The Magnificent TOVP
Extracted from ISKCON’s 50th Anniversary magazine, by Krishnarupa devi dasi
The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP) is a jewel in the sacred crown of Mayapur. Visible from miles away, the structure is a surprising sight amidst the lush countryside.
ISKCON’s Mayapur project – began in the early 1970s with a small plot of land and just a handful of devotees – is now a community of thousands.
The TOVP and its three imposing domes powerfully dominate the skyline. As an indication of its size, Premavatar Gauranga dasa, Construction Manager of the TOVP, explains, “Once aviation lights are installed on the top of the main dome, it is likely to be seen from
as far as Kolkata.”
Lord Nityananda predicted more than five centuries ago that a magnificent temple would be built in Mayapur, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura, as he stood before his window and looked across the Jalangi toward what is now ISKCON-owned land, experienced a spiritual vision of a great temple rising.
In order to fulfil these prophecies, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya, often expressed his deep desire that his disciples build a unique “Vedic Planetarium” to present the Vedic perspective of life to the public.
The three domes, which are the dominant features of the structure, are impressive. The central dome at 113m (approximately 370ft) has the greatest height and width compared to many famous dome structures worldwide, including St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
Srila Prabhupada desired a state-of-the art temple in honor of his spiritual preceptors and one that would draw people from around the world to be given a chance for a spiritual education.
On 20 November, New Govardhana will have the privilege of hosting the TOVP’s fundraising event and providing the devotee community the opportunity to help fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.
For more information on the TOVP, please visit www.tovp.org
Srila Prabhupada Uvaca
Tulasi leaf is very, very dear to Vishnu. All Vishnu-tattva Deities require profusely Tulasi leaves. Lord Vishnu likes garlands of Tulasi leaves. Tulasi leaves mixed with sandalwood pulp and placed on the lotus feet of the Lord is the top most worship. But we must be very careful that Tulasi leaves cannot be placed on the feet of anyone except Lord Vishnu and His different forms. Tulasi leaves cannot be placed even on the lotus feet of Radharani or on the lotus feet of the Spiritual Master. It is entirely reserved for being placed on the lotus feet of Krishna. We can place, however, Tulasi leaves in the hands of Radharani for being placed on the lotus feet of Krishna, as you have seen on the Govinda album.
By the circumambulation of Shrimati Tulasi Devi all the sins that one may have committed are destroyed at every step, even the sin of killing a brahman.
The collecting of leaves should be done once in the morning for worshipping and for putting on the plates of foodstuffs to be offered.
On each bowl or plate there should be at least one leaf.
So you follow and practice these Tulasi affairs and you try to distribute your experience to all the other centres—that will be a new chapter in the history of the Krishna consciousness movement.
(Srila Prabhupada to Govinda dasi, 7 April 1970)
4 November is Tulasi-Shalagrama Vivaha
Advent of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita
By Padma devi dasi
Five thousand years ago, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to His beloved friend Arjuna. In the midst of the Earth’s great armies, the two friends, mounted on a celestial chariot gifted by the demigod Agnideva to Arjuna, exchanged the words that have today been encapsulated as Bhagavad-gita, the ‘Song of God’. This transcendental pastime is commemorated on
30 November 2017.
The Bhagavad-gita was spoken not only for Arjuna’s benefit, but for all living beings, so that they may learn this sacred spiritual science. Srila Prabhupada would often say that Krishna consciousness is a spiritual science, and that we should accept it as a science.
New Govardhana senior devotees have decided to further deliver the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, by hosting ‘interactive’ Bhagavad-gita classes every Wednesday evening in New Govardhana temple-room.
These classes run from 5pm to 6pm and are open to all devotees and visitors who want to participate. There are no exams or tests involved in these classes. We are simply opening our doors to welcome lively and meaningful discussion on the contents of the Bhagavad-gita. Please come and join us!
The Conch Goes Mobile!
