Prabhupada’s Vision: Our Mission.


Barn Ready, Rock Steady: Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi


By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON New Vrindaban Communications

As residents and aficionados of ISKCON history know well, New Vrindaban winters are not exactly forgiving. And with the austerity, guests decrease, some residents go traveling, and the hustle and bustle of the summer season quietens down.

Still, the show must go on, and core crews continue on through the frigid, icy months to make sure it does.

As far as caring for New Vrindaban’s milking cows, it’s husband and wife cowherds Ananda Vidya Das and Lalita Gopi Dasi who hold down the barn. And they do so with a quiet, good-natured dedication that reveals a deep love for their service – a love that was born early on.

“When I joined ISKCON in 1990, I went to live in the Columbus women’s ashram with Malati Devi,” says Lalita Gopi. “We would visit New Vrindaban, and the first time I stopped by the cow barn, I went back home to Columbus and just cried. I said, ‘I wanna live in New Vrindaban!’ I just had this inexplicable attraction to being with the cows and the land.”

Lalita Gopi moved to New Vrindaban in 1993, where she learned how to milk a cow from Nityodita Das and got further training in cow care from ISCOWP director Balabhadra Das. From the mid 1990s, she would help on and off at the milking barn, bringing her daughters Visakha Gopi and Vrindavani with her for milkings when they were babies.

Ananda Vidya, meanwhile, joined ISKCON at New Vrindaban in 1995, but spent a lot of time away, traveling in a van as a brahmachari and book distributor for over fifteen years.

In 2013, he finally settled in New Vrindaban and began helping at the milking barn, where he and Lalita Gopi began to associate and bond over their love of the simple Brijabasi life. They were married soon after. “I really liked his Bhagavatam classes – he would tell great Krishna stories!” Lalita Gopi laughs.

That same year, Ananda Vidya began serving with ECO-Vrindaban, caring for the cows at the milking barn full-time. His wife assists him alongside taking care of her daughters, offering mangala arati at the temple and helping ISKCON New Vrindaban with landscaping.

Every day, Ananda Vidya rises, chants most of his japa at home, then makes his way down to the barn to start milking the cows at 7:00am. Between two milkings, cleaning the barn of dung, making sure the cows are fed and watered, and churning butter, his day is full, usually ending at 8pm.

Out of New Vrindaban’s fifty cows, oxen and bulls, Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi care for nine milking cows. They know them all by name. Laksmi, Surabhi, Yamuna, Asha, Parvati, and Usha are currently being milked, while Malati, Sita and Manjari are all pregnant. The couple also care for the calves until they’re weaned at four to six months with Vamsika, Jaya Radhe, Subhadra, and little bull Madhu currently under their wing.

Milking the cows takes an hour and a half. Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi try to milk as many as they can by hand. As they milk, they play Srila Prabhupada lectures, Chaitanya Charitamrita recordings by New Vrindaban’s own Damodara Das, or the morning program over the radio.

The cows yield around twenty gallons of milk in the winter and thirty in the summer. Some of this is turned into paneer, some Ananda Vidya makes into yogurt, and some he churns into about 15 to 20 pounds of butter a week. This keeps the Deity kitchen supplied with butter and ghee, and helps supplement the devotee kitchen’s needs too.

As well as all this, in the summertime the couple teaches guests – sometimes as many as one hundred visit the goshala at once – how to milk and interact with the cows, while a priest from the temple offers “go-puja.”

Ananda Vidya and Lalita Gopi’s service is often not easy. In the wintertime temperatures regularly drop below freezing. The couple have to break the ice in the water trough so that the cows can drink. They struggle to clean the barn when the cow dung is frozen to the floor and the shovel. And they’ve had to wear heavy layers of clothes and gloves, still shivering because the freezing wind blows right through cracks in the doors and walls.

Recent developments, fortunately, have made winters more manageable. Former ECO-V project manager Mukunda Das installed foam insulation in the barn, filled up all the cracks, added a layer of paneling on the walls, and put in new insulated doors; while Mother Jayasri’s son Vasudeva Gosh donated a powerful heater, turning the barn into a warm shelter.

“We’re so grateful; now we don’t have to brace ourselves when we go out to the barn anymore,” says Ananda Vidya. “It’s been so much nicer this winter.”

