The Parthenon

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Within a campus and culture set in the Bible Belt, it is not expected that many would know of the Hare Krishnas, let alone be able to identify one on sight. Syamananda Das’s appearance does not fit what many envision as that of a monk, but the member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness spread his message across campus all day Wednesday.

“We try to get it to intelligent people who are ready, willing and open for such knowledge,” Das said.

Das passed out two particular books to those who would take them. The first was a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, a book of ancient Hindu scripture. The second was titled “The Journey of Self-Discovery,” a supplemental piece to the Bhagavad Gita.  
He also acknowledged that his religion is often misunderstood in today’s culture and stressed the importance of yoga in its original sense, meaning disciple of spiritual, mental and physical senses.     
“Yoga is a misunderstood process in the West. Most people think of yoga as physically stretches and breathing exercises,” Das said,  “That’s one part, but that’s at the base level.”

Das is a member of Cintamani Dhan, a self-sustaining village of Hare Krishas within Daniel Boone National Forest near Irvine, Ky. He travels college campus around the region spreading knowledge of Krishna beliefs, and his drive to visit campus comes from his own experiences in choosing his way of life.

“I got a Bhagavad Gita on a college campus and eventually I read it, and it made a lot of sense,” Das said, “Too much sense to put aside.”

The young monk dressed in a sweater and khakis spoke of the importance of servitude to God and disciplining oneself in a responsible manner. He operates entirely from donations and spoke of God’s providence of his missions.

“We just depend on God. God provides everything all the time,” Das said, “That’s a fact.”

Those interested in more information on Das, his eco-village and the Hare Krishna movement can find it at www.cintamanidham.com.

A link to the article can be found [here]


This news report was carried in the Toronto Star and numerous other papers. Perhaps it is best that we stick to freshly prepared items where we know what goes in and are offered to Their Lordships Radha & Krishna. Prasadam...truly, karma free food or you can take your chances...

Frappuccino's colourful ingredients made from bodies of ground insects. 

Melissa Allison
The Seattle Times 
SEATTLE—When Starbucks changed its Frappuccino mix a couple years ago, it made sure the new ingredients were dairy-free. But no one said anything about being bug-free.

Turns out the strawberry sauce used in strawberries-and-cream Frappuccinos contains cochineal extract, which is made from the bodies of ground-up insects indigenous to Latin America.

A vegan barista who works for Starbucks sent a picture of the sauce’s ingredient list to a vegetarian blog called www.ThisDishIsVegetarian.com, which posted it earlier this month. The revelation sparked some criticism from advocacy groups questioning the practice.

“The strawberry base for our Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino does contain cochineal extract, a common natural dye that is used in the food industry, and it helps us move away from artificial ingredients,” said spokesman Jim Olson.

The base also is used in Starbucks’ strawberry smoothies, he said, and the insect-derived extract is in some other foods and drinks the chain sells, including its red velvet whoopie pies.

Starbucks is hardly the only one.

Cochineal extract and a similar ingredient called carmine, also made from the insects, are bright red and can be found in fruit juices, gelatins and other foods, as well as many makeup products.

They were used for red dye in Mexico before the Spaniards arrived, and the Italian liqueur Campari originally contained carmine dye.

Tropicana’s website lists carmine as a colorant in its non-refrigerated ruby red grapefruit juice, and Dole lists cochineal extract as an ingredient in some of its fruit-in-gel products.

Three years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said food and cosmetic products must declare on their labels that they contain cochineal extract or carmine. The rule went into effect in early 2011.

Until then, the insect additives often were listed as “artificial colours” or “colour added.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an activist group that pushed the FDA for the new labeling requirement, said the agency should have banned the colorants altogether or at least required that the labels explain that they come from insects.

“All food companies would be well advised to colour their foods with real food and not either artificial dyes or an ostensibly natural dye like carmine,” said the center’s spokesman, Jeff Cronin.

