by Anasuya dasi
Lord Ramacandra personifies dharma and transcendental love. There are many great leaders glorified in sastra. King Yudisthira comes to mind, with his sea of obedient followers, made loyal by the magnanimity of his just, vaisnava character. Although young, Prahlada Maharaja also stands out when, facing serious adversity, teaches that there are ultimately neither friends nor enemies in this world, and that devotional service is our aim. And further, Queen Kunti astonishes with the depths of her loyalty and devotion, leading us by sincerely pleading for calamity upon calamity to befall her, if only to stay at Krishna’s lotus feet.
Yet, of all leaders, Lord Krishna’s incarnations are the ultimate, and with His kingly, exalted position of infinite righteousness, Lord Ramachandra shines extra bright. Understandably, devotees relish His pastimes. Here, we can easily relate to His apparent conundrum: “How to uphold dharma amidst difficulties? How to be married? How to remain faithful when suffering?”. Here is the Lord of the Universe and His beloved, both perfect in every way, appearing to face similar difficulties to us. Actually, Lord Ramacandra has no difficulties; He appears to suffer only in order to teach us. Indeed, in Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 5, Srila Prabhupada outlines the three main lessons of Lord Rama. Firstly, that it is better not to enter married life, for, just like He and Sita, there are many tribulations. Yet, secondly, if you do, you must do it right. A man who accepts a wife, must be faithful to her and offer full protection. Thirdly, He demonstrates that although devotees may appear to suffer, they really have nothing to do with such obstacles.
Lord Ramacandra could have manifested endless Sitas from His pleasure potency, yet He chose just one to uphold dharma in a way we can understand. For Krishna can have many partners, but we cannot without grave ramifications. Material life is a positive challenge. We cannot completely understand the Lord, yet we can take shelter of His kindness in appearing with Sitadevi in this way. Jai Sri Rama!
Srila Prabhupada Uvaca
Compiled by Bhadra Yamuna dasi
“So, man-mana bhava, mad-yaji, worship Krishna and offer respect to Krishna. Four things. Anyone can do. It doesn’t require any high education, high philosophical mind. Simply four things – always think of Krishna, become a devotee of Krishna, offer Him respect, obeisances, and worship Him. These four things will help you. If you cannot do these four things even, then you can chant – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Very simple process, and there is no loss. Suppose you become a devotee and think of Krishna, what is loss on your part? There is no loss. So without any loss, if you get the greatest benediction of life, why don’t you try it?”
Lecture by Srila Prabhupada, Feb 21, 1973, Auckland.
In light of the current health restrictions brought about because of COVID-19 virus, please see the announcements in the “Important Information” section”…
The Bhakti Club
By Prana dasa and Candrakoti dasi
In Mayapur dhama, on the 1st of March, Bhakti Learning launched a Krishna conscious online programme for children – The Bhakti Club.
This is a project, which myself and my wife Candrakoti devi dasi have been working on during our absence from New Govardhan over the past two years.
The courses are designed to engage, excite and enlighten young devotees. This will provide an opportunity for children to spend quality screen time.
The Bhakti Club is extra curricular activity, approximately two hours of work per week. There are four subjects, including Story, Sanskrit, Sloka and Pilgrimage, all filled with many fun interactive activities. Children will develop their language skills, while interacting with the high-quality online learning resources.
The courses are presented according to the Vaishnava calendar, so the learning is contextual and relevant. Materials are distributed monthly and children will not study the same content more than once, although they will study the same topics throughout the years.
We hope you will take advantage of this exciting new programme.
Visit us at www.bhaktilearning.com to learn more.
The Rupashram Mothers Group has been running weekly for more than two years now. With more than 30 members in the messenger support group and many mothers regularly meeting each week, I often refer to our group as a “community within a community”.
It is amazing to see the bond between our children as they begin their devotional lives together. The social stimulation for the kids and the support for the mothers has proved invaluable over the years.