He and his wife do still have to be regulated and steady, performing their service day in and day out whatever happens. “It’s a bit like Deity worship,” says Ananda Vidya. “You have to be there at a specific time, twice a day, no matter what. Whatever struggles there are in your mind, you just have to surrender.”

But Krishna’s cows make any hardships surmountable.

“They’re the most loving animals,” Lalita Gopi says. “They just give. And they take care of each other – they’re so affectionate. The calves actually play games – I’ve seen them play tag, and run races, all starting in a line and belting across the field like little kids! I can understand why Krishna loves His cows so much.”

“Most people don’t get a chance to interact with cows on a regular basis – but they’re missing out, because there’s a really natural relationship between humans and cows,” adds Ananda Vidya. “They just calm you down if you’re stressed out. Being around them takes the edge off of life. And what’s more, they’re emblems of the mode of goodness – getting a chance to serve them directly has given me a lot of realizations about Vrindavan and Lord Krishna.”

He grins. “We invite you to visit us and the cows and experience it all for yourself!”

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 02/26/2017


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens Prabhupada

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 02/26/2017

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

Participating Directors: Chaitanya Mangala, Kripamaya, Ranaka, Sri Tulasi Manjari (Chair) & Vraja.

Participating Advisors: Jaya Krsna

Participating Managers: Ranaka & Nitaicandra

Recording Secretary: Kripamaya

1. 2017 Farm Conference

The ISKCON North American Farm Conference will take place in New Vrindaban Oct. 13-15, 2017. Sri Tulasi Manjari has been meeting with the Farm Conference Planning Committee on an ongoing basis.

2. Ranaka’s Monthly Report

  • Bhagavan, Gintaras and Jai Nitai completed most of the electrical upgrade project at the Temple Barn. This project included putting L.E.D. floodlights in front of the barn.
  • Six cows are currently being milked at the Temple Barn. The cows are delivering approx. twenty gallons of milk a day. Three heifers also reside at the Temple Barn.
  • Ray has been working at Gopal’s Garden school to expand the classroom facilities.
  • Ray also repaired the GMC truck at the Temple Barn and with Ranaka’s help repaired one of the old tractors.
  • The new tractor for the Nandagram farm arrived. This tractor is more environmentally friendly than many of the older models.
  • Ray moved manure from the Temple Barn to the Community Garden area.
  • One of our cows, Dantari, was transported to the O.S.U. veterinarian hospital and had a cancerous tumor removed from her brain. She can now see more clearly.
  • ECO-V’s new mailing address is 164 Surabhi Lane, Wheeling WV 26003.

3. Nitaicandra’s Monthly Report

  • Chaitanya Bhagavat repaired posts for the new ox paddock and bull pen that will be constructed soon at Nandagram. As weather permits Chaitanya Bhagavat has also been training the oxen.
  • Suchandra has been working in the flower gardens. She has been mostly focusing on putting up fencing for pest control.
  • Nitaicandra has been working with Anuradha to put together hands-on work stations and presentations for the Festival of Inspiration. Such presentations will include compost & soil building, planting, preserving and identifying wild herbs.
  • Nitaicandra is helping to develop a gardening outreach program with local schools in collaboration with Lalita Gopi.

4. Reallocation of Village Association Funding

WHEREAS: The Village Association reports it no longer needs funding for a liaison part time salary, previously approved by ECO-V in June 2016, because Lakshmi Honest agreed to serve as the Village Association liaison on a volunteer basis.

RESOLVED: The ECO-V Board authorizes broadening the use of these funds for additional purposes, including paying legal the costs required to start a new non-profit association and covering costs of monthly gatherings.

5. Monthly Joint Board Meetings

The Joint Board meetings now include the Village Council.  So far there have been two meetings, which have primarily focused on sorting out ways in which the Village Council and the Board members will interact in an ongoing basis.

6. Herd Share Program Update

The West Virginia Alliance for Raw Milk met with West Virginia State legislators and found out that Herd Share programs can now legally operate in West Virginia. The next step is for ECO-V’s management team and INV to put together a Herd Share agreement (with the help of a lawyer) and file that agreement with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

7. Internal Funding Request: Additional $500 for Spring 2017 Shirts

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

RESOLVED: The Board approves up to an additional $500 as a budget for plaques and t-shirts to distribute during the March 2017 meeting weekend.

Open Invitation to the 6th Service Appreciation Ceremony in New Vrindaban


You are cordially invited to a service appreciation ceremony.

