Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Bhakti Vasudeva Swami Offers Keynote Lecture at Fort Zeelandia Surinaams Museum
By Paramatma Dasa, Zonal Supervisor, ISKCON Suriname   |  Jul 09, 2024

Bhakti Vasudeva Swami offering the keynote lecture at the Fort Zeelandia Surinaams Museum in Suriname.

On July 1st, Bhakti Vasudeva Swami was invited to offer the keynote lecture at Fort Zeelandia Surinaams Museum on the 161st anniversary commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in Suriname.

Fort Zelaandia was established in 1667 as the first  Dutch fortress in the country and is the oldest standing building in Suriname. Currently, it serves as part of the Suriname Museum, which is also the oldest museum in the country. ISKCON Suriname Temple Board Member Shanti Priya Dasa is the director. The historical museum is a UNESCO World Heritage site that serves as a remembrance of past oppression when many enslaved people were tortured and killed. On the brighter side, the museum is recognized as an institution where many historians and intellectuals now gather. Scholars focus their research on the factors and causes of slavery and what can be learned to prevent the modern-day slave trade while often forgetting the fact that everyone is helplessly a slave of their mind and senses.

Bhakti Vasudeva Swami’s lecture entitled “Real Emancipation from Mental Slavery” focused on a different perspective of slavery, emphasizing that slavery goes beyond the physical platform through the mental and even the intellect plane. Significant highlights of the lecture were:

·      To be free from slavery means that we have to liberate the mind and the senses—we are all invariably slaves to the mind and senses.

·      As long as human beings are slaves to the mind, there will always be problems, and we will never be completely free.

·      The science of sound and how it affects the mind and consciousness.

Bhakti Vasudeva Swami speaking with guests, including the museum’s Chairman of the Board (in white polo).

The Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra was introduced tactfully. By chanting it, one can liberate the mind from self-centered material concepts and come in touch with the Divine, freeing ourselves from material bondage, the root cause of suffering in the world.

The thought-provoking lecture, viewing slavery from a different perspective, deeply impacted the gathering of about 70 participants, which included many historians and intellectuals. The overall responses were positive, and many historians indicated that it was an excellent perspective to consider and delve into.

Of immense historical significance is the fact that this is the first time that the message of the Bhagavad-gita was presented at the museum by a representative of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, and the first time that Lord Krishna’s name was mentioned in a presentation. Some felt that Bhakti Vasudeva Swami’s presence and spiritual vibration cleansed the facility of the negativity that has surrounded the Fort for more than 150 years.

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