Prabhupada’s Vision: Our Mission.


Srila Prabhupada in New Vrindaban – 1969


New Vrindaban ISKCON Prabhupada Aghasura Road

Entrance to the original New Vrindaban farm, along the start of the famed Aghasura Road, circa 1970.

Excerpted from an article written by Cintamani Dasi and previously published in the Brijabasi Spirit, October 1985.

It was May 9th, 1969. Before coming to New Vrindaban, Srila Prabhupada visited the Columbus, Ohio center. By some inconceivable good fortune I met him and was initiated. After breaking open the storehouse of love of God in Columbus, Krishna sent Srila Prabhupada to New Vrindaban to bless the ground with his lotus feet.

From Columbus two carloads of devotes went to New Vrindaban. Kirtanananda Swami and Srila Prabhupada drove in a black Lincoln. I was eager to ride in the other car that was going, but Jaya Gopal, the temple president told me, “You can’t go. Srila Prabhupada doesn’t want any bramacarinis in New Vrindaban. Only brahmacharis and married couples.” I was devastated. An Indian lady who was visiting the center asked what was wrong, and I told her. She ran upstairs and told Srila Prabhupada.

“She can come,” he said. “Tell her she can stay as long as I am there.” Srila Prabhupada was so merciful! I got back in the car. Soon, Srila Prabhupada was sitting in the front seat of the other car, and they were off. We tried to keep up with them, but it was not easy.

After a couple of hours, we were driving on the winding roads of West Virginia. Then we went down a bumpy little road and parked next to the old school house.

We (Labangalatika, Nara Narayana, Hrisikesa and I) started walking up a narrow grass path that we could barely see. I was carrying a sleeping bag and a small suitcase, and after the first mile I was wondering if I was going to make it. “Oh God! Oh Krishna! When are we ever going to get there?”

Prabhupada New Vrindaban ISKCON

Srila Prabhupada speaking with his followers outside the original New Vrindaban farmhouse, Spring 1969.

Finally, the small house came into view. As we got nearer, I saw Srila Prabhupada. He was sitting outside on the grass with several devotees around him. He was beaming. It was a beautiful, sunny, transcendental spring day. Seeing Srila Prabhupada made everything perfect. He was just sitting there, looking around at the devotees. It was obvious he really liked it in New Vrindaban.

Satyabhama brought prasadam out for the devotees, and along with Srila Prabhupada we honored the tasty prasadam. Satyabhama then served out more prasadam, but I was skipped. I was thinking, “I want more prasadam, but I don’t want to ask in front of my spiritual master.” Just then Srila Prabhupada looked at me and asked, “You want more?” Amazed, I said, “Yes.” I knew I had to be careful what I thought because Srila Prabhupada knew everything.

Later on, I looked over the “facilities.” The women – Syama Dasi, Labangalatika, and I – stayed on the second floor of the barn, above Kaliya, the cow. There was a well outside for water. In the afternoon we would literally slide down a steep hillside to Kesi Ghat to bathe. It was a little austere, but just being with Srila Prabhupada made everything ecstatic.

It was cold the first night we stayed in the barn. Morning came, and someone hit a gong – time to get up! Near the temple there was a small room where everyone put on tilak before entering the temple. Mangala arotika was so ecstatic! Srila Prabhupada would come downstairs and sit on a raised platform that had a gold pillow on it. Kirtanananda Swami would play harmonium. Sometimes Hayagriva would blow his kelp horn that was so long he practically had to stand in the kitchen to play. Everyone danced ecstatically. Afterwards, Srila Prabhupada would give classes on Srimad Bhagavatam.

After the morning program, the devotees would go to work. I washed pots and dishes. Outside the kitchen there was a wooden platform with a big tin tub on it, and I used to haul up well water and wash pots in the tub. We didn’t have scouring powder or soap. We used sand or pebbles to scrub the pots. They had to be very clean or Srila Prabhupada would complain. The best part about the service was that a few times a day Srila Prabhupada would come outside and walk right by, so even washing pots was ecstatic.

Once, when Srila Prabhupada walked by, a brahmachari was standing in front of the wooden platform playing his guitar, trying to teach me “Govinda Jaya Jaya.” He said he wanted to make a record, but since I was a new devotee, I didn’t know too much. Srila Prabhupada came over and said to him, “Why are you standing so near?” All of a sudden I could feel my face turning red. I realized that Srila Prabhupada didn’t want the women to be talking to the brahmacharis, even if it was just to learn a song. I was thinking, “I wish he would move.” But the brahmachari just stood there and said, “Oh, Srila Prabhupada, I was just teaching her this song.” “Oh,” said Srila Prabhupada, “You are teaching her?” And he just walked away.

After Srila Prabhupada took his lunch he always left some remnants. Often, the brahmacharis would run with his remnants into the woods, tackling each other to get the most. One day a new couple arrived. When the girl saw the brahmacharis running into the woods, she couldn’t understand the meaning of it. I explained that the remnants form the spiritual master’s plate are very potent.

On several occasions devotees came down from New York to visit Srila Prabhupada. The brothers Brahmananda and Gargamuni came one day, wearing jeans and suspenders. They came without notice, which produced some anxiety. “Would there be enough prasadam for Brahmananda?” He really could eat a lot of prasadam.

Prabhupada ISKCON New Vrindaban 1969

Srila Prabhupada & devotees enjoying prasadam near the original New Vrindaban cow barn, Spring 1969.

Although there were only a few devotees, we would still have a Sunday feast. During the feast the pots of prasadam were lined up outside. Every devotee would eat to their full satisfaction. Finished, some of the men would fall asleep on the grass near the pots, wake up later and eat more.

