In 2012, ISKCON News readers could read over 700 new articles about ISKCON-related events, initiatives or achievements. As we usher in 2013, ISKCON News takes a look back at twenty stories that helped to shape the last twelve months. While it was tough to single out only twenty, we tried to narrow it down by selecting those that had the most impact on the whole of ISKCON as a society, those that demonstrated ISKCON’s impact on the outside world, as well as stories that were the most popular among our readers.
The BBT Moves Into the World of E-Books (January, 2012)
While printed books still account for the lion’s share of the market, the publishing business is changing in today’s digital world.
E-books have jumped from 8.5 per cent of all book sales in mid 2010 to twenty per cent this January, while forty-two of the top fifty titles on the USA Today bestseller list sold more e-book editions than print. Meanwhile, Amazon sold nearly five million of its new Kindle Fire e-reader and Barnes and Noble sold two million of its Nook over the holidays.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, ISKCON’s publishing wing established by its founder Srila Prabhupada in 1972, is also looking to keep up with the changing times.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4136/2012-01-13/the_bbt_moves_into_the_world_of_e_books#ixzz2GjGMeE3J
Book Distribution Up 23% in North America (January, 2012)
At the 2012 North American Governing Body and Temple President meetings in Dallas, Texas on January 13th, Book Distribution Minister Vaisesika Dasa had some exciting news for the more than sixty leaders from across the US and Canada in attendance.
Distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books in their countries have increased by 23% in the past year, he reported. 714,334 books have been distributed, and $959,689—very close to one million dollars—has been collected.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4172/2012-01-28/book_distribution_up_23_in_north_america#ixzz2GjKZUDVR
ISKCON Mourns Three Young Devotees Lost in Tragic Car Accident (February, 2012)
The ISKCON community is shaken and saddened after three young devotees—Nitai Dasa of New Vrindaban, West Virigina, Yadupati Dasa of Alachua, Florida, and Tim Carter of Gainesville—passed away in a tragic car accident.
The three friends were returning home to the Alachua and Gainesville ISKCON communities from Jacksonville, Florida on the night of Tuesday, January 31st, when their Toyota Carolla was struck by a semi at Florida 228 and U.S. 301 in Maxville.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4178/2012-02-03/iskcon_mourns_three_young_devotees_lost_in_tragic_car_accident#ixzz2GjL39WiX
ISKCON Retains Its Religious Status in Hungary (February, 2012)
On February 27, 2012, the Hungarian Parliament voted on the amendment to the new religious law, adding 18 religious organizations to the list of fully recognized churches in Hungary. Among others, the new list includes well-established Christian groups (such as the Methodists, Anglicans, Adventists, Mormons), the Jehovah Witnesses, representatives of other Eastern world religions (2 Muslim groups, 5 Buddhist communities and the Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness).
As ISKCON News reported earlier, in July 2011, the Hungarian Parliament introduced a new religious law, which – except for 14 religious organizations – stripped over 300 religious groups of their previously acquired status, requiring them to re-register under stringent new conditions. The automatically-accepted 14 only included major Christian and Jewish groups but none of the smaller Protestant churches or representatives of Eastern world religions.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4220/2012-02-28/iskcon_retains_its_religious_status_in_hungary#ixzz2GjM9ZIXH
Mumbai’s Bhaktin Radhika Breaks Book Distribution Records (March, 2012)
In the past five years, one young woman from Chowpatty, Mumbai, has broken all women’s book distribution records, and many overall records too.
Bhaktin Radhika Mehta is an enigma. Since she began in 2007, she has distributed 228,016 of Srila Prabhupada’s books—nearly a quarter of a million. According to the World Sankirtan Newsletter, in five years, she has given out more books than any other female distributor since 1982.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4233/2012-03-03/mumbais_bhaktin_radhika_breaks_book_distribution_records#ixzz2GjMdfN00
Tomsk Court Dismisses Bhagavad Gita Case (March, 2012)
Russia extricated itself from an embarrassing spat with India when a provincial appeals court definitively rejected an attempt to ban a version of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy book.
An almost year-long legal dispute had been raised at the highest level between the two nations, traditional friends and partners. The case caused an uproar in the Indian parliament and was raised when Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, visited Moscow in December.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4268/2012-03-21/tomsk_court_dismisses_bhagavad_gita_case#ixzz2GjN3Wa49
Queen Elizabeth II Appreciates Sri Chaitanya’s Message During Krishna Avanti School Visit (April, 2012)
During a visit to the Krishna Avanti School on March 29th, Queen Elizabeth II appreciated the school’s unique values and principles, based upon the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Out of four London locations the Queen visited on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee—commemorating sixty years of her reign—Harrow, the North London Borough where the Krishna Avanti School is located, was the very first.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4309/2012-04-06/queen_elizabeth_ii_appreciates_sri_chaitanya_s_message_during_krishna_avanti_sc#ixzz2GjNYQAUC
Krishna Comes to Cuba (April, 2012)
A December 2011 trip to Cuba by ISKCON guru Bhaktimarga Swami has continued to increase and solidify the budding Krishna conscious congregation there.
