Rebirth of ISKCON San Francisco

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Pusta Krishna das: Srila Prabhupad established the temple in San Francisco 42 years ago. Many wonderful devotees, too numerous to list but including Jayananda, Tamal Krishna, Gurudas Shyamasundara, Malati, and so on, came to Krishna consciousness from the San Francisco Temple. Rathayatra in the West was inaugurated there in 1967.

San Francisco is an important city which is very agreeable to Asian people, religion, and philosophical thought. Many, many people have been exposed to Eastern spiritual concepts and yoga. It is the perfect place to establish a center for Krishna consciousness, even today. This is a call out to devotees in the San Francisco Bay Area to unite in a call to “Krishna conscious” action.

With the passage of time, so many bhaktas have become “suspicious” of one another, and unfortunately, this has really led to a “suspension” of their devotional service. This acts as a brake on moving progressively forward to our destination of love of God. We need to begin the process of reacquainting ourselves with each other in order to service Srila Prabhupad and Lord Chaitanya with joy and proper hope. I have grown to appreciate some of the programs that have come to be which appeal both to seekers and to the general public.

When I was with Srila Prabhupad in Geneva in about 1972-3, he asked me to write one letter on his behalf which was distributed then. It expressed his understanding that “not everyone will come to live in the temples” and we need to reach them with the cultural message… ie restaurants serving prasadam, and a store to sell devotional paraphernalia and the like. To a large extent, both the Los Angeles Temple and the Tucson, Arizona temple amongst others has done this, and the model is financially self-sustaining. A center in the Haight- Ashbury area, close to the Golden Gate Park would potentially reach both the spiritually curious and the seekers, as well as satisfy the cultural needs of others, giving people the chance for offering service and the like. What do you think? I live in Santa Cruz, California, about 90 minutes by car to San Francisco.

I know that there are thousands of devotees around the Bay Area who think about Krishna but have no avenue for service to Srila Prabhupad. I hope that we can overcome the inertia of suspicion so that we can engage each other in re-awakening active devotional service in ourselves, while at the same time we develop a very nice program of Krishna consciousness to offer to the Lotus Feet of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga. We are all eternally related through Krishna. Srila Prabhupad often used the example that there is so much strength in association, but potential weakness when we are alone.

The example he gave is that one thin branch can easily be broken, but if you bind many such twigs together, they are unbreakable. Sankirtan!

Please contact me at my email: PustaKrishna@comcast.net Lets begin the process of planning and executing the plan for a new revitalized and enlightened center for Krishna consciousness in San Francisco. Hare Krishna.

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1 pustakrishna

This morning I had a very nice conversation with Vaisesika Prabhu. We are like minded in wanting to see a permanent center in San Francisco. We exchanged ideas. I want to be able to see all of Srila Prabhupad’s disciples and well-wishers in the Bay Area participate in re-forming this center in the City. We want people to be able to express their hearts, and to positively engage or re-engage in service to Srila Prabhupad. With the many individuals and families in the area, I am confident that the center will become a reality. It will be a place that welcomes devotional service, overlooks dogma of a transient variety that can divide and spoil spiritual families, and that will be a joy to participate in. Let the “Krishna Sun Shine In”.

We are currently in the formative stages and need email and telephone contacts so that we can begin organizing our Bay Area family of devotees. If you are interested (please be!) and know others who might wish to participate together in this glorious adventure, kindly email me at the address in the letter above, and tiptoe, walk, run back into, and dive heart-first into the ocean of devotional service. Please be a part of this service offering to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga!! Hare Krishna.

Humbly yours,

Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on August 12th, 2009
2 Kulapavana

Very good initiative. It is amazing that when this movement was in it’s infancy, temples were often started from scratch, by one or two devotees with very little resources. Nowadays starting a temple is a great struggle even for hunderds of devotees living in a particular area, usually also blessed with ample personal resources.

Best of luck to you in this effort, Pusta Krishna prabhu!