Srila Prabhupada’s lifestyle was so simple in New Vrindaban. Every morning his servant Devananda would heat up water in an aluminum pail over an outside fire. Srila Prabhupada would take the water and bathe in it in a little shack next to the temple. Sometimes in the morning, Srila Prabhupada would get a massage. One day Bhurijana dasa came and was taking some pictures of Srila Prabhupada getting a massage. Srila Prabhupada laughed and said, “These pictures are not for the Back to Godhead magazine!”

In the cool mornings, Srila Prabhupada would often take walks and a servant would follow, fanning him with a big leaf. I used to clean Srila Prabhupada’s room above the temple. In one closed off section he had small Radha Krishna Deities, and in the main section there was a mattress. Next to the mattress were two black trunks with some of Srila Prabhupada’s belongings and books. He used the trunks as a desk.

Prabhupada ISKCON New Vrindaban 1969

Srila Prabhupada seated in his quarters during his first visit to New Vrindaban, Spring 1969.

Early one morning, he came upstairs, surprising me. I was still cleaning his room. On the desk was a garlanded picture of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Srila Prabhupada took the garland off the picture and handed it to me saying, “This is from Krishna, with blessings.”

Then the day came for Srila Prabhupada to leave New Vrindaban. Srila Prabhupada walked at a brisk pace down the two mile path with all the New Vrindaban devotees behind him. I felt sad when he left but knew we couldn’t keep him there forever, although I would have liked that. We understood he had to spread Lord Caitanya’s mercy to other fallen souls.

 

Prabhupada New Vrindaban ISKCON Persimmon Tree

Srila Prabhupada sat outside daily under a persimmon tree, Spring 1969.

Prabhupada’s Palace Launches Campaign to Support Restoration


Prabhupada's Palace New Vrindaban ISKCON Dome

Recently retouched main dome.

By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON New Vrindaban Communications

Devotees at ISKCON New Vrindaban, West Virginia are in the midst of major renovations on Srila Prabhupada’s Palace. And they’re launching a campaign to help them continue restoring the renowned Smriti Samadhi, or memorial shrine to ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya, to its full glory.

The effort is a labor of love, just as it was when devotees first started building the Palace in 1973, intending it as a residence for their guru, who expressed a strong desire to retire there and translate his books.

“Regarding New Vrindaban I was very happy when I was there,” he wrote to them in 1974. “I am expecting very soon to go there and live in my proposed palace at least for some time.”

When Prabhupada passed away in 1977, the Palace – which opened to the public in 1979 – became a monument to his astounding achievements and gifts he gave to the world; a place where he resides in spirit through his instructions; and a major attraction for pilgrims and tourists.

But over the last thirty years, the Palace, which was built by enthusiastic yet inexperienced & young devotees, began to decay. Large parts of the decorative domes, outer wall, railings, and steps crumbled away, and sections of wrought iron rusted irreparably.

More recently, a Palace Restoration Committee was established to take action, and had specialized engineers give their assessment. Fortunately, the core of the building was safe and sturdy, but work had to be done on the exterior quickly.

This time, the work is being carried out with the assistance of professionals – both devotees and reputable local companies.

“The new concrete we are pouring has all the attributes that experience and modern technology provide,” says restoration manager Gopisa Das. “So it will significantly outlast what was used previously.”

The first move was installing a new, far more efficient drainage system on the steps leading up to the Palace.

Palace Wall is in its renovation process.

Prabhupada’s Palace Wall is in its renovation process.

“Water is the biggest contributing factor to deterioration,” Gopisa explains.

Next, the steps themselves were beautifully renovated by recycling the original rose-colored granite and adding new black granite treads with polished front edges. The work is currently about to be completed.

“Those distinctive pink and black colors now look the same as they did thirty-five years ago,” says Gopisa. “And the steps are sturdier and more durable than ever, with two-inch-thick treads rather than just the one inch that was there previously.”

Work on the outer wall – the first impression visitors get of the Palace – came next, and the hope is to complete its restoration this year as an offering to Srila Prabhupada for the 50th anniversary of his ISKCON.

The block wall was stripped, grouted and stabilized with rebar and concrete. As water had been leaking through the top, an attractive new waterproof, saffron-colored topping with lotus designs was installed. And the crumbling window frames were pulled out and replaced with new ornate black frames with Jaipur-style arches.

Next, beautifully ornate iron window grills will be installed, and the wall’s surface will receive a durable concrete stucco finish.

 

Prabhuapada's Palace of Gold ISKCON New Vrindaban

Newly renovated front steps.

This will complete the first phase of restoration and exhaust ISKCON New Vrindaban’s current funding for the project. The second phase is repair of the Palace roof, which has been leaking and causing internal damage for years. Gopisa considers this a vital undertaking, and assuming financial support is available, he hopes it will be completed by the end of 2017.

“The entire roof has to be stripped down and rebuilt, along with a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, and the domes need to be properly sealed,” says Gopisa. “That phase will also include rebuilding the crumbled balustrade railing around the Palace roof as well.”

With all this work, Gopisa says, “We are using the very best materials we can afford, to make it as long-lasting as possible, so the next generations won’t be faced with the same challenges we’re facing now.”

Prabhupada Palace of gold ISKCON New Vrindaban Smrti Samadhi

Srila Prabhupada’s murti at his Smriti Samadhi.

To the devotees in New Vrindaban there’s no doubt Prabhupada’s Palace is a sacred gem that must be revitalized. After all, it’s the only monument in the Western hemisphere built specifically to glorify Srila Prabhupada. It was constructed by volunteers who lovingly devoted years of their lives to its development. And it was beloved by Srila Prabhupada, who called its builders his “jewels” and promised, “I am already living here and always will be.”

