Winds of change for Iskcon France

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By Srinath das

From India to Ireland, Scotland to South Africa, America to Australia, Moscow to Mauritius, ISKCON (popularly known as the Hare Krishna Movement) is accepted as a bona fide religious organization around the world and is recognized among learned academics (e.g. University of Cambridge, England). In France however, the influential anti-cult bureau (funded by the French government) has successfully introduced laws and policies constricting the activities of minority religious organizations and in 1989, has unfairly and unlawfully branded the Hare Krishna movement a dangerous cult, thereby creating unfounded fears in the public against us and curtailing our efforts to serve French society.

But there are winds of change - “Paris is Europe’s largest city, the world’s number one tourist destination, metropolis of culture, architectural wonders, night life, tree lined avenues, monuments, cafes, education, museums, revolutions. I thought people don’t like us here. Who said that – it’s fantastic…. ” - Janananda Gosvami.

Two communication teams have been created in Paris & New Mayapur and they have met with the government representative for observing the cult issue and dealings with religious minorities. She has spoken positively on the Hare Krishna movement on French TV channel 2 and some more meetings will take place with her and the communication team.

Establishing Krishna Consciousness in Paris had not been easy due to discrimination for many years but there are positive signs now due to a number of auspicious things:
* The devotees have acquired a fully owned property for the new Temple in Paris.
* The French authorities will not allow us to open the temple unless our visitors have some space to park their vehicles. We have found such a car park, close to the temple and we are negotiating with the owner in order to get it.
* One devotee has been kind enough to buy a 50 square meter storefront for a preaching center on Rue de Pontoise, near one of the most famous restaurant in Paris – La Tour D’Argent and near to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
* Better relationships with the government representatives.
* The new President of France, Mr.Nicolas Sarkozy is establishing better relationship with religious minorities and also with other faith organizations like Hinduism.
* Devotees have attended some Interfaith meetings regularly, particularly in New Mayapur area.
* Harinam in the Paris Metro is going on everyday and is known as the Metro Yoga ( ). People appreciate it so much that they often clap hands after the performance.
* The magazine ‘Bhakti’ is coming up again in french. The first special issue is titled - Le Rem de la Violence (Remedy for Violence).
* On the new year’s eve more than a thousand people followed the devotees chanting on the world’s most glamorous street – the Champs-Elysees.

“If anyone wants to really experience bliss – or as close to it as you can imagine - then take a break in Paris and go on Harinam. Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower. It’s terrific – the place is crawling with thousands and thousands of tourists and locals and they really love the devotees, at least when they are dancing and chanting”. - Janananda Gosvami.

For pictures and videos -

- Srinath das

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1 Suresh das

Congratulations on all your positive energy to spread Krishna Consciousness. That’s really what convinced me to become a devotee. I walked by a Harinam party and immediately felt an undeniable spiritual high. I knew at that moment things would never be the same for me again, and that Krishna Consciousness was the place I had always been searching for.

Comment posted by Suresh das on June 22nd, 2008
2 Locanananda dasa

Many thanks, and my profuse obeisances to the devotees who put together the website
announcing the acquisition and renovation of the new temple for Sri Sri Radha Paris-isvara and the revival of the ecstatic Harinam Sankirtana party in Paris.

On the new website, my attention was immediately drawn to the video clips of Srila Prabhupada’s numerous visits to France, and to one in particular:

Here Srila Prabhupada is seen walking in the Bois de Boulogne some thirty-five years ago.
The details are still very clear in my mind. To get to the park, all of the devotees had piled into a van driven by Bugarbha prabhu, and Srila Prabhupada was sitting in the front passenger seat. I happened to be positioned directly behind the driver so I could see every move Srila Prabhupada made during the short drive to the forest.

Just as we reached the entrance to the park, I saw Srila Prabhupada slip our of his shoes, take off his socks, and place them in the glove compartment right in front of his seat. He put his shoes back on and stepped out of the van. Bugarbha prabhu and I were amazed at what we had just witnessed. While we were looking at each other dumb-founded, all of the devotees poured out of the van and began to follow Srila Prabhupada down the path. The two of us stayed behind just long enough to take Srila Prabhupada’s socks out of the glove compartment, turn them inside out, and rub them on our heads, hoping to be blessed with the saffron dust particles from the lotus feet of our spiritual master.

We hurried to catch up, and you can see us in back of the group, Bugarbha in saffron with a shaved head and gray sweater and myself in white with long dark socks. I had never before seen this video, but over the years I would often remember the feel and touch of those socks. Thinking back, I realize that this transcendental event was a life changer for me. From that day forward I knew that if we just reached out, Srila Prabhupada’s mercy would always be available to us, and that our qualification to receive it was simply our eagerness to follow his order to spread Krishna consciousness.

Whosoever studies and applies the teachings of Krishna’s pure devotee in his daily life, and takes advantage of every opportunity to broadcast the glories of the Lord by performing the sankirtana yajna, will be blessed eternally as a dearmost servant of Krishna.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Locanananda dasa

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on July 2nd, 2008

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