It is February 23rd, the eighth and final day of the ISKCON Leadership Sanga here in Sridham Mayapur. In the beginning, delegates were excited, hopeful, and enthusiastic for what the coming week would bring. They participated in numerous seminars, workshops, classes, kirtans, lunches, dinners, dramas, a Vedic fashion show and more. Everyone’s batteries have been recharged and the leaders from around the world are “fired up” to bring what they learned home to their respective congregations. Perhaps more importantly, they have also forged the international connections they need to access various areas of expertise when required. There is no question that devotees are eager and ready to continue as Srila Prabhupada’s soldiers.
Today, however, there is a bittersweet mood pervading the atmosphere. Devotees are feeling sad that these incredible eight days are over, and also intense gratitude and appreciation for having been able to take part in this amazing sanga. This afternoon’s final plenary exemplified the mood of the devotees. A number of exciting presentations were made, but perhaps the most touching were the words of gratitude spoken by members of the Strategic Planning Network, the group of devotees who organized the ILS. Forgetting no one, they thanked the countless devotees who assisted with hospitality, prasadam, overall organization and more. To pull off such a successful eight daylong event with close to 1000 delegates is no small feat. Members of the GBC, including Bhaktimarga Swami, Bhakti Charu Swami, Devamrita Swami, Radhanath Swami, Niranjana Swami, and Bhakti Caitanya Swami all spoke loving words of gratitude to the organizers and delegates.
The final plenary was scheduled for two hours, but went on for three, with devotees longing for more. As a perfect ending, the very last plenary for the ISKCON Leadership Sanga 2014 ended as the first one started – with a very sweet and loving Guru puja for the founder acarya, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Throughout the entire ILS, Srila Prabhupada and his teachings were at the centre. His love was also felt daily as devotees from around the world rejoiced in each other’s association; never has it been more apparent that Srila Prabhupada gave us a true, genuine, loving international family.
There are so many wonderful leaders here from around the world, and it is not forgotten that there are many more across the globe who were not able to attend. Not to worry – the tools that were shared here at ILS will be made available. And, there is no question that ILS 2016 is happening! In the meantime – let us continue to “join together to push this movement forward cooperatively.”
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Gunarnava Sitaram Das for ISKCON Sacramento
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Archbishop Eric Escala, Continuing Anglican Church