ISKCON’s 8th ELM (European Leaders Meetings), held from October 2 – 3 in Villa Vrindavana, Italy this year, yielded inspiring news on the year's accomplishments, as well as some exciting new plans.
For our ISKCON News readers, here’s a taster:
New Business Administration Degree Proposed for Bhaktivedanta College
Dinadayal Dasa’s proposal for a new Bachelor’s Degree in Business Adminstration at Bhaktivedanta College is likely to attract support. Although the College already offers a three-year B.A. accredited by the University of Wales, Lampeter, it is a theology degree. Therefore, Dinadayal said, it will rarely lead to secure careers, a great concern of today’s devotees—and especially ISKCON’s second generation.
The proposed new Business Administration degree, however, would teach students how to earn money and develop their own businesses. Candidates would learn how to be successful both materially and spiritually, how to apply spiritual principles in business, and how to manage based on the teachings of spiritual classics the Mahabharata and Bhagavad-gita. The program, called Spiritual Economics and Management, would be held online only from 2010 to 2013, with on campus study available after 2013.
ISKCON Communications Europe Connects with Important Interfaith Figures
A special report from ISKCON Communications’ European director Mahaprabhu Dasa revealed an impressive list of achievements by IC Europe in 2009. On the internal front, a European Seminar, led by International IC director Anuttama Dasa, was held at Villa Vrindavan; while IC Europe helped France, the UK, Spain, Italy and Holland to start their own national Communications offices.
Meanwhile IC Europe also connected with many notable external organizations. Members participated in Geneva’s International Anti Cult Conference; met with the vice director of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Rome; and participated in two debriefings of the Commission for faith organizations in Europe. They also met with the director of the Catholic European Affairs office in Brussels, and attended two conferences at the European Parliament.
Mahaprabhu also outlined statistics relating to each European country and encouraged each to have its own communications director. “Communications is not a luxury—it is a crucial need in furthering Lord Chaitanya’s movement,” he said.
Govinda’s Ireland Manager Advises Restaurant Start-up Strategies
GBC member Praghosa Dasa detailed the success of Ireland’s three Govinda’s restaurants, all based in Dublin—a city of only one million. Fully financially supporting Dublin’s ISKCON center, they draw hundreds of happy, repeat customers, and ensure that the words ‘Govinda’s’ and ‘Hare Krishna’ are well-known and liked around the city.
Praghosa explained why restaurants are ideal for bringing people to Krishna consciousness. “They get people in the door,” he said, “And often have them progressing from cooking classes, to yoga, to philosophy, to devotion.” Concluding his presentation, he outlined strategies for other devotees to start their own restaurants.
Reviving ISKCON France
A major highlight of the Meetings was Hridaya Chaitanya Dasa’s presentation on Renouveau du Yatra Francais, an initiative to revive ISKCON in France started four years ago by Sivarama Swami and Praghosa Dasa.
On August 2, deities of Radha Krishna, Gaura-Nitai, and Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra were moved from a small house at Noisy Le Grand to an attractive three-story chateau-style building in Sarcelles Village. Their first Janmastami at the new temple was attended by hundreds.
The project also features a nearby guesthouse, that can accommodate twenty devotees and often attracts international guests.
French devotees have also established Centre Culturel Bhaktivedanta at St. Michel in the center of Paris, where they hold regular conferences on Bhakti Yoga, Ayurveda, Vegetarianism and Bhajans. Additionally, the “I Love India” Concert is held every two months at yoga ashramas, featuring chanting, Vedic philosophy, sacred vegetarian food and books by Srila Prabhupada.
All in all, Renouveau du Yatra Francais is an inspiring change for devotees in France and around the world, after years of struggle in the country.
Check back with ISKCON News later for more in-depth articles on this and other topics discussed at the European Leaders Meetings.
[ bhaktivedanta-college ] [ europe ] [ italy ]