ISKCON’s regional secretary for Cuba Ikshvaku Dasa, a native of Cuba who currently works as a school teacher in Miami, Florida, has been visiting the country on his own salary every summer since 1997. And since 2007, the congregation has seen a marked growth.
There are no ISKCON temples in Cuba. But in the capital city of Havana, thirty to forty people attend weekly programs at the home of congregation leader Janardana Dasa.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4351/2012-04-28/krishna_comes_to_cuba#ixzz2GjO8r4Kt
Eight Chowpatty Devotees Pass Away in Tragic Nepal Plane Crash (May, 2012)
Eight devotees from the ISKCON temple in Chowpatty, Mumbai were amongst the fifteen killed in a tragic airplane crash on Monday May 14th.
The devotees were on their way to a pilgrimage at Nepal’s Muktinath Temple, located at the foot of the Thorong La pass in the Himalayas. One of the most ancient temples of Lord Narayana, it is often mentioned as one of the most sacred places for Sri Vaishnavas.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4387/2012-05-18/eight_chowpatty_devotees_pass_away_in_tragic_nepal_plane_crash#ixzz2GjOXLB62
Toronto’s 40th Rathayatra Sees Young Devotees Bond in Service (June, 2012)
Toronto’s celebration of Rathayatra—the ancient Indian parade festival in honor of God’s form as Jagannath—has come a long way since its beginnings in 1972.
Praharana Dasi, one of ISKCON Toronto’s seniormost members, recalls that back then, devotees in the Canadian city had heard Rathayatras had been introduced in 1967 in San Francisco and were now being held all over the USA. Since they were already worshipping Jagannath, they decided it was time to jump on the bandwagon and hold their own festival.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4469/2012-06-22/toronto_s_40th_rathayatra_sees_young_devotees_bond_in_service#ixzz2GjPti7JV
New Zealand PM Shows Deep Appreciation at ISKCON Auckland Visit (June, 2012)
At a visit to the New Varshana community in Auckland, New Zealand on June 21st, New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys asked deep questions and expressed a lot of appreciation for ISKCON.
The visit was the result of a long-gestating friendship with temple president Kalasamvara Dasa.
“A decade ago, when he was a local MP, I would meet him every year at the Buddhist community nearby, where dignitaries are invited for Buddha’s Birthday,” Kalasamvara explains. “We developed a relationship there. He always showed an interest in what we were doing. So this year, we invited him to visit during the year-long 40th anniversary celebration of our Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari, who were installed by Srila Prabhupada in 1972.”
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4486/2012-06-29/new_zealand_pm_shows_deep_appreciation_at_iskcon_auckland_visit#ixzz2GjQL7GkD
ISKCON Invited for EU Commission President Meeting (July, 2012)
Every year since 2005 a Hindu representative is invited to the European Parliament for an annual meeting with the President of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barosso, to discuss specific issues dealing with European Union’s growing population and diverse ethnicities and cultures.
Two years ago Sivarama Swami took part in the meeting in the EU offering advice for poverty and hunger through the example of the Krishna Valley project in Hungary. This year the Hindu Forum of Europe’s (HFE) President Bharti Tailor with General Secretary Mahaprabhu Das (also the Director of ISKCON Communications Europe) represented the Hindu faith for this important meeting.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4533/2012-07-19/iskcon_invited_for_eu_commission_president_meeting#ixzz2GjR8uGU9
ISKCON Joins Call for Indian Government to Clean Up Yamuna River (August, 2012)
Representatives from ISKCON, Environmental Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and other Hindu organizations presented letters to Ambassadors at Indian Embassies in several capitals of the world including Washington D.C., London, and Brussels (European Union) this week in connection with the Sri Krishna Janmastami holiday, expressing their grave concern about deadly levels of pollution now affecting India’s Yamuna River.
The river is considered sacred by hundreds of millions of devotees in India and worldwide, and is particularly connected with the pastimes, or lila, of Lord Sri Krishna.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4568/2012-08-10/iskcon_joins_call_for_indian_government_to_clean_up_yamuna_river#ixzz2GjRab2H9
Mukunda Goswami’s Book Wins Prestigious Book Award (August, 2012)
Mukunda Goswami’s Miracle on Second Avenue has won a prestigious book award in the United States. Each year the National Indie Excellence Book Awards are given out in many categories to the best books by independent publishing houses.
