Diary of a spiritual journey 18
September 17, 2007
My first stop was the Sydney “Festival of India” on September 2nd. as an early Janmastami celebration over the weekend, it attracted 15,000 people, many Indians which are now the number one group of new immigrants in to Australia. It is a sizable festival with various halls and quite a number of tents for Q & A, Spiritual Seekers, Japa Tent, Stage, Prasadam and shops. members of the local City Council enjoyed the lunch in the company of devotees. It was a substantial program!
ISKCON Australia is offering a wide range of facilities. Melbourne has a nice temple, a number of buildings with a courtyard. We have videos of Prabhupada in his Melbourne quarters meeting various prominent people. additionally they have a nice restaurant started by Kurma (www.gopalsvegeterian.citysearch.com.au) and a budget-restaurant named Crossways and a loft program upstairs. I was recently there for Janmastami about 8,000 people mostly of Indian origin visited the temple.
Australia has plenty of other projects a large, lush farm community named New Govardhana in the warmer climate up North with a successful school and a large Grhasta community. As well as other projects; a few sleepy farms, New Nanda-grama, & New Gokul and many more temples and restaurants in various cities, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Cairns, New Castle.
Hare Krsna Australia experiments with new presentations . Targeting an audience interested in Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda and Astrology ; Govindas in Sydney is a cultural centre, including a restaurant and a movie theatre, it also offers meditative mahamantra bhajans in a cultural setting. I just did a program with a group of people from there, they were nice people from a better background, educated and socially established. (www.govindas.com.au)
Govinda Valley was started as a conference and retreat centre in a rural setting an hour south of Sydney, which is being rented to various yoga and other groups with an alternative lifestyle. The Hare Krsna devotees are not keeping a temple there or are not walking around their traditional, spiritual robes, to create a more neutral environment for the visitors. They do have their spiritual morning programs though but a little private. Some new people have moved in and more are considering. So they are in the planning stage to create asrama and better private temple facilities for resident devotees (www.govindavalley.com.au).
Melbourne and Brisbane are running a centres called “Urban Yoga” and “Atma Yoga”. It is the name for a “loft “ –type of program developed by Devamrita Maharaja , which is a program that gradually introduces people in a step by step way from where they are to Krsna consciousness. (www.atmayogi.com/?q=node/27)
I think that we can be open to such kind of experiments and judge by the results, if it brings people to Krsna, then it is hari seva anakula, favorable for the service of the Lord. As long as these programs are additional to our main activities such as book distribution and hari nama and maintaining temples as public places of worship. There are obviously challenges involved, such programs are meant to bring people who are at a distance from Krsna step by step closer to Him and not to bring people who were once close to Krsna, step by step further away. So as in all indirect programs, we need good arrangements to offer spiritual support for the full time devotees involved, so they may not become distracted. So far in most places nice people are coming, so it seems to warrant to take it all,……. a few steps further.
One day the whole world will be chanting Hare Krsna !