By Thomas Haribol

Thursday, June 22–Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON’s Global Minister of Communications, participated in a White House gathering this morning of several thousand guests—mostly Indian-Americans—when US President Joseph Biden welcomed India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an official visit.

Prime Minister Modi and President Biden both offered remarks after witnessing marching bands and a 21-gun salute on the White House South Lawn. Both leaders stressed the values shared by their two countries, including the principles of democracy and diversity. Modi will address a joint session of Congress this afternoon before an official State Dinner tonight.

India and the United States both have a special historical significance for ISKCON. ISKCON is a global movement of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, which is rooted in India and the teachings of the 16th-century Bengali saint/avatar Sri Krishna Caitanya. ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, also a Bengali, began his global mission when he traveled to America in 1965. Prabhupada officially launched ISKCON by incorporating his society in New York City in 1966.

ISKCON Communications Director Anuttama Dasa, and Communications team member, Sonia Chopra in front of the White House before the beginning of the Modi event.

“India is our spiritual home, and we owe much to the Indian government for supporting our society over many decades. Prime Minister Modi has visited our New Delhi temple and publicly appreciated ISKCON’s global contributions to literature, the arts, and religious thought, and we are grateful for that,” said Anuttama. Other Prime Ministers have also been friends of ISKCON. Prabhupada himself met with two former Prime Ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi personally welcomed an assembly of the first Hare Krishna devotees to visit India from Russia in 1989.

Since he has been in office, President Biden has only hosted two other State Dinners, one for French President Emmanuel Macron and one for President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea. Today’s events were noted as significant efforts by the American government to further strengthen its relationship with India.

Anuttama noted that while ISKCON as an organization doesn’t align with, or endorse, political parties in any country, he and other ISKCON members were pleased to attend the event to show support for continued friendly cooperation between India and the United States.


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