Indeed, many devotees have commented they still strongly feel his presence there. Even tourists, who have never heard of Srila Prabhupada, are moved and affected. And in recent years, as media coverage of the Palace has once again increased, so have its visitors, with tens of thousands of pilgrims annually appreciating this sacred memorial to our beloved Founder-Acharya.

So please help support the restoration of Prabhupada’s Palace.

To offer your skills in renovation, contact Gopisa Das at gopisa108@gmail.com.

And to support the project financially, please contact Gaurnatraj Das at gaurnatraj@newvrindaban.com or phone 304 312 2069.

For more information, please visit:

http://palaceofgold.com/

http://www.newvrindaban.com/

New Vrindaban Recipes: Ice Cream and Sweet Rice Straight From Krishna’s Cows


By Madhava Smullen

Amburish Sweet Rice New Vrindaban ISKCON Cows Bahulaban

Amburish cooking sweet rice over an open fire pit at Bahulaban in New Vrindaban, circa 1982.

Few prasadam stories from New Vrindaban’s history are as legendary as those of the late Amburish Dasa’s sweet rice and Pitambar Dasi’s ice cream.

Straight from the cow barn and prepared by the cowherd couple with deep love and devotion, they were much-craved treats in the austere lives of New Vrindaban’s early devotees.

Neither Amburish nor Pitambar had any cooking or cow-care experience before becoming devotees. Amburish, a city boy from Denver, Colorado, stopped at New Vrindaban on a road trip in 1971 just after high school, and instantly knew he was home. He moved to New Vrindaban and was initiated by Srila Prabhupada that same year.

Pitambar met devotees chanting at a craft show while living as a hippy in California’s Santa Cruz mountains. When one of the devotees told her all about New Vrindaban, she was similarly drawn to the place – she stayed over night at her first visit on Radhastami 1976, and never left.

Soon after, she received the service of caring for the calves, and met her husband-to-be Amburish in the barn, where he was in charge of the cows.

Amburish Kirtan New Vrindaban Bahulaban ISKCON

Amburish leading a Kirtan at Bahulaban in New Vrindaban, early 1980s.

Amburish made an instant impression. An excellent kirtan leader and pujari, he was well known for his dedication, hard work and enthusiasm. “He could often be seen running from one service to another,” recalls his long-time friend Advaita Das. “He did not walk, he ran.”

But most of all, Amburish loved serving the cows.

“They were his heart and soul,” Pitambar says. “They weren’t just cows, they were like mirrors of his family. There were hundreds of them, and he named them all, and remembered their names. He involved our children, too – when our first son was born, he sat him on a cow when he was just two hours old. And our three sons – Nitai, Acarya and Anandamaya – were always playing in the barn while we were milking.”

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Amburish kept meticulous records of all the cows’ activities, births, deaths, names, locations, and milk production amounts. He worked in the barn from early morning till late at night. He attended veterinarian school, so that he could deliver and breed the cows, and take care of all their medical needs.

Amburish calves New Vrindaban Prabhupada ISKCON Bahulaban

Amburish introducing Srila Prabhupada to four new-born calves at the Bahulaban Barn in New Vrindaban, June 1976.

And he saw Krishna in all of it. “He would tell us, ‘When you clean the barn, clean it so nicely that Krishna will want to bring Radharani here to take a walk through it,’” Pitambar says. “He would blast out the Govindam prayers to call the cows in from the pasture. And he always chanted while milking them.”

The fresh, whole milk from cows protected with such love and devotion was an essential part of Amburish’s legendary sweet rice.

But so, too, was the way he applied that same care and devotion to preparing the dish.

“First he would go take a shower, and get dressed in his dhoti and brahmana thread, as if he was getting ready for pujari work,” says Pitambar.

Then Amburish would carefully measure out all the ingredients, which at different times included spices like bay leaves, camphor, and cardamom but eventually were reduced to a pure blend of just four items: fresh milk, rice, sugar and raisins.

Cooking outside over a wood fire in a huge 30 gallon pot, he would alternately scrape the bottom of the pot to keep the sweet rice from burning, and aerate the milk with a one gallon ladle. Consistency was king, and Amburish wanted it to be perfect. Meanwhile, he chanted bhajans the entire time without cessation.

“It was just so magical to watch,” says Pitambar.

Depending on the time of year, Amburish would then cool the sweet rice in a stream, a root cellar, or a snowbank. The resulting dish was a Sunday or festival treat that inspired feverish devotion in a New Vrindaban community that lived on an austere diet during the week. One tradition on Balarama Rasayatra saw Amburish hiding the sweet rice out in the pasture for Lord Balarama and his Gopis, which the devotees would hunt desperately for at night, to no avail.

“I had experienced sweet rice before, but Amburish’s sweet rice took the experience to a new level,” says Advaita. “To this day I have never tasted sweet rice anywhere – at any other temple or restaurant – that even comes close.”

Pitambar making ice cream ISKCON New Vrindaban Bahulaban Cows

Pitambar making ice cream at the Bahulaban Barn in New Vrindaban, early 1980s.

Another much sought-after treat was Pitambar’s ice cream, rich in flavor as it was also made with the excess milk from Krishna’s cows. “I would blend milk, sugar and fruit in an ice cream machine, put it in a five-gallon bucket, take it to the prasadam room, and sell it for 35 cents a cup,” she says. “Back then, it was so austere, that anything sweet was like, ‘Oh, boy!’ What’s more, it was something different – not on the Vedic menu. The cups just flew out!”

