Comments Posted By dayananda

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Vrindavan Conservation

Devotees who visit Vrindavan should either directly serve Friends of Vrindavan (FOV) or learn from it in order to provide similar services to the dham. The dham serves devotees in a number of ways, including offering them spiritual benefit, supplying shelter, bearing their waste and sins, and giving water and food. How can devotees visit her without offering something in return?

If we love Vraj, we’ll be concerned with her ecology, including deforestation, pollution of the Yamuna, sewage management, and cleanliness of her streets. In many ways, Westerners and their culture are responsible for bringing pollution to the region. Destruction of the environment began with British colonialization, and it has continued with India’s increasing embrace of Western industrialization and standards of consumption. However, devotees know that Krishna loves the Yamuna; He loves Vraj; He loves the trees. If we love Krishna, we will serve His beloved land, trees, and river.

Mukunda Goswami (ISKCON guru) and Drutakarma das, PhD, mention Friends of Vrindavan in their book, “Divine Nature”, published by the BBT. Ranchor Prime (Ranchor das ACBSP) also mentions FOV in his book, “Vedic Ecology”. Prof. Haberman writes about it in his recent “River of Love”. FOV is one of the important privately funded groups that maintain Vrindavan infrastructure and ecology.

Devotees may or may not support Friends of Vrindavan; however, all devotees should learn from it and give service to either FOV or similar groups. If an American, for example, spends $2000 or more to travel to and stay in the dham, but cannot give another 5% or 10% of that sum for the benefit of Vraj, then, without service to the dham, I would challenge the value of such a visit. In the past, some sadhus were so devoted to the dham that they would collect their stools in pots and deposit them outside the dham. The Bhagavatam (4.30.37) says that devotees travel to the dham to cleanse her of contamination caused by sinful persons. Thus, it is the duty of Vaishnava devotees to serve and cleanse the dham. At the very least, we should compensate Vraj for the stools we deposit, the water we use, and the divine shelter we accept.

Comment Posted By dayananda On 28.09.2007 @ 16:18

The Resurgency

This is a nice article by Madhava Ghosh. Like Sudama Sakha, I’m inspired. In a festival lecture Prabhupada said, “Not that ‘Because I am grhastha, householder, I cannot become a preacher. It is the business of the sannyasi or brahmacari.’ No. It is the business of everyone.” (9-3-71)

Moreover, devotees would do well to try to reestablish the sankirtana economy. In the 1970s, Prabhupada guided ISKCON toward a book sales economy. If devotees use their independent intelligence (dadami buddhi-yogam tam), as Madhava suggests, certainly they can figure out how to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of books instead of the $2-3 million currently sold in North America.

As Madhava is optimistic, so am I. Now is the time to reestablish a focus on bhagavata marga in North America. Niranjana Swami stated in his book distribution lecture posted on dandavats that devotees are accountable to distribute books. He explained that Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu and Haridas Thakur to report their preaching “scores” to Him at the end of the day, and similarly, Prabhupada wanted to see the book scores. Thus, as Madhava suggests, we are not just accountable for opulent deities, but for preaching results, too. The ideal consciousness of a devotee of Mahaprabhu is that he or she seeks to offer such results to Him.

Comment Posted By dayananda On 30.09.2007 @ 20:04

Ecology in the Dham

I pledge $100 to Urmila for her expenses. The Vaishnava system is for someone to offer his or her words, deeds, intelligence, money, or life. I’ve given her money in the past. I trust her implicitly.

Urmila urges ISKCON pilgrims that go to Vrindavan to use their financial influence to change the use of plastic bags. Let’s make this a movement. We need to start somewhere. Let’s organize and make Urmila our leader, if she’s willing.

Here are some of my “straw man” suggestions.
1. Lobby the Krishna-Balaram authorities to provide reusable bags for shopping. They can charge a few rupees for the bags, and offer something for their return. The shopkeepers may also catch on, and may start offering bags on which they can make even a small profit.
2. In time, perhaps shopkeepers could (a) make a small profit from reusable materials; (b) be fined for not using them.
3. Like recyclable bottles in the West, perhaps we could implement a system whereby poor people could make small amounts by turning in bags for a refund.
2. On the bags, at least on some of them, catchy environmental slogans might be printed, slogans like “Service to Yamuna Devi”, “Yamuna devi ki seva”.
3. Someone might go to Michael Duffy or Srivatsa Goswami, who are leading Vrindavan environmentalists, and find out what might be the most valuable and practical ecological impact that ISKCON could have in Vrindavan. Whoever goes should be clear that the initiative has to be in ISKCON’s name.
4. A small delegation might go to Ganga Prasad’s store and other major ISKCON suppliers to inform them that we favor reusable packing, and that we are going to continue to lobby for its use.
5. Sponsor a half-day Vrindavan or Yamuna cleanup during pilgrimage times, in other words, during Kartika, Gaura Purnima, Holi, Divali, Govardhana Puja, and so on. For this event, we can use slogans from the scriptures as themes, not Western environmental themes. These themes are already in use, so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just find out what they are.
6. Find out what Indian environmental laws are in place. Some of these laws may not be enforced due to corruption or widespread disobedience. We can then inform our own membership (ISKCON devotees) of the spiritual need to obey such laws. The Indian legislature has already passed many laws that remain unenforced.
7. Let us Westerners keep in mind that we should be bold, but not arrogant with Vrajbasis, even with shopkeepers and those we think are exploiters. After all, many experts, particularly Indian ones, point to the Western culture as the primary bad example of earth exploitation and propagator of the fossil fuel based culture. —

Comment Posted By dayananda On 07.09.2007 @ 15:51


There may be other issues, but as far as I know there are four major environmental problems in Vraj:
1. Waste management. (For example, sewage contaminating the Yamuna).
2. Deforestation, begun on a large scale in the 1900s and continued.
3. Environmentally destructive exploitation of natural resources like coal.
4. Recyclable waste, which is being discussed in several posts here on dandavats.

