As H.H.Mukunda Maharaja explains in his article, “Our best foot forward”, Srila Prabhupada gave great emphasis to distributing three features of Krishna’s mercy: His books, the holy name through harinam sankirtana, and prasadam. ISKCON has excelled admirably in book and prasadam distribution, but the quality of our harinam sankirtan still needs to be addressed. What a better place to do it than on Padayatra, which is simply an expanded and continuous harinam party?
The harinam and procession are the most important aspects of Padayatra, and they deserve to be organized and supervised by very competent devotees. Decide if you need two leaders, one for harinam and one for the procession, or if the two functions can merge.
1) Responsibilities of the kirtanleader:
Make sure the kirtan is first class by having a competent kirtan leader whose duties are to:
Line up good singers
– Invite good kirtan leaders to Padayatra, even if only for a few days.
– Train and encourage devotees to lead kirtan.
– Give a chance to everyone: Vaisnavis, bhaktas, congregation members, young devotees and children.
– Make a rough schedule of the kirtan leaders for the day.
– Don’t let the same devotee lead all day long.
Have all the instruments ready
– Bring a variety, in sufficient quantity: kartalas, mrdangas (unbreakable), tambourines
– Add flavor to the kirtan with unusual instruments: trumpets, accordion, etc.
Get a powerful sound system
What’s the use of a great kirtan that nobody can hear? A good sound system is absolutely essential:
– Make sure the sound system is powerful enough.
– Check the batteries before the harinam parade.
– Improvise by attaching an amplifier to a caddy while using a cordless microphone.
– Secure a guitar amplifier to the frame of a backpack, and connect it to the microphone.
– Check if all the instruments and the amplifying system are ready before the walk starts.
Supervise quality and harmony
– Keep the kirtan harmonious, enthusiastic but not too wild.
– Chant and dance in a synchronised way.
– Rehearse the choreography of the kirtan party: you are on stage!
– Ensure that the devotees are not scattered all over the road.
– Discourage devotees from chanting japa during harinam.
– Window shopping can wait till later (or never).
2) Responsibilities of the procession leader:
The procession leader’s duty is to:
Coordinate and supervise all the activities going on during the entire walk
– Make sure everything and everybody is ready.
– Work closely with the kirtan leader.
– Delegate responsibilities and find assistants.
Inform the devotees
– Let devotees on the walk know the basic route, and the location (telephone number if possible) of the night accommodations or the evening program.
– Post this information on the information board in the morning, so the padayatris can take note of it, or distribute an individual sheet to the devotees.
Follow the established route
– Follow the route drawn on the map by the advanced party and finalized by the management team.
Set the pace of the walk and coordinate stops
– Control the pace of the walk, making sure the party stays together and is not scattered over a few kilometres.
– Indicate when it’s time to stop the procession for the following reasons:
– Starting a kirtan in a busy part of town.
– Preaching to the crowd.
– Staging short plays presenting the philosophy in a live and humorous way.
– Inviting people to the camp for prasadam, theatre, evening arati, etc.
– Resting alongside the road.
– Taking prasadam or refreshments.
– Swimming in a nearby river or lake.
Deal with police and legalities
– Keep with him/her all the necessary permits.
– Communicate with law enforcement officials and work with them.
– Respect the “Silence” zones, unless devotees have special permission to break it.
– Ask the advanced party what are the legal requirements:
– “Slow moving vehicle” sign on big roads.
– Fluorescent security jackets for security people.
Invite people to participate in the parade
– Invite mayors, officials, VIPs to lead the parade, garland the Deities, Srila Prabhupada or Lord Caitanya’s footprints.
– Invite school children to dance and chant.
Offer oxcart rides to the children
– It will be an unforgettable experience for them (in New Zealand it was mentioned in a newspaper article).
Oversee the general security on the road
– It is a must for a large procession, especially in busy cities and on dangerous narrow roads where the cart, the oxen and the padayatris can be hit by careless drivers.
– Make sure devotees walk in designated areas.
– Escort the deity cart and make sure the animals behave normally.
– Pay attention to traffic lights and signs.
– Stop traffic so the entire procession can proceed together.
– Designate devotees to stand in the front and the back of the procession with their security signs or/and jackets.
Bring signs and banners
– Signs are essential so people know who we are, what is the purpose of the walk, where we’re going, etc.
– Waterproof banners are preferable.
– The size of the banner should be adapted to the streets you will walk on.
– Plastic signs are very practical: rigid, light and rainproof.
– Always carry a sign or banner with the maha-mantra.
Inspect devotees’ appearance
The first impression people will have of the devotees is a visual one. This cannot be over emphasized. Proper attire and cleanliness are essential, especially in Western countries where everyone is so body conscious.
– Regularly inspect the sankirtana party, watch out for old faded dhotis, saris full of holes, worn out shoes, muddy boots, unmatching socks, eccentric hats and clothes, hippy appearance, etc.
– Make sure Padayatra leaders provide new or decent devotional clothes for devotees who need them.
– Encourage congregational members to wear devotional clothes.
Encourage costumes and decorations
– Get devotees to dress up, wear costumes of Krishna and the gopis, Lord Caitanya and His associates, etc. Children will love it.
– Decorate the carts (Deity and children cart) with festoons, banners, balloons, flowers, etc.
– Decorate the oxen: head piece, embroidered blanket, painted horns, etc.
Check the appearance of the Deity cart
– Insure the cart is not cluttered with too many things: books, clothes, etc.
Get children on their cart
– Add a special cart for the children if there are lots of them on the walk: children will be happy and their parents also. Onlookers will appreciate that devotees take good care of their kids.
– Ask parents to bring strollers if there is no children cart.
Get the devotees to distribute books and pamphlets
– Ask the sankirtan leader to bring enough books and pamphlets.
– Distribute informative pamphlets very profusely.
(See samples in Section 1-Office, printed materials)
Make sure prasadam is ready for distribution
Prasadam always wins hearts, even if it is simple.
– Serve prasadam in a convenient way: in little plastic bags, paper cups, etc: don’t drop a juicy and sticky sweet in someone’s hand, even if that’s pure mercy!
– The pujari sitting on the Deity cart can serve caranamrita and/or give out prasadam.
Get devotees to beg for goods along the road
You can get almost everything you need if you ask nicely and politely: bhoga, fruits, vegetables, staples, flowers, etc.
– Get the walkers to ask permission to pick flowers or fruits.
In India especially padayatris got many opportunities to chant and dance with other Vaisnavas. In western countries devotees can invite followers of other religious traditions to come and chant Hare Krishna with them. If they feel a little timid in chanting Hare Krishna, they could also be encouraged to chant the names of God that they feel comfortable with. We want people to see that this chanting of the names of God is universal, part of all the great religious traditions of the world.
– “Our best foot forward”: by H.H.Mukunda Goswami , Ex -Minister of ISKCON Communication (ISKCON Communication Briefings Vol 3 N°4 Sept/oct 90)
Srila Prabhupada gave great emphasis to distributing three features of Krishna’s mercy: His books, the holy name through harinam sankirtan, and prasadam.
ISKCON has excelled admirably throughout the world in book distribution, with the printing and distribution of millions of books in dozens of languages. Prasadam distribution has been a pervasive, ever-increasing phenomenon at Sunday feasts, festivals, Hare Krishna Food For Life programs, restaurants, cooking classes, congregational and FOLK programs, conferences and seminars, and in dozens of other preaching arenas.
ISKCON’s daily or weekly harinam sankirtan in many parts of the world, however, has not seemed to keep pace with our generally constant expansions of book and prasadam distribution. The numbers of devotees who participate in harinam, and the quality of most of the parties, need addressing.
Why is harinam so important?
The “image” of an organization is not artificially “created” by media exposure, advertising, or slick marketing procedures. Ultimately, the image of an organization is the sum total of its personal contacts with members of the public. Literally tens of thousands of people – and often hundred of thousands – will hear or see an ISKCON harinam party in a single day or evening. From a worldwide perspective, harinam presents a unique opportunity to broadcast the holy name to millions of people each month or week of the year.
Why is the quality of harinam parties so important?
First, it makes a big difference when many devotees join the party. When the public sees many devotees participating, the people get a sense of our movement’s strength and endurance. And when the devotees dress nicely, sing and play instruments in a coordinated, pleasing way, and dance rhythmically and gracefully, both observers and devotees become spiritually enlivened.
Srila Prabhupada, who taught us how to glorify the Lord through chanting, dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments, greatly appreciated kirtanas in the style and mode of our disciplic succession.
We can imagine how beautifully the kirtana singers and players must have sounded when Lord Caitanya was present.
In Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya–lila, chapter 13, verses 33-48 speak of the ordered manner in which sankirtana parties were arranged for the Puri Ratha-yatra festivals that took place in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s presence. Each party was assigned someone to lead, others to respond, others to dance, and two mrdanga players to keep the beat.
When Srila Parbhupada first arrived in England in 1969, he gave personal instructions on where mrdanga players should be situated for certain types of kirtans, how instruments should be played, and how in Lord Caitanya’s time instruments were played softly while accompanying the lead singer and louder for the chorus, back and forth.
While ecstasy cannot be controlled, it can be intensely felt by both devotees and the conditioned souls when the chanting, dancing, and playing of musical instruments on harinam are well co-ordinated.
Cleanliness, proper attire, “orchestration,” even choreography all their all have their place in Lord Caitanya’s movement. Harinam parties need not be massive to make a good impression,but since millions of people see them every year, more frequent and better-organized ones will have a greater impact. And harinam parties do affect the way people perceive the Hare Krishna movement.
ISKCON is more famous for chanting Hare Krishna than anything else. Chanting in public is something to be proud of, and it’s time to revive, emphasize, and upgrade this vital element of preaching throughout the Krishna consciousness movement.
Padayatra presents a high “visibility factor” with the colorful procession, carts, oxen, and devotees chanting and dancing in the streets. Padayatra activities involve constant mingling with the public by preaching, distributing books, making friends with hosts or holding festivals. The devotee’s life is an open book: they chant, dance, read, engage in their spiritual practices, cook and offer their food, eat their prasadam, wash their laundry and relate to each other in front of the public day and night. Visibility on the streets is closely followed by notice in the media. In every country where it went, Padayatra has generated lots of positive media coverage, the best ISKCON ever had. Padayatra is also an excellent field to train all participants in the basics of effective communication. After all, ISKCON is an educational movement, and charity starts at home.
1) Padayatra is a big Public Relations project:
As H.H.Lokanath Swami explains in his article, Padayatra is a big P.R. project . One can be convinced of this fact simply by taking a glimpse of the headlines of newspaper articles
Here are a few examples of very successful media coverage generated by Padayatra:
– In the USA, both on the West and the East Coast, Padayatra America received a very favorable newspaper article in almost every single town and city it went through.
On the East Coast alone 42 articles were written.
– In Ireland, besides the numerous articles written, the devotees were interviewed or mentionned in over 20 radio programs and appeared 3 times on the news on TV .
