What Do We Mean by Varnashrama?
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Hare KrishnaBy Hare Krishna Devi Dasi

To see the true value of the Vedic social system, we need to understand it in its original form. Thinkers throughout history—from Plato to Locke to modern political theorists—have always discussed the ideal form of social organization. Vedic literature also addresses this question and presents as the ideal the social system known as varnashrama, which divides society into four varnas, or occupational groups, and four ashramas, or stages of life. The four varnas are brahmanas (priests and teachers), kshatriyas (rulers and warriors), vaishyas (farmers and merchants), and shudras (laborers and artisans). The four ashramas are brahmacharya (student), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (retired), and sannyasa (renounced). When His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada carried the wisdom of Vedic literature to the West, he was hoping for nothing short of a spiritual revolution. He knew that without Krishna consciousness, people cannot be happy. An important part of his strategy to spread Krishna consciousness around the world was the revival of varnashrama. For many years, his followers have pondered his instructions about varnashrama, but so far have made little progress in fulfilling his vision for it.

NASN December 2015 – North American Sankirtan Newsletter
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Hare KrishnaBy Mayapur Sasi dasa

For the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada this report contains the following North American results of book distribution for the month of December. North American Totals, Monthly Temples, Monthly Weekend Warriors. Monthly Top 100 Individuals, Monthly Top 5, Cumulative Countries, Cumulative Temples, Cumulative Top 100 Individuals, Cumulative Top 5

Release of Sri Chaitanya Charitamritam in Telugu Language – A Golden Jubilee Offering to Srila Prabhupada!
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Hare KrishnaBy Vaishnavanghri Sevaka Das

By the unlimited mercy of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Guru Parampara ISKCON devotees of Telugu speaking land could offer Sri Chaitanya Charitamritam in Telugu (South Indian language) in the beginning of Golden Jubilee celebrations of ISKCON to the Founder Acharya His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Four hundred years old Sri Chaitanya Charitamritam got manifested in English about 40 years back for the pleasure reading of people around the world by the divine mercy of Srila Prabhupada. The Telugu version of the same scripture appeared on Sankranti day (15th January 2016) the day of Lord Chaitanya accepting renounced order of life. Release of Telugu version in Tirupati, where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu moved around for preaching purpose, is another significance of this event. Though the release function was planned for morning session, somehow the program got shifted to evening.

ISKCON Prison Ministry: Entering the New Year 2016!
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Hare KrishnaBy Bhakti-lata Dasi

A month ago, I was in the kitchen, cleaning up after dinner—in the Prabhupada House where we stayed at the time—when there was a knock on the door. My husband answered the door and I heard, “Is Bhakti-lata there?” A polite young man entered and he told me, “I know someone you know” “Who?” “Yogi.” I thought for a second. “Richard C.?” “Yes!” Yogi is the prison name of bhakta Richard (whom we now call Krishna Kirtan). The young man had been in prison with him for a short while. Now that he was free, he wanted to meet me in person. We talked for a while. It was a very sweet encounter. Each and every time I feel a little overwhelmed by my IPM service, Krsna arranges something like this to re-kindle my enthusiasm and let me know He wants me to keep going.

Sannyasa Newsletter
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Hare KrishnaBy Prahladananda Swami

We are pleased to introduce you to the Sannyasa Newsletter. This is a reformed and revised version of the journal published a few years ago. The aim of this newsletter is to increase the communication between the Sannyasa Ministry and the current ISKCON sannyasis, and to strengthen the relationships amongst the sannyasis. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed His followers to serve all living entities by trying to awaken Krishna consciousness in the hearts of whomsoever they meet. Certainly, the mission of all ISKCON sannyasis is to, intelligently and enthusiastically, serve this instruction through following the teachings and example of Srila Prabhupada.

