioritized list. Mukunda has begun the work and will continue for the next several months, two days per month.
  • Skills Training: Nitaichandra and Mukunda took a four-day course in Restorative Agriculture. They intend to implement some of their learning in the next growing season.
  • ECO-V’s Conference Room: Construction is progressing slowly, but nicely. It is on schedule to be completed by the December Joint Board meetings.

2. Nitaicandra’s First Monthly Report

Nitaicandra reported on the previous month’s projects:

  • Gardens: The community gardens have mostly been on hold for 2015 and now Nitaicandra is preparing the beds for 2016. A cover crop has been planted and two oxen have been temporarily moved to the Garden of Seven Gates. He met with Madri from the temple kitchen regarding seasonal cooking and quantities.
  • Oxen: Nitaicandra began working with the oxen and crew at Bahulaban.
  • Permaculture Training: Nitaicandra attended a Restorative Agriculture conference with Mukunda.
  • Orchard: The apples are being harvested and sorted. The pears are next.

3. Update on Community Folklorist

Kripamaya reported that Sankirtan is interested in this role. Kripamaya will follow up with Sankirtan to see what ideas he has. Kripamaya and Radha-Krishna will brainstorm ideas for a proper service description. The position will most likely be managed by ISKCON New Vrindaban (INV) and Jaya Krsna would oversee its direction.

4. Garden of 7 Gates 2 Pole Barn Grant

Jaya Krsna, Mukunda, Nitaicandra and Ranaka will review the present situation and develop a proposal for how to proceed with this project.

5. Garden of 7 Gates 200 sq ft Prototype House

The prototype house is approximately half-way completed. Nitaicandra would like to continue the work on this project and will meet with Jaya Krsna to discuss the next steps. From that Nitaicandra will develop a budget for what it would cost to complete this project.

6. Solar Equipment

There is $2K remaining in the budget designated for this project. The ECO-V managers will review the current situation and propose how to proceed.

New Vrindaban’s Autumn 24-Hour Kirtan to Give Devotees the Vrindavan Kartik Experience

By Madhava Smullen


New Vrindaban’s autumn 24 Hour Kirtan – held during the sacred month of Kartik — is rapidly catching up to its summer cousin in popularity. Up from 100 attendees in 2011, this year’s festival is expected to attract over 400, looking for the authentic Vrindavan Kartik experience without having to travel seven-and-a-half thousand miles.

“Many devotees go to the original Vrindavan in India for Kartik,” says organizer Vrindavan Das. “But they can also get the same experience and benefit in New Vrindaban – as Srila Prabhupada often said, ‘New Vrindaban is non-different from Vrindavan.’”

ISKCON devotees will arrive from Toronto, Montreal, New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C. , Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Chicago and beyond. They’ll be joined by several student groups from local schools like West Virginia University and Cincinnati State Community College, eager to see what the increasingly popular practice of kirtan is all about

A special inauguration kirtan will set the tone on Friday October 30th from 6pm to 9pm at Prabhupada’s Palace, where devotees will seek the ISKCON Founder-Acharya’s blessings.

At 9:30 the next morning, everyone will gather outside Radha-Vrindabanchandra’s temple for a tour of Vrindavan’s holy places: Kusum Sarovara, Manasi Ganga, Radha Kunda, Shyama Kunda, Radha Gopinath Mandir, and Govardhana Hill, which have all revealed themselves at New Vrindaban too. At each spot, senior devotees will tell stories of the Lord’s pastimes. And of course, no Vrindavan experience can be complete without a visit to Krishna’s cows at His goshala.


Next there’ll be a large Harinama Sankirtana procession to Prabhupada’s Palace, where devotees will see the bongo drum Srila Prabhupada played at the Western world’s first public kirtan in Tompkins Square Park, New York. They’ll then escort the drum to Radha Vrindabanchandra’s temple, where the 24 Hour Kirtan will officially begin at 10:00am.

A host of renowned kirtaniyas will lead the chanting, switching every hour or half hour, including Agnideva, Ajamila, Amala Kirtan, Amala Harinam, Bhaktimarga Swami, and Karnamrita Dasi – who is originally from New Vrindaban. They’ll be joined by resident kirtaniyas Rupanuga, Lilasuka, Ananda Vidya and others, as well as a special one-hour kids’ kirtan.

Throughout the day, devotees will offer ghee lamps to a special form of baby Damodar and His mother Yashoda – but the highlights will be the 8:00am and 8:30pm group lamp offerings while the Damodarastakam prayers are chanted. The bonding created by hundreds of devotees offering their glowing golden lamps together in the cosy warmth of the temple room, safe from the chilly autumn weather, encapsulates the sweetness of the Kartik 24 Hour Kirtan.

“There is a transcendental Vrindavan atmosphere,” Vrindavan says. “You can feel that the room is filled with love and devotion for the Lord and his devotees.”


Meanwhile, delicious prasadam breakfast, lunch and evening snack will be served, along with hot tea; and spontaneous sangas with devotees discussing the Lord’s pastimes or reading the “Krsna” book together will pop up throughout the day alongside the kirtan.

The chanting will continue through the night, and finally end at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.

