It is with great sadness that we report that Reverend Dr. Kenneth R. Cracknell, a Methodist Christian scholar, theologian, professor, and friend of ISKCON passed away on October 26, 2022.
Kenneth was a was a British specialist in interfaith dialogue and the Christian theology of religions. His career included pioneering the interfaith relations work of the British Council of Churches, teaching at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and at Brite Divinity School, Texas, from where he retired in 2007 as Distinguished Professor of Theology and Global Studies.
Appointed the first head of Interfaith Relations for the British Council of Churches in 1978, Dr. Cracknell traveled around the world facilitating conversations and collaborative work between religious groups, some that had histories of animosity toward one another.
Among his many books and articles are “Justice, Courtesy and Love: Theologians and Missionaries Encountering World Religions, 1846-1914,” Epworth, 1995; “In Good and Generous Faith--Christian Response to Religious Pluralism,” Peterborough: Epworth, 2005; and “An Introduction to World Methodism,” Cambridge University Press, 2005, co-authored with his wife, Dr. Susan J. White.
Dr. Cracknell first spent time with Hare Krishna devotees in 1987, when he met
Shaunaka Rishi dasa, who was then ISKCON Ireland's Public Relations Officer. Shaunaka invited Kenneth to visit the ISKCON temple on Inis Rath, a small island in
Ireland. Staying for a week, Cracknell both learned of the history and depth of Gaudiya
Vaishnava teachings, yet challenged ISKCON, and Shaunaka, to move out of its isolationist tendencies and enter more firmly into the world of interfaith dialogue and exchange.
Shaunaka Rishi: “Kenneth was my mentor, my guru in interfaith. He was thoughtful, compassionate, bright, sensitive, and kind in all his dealings. A gentleman, a scholar, and a devotee. He did so much to help other devotees, in Europe and the US, that Krishna, also being kind, is no doubt, offering him more service and love—and always will.”
Dr. Cracknell’s first article written for ISKCON was published in the June 1996 (Volume 4) of the ISKCON Communications Journal (ICJ), entitled “The Four Principles of Interfaith Dialogue and the Future Of Religion.” Therein he described:
“My involvement with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness stems first of all from dealing with issues of religious freedom. Some proposals being put before the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1984 were designed to limit the powers of so-called sects and new religious movements to make and keep converts in Western Europe. These proposals, clearly inspired by the anti-cult movement, were so half-baked as to be ludicrous…..As a servant of the British Council of Churches at that time, I wrote a position document for our Executive Committee. The church leaders who composed that Executive saw immediately the threat to religious freedom…and supported the stand I was about to take. Thus I became the friend of all new religious movements whose only offence was to want to proclaim their message and to gather communities of believers.” (To read the full article go to https://www.iskconcommunications.org/iskcon-journal/vol-4/the-four-principles)
In Volume 8 of the ICJ, June 2002, Dr. Cracknell wrote of his growing appreciation for the contributions of ISKCON, and its bhakti tradition: “Could it really be that our best partners in Christian-Hindu dialogue are those of the bhakti traditions? Could we not, from our Christian point of view, deem it as providential that Srila Prabhupada so brilliantly preached among Westerners? Might we not say that God has, through this man's teaching, raised up a new generation of interpreters of bhakti devotionalism? Could this not even be a new kairos, or turning point, in the long and chequered history of Christian-Hindu relations?” he wrote.
Kenneth and his wife, Susan White, herself a professor emerita of Brite Divinity School where she taught worship and spirituality, participated as senior scholars and faith leaders in several of the annual meetings of the Vaishnava-Christian Dialogue in Washington, D.C. There Kenneth spoke of Protestant writers in India who first met Vaishnava sadhus and appreciated their devotional commitment and realizations; as well as urging participants to benefit with open hearts from each other’s theological insights.
In his later years, Kenneth and Susan both retired from university teaching and moved to Vermont, USA, where they established Sutton Books, an online book selling company that housed, as of 2022, 40,000 titles. There, in the small village of Norwich, Vermont, Kenneth and Susan hosted ISKCON’s Communications Director, Anuttama dasa, and his wife Rukmini devi dasi, for several days each summer.
“It’s been our great honor and pleasure to know Kenneth and Susan and to have them as close friends,” said Anuttama dasa. “I loved to hear Kenneth speak of his own deep spiritual insights and love of God, and his great appreciation of other faiths. He was a genuine teacher, mentor, and sadhu. We learned immensely from him. I will miss him dearly,” said Anuttama.