For New Vrindaban’s three biggest festivals at the time – Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, which all ran over three-day weekends and drew thousands of devotees, pilgrims and tourists – Pitambar would make an incredible 100 gallons of ice cream a day.

“I would stay up for three days straight, not sleeping at all, to make it,” she says. “I’d have to make it only four gallons at a time, because that’s all the milk the machine would hold. And I made a different flavor of ice cream each day: carob, using a Hershey-like syrup; strawberry; and orange-mango, using real fruits rather than concentrate.”

Pitambar also worked extremely hard the rest of the year, too. In the early days, she made chapatis and washed pots, scrubbing them with ashes from the cooking fires because there was no soap.

Amburish Pitambar family New Vrindaban ISKCON

From left to right: Acarya, Amburish, Ananda, Pitambar & Nitai, circa 1986. Photo taken in the living room of what is currently Nityodita & Radha’s house in New Vrindaban.

Later, she took care of the calves as diligently as Amburish did the cows. “I just loved them,” she says. “They were like my children. They were so much fun, and so sweet. I would feed them bottles of milk, and I’d look down, and my entire sari would be in their mouth!”

Pitambar also cleaned the calves’ pens, brushed them, and fed them grain and hay as they got older, walking from one farm to another to care for calves of different age groups.

They were inseperable. At one point early on before she was married, Pitambar attempted to leave New Vrindaban and move to the temple in Berkely, California. “Then I dreamt about the calves,” she recalls. “They were crying, asking me to come back. I started packing my bags right away. The Berkely leaders begged me to stay, offering me trips to India, saris, a new apartment. I said, ‘No, I have to go back to my calves!”

Pitambar also made ghee and milk sweets from New Vrindaban cow milk for the Deities and guests, and churned butter by hand. She had to churn it in a stream in the summer to keep it cool, and on the coals of the cooking fires in the winter to keep it from solidifying.

From 1976 to 1980, she and Amburish ran a full snack bar from the barn, with her ice cream, French fries cooked in ghee, Bhima burgers, and pizza with home-made cheese. During this period, she also worked at Prabhupada’s Palace until its opening in 1979, doing gold-leaf and touching up moldings.

Leading cows and Radha Vrindaban Chandra to temple Pitambara Uttamauja ISKCON New Vrindaban

Pitambar leading Sita cow in the procession moving Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra from Bahulaban to Their current temple in New Vrindaban, July 4th Weekend 1983.

From 1983 to ’84, Amburish and Pitambar oversaw the teenage boys’ ashram, which Pitambar says was ‘like a big, happy family.’

Former students agree. “We lived at the Vrindaban farmhouse, which, at the time, was quite remote and removed from the rest of the community,” says alumni Chaitanya Mangala Das. “This meant the adolescent boys were able to engage in a lot more fun activities that weren’t really allowed before or after that period. For those in that ashram there is a general consensus this was our favorite time in gurukula, and Pitambar and Amburish were our favorite ashram teachers.”

Later, the couple worked at ISKCON’s restaurant in Pittsburgh, and supplied the Rainbow Kitchen for the homeless with food.

In 1989, Amburish passed away in New Vrindaban, and his ashes were scattered at the Kusum Sarovara Lake there.

In his absence, Pitambar started her own herbal goods cottage business to support herself and her boys. Taking her tinctures, homeopathic medicines, dried flower arrangements and herbal-infused creations to local craft fairs she worked hard and became well-known in the area, making the cover of the Wheeling Register.

In 2001, she finally left New Vrindaban to take care of her mother in Pittsburgh. Today, she still lives there while her son Nitai and other caregivers take care of her, as her advanced Parkinson’s leaves her disabled and homebound.

“Pitambar is a kindhearted, gentle and humble devotee, whose caregivers say she has ‘taught them a lot about life,’” says Pitambar’s closest friend Tilakini Dasi, who calls every day to keep her spirits up.

“She’s a generous and empathetic soul who cares a lot about others, and a fiercely dedicated mother,” adds Rupa Dasi, another lifelong friend.

Pitambar Dasi Pittsburgh 2016

Pitambar Dasi Pittsburgh 2016

Sure enough, Pitambar herself hopes she’ll be remembered for always trying to be kind to everyone, and says that being a mother was her favorite and most important service.

She is very proud of her grown-up sons Nitai, who works at an irrigation company as well as caring for her; Acarya, who serves in the U.S. Navy; and Ananda, a former combat medic, who recently got engaged and is now attending ultrasound tech school.

“They might have very different lives now than they did growing up,” Pitambar says. “But Ananda says his happy place will always be laying on a blanket in Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s temple room during mangala arati.”

New Vrindaban is Pitambar’s happy place, too. “It’s where I spent most of my adult life,” she says. “There was good and bad there, but it was home. I miss it terribly. I wish I could physically go there more, but my health won’t currently allow it.”

Pitambar has potent advice for the next wave of New Vrindaban residents. “Our lives are precious and go by fast. We don’t always know Krishna’s plan, so we should use our time wisely.”

She concludes, “New Vrindaban is a very special place. It is the home of Srila Prabhupada, Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra, and so many wonderful Brijabasis. So please, let’s do our best to love and respect each other in the Holy Dhama.”

Amburish’s Heavenly Sweet Rice

(Makes about 12 cups)

“Of the many wonderful dairy-based recipes from the pioneer days of New Vrindaban, Amburish’s sweet rice remains my all-time favorite,” Pitambar says. “Of course, the most important ingredient was his enthusiastic devotion, every time he made it. Made with the same care, this heavenly sweet rice is a wonderful way to honor Lord Krishna, His cows and cowherds.”