In the case of Starbucks’ strawberry Frappuccinos, he said, “I bet real strawberries could be used. Why simulate the colour of strawberries when you could probably get a pretty good result with strawberries or beet juice or something that won’t concern your customers?”

Cochineal extract and carmine cause allergic reactions in a small segment of the population, he said, and are off-limits for most Jews who keep kosher and vegans and vegetarians, who do not eat animals.

Joe M. Regenstein, a professor of food science at Cornell University, remembers Ben & Jerry’s taking the cochineal-derived colour out of its Cherry Garcia ice cream to make it kosher and to make its ingredient label easier to understand.

Now Cherry Garcia’s label lists “fruit and vegetable concentrates” for color.

Other red foods that are more specific include Whole Foods’ 365-brand pink lemonade, which includes sweet potato, red radish, cherry and apple extracts and Fuze strawberry guava’s chokeberry and carrot extracts.

A not so yummy ingredient in Starbuck's and other foods
The following article appeared in Time of India appropriately titled, "Showing the Way".  We have been fortunate to have Ambarisa Prabhu's association over the years and when we served together on ISKCON Foundation we personally witnessed his dedication to Srila Prabhupada and now he has taken on a very challenging and grand project to serve Srila Prabhupada and Mahaprabhu's sankirtan mission. 
Showing the Way
Feb 17, 2012

KOLKATA: Alfred Ford (re-christened Ambarish Das), an American heir to Ford fortune and the great grandson of legendary businessman Henry Ford, visited the Institute of Leadership Entrepreneurship and Development (iLead) Kolkata campus to interact with the students and teachers.

He gave an inspirational talk on the Indian influence of spiritualism in his life and his association with ISKCON. Fords life is a remarkable exception from other billionaires. He is a devotee of Lord Krishna, a pure vegetarian, married to a Bengali woman and has willingly alienated himself from the Ford fortune and embraced Hindu spiritualism wholeheartedly.

Ford also shared the fact that his interest in spiritualism was inherited from his great grandfather Henry Ford, after whom a classroom has been named in iLead campus.

My great grandfather believed in the philosophy of reincarnation and did extensive research on it and if we give it a thought then even human beings are produced via an assembly line, said Ford.

When a student asked what led him to embrace such a life, Ford replied, I was born with a lot of money but no spiritual heritage so. The hunger to know life in its totality led him to where he is today.

After coming to India he became a disciple of Lord Krishna and is presently the campaign chairman of Mayapur Temple of Vedic Planetarium. Ford has many ongoing projects out of which one is establishing the largest Hindu temple in the world.

Ford tried to explain to the students that happiness always did not mean material success. One should always pursue ones happiness through good work. Spiritual satisfaction is way greater than material satisfaction.

No matter what you receive, you will have to leave behind everything after death, said Ford to the students who were left pondering at such philosophical thoughts.

In this March 28, 2004 file photo, Moscow Society of Krishna Consciousness' members pray for the construction of a Krishna temple in the Russian Capital, Moscow. A Russian court decided on Wednesday not to ban a religious text central to the global Hare Krishna movement, rejecting claims that the text is "extremist" and ending a case that has angered Hindus around the world. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
By now most of the community has heard the vindication of the Bhagavad Gita by the Russian court after a small group of misdirected folks in Tomsk tried to vilify the Bhagavad Gita As-it-is. In fact they helped propagate Krishna message by so much attention be paid to the Bhagavad Gita, ISKCON and Hare Krishna devotees. So after a few blog posts on this issue, one more from the San Francisco Chronicle to wrap up the coverage. 
Hare Krishna text not banned by Russian court
Sofia Javed, Associated Press
Thursday, December 29, 2011


A Russian court decided Wednesday not to ban a religious text central to the global Hare Krishna movement, rejecting claims that the text is "extremist" and ending a case that has angered Hindus around the world.

The Indian Foreign Ministry said it appreciated "this sensible resolution of a sensitive issue."

Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had argued that the Russian translation of "Bhagavad Gita as It Is" promotes "social discord" and hatred toward nonbelievers, causing an outcry in India, where many considered the proposed ban a violation of the rights of Hindus in Russia.

The text is a combination of the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism's holiest scriptures, and commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which is often called the Hare Krishna movement.

The prosecutors had asked the court to include the book on the Federal List of Extremist Materials, which bans more than 1,000 texts, including Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and books distributed by the Jehovah's Witness and Scientology movements.

Alexander Shakhov, a lawyer for Hare Krishna devotees in Tomsk, said the group is satisfied with the court's decision.

Yury Pleshakov, a spokesman for the group in Moscow, said the book in question has existed in Russia for 25 years and has never inspired violence or extremist activity.

The trial, which began in June, followed this year's ban on the construction of a Hare Krishna village in Tomsk and was based on an assessment by professors at Tomsk University, who concluded that "Bhagavad Gita as It Is" includes strong language against nonbelievers and promotes religious hatred and discrimination on the basis of gender, race, nationality and language.

The ruling came a day after Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna met with Alexander Kadakin, Russia's ambassador to India, and urged the Russian government to resolve the issue.

This article appeared on page A - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Victory!!! All glories to Srila Prabhupada! Word leaked out from the court rooms about 1/2 an hour ago that the ruling is in favor of ISKCON!!! Media reports have confirmed a few minutes ago. A translation of one article is below. 

___________________________________________________________The court refused to recognize in Tomsk extremist book "Bhagavad-gita As It Is"

Siberia / Society
Tomsk. On December 28. Interfax-Siberia - Tomsk Lenin District Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit Tomsk Oblast Prosecutor's Office to recognize an extremist book "Bhagavad-gita As It Is," which is one of the interpretations of Hinduscripture "The Bhagavad-Gita."

The court found no grounds to satisfy the claim, reports "Interfax".

Last summer, Tomsk Oblast prosecutor's office filed a claim for recognition of an extremist book "Bhagavad-gita As It Is" with commentary of the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON, also known as themovement of "Hare Krishna") Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 

In all the news about the potential ban of the  Bhagavad Gita in Russia, perhaps this development is not well known. ISKCON Hungary/Krishna Valley is not out of the woods yet since the legislation may be modified to push through similar restrictions. However with ongoing pressure and Krishna's will, not only will this obstacle be eradicated but thousands of people will develop interest in Krishna Consciousness through media coverage in the Budapest Times and many other local and international media outlets. 
Hungary’s Constitutional Court strikes down law on churches, part of media law, criminal code

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s Constitutional Court has struck down the country’s restrictive new church law as well as parts of its disputed media law and the criminal code.

The Constitutional Court findings published Monday were a spirited response to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which, backed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament, has been pushing through legislation at a chaotic pace.
The church law, which would have gone into effect Jan. 1, only included 14 Christian churches and Jewish congregations, forcing all others to seek recognition from two-thirds of Hungary’s lawmakers.

The court also rejected aspects of the media law, including rules on content regulation and confidential sources.

As many will recall last year ISKCON Leicester had a fire on Janmastami day which caused significant damage. So today's breaking news from the BBC is fabulous on its own but it is heart warming to hear such a triumphant message. Srila Prabhupada has yet another magnificent house but it also demonstrates Krishna's Master plan.  Read on...
Members of the community congregated at the old Midland Bank building to celebrate the news
Leicester Hare Krishna temple moves to ex Midland Bank

A Leicester Hindu temple which was badly damaged in a fire will be moving into a Grade II* listed building in the city, formerly occupied by a bank.

The Hare Krishna temple will now be based in the old Midland Bank building on Granby Street.

A third of the temple, which was on Thoresby Street, was destroyed in a gas explosion in September 2010.

The temple's president said their plans to develop the historic building were in the early stages.

The Hare Krishna temple was left unusable by the blast. Events and weekly congregations have had to be held in rented spaces around the city for the past 15 months.