“Kenneth was a gracious and godly man,” said Rukmini devi dasi. “It was a delight to hear him speak. He told me that his first profound experience of religious diversity was when he went to Africa as a young missionary to bring God to the African people, but instead discovered that ‘God was already there at work;’ he was amazed at the sophisticated theological understandings the local people held. That experience, he explained, changed the trajectory of his life,” said Rukmini.
The last academic conference that Professor Cracknell attended was “The Worldwide Krishna Movement: Half a Century of Growth, Impact, and Challenge,” held at the Harvard University’s Center for Study of World Religions in 2016. The conference marked the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON and was hosted by one of the world’s preeminent forums for religious study and dialogue. In an interview during the conference with film maker Krishna lila devi dasi, of Karuna Productions, the good professor spoke of his appreciation for ISKCON, and the contributions of Srila Prabhupada. To watch that interview and learn more about the deep affection of this important scholar held for ISKCON, devotees of Krishna, and interfaith dialogue in general, go to https://www.iskconcommunications.org/resources/photos-gallery/videos-gallery
The Child Protection Office has an excellent service that you can engage in whether you live in, near, or far from a temple community. This much-needed Seva is one that you can do on your own or with others, such as your family or a reading group. Together we will compile a repository of all quotes and references from the teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada related to the protection of children.
The quotes may directly reference children or the duty to protect others. Reference may be contextual such as the pastime of Lord Nrsimhadeva - the original child protector, or Putana who appeared to be a trustworthy person but had ill intentions to harm the child. You may also include references about Vaisnava aparadha.
Here’s how you can help with this easy and inspiring service:
1. Choose one of Srila Prabhupada’s books that you commit to reading for references. It can be a chapter, a canto, or the whole book.
2. Sign up for your chosen book/section, by either:
* Commenting or private messaging Pages for Protection;
* Commenting on the line that corresponds to your chosen reading on this spreadsheet https://tinyurl.com/mr25crjt;
* Emailing - PagesForProtection@gmail.com.
3. When you have found something relevant, submit excerpts from your chosen book/section, by either:
Emailing - PagesForProtection@gmail.com or Private messaging Pages for Protection
The results of this project will help devotees understand the value of protecting children in Krishna conscious culture. This repository of references will support discussions on the subject matter and guide future decisions. Having easy-to-access selections will enable devotees to speak confidently on the topic of child protection.
Our goal is to have references from Srila Prabhupada’s books collected by the end of 2022. So go ahead, pick a selection and let us know what you find.
Lilasuka Dasi, Director Child Protection Office - North America
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to visit the ISKCON temple in Buenos Aires, needless to say, it was a very nice experience.
I had read many books of His Divine Grace Abhay Caranaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda “The man who built a house that everyone can live in”.
I must say that it is very true.
Although we were few visitors, we were received with all the love and appreciation from the community. His Grace Baladeva das, with whom I share interreligious dialogues, had invited us. He was coming from Mendoza to visit the devotees in Buenos Aires and we took advantage of this opportunity to see each other.
When I passed through the gate of the temple I was transported to mystical India, the colors and the smell of incense bathed the place, there were devotees of Krishna consciousness at the entrance who received us with great joy... they spread peace.
Songs and many voices were heard in the air, I could also appreciate the books that they had at the entrance with many teachings, their covers invited us to open them.
Archbishop Eric Escala, Continuing Anglican Church
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Her Grace Kalindi Devi Dasi.
In her absence, our heart is burning by the constant raining fire. Her loyalty; her dedication was as firm as the stars and faith in Guru and Krishna was as firm as the mountains. Words fail to describe her glorification; her greatness. This great Vaishnavi mother's presence means the presence of Guru and Krishna's majesty. She always strived to fulfill her vows under the orders of her spiritual master, His Holiness Subhag Swami Maharaj, how to please Gurudev more, and more mightily. She was always active at any service to please her spiritual master. She always did the most delicate work with utmost perfection. Kalindi Devi's heart blossomed with a wonderful, soft tenderness of a flower. She was always carrying this beauty in her demeanor in her every word. From the youngest devotee to the great Vaishnavas were honoured by her with a gentle aura, mixed with dignity. Her home was indeed a beautiful temple. Anyone who entered that home temple would never come back hungry. She would spontaneously look at the door, waiting for a devotee to arrive.
