Dear Devotees,Please accept my humble obeisances!All glories to Srila Prabhupada!I just want to share with you all this wonderful news - Sivarama Swamireceived from Hungarian State the second highest State Award: theGolden Cross!It was our Diwali Dinner when he received it from a high levelpolitician and many Hungarian newspaper and TV-s made a report withhim (the summary of that I will send you next week).I send hereattached some pictures too from the event. More pictures you will findon the following link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/kepfenyek/sets/72157622521866045/your servant,Govardhana dasISKCON HungaryNational Communication Office------------According to Indian custom, the Hungarian Society for KrishnaConsciousnesscelebrated the new year on 20 October 2009 at the Museum of AppliedArts inBudapest. On the occasion, Sivarama Swami, the spiritual leader of theSociety, received a Golden Cross state award of the Hungarian RepublicfromDr. Karoly Manherz, state secretary for higher education and research,inappreciation of his charitable, humanitarian and value creating work.The memorable dinner in the Museum of Applied Arts was also attended byZoltan Balogh, chairman of the parliamentary commettee for human rights,minority, civil and religous affairs, and His Excellency Ranjit Rae,Indianambassador. As a suprise, Istvan Wisinger, cousin of Sivarama Swamibroughta special gift to him, an old family relic. The festive mood wasenhanced bythe extraordinary music performance of Eszter Horgas flutist and ZoltanLantos violist. Sivarama Swami together with Karoly Manherz, ZoltanBaloghand His Excellency Ranjit Rae lit a candle holding each others hands.Theyasked all the guests to do the same at their tables while saying aprayerfor all that were present.As spiritual leader, he participated in the foundation of the HungarianSociety for Krishna-Consciousness in 1989. Since then, he has devotedhistireless work to the organisation and development of the spiritual andcharitable activities of this church as well as to the spiritualguidance ofthe members. Under his leadership, the Society became the fourth mostpopular and supported religious community among hundreds in Hungary,measured by the allocation by taxpayers of 1% of their personal incometax.All this bears out the significant service to the society through themanifold activities of the church under his direction as well as theoutstanding humane and leadership qualities os Sivarama Swami.It seems appropriate that, on the 20th anniversary of the foundationof thechurch, the state express the overall appreciation by the society in theform of a state decoration.Sivarama Swami was born in Budapest in 1949, under the name of PeterLétai.In 1956 his parents emigrated to Canada, where he completed hisstudies. Hejoined the International Society for Krishna-Consciousness (ISKCON) in1973.Since 1979 he has held a high position as a teacher in the Society. Heis arespected member of the Goverment Body Commission of ISKCON. For anextendedperiod, he was the spiritual leader of the English community, whichhas ahigh representation of Hindu population. During this period, thecommunitybecame one of the most stable members of the International Society.He started visiting Hungary occasionally in 1987, initially in disguisebecause of the restrictions on religious activities. By the depth of hisknowledge, leadership capabilities and attractive personality, hebecame thespiritual leader of the forming community of devotees of the ancientfaithof Krishna consciousness.With the transition to democracy, the Hungarian Society forKrishna-Consciousness became an officially registered church in 1989. Arapid development followed, both by the number of members and thescope ofactivities. Soon the church started the Food For Life programme alongthelines of the international vegetarian food distribution programme,which hasbeen developed ever since its inception, helping to ease the hardshipof thehomeless, the elderly, the poor and people with large families.Under his expert guidance, the internationally well-known spiritualbooks ofthe ancient Indian tradition, published by A. C. Bhaktivedanta SwamiPrabhupáda were made available to the public also in the Hungarianlanguage.These books teach universal humanistic values: they promote non-violence,moderation, charity, bodily and spiritual purity. Such thoughts havehelpedmany thousands of people in giving up bad habits like drug abuse andtheyspread the popularity of a non-violent and healthy vegetarian diet.In 1994, beside Somogyvámos village, the Indian Cultural Centre andOrganicFarm of Krishna-valley was started. The inhabitants of this ecovillagefollow the principle of simple life and high thinking and they areengagedin organic farming and traditional crafts, thus perpetuating manyforms oftraditional Hungarian farming technologies and small crafts. Much ofSivarama Swami's energies are devoted to the leadership anddevelopment ofthis exemplary community. During the last 15 years, Krishna-valley hasbecome a prime destination in Somogy county for domestic andinternationaltourism, with 30,000 visitors coming annually, interested to see theecologically self-sustaining community based on spiritual principles.The environmentally conscious operation of the ecovillage hasattracted theattention of a number of professional and civil organisations involvedinenvironmental protection.The professional conferences organised in October 2008 and 2009 and thecooperation agreements concluded with a number of relevantinstitutions ofhigher education also indicate the importance of this initiative.Sivarama Swami also initiated setting up the Budapest Hare KrishnaTempleand Cultural Centre in Csillaghegy, Budapest. The Centre is offering awidevariety of programmes not only for the devotees of the religion butalso tothe Hindu population and the general public in Hungary. In addition, apermanent community exists in Eger, Debrecen, Pécs and Kecskemét aswell,with supporting members also living in many other settlements inHungary.One of the ways to mitigate conflicts in our time is fostering thedialogueamong various religions. Sivarama Swami is especially activeinternationallyand within our country in such dialogue in the form of round-tablediscussions, conferences and personal meetings with leaders of otherchurches. The Swami participates not only in a dialogue with otherchurchesbut also in the life of the intellectual community: his church regularlyorganises fora, symposia, confereces and summer courses in order toenhancethe dialogue with representatives of science and public life, to debatesocial issues, to develop cooperation.He is a frequent guest of the media as a spiritual master representinganoriental religion. The Studio for Religious programmes of the HungarianTelevision shot a biographical film about him.Sivarama Swami also initiated the founding of Bhaktivedanta College, theinstitution of higher education of HSKCON, also acknowledged by thestate,which is training hundreds of students in day and correspondancecourses,with Sivarama Swami being one of the professors.He is also active as a writer. He is devoting a significant portion ofhistime to writing works of filosophy, morality and theology as well asnovelswhich give esthetic experience and spiritual inspiration to many.More than a dozen webpages publish the activities of the supportingmembersand monks of the Society. These can be accessed through the www.krisna.huaddress, which is the official site of the Church.In spite of his erudition and high position, Sivarama Swami is renownedamong disciples, admirers and friends for doing his service with deephumility. His deeds radiate compassion, love and self-sacrifice.Besides hisofficial duties, he devotes a considerable amount of his time to solvethepersonal problems of those who ask for his assistance.He is due much of the credit for the fact that, from the mere hundredpeopleat foundation, the Krishna-church has become a community with tens ofthousands of supporters during the twenty years of its operation.--------------------------------State decorations are regulated by Para. 1 of the Act No. XXXI. of 1991.According to this Act, the Republic of Hungary highly appreciatesextraordinary and exemplary activities exerted to help the developmentofthe country, to promote the interests of the same, and to enhanceunversalhumanity. To appreciate such activities, the Cross of Merit of theHungarianRepublic is founded, which is awarded, on recommendation by theappropriateMinistry, by the President of the Republic.