Dushyant: Hare Krishna,
Wanted to share some stark realizations in last few months about our complacency in exploring the potential oppurtunity of preaching on social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook etc.
Especially Orkut is particularly famous among young people and has lot of global users.
During my short tenure of last three months of active Orkut preaching, I had following learning.
There is high number of individuals aggressively seeking spirituality and genuinely seeking answers to unanswered spiritual queries.
Good potential candidates genuinely seeking spirituality are very easy to find and trace on Orkut. It is also easy to keep a track of them and preach them regullarly. Intimacy is less possible but I am sure that we can definately put the seed of Bhakti in there hearts via knowlage and logic.
There are many active “spiritual” communities on Orkut having membership of many of them having membership of more than 50000+ members, where “spiritual” topics are being discussed.
Christian and Islamic preachers are quiet active on Orkut. E. g Zakir Naik community
(one of the Islamic scholars who specializes in Inter-Faith Dialogue) has a membership of more than 75000+ and many of them are hindus.
Rama Krishna Mission followers have 120K+ and many other “Khichdi” type are also quiet active and attract lot of attention of agnostics on various communities like Hinduism etc.
Points that may concern Iskcon
There are many communities which are active on Orkut bearing names of leading Iskcon Sanyasis, leaders, temples and also of active preachers.
None of these communities are actually owned or moderated by members who are Iskcon devotees or follow any guidelines or basic rules and values that are held in high regards in Iskcon.
Ritvik groups and Narayan Maharaj followers are highly active on Orkut. Many communities named after leading Iskcon temples, groups like IYF and temples are actually owned by persons attached to these groups.
Many communities named after leading preachers like Gauranga Prabhu are owned by persons who going by their profiles seem Hardcore Karmis.
These acts of owning communities named after organizations or people whose values and interests you don’t adhere to is similar to act of phishing or domain hijack on internet, which is a criminal offense.
Since Iskcon devotees are neither active in preaching nor active in defending Iskcon ideals on social networking sites, innocent people who are less aware about Iskcon and know only the brand name Iskcon, get attracted to these communities are either misguided or attracted to join Ritvik groups or Narayana Maharaj organizations.
Recently we started a new community Sanatan Dharma Answers (Not named after Iskcon). And we invited few of our inquisitive friends in that community. And we had a very positive response. Please check our community, it is small but going in right direction, we can invite many more people but are short with people who can give proper replies based on ISKCON philosophy. If more ISKCON people joins us then we can invite many more genuine seekers to come and ask question in our community and we can answer them from Vaishnava Philosophical point. Link: http://www.orkut.com/Community.aspx? cmm=47561673
We came across few persons who were preached by devotees during their college days but now, being in places that don’t have devotee association or temple are not practicing Sadhana much actively, but are genuine well wishers of Iskcon and their spark of spirituality can be fanned into a proper fire by regular association and guidance by senior and mature devotees.
There are many persons belonging not belonging to vedic/hindu religion are actually seriously and sincerely seeking answers from vedic perspective. We came across 2 profiles Riaz (Management graduate from Dubai) and Lubna (Homeopathic doctor from Lucknow) in our group. By only 1 devotees effort we are able to answer there queries very well and they are becoming much positive towards Sanatan Dharma.
There is a acute shortage of preachers who are versed with philosophy and can give mature answers based on verdict of scriptures. When we present answers to their spiritual queries with logical reasoning based on scriptural understanding, these answers are very well accepted and appreciated.
There is a dire need to have atleast one genuine, authentic and authorized Iskcon community on Orkut exclusively dedicated to preaching to sincere people genuinely seeking answers to spiritual queries.
Since this is a initiative having global impact and not just local impact. The initiative also needs to be from global perspective involving global team of preachers who can spare few minutes for preaching everyday and have clear understanding fundamentals of BBT literature and philosophy and can present them to receptive audience in a mature fashion.
Your humble servant,