Comment posted by Kulapavana on August 13th, 2009
3 pustakrishna

It is interesting to contemplate this situation. True, we started many a mission with one or two bhaktas in the 1970’s, and now we want to enlist so many hundreds if not thousands. To me, that is a great proposal. In reality, we need the temple….Krishna does not. We are in starvation for devotional service, and we want as many as possible to be fed in this condition of starvation. It is wonderful to contemplate, as I and some others are now doing, that we may be able to re-unite so many good-hearted devotees into active service anew. Bringing together Srila Prabhupad’s family is an awesome and joyous task. I hope that in the months or years to come we can be happily successful in our hopes and endeavours.

I know the feeling of being outside the mainstream of the “movement” and feeling very much neglected. It is a sad feeling. When Krishna will come to knock upon your heart, that will be a most welcome day. We want to be instrumental as courriers of His divine affection. And, I have so much confidence in the goodness of the bhaktas spread about the Bay Area. I and others look forward to the rising of the ISKCON San Francisco yatra again.

The other night, I had the opportunity of speaking with Gurudas Prabhu who lives in the City. He also is encouraged and his natural sweetness and charisma, plus his wonderful ideas will also help lead us into the future. So, come one, come all, this is a mission of service, not a trophy, and if we have hundreds and thousands of bhaktas participating, the joy will only be increased more and more. Like the marines…no one left behind.

Hare Krishna….Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on August 13th, 2009
4 Akruranatha

Jaya Pusta-Krishna Prabhu! Your enthusiasm for this new project is inspiring. It is also encouraging that Gurudasa is inspired to assist with this project.

I live far away (and you live even farther), but San Francisco is an important city and I am sure Srila Prabhupada wants to have a successful, thriving outpost there.

The point Kulapavana raises about how we used to be able to start temples on a shoestring is interesting. We should consider why it is that we seem to have a more difficult time these days.

It is true that the economy has changed, but that cannot be the whole explanation. (It hasn’t changed that much).

Many of us (speaking for myself) got married and more “responsible” (i.e., preoccupied with economic development and, alas, sense gratification). We might expect a thriving crop of younger, more austere brahmacaris and brahmacarinis could get temples going, if they were guided and inspired by some exemplary older renunciates (and supported by our solvent grhasthas).

I like the idea of engaging hundreds and thousands, and bringing many devotees “back” into active service who may have been somewhat inactive or less active recently. It reminds me of Vaisesika’s maxims: “Many hands make light work,” and “A lot of people doing a little is better than (how does it go?) nobody doing anything.” Vaish mostly uses these sayings to refer to book distribution, but they apply to opening centers too.

Getting the thousands (or the scores) inspired and happy to work together is the challenge. Again I like Vaish’s formula: “purify the vibration.”

It certainly is a great city, with a history and tradition of embracing new and different ideas, including spiritual ideas.

I agree that Haight-Ashbury might still be the best location, although there are interesting other funky, Bohemian (if rougher) neighborhoods like the Lower Haight, the Mission, and SoMa. And more well-healed neighborhoods like Noe Valley, Marina, Russian Hill, the old Presidio or parts of North Beach and the Embarcadero that could be worthwhile, or Park Merced near the USF campus. Gurudas is way out in the outer Richmond near the Ocean, but I used to chant japa out there in the park and near Ocean Beach and contemplate the possibilities. One of the big problems in the City is always ease of access and parking. A place near a BART or Muni stop might be ideal…

But first step is assembling a team who lives close enough. I can visit once or twice a month.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 17th, 2009
5 pustakrishna

