for ISKCON News on Aug. 20, 2010
“When New Vrindaban was founded, we used ox carts for transportation, just like people use in rural India. We grew our own food and had our own dairy herd. Later, however,” said Malati Dasi, one of New Vrindaban’s GBCs, “the focus of the community shifted away from agriculture.”
There is currently a new wave of interest in reviving the agricultural roots of New Vrindaban, a move which is supported by the community’s local leadership as well as the top leadership of the world-wide Hare Krishna movement. “The current petroleum-based economic system is viable for 50 years at the most. Someone needs to create an economic model to fill the impending vacuum,” said Malati. “A major part of New Vrindaban’s mission is to create, by example, the next economic model.
The Hare Krishna movement around the world is making headway in the field of sustainable agriculture. Therefore, New Vrindaban is fortunate to have access to some of the world’s experts. Earlier this year, the community hosted Sivarama Swami from Hungary, Bhakti Raghava Swami from India, and Dhanesvara Das from the Ukraine. Sivarama Swami is a co-founder of Hungary’s Eco-Valley, a Hare Krishna community in Hungary, which is practically self-sufficient regarding agricultural products as well as electricity.
Eco-Valley draws 30,000 visitors a year in eco-tourism, and economists have found that the standard of living in Eco-Valley is 150% the standard of living of the surrounding community. Bhakti Raghava Swami, originally from Canada, is now based in southern India where his team is researching and reviving India’s ancient agricultural techniques in areas such as irrigation and pressing oil from seed. New Vrindaban also hosted Dhanesvara Das, a member of Ukraine’s Gitagrad Community and author of the book Lessons in Spiritual Economics.
“New Vrindaban’s next public festival is a celebration of agriculture and agriculturalists,” said Malati. On Tuesday, August 24, New Vrindaban will celebrate Balarama Purnima, or the day on which Lord Balarama (the elder brother of Lord Krishna) descended from the spiritual world to the material world. All events are free and open to the public.
This festival is based on the ancient Vedic scripture, Srimad-Bhagavatam, which was written approximately 5,000 years ago in Sanskrit, the oldest language known to mankind. Over the centuries, India’s greatest mystic sages and pundits wrote voluminous commentaries on Srimad-Bhagavatam. The first English translation and commentary were written by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Although Prabhupada opened more than 100 temples and centers around the world and initiated over five thousand disciples, Prabhupada said Srimad-Bhagavatam would be his “lasting contribution to the world.”
According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama spend their childhood in Vrindaban, the most exalted place in the spiritual world. When the two brothers descend to the planet Earth, they descend to Vrindaban located in north central India, which is an exact replica of its celestial counter-part. It was Prabhupada’s instruction that New Vrindaban in Marshall County, WV, be developed as another replica of its namesake.
“Vrindaban is a place of natural beauty with forests and rolling hills, just like West Virginia. Vrindaban is an agricultural community, which is why Lord Balarama carries a plow,” explained Malati.
“In New Vrindaban, our model for sustainable agriculture is based on Srimad-Bhagavatam and it begins with Lord Balarama and his plow,” said Malati. “We want New Vrindaban to truly reflect the spiritual world.”
New Vrindaban will celebrate Balarama Purnima on Tuesday, August 24. It is an evening event, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, followed by a fabulous vegetarian feast. All events are free and open to the public.
On December 3 – 6, New Vrindaban will be hosting North America’s first annual “Farms, Food & Faith” conference. The conference will address issues such as hunger, community building, renewable energy, and small-scale organic farming.
For more information about Balarama Purnima or about the “Farms, Food and Faith” conference, contact Malati Dasi at +1 304 845-9591.