– In New Zealand, mayors from major cities participated in the Padayatra parade through their towns, received books and garlands, and garlanded the lotus footprints of Lord Caitanya.
a: “Padayatra, a big PR project”, by Lokanath Swami
b: Reduced newspaper clippings (India, USA,UK, various countries, New Zealand, Europe)
c: Newspaper articles (New Zealand, UK and USA)
2) Drawbacks of the high visibility factor of Padayatra:
Padayatra offers unlimited opportunities for positive contact with the public, officials, VIPs and the medias, but this high visibility factor can be detrimental to the devotees and the Movement if they act in irresponsible or careless ways.
Padayatra leaders should pay special attention to the following items:
– Contact with officials and medias
Select only qualified and trained devotees.
If you have nobody trained yet, start right away.
– Personal presentation and behavior
Devotees should be neat and clean, wear tilak and devotional clothes.
Devotees should always be respectful and polite with everybody.
Present an attractive party: chanting, dancing and preaching harmoniously.
It must look like a Vaisnava camp, not a hippy den.
– Lifestyle in harmony with our high ideals
Be ecological: avoid plastic and styrofoam cups and plates, recycle all garbage.
1) Build a solid communication team:
– Choose devotees trained and experienced in the field, or get the guidance of communication experts.
– Take advantage of various communication training seminars taking place in ISKCON.
– Consult internet communication conferences and websites for guidelines and advice.
– Read the publications of the ISKCON Communication Office.
– The communication team has to work closely with the advance party, or be part of it, as many encounters with officials take place in the preparatory stage.
2) Educate Padayatra devotees on the ABC of communication:
– Educate all the devotees on the various official statemements on ISKCON published by the ISKCON Communication Office. This could be done during istaghostis.
– Instruct them to refer all officials, reporters and TV crews to the authorized members of the communication team. It is especially important to follow this rule in countries where the situation is very difficult and problematic. Reporters will print whatever has been said in an interview, so better act with caution.
d- Basics of media relations, by H.H.Mukunda Goswami
e- Official statements on ISKCON pubished by ISKCON Communication Ministry
f- Official statement: Origins of the Hare Krishna Movement
g- Official statement: Hare Krishna Farm Communities
3) Prepare a news release package:
– In general, unless the media is very biased against the devotees of Krishna, preparing a good news package will insure you a good newspaper article or time on TV and radio. Busy journalists are more than happy to have materials to base their article on, in addition to live interviews.
– The samples of news releases issued by the New Zealand communication team and the newspaper articles that were subsequently printed is a demonstration of this fact.
A news package consists of:
– A news release presented in a clear and concise manner, explaining what exactly are the goals of the Padayatra walk. It must answer the basic questions of: who, what, why, when and how.
– Information about Padayatra, the theme of the walk, ISKCON cow protection, the chanting of the holy name, the peace formula.
– Most recent newspaper articles covering Padayatra, or excerpts of previous radio or TV interviews.
– A few good photographs: they will greatly enhance your chances of having your news release used in a newspaper article
– Padayatra route and schedule of festivals, parades, etc
– Contact addresses, fax and phone numbers of the communication team and the Padayatra Office.
h- Preparing and sending out a news release, by H.H.Mukunda Goswami
i1 to 4- News release: UK, New Zealand, USA and Canada
1) Contact the media months in advance:
– Contact the media one or two months in advance by phone, mail, or preferably in person.
– Find out which radio or TV shows could host you or be interested in your Padayatra program. Stress the visual and musical features.
– Send the press package early so the media people have time to assimilate the information you gave them before the actual walk. In England, many short articles were published weeks in advance, announcing the coming Padayatra.
2) Contact or recontact the media a few days before arrival:
– Contact the media a few days before arrival, if it has not been done before.
– Recontact those who already have been contacted.
– Make an appointment to meet the media people during the procession through their town: give them exact time and location. It is very important to be there on time: otherwise devotees will not look very serious and will miss a good opportunity to present Krishna Consciousness.
Radio: Lots of radio stations announced Padayatra on the news.
In New Zealand and Spain the arrival of Padayatra was broadcast live and the speaker was requesting people to open their doors and windows to watch the parade walking by.
1) Strategy to follow:
– Send a letter to officials (mayors, councils, etc) in areas that will be visited by Padayatra, on Padayatra letterhead if possible.
– The letter should present:
– The purpose and theme of the walk
– The walk’s humanitarian aspects (peace formula, free food distribution)
– The Padayatra festive mood (chanting, dancing, festivals, parade, etc)
– An invitation to officially participate in the inaugural function or parade through their city
Appendix in Section 1-Office: Sample of letters (Letter to Christchurch City Council) and to Richmond
Mayor, New Zealand)
2) What the VIPs can be asked to do during the parade?
– Lead the Padayatra procession through their town
– Give an inaugural speech
– Garland Srila Prabhupada, the Padayatra Deities or the footprints of Lord Caitanya.
– Sweep the ground with a golden handled broom in front of the Padayatra cart, or Lord Jagannath’s cart when Padayatra and Ratha Yatra combine.
3) Give gifts to VIPs:
– Srila Prabhupada’s books
– Maha prasadam in an elegant box
– A gorgeous garland
– An invitation to the Padayatra festival in their town
– An invitation to ISKCON temples and restaurants
a- Padayatra, a big PR project, by H.H. Lokanath Swami
b- Reduced newspaper clippings (India, USA,UK, various countries, New Zealand, Europe)
c- Newspaper articles
– Hare Krishna Movement: a world of light and knowledge (New Zealand,1993)
– Treat the Earth as you should your body (New Zealand, 1993)
– Spaced out in flip-flops on the road to Ripon (UK, 1991)
– John, the follower, finds ‘absolute Truth’ (New Zealand, 1991)
– Krishnas march for survival (USA, 1991)
d- Basics of media relations, by H.H.Mukunda Goswami
e- Official statements on ISKCON pubished by ISKCON Communication Ministry
f- Official statement: Origins of the Hare Krishna Movement
g- Official statement: Hare Krishna Farm Communities
h- Preparing and sending out a news release, by H.H.Mukunda Goswami
i1- News release: Padayatra Worldwide (UK, 1991)
i2- News release: Steps towards Peace (New Zealand, 1991)
i3- News release: Krishnas march to save temples (USA, 1990)
i4- Krishna monk launches 2nd cross-Canada trek (Canada, 2003)
(Excerpts from his manual, “Communication for Preachers”)
( ISKCON Communication Briefings, July/Aug 1991)
Public Relation is not:
b- An information service
f- Press agentry
g- Mass communications
h- Outreach based on demo-and psychographics, etc
When you talk with reporters beware of:
(The Rowland Company, Los Angeles)
1. SMILE SMILE SMILE.
2. Use numbers or statistics when you can.
3. You are all articulate – be careful not to speak ABOVE your audience.
4. You are all also humorous – use it to your advantage. Humor lessens intimidation.
5. DO NOT use an interview as a platform for conversion.
6. “NO COMMENT” is to be used ONLY for legal or ethical considerations.
7. There is NO SUCH THING as “off the record”.
8. KNOW what your key points are BEFORE the interview.
9. When possible, interject your PERSONAL experiences to make a point.
10. Make sure your messages are consistent with what everyone else is saying.
Example: “Our Hare Krishna Food for Life program has been feeding 1,200 people a week at this site for four years. The food is nutritious and delicious and is really making a difference for the city’s hungry.”
Example: “Sometimes people, especially the children, are crying because they’re so hungry and cold. And a 50-year-old man told me yesterday that if it weren’t for us he would have died last winter;3
Example: “Our vegetarian food distribution proves not only that the homeless can have more to eat, but that they can eat better on a vegetarian diet. We can feed more people for less money than any other group we know of. The government knows this, and that’s why we’re confident our grants of cash and food will continued to be renewed.”
Major daily papers receive nearly 2,000 releases a day and only have 100 reporters.
TV outlets often have three or four crews.
Note: Only the titles and headlines are indicated here
For the complete articles, contact director: Anuttama das
The Hare Krishna Movement in America is rooted in the ancient Vaisnava tradition of India
2) Fact sheet about ISKCON:
International Society for Krishna Consciousness: Fact Sheet
– Governing Body
– Food for Life
3) ISKCON and Vedic Culture:
ISKCON – dedicated to preserving Vedic Culture through practice, literature, arts and festivals
International Society for Krishna Consciousness: Selected Publication List
– Science and religion
– Children’s literature
– Songs and meditation
5) Biography of Prabhupada: His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
6) Academia: Hare Krishna Movement founder respected by academia for his translations and commentaries on ancient Vedic literature
7) Scholars: Scholars / experts on Hare Krishna
8) Food for life:
Hare Krishna Food For Life program committed to fighting world hunger
9) Land and cows:
Hare Krishna farm communities dependent on the basics –land and cows
International Society for Krishna Consciousness Major holidays and local celebrations
Glossary of Sanskrit and Bengali words commonly used in ISKCON
12) Resource list:
– Academic journals
– Media Newsletter
When A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada) entered the port of New York City on September 17, 1965, few Americans took notice — but he was not merely another immigrant. He was on a mission to introduce an ancient religion, which originated in India, into mainstream America. His mission succeeded, and before his passing on November 14, 1977, Srila Prabhupada saw the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) grow into a worldwide confederation with over 100 temples and rural communities.
Srila Prabhupada’s Hare Krishna movement is an authentic modern application of the Bhagavad-gita, the spiritual teachings spoken by Lord Krishna, over 5,000 years ago. This ancient scripture documents the conversation between Lord Krishna and his close friend and disciple Arjuna, just before the battle of Kurukshetra (near modern-day New Delhi).
The Bhagavad-gita teaches that the ultimate perfection of life is to surrender to God (Krishna or Vishnu) and to return to the kingdom of God at death. This philosophy, known as Vaishnavism, is a monotheistic denomination within the broad Hindu culture.
In the latter part of the 15th century, Lord Krishna’s philosophy of loving devotion to God resurged when the long predicted birth of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Krishna, occurred in 1486. Sri Chaitanya introduced an expansive spiritual movement that swept India and gained a following of millions. Sri Chaitanya’s disciples compiled hundreds of volumes on the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. ISKCON is a vibrant continuation of the movement Sri Chaitanya began.
During Sri Chaitanya’s time, people in general discriminated against lower caste persons and non-Hindus, not allowing them to participate in many religious activities. Sri Chaitanya ignored these long standing social prejudices allowing everyone the opportunity to become spiritually enlightened through the chanting of Hare Krishna. He advocated that the easiest means to attain self-realization is by chanting God’s holy names: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The Krishna movement waned somewhat in the years that followed. Then, in the late 19th century, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, scholar and magistrate, and a representative in the line of succession coming from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, established a religious society to revive interest in the teaching of Sri Chaitanya and Lord Krishna. His son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, continued his work by establishing the Gaudiya Math, an institution with 64 branches that again revitalized Krishna consciousness throughout India.
When Bhaktisiddhanta, who later became Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, first met Srila Prabhupada in 1922, he asked him to spread the teachings of Lord Krishna to the English-speaking world. After Bhaktisiddhanta gave him this mission, Prabhupada spent the next 43 years preparing to execute this sacred task.
