New Vrindaban Members Appreciate Each Other in Moving Ceremony

New Vrindaban Kacey Orr Appreciation Ceremony 2015

Former Garden Manager Kacey Orr with a poster of her in action in the New Vrindaban Community gardens.

By Madhava Smullen

 March 15th saw the second installment of a new tradition for New Vrindaban – holding “service appreciation ceremonies” in honor of devotees who have contributed their valuable time and effort in the development of the community.

During the first, at the ISKCON New Vrindaban and Eco-Vrindaban Board Meetings in November last year, long-time residents Madhava Gosh Dasa and his wife Vidya Dasi were honored for their more than forty years of service to the cows and gardens.

At the conclusion of this year’s spring Board Meetings, seven more devotees received attractive cherrywood plaques thanking them for their valued service.

Beginning the ceremony, ECO-V Board Chairman Bhima Dasa honored outgoing garden manager Kacey Orr for her exceptional work towards the development of local food production.

New Vrindaban ECO-Vrindaban Kacey Orr Bhima Appreciation Ceremony

Kacey receives an appreciation plaque from Bhima dasa.

Several devotees then expressed how Kacey, an experienced local farmer, had brought the community gardens through a difficult transitional phase, and in just one year attracted many volunteers, produced large quantities of vegetables used in the Deity, devotee and restaurant kitchens, and laid the groundwork to make moving forward easier.

Kacey is now going on to work with an organization that provides organic food to low income families; but she has clearly left her mark on New Vrindaban, judging by the outpouring of affection and gratitude from residents.

“Everyone who worked closely with Kacey was infected by her incredible enthusiasm – she can make anyone smile, and you could feel that her soul was really in her service,” said President Jaya Krishna Dasa. “We will keep you in our hearts, Kacey, and I hope we cross paths again.”

Next the newest Board Member of ISKCON New Vrindaban, Ananga Manjari Dasi, presented a plaque to Jamuna Dasi, who has been on the board for twenty years since 1995 and a community member since 1980.

Yamuna Ananga Manjari dasi New Vrindaban Appreciation Ceremony 2015

Jamuna dasi receives an appreciation plaque from Ananga Manjari dasi.

Everyone then shared their appreciation of Jamuna, especially her kindness, gentleness, approachability and wisdom. Board members like Anuttama Dasa were particularly grateful for her balancing the sometimes “over-abundance of testosterone” in the boardroom with her well-thought out perspectives that always put people at the forefront.

Gopalasyapriya Dasi then gave a personal example of how caring Jamuna was. Telling a story about how Jamuna had looked after her in just the way she needed when she was overstressed in her service, Gopa moved herself and many others in the room to tears. “I’m just so thankful to know her,” she said.

Incoming ECO-V Board Chair Bhima Dasa then led the group in honoring his predecessor Navin Shyam Dasa and his wife Krishna-Priya Dasi, who were unable to be there that day.

Now a U.S. attorney living in Dallas, Texas with Krishna-Priya and their two children, Navin helped the organization GEETA when it began the process of becoming ECO-V in 2010. He also helped set up the legal mechanisms by which the ECO-V board now runs, and served as its chair from 2012 to January 2015.

Appreciating Navin, devotees spoke about how he was always the calm and meticulous voice during turbulent times, making sure everything was done right and keeping everyone on course.

Navin Shyama enjoying some New Vrindaban prasadam.

Navin Shyama enjoying some New Vrindaban prasadam.

They pointed out how he also applied his sharp legal mind to thoroughly studying all Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on cow protection, and working to make sure New Vrindaban’s cow care would be sustainable into the future. And all this while caring for a young family, going through law school at Temple University full time, and graduating as valedictorian in his class!

Next, current co-GBC Anuttama Dasa thanked Malati Dasi — who was in hospital with pneumonia – for her work as co-GBC for 15 years. He noted her “unbelievable energy and enthusiasm,” her pivotal role in developing and managing Festival of Inspiration for 13 years, her global contribution as the first Vaishnavi on the GBC body, and her role on the Prabhupada’s Palace Restoration Committee.