Ingredients:

1 gallon fresh milk (whole milk, from protected cows, if possible)

1 cup long grain rice (creates a better consistency and flavor than basmati)

3 cups white sugar (cut down if too sweet)

Small palm full of raisins

Directions:

Combine milk and rice in a thick-bottomed pot. Cook on a medium heat, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot constantly so that the milk will not stick and burn. When the milk begins to boil, begin ladling the milk as well as stirring it – this serves to aerate the milk and keep it from boiling over.

After half an hour, add raisins. When the mixture has been cooking for about 45 minutes, begin watching it closely. Consistency is key – it should be neither too thin nor too thick. Pick up some of the sweet rice in the ladle, swish it around, and check that the rice is floating on top of the milk and that the milk itself leaves a thin coating on the ladle.

When it reaches this point, remove the sweet rice from the fire and stir the sugar in thoroughly.

Chill the sweet rice, offer to the Lord and serve ice cold.

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 10/16/2016


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 10/16/2016

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, Chaitanya Mangala (chair), Kripamaya, Ranaka and Sri Tulasi Manjari (secretary).

Participating Advisors: Jaya Krsna, Vraja

Participating Managers: Mukunda, Nitaicandra

1. Funding for Tractor Backhoe Attachment

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to invest in equipment to support its ongoing farming-related projects.

RESOLVED: The Board approves up to $8,708 for the purchase of a tractor backhoe attachment.

2. Mukunda’s Monthly Report

  • The majority of his time has been at the milking goshala. He has been installing vinyl, trim work, walls, and paneling.
  • Next month, he anticipates rewiring the electrical, renovating the steel posts, rebuilding the back door, and finishing the walls.
  • For the Steering Committee, he helped plan a meet-and-greet for the Village Council nominees and helped organize the election which will take place at the end of October.

3. Nitaicandra’s Monthly Report

  • The vegetable gardens are slowing production: the squash is finished and the tomatoes, okra and peppers are slow to ripen.
  • Swiss chard, kale and strawberries are producing nicely.
  • Our cover crops are starting to build soil.
  • Paw paws are ripe.
  • There is a lack of fruit on the apple trees, possibly due to the cicadas or a late frost in May.
  • We have finished harvesting potatoes, approximately 5K lbs.
  • Cows and oxen are doing well at Nandagram
  • Caitanya Bhagavat has been busy with fence mending.
  • The oxen are now pulling logs as part of their training.
  • We are having a good hay season.
  • In the flower gardens, marigold season is over and preparations are being made for next season, including planting 600 bulbs of three new varieties of lilies.
  • Anuradha and Nitaicandra walked the garden so she could develop a menu with the cooks for the Prabhupada festival based on the garden’s seasonal availability. This was an important step in reaching our goal of using our produce. We are grateful to her for highlighting our harvest.
  • Many varieties of seeds have been saved: tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, beans, okra and amaranth. More will be ready soon.
  • Krsna Nama has gone back to Bulgaria for immigration purposes. We miss his contribution to our team and hope that he returns.

Next month, he anticipates:

  • Beginning work on the pit greenhouse at Nandagram
  • Planting winter wheat and cover crops in the community garden with the help of the oxen
  • Harvesting apples and paw paws
  • Prepping the garden at Nandagram for next year’s vegetable production

4. November Joint Board Meeting Preparation

A tentative schedule was discussed:

  • Friday: pre-weekend afternoon meetings, dinner at the temple
  • Saturday: morning department head presentations, afternoon community dialogue, dinner at the temple
  • Sunday: a morning tour & a service appreciation ceremony in the afternoon

Open Invitation Reminder: November 11, 12 & 13, 2016


cropped-NV_ISKCON_Logo_black_large.jpg     ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

OPEN INVITATION: The board members of ISKCON New Vrindaban & ECO-Vrindaban humbly invite all New Vrindaban residents, neighbors and well-wishers to participate in the upcoming weekend activities.

NOVEMBER 11th, 12th & 13th WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Friday, November 11th

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm: Dinner Prasad with members of the Village Council, Steering Committee, INV & ECO-V Boards & GBCs (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

Saturday, November 12th

9:00 am to 10:00 am: Breakfast Prasad (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

9:45 am to 1:30 pm: INV & ECO-V Department Head Presentations (under Lodge)

1:30 pm to 2:30 pm: Lunch Prasad (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

2:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Community Dialog (Topics: Village Council & Moving Jagannath, under Lodge)

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm: Dinner Prasad with members of the Village Council, Steering Committee, INV & ECO-V Boards & GBCs (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

Sunday, November 13th

9:00 am to 10:00 am: Breakfast Prasad (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

10:00 am to 1:00 pm: Parikrama Tour (Prabhupada’s Palace, Spirit Garden, Temple Barn & RVC’s Workshop Building, weather permitting)

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

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm: Service Appreciations (under Lodge, Pitambar & Amburish, Gopa & Damodara, & HH Varsana Swami)

ECO-Vrindaban Offers Opportunity for New Maintenance Person


By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON New Vrindaban Communications

view-of-nandagram-farm-new-vrindaban-wv-autumn-2016

View of Nandagram farm in New Vrindaban, WV Autumn 2016

ECO-Vrindaban (ECO-V) – which strives to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s mandates for simple living and cow-protection at New Vrindaban in West Virginia, USA – is on the lookout for a new construction and maintenance person for its ongoing operations.

The ideal candidate would be a journeyman level carpenter with construction or general contracting experience. Basic plumbing and electrical skills would be a major plus.