Akruranath Prabhu, your comments are well-taken. I have been in the past involved with the formation of temples in Gainesville, Tampa, Houston, Santa Cruz, Capetown/Johannesburg/Durban South Africa, Paris, Lyon France, Geneva Switzerland, and even our first temple in Vrindaban at Brahma Ghat in 1971. It was never easy to start a center. It always required determination and patience. One might see the later effects of that early endeavor and consider that it was “easy”, but in my experience it always required a lot of work and sacrifice, and a lot of prayer to keep one’s purity and purpose alive. Yes, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted the Sankirtan Movement will spread to every town and village, and we have been a part of that glorious manifestation in this lifetime. Now, we must complete our lives with active service. For this reason, we must encourage each other to engage or re-engage in devotional service for the pleasure of Sri Gurudeva and Krishna. We cannot stand on past laurels.
A proverb in the BIble comes to mind. A man needed his harvest picked one day, and early in the morning he promised to pay a certain sum of money if men would work until sundown. Some took up the work early in the morning. As the day went by, he say that more workers were needed and he enlisted more to harvest the fields. And so on, as the day passed toward the time of sundown, he enlisted more workers promising to pay them the same sum. When sundown came, some of the early starters complained that they had worked all day and some only worked a short time at the harvest, yet received the say reward. The man replied, “but that was our agreement, was it not?” So, Krishna says that whatever we are contemplating at the time of death, to that state we will attain without doubt. The moral, we must push onward with devotional service to the very end of life, following the example of our beloved Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupad. Then our transcendental existence will be successful. Death, the cessation of this body, is certain…but our future destination is at hand, and it is in our hands if we choose to believe Krishna.
I pray that our family of devotees in the Bay Area, even those in the Berkeley and San Jose yatras, and especially those without an active connection to service now will be re-inspired to engage in this service. My email is PustaKrishna@comcast.net Thank you very much. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on August 19th, 2009
6 Akruranatha

One thing that makes it more of a challenge to open a center is that a sense of unity and teamwork and shared purpose may sometimes be lacking.

When we were younger we could rush headlong into starting a project that we knew had Prabhupada’s blessings, and we knew his direct, manifest guidance would keep us all on the same page, inspiring and guiding us in the same direction. Even in his presence, our different personalities and (let’s face it) sometimes not completely pure motivations caused us to quarrel and take up his precious time and energy handling such disunity of his disciples.

Now that he is not physically present to intervene in an objectively manifest way, it is more important than ever that we have regular isthaghostis to remind ourselves as teams what are we trying to do together, and why, and how, and to renew our conviction that those we are working with are in accord and we can work with them to accomplish these ends this way.

It seems that building such a sense of unity and teamwork, and maintaining it, is more important than building or maintaining and cleaning an actual temple building. The real temple is the spirit of cooperation and purpose of those involved, rather than the buildings and property. If we have that unity and purity, everything else will follow easily, but if we do not have it, we will find it difficult to accomplish anything. Our members will constantly quarrel and find no satisfaction in the service they are doing.

Anyone with a little shakti and sufficient economic means can walk around the city chanting japa in a dhoti, distribute books to the curious people that he encounters, invite them to home programs for chanting, discussion and prasadam.

It is harder to get a group of committed devotees to cooperate together in an organized and efficient way to use whatever channels of communication are available to broadcast Lord Caitanya’s message of the holy name widely. But if it can be done with a solid foundation and team spirit, there is no limit to what can be accomplished.

New people will be attracted, who will also have to be assimilated into the organized sanga. The ability to foster this sense of unity and purpose is crucial.

It starts with sound vibration. Kirtans and classes and recitation of choice verses, but also face-to-face discussions of what we want to do together, and how, and why, which builds confidence in a united purpose higher than any petty differences that may arise.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 20th, 2009
7 pustakrishna

Everything you say, Akruranath Prabhu, is true. I am hoping that our Krishna Bhaktas will be inspired by advancing age to “not miss the boat.” If not initially for the satisfaction of Mahaprabhu (Sri Sri Radha Krishna), then for their own future sake, each and every one of us will feel the urgency to dive heart-first into this service. What each of us is searching for is Krishna, Bhagavan, the Origin and Reservoir of everything desirable.

At the very least, we can try. No one, not Srila Prabhupad, ever complained if we were not successful. But, if we disengaged, then we risk losing his attention. There must be reciprocation in the form of service. Therefore, I am honestly praying for a swell of Krishna consciousness to arise in the ocean of the Bay Area so that we can easily catch that wave of all-auspiciousness and ride it Home. With so much appreciation for everyone’s consideration, Your servant, Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on August 21st, 2009

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