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Comments Posted By Ranchor das

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Sacred Cows or Sacred Cars ?

Cows and the Earth

I applaud Bala Krsna’s article. The statistic about Indian farmers committing suicide is particularly shocking (I would like to know the source of this information for my own research). Here in the UK farmers are also under pressure. Their suicide rate, according to government stats, is roughly twice that of the wider population.

At Bhaktivedanta Manor we are on the way to demonstrating Cow Protection as a viable alternative to intensive industrial farming. We have the advantage of a generous congregation who have subsidised the effort so far. More importantly, a succession of dedicated cowherds have done the hard work, milking the cows at 4 every morning for 35 years, inlcuding the present farm director, Syamasundara Das.

I have detailed our journey with the cows at Bhaktivedanta Manor, and the vital role Cow Protection has for all our futures, in my recent book ‘Cows and the Earth.’

In response to Akruranatha’s question, did Prabhupada really say that? I can report that when Prabhupada made his last visit to the Manor in 1977, it was well-known that he had said 50% of his mission, namely varnasrama, was yet to be established. We all knew that was why he was planning to go to the Gita-Nagari farm community. I am sure there are others who can confirm this.

Ranchor das (Ranchor Prime)

Comment Posted By Ranchor das On 08.01.2010 @ 17:15

News flash — kindly pray for Subhag Maharaj - updated

I am relieved to hear that Subhaga Maharaja is making a good recovery. He is my dear godbrother who I always remember with love and affection from the days when he served with us in London. Srila Prabhupada welcomed into his close personal association and showed him a lot of special mercy in those days. I send Maharaja my very best wishes for a full recovery and many more years of preaching.

Ever his friend and admirer

Ranchor das

Comment Posted By Ranchor das On 22.11.2009 @ 15:10

John Lennon’s lyrics

Here is the story:

June 1969

One day John Lennon saw Gurudas at the Apple offices.

‘Oh Gurudas! Come on in. I’m going to work for peace.’ And he told him about his and Yoko’s plans for leading a worldwide campaign to stop the Vietnam War.

A few weeks later John and Yoko crossed the Atlantic and, after being denied entry into the US, checked into the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal where they stayed in bed for a week. Their slogan was ‘make Love, not War’ and their way of promoting it was to receive the press from the double bed in their hotel bedroom, dressed in their pyjamas. This was their second ‘bed-in’ to promote world peace – the first had been in Amsterdam. Each day their room filled with friends, reporters and local celebrities. Between conversations the couple, sitting side by side in bed, openly chanted Hare Krishna in front of their guests. On the last day they invited the Montreal Hare Krishna devotees to chant with them, and to join them and their friends in recording a song for peace, written by John for the occasion. The song ended with the names of its singers.

John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary, Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper, Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. All we are saying is, Give Peace a Chance.

Lennon had always followed his own path regardless of what people thought of him, but despite his determination not to be led, he showed appreciation for the power of Krishna’s names.
‘We get our energy from Hare Krishna – that’s where it comes from,’ Yoko told a reporter from the Montreal Star. The song was released as ‘Give Peace A Chance’, under the impromptu name of the Plastic Ono Band, and became a worldwide hit.

This is an excerpt from my unpublished book, ‘When The Sun Shines’, about Prabhupada in England, to be published in late 08 or early 09 by BBT.

Comment Posted By Ranchor das On 03.05.2008 @ 07:47

Latest 3D Animation Model of the Vedic Planetarium Temple

Impressive – but is it the right building? (part two)

So what is to be done? I think the project should be approached in modest phases, starting on a small scale to develop an architectural and visual language that expresses the underlying culture of Chaitanya Vaishnavism, producing sustainable buildings of quality, environmentally sensitive, on a human scale, in varied forms. From this we may evolve a mature style or collection of styles that are true to our beliefs. Some progress has already been made on this path.

My other grave concern is to do with the environment of Mayapur. The site is hazardous because of erosion and regular flooding. It is also in a region that is economically and politically sensitive. There are major cultural questions to do with what happens when you impose a wealthy but isolated community of foreigners into an economically undeveloped and socially disempowered rural setting, with a possibly hostile political establishment.

Good architecture should be sensitive to its context. A building of lasting merit is one that so well expresses its underlying values that it inspires the affection and admiration of those who live alongside it as well as those who visit it for generations to come. Not an easy remit, and one that experience shows takes many generations to emerge from any religious tradition, no matter how glorious.

I will close with a true story. A few years ago in Calcutta I told an educated Bengali man that I would be visiting Mayapur, and described the magnificent concrete dome of Prabhupada’s Samadhi. “This is your culture,” I said to him. “Oh this is not my culture,” he assured me, and showed me a postcard of Santiniketan, the ashram and college campus founded by Rabindranath Tagore not far from Mayapur. The architecture of Shantiniketan is low-impact, small-scale, varied, organic, using sustainable materials, and environmentally sensitive. “This is my culture,” he told me.

It is my culture too.

Comment Posted By Ranchor das On 02.04.2008 @ 22:21

Impressive – but is it the right building? (part one)

The new 3D model of the proposed temple is impressive, but like Akruranatha I have strong reservations about the approach. I cannot deny it closely matches the original idea expressed by Srila Prabhupada in 1971. This is in part our dilemma: do we unquestioningly execute the details of his directions, even though time and place may have moved on in the intervening years? Or do we try to express their spirit? To what extent do we rely on our experience and acquired knowledge, bearing in mind what we are talking of here is architecture, not eternal truths. I admit these are difficult questions.

Personally I find the monumental scale and international derivation of this design in conflict with its purpose. It is out to impress but has little sympathy with the gentle landscape of Nadia or the culture we all surely aspire to. To my eyes, attuned to the great religious architecture of east and west, it is a crude and secular design more akin to ancient Rome than twentieth-century Bengal.

I am told that Prabhupada indicated the design of the Capitol in Washington DC as a model. He similarly indicated the design of Westminster Abbey when he was in London – two very different buildings. I think these indications are not to be taken too literally, because they varied so much and were in such different contexts – London 1971 and Washington 1975. It is worth noting that both these buildings arose from a long evolution of ideas and were not overnight creations. The Capitol building was the culmination of over a hundred years of developing Washington as a national capital city for America. Its design grew out of the designs for state buildings all over America, as well as Paris and London. It was also the product of all the might and wealth that America could muster at the start of the twentieth century. Religious buildings like Westminster Abbey typically have even longer gestation periods, measured in centuries rather than decades.

The present collection of buildings at Mayapur are a credit to the devotees, most without professional training, who for 36 years laboured to build them – I am in awe of their dedication. But in terms of architectural merit these buildings are an elementary and confused beginning on a long journey. In my view we are simply not ready to produce what aspires to be one of the world’s great buildings.

So what is to be done? (continued in part two

Comment Posted By Ranchor das On 02.04.2008 @ 22:15

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