reported by Lilasuka dasi
Q: What is your main realization now that you’ve come to the end of your first year in NV?
A: I am more than ever convinced that NV has enormous potential. I see that due to the many sacrifices made by the devotees who lived here in the past, NV became a very powerful and beautiful holy place. NV is currently in a transformation phase. We are trying to adjust our activities based on Srila Prabhupada’s vision and instructions for NV and this includes the directions for the community in the future. We have almost completed The Master Plan, which is a big opportunity for the devotees in NV to create a new understanding in our service to SP. This Master Plan is a very useful tool that could be the key to a wonderful future for NV
Q: What did you think when you were asked to become Community President (CP) of NV?
A: I was aware from the very beginning that to be CP is a challenge. And to be CP of NV is a BIG challenge! But as soon as I came here a year ago, I received support and encouragement from many devotees inside NV. And, due to the blessings of the Vaisnavas and the mercy of Krsna, I feel we’ve made progress over the course of this year.
Q: Have you heard any feedback on this progress?
A: Yes, there have been many visitors who say that they are feeling a new, positive atmosphere. We are even receiving letters from former Brijbasis who want to return. I am not taking credit for these positive changes. Rather, they are largely the result of the sincere service of the devotees.
Q: Can you tell us some of the positive changes that have occurred over the past year?
A: Well, the morning programs are stronger with better attendance. Some old faces from NV are beginning to show up at the festivals. Pilgrims who did not visit NV the last twenty to twenty-five years are visiting us again and are offering their full support for the development of the community. Last summer (the summer of 2011) was a very good summer in terms of support from the NV extended congregation, both in visiting NV and supporting Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra financially.
Q: What are your goals for the coming year?
A: Personally, my goals for NV are to “OPTIMIZE OUR SERVICE TO KRSNA”. There are many ways to do this. We need to increase the overall consciousness, which is something that devotees are always striving for. I’d like to improve the devotional programs. I feel that it is also important to improve relationships among devotees.
As for the Master Plan goals, although there are so many varied aspects of NV, we have condensed them down to seven topics. For each of those seven topics, we have created one year goals, three year goals, and ten year goals. Of course, now we are working hard to reach those one year goals, once they are approved.
Q: Expanding the topic of the master plan, where do you see the main directions given by Srila Prabhupada for NV?
A: From my perspective, Srila Prabhupada has given instructions that NV should focus on cow protection, sustainable agriculture, a simple village life, a place of pilgrimage in the West, a place of higher learning and above all, a place for people to develop their love for Krishna. These are the topics on which the community will hopefully focus in the future.
Q: Are there any other highlights from the first year you’d like to mention?
A: NV is an attraction for devotees from all over the world. However, especially the guests from India who are in the U.S. like NV with our nice deity worship, the Palace of Gold, the beautiful landscape of the Appalachian hills with our cows, peacocks and swans. Some express that “My main temple is NV.” About 47 congregational members received initiation last year, the result of serious, dedicated preaching of the NV preachers over many years. We now have twenty bhakta vrksa groups all over the country who come together regularly for Krsna katha and Krsna kirtan. We have increased our preaching efforts strongly in offering several Srimad Bhagavatam classes, Bhagavad-Gita over the phone every week, as well as a daily Japa introduction.
Q: What about NV’s facilities?
A: We have started to improve the facilities in NV. We have put a new much-needed roof on the lodge. We’ve improved the cabins. The renovations on the temple asramas are almost finished. We have been able to at least put a stop to some of the deterioration at Prabhupada’s Palace.
Q: What are the priorities at this point?
A: I see several priorities for NV. One is working on the land, which includes protecting the cows as well as growing food.
The other priority is increasing our outreach preaching to several target groups. One target group is the many intentional communities around the country. There are many intentional communities that are functioning nicely on a material level and we would like to share our spiritual vision with them, which could add a spiritual aspect to their already operating communities.
Another target group for our outreach preaching is university students.
We are also very determined to set up an organizational structure for NV that can continue to be used long term, with empowered, dynamic leaders.
Q: So do you like living in NV?
A: Yes, in spite of the challenges, I feel at home here and I do like it. I would like to also express that I cannot fix all of NV’s problems at once. The devotees have high expectations and sometimes I wish I had a touchstone which I could use to fix the problems! For this first year, I’ve had to do a lot of hands-on work myself due to lack of manpower. I am very happy that Krsna sent us a number of very serious, dedicated devotees this spring.
Q: How can the devotees help?
A: There are many opportunities to do so many services without even being asked, such as cleaning, weeding, serving Their Lordships on the altar and many other things. Community members are also encouraged to join the temple programs and the different festivals, speak to pilgrims and guests and spread the word about NV within their network.
For everyone’s information, Sankirtan Prabhu is the Community Advocacy Council representative, the person who can be approached if someone has a specific issue that he/she wants to be represented to the management. Sukhavaha Prabhu, as representative of the devotee care team, is offering support for any devotee needs on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the library
Q: Will you post a monthly “message from the CP” on the ongoing progress?
A: Yes I would be happy to do that. I would also like to reinstate community dialogues during the season and also have regular Istha Gosthis with the temple devotees.
Q: Do you have any final words of inspiration?
A: The NV community is often seen as the heart of the ISKCON movement in the U.S.A. So if we can heal the heart, then it will have a great impact on the whole movement in North America. NV has facilities for big festivals and gatherings, is a very beautiful place and can be a big draw for devotees, friends of Krsna and people form North America and all over the world.
I think the Palace will once again be a big draw for Americans. We plan to develop a nice exposition of Srila Prabhupada’s life at the Palace for the purpose of creating a better understanding of SP’s mission for people in general. Krsna is kindly allowing us at NV to serve Him in so many ways. The future of NV is bright.
Q: Thank you very much, Jaya Krsna Prabhu.