(Photos by Nitai Caran Dasa.)
March 10, Mayapur, India, 5:30 PM – The 2019 GBC Annual General Meetings continued with a report from the Deity Worship Ministry. The Deity Worship Ministry provides education, resources, and guidance to facilitate and encourage the maintenance and development of Deity worship in ISKCON, in accordance with the standards and mood established by Srila Prabhupada.
Nrisimha Kavacha Dasa, ISKCON’s Deity Worship Minister, presented the report, which focused on the worship of Radha Krishna Deities in ISKCON temples around the world. According to the information obtained by the Deity Worship Ministry, there are currently 147 temples around the globe where Radha Krishna Deities are worshiped.
GBC members were interested to hear the Ministry’s report, and many offered feedback regarding the Deity worship occurring in their own zones.
People who appreciate proper standards of Deity worship tend to look to ISKCON as an example. Over the years, ISKCON has established a reputation of having high standards of Deity worship. However, the Deity Worship Ministry warned the GBC that if proper care is not taken to maintain and improve standards of worship, this reputation could slip.
Nrisimha Kavacha Dasa reported that while there are many temples around the world whose worship of Radha Krishna Deities is excellent, a significant number of temples struggle to maintain the basic standards of worship and cleanliness established by Srila Prabhupada. In many places this is due to a lack of manpower.
Nrisimha Kavacha Dasa impressed upon the GBC that work needs to be done and standards need to be improved. To this end, the ministry is working closely with many temples to improve their standards of Deity worship.
Members of the GBC expressed their concern that proper Deity worship standards be maintained, and requested the Deity Worship Ministry for even more comprehensive reports in the future.
“If ISKCON expands but Deity worship standards decrease, what is the real meaning of that expansion?” Madhusevita Dasa, the GBC Chairman, said.
A light moment between GBC members.
6:20 PM – Kalakantha Dasa, ISKCON’s Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture, next made a presentation to the GBC about the ISKCON Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture (IMCPA).
“Srila Prabhupada thought a lot about cow protection,” Kalakantha Dasa said. “He gave so many instructions about the importance of cow protection.”
“A civilized man is therefore expected to give all protection to the bulls and cows.” (Srila Prabhupada, Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.5.7, Purport)
Kalakantha Dasa reported that since 2015, IMCPA has been gathering information about what is happening in ISKCON in terms of cow protection and agriculture.
“I wanted to understand what ISKCON actually has already,” Kalakantha Dasa said. “To do that, I visited with devotees who are successful or experienced in the field and took notes on what they are doing. We’ve now visited almost all of ISKCON’s farms.”
Kalakantha Dasa reported about a number of farm projects that IMCPA has visited across the globe. According to IMCPA’s estimation, ISKCON currently cares for approximately 5,000 cows.
With the information IMCPA has gathered, it can now plan for the future.
“Now that we know what we have, we can try to increase. What if we say that in 5 years, we’ll have 10,000 protected cows?” Kalakantha Dasa said.
IMCPA has also been attending and organizing conferences and seminars around the globe. They participated in six conferences in 2018, including the Bhakti Sangam in Ukraine, the Bhakti Sangam in Sweden, and the ISKCON Leadership Sanga in Mayapur.
“We now have teams on almost every continent,” Kalakantha Dasa said.
Niranjana Swami appreciating a presentation.
Kalakantha Dasa and his team told members of the GBC that IMCPA is working to register every single cow in ISKCON. They want to make it easy for the GBC, IMCPA, and local authorities and cow protectors to know exactly how every cow in ISKCON is doing. They are developing a system to certify goshalas and offer training as needed.
The team has developed an app that will make this process simple and user-friendly. GBC members were shown what the app will look like and how it will be used.
GBC members were eager to express their appreciation for the work being done by Kalakantha Dasa and his team.
Kalakantha Dasa remarked afterwards, “The ISKCON Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture was encouraged to see the GBC body’s reception of the ministry’s eight year plan, which now focuses on implementing systems for the sustainable development of cow protection and agriculture.”
6:45 PM– At the end of the day the GBC reviewed sannyasa candidates, led by Prahladananda Swami, ISKCON’s Minister for Sannyasa Services.
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