The idea to publish a Communications Journal came from feedback we received from many devotees who have attended our Communications Seminars. Most thought it would be a good idea to transcribe lectures given at the European Communications Seminars and many also thought it would be a useful forum for preachers to share their techniques, experiences and realisations. Although the seminars also fulfil this latter goal, and are becoming more and more a 'marketplace' for Europe's preachers, the written word certainly has its particular influence and enduring effect.
Communications does not only mean our 'external' outreach or missionary activities but must also include an 'internal' aspect. How do we co-ordinate and co-operate? In what ways can we perform our missionary work according to time, place and circumstance? How can we optimise our preaching potential by internal development? We hope to deal with all aspects of communications in this publication, bringing you the considerations of devotees who are recognised experts in their fields and the results of research and study into subjects where we presently have no experts. We also very much welcome your comments and letters.
In his article 'Food for Life', Krishna Dharma Dasa presents us with the scriptural basis of the Hare Krishna Food for Life programme. He debates whether Food for Life is, 'simply an attempt to win public favour,' or, 'a programme deserving as much credibility as both hari-nama and book distribution.'
HH Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, in 'The Inner Life of a Preacher' (part 1), tells us, 'Prabhupada says that the preacher should practise what he preaches.' To explore how a preacher in today's ISKCON can begin to examine and improve his practice Satsvarupa Maharaja uses the steps of the four 'Rs': Recognition, Remorse, Rectification and Reunion.
In 'Developing the Schools Programme', the first in a series of articles on the subject, Rasamandala Dasa outlines the success of the schools programme within the UK. He hopes that other devotees may be encouraged to begin similar endeavours throughout Europe. Future articles will discuss the benefits of such a programme and will explore keys to success, both in management and presentation.
Our interview between Krishna-ksetra Dasa and Mr Vineet Narain, the editor of an investigative video news magazine in New Delhi, offers encouragement and advice to devotees in dealing with media affairs . especially the visual media. Mr Narain shows us that this is a grand facility, given by the Lord, by which we can reach vast audiences and advance our mission.
'I have some observations to share about our ISKCON family which I've learned from being a mother. I dare speak at all, not because of being a learned spiritualist or having a position in ISKCON, but simply because I have some practical experience being a mother .' Thus Pranada Devi Dasi introduces her subject 'Building an All Attractive ISKCON'. Srila Prabhupada said that we should display the courage of a British officer and the heart of a Bengali mother. Pranada Devi Dasi displays such generous heart and indeed courage, as she expresses her concern and offers her counsel for ISKCON's mature and healthy development.
By studying and imbibing Ravindra Svarupa Dasa's 'Religion and Religions', we can learn to be philosophically confident relating with members of any religious tradition. Ravindra Svarupa has articulated the karma-jnana-bhakti paradigm in such a way that it can be easily applied to examine any philosophical or religious system.
Dr Kim Knott's review of a series of lectures by Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, given at the Second European Communications Seminar on the German Farm, shows us how our philosophical and theological perspectives are appreciated by academics, if only they get to hear them. This review appeared in Discus, an international journal of religious studies, Spring 1993 issue.
In January of this year the Hungarian devotees hosted a public conference in Budapest with the aim of helping the different communities in Hungarian society understand ISKCON. Prof. Larry Shinn delivered his address 'Religious Freedom and the Psychology of Fear' at that conference. Prof. Shinn concludes, ' . I argue that anti-cult views are fundamentally anti-religious. They are suspicious of or opposed to ANY faith that requires complete religious commitment or surrender and that appeals to youthful idealism. Such standards would have deprived the world of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi.'
Our 'Case Study' is advice given to the devotees of ISKCON Slovenia, by Anuttama Dasa. Excellent advice for any media emergency.
And in our 'COM-ments' feature we print items of interest and inspiration from the ICE (ISKCON Communications Europe) Conference, on our North European Bhaktivedanta Book Trust electronic mail bulletin board. In this issue we print a letter from Mukunda Maharaja and Anuttama Dasa on the 'Waco' affair, its implications for ISKCON and how we need to respond. They tell us that, 'many media relations and communications techniques are systematic and have been tested for years. YOU CAN LEARN THEM. So why try to reinvent the wheel?'
This is our first attempt and you may find many mistakes in our first issue. We hope that any errors in publication or printing will not interfere with your enjoyment of the ISKCON Communications Journal or our intention of faithfully serving Srila Prabhupada's mission. We invite you to please help us by giving us your feedback and advice so that we may improve our service to you.