When Srila Prabhupada finally arrived in New York in 1965, he was 70 years old. Most men his age retire and live leisurely, but this was just the beginning of the fulfillment of his life’s mission.
Srila Prabhupada taught his followers that they must help to revive humanity’s inherent natural spiritual principles. To do so, members follow four basic regulations: no eating meat, fish or eggs; no gambling; no illicit sex; and no intoxication of any kind, including tobacco, coffee and tea. The Vedas teach that indulgence in these activities disrupts physical, mental and spiritual well being, and increases anxiety and conflict in society.
In the final 12 years of Srila Prabhupada’s life, he expanded his Krishna consciousness movement throughout the world. He translated a wide array of Vedic literature, publishing more than 70 books. His books have been applauded by many scholars and are used in university philosophy and religion courses around the world. Srila Prabhupada’s books are distributed by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT), which has become a leading publisher and distributor of Indian literature.
For more information, please contact ISKCON Communications at (301) 299-9707.
In nearly 50 rural communities around the world, members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) are striving to produce wholesome, nutritious staples for their vegetarian diets. Farming communities are important to the Hare Krishna spiritual lifestyle of “simple living and high thinking.” “The world’s hunger problems could be solved if people subsisted on a balanced vegetarian diet and simply depended on the land and the cows,” said A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON.
Secluded from the hectic lifestyle of urban society, the ISKCON farming system is pure and simple. Devotees strive to depend on the land and cows to produce fruits, grains, vegetables and milk. In keeping with their ancient Vedic religious beliefs, a goal of Krishna members is to produce only what they need and to avoid selfish excesses.
“We believe no animal should be sacrificed for its meat,” said Balabhadra Dasa, a farm community leader and director of the International Society for Cow Protection (ISCOWP), a parallel ISKCON organization. “Cows are invaluable assets to the ISKCON farm community. Vedic literature describes the cow as mother to all of humanity because cow’s milk provides nourishment to all human beings.”
Studies have shown that cows that are not threatened by slaughter tend to produce an abundance of high quality milk. Some cows on ISKCON farms have been known to produce milk years after they have been bred, whereas in the commercial dairy industry cows are bred yearly. For example, the cow Vishaka at the Gita Nagari farm community in Pennsylvania, USA, birthed a calf once nine years ago and has produced milk ever since. Devotees use milk to make butter, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream and a wide assortment of traditional Indian sweet desserts.
Along with saving the cows, Hare Krishna members also protect bulls. In Vedic society, in which traditional farming methods are used, the bull pulls the plow and tills the fields.
“Bulls are thought of as father to human society, because by their labor our food is produced,” said Balabhadra Dasa. “Both the cows and bulls represent the four pillars of religious life in the Vedic culture — truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy and austerity. Therefore they deserve all respect and proper care.”
The farming communities are instilled with a strong sense of karma. Karma is similar to nature’s physical law that for every action there is a reaction, or “you reap what you sow.” It is related to the principle of reincarnation, which teaches that those who act righteously will be rewarded, either now or in a future life. This belief influences ISKCON devotees to not only strive to treat every individual as their neighbor, but to also avoid any abuse of the environment and wildlife.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1966. Popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON is a worldwide nonsectarian association that promotes the well being of human society by teaching the science of Krishna consciousness through the ancient Vedic scriptures of India.
For more information regarding cow protection, please contact Balabhadra Dasa (ISCOWP) email@example.com at (304) 843-1270 , or ISKCON Communications at (301) 299-9707.
H.H.Mukunda Goswami (ICB Feb/March 1990 Vol 3 N°1)
The most basic and widely used tool for achieving media attention and placement is still the good old news release. The term “news release” is generally favoured over “press release”, as the latter implies exclusion of other electronic media – radio and television.
A well-written, intelligently conceived, and systematically distributed news release often results in interviews and coverage.
When devotees include worthy photographs, properly captioned, and other graphics with the release, chances of placement are usually increased.
The first question to ask before sending out a news release is “Is it news?” or “Who cares?” – Think like a reporter looking for news before deciding on a news release and while preparing it. The more your release reads like a news story, the greater its chances of being read completely and used.
Basics of a news release:
All releases should include: the 5 W and one H:
Before you start writing you need to figure out:
Choose channel: what media are you targeting? (Local or national newspaper, radio or TV)
– Contact name and Phone
The lead and headline are the most important. Captures the attention of journalist.
The lead should be kept to an average if 21 words or less (three lines)
– Body copy:
What: Description of the event
When: Date and time of event
Where: Address of event. (Include major cross roads if difficult to find)
Participants: Who will be there of interest to the media.
Quotes: It is a most powerful tool – the only place you can editorialize.
Visuals: If it is for television describe the visual shots they can get.
Interview possibilities: This is where you can sell them on different story angles.
NEWS RELEASE FROM HARE KRISHNA COMMUNICATIONS.
2STJAMES ROAD. WATFORD. WD1 8EA. U.K.
The Vedic tradition of travelling on foot from place to place has always been a respected spiritual discipline and an effective way to spread spiritual teachings.
Founder of the Hare Krishna movement, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami Prabhupada began to organize walking tours of the towns and villages near his base at Jhansi, in Northern India during the 1950s. After establishing his movement all over the world, he requested his Indian disciple Lokanath Swami to begin travelling around the country by bullock cart, encouraging the people he met to chant Hare Krishna.
The first Hare Krishna pilgrimage, complete with bullock carts, began at Dvaraka, the westermost point on the Indian coast, on the 2nd of September 1984. It was intended to travel for 19 months around the coast to Bengal, covering 7,000 kilometres, for the 500th anniversary celebrations of Sri Caitanya. Passing through 19 states, distributing books in 10 languages, the Padayatra introduced or revived the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra in thousands of towns and villages.
The journey began with 100 members, but it was 200 who completed the first walk, to arrive in Mayapur, West Bengal in time for the massive celebrations for Sri Caitanya’s 500th anniversary. Devotees on the walk felt that they should keep going. They completed their journey around of the whole of India, arriving back at Dwaraka on March 18th 1988. A special gate was erected in the city in their honour. They continue now on their second circuit of the sub-continent, and are currently in the South.
In 1986, Padayatra began in Mauritius and in 1988 in Guyana. On May 1989 American Hare Krishna devotees begana Padayatra at Berkeley, in California. They walked to Guadalajara and Mexico City and continued to Belize. A second walk that began in 1990 in New York is now on route for Miami.
Padayatra Europe began in Belfast on June 1st 1990. Irish devotees walked for six months around the Emerald Isle, often staying in monasteries and churches. In July, a massive public festival was held in Dublin. This walk continues through Britain to Holland, Belgium and France. After visiting Southern Europe, the walk will begin the journey North towards Moscow.
On October 4th, 1990, Italian devotees began a walk to the famous town of Assisi, living day by day on donations of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, and occasionally holding Hare Krishna meetings in village churches.
In January this year, devotees in New Zealand hitched up their bullock carts and began Padayatra in Christchurch.
As part of the build up towards the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the Hare Krishna movement, it is planned to stage 100 walking pilgrimages throughout the world. Later in the year, Australia, Fiji, Holland, Belgium, France and Malyasia will all take part.
Padayatra Worldwide co-ordinator Lokanath Swami will be present for some section of the British walk. He will be glad to give further details.
To keep in touch with the worldwide Padayatra, please contact: ………………
FROM: Padayatra New Zealand CONTACT: Tina Shaffler or Jane Beecroft PH 025 434494 (Anytime) Or 03 665174 FAX 661 965 DATE: 1 March 1991
New Zealand Hare Krishna Movement: Steps towards Peace in 1991
A travelling Peace Festival of men, women and children has traversed the south island visiting 40 towns and cities, bringing a unique message of peace and goodwill.
A ornate Indian-styled car pulled by a pair of bullocks paraded in every town from Nelson to Bluff. “Padayatra” (which means ”walking festival”) is part of a worldwide movement whose goal is to organise this festival in 108 countries by 1996. This is the 100th anniversary of the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Padayatra, working closely with district and city councils, met with the mayors of each place and made a presentation of peace and goodwill. Visits to primary schools were also arranged on the West Coast/Nelson sector.
Accompanying the cart was a group of enthusiasts bringing the peace formula with song and dance. There was also a display unit which explored the topics of simple living, cow protection, vegetarianism, reincarnation and the answer to world peace. Festive sweets were also distributed.
A group of actors and musicians provided entertainment for the holiday crowds and a full vegetarian feast was served at the festivals. The Padayatra was very well received wherever it went, attracting the attention of the general public and media.
Padayatra New Zealand commenced January 1st 1991 with an opening festival at the Hare Krishna Cultural Center in Christchurch. Special guest for this event was Indian born His Holiness Lokanath Swami – the world leader of Padayatra. He has initiated many of these festivals worldwide – Padayatra India has travelled over the entire country for almost a decade and the recent Padayatra America carried the theme of religious freedom. Padayatra has just been completed in Italy and Ireland.
It is interesting to note that the New Zealand Padayatra (which was planned this time last year) began at almost the same time the Gulf war began and has finished on the very same day.
The closing parade will start at 1pm today at Riccarton shopping center and will meet with Mayor Vicki Buck at the Cathedral Steps at 2.30pm. A huge celebration festival will then be held at the Hare Krishna Temple at 83 Bealey Ave 6pm, with all members of the public invited. This day also marks the appearance of Lord Caitanya who initiated this concept of Padayatra in India 505 years ago.
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS
Founder-acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
10310 OAKLYN ROAD, POTOMAC, MARYLAND 20854
KRISHNAS MARCH TO SAVE TEMPLES
ASK HIGH COURT JUDGE TO HEAR CASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 27, 1990
Contact: Anuttama Das
Telephone: (301) 983-0274, 983-0281
WASHINGTON — Spurred on by court actions which threatens to close down many of the religion’s North American places of worship, hundreds of Hare Krishna followers and supporters will march for religious freedom in Washington, Wed., Feb. 28.
The march, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial and culminating in a rally at the National Archives at 1 p.m., coincides with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness’s (ISKCON) first cert petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Hindu sect wants the court to hear its appeal for relief from $5 million in punitive damages, awarded to the mother of a former member of the religion, and upheld last year by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego, California
“The First Amendment prohibits excessive awards for punitive damages against religions,” said David Liberman, attorney for ISKCON. “This exorbitant award effectively grants one disgruntled person the power to suppress the religious freedom rights of thousands of believers of a minority religion and opens the door for similar awards against other religions.”
Events leading to the case began in 1974, when 15-year-old Robin George ran away from home to live in a Hare Krishna temple after her parents forbade her to practice the Krishna religion by chanting the Krishna mantra on her prayer beads, dismantled her altar and eventually burned her Bhagavad-gita, the Hindu Bible.
In 1975, under increasing pressure from her parents, the movement asked Robin to return home which she did reluctantly. Two years later, after continued association with “anti-cult” organizations, Robin and her mother, Marcia, sued ISKCON for false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other charges, claiming mind control and brainwashing.