By His Holiness Mukunda Goswami & Paul Bailey
Starting with the November 2017 edition, The Conch website (www.conch.org.au) will be designed to support existing desktop computers and mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
The new format should not be confused with the existing pdf version of The Conch (still existing), because this new mobile-friendly incarnation will be based on the publishing platform Word Press. As mentioned above, this new version of The Conch will be accessible on all devices – including laptops and desktop computers. The mobile-friendly Conch will be easy to read and navigate on all devices. Nevertheless, back issues of The Conch will still use the pdf version, which will also include the ‘flipbook’ feature.
It has taken our online team many months to research and refine the new concept, and we are happy to announce that this new mobile-friendly site will launch this month.
The new approach will include audio and video embeds. Additionally, in the near future, articles will be viewable (and searchable) by topic, including sections for current and future community and temple events. And there will be many other new features, as the mobile-friendly version is still evolving.
By Krsna Gana dasa
The concept of having an image of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP) as the stall frontage for Govindas Catering was something I had desired to do for a long time. I had first wanted to try and do this when we built the original white catering kitchen, but it just wouldn’t have had the impact I wanted.
When we purchased the big marquee (now down by the farm lake), we also acquired two smaller 5m x 5m tents. We decided that we would use the smaller tents for ‘Splendour in the Grass’ festival this year. So I thought, “This is my chance! I can do it with these tents.” So the race began to design the new facade, to decide how to fix it to the tent – and then build a frame to hold all the panels together to give us the finished product.
Literally the day before we had to set up we completed the new frontage. We are very happy with the final result. The pictures speak for themselves.
Guru das visits New Govardhana
By Vasusrestha dasa
Guru Das, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada since 1966, looks like, and is, an impressive personality.
Good qualities of great Vaishnavas are always boundless. As with Guru Das, he is a warm, humorous, sincere and charming devotee.
When Srila Prabhupada first arrived in San Francisco he noticed Guru Das straightaway. That was the beginning of many loving, personal exchanges between spiritual master and disciple that criss-crossed three continents over a period of 10 years.
On various occasions, Srila Prabhupada would say, “Guru Das I would like you to go …” He would wonder what his spiritual master had for him now. From formal meetings with India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to crossing the Atlantic to Great Britain and befriending The Beatles, to overseeing the building of the glorious Krishna Balarama Temple in Vrindavana (“But Prabhupada, I know nothing about construction,” said Guru Das. “Don’t worry. Krishna will help you,” replied Srila Prabhupada) and there were many more of such incidences.
Guru Das has been on an extensive lecture tour in Europe this year, and by our great fortune he has agreed
to come to visit the Australian yatra this month.
This will probably be the only chance most of us will get to hear from this iconic personality who, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, helped to thrust our then fledgling ISKCON Society onto the world stage.
Guru Das is one of the best narrators in ISKCON today, so don’t miss him when he comes to visit New Govardhana on 12 November.
Bhakti Centre Surfers Paradise: Full of Verve
By Subhangi devi dasi
If you go to Surfers Paradise, especially on a Friday night, it is usual to see crowds of tourists gathered around a hari-nama party dancing and chanting.
The Bhakti Centre Gold Coast is a satellite centre for Radha Govardhanadhari that my husband, Jamal Arjuna dasa (ACBSP), established. I have tried to assist him in his preaching endeavours over the years.
The Centre facilitates those busy professionals working in the area who want to associate with other Vaishnavas to chant and learn about bhakti-yoga. They cannot always drive to New Govardhana, so the Bhakti Centre is the ideal point of contact for them. They take darshana of Jagannatha, Baladeva, Lady Subhadra, and Gaura Nitai along with Srila Prabhupada and engage in various services.
The Bhakti Centre was started approximately nine years ago. Jamal Arjuna had established a Govinda’s restaurant in the heart of Surfers Paradise and it became apparent that there was a need to further expand Srila Prabhupada’s preaching mission.