A Russian expedition to Vrindavana
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Hare KrishnaBy Yadunandana das

On Friday, January the 4th in 1891, Hindus who were bathing in the sacred river Yamuna witnessed an amazing scene. A ship with the name of an unknown language approached. In the morning mist, surrounded by armed soldiers, a young light-skinned man in an officer’s jacket, looking, however, not belligerent came ashore. The stranger was the crown prince Nicholas, soon to be the future last Russian emperor. The small town of Vrindavan, 80 miles to the south of Delhi, was part of the journey of the crown prince, along with Mumbai, Delhi, Gwalior, Agra, Ellora, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kolkata and ?adras and Sri Rangam, up to the southern parts of the Indian subcontinent, from where he viewed the outline of Ceylon. The heir to the Russian throne liked Vrindavan. Nicholas found the town very similar to… Venice. From the travel notes made by Nicholas, one can assume that his familiarity with Vrindavan occurred in the place of Kesi Ghat, on the banks of river Yamuna. The royal guest was shown the temple of Madana Mohana. And one of the “interesting” churches, which he visited, might have been the Jugal Kishore temple. According to some assumptions, while visiting one of the temples, the crown prince received blessings from local elders to rule his kingdom. It rather might be a beautiful legend, though. Anyway, 125 years ago Nicholas II was the first Russian “discoverer” of Vrindavan.

An Interview with Krishna Dharma: Science And Religion
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Hare KrishnaBy Krishna Dharma Das

As the Greek oracle proclaimed, ‘know thyself’, and this is the first instruction in the Gita. It tells us we are parts of the Supreme Spirit and therefore we have the same nature—not only of eternality, but also pure knowledge and bliss. There is evidence for this as well in that we can see how we are always aspiring to attain those three states. Take the first, eternality. We constantly strive to secure our ongoing existence, seeking good health, longevity and whatever security we can in what is, let’s face it, a rather insecure world. Knowledge is also constantly sought in so many ways, we want to know what is happening (such as all those desperately important FB updates), we want the news and don’t like to be in the dark. And of course everything we do is aimed at somehow increasing our happiness or decreasing our discomfort and suffering.

Ratha Yatra in the land of sandalwood, Malaysia
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Hare KrishnaBy Mathura Lilesvari Devi Dasi

Hundreds of devotees dancing down on one of the busiest streets in Kuala Lumpur was probably one of the best ways to kick start ISKCON’s 50th Anniversary in Malaysia, a country which Prabhupada referred to when speaking of Candan wood. Then known as Malaya, Malaysia had the good fortune of having Srila Prabhupada’s feet touch its soil in 1971. It was on the 2nd of January and the devotees were all prepared to bring in the year with the great Jagannath parade, Ratha Yatra 2016. Guest of honour, YB Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, Minister of Health Malaysia, spoke very highly of ISKCON and was proud to be part of the festival. Other chief guests were Regional Secretary – HG Simheswara dasa, HH Bhakti Vrajendranandana Swami – President of ISKCON Malaysia, HH Janananda Goswami, HG Prabhavishnu Prabhu and YB Senator Dato’ Dr. Loga Bala Mohan (HG Loka Bandhu Gauranga dasa JPS) – Deputy Minister of Federal Territories. Under the expert guidance of Temple President – HG Kripa Sindhu Krishna das and Festivals Organizing Chairman – HG Siddhi Sadhana Das, the congregation worked together in putting the festival for the pleasure of Their Lordships.

Take it Outside
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Hare KrishnaBy Jennifer Scheper Hughes

By participating in other religious and cultural realities, we break from the mundane and open up the possibility of enchantment. It is the unknown of the festival that beckons to outsiders—the potential for the experience of the ephemeral, the surreal, the transcendent. Tens of thousands of young adults, mostly in their teens and twenties, clamor toward the stage at the spring Festival of Colors in Los Angeles. From a panoply of backgrounds and cultures and beliefs (or no belief at all), they gather to celebrate Holi, to reenact the colorful play of Radha and Krishna, the supreme Hindu expressions of divinity and the enchanters of the world. Radha and Krishna’s love play is relived and remembered in the crowd’s joyful “playing of colors.”

TOVP e-Newsletter: January – March 2016
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Hare KrishnaBy the TOVP team

The main dome stainless steel superstructure is now completed! This was a major undertaking and is a milestone in the progress of the TOVP. Visually we can now admire its perfect roundness and how every segment and ring fits like a glove. Such a task and structure has never been accomplished anywhere else in the world; it is unique to the TOVP. We would especially like to thank Mr. Chaudhuri, our senior engineer, for making every single section of the dome perfect. The next challenging phase will be the mounting of the Kalash and, finally, the Chakra, which must be accomplished with as much precision and perfection as the dome. May we all pray together for the successful completion of this endeavor.