Honorees: Kelly J. Howard Carter, Tejomaya & Kelly, Advaita & Madri.

When: Sunday March 26th, 2017

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

Where: Community Hall, under the Palace Lodge

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

Kelly J. Howard Carter

 

Tejo & Kelly

Tejo & Kelly

 

Advaita Madri New Vrindaban ISKCON

Advaita and Madri

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 01/29/2017


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 01/29/2017

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

Participating Directors: Anuttama, Chaitanya Mangala, Kripamaya, Ranaka, Sri Tulasi Manjari (Chair) and Vraja.

Participating Advisors: Bhima, Devala and Jaya Krsna

Participating Managers: Nitaicandra

Recording Secretary: Jamuna Jivani

1. Bahulaban Barn Community Center Proposal Update

Based on conversations with the health department, concerns over fire code, & considering the main use of the building is to serve cows, etc., the ECO-V Board decided the second floor of the Bahulaban Barn is not an appropriate space for a proposed community center.

2. Finalized 2016 Operating Budget

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

RESOLVED: The Board approves a finalized operating budget of $323K for 2016.

3. 2017 Operating Budget Approval

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

RESOLVED: The Board approves an operating budget of $350K for 2017.

4. Ranaka’s Monthly Report

  • A new calf was born at the Temple Barn
  • The cows are producing 20 gallons per day, which is being used as milk, ghee and butter
  • Three cows are expecting this year
  • Ray finished what he can do on the electrical work at the Temple Barn. Now Bhagavan will finish the job.
  • Ranaka completed the end-of-the-year payroll and the auditor came to review
  • He spent time researching a new tractor
  • The new ECO-V address will be finalized soon
  • He has been advertising hay for sale
  • To stay out of the cold weather, Ray has been working on the school and at the ghee plant

5. Nitaicandra’s Monthly Report

  • At Nandagram, Caitanya Bhagavat has been regularly working with the oxen and he is training and caring for young Madhu.

6. 2017 Farm Conference Update

Sri Tulasi participated in a meeting where the event organizers discussed the topics for presentation, made a list of farms (both ISKCON and otherwise), and decided the theme to be “Back to the Basics.” Madhava Smullen wrote an article about the conference that will be posted on ISKCON News and other sites on the internet.

7. New Tractor Funding Request

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

RESOLVED: The ECO-V Board approves up to $55K for the purchase of a new tractor for use at the Nandagram Farm.

8. Gopal’s Garden School Funding Request

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

RESOLVED: The ECO-V Board approves up to $10K for building renovations to the school building.

9. Joint Board Meeting Review

The ECO-V Board recapped the new tri-group meeting. The Directors who participated agreed the first meeting was overall positive and also allowed room for improvement as the month’s progress.

10. ISKCON Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture Funding Request

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to support cow protection and local agriculture efforts throughout ISKCON.

RESOLVED: The ECO-V Board approves up to $5K towards the expenses of the ISKCON Minister of Cow Protection and Agriculture with the following stipulations:

  • When appropriate, it should be made known that ECO-V is a sponsor
  • The Minister should ask the locations he is visiting to help with travel expenses
  • The Minister should provide ECO-V with an end-of-year report on how the grant was used.

11. New Vrindaban Folklorist Funding Request: $17.5K

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to support the documentation of New Vrindaban’s history.

RESOLVED: The ECO-V Board allocates up to $17.5K for the New Vrindaban Oral History and Folklorist Project with the following stipulations:

  • The interview questions be reviewed by an expert
  • A professional archivist be consulted
  • A professional videographer be consulted

Spring 2017 Open Invitation: March 24, 25 & 26, 2017


New Vrindaban Land of Krishna

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

MARCH 24th, 25th & 26th WEEKEND ACTIVITY SCHEDULE:

Friday, March 24th

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

Saturday, March 25th

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 & Gopal’s Garden Presentations (under Lodge)

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

3:30 pm to 6:00 pm: Community Dialog (under Lodge. Tentatively two topics: 1. A Foundation for the New Vrindaban Village Association: Rights and Responsibilities; 2. Rover Pipeline Discussion; possibly additional topics, TBD.)

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

Sunday, March 26th

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

11:00 am to 1:00 pm: Parikrama Tour (Tentative stops: Madhuban, Vrindaban, Yoga Shala, & possibly additional locations, TBD. Weather permitting.)