Many devotees who started their path to bhakti at the Bhakti Centre have taken initiation from various ISKCON gurus. There are families and many children attending our programs on Wednesday and Saturday nights. It’s not unusual to see all the little gopis and gopas who have grown up while attending the Bhakti Centre dancing enthusiastically in the kirtanas. This year alone more than 500 people attended the Centre’s Janmastami festival and there are ever-expanding preaching initiatives by our members.
Over the years we have had many home programs and even established worship of Gaura Nitai Deities in many homes. We also do hari-namas and have distributed a lot of Srila Prabhupada’s books in the streets and market stalls.
Several years ago, ISKCON’s ‘Vishvakarma’ Janmejaya dasa built a Ratha-yatra cart for parades Australia wide. We have even won awards for our cart and hundreds of thousands of people have seen the Lord, courtesy of the chariot.
We also sponsor various kirtaneers and arrange programs to help spread the holy name. Now we have a monthly kirtana and picnic in the Southport Broadwater Parklands. We also distribute prasadam at various vegan festivals.
Of course none of it would be possible without the ongoing support of our members and well-wishers. We would name them all but we couldn’t fit everyone in the space allowed for in this article!
Many thanks to you all, and please bless our endeavours.
Thank you to the many senior devotees who have supported, mentored or spoken regularly at the Bhakti Centre such as His Holiness Janananda Maharaja, His Holiness Ramai Swami, Ajita dasa, Garuda dasa, Damodara dasa, Krsna Gana dasa, Ambika devi dasi, Kisori devi dasi, Mandakini devi dasi, Krishnarupa devi dasi, Madhumangala dasa, Karunika devi dasi and Dhaneshvara dasa, Subhadra dasa and Manjumedha devi dasi.
Apps Go Spiritual
By Suratanath dasa
Reading Srila Prabhupada’s books is a greatly cherished privilege for any devotee, and with a few time-management skills we can all allocate a bit of extra time each day to relish these transcendental literatures.
We live in the age of the smartphone, and rather than spending time on Facebook, why not utilise apps for spiritual reading? With apps like VedaBase and Gitabase we can have access to all of Srila Prabhupada’s books at any time or place. I’ve also found the day scheduling Calender apps and Reminder apps helpful, as they remind me to read at a designated time.
For those of us with short attention spans, there are apps like BeFocused, which are based on the Pomodoro technique. This technique provides a 25-minute block for staying focused on one activity (such as reading or studying) guided by an alarm. You’re then allowed a five-minute break in between these blocks to attend to other activities. This technique of staying focused for a solid block really helps you to absorb what you are reading.
A new app called Be A Sage (Page By Page) can calculate the amount of pages you need to read per day in order to complete a book within a desired amount of time. For instance, to read Srimad-Bhagavatam in one year, you’ll need to read 41 pages per day. That’s easy!
Lost & Found
By Manibandha dasa
The much-loved African Djembe drum disappeared from Krishna Village a few months ago – but recently the mystery has been solved.
Johnno, a musician living in Byron Bay, was offered a Djembe drum for only $70. Being knowledgeable of musical instruments, he knew immediately it was worth at least $500 and so he became suspicious. Although it was such a good deal, he thought it was too good!
However, Johnno did purchase it and in due course found an inscribed mark inside the drum saying ‘ISKCON NG’. But what was ‘ISKCON NG’?
Puzzled, he Googled the acronym and eventually found a phone number for New Govardhana. After speaking to a devotee he agreed to bring the drum to the farm and be reimbursed for the $70. He immediately jumped into his car and drove to New Govardhana and to our great delight delivered the drum and everyone was happy.
A special warning – we get many different types of people on the farm and everyone should be conscious of security. If you see anything suspicious, please report it immediately to the farm authorities.
