Seeking The Essence

Clearing Life's Webs and Weeds….




Originally posted by Chaitanya Mangala on Brijabasi Spirit 03 April 2013

At the start of 2013 ECOV began asking devotees to share their ideas for projects they’d like to make happen in New Vrindaban. We are repeating this request and reminding everyone that ECOV is open to funding projects in and around New Vrindaban that have a clear community benefit and are consistent with our mission (see below).

Since putting the word out in January, we are pleased to report that we are currently supporting the following programs:

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April 12, 2013 Posted by | Animal Protection, Brijabasi Spirit, ECOV, Education, ISKCON, Krishna, New Vrindaban, Prabhupada, Vaishnava | Leave a comment

Srila Prabhupada’s Vision For New Vrindaban (in his own words)

Srila Prabhupada’s Vision For New Vrindaban:

Compiled by Chaitanya Mangala Dasa

1. Cow Protection.

2. Sustainable Agriculture.

3. Simple Village Life.

4. A Place of Pilgrimage in the West.

5. A Place of Higher Learning.

6. Above All, a Place for People to Develop Their Love for Krishna.

1. Cow Protection:

“Krishna by His practical example taught us to give all protection to the cows and that should be the main business of New Vrindaban.” Letter to Hayagriva — 14 June, 1968

“Therefore the special feature of New Vrindaban will be cow protection, and by doing so, we shall not be loser.” Letter to Hayagriva — 14 June, 1968

“Therefore, my special request is that you should try to maintain as many cows as possible in your New Vrindaban.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 24 June, 1969

“The cow is so wonderful and valuable in society. But you should also use the bulls by engaging them in tilling the ground. People may call this the primitive way but it is very practical for engaging the bulls – have them work in cart loading, transporting, etc…” Letter to Kirtanananda — 7 January, 1974

“If you give the right protection to the cows, then they will give so much milk, that the ground of New Vrndaban will be muddy with milk.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 31 May, 1975

2. Sustainable Agriculture:

“The whole idea of New Vrindaban is that men who are living there should produce their own food, of which milk is the principal thing.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 31 July, 1969

“So these duties are there in New Vrindaban, and we shall have to live there self independently, simply by raising cows, grains, fruits, and flowers.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 12 January, 1969

“Agriculture and protecting cows, this is the main business of the residents of Vrindavan, and above all simply loving Krsna.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 27 July, 1973

3. Simple Village Life:

“Yukta Vairagya, means that we should simply accept the bare necessities of our material part of life, and try to save time for spiritual advancement. This should be the motto of New Vrindaban.” Letter to Hayagriva — 14 June, 1968

“It may be an ideal village where the residents will have plain living and high thinking.” Letter to Hayagriva — 14 June, 1968

“New Vrindaban does not require to be modernized because Krishna’s Vrindaban is transcendental village.” Letter to Hayagriva — 14 June, 1968

“Go on acquiring the surrounding lands and in this way we will establish a local self-governing village and show all the world a practical example of spiritual life as Krishna Himself exhibited in Vrindaban.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 27 July, 1973

4. A Place of Pilgrimage in the West:

“I understand the spot is very beautiful, and the hills may be renamed as New Govardhana. And if there are lakes, they can be renamed as Syamakunda and Radhakunda.”  Letter to Hayagriva — 14 June, 1968

“New Vrindaban should be taken up very seriously because actually I want to develop a replica of Old Vrindaban. I have got ambition to construct there 7 temples as follows: 1. Radha Madan Mohan, 2. Radha Govinda, 3. Radha Gopinatha, 4. Radha Damodara, 5. Radha Raman, 6. Radha Gokulananda, 7. Radha Syamasundara.” Letter to Hayagriva — 18 November, 1968

“So you have now taken charge of the sunrise of New Vrindaban. Our program is there for constructing seven temples.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 12 January, 1969

“Now I am hopeful that our New Vrindaban will be an exact replica of Vrindaban in India.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 18 February, 1970

“Therefore, I may once more request you to try your best to construct New Vrindaban an exact duplicate of Vrindaban, and that will give me the highest pleasure.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 18 February, 1970

5. A Place of Higher Learning:

“One Rupanuga Vidyapitha—that is a school for educating brahmanas and Vaisnavas.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 12 January, 1969

“You remark that in New Vrindaban the capacity is lacking for taking care of the children. If you can organize a higher level school of theology under your care, I shall very much appreciate it.” Letter to Rupanuga — 24 July, 1969

“Another important thing is our theistic school in New Vrindaban.” Letter to Hayagriva — 9 March, 1970

“Regarding using New Vrindaban land for building for the older Gurukula boys it is a very good idea.” Letter to Bali-mardana — 13 April, 1974