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

3:30 pm to 6:30 pm: Service Appreciations (under the Lodge. Honorees: Kelly Carter Howard, Tejo & Kelly, & Advaita & Madri)

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

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 01-22-2017


ECO-Vrindaban New Vrindaban ISKCON cows gardens

ECO-Vrindaban Board Meeting Minutes 01-22-2017

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

Participating Directors: Anuttama, Bhima (Chair), Chaitanya Mangala, Kripamaya, Ranaka and Sri Tulasi Manjari.

Recording secretary: Jamuna Jivani

1. Directorship Renewal

Chaitanya Mangala was re-elected to a three-year term as a Board Member.

2. Directorship Renewal

After serving an initial one year term, Sri Tulasi Manjari was re-elected to a three-year term as a Board Member.

3. New Director

After serving one year as a Board Advisor, Vraja Johnson was elected to an initial one-year term as a Board Member.

4. Bhima’s Retirement as Director and Chair & Selection as Advisor

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to simultaneously honor Bhima’s three years of volunteer service to ECO-Vrindaban and to keep him involved in a consultative capacity.

RESOLVED: The Board accepts Bhima’s retirement as a Board Member and Chairperson and selects Bhima as Advisor for a one-year term.

5. Sri Tulasi Manjari as Board Chair

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to fill the vacant position of Chairperson.

RESOLVED: The Board designates Sri Tulasi Manjari as the ECO-V Chairperson for one year, ending after the January 2018 annual meeting.

6. Radha-Krishna’s Retirement as Board Advisor

The Directors expressed their thanks for Radha-Krishna’s service as an Advisor and will send her a letter of appreciation.

7. Jaya Krsna to Continue as Advisor

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

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

8. Devala as a New Advisor

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

RESOLVED: The Board invites Devala as an Advisor for a one-year term.

9. Annual Renewal of Officer Roles

WHEREAS: The ECO-V Board wishes to fill the officer roles for 2017.

RESOLVED: The Board designates Kripamaya as the ECO-V President for one year, ending after the January 2018 annual meeting.

ALSO RESOLVED: The Board designates Ranaka as the ECO-V Secretary and Treasurer for one year, ending after the January 2018 annual meeting.

Pujari Sanga Inspires North American Priests


 

Pujari Sanga Inspires North American Priests

By:  for ISKCON News

Malati Devi shares stories of Srila Prabhupada and Deity worship

Pujaris from all over North America gathered in New Vrindaban, West Virginia in January to gain inspiration, support and training from two events organized by the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry: the inaugural North American Head Pujari Sanga, followed by the third annual Weekend Pujari Training.

First off, twenty-one head pujaris and deity department managers from seventeen temples gathered for the Head Pujari Sanga, from January 3rd to 5th.

Proceedings began with attendees taking the time to get to know each other, brainstorming and discussing what they wanted to achieve during a one-hour orientation, as a major goal of the sanga was for pujaris to develop lasting relationships amongst each other.

The group then had a forty-five-minute teleconference with Global ISKCON Deity Worship Minister Nrsimha Kavacha Das, who elaborated on the various roles and responsibilities of a head pujari.

This was followed by the pujaris identifying some of the universal challenges they shared in their service, and how to overcome them.

“For instance, at the top of the list is the shortage of pujari teams to cover the worship in many temples,” says North American Deity Worship Minister Jayananda Das, who led the Sanga. “Many head pujaris find themselves having to pick up a lot of additional service. So we discussed how, when devotees come forward to get involved in their temples, we can have a proactive focus on getting them engaged in their deity departments.”

The head pujaris also shared best practices. Assistant head pujari from ISKCON Los Angeles Vaninatha Raya Das, for example, explained how whenever an offering or arati is late, it is recorded and posted on the wall, so that the issue can later be addressed to improve punctuality.

North American Deity Worship Minister Jayananda Das speaks to the head pujaris

Meanwhile second-generation pujari Sri Caitanya Hari Das from Vancover shared how his department handles the common problem of deity jewelry being haphazardly put away and left in a disorganized state. Instead of leaving the task to the evening pujari, who is already exhausted from a long day, they set it aside for someone else to come in and properly organize it the next morning. Many representatives from other temples expressed their eagerness to try this system too.

