The Conch - The Community Newsletter for ISKCON New Govardhana

AUG 2017

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By Ambika devi dasi

This year we are fortunate to be celebrating five major festivals throughout the month of August at New Govardhana.

Jhulan Yatra starts on 3 August, with the daily swinging of Sri Sri Radha Krishna. All are welcome to please Their Lordships by swinging Them daily on Their beautifully decorated swing, from around 7.15am, immediately after Guru puja.

Jhulan Yatra, a festival of devotion.

Jhulan Yatra, a festival of devotion.

The final day of Jhulan Yatra, Monday 7 August, is the auspicious Appearance Day of Lord Balarama, the holder of the plough and the giver of spiritual strength. The program to glorify Lord Balarama begins at 9.30am. For further details, please check the website and New Govardhana FB page.

His Divine Brother, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna will be honoured on His Appearance Day on Tuesday, 15 August. The Janmastami celebrations will begin at 3.30pm and continue through until a beautiful midnight arati by candlelight, followed by a feast.

Lord Krishna’s birth pastimes.

Lord Krishna’s birth pastimes.

The following day, Wednesday, 16 August, is the Appearance Day of ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The program for glorifying Srila Prabhupada will begin at 8.30am with Srila Prabhupada giving the Srimad-Bhagavatam class.

Last, but in no way least, is the holy Appearance Day of Srimati Radharani, Krishna’s eternal divine consort. This will be celebrated on Tuesday, 29 August, starting at 9.30am. Once again, please check the website and FB page for details closer to the day.

These special holy days present us with an opportunity to put aside personal considerations and to focus on glorifying, praising and serving the Lord or His representative. On such days, these personalities are especially merciful, so prayers to Them have particular potency. Since we are all dependent on the mercy of the Lord and the spiritual master, here is our chance to invoke particular kindness.

Gifts and cards of appreciation for Lord Balarama, Lord Krishna and Srimati Radharani will be very welcome on Their Appearance Days, as well as preparations cooked for Lord Krishna on Janmastami.

Homages to express appreciation for Srila Prabhupada’s giving his life to spreading Krishna consciousness are also welcome on Vyasa Puja day, and if time runs out during the morning celebrations, these can be individually read to Srila Prabhupada throughout the day.

We look forward to celebrating these wonderful festivals together.

ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada Uvaca

janma karma ca me divyam yo janati tattvatah tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti kaunteya [Bg. 4.9]

“My dear Arjuna, any person who simply tries to understand about My transcendental birth or appearance and disappearance and activities, janma karma…”

The Personality of Godhead is not niskriya, without activities. So anyone who can understand what kind of activities the Lord has and what kind of birth He accepts; simply by understanding these two things one gets wonderful result.

What is that? Tyaktva deham. By quitting this body—tyaktva deha punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]—he does not take any more birth in this material world.

Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. Some of us may think that “punar janma naiti” means he becomes vanquished. No. Punar janma naiti, but mam eti, “He does not come to this material world, but he comes to Me.” Mam eti.

Mam eti means, then…the Supreme Personality of Godhead has His place, the…abode where we can go, simply by understanding the nature of His appearance and activities.

So today is that auspicious day, Janmashtami, when Lord Krishna appeared—five thousand years ago—in India, Mathura. Those who are Indian ladies and gentlemen present, they know very well where is Mathura. It is about ninety miles south of New Delhi. Mathura is still existing, and it is eternally existing…

Krishna appeared in Mathura in His maternal uncle’s house in a very precarious condition.

That birthplace, Lord Krishna’s birthplace, is now maintained very nicely. One who goes to India,
they see.

So anyway, Lord Krishna appeared on this planet five thousand years ago. Now Krishna says, janma karma me divyam [Bg. 4.9]. Divyam means “not ordinary.” It should not be understood just like we take our birth. Krishna does not take his birth like us.

New Govardhana Kirtana News

By Jhulan devi dasi

I remember watching a kirtana festival some years ago. I saw a devotee wearing a t-shirt with the wording: ‘This is what we do,’ which was quite impressive.

Actually, chanting the holy name in congregation is indeed what Hare Krishna devotees are supposed to do. Now different kirtana events are happening more and more at New Govardhana.

Did you know that there is kirtana every night at the temple? Feel free to come to the temple at 7pm for a lively kirtana.