In 1983, in an emotionally-charged, six-month trial, an Orange County California Superior Court jury returned a $32 million dollar verdict against the Krishna religion, over 90% of which was punitive. The verdict was one of the largest damage awards in the history of the state and the nation. The amount was later reduced by Judge James Jackman to $9.7 million. “This was a heresy trial,” said Dr.V.J. Mody, president of the Washington-based Hindu Alliance. “Our Hindu scriptures were ridiculed, pictures of our Deities were scorned, and our beliefs in reincarnation, vegetarianism, and chanting the names of God were characterized as psychologically and physically destructive. In the courtroom their lawyer called our faith a ‘pernicious evil’ and compared us with Dracula.”
In August 1989, the 4th District Court of Appeal threw out the charges of false imprisonment by brainwashing and intentional infliction of emotional distress to Robin, but it upheld an astounding $5 million, with current interest, in punitive and compensatory damages for Marcia George.
“Given that the court threw out the false imprisonment charges and brainwashing claims, the heart of the plaintiffs’ case, the Appeal Court’s ruling was dishonest and ludicrous,” said Liberman.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Milton Silverman expressed the same sentiments when he told the jury, “If there was no false imprisonment the rest of this stuff (the other charges) is a lot of hogwash…..It just wouldn’t be fair to find against the defendants (ISKCON).”
Five Krishna temples, including ISKCON’s western world headquarters in Los Angeles, are now under court receivership because of the $5 million judgment. If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case or if the religion loses the case, the Los Angeles headquarters and other centers will have to be sold.
The religious freedom march will mark the beginning of a 24-hour, nationwide prayer vigil during which the Hare Krishna devotees will chant and pray for the preservation of religious liberty in America.
“We’re victims of absurd and excessive punitive damages,” said Mody, “and other religions are now potential victims. If someone had been convicted of leading Robin into prostitution, the maximum fine under California criminal law would have been $2,000. Our fine is $5 million, which means thousands of Hindus are about to lose their places of worship.”
Padayatra is a preachers’ paradise since all activities involve constant contact with the public from early morning to late evening. Many friends are made and many seeds of devotion are planted, and then it is all up to the padayatris and local temple devotees to systematically cultivate these friendly contacts and water the sprouting plant of devotion.
1- The need for “uniform messages”
H.H.Mukunda Goswami made some very important points in regards to preaching in his article,
“Everyone must know ISKCON’s philosophy and mission” (ISKCON Communication Briefings, Nov/Dec 1990):
“One of the principal challenges of internal communications is “uniform messages.”
Are we Hindu? What is the goal of Krishna consciousness? What is our position on the environment? Are we trying to convert the whole world? How important is it for us to feed the poor and open hospitals? These are among the many questions that typically draw diverse and sometimes diametrically opposite answers from devotees.
Because we are personalists and because some of these questions are broadly philosophical, we cannot expect that devotees will give homogeneous responses. However, it’s important that we become conversant with and keep up with ISKCON’s views on such issues as drugs, abortion, animal rights, feeding the hungry (Hare Krishna Food for Life), Krishna consciousness and the arts, the Hare Krishna perspective on social organization and government, and rural vis-à-vis urban lifestyles.
Partly for this reason ISKCON Communications is distributing, through the American BBT, the series of 25 pamphlets of ISKCON Communications Briefings. These are as much for the devotees as for the public, because they provide standardized information on many topics and issues of the day.”
2- Educating the devotees
Padayata organizers should take some time during istaghostis to educate the devotees on the Padayatra party about preaching techniques and strategies:
Invite all kinds of devotees, especially those speaking the local language. On Padayatra every single devotee can preach in one way or another:
– Sannyasis: invite them to join Padayatra for some time, unless of course they are already immersed in other kinds of preaching activities. Srila Prabhupada emphasized many times that it is the sannyasis’ duties to travel and preach extensively.
– Senior Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis: they have so much knowledge and wisdom to share.
– Vanaprasthas: going on the road to preach will keep them healthy and happy.
– Temple brahmacaris and brahmacarinis: they might need some spiritual rejuvenation.
– Bhaktas and bhaktins: Padayatra could be the continuation of their training and give them a wonderful taste of the preaching experience.
– Gurukulis: they could go on Padayatra instead of their summer camp.
– Teen-agers: if they wonder where they fit, they’ll find a place and an engagement with the travelling festival.
– Congregational members: devotees who work can join the walk during week-ends and vacations.
– Remember that a well-organized and colorful parade and a group of blissful devotees is a non-verbal kind of preaching.
– The Padayatra parade should stop at various places along the route, preferably in the center of the village or town, and present Krishna consciousness to the public:
– Explain who the devotees are and where they are coming from.
– Present the purpose of the walk and the theme.
– Give a brief explanation of the chanting of the holy names.
– Announce the coming programs and festivals in their location.
– Invite interested people you meet in the street to the festival or the Padayatra camp. Print little invitations if you like or just post an invitation on the cart.
– Do a little play to illustrate the philosophy.
1- Pamphlets for mass distribution:
This is a most important item, as many people do not want to buy books, or cannot afford to buy them. (Samples in Appendix of Section 1-Office, printed materials).
2- BTG and other ISKCON magazines:
Distribute ISKCON magazines in the local language.
Refer to section 15- Distribute books
People like to be entertained, have a little fun and forget their miseries. On Padayatra devotees with acting talents have plenty of opportunities to use them in the Lord’s service:
1- Theater: plays and dramas are usually the higlights of evening programs and festivals.
2- Short plays and skits illustrating the philosophy are popular with young and older people alike.
3- Puppet shows: Parasuram das had various puppet shows in UK: Mrgari the hunter, etc.
FILMS, VIDEOS, DIORAMAS, SIGNS AND DISPLAYS
We live in a visual era when people are more inclined to watch TV or a video than read a book.
The films, dioramas and other visual materials used on the walks have literally touched thousands of people around the world.
1- Films and videos:
-Organize showings of various ISKCON films and videos during festivals and home programs: Padayatra India has shown “Your ever well-wisher” during almost every evening program for ten years.
– Parasuram das, during his Vraja Mandala Padayatra, has deeply affected the consciousness of the villagers by showing a movie on cow-killing in India.
– Possible topics: reincarnation (changing bodies), Caitanya or Krishna lila, Prabhupada’s
pastimes and achievements, the four pillars of religion, stories from the Bhagavatam, etc.
– Make the displays informational, educational and colorful.
– Suggested topics: ISKCON worldwide, temples and activities, Krishna and Caitanya
lila, basic aspects of the philosophy, art and culture, Padayatra, cow protection,
vegetarianism, reincarnation, etc.
– Practical considerations:
– Use light but rigid material.
– Make them easy to handle, erect, fold and store.
– Waterproof them: lamination, adhesive plastic, etc.
– Build a strong stand for the displays: beware of strong winds.
– Set them up in a tent or pandal.
– Have the text removable so you can display texts and captions in different languages in case the walk goes through various countries.
4- Signs and banners:
– Make various signs and banners to get your message across:
– The maha-mantra
– Theme of the walk
– Destination and number of kms covered.
– Paintings or photos of Srila Prabhupada, Sri Krishna or Lord Caitanya.
– Make all signs and banners light and waterproof.
Interfaith encounters take place spontaneously whenever Padayatra is hosted in a church or a monastery or even by meeting people on the street.
More details in section 20- “Meet people from other faiths”
Everything about a festival is preaching for it attracts all the people’s senses to Krishna, including the mind: music, prasadam, dances, theatre, puppet shows, mimes, etc.
More details in section 14- “Organize festivals”
Like any other temple, Padayatra attracts souls to become devotees of Krishna. Some people joined the walk for a few days or weeks, and some of them have become full-time initiated devotees in New Zealand, Mexico, Siberia, etc.
How to make and cutivate your new bhaktas and bhaktins:
– Invite hosts and favorable people to join the walk for a few days.
– Encourage interested people to visit the closest Hare Krishna temple.
– Give special classes and training to your new recruits.
– Get temples in your yatra to send their bhaktas and bhaktins on Padayatra: they will never forget this preaching experience, which might be the first one for them, nor the taste of fun and adventure in Lord Caitanya’s mission.
– Carry with you one of the various Bhakta-making and training manuals available in ISKCON.
KEEP TRACK OF ALL INTERESTED PEOPLE
– Get every padayatri to carry a notebook and write down the names of favorable persons met during the walk, home program or a festival, those who appreciated and bought books, friends who gave donations, bhoga, hosted the party or rendered some kind of service, friendly reporters, etc.
– Hand out invitation cards with address of local temples, e-mail addresses and devotees’ sites on internet, or include this information in the mass distribution pamphlet.
– Get hosts and visitors to sign a guest book for further contacts.
– Add an offer for a free book in the pamphlet: it is a good way to get names of interested people.
– Make a data base of all favorable contacts: use them yourself or give them to someone who will: local temples, communication team, congregational office, etc.
There are various ways to cultivate all these favorable contacts made during Padayatra:
– Put all the names on the Padayatra mailing list and send them a copy of your local Padayatra newsletter or any other booklet, publication, etc.
– Give the list to the local temples.
– Send your hosts and helpers a thank-you letter, including a photo of the Padayatra deities, the oxen, themselves with the devotees, etc.
– Send letters of thanks and appreciation to all the mayors and other officials who gave support to the walk.
– Invite friendly contacts to festivals and Vaisnava celebrations.
– Get them to subscribe to various ISKCON publications, both national and international: BTG, etc.
– Encourage devotees to write to and keep contact with the persons they individually befriended.
– Have someone pay a visit to the friendly people met while travelling: pdayatris going to the same place a second time, local devotees distributing books in the area, etc.
As it was mentioned in the “Inspiration” section, Padayatra is a great opportunity to increase Prabhupada consciousness among the public and the devotees, those on Padayatra and those in the temples visited by the walkers. H.H.Bhakti Caitanya Swami wrote a wonderful article about giving Srila Prabhupada to future generations, in which he says, “Krishna consciousness could develop a lot more if we would grasp the importance of Srila Prabhupada as the leader of the Hare Krishna Movement and someone whom the people in general would automatically be attracted to, simply because he is the leader, what to speak of his real spiritual qualifications.” Since the theme of Padayatra Worldwide was Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial for almost 10 years, many things that were done and experimented during these Centennial years could be repeated and further developed.
Appendix a: “Giving Srila Prabhupada to future generations”, by H.H.Bhakti Caitanya Swami (complete article)
1) Theme of the walk:
– Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial was the main theme of the walk.
2) Harinam banners, signs and paintings:
– All Padayatra banners mentioned the Centennial Celebration of Srila Prabhupada.
– Large photos of Srila Prabhupada were taken on harinam when there was no murti.
– Large size oil paintings of Prabhupada were fixed on each side of the cart (India).
– All Padayatras had a murti of Srila Prabhupada on the Deity cart
4) Book distribution:
– Wide distribution of Prabhupada Lilamrita to the public, hosts and VIPs.
5) Booklets, fliers and pamphlets about Prabhupada:
– Different fliers about Srila Prabhupada’s life and accomplishments were distributed in mass quantity.
Pamphlet about Srila Prabhupada: “Who is Srila Prabhupada?” (Alachua, USA, 1996)
6) Prabhupada photos, posters and other paraphernalia:
– Photos and posters of Srila Prabhupada were sold or given away.