This year the Mukunda Goswami’s book about the early days of the Hare Krishna Movement and its founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, published by Torchlight was considered to be the best book in the biography-general category.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4580/2012-08-16/mukunda_goswamis_book_wins_prestigious_book_award#ixzz2GjRuacXj
New Krishna Balarama Mandir to Open in Botswana (September, 2012)
Celebrations for the custom-built Indian style temple in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, ran from Friday September 21st through Sunday the 23rd.
Attendees included 40 local devotees, 200 from the South African cities of Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, 30 from England and India, and hundreds of local congregational members and visitors.
Amongst the special guests were Botswanan Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe, as well as seven ISKCON sannyasis: Jayadvaita Swami, Bhakti Chaitanya Swami, Bhakti Charu Swami, Lokanath Swami, Bhakti Narasinga Swami from South Africa, and Rama Govinda Swami.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4641/2012-09-14/new_krishna_balarama_mandir_to_open_in_botswana#ixzz2GjTp72Hn
TOVP Film Documents the Rise of ISKCON’s Biggest Temple (September, 2012)
As construction on the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium—ISKCON’s flagship temple in Mayapur, West Bengal—continues, a new documentary has been released online at TOVP.org and on Youtube chronicling the temple’s rise.
The half-hour film, “The Cosmos out of the Rice Fields,” takes viewers through the history of the sixty-million-dollar project from its very beginnings.
We see the temple’s prediction by past Vaishnava saints, ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada’s vision for it, and his early disciples starting work on the project in the 1970s.
The film describes devotees’ struggles to realize their spiritual master’s vision over four decades, going through different designs and facing pushback from the local government, until its successful inauguration in 2010 under chairman Ambarish Das (Alfred Ford).
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4659/2012-09-21/tovp_film_documents_the_rise_of_iskcon_s_biggest_temple#ixzz2GjUC9l1m
Service is the Secret Behind Ukraine’s Bhakti Sangam Festival (October, 2012)
Thousands of devotees flooded into Evpatorya, a resort area near Ukraine’s Black Sea, for one of ISKCON’s largest festivals from September 17th to 21st this year.
Seventy-five per cent hailed from the Ukraine, where there are over 10,000 devotees. Others came from neighboring countries such as Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as from far-flung locations like North American and Western Europe.
The festival, dubbed “Bhakti Sangam,” roughly translated as “A meeting place for devotees,” is nothing short of a phenomenon.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4674/2012-10-04/service_is_the_secret_behind_ukraine_s_bhakti_sangam_festival#ixzz2GjUZ94jd
ISKCON Kazakhstan Re-Registers Under New Religious Law (November, 2012)
All nine ISKCON centers in Kazakhstan have successfully re-registered under a new religious law passed by the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and approved by President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The ISKCON centers are located in Almaty, Almaty Oblast, Astana, Karaganada, Pavlodar, Ust, Kamengorst, Semi Palatinsk, Kustanai, and Aktobe.
The new “Law on Religious Activity and Religious Organizations” is enforced by the Agency For Religious Affairs For The Republic Of Kazakhstan and was introduced on October 24th, 2011. All religions were required to re-register by October 24th, 2012.
“There was no law in the history of Kazakhstan that was passed so quickly,” says B.B. Govinda Swami, Coordinator for the Society for Krishna Consciousness in central Asia.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4755/2012-11-22/iskcon_kazakhstan_re_registers_under_new_religious_law#ixzz2GjWo6NlN
Srila Prabhupada’s Malaysian Dream Becomes a Reality (December, 2012)
Back in 1971, ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada paid a five-day visit to Malaysia, where a well-wisher had promised his society land in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
The land never materialized. But Prabhupada continued to pursue the idea of a center in Malaysia, presenting a wealthy Indian minister’s wife with a sketch during one meeting.
“I want a temple like this,” he said.
Over forty years later, Srila Prabhupada’s Malaysian dream is finally becoming a reality.
There are already thirty preaching centers throughout the country. But the new project rising in Penang State, on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, will be the first custom-built temple.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4777/2012-11-29/srila_prabhupada_s_malaysian_dream_becomes_a_reality#ixzz2GjXRaGN2
30,000 Delhi School Children to Participate in Bhagavad-gita Contest (December, 2012)
Nearly 30,000 school children from all over India’s capital, Delhi, are expected to take part in a contest based on the Bhagavad-gita this holiday season.
Between November 20th and January 10th, they’ll also visit the Delhi ISKCON temple and receive copies of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, as part of the 2012 Gita Jayanti celebrations.
Gita Jayanti commemorates the day, 5,000 years ago, when Lord Krishna instructed the warrior Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, thus creating the sacred book Bhagavad-gita. It is observed on December 23rd this year.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4807/2012-12-14/30000_delhi_school_children_to_participate_in_bhagavad_gita_contest#ixzz2GjXioxL6
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Sunanda Das, TOVP Communications Director