The next day, Braja Bihari Das of ISKCON Resolve led a three-hour workshop entitled “Getting to the Heart of Conflict and Communications for Head Pujaris.” Among the many interpersonal challenges for pujaris discussed were those between younger and older generations, who came into the service with vastly different moods and training.

“A better understanding of conflict resolution helps these challenges,” says Jayananda. “For example, a central point was that we make so many assumptions about others that are often incorrect. But if head pujaris ask open-ended questions, and try to come to an understanding of what someone’s interests are, rather than just opposing their position, then we can often come to a collaborative solution. It’s important to get beyond the ‘I win, you lose’ mentality to a ‘win-win’ approach.”

Later that afternoon, Malati Devi, who played a key role in the beginning of deity worship in ISKCON and is still hugely supportive of deity worship in North America, led a team-building exercise. Called “Bundle of Sticks,” it showed how pujaris working together in cooperation are much stronger than they are going at it alone. Malati also shared some of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on deity worship.

Finally, there was a brainstorming session about what head pujaris needed to be more successful in their service, and how the North American GBC and Deity Worship Ministry could support and assist them.

On the last day of the sanga, Jayananda facilitated more sharing of best practices, and discussed some of the Deity Worship Ministry’s current efforts and future goals. These included the Ministry recently taking up management of a deity dressmaking shop in Mayapur that aims to make deity outfit creation an internal operation.

“Currently ISKCON Temples worldwide pay literally millions annually to outside businesses for their deity dresses,” says Jayananda. “We would like to scale the shop’s operations up so that it can handle demand, allowing us to be able to keep it inside the ISKCON family.”

The shop will be headed up by Ananda Lila Dasi, who considers deity dressmaking a personal passion and has been serving and teaching at the Mayapur Academy for many years. Profits will go towards supporting ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry’s training efforts around the world as well as new school buildings in Mayapur.

Graduates from the Pujari Training Seminar 

Concluding the Head Pujari Sanga, everyone discussed how best to stay connected, and Jayananda resolved to develop an internal website featuring informational documents and relevant Srila Prabhupada quotes. He also plans to set up a Google Group so that head pujaris across North America can post questions and continue to share best practices.

Afterwards, head pujaris who attended were effusive in their feedback. “As a second generation devotee, who now finds myself in a managerial role within our community of Vancouver, Canada – this was one of the most enlivening and engaging experiences I’ve had since coming on board,” said Sri Caitanya Hari Das.

“I feel completely recharged, inspired, and determined to do better,” said Indulekha Dasi from ISKCON Boston.

ISKCON Miami head pujari Dharma Das – the seniormost head pujari in North America, having consistently served the Miami deities for well over forty years – said, “I sometimes become a little overwhelmed with so  much service at our temple. Being at this meeting helped me realize that the problems that we experience at ISKCON Miami are also experienced almost everywhere.”

And Prana-Hari Das of ISKCON Denver said, “This sanga unified head pujaris across North America so that we can work together to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desires concerning Deity worship in ISKCON.”

After the Head Pujari Sanga, thirty-three devotees attended the third annual Weekend Pujari Training from Friday January 6th through Sunday the 8th. They came from all over the country and ranged from young new bhaktas and bhaktins to senior pujaris – some head pujaris stayed to brush up on their skills.

The most thorough deity worship training offered in North America today, the three-day program included nearly twenty hours of training. The first half covered the foundational and theoretical aspects of deity worship – why we do it, what are its benefits, qualifications required, and the position of the spiritual master.

The second half was practical, with demonstrations on how to perform acamana, wake the deities and put them to rest, offer bhoga and arati, and perform festival abhisekhas. The grand finale consisted of a demonstration of an elaborate sixteen-item puja to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.

Jayananda hopes to offer the Weekend Pujari Training again in April or May 2018, once again at New Vrindaban, which he finds to be an ideal location. “ISKCON New Vrindaban offers perhaps the best facilities for accommodating multiple guests of any temple in North America, and they are very supportive and accommodating,” he says.

For Jayananda, providing all this training and support for pujaris is essential. “Deity worship is a core activity of our vaidhi sadhana bhakti,” he says. “And we see how Srila Prabhupada put so much effort into establishing temples and deities all around the world. So it’s of utmost importance that we do our best to serve the Lord favorably and to the best of our abilities. And systematic training goes a long way to that end!”

