40th Anniversary Of the Movement And Honoring Srila Prabhupada
Posted November 1, 2005
In offering presentations in a variety of venues over the years, I find it's always good to try to give people a reason to invite you to speak. This coming year is the 40th anniversary of the founding of ISKCON, and that's as good a reason as any that we'll have for a while. I have already begun to contact colleges in several states in my area to offer both class room presentations and convocations, or invite them to visit New Vrindavan. In scheduling programs at colleges, conferences, churches etc, you need about 3 to 12 months lead time so that they can consider scheduling you in.
The headline on my promo material declares: 40th Anniversary of Hare Krishna Movement in America. These type of milestones are very important, and institutions and movements take advantage of such occurrences to focus on themes and issues. Of course the Movement observed the 100th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's appearance. But it was more of a grand in-house anniversary, relevant to devotees and friends of the Movement, whereas the founding of the Movement in America is an event that would be considered more sociologically relevant to western culture and people in general.
I encourage devotees to take advantage of this preaching opportunity, especially if you have contacts or experience in academia. Consider contacting colleges, churches, etc, in your area to offer programs and discussions. Besides Religious Studies, one can contact the Sociology Dept which often offers courses on New Religions in America, the 60's, and fringe cultures. It would be opportune for the Movement to schedule commemorative events, as well as a BTG devoted to the anniversary. Ideally, a publication should appear as early as possible in 2006 so presenters like myself might take advantage of the issue and make it available to college contacts as early as possible.
In looking ahead, 2009 is the 40th anniversary of the founding of New Vrindavan and, more importantly, 2015 and 2016 are the 50th anniversaries of Srila Prabhupada's arrival in the West and his founding of ISKCON. To start thinking about this now is not too soon. The majority of Prabhupada's preaching and the rapid expansion of the Movement was done in the last ten years of his life.
It's time for us to consider: What can I do in these next ten years as a fitting observance, meditation, and contribution for the 50th anniversary of Prabhupada's arrival in America. I would humbly suggest that this could be our meditation as individuals, (taking on, or adopting, individual projects and making individual statements) and as an international institution.
Devotees can begin to think about projects and their target goals: what they seek to accomplish in the next one year, five years, ten years. Some of this may be going on in the Strategic Initiative Meetings, but it seems to me that the discussion is still too generic. The strategic initiatives should stem from, and be inspired by, personal initiatives - projects which devotees have personally taken on. "Think Globally, Act Locally." I'd like to hear more about the real time, local actions than about the global thinking.
I know many devotees who, with a humble persistence, are working on their own projects, and when I talk with them, and hear their vision and what they're doing, I always walk away amazed and enlivened. And I think to myself, we have to be doing more of this: to hear more from one another about our individual initiatives, struggles, successes and even setbacks. This helps to inspire me and move me forward in my own initiative. These types of discussions can give more definition to projects that exist and inspire new projects. Next year, I am hoping we can have several forums to discuss these topics at NV's Festival Of Inspiration as well as at the Kuli Mela.
Prabhupada said "I have given the ideas. Now you give the shape." This diversity and multidimensional application of Prabhupada's teachings is what makes the Movement attractive and vibrant, and will jettison it into the 21st century. A description of these projects/initiatives could make a fantastic resource for both within and outside the Movement.