Resident brahmachari Suratanatha dasa says, “Bhakta Mark and I used to have kirtana after evening prasadam at the temple. It was Shyamamrita mataji who encouraged us to do so more often. So we started to sing every night in the temple room and more people became involved. Now we have regular devotee attendance.

Devotees gather together for kirtana

Devotees gather together for kirtana

“Kirtana is great for the community because everyone can easily get together through chanting. We want to keep this happening,” he says.

Not only Hare Krishna devotees but also other spiritual seekers regularly attend nightly kirtana.

Andrew from Canberra explains,

“The reason why I practice kirtana daily is that I have an over-active sympathetic nervous system due to complex child trauma. I am experimenting with various yoga practices as a treatment modality.”

Kirtana is on every night and every day at New Govardhana! As part of the Krishna Village program for the yoga teacher trainers and volunteers, there is daytime kirtana at the yoga hall in the Krishna Village at 12.30pm. Everyone is welcome, not just the Krishna Village residents.

There are also regular kirtana programs held in the Murwillumbah community of devotees. Check out the weekly kirtana at Ekadasi’s place on Thursdays, 2.30pm at 10 Mt Lindesay Avenue. You can contact Vishnujana dasa for more information on 0498 141 021

There is also a bhajana program with Ambika devi dasi, also at Ekadasi’s home, every Tuesday at 10am.

Please contact her for more details via 0434 214 186 or

In the Byron Bay area, there were interesting kirtana gatherings in June and July called ‘Kirtana Mandala’. Mukunda dasa, organiser of this gathering, says, “For a few years I have been invited to do kirtana, share a little on Vaishnava culture and support touring kirtana presenters in yoga schools and functions around Byron.

“There are many different spiritual communities in the Byron Bay area, along with a strong presence of followers of Lord Shiva. The theme of the gathering focuses on how Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva glorify each other. It shows our respect to other cultures and spiritual paths. Nama hatta programs are essential in community bonding and cultivation of the devotion creeper,” Mukunda says.

The next gathering is not scheduled as yet, but he is hoping it will become a regular feature in the area. The location of this event is at 266 Kennedys Lane, Myocum NSW 2481. For more information, please contact Mukunda.
(Facebook: Michael Bereseford)

In the meantime, don’t forget that the Byron Bay kirtana still goes on every Wednesday at Railway Park from 10.30pm to 1.30pm. There is a book distribution table and kirtana under the Hare Krishna tent donated by Parama Karuna dasa. Anyone is welcome to join in. For details, please contact Parama Karuna dasa on 0470 684 705.

New Govardhana community is also launching a monthly kirtana mela for local devotees.

Kirtana at Serene Earth Sanctuary

Kirtana at Serene Earth Sanctuary

“We originally began kirtana mela a few months ago, but it had stopped temporarily due to other commitments. I noticed that many devotees on the farm were becoming interested in this regular kirtana program,” says Vasustrestha dasa. “We started to organise it in May this year, which was very successful.

“It was nice to see that young gurukula students, Krishna Village guests and devotees all joined together to chant the holy name,” he says.

The next kirtana mela is on 12 August, starting from 3pm, followed by a feast at 6pm and Gaura arati. For more information or to book in to lead a kirtana at the mela, please contact Jhulan devi dasi on: 0404 242 694.

Reach Out to Local Businesses

ISKCON New Govardhana is proud to announce that it will be releasing a high-quality Vaishnava Calendar for 2018. This Vaishnava Calendar will inform the community of the Vaishnava festivals and the Ekadasi days.

The Calendar will reach out to thousands of people and there is space for advertising for businesses.

If you have your own business or know of a Krishna friendly company that might like to have exposure in a large market, New Govardhana management is inviting sponsorship for advertising spaces.

For more information, please contact the Temple Office on 0408 613 856 or email

The Dream Book

By Manjulali devi dasi

During His Holiness Jayapataka Swami’s last visit to Sydney on 9 January 2011, he was having a group discussion with his disciples. Gaura Shakti devi dasi from New Govardhana was present at the time and he expressed his happiness that she was “caring for the Deities”.

He told a story of one of her godsisters who had a dream about Lord Jagannatha. Gaura Shakti explained that she had had many dreams and exchanges with the Deities and explained in detail three vivid dreams she had experienced.

His Holiness Jayapataka Swami meeting with disciples in Sydney 2011.