New Vrindaban to Host 2017 ISKCON North America Farm Conference


New Vrindaban to Host 2017 ISKCON North America Farm Conference

By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON New Vrindaban Communications

Sunflowers grown in New Vrindaban gardens

New Vrindaban is set to host the second annual ISKCON North America Farm Conference from October 13th to 15th this year.

The GBC Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture, which organized conferences on simple living in four continents last year, is behind the event. The conference, themed “Back to the Basics,” will be facilitated by ECO-Vrindaban and ISKCON New Vrindaban.

Organizers include ISKCON Minister for cow protection and agriculture Kalakantha Das; ECO-Vrindaban board chairperson Sri Tulasi Manjari Dasi; volunteer coordinator Mukunda Das; ISKCON Alachua’s Save the Cow program co-director Kesihanta Das; and Gita-Nagari farm representative Keshi Mardana Das.

Representatives from thirty farming efforts all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico will be invited. The conference will feature presentations, demonstrations and hands-on workshops held onsite at different cow protection and agricultural facilities throughout New Vrindaban. Topics will include cow care, oxen training, planting, cover cropping, disease control, greenhouses, and organic pest control.

The main goal of the conference is to help facilitate a network of support amongst established and aspiring devotee farmers, gardners and cow protectors.

Sunflowers grown in New Vrindaban gardens

“We’re all so spread out, so if we start building relationships, it might just make farming a little bit easier,” says co-organizer Sri Tulasi Manjari. “For instance, one farmer might say, ‘I did this for my cow when it got mastisis,’ and another might share, ‘I use this soap to get rid of aphids.’ It creates a support network where we can just call or email someone who might know the answer to a problem, saving each farmer from having to learn everything from scratch.”

The conference also aims to inspire devotees who are not yet pursuing the simple life to make some effort towards it.

“We hope to raise awareness that farming is an important part of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions,” says Sri Tulasi. “And we’d like to encourage devotees in North America to take up some form of agriculture, whether it be growing flowers for their Deities, starting a local community garden, or working together to protect cows.”

The ‘Back to the Basics’ conference at New Vrindaban is just one of a worldwide series of Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture conferences this year, which will include gatherings in Nova Gokula, Brazil, New Vraja Dhama, Hungary, and more.

“ISKCON New Vrindaban and ECO-Vrindaban are pleased to host this conference in hopes to inspire as many devotees as possible to engage in farming,” Sri Tulasi beams.

To see the full list of previous and upcoming ISKCON farm conferences around the world, visit http://farmconferences.iskcon.co/

For regular updates, visit the ECO-Vrindaban Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ECOVrindaban

To find out more, visit the ISKCON GBC Ministry of Agriculture and Cow Protection at https://www.facebook.com/imcpa/?fref=ts

ECO-Vrindaban logo

Introducing Dr. Vignesh Ramanathan


This is to introduce Dr. Vignesh Ramanathan who has very kindly agreed to visit New Vrindaban on a regular basis to take care of the residents’ health care needs. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and currently works at United Hospital Center, Bridgeport, WV where he has been on their Hospitalist staff since 2011.

Dr. Vignesh graduated from Rajah Muthiah Medical College, Chidambaram, Tamilnadu, India with MBBS degree in 2002. He moved to the United States in 2004.  He did an internship in Internal Medicine in Washington, D.C. from 2005 to 2006 and subsequently joined Columbia University, New York as a Post-Doc Research Fellow from 2006 to 2008. Following this, he completed a three-year Residency in Internal Medicine from Albert Einstein University-Montefiore Hospital, New York in 2011. He has been in his current position at United Hospital Center since then.

Dr. Vignesh will give us advance notice of at least two weeks before his visits. This will give us ample time to make appointments with him. He will be seeing patients in the Wellness Center. He plans to initially visit on a monthly basis and will provide his email address and mobile phone number to the patients who see him in case they need to contact him.

Please welcome him to New Vrindaban in the traditional Brijbasi spirit of love and devotion.

Department Reports in New Vrindaban Show Continued Progress Towards Prabhupada’s Vision


By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON New Vrindaban Communications

Kicking off ECO-Vrindaban and ISKCON New Vrindaban’s end-of-year Joint Board Meetings, their Department Head Reports on Saturday November 12th were uplifting to members of the community who attended the open event.