Kalindi Devi Dasi used to discuss her spiritual master and God with a very humble heart, in a simple humble voice. Sometimes she used to shed tears while talking about the glories of her Guru Maharaj. She spent the rest of her life in complete Krishna Consciousness. She spontaneously took all risks and continued the preaching activities till the last breath of her life. Kalindi Mataji's preaching activities were so perfect that she made many devotees, and helped guide them to becoming initiated devotees. Kalindi Devi Dasi's presence was so active, lively and so pure that it can bring about a radical change in the life of many. She was truly a precious gem. There was no trace of anger in her behavior. This legendary Vaishnavi dedicated her life to serving Guru and Krishna.
With the prayers of all Vaisnavas who knew her, we bid farewell to Kalindi Devi Dasi.
At 8:33 am on August 11th in Sri Mayapur, the beloved disciple of His Holiness Jayapataka Maharaja and servant of Srila Prabhupada, His Holiness Bhakti Nityananda Swami, left his body. It is with great sadness that we announce this news, as he has been very dear and important to all of us in our Mayapur community. He has given many years of tireless and steadfast service to ISKCON Mayapur, and the amount of people he was able to bring to Krishna Consciousness has made him truly a leader in Mahaprabhu’s preaching mission.
On July 16, 2022, we reported on Anadi Das is Ukraine, a senior devotee of the Kherson Yatra in Ukraine, and his desperate need to support due to his health.
On August 6th, 2002 Share Your Care reported:
We express our special gratitude to the compassion you show to the Vaishnavas, who under such extremely challenging circumstances are forced to deal with severe diseases, have to undergo complex surgeries, etc.
We have raised 2 times more than initially required for Anadi Prabhu’s treatment! We wired hiM $2,250. The funds remaining after the hospital bills have been paid will be directed at paying for rehabilitation.
My name is Yuliia Mudrak, I am 25 years old, and I am from Ukraine. Before the war, I lived in Kyiv and worked as a certified preschool teacher. Unfortunately, many devotees had to leave their normal life in Ukraine due to the war. But at the same time, we’ve been able to see wonderful examples of devotees in other countries, who show great concern for us Ukrainian devotees.
For the first two days of the war, I stayed in my apartment close to the temple. However when it became too unsafe, I, like many other devotees who lived near the temple, went to live there. There is a very large temple in Kyiv, so it was a good idea to move there at that time. We lived there as a big family for several days, and every time the air raid siren went off, we went down into the basement until it was safe to emerge again. Very often during those times, we would have kirtana, so with the company of devotees, even war has its bright side.
Krishna Bhava Das, from ISKCON Punjabi Bagh community in Delhi, is 68 years old, strongly built, having a sharp gaze of determination yet having an air of humility around him. He is the eldest in his family of 30 members, untouched by modern flare, who prefers to keep to his village roots and culture. He is strong businessman and has also been one of the most enthusiastic devotees when it comes to book distribution. Over the last ten years, he has distributed lakhs (hundred thousand) of Srila Prabhupada's books and contributed to various projects of ISKCON.
He was introduced to devotees by one of his relatives approx 14 years ago and his life took a different turn at that point. He was initiated in 2010 and heard through devotees how much Srila Prabhupada and his spiritual master, H.H Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaja, love book distribution. Taking inspiration and gathering courage he started going door to door with his study class for three years during the December book marathons and they would distribute a total of 250 Bhagavad-gitas as a group.
Urvasi devi dasi passed away last week in Ojai California and will be cremated. She was a beloved member of the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) movement, worldwide. Below is a compilation of memories and tributes to Urvasi devi dasi.
In her honor, a Vanipedia page was created of the letter Srila Prabhupada wrote to her parents, the Kimmels.
From Giriraj Swami
Urvasi Dasi was Srila Prabhupada’s beloved disciple and my dear godsister. His Divine Grace said that when a Vaishnava departs, we feel simultaneously happy and sad—sad because we will miss the Vaishnava’s association, and happy because we know they have gone to serve Krishna.
In the last few months, I have had several programs at my ashram in Carpinteria, and Urvasi attended—and enjoyed—all of them. Her presence—her humanity and divinity—uplifted our spirits and consciousness. She was always pleased to attend our programs, and we were happy to attend hers.