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The Third ISKCON Europe Excellence Awards

By: for ISKCON News on Dec. 12, 2012

In 2012 eleven ISKCON devotees have received the ISKCON Europe Excellence Awards for their outstanding services to the society.


Category: Overall ISKCON Interest/Overall Preaching
Age: 55
ISKCON Temple: New Mayapur, France
Guru: Indradyumna Swami
Number of years doing this service: 25
Joined ISKCON: 1981 in New Mayapur

Nrsimhananda is the main devotee responsible for keeping New Mayapur going. He has served in or supervised the pujari department, the legal/financial administration, and the castle/property maintenance dept. Regularly he’s taken up responsibilities as head pujari, temple president, head cook, and property manager. He has daily served the Deities all these years. Also, he does sankirtana (book distribution, harinama,and festivals) and preaches to newcomers. He has always been fixed-up, serious in following the regulative principles, austere, and self-regulated yet kindhearted, tolerant, and discreet, and has never sought appreciation or recognition. New Mayapur has been maintained all these years in very difficult circumstances mainly by his sincere, selfless services. And he constantly, happily sings Hare Krishna from morning till evening.


Category: Outstanding Pujari Service
Age: 40
ISKCON Temple: Villa Vrindavan, Italy
Spiritual Master: Radhanath Swami
Number of years doing this service: 16
Joined ISKCON: 1992 in Villa Vrindavan

She was a congregation devotee chanting sixteen rounds daily at the beginning. During her free time she’d visit the temple and take part in programs. After a few years she moved to Villa Vrindavan and later married Rohini Kumara Dasa. Soon she started interacting with pujaris and discovered her deep love for serving the Deities. The Deity department, for various reasons, was in an extremely difficult situation: no money and very few pujaris (the last pujaris were on their way out). She took the service seriously because her guru asked her to tolerate everything and to concentrate on it. In 2005 she was encouraged by the new temple president to become the head pujari. She was not seeking a position, and it took him time to persuade her, because she sincerely considered herself unqualified. She displayed a lot of courage in dealing with a disastrous situation (never lamenting or asking for personal benefits) and just worked hard to solve problems and inspire everyone. She helped all the community members establish a cooperative mood. With brilliant ideas and initiatives, she raised money and restored the pujari department’s financial independence and eventually enabled the department to help support the temple. Karuna Rasa is a sincere, loyal, exemplary, and dedicated devotee in Srila Prabhupada’s movement.


Category: Festivals
ISKCON Temple: Bhaktivedanta Manor
Number of years doing this service: 15
Joined ISKCON: as a community member of the Manor in childhood

Ajay has volunteered at Bhaktivedanta Manor for more than fifteen years; the skills he learned and the experience he gained led to a great opportunity in 2012. Ajay is Chairman of the Manor’s Festival Committee and organizes some of the largest, most complex ISKCON festivals in the Western world. The Janmastami festival attracts more than fifty thousand people. His attitude, competence, and consistency have always been exemplary. In 2012, he was offered a position on the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. “My interest in Event Management began when I started volunteering my time and energy for the Manor festivals,” Ajay said. “What we do at the Manor is inspiring, magnificent, and magical, and my experience with ISKCON festivals helped make the London Olympics the success it was.”


Category: Education
Age: in his forties
ISKCON Temple: Bhaktivedanta Manor
Spiritual Master: Bhakti Charu Swami
Number of years doing this service: 8
Joined ISKCON: in childhood in the early 1980s

Navin Krishna is one of the original directors of the iFoundation, which obtained a huge government grant for the first state-funded Hindu primary school in the UK. ISKCON is the faith partner of the school, Krishna-Avanti, which includes a marble temple for Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram, and serves lunch prasada, which students sit on the floor to eat. Queen Elizabeth visited the school during her Diamond Jubilee, and Navin guided the royal party during its one-hour visit. He is now the director of Avanti House, a UK-wide organization overseeing the openings of similar schools in Leceister and Redbridge. He was once the Chairman of ISKCON’s Pandava Sena Youth Group, an outgrowth of the Manor Youth Forum (MYF). Pandava Sena tirelessly recruited young Indians to join Bhaktivedanta Manor’s campaign to remain open when it was threatened with closure in the 1980s. Navin (Nitesh Gor) is the author of a book called The Dharma of Capitalism: A Guide to Mindful Decision-Making in the Business of Life.


Category: Festivals
Age: late fifties
ISKCON Temple: Leicester
Spiritual Master: Srila Prabhupada
Number of years doing this service: 3
Joined ISKCON: 1971 in the UK

Since 2010, he has organized an annual UK-wide devotee festival at the stately Croome Court in Worcestershire, England. This huge estate belonged to ISKCON from 1979 till 1984. Working with the National Trust, which runs Croome Court and opens it to the public, Tribhangananda created a festival that is good for the national morale, reaches local people, and marks ISKCON’s history. He has previously preached in Africa, distributed books in the UK, put on the Ratha-yatra in Leiceister and other cities in the UK, presented a local radio program in Leicester, and served in the BBT, ISKCON’s publishing arm.