HH Jayapataka Swami meeting
with disciples in Sydney 2011

His Holiness Jayapataka Swami was smiling and he seemed to enjoy hearing her recollections, so Gaura Shakti felt confident she was on the right track.

He then said to the group, “With everyone here as a witness, I would like to give you [Gaura Shakti] this instruction and I would like you to continue this for the rest of your life.

“I would like you to stay intimate with the Deities because it is not a normal thing to have dreams of Krishna and it happens when there is a relationship between the Deities and the devotee. I want you to go back and make an announcement to the community so they support you in this – you are to interview and record devotees’ pastimes and dreams with the Deities and to compile a book for devotees around the world.”

He turned to everyone in the room and said, “Western pujaris are very self conscious of Deity worship. A lot of them don’t tell these pastimes because they are afraid of what people will think, as it seems unbelievable to others. Dreams and pastimes are real. Devotees will read this book and become inspired, and it will instill faith in the Deities.”

After years of meditating on this instruction, Gaura Shakti is now ready to begin. She recently spoke to Dandakaranya dasa, who is involved with BBT, and he is offering assistance.

We are making this announcement on her behalf, so please support her in her initiative as instructed by her spiritual master. If you have had any dreams and experiences with the Deities please come forward and contact Gaura on 0415 276 757 or email her at

Brahmachari Snapshot

By Owen Maher

The brahmachari ashrama has a growing number of residents who are fully engaged in devotional service to ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and New Govardhana’s most merciful presiding Deities.

I was able to interview two such residents, Govardhana dasa and Suratanath dasa.

Govardhana dasa received first initiation from His Holiness Kadamba Kanana Swami almost two years ago. Originally from Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha mandira in North Sydney, he moved to New Govardhana in May.

He has taken on a variety of services since moving here, but Govardhana’s main service is distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. This is something that he has always loved to do, as this was the way in which he was introduced to Krsna consciousness about five years ago.

A verse that Govardhana finds inspiring and necessary to imbibe as a devotee is one from the 3rd Canto (Chapter 29, text 18) of Srimad-Bhagavatam, where Lord Kapiladeva is instructing His mother Devahuti in the science of devotional service.
The verse is as follows:

“A devotee should always try to hear about spiritual matters and should always utilize his time in chanting the holy name of the Lord. His behavior should always be straightforward and simple, and although he is not envious but friendly to everyone, he should avoid the company of persons who are not spiritually advanced.”

Suratanath dasa received first initiation from His Holiness Devamrita Swami. Before New Govardhana, Suratanath spent six years in New Zealand engaged in full-time book distribution.

However, his recent move to New Govardhana was not the first time he had the opportunity to see the Deities here. As a newborn his mother had brought and offered him to Radha Govardhanadhari.

His main service since moving to New Govardhana is cooking for the temple while studying to be a school teacher.

An inspiring verse for Suratanath is Bhagavad-gita 3.25.

“As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, the learned may similarly act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.”

L to R: Govardhana dasa and Suratanath dasa catering for the recent Splendour in the Grass Festival.

L to R: Govardhana dasa and Suratanath dasa catering for the recent Splendour in the Grass Festival.

Paving the future of the Gurukula

By Allan Ng

In a letter ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wrote to his disciples Dayananda dasa and Nandarani devi dasi on 27 January, 1973, he stated: “Gurukula is our most important project. If the children are given a Krsna conscious education from early childhood, then there is great hope for the future of the world.”

Numerous devotees and parents of the New Govardhana Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula during the past 35 years have placed so much dedication, commitment and energy in endeavouring to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s vision.

In 2016, this vision achieved a new milestone with the blessing of Krishna and the commitment of a dedicated team led by Principal Vinod Bihari dasa.

Firstly, there was an extension of the existing K-2 building that created extra space to start a Pre-K class to facilitate the younger kids in preparing them for Kindergarten at the gurukula.

Secondly, the establishment of the first Gurukula P & C Committee where parents and friends of the gurukula help with fundraising, representing parents, and providing seva, such as preparing prasadam on Ekadasi so all students are able to observe such an auspicious day together throughout the academic year.

Thirdly, the gurukula was accredited by the Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standard NSW (BOSTES) to continue teaching students up to Stage 6, meaning that for the first time in the school’s history, students are able to finish their whole schooling from Pre-K up to Year 12 or HSC in a Krishna conscious environment.