We have a regular rotation of meeting locations: my home, Knox Park, Lucid restaurant for lunch, and the temple for arati, lunch, and feeding the cows.
If you are interested in joining our mothers’ group, please contact me on 0457 060 150
By Virabhadra dasa
Checked in at the airport with my ticket to Delhi. “Am I really going to Vrindavan after more than twenty-four years?” I think, “Do I have the blessings of Srimati Radharani and Vrinda devi to actually enter Their abode?” I further contemplate that going there is not a matter of geographical displacement by any manner of conveyance to a place located by a name on a map. That transcendental realm is not limited or defined by any physical consideration of matter.
I am met by my host family in Delhi. After a couple of days, we go to Gupta Vrindavan, Jaipur for a weekend, which includes a darshan of Sri Govinda dev and the Sunday evening program at ISKCON Jaipur.
An ‘Ola’ ride-sharing taxi takes me from Delhi to my Vrindavan accommodation where I can see, from my ground-floor room, the spires of the Krishna Balaram Mandir and Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi.
After two days at Loi Bazaar to get the necessary shopping out of the way, I’m off to Radha Kunda where I have been kindly offered a room. My body tingles slightly as we enter the precinct in the rumbling auto rickshaw. We pull up on the road behind the Gopalji Manipur temple. I recognise the door to my lodgings from the photograph. I have arrived. I am at Radha Kunda.
“Among the gopis, Srimate Radharani is the most dear to Krsna. Her kunda [lake] is as profoundly dear to Lord Krsna as this most beloved of the gopis. Who, then, will not reside at Radha-kunda and, in a spiritual body surcharged with ecstatic devotional feelings [aprakrta-bhava], render loving service to the divine couple Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, who perform Their asta-kaliya-lila, Their eternal eightfold daily pastimes? Indeed, those who execute devotional service on the banks of Radha-kunda are the most fortunate people in the universe.” (Nectar of Instruction Verse10)
The next day, I am introduced to a local family of Brajabhasis who welcome me into their family as a brother and offer to feed me whenever I am hungry. They greet me as if am coming back home. I am one of them, these most blessed of people, who have a deep ancestral history of residing in this most sacred of places. However, unlike them, in a couple of weeks I shall be back in Australia. For the meantime, I am at Radha Kunda.
gopi bhartur pada kamalayor dasa dasanudasah
“I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krsna, the maintainer of the gopis”
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya-Lila 13.80.
VAISNAVA CARE COURSE
Over a weekend at the beginning of February, Damodara dasa, from Chowpatti, India, presented a course at New Govardhana to inform devotees of the mood and wishes of ISKCON leaders and GBC members regarding devotee care.
It was an invaluable course. Those completing it felt enriched by the content and were pleased to know that so many aspects of devotee care are now of interest to our movement’s leaders. Additionally, attendees engaged in workshops to create ways to improve the provision of care.
Since the highest area of concern of ISKCON leaders is the mental and emotional health of the devotees, two of the three groups attending this course planned improvements for the mental and emotional health of New Govardhana and Brisbane devotees. The third group discussed children’s education. Each group created innovative policies and procedures for implementing improvements within the area they workshopped.
The results from these workshops will soon emerge.
Any individuals with counselling qualifications who would like to be a part of the Vaishnava care team and be willing to be listed for devotees to call when they are in need, please contact Ambika on 0434 214 186.
By Alyona Potapovai
Syntropic gardening proposes that the soil always remains occupied by growing species – where trees, grains and vegetables grow harmoniously. Photosynthesis and soils are stimulated, organic matter is constantly added, and above all, there is complete independence from herbicides.
With mango season over, New Govardhana is looking towards greener pastures for breakfast fruit.
To create an abundance of future fruit, Jack Ruhle, inspired by Jiva Jago and Tiago, and with help of volunteers, is revolutionising our banana plantation and turning it syntropic.