The candidate’s duties would include painting, restoration and maintenance of farm buildings, as well as new construction projects such as greenhouses and various fencing projects. They would also help with other ECO-V activities when needed.

Thus ECO-V is looking for someone with an experience of and desire for simple country living, and a well-rounded familiarity with farm life – the sort of person who would be comfortable working with animals, lending a hand in the garden, or driving a tractor.

The ideal candidate would also be a self-starter with the ability to think on their feet, work unsupervised, and, at times, manage a small crew.

new-vrindaban-nitaicandra-feeding-cows-at-bahulaban-2015

Nitai Chandra and Chaitanya Bhagavat taking care of the cows.

They would be working at ECO-V with a strong team of six full-time staff and five part-timers. These include General Manager Ranaka Das, who has worked in agriculture and cow protection at New Vrindaban for forty years; and Ox and Garden Manager Nitaicandra Das, who managed ISKCON San Diego’s successful satellite farm for four years before moving to New Vrindaban last September.

The construction and maintenance role will be a full-time, salaried position, and help will be provided to make sure that the candidate and his or her family are adequately situated in the New Vrindaban community, where there is housing, a children’s school, and other facilities.

ECO-Vrindaban is an exciting project with a lot of potential that would appeal to those enthusiastic about Srila Prabhupada’s teachings on simple living. Devotees there are trying to manifest Prabhupada’s own vision for New Vrindaban, established under his direct instructions in 1968.

A non-profit entity launched in 1998, ECO-V works closely with ISKCON New Vrindaban in the areas of cow protection and gardening activities.

The organization looks after a total of around 800 acres interspersed throughout McCreary’s Ridge in the Appalachian mountains. Most of its work focuses on managing four farmsteads – Nandagram, Bahulaban, the Community Garden and Milking Barn near Sri-Sri Radha Vrindabanchandra’s temple, and the Valley Barn area.

The recently acquired 168-acre Nandagram farm, formerly owned by ISCOWP, is now home to part of ECO-V’s vegetable production, twenty retired cows, and its ox program.

“There are excellent ox training facilities there, including roads, forests, and a large barn,” says Nitaicandra. “We have six young oxen in our training program, who are currently pulling logs and going over their commands. They’ll soon be dragging the field for two acres of winter wheat – the first time they’ve been out in the field, which is pretty exciting. Our oldest team will be four-and-a-half and be fully ready for heavy field work in 2018.”

milking-cows-in-nv-barn

Milking cows at New Vrindaban’s Goshalla.

The seven cows at the Temple Milking Barn, meanwhile, are lovingly cared for by Ananda Vidya Das and his wife Lalita Gopi Dasi, and give an average of 25 gallons of milk a day. Yoghurt, butter, and curd are made from the milk, providing for most of the Deities’ and temple devotees’ needs during offpeak times.

During the growing season, vegetables are being produced at the seven-acre Community Garden for the Deities’ offerings and for two meals a week for the temple devotees. In his first year, Nitaicandra and his garden crew have grown an acre of potatoes, four varieties of tomatoes, okra, summer and winter squash, basil, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, bok choy, and bitter melon.

“We’re making a blueprint to grow from right now, but I’m really happy with what we’ve been able to do in my first year,” says Nitaicandra.

Flowers for the Deities are also grown under Vidya Dasi’s guidance, with more than 37,000 marigolds harvested this year, along with cannas, lilies, and peonies.

“One of the major challenges for temples is flowers, and we’ve really improved local production this year,” Nitaicandra says. “We hope to increase next year.”

Finally at the Valley Barn, where ECO-V’s offices are located, are approximately sixty acres of the 160 from which hay is harvested every year for the cows. There’s also a plan to grow a sweet corn seed crop there next year, to save and use for growing future cornfields.

In the near future, there are plans to begin converting the old milking parlor at the Valley Barn into a food processing facility, with canning, drying and freezing operations.

Other future ECO-V projects which the new maintenance person would take part in include a pit greenhouse – a special type of partially underground greenhouse that is naturally warmed and can be used in winter at high altitudes. There are also plans to use permaculture techniques in creating a ‘food forest,’ a type of low maintenance sustainable food production system.

ranaka-and-ray

Ranaka and Ray New Vrindaban 2015

“Why come to serve with ECO-V and live in New Vrindaban?” asks Nitaicandra. “Well, we have excellent staff, a lot of opportunity and potential with the land that we have and lots of exciting goings-on. We’re growing organic food and flowers for our Deities and devotees; we’re expanding our orchards and food forests; we’re protecting cows and training oxen. There’s a nice community of devotees — about 300 living within a thirty-mile radius. And many devotees and guests visit from around the world every year for our many wonderful festivals like the 24-Hour Kirtan and Festival of Inspiration.”

He smiles. “We have a lot to offer, and we’re looking forward to a nice reciprocation with someone who has a lot to contribute towards maintaining our program, too.”

For those interested in the construction and maintenance position, please send a cover letter, resume and any other inquires to Ranaka Das: dfintel@msn.com.

Open Invitation to the 5th Service Appreciation Ceremony in New Vrindaban


The INV & ECO-V board members humbly invite you to a service appreciation ceremony.

Honorees: Pitambar & Amburish, Gopalasyapriya & Damodara, & Varsana Swami.

When: Sunday November 13th, 2016

Time:  3:30 PM, immediately following the Sunday Feast

Where: Community Hall, under the Palace Lodge

Please come and celebrate their many years of exceptional service in the development of New Vrindaban.

Amburish Pitambar family New Vrindaban

From left to right: Acarya, Amburish, Ananda, Pitambar & Nitai. New Vrindaban circa 1986.