All these are difficult to solve. Regarding Yamuna, according to Haberman, the most serious, and nearly impossible issue with the Yamuna, is the Delhi exploitation of her, which nearly dries her up and pollutes her unimaginably. After Delhi, it is the Chambal tributary that restores her prior to reaching Vraj.

To the extent that was might have an effect, we should try to do something and not get discouraged with the enormity of the issues. Krishna will arrange for the results. Nevertheless, since we visit His Vrindavan, we should be conscious of the issues and ensure that, at minimum, we are not part of the problems.


ys, d

Comment Posted By dayananda On 06.09.2007 @ 19:19

For anyone who is interested in the fate of the Yamuna, I highly recommend “The River of Love in an Age of Pollution” (The Yamuna River of Northern India) by David L Haberman, who is a devotee scholar. He has been coming to Vrindavan since 1980, and has thoroughly researched his book, which is published by Univ of Calif press.

For anyone serious about the ecology of Vrindavan, I recommend two things: (1) Obtain this book (and others), and begin reading about the problems and solutions. If you are serious and inclined to take active steps toward environmental preservation, I’m willing to send you a free copy of the book. This is a limited offer. (2) Those who are really committed to starting and sustaining something in Vrindavan should contact Srivatsa Goswami to find out how to coordinate your efforts with those already established by local Vrindavan environmental leaders.

As a 60 year old man who has worked for decades in large corporations and in ISKCON, I am strongly against “reinventing the wheel”. In other words, when there are experts who are already working on a problem, it is important to learn from them. After carefully learning and applying others’ methods, one can develop his or her own strategies.

I extend my deep respects to you, who are participating in these discussions on ecology, and urge you to move toward activism. My email is

ys, d

Comment Posted By dayananda On 06.09.2007 @ 18:44

Ecology in the Dhama

See my recent post on Karuna Purna’s article by following the above link.

Comment Posted By dayananda On 07.09.2007 @ 18:24


Please see my posts on the other article entitled “Ecology in the Dham”. Let’s all lend support to Urmila’s efforts. She’s calling for practical action, while some of us, including me, are just talking. Now let’s help her. We are servants. Service means doing what Urmila wants us to do and, if possible, going even further to understand and satisfy her motives, methods, and desires. Let’s execute!


Comment Posted By dayananda On 06.09.2007 @ 19:29

In 1981, while living in Vrindavan, I was sitting, talking liesurely with Ganga Prasad, the owner of the famous Loi Bazar cloth shop who has since passed away. He told me this story: In the early 1900s when he was a boy running and playing in the courtyard of his home, he accidentally kicked a rat and killed it. This happened early in the morning while his grandfather was doing puja, so he considered Ganga Prasad’s deed very inauspicious. In order to mitigate the offense, his grandfather put the rat on a board, covered it with a harinam chaddar, and carried it through the streets chanting Hare Krishna on the way to the Yamuna, where he cremated it. In other words, he treated it just like a devotee.

That story reminds me of another. Prabhupada once told me that his uncle used to own a cloth shop and each evening he would put out a bowl of rice for the rats, and for as long as he had the shop they never disturbed the cloth. Prabhupada was concerned about our habits in relation to nature and the environment. In Los Angeles, while on his morning walk, he once noticed a water faucet that had been left on, so he told his servant to turn it off. Another time he told me that he had a friend in Calutta whose guru lived in the Sundarban forests and who was friends with the tigers there. Anyone who has seen a healthy Bengal tiger knows that it is one of the most powerful and awesome animals in the world. As he was telling the story, it was apparent that Prabhupada was impressed with his friend’s guru, because when the man went to the forest to visit, his guru would call out, “leave him alone, he’s my man”. And the tigers would leave him alone.

Since I’m remembering these stories, here’s another: In 1970, in Los Angeles when a few of us were hard at work making church classrooms into temple living quarters, Prabhupada came around for an inspection tour. Later that evening he called me into his room and mentioned that he saw some plates of half-eaten prasadam left near our construction area. He was gentle with me, knowing that we were working very hard. Rather than chastise me, he told me a number of stories about the harmony of humans and nature, how varnasrama society is natural society, and how the rules of such a society, like honoring prasadam, fit within a scheme of care and respect, not only for Krishna, but for His nature and for human society.

Comment Posted By dayananda On 02.09.2007 @ 03:57

Not Buying It

Sankirtana Prabhu,
I commend what you are doing and hope we can work together at some point in the future.

ys, d

Comment Posted By dayananda On 28.08.2007 @ 13:30

A brief overview of the history of the process of initiation in ISKCON.

As a disciple of Prabhupada who was active continuously as a temple administrator or senior member from 1967 to 1977, I was privy to most of Prabhupada’s policies and actions, most ISKCON issues and controversies, and most GBC decisions. I say “most”, meaning nearly all.

I agree substantially with Hari-sauri’s brief history above. I was directly involved with nearly all of what he describes.

I’d like to add that Prabhupada’s highest priority (from 1966-77) was the establishment and maintenance of his ISKCON organization. The guru institution is part of those efforts. Therefore, in my mind, one of the most important aspects of the ISKCON guru is that he and his disciples are a part of the structure of ISKCON. Not that they are absolutely required be, but as good followers of Prabhupada, they are.

ys, d

Comment Posted By dayananda On 21.08.2007 @ 16:48


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