Photos by Sridama Das.
The third day of the ILS started with a presentation on ISKCON’s 50th anniversary by Anuttama Das, GBC Minister for Communications and Pancharatna Das, Executive Member of the International Fiftieth Anniversary Committee.
They spoke about the importance of the 50th as an opportunity for glorifying Prabhupada, educating the public, celebrating achievements, appreciating devotees and accelerating ISKCON's mission. “Not many of us may be here to see the 100th anniversary of ISKCON. This is our big chance to make a global impact, and accelerate our missionary work.”
Pancharatna Das spoke about 50th events already held such as the Kolkata inauguration, the Boston event for Prabhupada’s arrival in America, and the Mumbai VIP event. He also listed many future events that have been planned such as a youth conference in Pune with 5000 participants, an academic conference in Harvard, a oerformance night at the Sydney Opera House, a major event at Wembley Arena in London and a commemorative function at the European Parliament.
“Every temple should now consider what they can do locally for the fiftieth,” requested Anuttama Das. “They should do at least three things: 50-ise all regular events such as Janmashtami and Ratha Yatra; have a special VIP dinner with a cultural programme to celebrate 50 years of our incorporation; and have a maha harinama on August 14th, the day that Prabhupada led ISKCON’s first public harinama in New York.”
This was followed by a talk by Gopal Bhatta Das, Kaunteya Das and Gauranga Das on the GBC College of Leadership Development. Gopal Bhatta Das explained that the College was created in keeping with Prabhupada’s expressed vision that he wanted to train GBCs so that they could manage the ‘whole society nicely’ in his absence.
“We studied everything Prabhupada said on this matter, and designed the course so that devotees can be spiritually qualified and also have the managerial expertise to satisfy Prabhupada’s vision of leadership in ISKCON,” he explained. “We have created five training modules: spiritual excellence, compliance and administrative excellence, personal excellence, relationship excellence and organisational excellence. The idea is that those who run a zone, need individuals who can serve as a zonal supervisor. And the shift in the thinking is that one can only become a zonal supervisor after going through our course.”
Kaunteya Das thanked Radhanatha Swami and Gauranga Das for hosting and financing the entire GBC College at Govardhan Eco Village and being the driving force that encouraged over eight candidates to graduate out of the College this year.
Like the previous two days, delegates rushed to attend different seminars at various venues after the plenary session.
“This is the third time that we have organised ILS,” commented Laxmimoni Dasi from the GBC Strategic Planning Committee who oversees the organisation and planning for ILS every year. “Our main aim is to bring together devotees from around the world and provide a facility to inspire each other in spreading Prabhupada’s mission, share best practices, and see the upside of the movement. We want everyone to go back to their places with new tools and new enthusiasm so that they feel better equipped to make their place better. This ISKCON movement has so many resources. ILS seems to be the only place which brings these resources together so that everyone can access them.”
Rupeshvar Gaura Das who serves in the IT Support Desk at the ILS feels highly motivated to see hundreds of leaders collecting in one place to share their valuable realisations. “Most people see the eight days of seminars at the ILS. But there is a whole year of preparation that goes behind it in the background. There is the planning, mailing, sorting of responses, scheduling, arranging speakers, getting the site ready, the pandals and exhibits, the visuals and design, the prasadam, the services, and tonnes of logistics. We are grateful to the Mayapur management for their unstinting support, and to the Chowpathy temple for providing 30 brahmacharis who are helping out this year.”
The TOVP team has contributed financially to the ILS this year to partially fund the accommodation and prasadam. “But this is not enough,” continued Rupeshvar Gauranga. “We still have a shortfall. Almost 30% of the delegates are sannyasis and brahmacharis who cannot contribute a fee. Therefore, we appeal to grihasthas to support us through voluntary contributions. Many big-hearted grihasthas have already done so, and others could also follow.”
Bhaktin Alexandria Wallace has been working with the ILS team for almost a year, and has been in Mayapur since January to help in the accounts and registration department. “The workload can be quite intense sometimes. But everyone does their bit, and the team work is amazing. Being a part of the ILS has been a wonderful experience for me. I get to work closely with devotees talented in various aspects, and get to learn a lot from them.”
The mood by which the ILS team has hosted the event is captured in Laxmimoni’s closing remarks, “There are many devotees who come to the ILS from small temples where they may have been working really hard through the year. But when they come here, I want all of them to become highly energised and feel like they are royalty. I feel like I am inviting 1000 VIPs for lunch. That’s my mood, and that’s the mood of everyone who is hosting the ILS.”[ gbc ] [ ils ] [ mayapura ]