 

Gopalasyapriya Damodara New Vrindaban

Damodara & Gopa.

 

Varsana Swami New Vrindaban ISKCON

Varsana Swami.

 

New Vrindaban Devotees Serve Prabhupada at His Palace With Renewed Enthusiasm


Written by Madhava Smullen for ISKCON New Vrindaban Communcations.

Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold renovations ISKCON New Vrindaban

Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, recently renovated front steps.

Since its construction, Srila Prabhupada’s Palace has been the heart and soul of the New Vrindaban community in West Virginia. A sacred Smriti Samadhi, it is the greatest memorial to ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya in the Western World.

What’s more, it was beloved by Prabhupada himself, who wanted to retire to it to translate his books, and repeatedly asked when it would be completed.

“When my palace will be ready I shall go there and stay,” he wrote in 1974. “I like very much that place, very calm and quiet.”

So it is inspirational for many that this year has seen renewed energy and attention at Prabhupada’s Palace, as devotees work to again increase the international recognition it receives.

An important step was enlisting a qualified person to facilitate the effort. Enter new Palace Manager Vrajadhama Das from Toronto, who has been a devotee for twenty years and worked as an office manager and sales trainer before joining Prabhupada’s Palace this March.

“Serving Srila Prabhupada nicely is our priority,” he says. “If we’re not doing that, it doesn’t really matter what other improvements we’re making.”

Prabhupada's Palace Staff Members ISKCON New Vrindaban

Palace Staff Members With Srila Prabhupada’s Murti.

To that end, a priority for Vrajadhama was to renovate a room in the Palace for a pujari, Srinama Das, to live in so that he can attend to Srila Prabhupada’s care full-time.

Devotees are also renovating the Palace kitchen, so that Srinama can prepare Prabhupada’s meal offerings onsite rather than transporting them up the hill from the temple.

The next priority is, of course, making sure that the devotees serving Prabhupada are happy.

“One way I try to do that is by recognizing and appreciating the devotees for the hard work that they’ve been doing here for so many years,” Vrajadhama says. “I walk the grounds of the Palace every morning, and stop and talk to everyone to see if they need anything and if they’re satisfied in their service. I also try to make sure that people are engaged in activities that suit their personal abilities, which was Srila Prabhupada’s philosophy of management.”

These efforts have resulted in increased staff enthusiasm and numbers, with four local people and twenty-one devotees engaged in various capacities, up considerably from previous years.

With the staff numerous and active, Prabhupada’s Palace is also seeing increased attendance at several unique programs that utilize its atmosphere of personal association with Srila Prabhupada.

First Friday Kirtan Prabhupada's Palace of Gold ISKCON New Vrindaban

First Friday Kirtan Event October 7th, 2016

One of these is the monthly Prabhupada Sangam, started in Spring 2013 by husband and wife Kripamaya Das and Krsna Bhavi Dasi, both Prabhupada disciples, and maintained today by Vrajadhama and his wife Nityananda Dasi.

“The evening starts off with grand disciples or second generation devotees talking about what Prabhupada means to them,” says Vrajadhama. “We then have Prabhupada disciples speak about their personal experiences with him – both local disciples as well as visiting devotees like Nanda Kumar Prabhu or Srutakirti Prabhu, who had lots of one-on-one time with him. It’s very sweet.”

The Sangams are an attempt to bring Prabhupada’s Palace to life. “I really wanted to bring the New Vrindaban community members back to the Palace,” says Vrajadhama. “To let them know, this is not just a place for tourists, but this is Prabhupada’s home – he’s here, and he wants you to come and visit.”

Each event is filmed and archived on the New Vrindaban YouTube page, and the last one was livestreamed on Facebook, an exciting new step in utilizing modern technology.

Meanwhile, as a way of reaching out to the public Kirtan Experience events are held on the First Friday of every month. Introduced in April this year, they are advertised locally in Wheeling and surrounding areas as a way to “enliven, unite and inspire through transcendental music.”

Between 30 and 50 people usually attend these programs, many of them general public who appreciate the sweet and informal vibe. Devotees from different ISKCON New Vrindaban departments take turns leading each time, starting off with slow bhajans and building until everyone is jumping up and down, spinning in circles, and having an all round great time.

Festival of Colors Prabhupada's Palace of Gold ISKCON New Vrindaban

Festival of Colors September 17th, 2016

Sharing that joy of Krishna consciousness with a much larger public audience was this year’s fifth annual Festival of Colors on September 17th, held on the Palace grounds. Drawing nearly three thousand local people despite rainy weather, it saw families and students chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, dancing, throwing colors and taking tours of Prabhupada’s Palace.

Feedback has been very positive, and weather providing in future years Vrajadhama feels the Festival can again hit previous heights of 4,500 and beyond.

It’s a reasonable expectation: this year, overall tourism at Prabhupada’s Palace already increased from 20,000 annually to approximately 30,000. Vrajadhama 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.”

In addition to Srila Prabhupada, the regular events and Palace tours, there’s a lot to see these days, with many physical improvements being made too.

A new Smoothie Shack opened at the Palace on Memorial Day in May, with devotees repurposing and renovating an unused gazebo. Painting it the Palace Wall’s signature salmon pink, they added four matching bistro-style tables with umbrellas, and began serving fresh fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed organic lemonade, and ice cream.

Smoothie Shack at Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold ISKCON New Vrindaban

Smoothie Shack at Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold.

In the future, there are plans to add a grill to offer sandwiches and other hot snacks. More benches will also be added in shaded areas to make the Palace grounds more welcoming.

