ISKCON devotees attended the annual Governor's Interfaith Prayer Breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this month. There, ISKCON Phoenix temple president Bhava Dasa, as well as communications director Dr. Prayag Narayan Mishra, met with Governor Janet Napolitano and a distinguished group of two hundred and fifty religious leaders.
The event is a regional variation of the famous National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., hosted by the United States Congress and attended by some 3,500 guests from one hundred countries.
“It’s an effort to bring all religions together under one banner, but it’s more than that too,” says communications director Dr. Mishra. “It was designed specifically to seek the Lord’s guidance and strength, to reaffirm our faith and to renew our Nation’s dedication to God.”
Temple president Bhava Dasa says, “I was pleasantly surprised by how well we were received. Not only by the government, but by the representatives of different religions as well. After the speeches, as everyone mingled, people would approach us, say, “Hare Krishna,” and discuss a little philosophy with us. It was a suitably formal, yet relaxed atmosphere for this type of exchange.”
Afterwards, the devotees, who have participated in the interfaith breakfast since its inception in 2003, invited Governor Janet Napolitano to attend the Janmastami Festival at their Phoenix temple on August 23.
Napolitano has shown her support for the Hare Krishna community for several years now, having issued two proclamations for Janmastami in 2006 and 2007.
“Whereas Sri Krishna Janmastami is the largest and most important festival among Hindus all over the world, and has been celebrated for the past 5,000 years,” read the 2007 proclamation.
It continued, “Now, therefore, I, Janet Napolitano, Governor of the State of Arizona, do hereby recognize September 4, 2007 as Sri Krishna Janmastami Day, and wish peacefulness and joyful observance of this day by Hindus throughout Arizona and across the world.”
The governor also attended a Harinama – chanting of God’s names – in downtown Phoenix last year, greeting devotees and posing for photos. She also mentioned Harinamas in her proclamations, stating that in holding them, devotees were “Sharing love and joy of the community as a whole.”
Janet Napolitano has been governor of Arizona since 2002, and is an extremely prominent figure. In November 2005, Time magazine named her one of the five best governors in the U.S. She is also rumored to be one of Barrack Obama’s top choices for vice president should he win the election later this year.
“Janet is a great leader, and does a lot for the people of Arizona,” says Bhava Dasa. “And of course it’s an added bonus that she’s so favorable to ISKCON. We’re lucky to have her.”