“She has also helped the New Vrindaban community tremendously by being a great source for what Prabhupada would do or say in any given situation,” he said, while others expressed gratitude for her association and her constant stream of rare Srila Prabhupada anecdotes.

Some also spoke of her big heart. There was strong emotion in Thakura Dasa’s voice as he recounted how he had been “on the fringe” for 20 years, and no one was more important in bringing him back than Malati. “She’s one of the greatest gifts in my devotional life in a very, very long time,” he said.

Community and board members alike are praying for Malati’s health, and hope that she will continue to play an important role, giving her guidance and sharing her energy.

Malati Prabhu New Vrindaban Appreciation Ceremony 2015

Malati Prabhu

Finally, Chaitanya Mangala Dasa, a joint board member who grew up in New Vrindaban, presented Kripamaya Dasa and Krsna Bhava Dasi with a special lifetime appreciation plaque for their nearly forty years of service in the community.

Telling the story of their life of service with an accompanying slideshow, Chaitanya Mangala recounted how they both joined ISKCON in 1971, and were initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1972. They were then married in 1974 in Buffalo, New York.

After doing various services such as book distribution and fundraising, they moved to New Vrindaban in 1979 with their two children Krishna Balarama and Krishnapriya.

In the 1980s, they took care of life membership, raised their children and put on some of ISKCON’s best plays with the Brijbasi Players. In the 1990s, they managed the Palace Lodge, coordinated festivals, and ran bhakta programs.

In the 2000s, Kripamaya and Krsna Bhava worked with the cow protection and congregational departments.

Today, Kripamaya is a charter member of the board of ECO-V, which he helped start in 1998. His music classes and his wife’s art classes are treasured by children attending the Gopal’s Garden School. And together, they run the gift shop at Srila Prabhupada’s Palace, where they have also organized regular sangas in Prabhupada’s gorgeous temple room for the past two years. These sangas have brought New Vrindaban residents together to share memories and appreciations before Prabhupada’s murti, inspiring them and revitalizing relationships.

As the slideshow ended, a cavalcade of love and appreciation for the two burst forth from community members. Some devotees spoke about Krsna Bhava’s positivity, her dedication to chanting sixteen rounds a day, her excellent listening skills and her first-class cooking of bharatas, halava and malpuras for Sri-Sri Radha-Vrindabanchandra’s Tuesday morning offering.

Others talked of Kripamaya’s scholarship, the way he lights up while singing kirtan, his ambition in going back to college in his fifties to study music, and his Ramayana opera.

“They’re both really strict, dedicated devotees, and a fantastic example of the ideal,” said Jamuna, while Sankirtan Dasa called them “wonderful surrendered souls.”

In response, Krsna Bhava said, “We’re feeling very grateful for our experiences in New Vrindaban – there have been both hard times and good times to learn from. It’s always been a blessing to live close to the temple and Krishna and so many wonderful devotees.”

Kripamaya added, “We ask for the blessings of all the assembled Vaishnavas that we have many more years to serve here at New Vrindaban.”

Kripamaya Krsna Bhava New Vrindaban Appreciation Ceremony 2015

Kripamaya dasa & Krsna Bhava dasi speak during the Appreciation Ceremony.

In closing, Chaitanya Mangala, who introduced the idea of the service appreciation ceremony, recited the translation of Verse 4 from Rupa Goswami’s Nectar of Instruction, his favorite book, which discusses the six “symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.”

He then quoted the purport, where Srila Prabhupada writes: “Even in ordinary social activities, these six types of dealings between two loving friends are absolutely necessary,” and further clarifies, “The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been established to facilitate these six kinds of loving exchanges between devotees.”

“I hope it’s something we can all take to heart,” Chaitanya Mangala concluded.

And from the moving and heartwarming evening full of laughter and tears – from a community of devotees who have been through so much but continue to hold such deep love and appreciation for each other – it’s clear that many in New Vrindaban are ready to do just that.

New Vrindaban ISKCON Chaitanya Mangala leading Appreciation Ceremony

Chaitanya Mangala dasa leads the Appreciation Ceremony.

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