– A variety of items were produced with Srila Prabhupada’s photo or drawing on it and the Centennial logo: bags, pens, T-shirts, decorative banners, etc.
7) Movie “Your ever well-wisher”:
– This movie was was shown to the public in almost every village Padayatra India visited from 1984 to 1996.
8) Evening programs:
– Prabhupada was the theme of the evening program: movie, lecture, worship, etc.
9) Prabhupada’s family reunions:
– Many reunions were organised to reunite Srila Prabhupada’s family and were continued afterwards.
10) Exhibits, dioramas and shows:
– Parasuram’s cart had dioramas of Prabhupada’s life.
– A multi media show on Prabhupada was presented.
– A beautiful float carrying Srila Prabhupada was built for the harinam parade.
11) News releases and media coverage:
– A newspaper article series about Srila Prabhupada was done in the US.
– Radio interviews focusing on Srila Prabhupada were conducted.
– Famous personalities who have met Srila Prabhupada were invited to speak.
– “Your ever well-wisher” and the Lilamrita were offered to VIPs.
– Photos of Srila Prabhupada were put in Indian Embassies.
– Padayatra India sponsored the construction of a 60 foot high Prabhupada memorial gate in Dvaraka.
– Memorials of Srila Prabhupada were established in temples and in public places.
– Padayatra devotees visited Prabhupada’s pastime places in many cities worldwide: New York, San Francisco, Boston, Paris, Amsterdam, etc.
1) Among the devotees and the congregation:
– Hold weekly classes about Srila Prabhupada.
– Celebrate the important dates in Srila Prabhupada’s mission.
– Organise a Prabhupada night.
– Sell Prabhupada’s murtis, photos and posters.
– Play Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan tapes during prasadam.
– Establish Bhaktivedanta libraries in devotees’ homes.
– Encourage devotees to bring fruits, flowers and garlands to the Srila Prabhupada murti.
– Encourage home worship of Srila Prabhupada.
2) For the public:
– Sell audio and visual materials about Srila Prabhupada: Audio tapes, CDs, videos, MP3s, Abhay Caran series.
– Put a set of Prabhupada’s books and books about him in libraries and universities.
– Present dramas about Srila Prabhupada.
– Invite the public to a grand Vyasa-puja celebration.
– Install the footprints of Srila Prabhupada on the Deity cart.
– Install a little plaque near the murti of Srila Prabhupada explaining who he is.
– Show films of Srila Prabhupada on television.
– Systematically send news package including the biography of Srila Prabhupada compiled by the ISKCON Communication Office (See Appendix).
by H.H.Bhakti Caitanya Swami
When Srila Prabhupada was on the planet he always maintained a very humble image, even though it was he who was inspiring everything and even organizing everything that was going on all over the world. But he never put himself forward at all and even we, as disciples, did not know him and did not appreciate him sufficiently. Otherwise, we would have presented him more.
People recognize important leaders. Most of the religions and pseudo-spiritual organizations are generally revolving around some leader. Of course, ultimately our leader is Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. But Srila Prabhupada, in an immediate sense, is definitely our leader.
Krishna consciousness could develop a lot more if we would grasp the importance of Srila Prabhupada as the leader of the Hare Krishna Movement; and someone whom the people in general would automatically be attracted to, simply because he is the leader, what to speak of his real spiritual qualifications.
To some extent we did not publicize the importance of Srila Prabhupada as much as we could have or should have, but, now that Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial is coming, it is a very nice opportunity to do that. Even though he has passed away from the material point of view, still, to stress Srila Prabhupada, his personality, as well as the contribution he made as the leader of the Hare Krishna Movement, will be a very important step in spreading the Krishna Consciousness Movement. The preaching result can be tremendous. It will help our movement and it will help the people appreciate Srila Prabhupada, which is most beneficial for them.
It is very important that devotees become more and more conscious of Srila Prabhupada. We are the first generation, following the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada, and already we have seen that at certain times, the importance of Srila Prabhupada became a little minimized. So we could just image what could happen to the number of generations time down the line if we, who have had his diretc association, do not establish his position very strongly, now.
Today the “Madhavacaryas”, are know after their leader, Srila Madhavacarya, even though he appeared hundreds of years ago; the Sri Vaisnavas are generally known as followers of Ramanuja, even though he too appeared hundred of years ago, and mayavadis are known as followers of Sankaracarya. So for this particular branch of the Brahma Sampradaya which we belong to, Srila Prabhupada is the most important acarya. His position is in fact as important as Madhavacarya’s and Ramanuja’s are within their sampradayas.
Furthemore, devotees within these sampradayas are recognized because of their affiliation with Ramanuja and Madhava. So it is very important for our movement as a whole that we firmly establish Srila Prabhupada and his on-going position as the Founder-Acarya as well as his on-going relevance as the ‘siksa-guru’ of everyone, and the ultimate authority within this International Society for Krshna Consciousness for so many years to come. It is our duty as disciples, to establish him and his realizations of Krishna Consciousness in the form of his books, his lectures and so on, so that for generations to come, it will be clear to all the devotees that Srila Prabbhupada has such an important role and practically the most important role to play in their lives.
Our being in Krishna Consciousness means being connected with Srila Prabhupada and following his teachings, even though there may be many generations ultimately between Srila Prabhupada and the devotees as time goes on. Parampara means that the spiritual potency is coming down along the line of disciplic succession. In our case, the major connecting point in the line in terms of future generations, will be Srila Prabhupada. Devotees will be recognized as being bonafide, depending on how strongly they are linked with Srila Prabhupada and how clearly they understand his teachings and are representing him.
We should actually go out of our way to increase Prabhupada consciousness and establish Srila Prabhupada in the most central position, at the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna, within this International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
On Padayatra devotees meet believers from other faiths and productive interfaith encounters sprout up naturally as walkers are invited in churches and monasteries. Devotees have been hosted in Christian monasteries in many countries, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, etc, welcomed by Sikhs and even Muslims. They offered aratis in the churches, spoke from the Bhagavad-gita and made solid friendships with believers from different traditions. Of course sometimes they met opposition, challenges, threats and even violence. But the Lord always came to the rescue of His valiant soldiers.
Saunaka Rishi das, head of the European ISKCON Communication Office, has written an excellent and comprehensive guide on interfaith dialogue, which was published in ICJ: ‘ISKCON in Relation to People of Faith in God’ ( ISKCON Communications Journal Vol 7, No. 1, June 1999)
– The entire article of Saunaka Rishi das is here: http://content.iskcon.org/icj/7_1/71srd.html
Appendix a:Principles and Guidelines for Approaching People with Faith in God
1) Get the necessary information:
– Make a study of the religious landscape of the country, region or place where your Padayatra will go: statistics, religious neighborhoods, etc.
– Have a basic knowledge of their beliefs, their limitations and their views of the Hare Krishnas.
– Ask the leaders and communication team of that country about past interfaith exchanges and encounters: outcome, names of favorable religious leaders, priests, etc.
2) Contact favorable leaders of other faiths:
– Ask them for hospitality: place to sleep, cook and worship
– Schedule encounters, discussions and interfaith dialogue with the leaders and/or their congregation (monks, nuns, etc)
– You might want to choose a specific theme: peace, the names of God, prayer, etc
3) Religious groups to contact:
Padayatris around the world had encounters, for good or worse, with almost all kinds of religious groups and traditions: Christian nuns and priests, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.
4) Study the guidelines for interfaith dialogue:
a- How to conduct interfaith meetings (Saunaka Rishi das)
b- Basic tenets of Christianity and Krishna Consciousness.
5) Be aware of possible troubles
– Christian fundamentalists unable to understand the principle of Deity worship and think Jesus is the only son of God.
– Radical Muslims, who consider it sacrilegious to present a form or an image of God
Get the devotees to know a few basic prayers in Arabic; it had saved a few devotees before in Russia from serious troubles. Do not hesitate to chant the names of Allah or any bona fide names of the Lord. Here is our chance to prove that we are not a sectarian group, but are preaching the universal principles of religion.
– Fanatic Orthodox Christians, who have been attacking Hare Krishna temples in countries close to Russia.
– Organize a structured theological exchange with the priests and followers of the particular religious group.
– Invite the priests, nuns, and members of the religious community to mangal arati, evening arati and classes.
– Ask the priests and nuns if you can bring Srila Prabhupada and Nitai Gaurasundara in their church to perform arati.
– Invite them for sumptuous prasadam that will make them forget all other taste.
– Give them Srila Prabhupada’s books and other books written by ISKCON devotees of interest to them. Satyaraja Das has written two books on the topic of reincarnation and vegetarianism in different religious traditions.
– Offer Deity photos to those who are attracted or can relate to Them.
– Invite the priests anc congregation to walk with Padayatra for a few kilometres or a few days.
– Invite them to chant Hare Krishna, and do not hesitate to sing some of their prayers, if you know them
Warm hospitality in Christian churches and monasteries
In Italy, monasteries would never refuse the padayatris anything -beds, rooms, all facility and often donations of laksmi. The christian monks would sometimes come to mangal arati and evening arati. Often they were vegetarians and the exchanges were far from being superficial. Sometimes they let the devotees bring Srila Prabhuapda and Nitai Gaurasundara in their church to perform arati. They were accepting the padayatris as genuine devotees of God. Once the walkers were given hospitality by nice Benedictin nuns at an old monastery.The devotees enjoyed their friendly hospitality as they took nice care of all their needs, even providing ample milk and fruit for all the devotees. Most of them were very inquisitive and asked many questions about the movement and its philosophy. Once the devotees were chanting in front of one village church. The priest came out and very enthusiastically took many photographs and invited the devotees to come back next year, promising to organize a camp for them to stay over night.
Irish priests and monks were equally hospitable, offering living quarters, milk and fruits, and spiritual friendship. At Drumantine College, which was once used for training african missionaries, but was now a priest’s retreat center, Father Folley greeted the padayatris witha reception and accomodated them for two days.The priests were very impressed and respected prasadam with the devotees. On the departure’s day, Father Folley gleefully remarked: “Anymore of this (prasadam) and I’ll be joining you. When they left he gave a donation for padayatra and accepted Srila Prabhupada’s books. In the pious land of Mexico devotees visit Padres, Christian priests, at catholic schools for constructive theological exchanges. In a church in Brazil the devotees placed Sri Sri Gaur Nitai on the altar and performed an arati with kirtan and a Bhagavad-gita class. In addition the friendly priest wanted to organize a camp for Padayatra. In Kerala, India, Christian nuns gave a place within their mission gardens for the Padayatra ‘s Bhagavatam class and breakfast.
“This church is your home”
For two days padayatris were given hospitality by Don Armando, a priest living in the suburbs of Viterbo in Italy. Madhumangal Dasa, the padayatra organiser, had met him a few years before while distributing books, and he had purchased an entire set of Srila Prabhupada’s books. On the appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadeva the priest, noticing Madhumangala Das in the church during the evening mass, invited him to come to the altar. The church was packed with hundreds of people, and in front of everyone Don Armando praised Srila Prabhupada and explained his accomplishments through the Krishna Consciousness Movement. “His books have changed my life,” he said. At the end he even asked Madhumangala to give a short speech. After happily relishing a full plate of Krishna prasadam, he invited the devotees to come again saying, “This place is your home.”