Category: Overall ISKCON Interest/Overall Preaching
Age: 55
ISKCON Temple: New Caitanya Chandrodaya Mandir, Almviks gard, Sweden
Spiritual Master: Radhanath Swami
Number of years doing this service: 24
Joined ISKCON: in 1980 in Stockholm

Mukunda has preached in schools since 1988, so he has many contacts throughout Sweden, and he usually visits thousands of classes annually. He was distributing books and paraphernalia when he started developing his program to give young people the basics of Krishna consciousness. In 2000, he married Jivakesa Dasi; they moved to Gothenborg, where he was the temple president till 2006; then they moved to Almvik. Since 2009, he has also managed a program that yearly gives out five to eight thousand BBT books. Recently, there was a favorable TV program about Mukunda and his family. He has done the school preaching with admirable determination and steadiness, and he developed an pedagogical expertise praised by many teachers. The schools make donations, with which he is able to maintain his family of three children, ages four to seven. Sometimes he drives nine hundred kilometers to visit a university. Many teachers came from far away to attend his wedding.


Category: Overall ISKCON Interest/Overall Preaching
Age: 63
ISKCON Temple: Munich
Spiritual Master: Krsna Ksetra Prabhu
Number of years doing this service: 10

She oversees the Munich center’s Deity worship, cooks for its programs, and keeps the books. Earlier, she was the head pujari and did varieties of sankirtana. She now takes care of the temple from morning till evening. While keeping the altar wonderfully clean, and dressing and cooking for the Deities, she does not neglect the temple program or her sadhana. Although a householder, she devotes her life to Srila Prabhupada’s movement. Always willing to listen to others, she is the driving force in Munich.


Category: Cow protection/Farming
Age: 57
ISKCON Temple: Bhaktivedanta Manor Gosala
Spiritual Master: Bhakti Vijnana Swami
Number of years doing this service: 9
Joined ISKCON: in Georgia

Gopalananda has been a steady, dedicated milker of cows for almost ten years. He loves the cows and sets high standards of punctuality, cleanliness, and meticulous record keeping. His great service attitude makes him always ready to do more if required. Visitors are attracted to his kind nature and reciprocate by bringing him plenty of vegetables for the cows, who eat vegetables while they’re milked. In Georgia he was a congregation member, and when he came to Bhaktivedanta Manor with his family, he dedicated himself to both his spiritual development and reliable devotional service to Lord Gokulananda’s cows.


Category: Cow protection/Farming
ISKCON Temple: New Vraja-dhama, Hungary
Spiritual Master: Sivarama Swami
Number of years doing this service: 20

Antardhi was one of the first devotees at the farm in Hungary, bought in 1993, and over the years he has held various responsibilities in regard to the farming, the cows, and the oxen. Currently he is in charge of the research and development in the agriculture department. He always demonstrates commitment and works hard. He is determined, but open to hear ideas and learn from others’ successes and failures. He is humble to devotees and firm and respectful to the oxen. He can work and control the feisty, long-horned Hungarian grey oxen, and he has the patience to train the young teams. Antardhi often goes barefoot in the summer to feel mother Earth. He is a great example of living with the cows and oxen and depending on Krishna.


Category: Overall ISKCON Interest/Overall Preaching
Age: 60
ISKCON Temple: Hamburg
Spiritual Master: Srila Prabhupada
Number of years doing this service in Hamburg: 15
Joined ISKCON: 1972 in Hamburg

He has shown long-term dedication and service to Srila Prabhupada and took up intense engagements in Germany, especially in Hamburg over the past few years, on the National Council, and in ISKCON Communications, despite having a fulltime job and raising three children. Since 1972, he has preached in Europe and North and South America (two years in Germany; seven in Sweden and Denmark; three in Italy, Belgium, and Greece; one year in Colombia; five years in America; and the last twenty-three years in Hamburg). He went to several countries because of difficulties in the movement, but remained faithful and dedicated when others complained and found faults. He was simple, truthful, and humble, and this was paid back in his receiving the blessings of Vaishnavas as he dedicated his life to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Back in Germany since 1989, Vaidyanatha serves with all his heart and is now the leading man in ISKCON Communications there. Prior to Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial in 1996, he commissioned the book Srila Prabhuapda and His Disciples in Germany. (His brother is Sacinandana Swami.)


Category: Outstanding Pujari Seva
ISKCON Temple Name/place: ISKCON Simhachalam, Germany
Name of the Spiritual Master: Bhakti Bhusana Swami
Number of years that he/she has been doing this service: 30

Despite raising three boys (whose father was not present), Sucitra has done almost everything for Lord Nrsimhadeva and His farm. She is there organizing, managing, preaching, and serving the Deities. Lately, one of her sons has become the farm's temple president. Her other two sons also do service for the Lord, one in Leipzig. Although there are many challenges, she has unflinching faith in the Lord and His devotees. She does so much for the farm project in Germany that the whole German yatra feels it. Devotees always see her happy, though having many tasks and responsibilities. She is an outstanding example of a mother and a devotee, showing that it is possible to have both a family life and temple service.

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