What do John Lennon (of the Beatles), Indira Ghandi (Prime Minister of India), Allen Ginsberg (popular 60’s speaker), Sterling Moss (Formula One Racer), have in common? They all met Srila Prabhupada.
To say that the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Srila Prabhupada, was an epic “Communications” person, is an understatement.
From July 25-28th at the Washington DC ISKCON temple conference hall, the topics of Communications as a department of the institution, as exemplified by Srila Prabhupada, were discussed and deliberated by members from a variety of East Coast US ISKCON centers.
“Unfortunately,” said ISKCON Communications Minister Anuttama Dasa, “a lot of times communications isn’t considered a core principle of our philosophy”. He continued that “emulating Srila Prabhupada is part of the spiritual process, however there is a lot of room to grow in the department of communications work”. Re-building North American Communications is now its priority, and this conference is the starting point.
The ISKCON Communications Ministry for the global movement started as a brainchild of Mukunda Goswami (previously known as the Ministry of Public Affairs) in the 1970’s and then Anuttama Dasa started in 1993. However, today ISKCON has dozens of proactive departments in temples, countries and internationally and has helped to establish, maintain, save or expand the Krishna-consciousness movement worldwide in their efforts behind the scenes.
“We help prepare the ground” said Anuttama Dasa, to help our centers who are trying to get a building permit for the new Govinda’s, to help going out on harinam, to help getting media coverage about important events. Communications is an important pillar to any community because “it is about building relationships,” said attendee Gopal Das from North Carolina.
Building relationships include those with other faiths, as the official ISKCON and Interfaith statements makes the point from the standpoint that “no one religion holds a monopoly on the truth, the revelation of God or our relationship with God”, it says. The key audiences of ISKCON Communications are: Government, Interfaith, Neighbours, Media, other Hindu faiths, and Academics (to name a few).
During the five days, the attendees were engaged and probed on their own perceptions of the philosophy and attitude towards others as well as exercises on understanding of their role in the society as “not just being a cheerleader, but being a conscience”, Anuttama Dasa said.
Values of ISKCON Communications include: helping keep consistency with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and example, helping advocate for consideration of time, place, circumstance and person in dealing with external communities, creating mutually beneficial relationships with external organizations and entities, and being a person who is leading with exemplary character and behaviour of: humility, respect, integrity and trustworthiness.
The North American Communications Leadership team was formed during the training conference and will serve the various Communications representatives across the country in their efforts to strategically building bridges between ISKCON and the world the organization lives within, through friendship, win-win situations, and compassion.