Award-winning movie comes to the Regent
By Kisori devi dasi
HARE KRSNA! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami who started it all played in Regent Cinema Murwillumbah on the 24 and 26 of October. The timing was especially important, as the 24 October was the 40th Anniversary of the Disappearance Day of ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The movie is the brainchild of John Griesser/Yadubara dasa (ACBSP), who together with his wife Jean Griesser/Vishaka devi dasi (ACBSP), made this award-winning production, which has received excellent reviews from multiple sources. The documentary focuses on the life of Srila Prabhupada, exploring how he ignited the worldwide cultural revolution of spiritual consciousness.
It is an excellent relevant tool in spreading Krishna consciousness to a modern society and is highly professional and very tastefully executed. Many thanks to Pratapana dasa and Jayasri devi dasi for buying the distribution rights for Hare Krishna! in Australia so we were all given the opportunity to experience it.
By Krishnarupa devi dasi
Last month, the awareness and prevention sessions on sexual harassment were delivered to members of the Sydney yatra over two days.
Devotees in attendance gave extremely positive feedback and welcomed the opportunity to become more aware and thereby prevent any issues of sexual harassment.
The interactive seminar will be rolled out to all the major temples in Australia before May 2018.
In Focus: Ranadhira dasa and Madhumati devi dasi
By Clarissa Pollack
Avid gardeners on the New Govardhana property, Madhumati devi dasi and Ranadhira dasa have been sharing their love of gardening with the local community at regional markets.
“Our produce is grown using traditional natural methods,” says Ranadhira.
The couple give informational lectures to others about the joys of healthy eating and food production.
Madhumati and Ranadhira are inspiring, long-term servants here at New Govardhana. Madhumati began her devotional life in Manilla, Philipines, in 1984. Her services included book distribution, serving with Food for Life, and finally as personal chef for her guru maharaja. After some years she moved to Australia in 2006.
Once in Australia Madhumati devoted her life to full-time temple service for the next nine years, which she describes “brought great joy”.
Ranadhira’s association with New Govardhana devotees began in 1988 when he helped to train bullocks for ploughing fields. He lived on the property for a couple of years and returned in 2007 to live here permanently.
Since 2009, Ranadhira and Madhumati have gardened together. Their methods are shared in a gardening pamphlet that they produced to describe their methods for gardening in the local climate and soil conditions. Copies of this pamphlet will be available to the temple soon. In the future, they also plan on producing one on traditional building using bamboo and earth.
The New Govardhana community has been recently blessed to welcome a number of little Vaishnavas and a Vaishnavi to our community!
- Malcolm Knights and Lila Kirtan devi dasi welcomed Taj Nitai Knights on 24 July.
- Dhruvananda dasa and Dhanesvari devi dasi welcomed their daughter Sarasvati Dayana O’Shea on 20 August.
- Tilakini and Johnny Norris welcomed their son Talin Dray Norris on 22 September.
- Rupa Raghunatha dasa and Jyestha devi dasi welcomed their son Krishna Balarama on 29 September.
The Conch on Holidays
For the December, January and February issues the conch will be reduced from eight pages to four pages due to the absence of some editorial staff. We look forward to resuming the eight pages for the March issue.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Krishnarupa devi dasi (ACBSP), Manjulali devi dasi, Kisori devi dasi and Jhulan dasi
LAYOUT AND GRAPHIC DESIGN:
Urvasi devi dasi and Jhulan devi dasi.
DIGITAL CONCH TEAM:
HH Mukunda Goswami, Paul Bailey, Jhulan devi dasi and Visnujana das
FOR ENQUIRIES, COMMENTS OR SUGGESTIONS
(from Vaishnava calendar www.vaisnavacalendar.com)
|1||Wed||Dvadasi Break fast 6.12am – 10.18am|
|3||Fri||Last day of the fourth Caturmasya month|
|4||Sat||Sri Krsna Rasayatra
Tulasi-Shaligrama Vivaha (marriage)
|14||Tue||Fasting for Utpanna Ekadasi|
|15||Wed||Dvadasi Break fast 5.45am – 10.15am|
|30||Thu||Fasting for Moksada Ekadasi
Advent of Srimad Bhagavad-gita