'Wonderful architecture'Pradyumna Das, president of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), said acquiring the keys to the building was a "dream come true".

"We are very excited with this news," he said. "This is a great opportunity for us to bring back into use a fantastic building right at the heart of the city."

Mr Das said after restoring the old bank building, they would use it as a place of worship with a range of community activities and workshops and a restaurant.

"As well as a focus on spirituality and self-realisation, we want to invite the people of our county to come and learn about the heritage of the place and celebrate its wonderful architecture," he said.

However, Mr Das added that a lot of work needed to be carried out before the community could use the building.

The historic building was donated to the Hindu temple by a Leicester family.

The building, which was built in 1875 by famous architect Joseph Goddard, was recently identified by English Heritage as at risk.

Hare Krishna kai goes down a treat
Talia Shadwell | Friday, December 16, 2011

They say any free meal is a good meal, but one homeless man who enjoyed four helpings of "krishnatarian" kai at Whangarei's newest food kitchen yesterday reckoned he'd had a freebie better than most.

Diners who descended upon the Hare Krishna Food For Life kitchen on Water St for its opening day on Tuesday enjoyed a "prasadam" meal of curried rice, vegetarian kofta and potato salad, served with mango lassi, and finished off with a helping of sweet semolina pudding replete with cream and strawberries - all on the house.

Aaron Bartlett of Otangarei said he usually spent his days diving for kina and paua to feed his young children, but poor weather had brought him into the city where he had snapped up the healthy fare.

"When I'm not out at the coast, I'll be here," he said, contemplating his vegetarian lunch. "What you are is what you eat, that's what I heard."

With roots in the early 1970s, Food For Life Global is the world's largest vegetarian and vegan food relief network. Hare Krishna devotees provided plant-based meals to about 1.5 million disadvantaged people every day throughout 60 countries.

Whangarei's first Food for Life is set to open daily, supplying meals to people in need, while also providing deliveries to the city's Women's Refuges.

While half of the food provided for the kitchen's opening day was donated by Pak 'n Save and fresh produce given by regional growers, the rest was paid for by Hare Krishna devotees.

Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth called the lunch "wonderful". He praised the generosity of the community in making the opening day a success.

Organiser Buddhi Wilcox, a classical pianist in a past life, had recently moved from Kerikeri and had high hopes that the kitchen would become a permanent fixture in Whangarei. "The support that the community has given has been phenomenal".

He had tried to initiate a similar setup in Auckland about 20 years ago which fell flat when his successors began to charge for the food, which he strongly believed should remain free.

More recently, Food For Life had a role in the Christchurch earthquake aftermath, with Hare Krishna volunteers dishing out 500 plates a day amid the turmoil period. The community planned to continue a relationship with Civil Defence planners as providers of food relief.

Mr Wilcox expected the Food For Life kitchen to provide about 100 plates of food a day in Whangarei, and would need to cover a cost equivalent to about $3- $4 per person. The Hare Krishnas were reliant on the generosity of the community. "Either we have to raise $300 a day, or we have to work intelligently". But he had found locals easy to convince.

A devotee since the early 80s, Mr Wilcox claimed his desire to help was not propelled purely by a charitable spirit. "Basically my motivation for doing this is pretty selfish, feeding people makes me happy ... it's not even the compassion. I just want to be happy." 

( Bela Szandelszky / Associated Press ) - Hungarian born Canadian Krishna monk Sivarama Svami stands in front of the Parliament building while members of Hungary’s Hare Krishna community hold a protest against the country’s new relegious law in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. The new religious law, due to take effect in 2012, will strip them of their status as a recognized church.
Dozens of small churches in Hungary fear loss of status due to new politicized law on religion
By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 12:05 PM
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hare Krishna members on Tuesday protested outside Hungary’s Parliament against a new law that could strip them of their status as a recognized church.