“It’s a wonderful, transformative experience,” says Vrindavan. “Many people who come to both the summer and Kartik 24 hour kirtans say they prefer the Kartik one, due to the meditative, reflective and connecting atmosphere. Because Kartik is a very auspicious month, during which the merit of devotional practice is increased, the mood is particularly focused. Everyone really gives themselves to the chanting.”

New Vrindaban’s Festival of Colors Strengthens Local Relationships

ISKCON New Vrindaban Festival of Colors Prabhupada Palace of Gold

Festival participants throw colors to chanting of the Maha Mantra.

By Madhava Smullen

Since it was introduced in 2012, ISKCON New Vrindaban’s Festival of Colors has dramatically improved public perception of the West Virginia farm community, mended lost relationships with locals and built new ones.

The spiritual rejuvination festival is advertised with thousands of flyers and posters in local shops, restaurants, and universities, billboards in the local towns of Moundsville and Wheeling, social media, and coverage from virtually every local newspaper, TV channel and radio station.

Festival participation has continued to grow each year since its launch, drawing mostly locals from the surrounding tri-state area of West Virgina, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The event has even been renamed “The Ohio-Valley Festival of Colors” to better describe its inclusive approach.

While attendance at this year’s festival on Saturday September 12th was somewhat lower due to inclement weather, it didn’t stop anyone from having a great time.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Festival of Colors Vrindavana Interview Channel 9

Vrindavana Dasa being interviewed by reporters from channel 9.

“You could say it was the brightest gloomy day you’ve ever seen,” said the reporter for local channel WTOV9.

From noon to 5pm, festivalgoers danced their hearts out to Ananda Groove and Atma’s mantra rock and hip-hop, sang the Hare Krishna mantra (inscribed on banners on either side of the huge stage) at the top of their lungs, and hurled powdered organic colors into the sky every half hour.

They also participated in a yoga class, took tours of Srila Prabhupada’s Palace and its award-winning rose gardens, purchased many of Prabhupada’s books, browsed clothing stalls and sampled Indian and Western prasadam cuisine.

Plastered with color, everyone’s racial, economic and religious designations fell away, and participants connected with each other as fellow souls. Locals left with broad grins and a great impression of New Vrindaban.

“No politics, just some good food and good music – you can’t beat it,” said one young festivalgoer.

“It’s our first time, and it was absolutely amazing,” another commented. “Everyone just coming together and being nice to everybody. Good vibes everywhere.”

And people get hooked. Many participants, both students and middle-aged men and women with their families, were repeat visitors.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Festival of Colors Palace of Gold

Smiling faces enjoying the festive atmosphere.

“I spoke to a young couple in the temple room who were contemplating the Deities at length,” says Gopaswami Das, a devotee from France who participated. “They had received one of Prabhupada’s books at last year’s Festival, and this time they asked me many questions about Krishna consciousness. Finally they bought a Bhagavad-gita and a japa mala, and left happily chanting the maha-mantra.”

While many local people have seen New Vrindaban as a place to stay away from since its historical challenges in the 1980s, Festival of Colors is turning things around, according to Jaya Krsna, ISKCON New Vrindaban’s president.

“Whenever we go to town and speak with anybody, and they find out we’re from New Vrindaban, their reaction is so positive,” he says. “ They go, ‘Oh, I was there for Festival of Colors, it was so wonderful, I want to come again!’ Recently I was getting a haircut, and the hairdresser said, ‘Oh, you’re from the Palace of Gold? I haven’t been there for 25 years, but my 13-year-old daughter really wants to go for Festival of Colors, are you still doing it?’ ”

And people don’t just come for Festival of Colors itself. The event has taken down fences and misgivings that were up for years and opened locals up to visiting Sri Sri Radha-Vrindabanchandra’s temple and the ISKCON New Vrindaban grounds throughout the year, too.

“Some locals are now coming for our Sunday Feast,” says Jaya Krsna. “One man visiting from Limestone, just ten minutes’ drive from here, said, ‘I haven’t been to New Vrindaban for 35 years, but I’m so happy that I came back.’

While there, people take a tour of the Palace of Gold and the temple, see the Lord, and enjoy New Vrindaban’s unique grounds with its ponds, flowers, peacocks and swans.

“We also give them the core messages of Krishna consciousness – that there is one God, who simply has different names in different religious movements; that you are the soul, not the body; and that you are an eternal servant of God,” says Jaya Krsna.

Outreach beyond New Vrindaban has also received a marked boost, with locals in nearby towns recognizing resident brahmachari Pranatakaruna Das as ‘one of those Festival of Colors people’ and giving him a more receptive audience for his daily street chanting and book distribution.

ISKCON New Vrindaban devotees are also making other efforts to integrate into and serve the local community, open up their village and make connections and relationships with their neighbors. Communications Director Vrindavan Das, for instance, is Vice President of the Marshall County Convention Bureau, which promotes tourism in the area; and New Vrindaban recently hosted the Bureau’s latest tourism meeting with representatives from all the surrounding counties.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Govinda's Restaurant Marshall County Tourist Bureau

Members of the Marshall County Tourist Bureau gather at Govinda’s Restaurant.

In the meantime, Festival of Colors will continue to be one of New Vrindaban’s greatest opportunities to connect with people in the tri-state area, and, despite this year’s weather, organizers expect it to continue to grow – along with the number of locals it inspires to visit New Vrindaban throughout the rest of the year.


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