Change of heart in a Trinidad Hindu temple
Trinidad has a large hindu population, and in most cities local temples provided valuable support of laksmi and bhoga. In the city of Mac Bean devotees approached the president of a temple belonging to the largest Hindu organization, which was not too favorable towards ISKCON. Not really expecting to be granted permission, they still gave it a try, being aware that these people were steeped in the usual hodgepodge Hindu ideas and followed an impersonal aspect of the Absolute Truth. Not only did the president agree and become very enthusiastic after hearing the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness for a couple of hours, but he had the temple cleaned and painted, the grass cut , and he organised a group of ladies to clean the kitchen and prepare a big feast for the padayatris. Afterwards the president and a few members of the organization followed the devotees throughout the rest of Padayatra.
Challenges in Honduras with Christian fundamentalists
Challenges and opposition have their role to play in keeping the devotees sharp. Before entering Honduras, the devotees were warned that they might encounter trouble from local Evangelists, who unable to understand the principle of Deity worship. This turned out to be true, as one evangelist pastor spoke badly of the Deities and warned his congregation, “Don’t let anyone tell you not to eat meat.”, which the devotees could hear over the loud speaker that blasted his sermon out into the street. However, the potency of Padayatra and the holy names brought the pastor into the realm of devotional service, as later on he somehow became motivated to bring big bags of corn husks for the oxen and invited the devotees to take water from his place. When the devotees met him again on their way back, he behaved in a very friendly way, surprising everyone.
Opposition and threats in Muslim countries
In Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, things went well, as local Muslims were also putting their hands in their pockets to take out dollar notes for the Padayatra. But the devotees encountered serious troubles in other parts of the world. Once in 1999, during the walk in troubled Russia, the devotees arrived to the park where they were supposed to hold a festival with Indian dance, drama, lecture and bhajan. It was full of young people who were all drunk, and a few of them had very hot blood. The devotees tried to cool them down by telling them some philosophy but they screamed “Allah Akbar” in a menacing way, which prompted the devotees to sing the Nrsimhadev prayers. When the young crowd heard them chanting these powerful prayers, they thought it was great and started to dance madly all around them, like if they were at some rock festival. The padayatris ended up chanting the Nrsimhadev prayers for about an hour and a half. It was a very unusual sight. Lord Nrsimhadeva certainly saved His devotees that day from a very tense situation.
Rajarama Dasa recounts another similar incident that also took place in Russia: ” After a nice program in the previous village, which was attended by 400 people and protected by the police, we went to a town called Nalchik, where we became very inspired to preach without any prior arrangement. Despite the warnings of the Russian devotees that we would be beaten by Muslims if we went on harinam, we felt so good after the nice prasadam that we decided to go chant in public anyway. In the local market place one lady started to scream, “Allah akbar, why are you like Hindus? Why are your ladies wearing such clothes?” Somehow I remembered some mantras from Iran, “Allah-hume sale allah mohamed wa ole mohamed.” Then we explained some philosophy and somehow the people were pacified. Many people then said, “Good, good, you are doing a nice program.” Later on, the police showed up and asked us to follow them. We were very nervous, not knowing what was happening. Finally we realized that we were being escorted out of the Kadardinsko-Balkarskaya Republic for good to the next Republic. On the way out some policemen asked us if we had any gulab jamuns with us….”
Because Bangladesh is populated mainly by Muslims, the padayatris had to cross many obstacles on their path. At one place the cart carrying Nitai Gaurasundara was attacked by a crowd of Muslims fanatics, who broke the Deities’ arms. They even threatened to kill the pujari if he did not chant the name of Allah. Luckily when the rest of the devotees cought up with the cart the miscreants fled. Despite these problems it was heartening to see that many Muslims came to attend the pandal programs.
Saunaka Rishi das ( ISKCON Communications Journal/ Vol 7, No. 1, June 1999)
The following principles will help members of ISKCON in approaching members of other faith communities. The principles are given here in a condensed form and require careful consideration.
* The main aim is to form genuine friendly relationships that promote understanding between ourselves and members from other religions.
* Listen to and value presentations by members of other faiths with respect.
* Give members of other faiths the opportunity to freely express their sincerely held beliefs and convictions.
* Allow members from other faiths to define themselves in their own language and own culture without imposing definitions upon them, thus avoiding comparing their practice with our ideals.
* Respect the diet, dress, rituals and etiquette of others.
* Recognise that we all can fall short of the ideals of our respective tradition.
* Do not misrepresent or disparage the beliefs or religious practices of others. If you want to understand their beliefs, enquire politely and humbly.
* Respect that others have a commitment to their chosen faith as we do to ours.
* Be honest and straightforward about your intentions. This will be appreciated by those you meet.
* Be sensitive and courteous to all you meet, even if you do not get a chance to interact on a deeper level.
* Respect the right of others to disagree and their desire to be left alone.
* There is never a need to compromise our philosophy or values.
* When in dialogue with religious people, you do not have to feel the need to convert them.
* You will meet fundamentalist religionists and atheistic scholars. Offer them due respect and move on. Sincere dialogue on spiritual matters will not be possible with them.
* Do not be afraid to answer a question with ‘I don’t know.’. Honesty is better than speculation.
Appendix: AT HOME WITH PEOPLE OF OTHER FAITHS
(Co-operatively developed by the Northern Ireland Interfaith Forum and the ISKCON Interfaith Commission)
A program for meeting with people and faiths
At Home with People of Other Faiths is an initiative to encourage practical opportunities for interfaith dialogue between religious denominations. The idea is to facilitate anyone who wishes to arrange a gathering of members of their own faith and members of a denomination of another faith in the secure and comfortable environment of their own home. The objectives of such gatherings are:
These meetings are not services of worship or opportunities to proselytise.
Guidelines for Home Interfaith Meetings
The following are suggested guidelines for participants of home interfaith meetings.
These guidelines aim to make your meeting a friendly, enjoyable and enriching leaning experience
And remember, you don’t need to know anything about another’s faith to sit with them and listen.
Suggestions for how to host successful meetings
This chart shows how the basic tenets or principles of Christianity can be expanded naturally into Krishna Consciousness with no contradictions.
|CHRISTIAN CONCEPT||KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS|
|Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost||Krishna, Guru and Supersoul|
|Receiving the Holy Ghost||Soul becoming aware of the presence of Supersoul|
|Original sin||1- Our original envy of Krishna|
|2- Our karma from previous lives|
|Resurrection of the body||Reincarnation|
|Communion of saints||1- Association of devotees|
|2- Worship of great devotees|
|God as creator of heaven and earth||1- Krishna, the original creator|
|2- Brahma, the secondary creator|
|Things visible and invisible||Matter and spirit|
|Jesus as son of God||1- Incarnations and avatars|
|2- All jivas are sons of God|
|Jesus’ body begotten, not made||Body spiritual in nature|
|Virgin birth and immaculate conception||1- Process of spiritual initiation|
|2- Appearing not as result of karma|
|Forgiveness of sins||Guru and Krishna taking karmic burden|
|Hell||1- Hellish planets|
|2- Material life in general|
|Heaven||1- Spiritual world|
|2- Heavenly planets|
|Life everlasting||Eternal spiritual nature|
|Born again||Spiritual birth|
|Ordination of priesthood||Disciplic succession|
|Pope (his infallibility)||Present acarya of disciplic succession|
|Accepting of blood of the lamb||No Krishna conscious parallel|
|Jesus as God||Simultaneously one with and different from|
For the past 20 years Padayatra India has visited countless places of pilgrimage all over the country, retracing the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. During their South Indian walks, padayatris have searched for the villages and temples visited by the Lord, referring to the Caitanya Caritamrita and other scriptures. It is Padayatra India’s special contribution to find as many of these as possible. Devotees walking in India also participated in various Kumbha Melas, the largest religious pilgrimage on the planet, and the traditional Vraja and Navadvipa Mandala Parikramas.
However pilgrimages on Padayatra are not restricted to India. In the West, devotees have visited Prabhupada’s memorials and many places where our paramahansa Founder-Acarya enacted his transcendental pastimes. Devotees also got a chance to participate in other Vaisnavas pilgrimages- the Dindi Yatra in Maharashtra – and Christian pilgrimages – Asissi in Italy.
1) Visits to temples and holy places:
In 1984 the giant Padayatra organized in India retraced the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Numerous articles on all the holy places visited have been written in the past issues of the Padayatra Worldwide Newsletter.
Appendix (Section “Inspiration”) : Map of India with all the places visited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
2) Vraja and Navadvipa Mandala parikramas:
Padayatra India organized the first Vraja Mandala Parikrama, the ultimate padayatra experience, in 1989, and it has become a yearly ISKCON pilgrimage ever since under the leadership of its inaugurator, H.H.Lokanath Swami. For a couple of years the padayatra team organized the Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama and it has also become a huge yearly event under the expert management of the Mayapur leaders and devotees.
3) Bus tour:
In March 1991, Padayatra India organized a 12 day South India bus tour right after the Mayapur Vrindavana festival. It was the first ever organised bus tour of South India, and twenty two devotees participated. Under the guidance of Vijaya Govinda Das from Madras, the devotees visited 14 holy tirthas in Tamil Nadu, the Eastern part of South India. They travelled from Tirupati in the North, down to Kanya Kumari, the “land’s end” in the South. Most of the places which the devotees toured were famous temples visited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago.
Padayatra organizers take devotees on a tour of the places where Srila Prabhupada lived, visited, or in which he preached, and also to established memorials. This has been done very successfully by many Padayatras around the world. The presence of Prabhupada can be strongly felt in these special locations, and they give an opportunity to speak about him more and remember him.
1) New York City:
In 1990, around 30 devotees took a transcendental tour, guided by Puru das, Jagannath Prasad das (Robert Nelson) and Govinda dasi. They visited the Bowery and the Lower East Side and the location of the first temple at 26 Second Avenue. In Tompkins Square Park, the devotees happily chanted under the tree under which Prabhupada started the public chanting of the holy names; they sat there for a while to read the sections of the Lilamrita related to his New York pastimes.
During the 1991 walk in France, Jyotirmayi dasi, one of the very first disciples of Srila Prabhupada in the country, took all the devotees on an enlivening tour of Paris visiting the places of Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes and recounting many endearing stories about him. First they went to the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg, where the first initiation ceremony in France took place. She then escorted the group to the second Paris temple, Rue Le Sueur, where the murtis of Sri Sri Radha Parisvara were installed. She also related how Srila Prabhupada gave a conference in the prestigious Olympia Hall and met many famous personalities in France, including Mr. Dominati who was then the mayor of Paris, and Cardinal Danielou, a famous head of the Christian Church.