Showing steady progress towards Prabhupada’s vision, the reports also revealed that the past half a decade’s concerted efforts at rebuilding New Vrindaban are gradually beginning to move past upgrading existing facilities, and onto new and exciting ventures.

Jaya Krsna ISKCON New Vrindaban ECO-Vrindaban Gopal's Garden

Jaya Krsna Das offers an introduction a the start of the Fall 2016 reports.

In his introduction, ISKCON New Vrindaban Temple President Jaya Krsna Das laid out a mission to attentively follow Prabhupada’s instructions for the community; to care deeply for visitors, cows, Sri Sri Radha Vrindabanchandra and one another; to cooperate with residents, management and ISKCON’s international leadership; and to one day see every devotee in North America and beyond proud of and honored to be associated with New Vrindaban.

Starting the reports, Brihat Kirtan Das, who became Devotee Kitchen manager in spring 2016, thanked ECO-V’s Nitaicandra Das for familiarizing him with the fresh produce available to use. He added that the kitchen has also been using ghee from protected cows and brown sugar instead of white sugar; and has purchased a commercial oven that can bake much larger batches at once.

The Guest Lodge, managed by Gaura Bhakta Das, has added nine new ground-floor rooms with attached bathrooms and handicapped access. These have dramatically improved the guest experience at New Vrindaban. The lodge has also introduced a new reservation system for online bookings, and furnished its welcome center with a new ATM, reception desk and sofa chairs.

 

Gopisa ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's Palace of Gold

Gopisa Das reporting on the recent renovations at Srila Prabhupada’s Palace

Reporting on Prabhupada’s Palace Restoration, Gopisa Das said that the new rose and black granite front steps have been completed. The outer wall’s saffron topping and ornate black window frames are finished, and the wall itself is nearing completion. The Palace parking lot has been expanded and given clearly demarcated handicapped parking spaces. And Prabhupada’s kitchen is about to be fully updated, so that his resident pujari can cook daily offerings onsite. Gopisa also showed initial architectural plans for simple homes based on Prabhupada’s recommendations for an affordable small housing community within New Vrindaban.

Vrajadhama ISKCON New Vrindaban Prabhupada's Palace of Gold

Vrajadhama Das speaks about the team serving Srila Prabhupada at his Palace.

Next, Prabhupada’s Palace manager Vrajadhama Das talked about how the Palace’s growing team has maintained monthly Prabhupada Sangams for devotees; introduced First Friday kirtans for the public; repainted gold-leafing; opened a new smoothie shack; and renovated a room in the Palace for resident pujari Srinama Das. They have also increased tourism and social media presence, and applied to register the Palace as a historic building. This will draw more interest and possibly make the Palace eligible for grants to help with renovations.

Meanwhile, at Govinda’s Restaurant, Vasudeva Das reported a 15% increase in patronage since last year. There’s a new kitchen manager, Dinamani Das, and floor manager, Bhaktin Mar, who have introduced new dishes like burritos, tacos, nachos and Philly sandwiches. There’s a new Point-of-Sale system, which has streamlined ordering for better service. And the outside snack bar, with an improved menu, was kept open throughout the season.

Gaurnatraj ISKCON New Vrindaban

Gaurnatraj Das shares information about Congregational Development.

In Congregational Development, Gaurnatraj Das has built a strong team who serve pilgrims and guests. He reported an increase in pilgrims; upcoming yoga, astrology and meditation programs in the spring; and a successful Damodarastakam program in which devotees offered lamps on behalf of long-distance congregation members. He also reported that the team has raised almost a third of the funds needed for the new Yoga Sanctuary; and has traveled the country installing Deities in congregation members’ homes.

In Devotee Care, Sukhavaha Dasi has been facilitating coaching, yoga classes, massage, aromatherapy, and sessions with visiting doctors at the new Wellness Center. She has also researched all products being purchased by ISKCON New Vrindaban’s different departments and found the best locations and prices for them, thus consolidating purchasing and saving the temple thousands of dollars.

Next Vrindavan Das reported on two departments. The Communications team has reached more than a million people through social media; redesigned the New Vrindaban website; and published over 60 articles in the Brijabasi Spirit newsletter and in ISKCON-wide media. They’ve also appeared on TV and radio many times, and have seen many articles published about New Vrindaban in local and national newspapers. They are also maintaining strong ties with the regional tourism board, local media and public interest groups.

