ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) concluded its annual midterm meeting with a daylong plenary session October 19th in Tirupati, India.
The plenary session which had in attendance the GBC members along with Ministers and other guests saw several encouraging reports from different parts of the world detailing the growth and development in outreach efforts of ISKCON.
Before beginning the meeting a guru-puja (worship) of Srila Prabhupada was performed with Lokanath Swami leading the kirtan (prayers). After the guru-puja, Anuttama Dasa, Chairman of the GBC, welcomed all the devotees and recapped the work done over the last few days in Tirupati.
Nrsimha Kavaca Dasa, the Minister of Deity Worship presented his ministry’s report which has been actively working to maintain and improve the worship of the Deities in ISKCON, with Nrsimha Kavaca Dasa himself traveling to several temples to review and help upkeep the Deity Worship standards as desired by Srila Prabhupada. In order to assist the local temples that may need regular guidance on Deity worship, new national coordinators such as Sithalanga Dasa, a veteran who is respected for his understanding of Deity worship, have been appointed to assists their local temples in their country.
The Ministry has also been providing training to the community of devotees through its academy in Mayapur. With a list of experienced teachers along with a detailed and practical approach, the Mayapur Academy has become an important learning center. This year saw the Mayapur Academy has reached its full student capacity and in-order to facilitate the devotees, the Ministry would soon begin online courses.
Soon after, the international committee overseeing the celebrations of ISKCON’s 50th year of incorporation in 2016 presented its report. Pancaratna Dasa and Anuttama Dasa, committee members, informed the GBC about the various events being planned in major cities of the world such as New Delhi, Kolkatta, New York, London, etc. This included a seven day mega padayatra in 2015 from Mayapur to Kolkata dock where Srila Prabhuada boarded the Jaladuta ship and began his journey to the West.
"The Joy of Devotion" - trailer of the documentary film celebrating ISKCON's 50th Anniversary
The committee also spoke about the upcoming movie on ISKCON and a special magazine showcasing ISKCON’s activities over the last 50 years along with several other promotional materials to help the temples in celebrating this grand event.
Later during the day, Niranjana Swami, GBC for Ukraine, updated the GBC body about crisis in Ukraine, which has affected devotees in the war zone, several of whom lost their houses and the steps taken by the ISKCON leadership there to care for the affected devotees.
After the report the GBC thanked Niranjana Swami who led an international campaign for collecting resources to provide a long term shelter and prasad (sacred food) for the devotees many of whom were elderly people and single mothers. In spite of his health challenges, Niranjana Swami also tirelessly oversaw the rehabilitation of the devotees with him personally meeting every single one of devotees concerned.
So far, more than 1,000 devotees have been provided accommodation along with the basic needs being covered.
Next, Gopal Krishna Goswami, one of the GBCs for India informed that after several years of hard work, earlier this year ISKCON had been allotted a two acre plot of land in Kurukshetra, the place where Lord Krishna had spoken the Bhagavad Gita.
During his visit to Kurukshetra, Srila Prabhupada had expressed a desire to build a Krishna-Arjun temple here along with a college that would offer an in-depth study on the sacred text of Srimad Bhagavatam. Gopal Krishna Goswami said that work on both these projects had begun and would be completed within a few years.
He also presented a report on the recently held inauguration of an ISKCON temple, spread over 17 acres, in the city of Kanpur, which was another one of the projects that Srila Prabhupada had expressed his desires for.
The last presentation of the day came from Radha Jivan Das and Vraja Vilas Das who are heading the Temple of Vedic Planetarium’s (TOVP) fund raising campaign. TOVP, the flagship project of ISKCON at Mayapur, is primarily being built with the support of ISKCON devotees and well-wishers. Over the last three years, Radha Jivan Das and his team have visited several countries in a attempt to gather the support of the worldwide devotees. Their current fund raising tour has seen them being on the road for the last 8 months.
The GBC thanked them for their service to this important project of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya and offered their assistance.
On the next day, on October 20th, the GBC Members along with several other devotees drove up the Tirumala hills to seek the darshan of Lord Balaji.
“With a series of encouraging reports from around the world, the leaders have a lot to take back to share with their local communities and be inspired about. As we head back to our home base and prepare for new preaching activities, we hope we can remain an instrument in the service of Srila Prabhupada” said Anuttama Dasa, Chairman of the GBC.
The next midterm meeting would be held at the ISKCON Govardan Eco Village in Mumbai.[ bgc ] [ tirupati ]