In July 1991, a group of 108 devotees from 15 different countries visited four of the places of Prabhupada’s pastimes during his two visits to Amsterdam, Holland, in 1969 and 1971. They went to the building where Prabhupada made a television appearance at the time the Hare Krishna mantra was topping the music charts and devotees were asked to appear on TV to chant. Then they went to Hotel Krasnapolsky where Prabhupada stayed during his first visit. In nearby Betanija street was the site of the first established Dutch temple wherein Their Lordships, Sri Jagannath, Sri Baladeva and Lady Subhadra were installed. Devotees then rested in Vondelpark where Prabhupda had attempted to give a lecture on stage. Prabhupada had to stop talking as the hippie audience was very disruptive and he ordered the devotees to chant and distribute prasadam. Fifteen years later, two of these unreceptive hippies were back in the park, this time as full-time devotees.
4) Other tirthas and memorials:
– Consult local temples for a list of places visited by Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada
Museums and relics.
– During the Srila Prabhupada Centennial in 1996 Vishvambhar das compiled an international directory of Srila Prabhupada Memorials.
– Ask the local temple leaders to contact devotees who were present at the time to give a guided tour.
– Do harinam, read from the Lilamrita, feast, distribute prasadam, organise a festival, etc.
Managers, save yourself trouble by joining walks already organised by other groups. In recent years pilgrimages have become popular again in the Western world, and walks with a spiritual theme have become a new trend.
1) Dindi yatra in India:
ISKCON devotees from Padayatra India have participated several times in the Dindi yatra, the biggest Vaisnava pilgrimage to date, which is attended by more than 200,000 people in the state of Maharashtra. The local pilgrims chanting the names of Lord Vitthala – a name for the deity of Krishna in the holy city of Pandharpur – felt happy and honoured to have the presence of Krishna bhaktas enthusiastically chanting the holy names and distributing prasadam along the way.
2) Pilgrimage to Assisi in Italy:
In 1990, a group of 200 padayatris joined the 100,000 pilgrims for the traditional yearly “Walk for Peace”, from Perugia to Assisi. ISKCON devotees from Italy have been regularly participating in this pilgrimage ever since. In 1990 Padayatra was also part of the programme of the International Gathering for Animal Protection called “L’Arca Ritrovata” that took place there.
3) Other pilgrimages:
– Surf on internet or contact local churches to find information about religious walks in your country.
– Make contact with the organisers, and discuss the ways Hare Krishna devotees will fit in and can participate:
– Chanting and dancing.
– Bringing an additional attraction with their ox cart.
– Distributing prasadam.
– Distributing books and pamphlets.
– Participating in prayer sessions.
– Being part of an interfaith meeting.
When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura toured South India, in many places he left behind marble footprints of Lord Caitanya. Even though Padayatra India has been on the road for more than 20 years and has visited most of the holy places where the Lord went, padayatris established such footprints in only one place, Pandharpur, the Vrindavan of Maharashtra. A beautiful memorial still visited by hundreds of thousands of people and devotes is the Harinam memorial in Mayapur established in the park in front of the temple. The most impressive of all the memorials established by Padayatra India is the Padayatra Gate in Dvaraka, Gujarat.
Many more memorials of all kinds could be established in India and in other parts the world, thus continuing to influence people in the future after the Padayatra party is long gone. Establishing memorials adds a dimension of perpetuation in which today’s efforts will serve tomorrow’s preaching. The public and devotees will remember the Lord, His mission, His holy names, His devotees, His pure devotee Srila Prabhupada, and His Padayatra party for generations.
1) What is a memorial?
The Oxford dictionary explains, “A memorial is an object, institution or custom established in memory of a person or an event.” A memorial can be a simple sign, a plaque or a great architectural achievement.
2) Memorials are part of Vaisnava heritage
Traditionally, memorials are placed in holy dhamas (sacred places where the Lord enacted His pastimes) and tirthas (where great saints reside). These places of pilgrimage have a special potency of purifying and uplifting those who visit them.
3) Srila Prabhupada’s personal interest in memorials
Srila Prabhupada personally founded the “Mayapur Vrindavan Trust” and “Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust” for reviving and establishing memorials at places associated with the Lord and His devotees. He also gave substantial funds to these trusts. He also expressed his desire that places of his childhood pastimes be properly taken care of.
1) Traditional memorials
– Paintings, lithographs and drawings
– Framed photographs
– Bas-relief sculptures
– Gates and arches
– Tabernacles with sacred items
2) Buildings, gardens, fountains, parks and trees
3) Living quarters and museums
– Memorabilia: collection of memorable and noteworthy items used by saints and famous personalities that can be displayed in glass cabinets or be part of a museum.
– Displays: an exhibit of different items centered around a message or a theme. Displays include photos, memorabilia, dioramas and always a text describing what is being depicted
– Dioramas: a small representation of a scene with three-dimensional figures that can be seen through a window or a glass cabinet.
– Audio-animatronics: dioramas where the figure can move, talk or even sing.
– Examples: funds or scholarships usually established in the name of a famous person to perpetuate the mission they established during their lives.
1) Padayatra gate in Dvaraka, Gujarat, India
Padayatra India took to the road in 1984 from Dvaraka, and first completed a stupendous 14,000 km tour around the country. Meanwhile the towering gate was erected, and when Padayatra victoriously returned, the gate was officially opened in March 1988, even though is was not fully completed. Some 300 devotees were there to witness the inaugural ceremony. Three and a half years after its first return, after walking 30,000 kms, Padayatra returned again to the holy dham through the welcoming Padayatra gateway. Another fire sacrifice was performed to signify the official completion of the gate. Local brahmanas participated in the ceremony and danced like mad men on top of the gate’s observation desk.
Upon entering Dvaraka dham through the main road, one sees a beautiful city gateway; brightly painted in light saffron, its arch emblazoned in bold lettering with the inscription: “Welcome to Dvaraka,” “Dedicated To Srila Prabhupada,”, the maha-mantra, and “ISKCON’s Padayatra Dvaram 1988.” On one side it is written in English, and on the other, in Gujarati. The two columns of this imposing structure (61 ft. Tall; 50ft.wide) contain spiral staircases, which lead to small balconies at the top, and are connected together by a passage which runs through the arch.
2) Lord Caitanya’s footprints in Pandharpur and New Zealand
In 1986 the padayatris installed marble footprints of Lord Caitanya in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, on the ISKCON property on the banks of the Candrabhaga river in memory of the Lord’s visit to this holy place five hundred years ago.
The New Zealand padayatris travelled with the footprints of Lord Caitanya, which were
honoured and garlanded by many officials and mayors.
3) Srila Prabhupada’s footprints and murtis
4) Padayatra trees and the Caitanya forest in India
In 1985, at the main crossroads entering Alleppey, Kerala, devotees installed a plaque and planted a memorial banyan tree. In 1985 the padayatris, headed by Lokanatha Swami, planted 108 tree saplings, the “Caitanya forest”, just behind the shrine that contains Lord Caitanya’s lotus footprints that were installed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur on the 31st of December in 1930 at Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh. The exact location of these footsteps are right-side-midway up the 150 steps that lead up to the Pana-Narasimha Mandir. Someone later installed a small marble plaque describing in Telegu language that the ISKCON Padayatra headed by Lokanatha Swami had visited in 1985 and planted the trees.
5) Harinam monument in Mayapur
On the arrival of Padayatra in Mayapur, in 1986, a harinam memorial was installed in front of the long buiding near the fountain. This small structure containing the footprints of Lord Caitanya is surrounded by 108 round stones on which the people are invited to step while they circumambulate the monument, chanting a full maha mantra on each stone.
6) Dioramas in India and UK
Padayatra India, from 1984 to 1986, had a cart with beautiful dioramas depicting the life of Lord Caitanya, whom the devotees wanted to glorify and introduce to the crowds at the occasion of His fifth centennial anniversary.
Parasurama das in UK installed educational dioramas on the side of the cart, depicting the story of Mrgari the hunter and other stories from the Bhagavatam.
7) Names of streets in India
In Tirupati and several other places in India, public officials agreed to name a road after Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu after the visit of Padayatra.
8) Certificates with the Lord’s photos
InmanySouth Indian homes the Lord’s name also appears on certificates of appreciation the devotees awarded to their hosts. People frame these certificates and hang them.
9) Mahamantra signs
Less permanent but sure to last a while were the big red maha mantra signs the padayatris stencilled on town and village walls. On the way to the office or to the fields, people could see and remember the holy names, long after the Padayatra party was gone.
1) Traditional memorials
– Plaques indicating the visit of Padayatra
– Paintings, lithographs and drawings of some aspects of Padayatra
– Framed photographs
– Bas-relief sculptures on ISKCON temples or property
– Footprints of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada
– Murtis of Srila Prabhupada and Gaur Nitai
– Gates and arches
– Tabernacles with sacred items of Srila Prabhupada
– Shrines with footprints
2) Buildings, gardens, fountains, parks and trees
– Harinam monuments on ISKCON properties
– What is easier than planting a tree and installing a plaque on it? What about fruit trees on ISKCON and public property?
– Displays on Padayatra, Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya, etc.
– Dioramas of the pastimes of the Lord, Srila Prabhupada, etc.
DESIGN PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS
1) Printed materials:
Some of these items are already listed in the “Office” section:
– Padayatra fund-raising brochure
– Special souvenir brochure
– Local Padayatra Newsletter
– Pamphlets for mass distribution
– Padayatra souvenir magazine
– Sankirtana clipboard
– Presentation folder for advance party and communication team.
2) Souvenirs and Padayatra paraphernalia:
– T-shirts, decorative banners, bumper stickers, hats, bags, bead bags, photos and posters of the deities, oxen, carts or invitation to a festival, etc.
1) Padayatra Worldwide website: www.padayatra.com
Contents of the site:
2) Padayatra Worldwide Newsletter:
NB: Mention the article’s author and the names of photographers and artists.
3) Local Padayatra Newsletter:
Many countries and ongoing Padayatras have published a few issues of a local Padayatra Newsletter in the local language.
Ex: UK, France, Italy and USA, which published a newsletter for many years regularly.
Appendix: Cover of Padayatra Newsletter (Italy)
4) Back to Godhead magazine:
– BTG regularly publishes articles on Padayatra, provided you contact the editors and send them articles and photos.
– Articles on Padayatra already published in BTG:
– Ox-cart Sankirtana, Lokanath Swami (Dec.1983)
– Revival in Tirukkurungudi, Jayadvaita Swami (Oct.1985): Not specifically a Padayatra article, but written while on Padayatra.
– Padayatra: A Walking tour of Holy India–Special Section (Nov. 1985)
– Entering Orissa, Jayadvaita Swami (March 1986)
– Padayatra News section of Every Town and Village in every issue from1991 through 1998.
– Eco-caravan in Slovenia
5) Local or national ISKCON publications:
6) Worldwide Sankirtan Newsletter (Book scores):
– Send your book scores regularly before the deadline.
– Padayatra India had been listed regularly on top of the chart in the section “Small” or “Medium” temples: by seeing the book scores of different walks, devotees and book distributors realize that it is a great place to distribute books in a very congenial environment.
– Contact: Mayapur Sasi das in Los Angeles, USA (Email: PAMHO)
7) Video film:
– Use the film already produced by ITV and the Padayatra Worldwide team “Padayatra Worldwide” to inspire devotees and show the public what Padayatra is all about;
The video features sequences of around 40 walks around the world, showing all the different aspects of the Padayatra program.
