January 25, 2011

New Staff Appointments

We are very happy to announce the appointment of Sriman Acyuta dasa as our new head librarian. Acyuta prabhu has been involved from the BRC’'s inception but now he has made himself available for full time work. 

Acyuta Prabhu is pictured at far left

Acyuta brings with him 28 years of devotional service. He has been engaged in research for almost 20 years in the major libraries and cultural/academic institutions of Kolkata. He has studied Library Science and all its connected subjects in two Indian universities (IGNOU and ICFAI), and has his own personal library of over 11,000 books. He has acquired expertise in the use of software and web resources connected with books & library science and his addition to the team is a very welcome plus. Beginning January 1, 2011 he will focus on setting up our computer system, professional library software and website.
We have also hired a new assistant for the library, Ashish Chakroborty. Ashish is a B. Sc. and is engaged in scanning the many hundreds of books in our library at a current rate of about 400 pages per day. This is about the limit for the simple book scanner we have and our plan is to apply for a grant to upgrade to a professional semi-automated model that can do 700 pages per hour.

Bharati Roy began working with ISKCON scholars in the early 1980s, doing extensive research for the Institute for Vaisnava Studies (IVS) headed by Garuda dasa (Dr. Graham Schweig) in Bengal and Jaipur, and also translation work for various individual scholars. She has worked for the last year as the BRC librarian but field research is where her heart is.

BRC Operations Manager Janakaraja Prabhu with Smt. Bharati Roy and Asis Chakroborty

January 1, 2011

More on ISKCON's History with the Ghosh Family

In the 1970s, as ISKCON was gaining a footing in India, Sri Tarun Kanti Ghosh, a Congress party minister, gave a lot of support to Srila Prabhupada and his disciples. Tarun Babu, as Prabhupada used to refer to him, came in a distinguished line of Gaudiya Vaisnavas. His grand father was Mahatma Sisir Kumar Ghosh a contemporary and friend of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The two knew each other well and co-edited certain publications and articles.

The Ghosh family owned a prominent line of newspapers including Amrita Bazar Patrika which was established in 1868 and Jugantar, one of the biggest newspapers and presses in Calcutta.

Tarun Kanti would visit our ISKCON center very often and on March 14 1974 Srila Prabhupada sent him the following letter:
“My Dear Tarun Kanti Babu,

“Please accept my blessings. Since I attended the meeting last night I am feeling a new enthusiasm, over how potential the Krishna Consciousness movement is, based on the teaching of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Your good family has very great interest in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and especially your grandfather Mahatma Sisir Kumar Ghose was a great friend of Bhaktivinode Thakura. So we are coming down in disciplic succession from Bhaktivinode Thakura and you are coming in family succession from Mahatma Sisir Kumar Ghose, so if we combine together in preaching the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it will be a great benediction to human society for mitigation of all kinds of problems of material existence.

“This morning you were quoting from Sri Siksastaka, “Ceto darpana marjanam bhava maha davagni nirvapanam [Cc. Antya 20.12].”

This is the first installment of the benediction of Sri Krishna Sankirtana. “Param vijayate Sri Krsna Sankirtana.” First of all, people are suffering on account of misunderstanding of self realization. The whole world is moving under the conception of the body in different names are caste, creed, nation, culture, like that. By chanting Hare Krishna Maha Mantra offenselessly, one immediately realizes himself as spirit soul which is described in the Vedas as aham brahmasmi. The Mayavadi philosophers cease to think further than this, but Bhagavad gita teaches us how to realize further advancement in spiritual life in devotional service. This is described in Bhagavad gita as follows:

brahma bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu mad bhaktim labhate param
[Bg. 18.54]

“So bhakti is such a nice thing. Bhakti is transcendental. When one is situated in bhakti life his mission of life is successful. That is called ”ceto darpana marjanam bhava maha davagni nirvapanam
[Cc. Antya 20.12].”

Everyone of us is suffering from the three fold miseries of material existence. Coming to the platform of bhakti, pure devotional service, one immediately ceases the blazing fire of material existence. That is the effect of Sri Krishna Sankirtana. The whole world is in chaotic condition without understanding this philosophy.

“In the material life there must be division of activities. That is accepted in the Bhagavad gita as catur varnyam maya srstam guna karma vibhagasah tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam
[Bg. 4.13]

“So in the beginning if we start a varnasrama college to teach internationally students from all over the world to learn to be educated as brahmanas, as Ksatriyas, as vaisyas, as sudras, by quality and work, that will be the basic principle of Krishna Consciousness. It is the duty of the government to see that everyone is employed. This is only possible when varnasrama is established.  
At the present moment everyone is sudra. This is not very good for the human society. Everyone has a right to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead but there must be a process for keeping the society in order. The intelligent class of men or the brahmanas, the martial class of men, the ksatriyas, the productive class of men, the vaisyas, and the working class of men, the sudras, all have the right to chant the Hare Krishna Mantra and by such devotional service everyone will be elevated to the transcendental platform. But there must be a division according to quality and work. At the present moment, so many so-called educated persons are unemployed because the division of work is neglected. If this division of society is maintained no one will be unemployed and there will be no unrest in society. It is a very scientific way of keeping peace in the world.

“The brahmana class should be highly cultured in spiritual understanding; by their Vedic knowledge they will be able to educate the ksatriya and the vaisya in the value of life. It is the government’s duty that according the division of human society everyone should be engaged in responsible duties.

On the whole, at the present moment, there is not guidance from the authorized intellectual class. Therefore everyone is in darkness. The Krishna Consciousness movement is supposed to create actual intellectuals to guide society. The process if very simple.

“If you kindly consider on this point and the varnasrama college is started, I am sure the chaotic condition of human society will be completely settled up. You think over this matter and we shall talk more when we meet again. Or if you like to discuss seriously by correspondence with me I shall be very glad to reply to you point by point on the basis of sastra.

Your ever well-wisher,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami ACBS/sdg

In 1977, Tarun Babu visited Srila Prabhupada in Mayapur on Gaura Purnima day. He was to be our chief guest but could not stay for the festival due to other commitments. Nevertheless Tarun Babu had a personal darshan and afterwards requested a photo with Srila Prabhupada. He wanted Srila Prabhupada to put his hand on his head in blessings, but Prabhupada was shy. So Tarun Babu sat beside him, took hold of Prabhupada’s hand and placed it on his head and then had the photo taken:

In 1995 when Srila Prabhupada’s Mayapur Puspa Samadhi was officially opened, Tarun Babu came and gave a wonderful speech of appreciation. I remember sitting in the crowd as he got up and showed a full page spread that he had done in the Amrita Bazar Patrika entitled “Why I Love Srila Prabhupada.”

Tarun Babu left this world in 1996, the year of Srila Prabhupada’s centennial. He had requested that his ashes be scattered on the roads of Mayapur so that the pilgrims would trample on them and bless him with their foot dust. In the event, his ashes were brought to Mayapur and scattered in the Ganges with kirtana and due Vaisnava samskara. The family were very grateful to HH Jayapataka Swami and our ISKCON devotees for rendering this service.