Krishna Village’s Eastern garden has already been transformed into a syntropic farm, and now our banana plantation is getting a similar make-over.
Instead of growing bananas in isolation, Jack is introducing companion plants, such as kesava, turmeric, avocado, sweet potato and mango to create diversity in the life cycles growing in the soil.
This diversity feeds the soil instead of depleting it, which occurs in traditional farming. Most plants being introduced will serve to enrich the soil instead of being grown primarily to produce fruit.
Eventually, Jack would appreciate help from our four-legged friends – our farm’s cows and goats – to graze the grass and massage the soil with their hooves. Even the animals’ natural habit of scratching against tree trunks will be useful to strengthen the banana trees.
At the moment, however, Jack hopes that our escape-artist calves, Braja and Harine are kept in escape proof fields, so as not to damage the newly planted crops.
The banana plantation transformation will take a few months and a lot of work, so if you’d like to help, please ask The Conch for Jack’s contact details.
By Bhadra Yamuna dasi
“So everything in nature has to give something. That is the order. Everything that we see, nadyah, the river. Why God has created the river? It has got a function. Similarly, samudrah, the oceans; similarly the hills, mountains, girayah; savanaspati, vegetables. All these vegetables which are growing, each and every vegetable, creeper, has some service, we do not know. Because we do not know the use of these vegetables, creepers, we go to the doctor, physician” (Srila Prabbhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam. 1.10.5).
The New Govardhana community has some new sustainability projects in the works.
On the farm, Krishna is providing an abundance of produce. There are several gardens, numerous fruit and nut trees and countless wild edibles. With Krishna’s mercy, enthusiastic residents and long-term guests, the situation here is ripe for sustainable living.
There will be a new produce processing facility operational soon. Currently, the many things growing here are distributed as needed to the temple kitchens, Krishna Village, Jagannatha Café and the Goshala Shop. Any excess items will go to the processing facility for preserving so they can be used during off-season times. Features of the 7.5 x 5.5. metre building are cool room panels to keep ambient temperatures, necessary equipment and a hygienic, controlled environment. The completion date is estimated at four weeks. In the future, some of the items will be available for purchase at Vraja’s Vegetables stall during the Sunday Feast.
Vraja dasi and Ben, two community residents, are initiating a change from the current plastic prasadam serving buckets to stainless steel containers. Stainless steel containers are long-lasting, non-porous, do not retain oils and odours from previously stored foods or leech chemicals.
The farm will be purchasing fifty new stainless steel buckets. If you’d like to contribute by donation, you can do so at Vraja’s Vegetables stall during the Sunday Feast, or directly to the temple via bank transfer:
ACCOUNT #: 618999
ACCOUNT NAME: ISKCON NG
In focus: Bhadra Yamuna dasi
Interviewed by Glenn Harrison
Glenn: Hi Bhadra Yamuna dasi. We’ve had discussions about your life before being a devotee, I found it very fascinating, please share some of it here for The Conch.
Bhadra Yamuna: I was born in central Pennsylvania in an area where culture is slow, with Pennsylvania Dutch roots. An ISKCON farm was just 30 – 40 minutes from my hometown, but I didn’t know about it. My childhood was simple and fairly culturally sheltered. I spent most of my time reading, being outside or with my large extended family. I travelled quite a bit after high school – across the US (partially by bicycle), to Europe and the Middle East. I Studied a variety of things such as Plant Based Nutrition, Massage Therapy, Yoga Therapy, and Permaculture. I was also involved in several sustainable lifestyle projects.
Glenn: How did you come to Krishna Consciousness?