How and where to order: see “Resources” section.
– Make your own video/DVD, edit it, produce it and distribute it!
8) Slide shows:
– Slide shows are easy and not totally obsolete yet: make one or invite someone who has a good slide show.
– Jaya Vijaya das, Padayatra India leader for ten years, has a treasure of gorgeous slides of all the places of pilgrimage he visited. He is often invited by temples and groups of devotees.
9) Diaries and books about Padayatra:
– Keep a good diary and you’ll have plenty of material to write a book later on.
– So far one book has been written about Padayatra. Rupa Raghunath das, Padayatra Argentina organiser, wrote a book in Spanish about how he came to join the walking party and his experience and realizations on the road.
10) Temple board:
Make Padayatra visible: regularly post Padayatra progress reports, newspaper clippings, articles, photos, book, prasadam scores, maps, etc.
11) Start your own Website:
Websites are in fashion these days, they are a great and cheap way to inform the whole ISKCON society and the outside world about your plans, walk, requirements, etc.
Padayatris are also getting into it.
– Local Padayatra Newsletter, In Camino verso Krishna (Italy,1991)
Jayadvaita Maharaja described in a Padayatra Newsletter one of the tragedies of the big Padayatra in India in 1986: “We’re visiting the biggest cities and most holy places in India. People receive us with elephants, marching bands, fireworks, garlands, brahmanas chanting mantras, and rows of virgin girls carrying flowers and ghee lamps. Heads of state and heads of sampradayas come forward to greet us. It’s an opportunity that comes once every 500 years. And ISKCONhas no photographer on the scene. We’re maybe getting one percent of it on film.”
Happily Yamaraja das, the photographer for BTG, spent a few weeks with Padayatra and took excellent photos, but many opportunities were lost, for the simple reason that there was no one to take photos. This section also explains the best ways to preserve your archives, once you have managed to build them.
– Think about the next 9,500 years of the Golden Age, and how future devotees will derive great inspiration from watching films and photos of the pioneering days.
– These archives are very useful for raising funds, promoting and advertising the ongoing walk or future ones, making press packages and displays and for writing articles, reports and books.
– These documents can be used by other ISKCON archives or temple libraries: the archives in Oxford (UK), the library in Radhadesh (Belgium), etc.
The Radhadesh library and the VIHE library in Vrindavan have a complete set of Padayatra Newsletters.
– The golden rule is to get the archives organized from the very beginning of the walk. It is much easier to get the newspapers when they come off the press.
1) All media coverage materials:
– Radio programmes recordings
– Make sure these are sound!
– TV coverage:
– Video the portion of the TV program showing the walk or an interview with the devotees.
– Plan ahead: have a friend or the Padayatra office record it straight from the TV, or buy it from the TV station if there is no other way.
– Edit it, if you intend to donate it to any ISKCON media or archives.
– Keep track of the name of the TV station, date and location of filming, names of persons filming or interviewing.
– If you are working with a newsclipping service, they will send you automatically all the articles published on Padayatra in your country.
– If you do not have one, get the list of all the newspapers in the city, region or country where Padayatra walks through.
– Keep track of the dates, locations, and names of the newspapers and the journalists interviewing the padayatris or writing articles on the walk.
– The day after the walk in a town or area, check out all the local and regional newspapers for articles.
– If you are featured in a weekly or a monthly newspaper or publication, make arrangements with the newspaper customer service to send you a copy.
– Get a few copies of each newspaper for different uses (local archives, international archives, displays, etc): originals are better than photocopies.
– To make the article fit in a photocopy size sheet, cut and paste the different sections of the articles, including the “masthead” – the title of the newspaper.
– We are living in a visual era, as people read less and less. A good photo is worth a thousand words.
– Select an official photographer amongst the devotees; it is also good to have a few cameras shooting around, as there are many scenes to capture during the walk.
– Take shots of all aspects of Padayatra, try different angles, close-up, portraits, etc
– Include landmarks and buildings specific to the country or the location where the walk takes place.
Ex: In UK the theme was “Walking for change”, and I got to take a very good shot of the whole party walking under a huge sign saying “CHANGE”, even though it was a commercial for cigarettes.
– Get the devotees taking photos to keep a notebook on which to write the location, date, persons involved in a picture. It will be used by the archives and the photo can be sent as a souvenir to the host or the person featured.
– Get double prints: many places offer the second set free or very cheaply. You’ll have some extra photos to give away.
– Get the sheet of reduced frames or small size photos that you will use as reference photos, give a code to each film, write it on the reference album.
– Organise your negatives in special plastic sheets available in photo shops, and put them in a binder.
– File slides in special slides sheets or boxes.
– Take note of the location of the scenes, the names of the persons involved, etc.
– Padayatra diaries are wonderful souvenirs, handy for writing books and articles.
6) Souvenir issues:
– Temples or yatras can print a special Padayatra Souvenir issue – a great gift for all those who donated or helped the walk, and a souvenir for all the padayatris.
7) Routes, maps and mileages:
– Draw out the exact route on a map of the city, region or country you walked through. Indicate the main cities, rivers and points of interest: it can be used for future walks.
– Calculate the exact mileage walked daily.
8) Samples of promotional materials:
– Local newsletter, brochures, pamphlets, posters, invitations, stickers, hats, T-shirts, etc.
9) Office files and other materials:
– Lists of donors, helpers and participants: they can be contacted again for future walks.
– Letters sent to officials, their names and contact numbers: send them a thank you note or a photo.
– All the permits.
– All the account books and receipts.
Ranjit das, who headed the Bhaktivedanta Archives in Sandy Ridge, USA, gives very detailed instructions of what to do in his article, “Preserving Srila Prabhupada Legacy: Strategies for preservation” (ICJ Vol 10 – 2002):
Once you have managed to collect and organize your own archives, the next challenge facing you is how to preserve them. In the same article, Ranjit das explains how to deal with it.
1) Strategies for preservation:
“Archival preservation unually means vaults with controlled temperature and humidity. For example, the Mormons have dug a huge facility into a mountain near Salt Lake City to store their genealogical records. Butler, Pennsylvania, was the first town in the Western world where Srila Prabhupada lived. Also near Butler is an old limestone mine that has been converted into underground storage vaults. It is here that the original film of Srila Prabhupada, as well as video and DAT audio tapes, are being stored. Many corporations, such as Westinghouse and Universal Studios, keep their original movie footage, corporate records, patents, and other documents here. Only a direct hit from a thermonuclear device can destroy this facility. Duplicates of archival material are also housed by the BBT divisions in Sweden and Australia.”
2) Obsolete media:
“From the archival point of view, the ability to digitise material and make it available on CD or DVD is an invaluable tool for cataloguing and preservation. However, it can also be dangerous to rely on such technologies because they quickly become obsolete…. Hard copies must always be kept and old media transferred onto new media. This requires an ongoing effort if we are not to loose valuable material.”
3) Photography and archiving:
Ranjit das makes additional important points:
a) It cannot be overemphasized to the photographers how important it is to identify the date and place of each image and the details of persons in the picture and the event, etc.
b) Be aware that for preservation and publication purposes, slides are much preferable to negative film because they deliver a higher quality scan than a print from a negative and scanning negatives has many drawbacks. They will also preserve much longer than negatives. The drawback to slides is that you cannot so easily get prints made and the scanners are not so ubiquitous as these cheap flatbed scanners that almost everyone has. But as an archivist slides are much better. If your photographers are a little on the ball they can do both at most events. It simply requires to do one roll of each at each event. Film is still relatively cheap.
c) Digital quality is increasing by leaps and bounds. The problem is that most amateurs just rely on cheap 1 or 2 megapixel cameras that are good only for 72 dpi computer and web access images. Try to get at least 4 and 5 megapixel cameras. Yamaraja Prabhu at BTG uses a 5-megapixel and it is suitable for his magazine articles. But you have to shoot at the highest resolution and you have to have storage and CD burning capability which may not be so easy on Padayatra in India. However in developed countries this should not be so much of a problem.
d) I cannot say that digital will be cheaper than slides and negatives but for an archivist it will be much easier in many ways. In the long run all negatives and slides will have to be preserved digitally anyway. So if you are looking at the 9,500 year scenario, it is logical to think of digital media as inevitable with hard copies as backup.
1. Turn your Archives to ISKCON Archives:
For the sake of preserving Srila Prabhupada’s legacy, we highly recomment that you turn all your archives to ISKCON archives:
– The Archives staff is equipped with the right skills and instruments to preserve them nicely.
They can digitise all your material, using the latest technology.
– They have a staff to do the work.
– Your archives will then be used for other ISKCON projects worldwide, which will increase their preservation factor.
a- ISKCON Resource Center, UK:
– This is the place to turn your Padayatra archives to.
– Contact: Lal Krishna das, ISKCON Resource Center and ICJ
63 Divinity Road, Oxford, OX41LH, UK
Tel: 44-1865 304 300 Fax: 44- 1865 304 301
b- Bhaktivedanta Archives, Sandy Ridge, USA:
– The task of the Bhaktivedanta Archives established in North Carolina and headed by Ranjit das is to preserve all material related directly to Srila Prabhupada: his books, audio recordings, films, photos, letters, videos, etc. So this is not the place to turn your Padayatra archives to.
– You can consult the Archives staff for advice and information:
Bhaktivedanta Archives, PO Box 255 , Sandy Ridge NC 27046 USA
Tel. (336) 871-3636 ext 112
Email: Ekanath das (Pamho)
2. Keep the originals:
Think about the next 9,500 hundred years and preserve your archives!
– Lettersfrom Srila Prabhupada on padayatra, and his detailed instructions on preaching in Indian villages.
– Srila Prabhupada’s desire to see millions of bullock carts all over the world.
– Realizations from ISKCON leaders and Padayatra organisers and participants.
– Samples of the abundant media coverage generated on padayatra – the best ever in ISKCON.
– Poems and songs written on the road.
– The tradition of pilgrimages and Padayatra.
– How Padayatra took place in more than a hundred countries.
– The condensed story of the 1976 bullock cart from Vrindavan to Mayapur.
– All the places visited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu during His travels in India.
– The 700 year old Dindi Yatra in Maharashtra gathering 200,000 pilgrims.
– Organizing any kind of padayatra.
– Doing a feasibility study.
– Writing a professional news release.
– Understanding the basis of interfaith dialogue.
– Learning how to present Krishna Consciousness to the media and the public.
– Shoeing an ox or a horse the easy way.
– Staging an attractive harinam procession.
– Color photos of various styles of palanquins and carts.
– Ideas on how to increase Srila Prabhupada consciousness.
– Exemples of padayatra brochures from all over the world
– Innovative ways to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books.
– Websites, bibliography, contacts, assistance, information, brochures, preaching materials, ox training, etc.
QUOTES THAT COULD BE USED.
Harer nama harer nama
Harer nama naimaiva kevalam
Kalau nasty eva nasty
Eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
“Ekala malakara ami kahan kahan yaba, Ekala va kata phala padiya vilaba”
“I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute?” (CC Adi, 9-34)