Fourthly, a Capital Funding Grant application that was submitted for the building of 1 of 2 stages of the future High School campus was approved.

With the Capital Funding Grant being approved by the Australian Government, planning to build the new High School campus commenced.

Ajita dasa established new demarcations for the gurukula and facilitated the necessary earthworks together with Maha Mantra dasa. Virabhadra dasa prepared architectural drawings and facilitated with other engineering services.

The earthworks started in late January this year and continued for around four months. The result was an open valley with four levels, which has the provisions to build four new buildings (totalling eight classrooms); a full-size basketball court with surrounding sporting facilities and apparatus; toilets; eating area; and a shrine at the Brahma Sthana.

There are a few reasons for the different levels. These include provisions for the buildings to be built solidly on concrete rather than on pillars; binding the buildings together with the hillside; and keeping the view of each building open and not obstructed by another.

Although a vast amount of the regrowth bush was cleared during the earthworks, it was noted that the majority of the plants were of the Camphor Laurel species. Trees of other species with good timber quality will be milled and used as building material for the new campus.

There are plans already in discussion that fruit-bearing trees will be planted to blend the new campus back together with nature.

The construction of the new campus is planned to start in the coming weeks pending final engineering and statutory approvals.

Next year, in 2018, the Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula will be facilitating students from Pre-K; Primary School from K -6 and High School from Year 7 to 12. Also, we will be sending our first farewell and best wishes to HSC graduates from the school.

The earth works for the New High School Campus.

The earth works for the New High School Campus.

New Govardhana Gardens

By Bharat Devanani & Alice Keogh

The gardens at New Govardhana are looking lush this winter, with crops of snow peas, broccoli, eggplants, coriander, beans, carrots, beetroot and turmeric being regularly harvested. The gardens are under the supervision of Vijay Lashland. An average of 10–15 volunteers, led by team leaders Jaina and Aquilla, can be found helping with the weeding, planting and harvesting of the plants.

The sweet potato is the queen crop in the garden, with a weekly 200kg being supplied to the temple. Ginger is another firm favourite, with up to 10kg required each week. Luckily, both sweet potato and ginger are very easy to propagate – when you harvest the roots for consumption, save a few of the best looking ones and simply plant again! Some 2,000 ginger roots will be farmed to ensure constant supply for next year.

Other summer crops are also in the making, and seeds for tomato and silver beet have just been buried in an organic potting mix and kept in the hot house. As they grow, they will be transferred to the green house and finally to the garden beds when the weather warms up. The seedlings will then be deep mulched, using a mixture of hay and cow manure to reduce competition for nutrients from the weeds (and minimise volunteer hours spent weeding!).

Some of the produce from the farm.

Some of the produce from the farm.

Looking at the rows of cabbage, broccoli and sweet potatoes awaiting harvest, one would never guess that parts of the gardens were devastated by the floods in March.

The eastern side also provides the Krishna Village kitchen with a steady supply of colourful salad leaves, coming from as many as 10 different plants such as rocket, Asian greens, sweet potato, beetroot, silver beet and baby spinach.

Another exciting development has been the new herb garden, located behind the kitchen. Designed and built by the students of the first Permaculture course (see article below) held at the village, the two-tiered garden beds will be a great addition to the lunch-time menu.

Mediterranean-style herbs that enjoy full sun and dry roots (like rosemary, oregano and sage) will be planted on the upper level, while shade-loving mint and parsley will fill the bottom beds. Butterfly pea will be grown as a vine on the fence, releasing nitrogen to the soil and providing the kitchen with beautiful blue flowers that can be used as food colouring.

Any leftovers and peels from lunch will be fed to the newly-installed worm farm, which will provide quality compost and worm juice for use in the gardens, and ensure that nutrients are fed back to the soil.

Permaculture Design Course

By Henrike Schreer

On 26 June – 10 July 2017, the Krishna Village team had the privilege of hosting the first Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course here at New Govardhana. After almost a year of planning, tossing ideas, finding the right teacher and preparing, the time was finally here to do the ‘Eco’ in ‘Eco Yoga Community’ proper justice.

A big ‘Haribol’ to Damodar Govinda dasa whose enthusiasm was the driving force to finally make it happen. He researched tirelessly to find us a fabulous teacher, until he finally found Damien, who was living and working at Zaytuna Farm at the time, and has lived and breathed permaculture for well over 10 years.