Bhadra Yamuna: As a child I was pretty quiet. I prayed every day and went to church events with the older ladies in my neighborhood. So, the relationship with God was present. I relied on Him with my faith and felt nurtured and protected. At some point, while travelling, I heard a harinama in the distance – it felt like home. This happened several times. I was given the Bhagavad Gita, heard pastimes from Krishna Book at a Yoga institute, and started listening to kirtan daily. I was drawn to the maha-mantra and the little that I had read about bhakti yoga. A few years ago I heard devotees doing kirtan at a yoga festival. I saw their purity and was shy, but it changed my life. Eight months later, I spontaneously bought a ticket to India and travelled there solo for the first time. In Delhi, I visited the ISKCON temple (first time), and someone told me that if I loved this temple then I would love it in Vrindavan. Immediately upon returning home, I decided to retire from the five-acre farm project that I was involved in and, by the mercy of devotees in Michigan, I’m here today.
Glenn: What brings you to this community, besides a plane?
Bhadra Yamuna: Because of my nature and upbringing, I was looking for an ISKCON temple with a thriving farm, diverse community, and also other facilities that incorporate health and wellness. The idea to come to Australia had been in the background for many years, but it wasn’t until several friends and my spiritual master suggested New Govardhana that I became set on it. I met Dhriti dasi and Ajita dasa while they were visiting America last summer and Ajita said “apply for your visa today,” – so I did.
Glenn: How about devotional service? What are you engaged in at present, what services would you like to perform?
Bhadra Yamuna: Right now, I’m engaged in several services in the Deity Department, including assisting with cooking, paraphernalia, and organising. Recently, I began tidying the Goshala Shop. My intention is to offer healthy options and create a simple system where others can get involved and express their creativity. One of my favorite services is sharing Srila Prabhupada’s books, dressing Srila Prabhupada, writing articles for The Conch and devotee care. I’ve facilitated a few classes in Krishna Village that connect mind, body and spiritual life with harinama, garlands and books like Bhagavad Gita. I’ve been temporarily managing the women’s ashrama while Mandali Kishori dasi has been in India.
In the future, I’d like to serve the Deities more intimately. I’d like to cook for them, dress them, and serve on the altar. I also have a desire to serve some of the deities while visiting America, specifically Radha Govinda and Radha Krishna in Brooklyn, New York, and Radha Damodara at Gita Nagari in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. I’d like to learn more harmonium melodies, and do a bit more travelling sankirtana.
Glenn: Please share a gem, or a realization of Guru and/or Krishna from your experiences.
Bhadra Yamuna: My spiritual master is unconditionally kind to me – and he’ll always be there for me. Giving my whole heart to Krishna isn’t always easy because of my conditioning. Through my guru, I’m learning how to surrender myself more in faith and allow myself to really love. I’m also learning how to love others and see Krishna behind every situation.
The Conch is your community newsletter, and we invite you to submit articles for publication.
Articles should be 200 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 10th 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.
H.H. Mukunda Goswami
Krishnarupa devi dasi, Dandakaranya dasa, Anasuya dasi and Bhadra Yamuna dasi
LAYOUT AND GRAPHIC DESIGN
ONLINE TEAM (Digital Conch)
H.H. Mukunda Goswami, Paul Bailey and Visnujana dasa
FOR ENQUIRIES, COMMENTS OR SUGGESTIONS
(from Vaishnava calendar www.vaisnavacalendar.com)
|Fri||3||Rama Navami – Appearance of Lord Sri Ramacandra|
|Mon||6||Break Fast 6:11am – 10:01am|
|Wed||8||Sri Balarama Rasayatra, Sri Krishna Vasanta Rasa
Sri Syamananda Prabhu- Appearance
Sri Vamsivadana Thakura – Appearance
|Tue||14||Sri Abhirama Thakura – Disappearance
Beginning Tulasi Jala Dan
|Fri||17||Sri Vrndavana Dasa Thakura – Disappearance|
|Sun||19||Break Fast 9:26am – 10:02am|
|Thu||23||Sri Gadadhara Pandita – Appearance|
|Sun||26||Aksaya Trtiya, Candana Yatra starts
(continues for 21 days)