Kalakantha dasa ACBSP joined ISKCON in 1972 and received first and second initiation from Srila Prabhupada the following year. His background includes street sankirtan, four years on the Library Party with H.H. Bhakti-tirtha Swami, twenty-five years as a temple president in North America, and fourteen years as a student/consultant in non-profit management. He has supported his family through a successful real estate business and served as an elected public official. He is the author of several noted ‘bridge’ books, including A God Who Dances and Bhagavad-Gita: The Rap of God. Kalakantha das and his wife Jitamitra dasi ACBSP have three children and three grandchildren. By applying lessons from their guru, over the past 14 years they have turned the small ISKCON center in Gainesville, Florida into one of the most successful recruiting and training centers seen in North America since Srila Prabhupada’s departure. In his 2020 ILS seminar Kalakantha das distills their experiences into universal principles that empower ISKCON preachers of all backgrounds to successfully bring local populations into blissful life-long bhakti practice.
Overcoming Obstacles to Recruiting Western Devotees
Lord Caitanya foresaw that the Holy Name would be sung in every town and village. Srila Prabhupada wanted ISKCON’s membership to reflect life on the spiritual platform: international, interracial, and interethnic. With the devotees’ hard work and a local audience of millions of naturally favorable people, ISKCON India today is booming. However, outside of India, especially in the developed world where it was born, ISKCON often now struggles to reach audiences beyond the local Indian diaspora. What are the implications of this phenomenon for ISKCON’s future? What can be done to bring more balance to ISKCON congregations outside of India? This seminar will empower participants of all backgrounds to effectively bring local people to life-long bhakti.
Vision of Farm Communities According to Our Founder Acarya / A Vision for 2030
In 1968, when very few were speaking about the role of local economy and sustainability, our Founder Acarya proposed that self-reliant communities could impact the world. Today these concerns are present in the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. He further spoke on lack of food production, he described: “Now it is a problem. Everywhere, the problem will be food shortage and fuel shortage, power shortage.” A recent report from Pentagon anticipates a major breakdown in the American infrastructure – including the military force, in the next 20 years. Our central question here is, what is ISKCON’s current trajectory of farm communities, and in what ways might this quite remarkable feature of the Society become a more substantial component of its culture and missionizing profile.
Dharma and Ecology
The introduction of Positivism in science has led to the extensive spread of industrial agriculture with much ecological damage. As a response, many alternative organic trends emerged and Agro-ecology has unfolded as a positive paradigm. In other emerging trends the bovines are considered responsible for the environmental crisis. However, milk is an essential ingredient in the practice and rituals of Bhakti Yoga and the cows and bulls are the representatives of Dharma. This poses a challenge for Vaishnava practitioners: to show a functional system for producing milk from protected cows for the upliftment of consciousness. In this seminar we will explore the relevance of bhakti yogis adopting and contributing to a dharmic lifestyle that may reveal a missing link between cows, dharma and the environment.