A look at the worldwide activities of the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
President of Zambia Honors ISKCON Guru
Srila Bhaktitirtha Swami presents the sixty-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, India’s great spiritual classic, to His Excellency Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia, at the state house in Lusaka.
Lusaka, Zambia—President Kenneth Kaunda recently held a dinner here in honor of Srila Bhaktitirtha Swami Krsnapada, one of ISKCON’s spiritual masters who oversee the movement in Africa. President Kaunda, a vegetarian and an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, heard of Srila Bhaktitirtha through Justice Aiyadurai Shivanandan, a life member of ISKCON. Justice Shivanandan had also previously arranged for Srila Bhaktitirtha to meet with Zambia’s chief justice and several other judges.
During the dinner at the State House, President Kaunda expressed appreciation for the Krsna consciousness philosophy, which stresses the spiritual identity of all living creatures, not superficial, sectarian differences based on race, language, religion, and so on. Zambia is a neighbor of South Africa and is much affected by the conflict there.
The President was particularly interested in the idea that the soul lives on after the body, and in the Hare Krsna movement’s emphasis on self-sufficiency. Srila Bhaktitirtha outlined ISKCON’s plans to develop farm communities and cottage industries throughout the country.
President Kaunda received an honorary ISKCON life membership, with guest privileges at temples and restaurants worldwide.
Major Tamil Nadu Temples Welcome Pada-yatra
Sri Rangam temple leaders greet the ISKCON pada-yatra with a traditional purna-kumbha reception-leaves and flowers in a pot. From left to right: pada-yatra leadersJayadvaita Swami and Lokanatha Swami; Sri Thirumalai Iyengar, head of the temple priests; Sri N. Rangaraja Bhattar, member of the temple advisory committee, formerly chief priest for forty years; and Dr. Gopinatha Rao, the temple’s chief administrator.
Tanjore, Tamil Nadu—The four-thousand-mile pada-yatra, celebrating the five-hundredth-advent anniversary of Lord Caitanya, recently brought Lord Caitanya’s teachings here, with a festival of sankirtana and spiritual discourses held on the grounds of the Brhad Isvara temple.
Lord Caitanya taught that the best means of spiritual realization in Kali-yuga, our present troubled age of quarrel and hypocrisy, is harinama sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names of God. Spreading this message. Lord Caitanya traveled widely in Tamil Nadu. The pada-yatra is following in His footsteps, visiting places He visited 475 years ago.
The pada-yatra began from Dvaraka (Gujarat) on September 2, 1984, and reached Kanya-kumari on April 23,1985. From Kanya-kumari the pada-yatra proceeded to Ramesvaram, and from there to Madurai, where the priests of the ancient Minaksi temple greeted the pada-yatra with the temple elephant and offered a purna-kumbha reception. More than three thousand guests attended the pada-yatra’s evening program within the walls of the Minaksi temple compound.
After Madurai, the pada-yatra traveled to Sri Rangam, where Lord Caitanya had spent the four months of the rainy season in the year 1510. Here the priests and the chief executive officer of the temple offered the pada-yatra an especially warm and festive welcome. The priests, strict followers of the great acarya Sri Ramanuja, escorted the pada-yatra devotees into the sanctum sanctorum for a special close darsana (viewing) of the Ranganatha Deity and offered them garlands and prasadam of the Deity. From Sri Rangam the pada-yatra came to Tanjavur.
The pada-yatra devotees are members of ISKCON; thus they are devout followers of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON’s founder and spiritual master, who spread the teachings of Lord Caitanya and the chanting of Hare Krsna all over the world. Although many members of the Society are non-Indians born in non-Hindu families, temple priests throughout South India welcome them as respected followers of the Caitanya Vaisnavite tradition.
From Tanjore, the pada-yatra will go on to Kancipuram, Madras, Tirupati, Jagannatha Puri, and finally Sridhama Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya, in West Bengal. There, in March 1986, the pada-yatra members will gather together with thousands of devotees from around the world and an estimated half million Indians to celebrate Lord Caitanya’s glories on the five-hundredth anniversary day of His appearance.