New Vrindaban Natural Gas Drilling Meeting Notes 9-15-08

Natural Gas Extraction in New Vrindaban Moral, Ethical and Philosophical Considerations Community Meeting, 15 September 2008

Notes taken by H G Labangalatika devi dasi (Malati’s assistant)

 Discussion revolved around basic factors of A) Our purpose and responsibility as heritors of Srila Prabhupada’s mission, and B) Prevailing reality and our best strategy given conditions we are facing.  The central philosophical issue, as enunciated by HH Varsana Swami, is yukta vairagya: will we use it, abuse it, or turn it aside?

 Attendance was good, and participation included many of devotees from the community who voiced a variety of perspectives and explored a range of considerations.  The following factors were discussed:

 ·        Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and example

o       Regarding coal, drilling into earth

o       Utilizing natural resources: how does natural gas fit into this scheme

·        Consulting the brahmanas

o        Specifically mentioned: Varsana Maharaja (who was present), Radhanatha Maharaja, Sivarama Maharaja (whose varnasrama project in Hungary is noted for its success on many levels, including socially and financially)

·        Environmental impact

o       Extent of development (compression stations, pipeline, lateral drilling)

o       Effect on local air, water

·        Terms of the leases, contracts

o       Decisions will be per individual land owners, can add clauses as desired to control specific use

o       Legal complications – could we handle a legal case against gas companies if some altercation were to occur

·        Financial considerations

o       Will the income be sufficient to make desired improvements at NV

o       How would trusts be set up and managed

o       What would be more beneficial financially over time, leasing or owning wells ourselves

·        Our ideals, purpose, mission

o       Does this represent “plain living, high thinking”, is this what we joined movement for

o       Is this ‘selling out’ or ‘being practical’

·        Positive use of income

o       For cows, for building sustainable community economy

o       Increased support for preaching projects, perhaps  even to help other ISKCON projects

·        Perception of others and its impact on our mission

o       NV as beacon or hypocrite; effect on preaching, power to inspire others

o       Will set a precedent

·        New Vrindaban in particular (conditions and community)

o       Not the best land (also per SP)

·        Examples of wealth gained and used for mission

o       Industrialists as biggest donors to major ISKCON projects (also example of SP’s instructions to Ambarisa Ford)

·        Money as the answer?

o       Community and devotee relationships as the key

o       Have had money before, but no improvement

 Statement by Varsana Maharaja:

 The three cardinal truths of Vaisnavism begin with sambandha.  We tried to limit and restrict this to mean the relationship between the jiva and God, but in truth it means also the relationship between the jiva and the environment.  Srila Prabhupada describes the extraction of coal and oil as being similar to the activities of Hiranyaksa, which resulted in the earth being thrown off its orbit.  Although gas extraction is not as immense an invasion, it is nonetheless participation in the prevailing economy and an industry of ugra-karma.   In order to be protected by the license of yukta-vairagya, the income resulting from this industry would have to be put into a trust directed toward coming back to the goal that Srila Prabhupada stood for.   We have not made headway in this direction, and we would need tremendous financial resources to break away from the prevailing economy for good and become a truly self-sustaining community.  It’s like the example of using a thorn to remove a thorn.  Socially and spiritually, we have the idealistic young people emphasizing the ugra-karmic aspect, while the older devotees are struggling to get some standard of sustainability and simplicity.  Ethically, the question is:  will this income be used to free us from ugra-karma?  We know from various lectures that the earth produces when her resources are being used if she’s pleased; and she is pleased when her resources are used in a way that is pleasing to Guru, sadhu and sastra.  If we are going to participate in ugra-karma, we must scrutinizingly evaluate how the money will be used.  There is great responsibility, but also great potential.


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Reader Comments

[…] here for a taste of the NV community discussion and here for some idea of the discussion in the broader […]

This is not the priority ‘s principe should prevail.

If the energy put in this project could be use for predication won’t be the result far more superior in quality?

Complications are not predictable but easely identified.

Iskcon could be one day assemble a council to discuss about extremely lucrative blood business which not makes diference with oil and gaz industry. Just an extreme comparison with no offense intented.

Vrajananda das , France

Type your comment here.
What would Srila Prabhupada have us do ? and why . that is the important question .