An Intellect Discovers Its Perfection
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Hare KrishnaBy Chaitanya Charana Dasa

I was born with a congenital heart deformity that doctors said would probably not allow me to see my fifth birthday. My parents gave me the name Chandrahas, “one whose laugh is like the moon,” but sadly they found few reasons to smile in my childhood. When I was around one, learning to walk in our middle-class house, I suddenly collapsed to the floor, never to walk naturally again. My parents, Ramachandra and Sunanda Pujari, had already had me vaccinated against the dreaded polio infection rampant in India in the 1970s, but the doctor had unknowingly given me a defective vaccine. With my left leg diseased, I had to walk with either a limp or a brace. When I was around two, I was enjoying the spectacle of the popular Diwali firecrackers with the neighborhood children when a rocket-firecracker went off course and headed toward me. I couldn’t run away like the other children, and the rocket hit my right arm, fusing my shirt with my skin and, racing upwards, burning my face, missing my right eye by millimeters. The rocket then fell to the ground, leaving lifelong scars on my right arm and the right side of my face. When I was three, I fell from a wall near my house and cracked my skull. An astrologer told my despairing parents that I was plagued by Saturn, which would cause repeated trouble for the first seven and a half years of my life.

City of nine gates
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Hare KrishnaBy Kesava Krsna dasa

The waking process may take some time. If it is very rare to attain bhava where our true eternally awakened self is developed, shedding the gross and subtle dream body, then only a greedy, hungry effort, anxious to adopt all positive awakening procedures may expedite matters. Lord Krsna states: “After many births and deaths, he who actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knows Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” BG. 7.19. While we are awakening, any acquirement of mercy can be passed on to other sleeping souls, to sound gentle informed alarm bell talks. When awakened souls gather to converse about the awoken reality personified [Krsna] and His nearest and dearest, such enlivening chatter will keep us awake and entice us towards Krsna Prema. “O Narada, I am not in Vaikuntha nor am I in the hearts of the yogis. I remain where My devotees glorify My name, form, qualities and transcendental pastimes.” Padma Purana. In the meantime while we are here staying awake, perhaps we can also, like Maha-Visnu, observe the incredible workings of this dream world, if even as a reminder to keep alert, or to be interestingly occupied.

Call for homages for Srila Prabhupada’s 2016 Vyasa Puja Book
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Hare KrishnaBy Dravida dasa

Kindly submit your homage to Srila Prabhupada for his Vyasa-puja book by April 15. Also, this year, in observance of the fiftieth anniversary of ISKCON’s founding, we have been requested to ask everyone who submits an offering to work in something about that theme. In addition, if you’re a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada, please check out www.sptributes.com to learn about a Vyasa-puja book open to all his disciples. The deadline for submission to this book is also April 15. The standards for submitting an offering to the traditional Vyasa-puja book (the one published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) are as follows: ———— *Absolutely no offerings will be accepted after April 15, 2016.* Offerings must be in English. Please restrict the length to a maximum of 3,000 words. Please omit all diacritics on words that can be found in the VedaBase. It’s easier for us to put them in. If you quote a verse from outside the VedaBase or compose original Sanskrit, please include diacritics.

Free E-book on ISKCON Press 1969-71: “THIS IS MY HEART”
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Hare KrishnaBy Patita Pavana dasa

Each day the artists—Baradwaja, Muralidhara, Jadurani, Parikshit and sometimes Devahuti—were upstairs in the studio. Adwaita was running the gigantic offset. Uddhava was moving from here to there organizing everything. Madhusudan and Narayani were typing away on the IBM electric in a tiny basement nook. Vaikunthanatha and me were downstairs in the basement—once a morgue—hand binding Ishopanishads of Nectar of Devotions or cutting BTGs. Or we could be found operating the folding machine upstairs once Adwaita had printed the sheets. Brahmananda was in the office with Swarupa seeing to the business aspect. Satswarupa was the temple president, and a very austere one. He was editing the Bhagavatams at the time, or working a job to pay the bills.

Introducing: Tattva Darsi – New Sankirtan Website for LA ISKCON
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Hare KrishnaBy Iskcon LA

This project is to present what we do as traveling monks, and a means to keep in touch with the people we meet both online and on the streets! (Universities, festivals, etc.) We have been working on this project for almost five months now. Before it was just an idea of “we should make a website..” But now we are in full swing and have gathered content of our lifestyle and are trying to open it up to the general. Our goal is to share with people the ancient teachings of spiritual India, the Vedas, which according to the Vedas is beyond all material designations. Its a spiritual tradition that has been practiced for thousands and thousands (and thousands) of years by monks, yogis, and spiritual conscious persons all over the world. Anyone can learn the ancient practices of yoga and meditation no matter who you are, or where you come from.