6. Above All, a Place for People to Develop Their Love for Krishna: 

“Agriculture and protecting cows, this is the main business of the residents of Vrindavan, and above all simply loving Krsna. Letter to Kirtanananda — 27 July, 1973

“The cows, the trees, the cowherd men and gopis, their chief engagement was loving Krsna, and in New Vrindaban we want to create this atmosphere and thereby show the whole world how practical and sublime our movement is.” Letter to Kirtanananda — 27 July, 1973

May 23, 2011 Posted by | As It Is, Education, Hare Krishna, India, ISKCON, Krishna, New Vrindaban, Philosophy, Prabhupada, Uncategorized, Vaishnava | Leave a comment

Kuli Mela 2007 Moscow DVD is now available at!

Kuli Mela Moscow 2007 DVD Cover

The Kuli Mela 2007 Moscow DVD is now available at the newly launched Kuli Mela Outlet @!

Click HERE to check out the growing Kuli Mela video and audio selections…

In the ancient Sanskrit language, Kuli refers to a member of a community. Mela is a festive gathering. Combined, Kuli Mela transforms into a celebration of community.

The second-generation Hare Krishnas (known informally as Gurukulis, or just Kulis) from throughout Russia gathered to explore who they are and what they can accomplish. Despite difficult conditions for a festival, including no running water and no electricity, the Gurukulis worked together to celebrate and connect. This short film offers a glimpse into the events of the festival and the hard work it took to pull it off.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Bhajan, Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Gurukuli Related Topics @ Other Sites, Gurukuli Websites, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, ISKCON Youth, Kirtan, Krishna, Kuli, Kuli Mela, Kuli Mela Association, Kulimela, Prabhupada, Vaishnava, Vaishnava Websites, Vaishnava Youth | | Leave a comment

ISKCON’s Gurukula Experiment

 Srila Prabhupada with Children in Dallas

Below is a letter written by Srila Prabhupada to Satsvarupa Maharaja in 1973 wherein Prabhupada wrote the now well known statement that the children in Gurukula “are the future hope of our Society.” This was the source of the name for “Project Future Hope,” which was inaugurated in 1992 by a few GBC members, concerned individuals and the organizers of Gurukula Alumni, Inc. It was a program designed to match members of the first generation with members of the second generation for the purposes of training and employment. With little, or no, real funding and support it was a sincere, but short lived effort.

Another key phrase in the letter is where Srila Prabhupada wrote, “I am concerned that the Gurukula experiment should come out nicely.” As Prabhupada indicated, and history has shown, the gurukulas were an attempt at applying certain ideals and no one knew if they would be a success or failure. Unfortunately, for the most part, the gurukulas of ’70s and ’80s ended up being the latter. While it would be incomplete and disingenuous to describe the ashrams as totally bad, lots of negative things did happen and those experiences are still affecting and impacting people today. The bottom line is that there is still much unresolved in regards to the “Gurukula Experiment” and that dealing with the after effects will be a life-long effort for all involved.

Anyhow, lately I have been intentionally using the term “ISKCON’s Gurukula Experiment” in correspondence and conversation and a few people have asked where and how I came up with that saying. So, for the record, Srila Prabhupada’s letter (below) is the inspiration and source of the term. I find it an accurate and appropriate description for ISKCON’s Gurukulas, at least those of the ’70s and ’80s.


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August 8, 2008 Posted by | Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Prabhupada, Vaishnava Youth | Leave a comment

Reality Check: An Editorial from the As It Is Magazine

Front Cover of the As It Is Magazine Issue #4 Winter 1993    Editorial Page of As It Is Magazine Issue #4 Winter 1993

Below is an editorial I wrote for the As It Is magazine Issue #4 in the Winter of 1993. 

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August 7, 2007 Posted by | As It Is, Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Jagadish, Prabhupada, Vaishnava Youth | Leave a comment

The 1st ISKCON North American Child Protection Conference – November 10 – 12, 2006


This conference is designed to provide Child Protection Team members, devotee parents, educators, and temple managers with tools and resources to take back to your communities. You will have the opportunity to network with other devotees interested in creating safer temples and communities. Our presenters are from the ISKCON Child Protection Office or from professionals in the field. The conference will take place in a beautiful retreat setting just 15 minutes from New Goloka Mandir in Hillsborough, North Carolina.”

This is a link to a brochure for a Child Protection Conference hosted by Lilasuka and Uttara prabhus, which is posted at the ISKCON Child Protection Office website.  Lilasuka and Uttara hosted a “Child Safety Workshop” at the Kulimela Kid’s Camp.  Having properly trained Child Protection Teams in each community is vital for the well-being of current and future generations.