New Govardhana gardens

New Govardhana gardens

The course, which will run approximately 4–5 times per year, stretches over two weeks. It incorporates a broad variety of content, which in its entirety forms a fascinating and highly intelligent way of designing human centred, yet harmonious natural systems. Topics reach from gardening to energy harvesting, from aquaculture to food forests, from climate studies to sector analysis via topographic maps.

The 10 participants of this first course visited many different areas of the farm, and used not only the yoga hall but also several outdoors locations to observe and learn.

One of the highlights was a visit to Gokula and Vilasa’s beautiful home, where they could see an off-the-grid dream come true and learn about mud bricks, hand-operated washing machines, bee keeping and so on.

Ajita dasa’s briefing for their final exercise incorporated a beautiful mention of our habits of offering our food to the Deities, so one of the graduation designs – an idea for future glamping tents – even included small offering facilities for each camping setup.

Krishna surely smiles as He watches this new element of ‘consciousness training’ come to fruition.

For more details, please visit

Janmastami Kalash

Planning for this year’s Janmastami festivities are well underway and the event promises to be an ecstatic and joyful occasion. This year Krishna Janmastami falls on Tuesday, 15 August. We are very excited to announce that we have Kalashes available to sponsor, which includes an assortment of maha sweets and maha gifts. Please come forward and sponsor a Kalash or a gift bag as the donations go directly towards Their Lordship’s service.

Gold Level Kalash – $1,008
(Only two available)

Names of family and loved ones read out to Their Lordships along with a Kalash Gold Level sponsor gift bag that includes a variety of maha sweets, 2017/2018 Vaishnava Calendar, maha counter beads, tulasi necklace, A4 photo of Radha Govardhanadhari, New Govardhana Goshalla Postcards and an original painting by local devotee artist.

Silver Level Kalash – $501
(Only four available)

Names of family and loved ones read out to Their Lordships along with a Kalash Silver Level sponsor gift bag that includes maha sweets, 2017/2018 Vaishnava Calendar, maha counter beads, tulasi necklace and A4 photo of Radha Govardhanadhari.

Bronze Level Kalash – $351
(Only 20 available)

Names of family and loved ones read out to Their Lordships along with a Kalash Bronze Level sponsor gift bag that includes maha sweets, 2017/2018 Vaisnava Calendar and maha counter beads.

Gift bags can be sponsored for $151 each, which includes maha sweets and maha gifts.

Please order your Kalash today!

In person: New Govardhana Temple Office, Mobile: 0408 613 856, or email:


The Conch is your community newsletter, and we invite you to submit articles for publication. Articles should be 300 words or less and supplied in MS Word via email to

Photographs must be in JPG format. Please provide the name of the author and the photographer. Anonymous submissions will not be published.

Deadline is the 12th of each month. Occasionally a submission could be held over to a later edition. All submissions will be edited, proofread and may be rejected without notice.

Damodara Pandit dasa, Krishnarupa devi dasi (ACBSP) and Manjulali devi dasi.

Urvasi devi dasi and Jhulan devi dasi.




(from Vaishnava calendar

3 Thu Ekadasi: Fasting for Pavitropana Ekadasi
Radha GovinJhulana yatra begins
4 Fri Dvadasi: Break Fast 6.27 – 10:04am
Srila Rupa Gosvami – Disappearance
Gauridasa Pandita – Disappearance
6 Sat Last day of 1st month of Caturmasya
7 Sun Jhulana yatra ends
Lord Balarama – Appearance (Fast till noon
2nd month Catumasya begins (Fasting from yogurt)
15 Tue

Tue Sri Krishna Janmastami: Appearance of Lord Sri Krishna
(Fast till midnight)

16 Wed Srila Prabhupada – Appearance (Fast till noon)
18 Fri Ekadasi: Fasting for Annada Ekadasi
19 Sat Dvadasi: Break Fast 6.14 – 9:58 am
26 Sat Sita Thakurani (Advaita’s consort) – Appearance
27 Sun Lalita Sasti – Appearance of Lalita shaki
29 Tue Radhastami – Appearance of Srimati Radharani
(Fast till noon)

Harinama Sankirtana ki jaya!

Daily at various locations

Contact Garuda dasa for details

Sunday Mornings

Northern NSW & Gold Coast
Visnujana dasa on 0498 141 021

© 2017 The Conch copyright of New Govardhana