Fifty percent
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Hare KrishnaBy Kavicandra Swami

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what it means to give fifty percent. For most householders their income does not allow them to live and to give 50% to the temple. The Lord definitely says that no one is more dear to Him than one who is always engaged in the preaching work of the Lord’s name and fame all over the world. The scientific discoveries of the material world can also be equally engaged in carrying out His order. He wants the message of the Bhagavad-gita to be preached amongst His devotees. It may not be so done amongst those who have no credit of austerities, charity, education, etc. Therefore, the attempt must go on to convert unwilling men to become His devotees. Lord Caitanya has taught a very simple method in this connection. He has taught the lesson for preaching the transcendental message through singing, dancing and refreshment. As such, fifty percent of our income may be spent for this purpose.

Third Ratha Yatra in Batam, Indonesia
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Hare KrishnaBy Hari Narayana Das

The organizers of the Ratha Yatra committee would like to offer their obeisances to His Holiness Kavicandra Swami and His Holiness Ramai Swami, the GBCs for Indonesia. We are grateful for their support and for constantly guiding us in pushing forward Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtan movement. We are extremely grateful to His Holiness Subhag Swami Maharaj who has been inspiring us to explore new frontiers in preaching and performing this Jagannath Ratha Yatra in every city in Indonesia for the pleasure of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. We thank His Holiness Atmanivedana Swami for attending this event and inspiring the devotees. We offer our respects to His Grace Samudrasena das the leader of ISKCON Batam for helping to make this festival a success. Last but not least we thank Sesa das and Rasikananada das for their melodious singing which attracted all.

Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk: Travel Journal from North Florida and Atlanta
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Hare KrishnaBy Krishna-kripa Das

At Krishna House we had an end of the semester party with appreciations of the devotees and some humorous entertainment, and I share some of the parts most striking to me. I was part of our kirtana team at inspiring deity welcoming ceremony in Tallahassee that brought a lot of people together chanting Hare Krishna. “In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.23)

London Bridge Is Falling Down, My Fair Lady
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Hare KrishnaBy Sankirtana Das

Once there was a sage who lived by the banks of the Ganges River. The sage spent much of his time in meditation and he understood the difference between that which is ‘sat’ (eternal) and that which is ‘asat’ (temporary). Now he was destined to live until all the hairs on his body fell off. He is described as a ‘hairy’ sage. And only a single hair fell off during a life time of Brahma (which is millions upon millions of years). So this sage was going to live for an awfully long time. One day he was asked, “Why don’t you build yourself a nice home?” The sage replied, “Why should I bother? I’m only here temporarily.”

Sankirtan festival celebrates successes of the Srila Prabhupada Book Distribution Marathon
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Hare KrishnaBy Zayani Bhatt

Devotees from temples across the UK congregated at Bhaktivedanta Manor on Saturday 9th January to celebrate the success of the Srila Prabhupada Book Distribution Marathon, which ran for a month from 21st November to 25th December 2015. Known as the Sankirtan festival, the event was the culmination of the hard work put in by the UK temples, in sharing Krishna Consciousness in the form of Srila Prabhupada’s books with new audiences. Led by Visvambhara Prabhu, a long term advocate of book distribution, devotees celebrated the numbers of books that various individuals, groups and whole temples had distributed and the donations that had been collected. Those who were within the top 50 for distributing most books were given a small token of appreciation from senior devotees HH Dayanand Maharaj, Kripamoya Prabhu, Dhananjaya Prabhu and Praghosa Prabhu to celebrate their success and hard work, as well as to encourage others to partake in the next marathon at the end of this year. Despite being one of the eldest devotees present, HH Dayanand Maharaj continues to distribute books today, having started in 1984. As he explained; “Book distribution is the best service. It is most enlivening.”