September 25, 2006 Posted by | Education, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Vaishnava Youth | Leave a comment

Children of the Ashram

Raghu, his mother & daughter 1996

“It reminds me somewhat of this Twilight Zone episode. Sirens and the radio warned of an imminent nuclear attack by the Soviets. Only one household had built a bomb shelter. The rest of the neighbors wanted in but are locked out. They finally decide to beat the cellar door down and kill the owner. The owner is just about to start shooting them in self defense. Timely, the radio announces it was a false alarm. Everyone is simply left to apologize to each other with no hard feelings. Some situations can make everyone go crazy. That is when the exemplary come to shine.”

Below is an article titled, “Children of the Ashram” written by Raghunatha anudasa.  As best I can tell it was written some time in the early to mid 90’s.  The article recounts some of his experiences as a student in ISKCON’s gurukula system in the 70’s and early 80’s.  It is generally accepted that the students in his age group received some of the worst treatment in the ashrams. I think he does a decent job of delivering a first hand account highlighting aspects of the gurukula experience that negatively impacted the students. 

His newsletter, ISKCON Youth Veterans, published in 1990, was the first public forum to give gurukula alumni a voice. Raghunatha also helped to organize the first gurukula reunion in Los Angeles in 1990.  Currently in his early forties, Raghu is considered one of the gurukuli elders. During a recent trip to New York City I was able to spend an evening with him and his family.  He lives in Battery Park, is still an active writer and invests in NY real estate. 

This article ties in with my previous posting “Who Set the Standards?”  The gurukula teachers mentioned by Raghu are pretty much the same ones involved in the room conversation with Srila Prabhupada. This narration illuminates how discussions with Srila Prabhupada were translated into action by the gurukula authorities.  (For clarification, Raghunatha is not the unnamed boy referred to in the room conversation between the gurukula teachers and Srila Prabhupada.)

NOTE: Please be aware that the article contains some intense details and descriptions.

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September 23, 2006 Posted by | Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, India, ISKCON | 2 Comments

Burke Rochford Responds to: Child Abuse in the Hare Krishna Movement: 1971-86 & ISKCON’s Response to Child Abuse: 1990-98

Burke Rochford

“As many readers of this journal know, there has been considerable media interest generated by my article, “Child Abuse in the Hare Krishna Movement: 1971-1986.” Although I anticipated some interest on the part of the media, I never imagined the extent of media coverage that was to occur. In this short essay I want to reflect further on the issue of child abuse in ISKCON and address the publicity generated by my article. I also want to comment briefly about what has happened within ISKCON in the wake of widespread understanding that children were previously abused in the movement’s schools.”

This is a response by Burke Rochford to the intense media coverage that his article, “Child Abuse in the Hare Krishna Movement: 1971-1986” generated. His essay was originally published in ICJ – Vol. 6, No. 2, December 1998.

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September 18, 2006 Posted by | Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON | Leave a comment

Krsna Culture Kids: Exploring the ISKCON Childhood Experience

ICJ Logo 

“In her presentation and in this paper Norma McCaig posits a framework for examining and understanding cultural challenges facing devotee youth and their parents. She points out that, although they inhabit the same ISKCON culture, they are coming into that culture from different angles; they are either immigrants or natives, they are there by choice or birth. This difference in origins, and the different perceptions that these give rise to, leads to further differences in blending with external cultures. This paper shows one way of understanding the relationships between the generations. Development of this understanding is vital if ISKCON is to develop a stable base of devotee families.”

This is a link to an article by Norma McCaig originally published in ICJ Vol 9, No 1 – September 2001. Ms. McCaig specialises in programmes for raising awareness of the dymanics of the internationally mobile family, the lifelong impact and uses of a globally nomadic childhood, crosscultural transition and intercultural communication.

FYI: It’s a fairly long, academic article – filled with graphs and charts – but it does have some interesting insights.


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September 16, 2006 Posted by | Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, India, ISKCON, Vaishnava Youth | 1 Comment

Calling the Next Generation of ISKCON Leaders

ISKCON Radhadesh

Below is an announcement about a scholarship program that I have been volunteering to help organize over the summer.  The idea is that some forward thinking first generation devotees are looking for ways to help facilitate those of the next generation who are interested in serving within the ISKCON institution.  I am happy to announce that three Vaishnava Youth from North America (two male, one female) have been awarded full scholarships for one year to study at the Bhaktivedanta College in Radhadesha, Belgium starting the end of September 2006.  The idea is to make these scholarships available on an annual basis. Stay tuned….

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September 13, 2006 Posted by | Education, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Vaishnava Youth | 11 Comments


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