Hungary’s church law taking effect Jan. 1 grants official status to 14 Christian churches and Jewish congregations but forces all others to submit a new registration request and gain approval from a two-thirds majority of lawmakers.
“We are representing a billion Hindus worldwide who are wondering why they have to prove themselves again to the Hungarian government,” said monk Sivarama Svami, from the Krishna Valley farm in central Hungary. The protest included two cows from the farm.

Previously, churches needed only to register with a local court, which did not have the option of rejecting applications.

The church law has been harshly criticized by human rights advocates, policy experts and opposition groups, who see it as another attempt by the government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to ensure political control over many institutions earlier considered at least nominally independent.

Sivarama Svami said the Krishna community has already applied to retain church status, but state officials could not say when parliament would consider the more than 70 similar requests made so far.

The government said the new law was needed to filter out business enterprises operating under the guise of religious groups.

“Neither communities nor individuals are under any constraints in the practice of their religion in Hungary,” said Bence Retvari, state secretary at the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice. “The real objective of this law is to regularize the system of state subsidies and tax benefits, which was being abused.”

Retvari added that provisions have been made to allow some churches reclassified as religious associations to continue receiving state funds for the social services they provide, such as schools, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

“We did not want to alter Hungary’s varied religious life,” Retvari said, but to redefine the church-state relationship in terms of tax benefits and funding for institutions.

( Bela Szandelszky / Associated Press ) - A Hungarian Krishna monk stands with a cow in front of the Parliament building while members of Hungary’s Hare Krishna community hold a protest against the country’s new religious law in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. The new religious law, due to take effect in 2012, will strip them of their status as a recognized church.
ENLIGHTENED: Buddhi (front), and Suvana Wilcox prepare the old Roast To Go shop on Water Street, for a new lease on life as the Krishna Food For Life Centre. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
Mike Dinsdale | Wednesday, December 7, 2011

High levels of poverty and homelessness in Whangarei have prompted a group associate with the Hare Krishna faith to set up a centre to feed the city's poor and needy for free.

The Food For Life Centre is being set up in Water St and should be open next week, with organisers expecting to feed between up to 100 people each day it opens with free, healthy and nutritious vegetarian food.

Food For Life Whangarei coordinator Buddhi Wilcox said the group had noticed increasing levels of poor and hungry people in the city and decided to do something about it.

The Gopals Krishna food shop in Whangarei, set up three years ago, has been feeding several homeless people daily and the Whangarei Womens' Refuge had been taking the food leftover from Gopals to help feed its clients.

Mr Wilcox said the Krishna faith put a lot of emphasis on healthy food and Food For Life is its welfare arm. He set up New Zealand's first Food For Life Centre in Auckland 20 years ago.Mr Wilcox said he had been talking with social service groups, such as Salvation Army, Te Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing, Refuge, Northern Urban Rural Mission and the Child Poverty Action Group, who all identified growing poverty in Whangarei.

"The Salvation Army are having people going to them who haven't eaten for two or three days. Our research shows there's a clear need for this in Whangarei now and things are very hard for a lot of people out there."

Mr Wilcox said all the free food, which would be healthy vegetarian fare, would be cooked at Gopals and taken to the Water St centre. 

He said the centre was relying on donations of food to help feed the poor and all donations of fruit, vegetables and milk would be gratefully accepted.

However, the group wanted some paint donated to give the centre a spruce up before it opens and needed tables and chairs.

As well as providing free, healthy food, Mr Wilcox said the centre would also give other tips, such as cooking and nutritional advice and how to feed a family on a limited budget.

"Anybody can come, rich or poor, but if you can afford it we'd ask for a koha to help us feed those that can't afford to feed themselves."

Whangarei Child Poverty Action Group spokeswoman Diane Lawson said research showed that nearly all decile 1-4 schools were providing some food for their children while hundreds of families are getting food from social agencies every week.

"With essential costs like housing, energy and transport continuing to increase, the family food budget becomes discretionary as often it is the only place a family can cut their spending," Ms Lawson said.