A Pleasant Surprise

A Pleasant Surprise

By Tapahpunja das

I attended the recent North American GBC/Temple Presidents Meetings in Houston held January 11-13th.   I was invited to speak about the Small Farm Training Center with special reference to the development of the Green Wheeling Initiative.  The time slot for presenting my topic entitled, “Toolbox for Building a Green Congregation,” was slated for Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m.  I expected to have to sit through a slew of boring talks, but to my delight, the information that filled my ear holes all day Friday and Saturday was so positive and uplifting that is deserves to be shared and broadcast.

Like many devotees, I had come to accept the notion that ISKCON as the embodiment of Srila Prabhupada’s mission was resigned to mediocrity, that the preaching was flat, that book distribution was dead, that the GBC is out of touch, that most temples were becoming Hindu cultural centers and that the message of Krishna consciousness was unappealing to young Westerners. What I found in Houston was quite the contrary. While there’s certainly room for improvement, ISKCON is alive and well.

Without exception, every devotee presenter—new devotee or seasoned veteran—charmed the 70 plus conference attendees with lively reports about their fields of endeavor.  From Rabindra Swarupa’s scholarly research on Srila Prabhupada to Anuttama’s closing remarks, I walked away feeling proud to belong to a worldwide community of Vaisnavas sincerely endeavoring to spread Krishna consciousness far and wide.

Here are some of the highlights in brief:

-BBT book distribution under Vaisesika’s guidance has increased by a 20% jump.

Motel Gita, the project to place Bhagavad-Gita’s is thousands of Indian owned motel rooms is booming.

-Krishna consciousness has a toe hold in Cuba thanks to Bhakti Marg Swami.

-ISKCON’ 50th anniversary in 2016 promises to be a big event.

Life Membership in ISKCON is getting a much needed face-lift.

-Krishna House in Gainsville is packed with new devotees. Kalakanta Prabhu and crew are educating and training future leaders.

ISKCON’s  growth, worldwide, as reported by Badrinarayana and Romapada Swami, is awe inspiring.

-The Festival of Colors, as Jaya Krishna Dasa explained, is getting international attention.

Kuladri Prabhu’s organizational skills in the Temple Support Office is expanding to include international responsibilities. Kuladri was honored with a standing ovation.

-ISKCON Resolve, the Child Protection Office, ISKCON Communications and Mahat Tattva’s program for brahmacari training are all making steady progress.

Amburish Dasa was a surprise visitor with positive news about completing the massive Temple Kirtan Hall and the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapura.

My own presentation on sustainability was well received. I was surprised to learn that many temples already own farmland or are planning to buy it in the near future. I was invited to travel to Seattle, where Hari Vilas has purchased 12 acres, to Denver, where Tusta Krsna has 5 vacant lots to develop into community gardens, to Houston/Dallas, where Nityananda is actively looking for a farm and to New Raman Reti (Alachua), where Mukhya Devi has set aside 12 acres for an eco-village. I ended my journey at New Talavana, the 1400 acre Mississippi farm project.

All-in-all, the one week journey was a pilgrimage, a real eye opener that blew away a lot of misconceptions and wrong headed thinking about Srila Prabhuada’s greater family of ISKCON devotees. I returned feeling invigorated and determined to make my own project, the Small Farm Training Center, a beacon of success and inspiration. ……………….Tapahpunja dasa

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Reader Comments

Dear Tapahpunjha dasa,prabhu.
So wonderful and auspicious to be refreshed in Srila Prabhupada’s service and Lord Caitanya’s Mission!
Was there any talk of an initiative to keep all Temple authorities and devotees consistently apprised of all improvements as they happen?
Your servant,
Daruka dasa

Hare Krsna Daruka das:
I’ve forwarded our inquiry to Tapahpunjah and he will get back to you.
Thank you for reading and responding.
It’s good to know that the Brijabasi Spirit is read far and wide by devotees like your good self.

Dear Tapapunjah Prabhu,

Thanks for your report. Nice to hear that you’re visiting these locations and that they are doing so well.

Your Servant,
Arya-siddhanta dasa

What were your misconceptions and wrong headed ways of thinking?

Actually, after re-reading the article, I noticed that the misconceptions and wrong headed ways of thinking seem to be listed near the beginning of the article.

Raya Nitai dasa:
i have forwarded your question to the author of the article and he will reply to your email directly. Thank you. Hare Krsna.