Meanwhile Vrindavan helped oversee many Festivals throughout the year including the tenth anniversary of Kulimela and 24 Hour Kirtan, the revival of the Prabhupada Festival, the first ever Rathayatra in local town Wheeling, and yet another successful Festival of Colors.

Bhagavan Das then presented the exciting developments in Construction. In addition to the nine new Palace Lodge ground floor rooms, the guest kitchen in the temple was completely remodeled; one exterior lodge wall got all new siding and landscaping; and the prasadam hall got a new wood floor, new cabinets and sinks, and new metal dishware and cutlery.

Meanwhile the ground was broken for the planned Yoga Sanctuary on the Kusum Sarovara lakeside; the original Vrindaban farmhouse where Srila Prabhupada stayed in 1969 had a wall replaced so that it will remain structurally sound; and the new Vishnu’s Maintenance Workshop is coming up fast and should be up and running within the next couple of months.

Last but not least was the heartwarming presentation on Gopal’s Garden Homeschool Co-Op, started by Ruci Dasi.

Teachers Sundari Dasi and Mercy began by reporting on its Preschool, which they launched in April 2015. With two successful years completed, the preschool currently has seven students aged three to five and has done many fun and bonding activities with them, including a summer camp, picnics and playdates, educational excursions, and a Krishna conscious Halloween party.

Some of the children will soon be ready to graduate to kindergarten, and then on to Gopal’s Garden Elementary and Middle School, which Ananga Manjari Dasi reported on. Ruci Dasi teaches nine children aged six to thirteen with help from many community members, who teach a variety of different subjects such as music and art. New classes introduced this year included interactive science, Waldorf math, Quigon, yoga, and crotcheting.

On behalf of ECO-Vrindaban, Board member Chaitanya Mangala Das then introduced its staff and reminded all of its mission statement. “The two buzzwords we want everybody to connect with ECO-V are cows and gardens,” he said.

First off in ECO-V’s presentations was the Cow Care program with Ananda Vidya Das and Lalita Gopi Dasi, who are milking eight cows, caring for three new calves, and keeping the Deity kitchen stocked with butter and ghee. They’ve also taught hundreds of guests how to milk, engaged devotees in serving the cows, and maintained the grounds and planted flowers at the milking barn.

In the Deity Flower GardensVidya Dasi grew marigolds, zinnias, snap dragons, and dahlias at her own home and at the Teaching Garden, to provide the Deities with organic flowers. After nearly forty years of service, Vidya is soon looking to retire, and during her presentation she passed the torch to Suchandra Dasi. Born and raised in New Vrindaban, Suchandra has already worked as a gardener, taken Lowe’s training program and developed good managerial skills. Vidya ended her report with a tribute to her late husband Madhava Gosh, saying that his vision and hard work made the program possible.

Next Ox and Garden Manager Nitaicandra Das, who previously ran a farm in California, said he had learned a lot during his first full growing season in West Virginia. He battled groundhogs, rabbits, and insects to grow a successful crop including tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, herbs and berries. He has also begun construction on an inground greenhouse which will keep temperatures warm and extend the growing season into the winter. Meanwhile several teams of oxen are being trained in using yokes, learning commands and pulling logs.

Chaitanya Mangala presents Mukunda with an appreciation plaque.

Finally, Project Manager Mukunda Das showed photos of the 400 feet of fencing he had rebuilt at the Community Garden, the flower garden shed, where he installed double doors and window trims, and the milking barn, where he replaced old doors, upgraded electrics and painted steel frames that hadn’t been maintained in twenty years with protective coating. He also participated in the first North American ISKCON Farm Conference in Gita Nagari, and was a member of the steering committee that helped elect New Vrindaban’s first Village Council.

Since Mukunda is concluding his service at New Vrindaban and returning to Alachua, this was the last manager presentation he made. Thus the ISKCON New Vrindaban and ECO-Vrindaban Boards of Directors presented him and his wife Bhakti-lata Dasi with a plaque in appreciation of the two years they dedicated to helping develop New Vrindaban village.

“This year, we’ve started to turn the corner beyond long-needed upkeep, and see new construction come into the mix – like the yoga sanctuary, the Vishnu maintenance workshop, new apartments and the inground greenhouse,” says joint-board member Chaitanya Mangala Das. “And as we move forward, we’ll start seeing more and more of that. In the future, I think we’ll reflect back on 2016 as the year we turned that corner.”

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