“It’s an added service for guests who’ve come a long way,” Vrajadhama says. “Now they can sit down and look out over our lotus pond with a refreshing Strawberry Bananarama or Mango smoothie, and just take time to absorb the serene atmosphere. This is a place of pilgrimage, so we really want people to slow down, and see Krishna everywhere in the natural beauty of New Vrindaban.”

Meanwhile, Prabhupada’s Palace itself is undergoing a major restoration project, with beautiful new rose and black granite steps, and a new drainage system to protect against water damage. The outer wall is being stabilized with rebar and concrete, and given a new durable stucco finish, a saffron topping with lotus designs, and ornate black window frames in Jaipur-style arches.

As the construction team does this work, Vrajadhama is overseeing painters who have repainted the Palace’s ornate black and gold exterior, its railings, and its chattras, or lookout towers, giving a fresh new appearance.

Next, the Palace roof, which has been leaking and causing internal damage for years, will be stripped and rebuilt, along with a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Restoration of Prabhupada's Palace Wall ISKCON New Vrindaban

Ongoing Restoration of Prabhupada’s Palace Wall

Whatever work devotees do, Vrajadhama feels, it will be successful as long as they keep Srila Prabhupada in the center and remember that he is always present at his Palace. As he told devotees in 1974, “I am already living here and always will be.”

“And that’s evident to both devotees and guests,” says Vrajadhama. “One woman took the tour this summer after she saw the Palace in a commercial. During the tour, she was listening very intently, really absorbing all the information. Then, when we turned the corner, entered Srila Prabhupada’s study, and saw him behind his desk writing in his murti form, she began to cry. Tears were running down her face, and she was overwhelmed with emotion. The others on the tour felt it too. And at that moment I knew that Srila Prabhupada is here – and that although he might physically appear to be absent, he will always be in his Palace.”

“This,” concludes Vrajadhama, “Is what makes Prabhupada’s Palace such an important place, and why it’s so important for us to continue improving and caring for it. Not only for us, but also for our children, and their children, and for the people of America – to be able to come and experience its gifts far into the future.”

ISKCON New Vrindaban Open Invitation: November 11, 12 & 13, 2016


ISKCON New Vrindaban logo        ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

The board members of ISKCON New Vrindaban & ECO-Vrindaban humbly invite all New Vrindaban residents, neighbors and well-wishers to participate in the upcoming weekend activities.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Friday, November 11th

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

Saturday, November 12th

9:00 am to 10:00 am: Breakfast Prasadam (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

9:45 am to 1:30 pm: ISKCON New Vrindaban & ECO-Vrindaban Department Head Presentations (under the Palace 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 current topics TBD, under the Palace Lodge)

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

Sunday, November 13th

9:00 am to 10:00 am: Breakfast Prasadam (at Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple)

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

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

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm: Community Service Appreciations (under the Palace Lodge, details to follow)

New Vrindaban Prabhupada Vision ISKCON

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 09/11/2016


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 09/11/2016

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: Bhima, Chaitanya Mangala, Kripamaya, Ranaka and Sri Tulasi Manjari

Participating Advisors: Jaya Krsna & Vraja

Participating Manager: Mukunda

Recording Secretary: Jamuna Jivani

1. Bahulaban Barn Community Center Proposal Update

Mukunda continues to communicate with the relevant governmental agencies regarding the various requirements, as well as Prakash Patel, from whom is he awaiting a report. He will begin putting together some rough cost estimates based on the information he already has.

2. Mukunda’s Monthly Report

  • He finished installing double-doors and windows at temple flower garden shed.
  • He began preparing the inside walls of the temple milking goshala for the installation of plywood and vinyl panels.
  • He terminated his participation as the ECO-V representative on the Steering Committee.
  • He submitted his resignation as an ECO-V Manager and announced his plans to return to Florida shortly after the November Joint Board meetings.

The ECO-V team members present expressed their appreciation for Mukunda’s service and contributions over the nearly two years he’s been involved with ECO-Vrindaban and wish well both him and his wife Bhakti-lata Dasi.

3.  Nitaicandra’s Monthly Report

  • He has been relocating 19 cows from Bahulaban to Nandagram.
  • He repaired a well pump at Nandagram which had broken.
  • 5,000 flowers were grown and picked for Radhastami.
  • He brought a cow named Rasananda to Radha Kunda for the Radhastami celebration.
  • He oversaw continued harvesting in the gardens.

4. ECO-V & INV Managers’ Meetings Update

These meetings are scheduled to be held every two months. The next meeting will be in approximately two weeks. A few days prior to the meeting, the Managers will compile a list of topics for discussion.

5. ECO-V Staff Meetings Update

Staff meetings are being held on alternating Fridays. Mukunda, Nitaicandra and Ranaka report that the staff has been enjoying and benefiting from the discussions and feel they have been helpful and productive.

6.  Developing ECO-V’s Cow Protection Endowment

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to establish an endowment to continue support for cow protection, both now and into the future.

RESOLVED: The Board approves up to $3K to be used for legal work with Mrigendra prabhu to establish an endowment.

A subcommittee consisting of Chaitanya Mangala, Ranaka and Jaya Krsna has been tasked to work on this project.

For regular updates, visit the ECO-Vrindaban Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/ECOVrindaban

2cowsbylake.jpg

Welcome to Brijabasi Spirit

Thank you for taking the time to visit the New Vrindaban community blog. Think of visiting our blog as making a virtual pilgrimage.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

"May cows stay in front of me; may cows stay behind me; may cows stay on both sides of me. May I always reside in the midst of cows."
Hari Bhakti-vilas 16.252

Archives