Unending happiness: possible?
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By Urmila Devi Dasi

Can one find happiness in this world? For most of us what we call “happiness” is the temporary mitigation of distress, or sadness. Without sadness, there is practically no meaning to happiness in a material conception of life. First, all that we term “happiness” depends on some sort of prior suffering. We enjoy eating because we feel the pain of hunger; without any hunger or appetite, eating will bring us no pleasure, no matter how tasty and well prepared the food. We find pleasure in sleep due to the distress of fatigue; a child who isn’t tired will be told to “go to bed” as a punishment–not a reward. Sex is pleasurable because of the urgency of lust. Those who wish to increase their sexual pleasure therefore also desire to increase their lust. On the emotional level as well, company is meaningful when we have experienced loneliness. If we examine any type of material pleasure, we will find that the experience is enjoyable only in proportion to the amount of pain it alleviates. If there is no prior pain, the so-called pleasure will be meaningless or even perceived as distress also. On a full stomach, more food is painful, and to a well-rested person time in bed is an irritation. “Happiness” can therefore be defined as the temporary absence or mitigation of pain.

A Second Chance
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Hare KrishnaBy Indradyumna Swami

As a devotee grows older, he becomes more and more aware, by the grace of the Lord, that his life is coming to a close and his time to achieve perfection in Krsna consciousness is running out. Sometimes the signs come in disconcerting ways. A few months ago several of my disciples approached me and asked if I would tell the history of each of the salagram silas on my altar. “Perhaps another day,” I replied. “But Guru Maharaja,” said a woman disciple, “you’re the only one who knows the unique story behind each sila. And you’re getting older … ” She didn’t finish the sentence. There was no need. Old age implies that things are winding down and coming to an end.

Golden Jubilee Celebration: Envisaging Iskcon’s Four Movements
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Hare KrishnaBy Sutapa Das

To commemorate this great event and following on the lines of Sankirtana movement, ISKCON Mangalore celebrated ISKCON’S Golden Jubilee festival in 2 broad realms: Kirtan festival : At Panambur beach, Mangalore on January 3rd, 2016 in midst of mother nature and blessings of many senior Vaishnavas. The program was graced by His Holiness Indradyumna Swami(USA), HG Haripada Prabhuji and his good wife HG Phalini mataji(USA), HG Ekalavya prabhu, HG Patri prabhu(Russia) and many other devotees. Hundreds of devotees and thousands of visitors relished the mesmerizing and sublime chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

The Madhusudana Mystery
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Hare KrishnaBy Satyaraja Dasa

Since we don’t hear of a demon named Madhu in Krishna’s pastimes, why does Arjuna address Krishna as “the killer of Madhu”?Madhusudana. The name always seemed curious to me. Where did it come from? In the Bhagavad-gita, one of our most sacred texts, Krishna is referred to as Madhusudana, or “the killer of the Madhu demon,” no less than five times. And yet, Krishna didn’t kill a demon named Madhu. I looked through the vast storehouse of Krishna’s pastimes over and over again. No Madhu, at least not in the form of a demon. Most commentators, including Srila Prabhupada, tell us that by referring to Krishna in this way, Arjuna, the hero of the Gita, is poetically indicating that Krishna should now slay Arjuna’s doubts, just as He had slain the three-dimensional foe of His past. But, again, where did that slaying take place? When did Krishna kill a demon named Madhu?

ISKCON 50 – Golden Lotus Abhishek in Mayapur
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Hare KrishnaBy Bhakti Purusottama Swami

This year 2016 is a very special year for all of us, Srila Prabhupada’s followers. We are celebrating the 50th anniversary , the silver jubilee of ISKCON this year. Iskcon took birth in 1966 and has just reached the 50th year of its manifestation on the earthly planet. Devotees all over the world are preparing to hold many celebrations for this 50th anniversary of ISKCON. In Mayapur, which has been considered by Srila Prabhupada as a place of worship, ISKCON is going to hold a grand celebration during the 2016 Gour Purnima festival in the presence of thousands of devotees from around the world who will come to worship Lord Gouranga. We have a very special and unique plan to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON in a great vedic manner. There are several programs which will be the highlights of this year’s Goura Purnima festival. The most important one will be the special abhishek of Lord Gouranga with golden lotuses.

Devotee scholar to contribute for a NAT series: “The Story of God” by Morgan Freeman
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Hare KrishnaBy Whitney Friedlander

Graham M. Schweig, a devotee and professor of religious studies, has been invited to write for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Television Series entitled, “THE STORY OF GOD.” He will write six “discussion guide” essays covering the perspective of Hinduism (along with four other writers representing the other major traditions) to be posted on the program’s website that will guide the content for the series, a series produced by Morgan Freeman, et. al., a series to air in the U.S. and globally in 171 countries and 45 languages beginning June 2016.