College Students Visit New Vrindaban and More

It’s been a hectic six weeks for Sankirtana Das, New Vrindaban’s resident storyteller and college liaison. During this time, he hosted a half dozen student groups visiting the community. Sankirtana Das explained, “One of the student groups who visited New Vrindaban were from a Christian College here in West Virginia. I thought they would be a little skeptical, but I was delighted when they danced with such enthusiasm during the arati. All the devotees at the kirtana did a great job of engaging them in the service. ” (read student comments below).


Sankirtan das

Sankirtan das

Sankirtana also traveled to two colleges to present “Why & How the Hare Krishna Movement Came to America,” his media presentation of 130 pictures commemorating the 50th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America. “The program was well received,” Sankirtana said, “and more colleges have scheduled the program for the fall.”


Another trip took him and his wife Ruci dd to Shepherdstown, WV. There, Sankirtana offered a program of Vedic Stories (katha) for an audience of almost 70. Afterwards, the audience (many affiliated with the college in town) enjoyed cookies made at Govinda’s, our vegetarian restaurant, and received Palace of Gold brochures. Ruci was surprised when about a half dozen people told her that they had already been to the Palace. “That’s almost ten per cent of the audience,” she said, “and others promised to visit.” The town is the oldest in West Virginia and home to Shepherdstown University. From there, Sankirtana and his wife journeyed to the Philadelphia ISKCON Temple where he did an evening program for a group of thirty.


Besides all this, Sankirtana Das is working on writing and researching material for a new book, as well recording and editing his soon to be released audio CD on stories of Hanuman. For info about Sankirtana’s award-winning book Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest see


College Student Experiences of New Vrindaban

Overall I really enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Hare Krishna center and see how Hindus live their lives. It was really neat that they welcomed us so energetically and that they were truly happy to show and tell us about their religion and culture. The people at the Islam and Jewish centers weren’t nearly as welcoming as the Hindus were.

I’ve never known much about the Hindu religion until this class and this experience, but the extravagant artwork at the palace was definitely my favorite part. Something we talked about in class was that Hindus claim to live simple, non extravagant lives, yet they have this huge golden palace in their community, and they put so much time and effort into their shrines to the gods. While I understand how this could confuse people, I also kind of understand it. Worshipping their gods is the most important thing to Hindus and they believe the best way to do this is to dedicate shrines and temples that are heavily decorated to show their love and devotion.

A really interesting thing I find about this religion is all of the interesting stories and tales they have as their history. The stories remind me of Greek and Roman mythology and it was really interesting to listen to some of them as we were getting a tour of the Palace. I would really like to read some of the accounts in the Bhagavad Gita and learn more about what Hindus think really happened in history. I respect their religion because they are open to all other religions as well. They don’t discriminate or hate like many other religions do and that’s a rare quality for a religion.

During their worship service it was intriguing to watch the members and how they participate. There was a lot of dancing and chanting for a solid thirty minutes; it almost looked like a workout. They were really passionate and devoted in their service and I almost felt like I was at some type of party or ceremony. This type of worship, to me, is much more interesting and fun than sitting down and listening to someone talk.

I enjoyed this visit to the Hare Krishna center and I would definitely say that it was my favorite experience of the three trips we went on. It’s something that I would like to take my younger brother and sister to as a cultural learning experience and as just something fun to experience on the weekend.

This was by far my favorite trip that the class has taken so far. The Hindu community is beautiful and very interesting. From the architecture of the buildings to the homes of those who live in the community every single part was beautiful. The spirituality that was present was very strong and exciting. Each follower was very welcoming and passionate about their religion.

The thing that caught my eye was the Palace. It is amazing to think that it was built by people who did not have any knowledge about construction. The detail that was put into the building was phenomenal. I knew that the Palace was designed to be a home for Prabhupada, but I did not realize how practical the structure was. It is so big and extravagant on the outside but so practical on the inside, which is what amazed me the most. The rooms were rather small inside I almost felt as if I was in an apartment instead of a palace. I really enjoyed the tour of the Palace it was as beautiful as I had imagined it to be.

I enjoyed the worship service. I was not sure what to expect when I walked into the temple. I kept thinking about how we had to take off our shoes at the Mosque and how this custom made Hinduism similar to Islam. The temple was absolutely beautiful, the altars were amazing and very interesting. The amount of detail that went into all of the altars was mind blowing and I do not believe I have ever seen anything like it. I found it very interesting that the altars were actually changed for seasons and events. It is similar to how my home church changes the decorations on the altar for the season or holidays, so it was cool to have that comparison.

The service was very interesting and exciting, I had never experienced anything quite like it. The atmosphere of the ceremony was very intense and inviting at the same time, and it seemed to keep me engaged and interested. When I think of worship I think of sitting and hearing a lesson or prayer, I most definitely do not think about dancing. When everyone started dancing, jumping, and yelling I was caught off guard. I knew that the ceremony was definitely different and there would be a lot of dancing and chanting but I was not ready for how intense it was. Once I relaxed and started participating in the service I understood why it was so fulfilling to Hindus. It was exciting and fun to be dancing with everyone while worshiping. Of course I was not worshiping Hare Krishna, but as others were I could see how passionate they were. The ways that they were dancing or jumping showed how much they love their religion and how thankful they are for Hare Krishna.

After experiencing Hinduism first hand I have a deeper understanding for the religion. I always thought it was the typical worshipping of idols and cows, but it is most definitely more than that. It is a true religion just like Christianity. Each Hindu strongly believes in Hare Krishna just like every Christian believes in Jesus Christ. Hinduism is a very welcoming, loving, and fun religion that I believe is misunderstood.

Of all the places we have visited so far, I think that the Hare Krishna Center in New Vrindaban was the most entertaining. Their buildings were exquisite and their service was energetic. The people were all incredibly friendly, especially the gentleman giving us the tour. I liked hearing Hinduism explained by someone who actively practices the religion. I think it helped make it a little less confusing. There were several wax figures of the great Hindu teacher. This particular branch of Hindus follows Prabhupada as their guide and example, and they specifically worship Krishna as their personal god.

I would like to visit the Hare Krishna Center again sometime, and hopefully gain even more insight about Hinduism. After our tour guide’s explanation of various concepts, it was starting to make a little more sense, but there is still a lot about Hinduism that is different than Christianity and even American culture. It was a lovely and interesting experience, although a bit strange.

Our Major World Religions class went to visit the Palace of Gold, a Hindu center in Moundsville, WV. Seeing as the last visit to the mosque and the previous visit to the synagogue had gone really well, I looked forward to our visit to the Hindu center. At the temple, we were invited to participate with the Hindu believers as they worshipped their gods. Some people found this uncomfortable, while others viewed it as more of a cultural experience. Sacrifices of food were offered to the idols. That day was very chilly, and I noticed that while there were no heaters to keep the people warm, there were heaters in each of the idols’ rooms. The people at the Hindu temple were extremely friendly. As they worshipped, the Hindu believers recited the Maha Mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Throughout the service they chanted this in a sing-songy manner, while dancing. There were also people playing the drums and other instruments to accompany the singing.

I enjoyed the dancing during the service. They pull individuals, who were standing on the side, into the center of the floor. Though some did not participate, I decided to join in. It was actually really fun! I also wafted the incense over my head. After a group of girl students had formed a large enough circle, the older Hindu women brought some of their little girls into the center of our circle, the younger girls creating a dance circle of their own within ours. Even though I do not believe in Hinduism, I still admire their spirit as they praised their gods. I could really tell that they were enthusiastic about being there and excited to have us joining them.

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