Anuttama Dāsa

Iam pleased to see, after a fifteen-year hiatus,1 this first issue of the revamped ISKCON Communications Journal. I congratulate Śrīmān Mahāprabhu Dāsa, the Director of ISKCON Communications

Europe and the journal’s driving force. I am grateful to him and his devoted, professional team.

Our ISKCON Communications Ministry operates on two truths: that we, as a global Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava religious tradition and com- munity, have much to offer the world and much to learn from the world. Promoting this dialogue is largely the journal’s purpose, so it makes a significant contribution to iskcon’s mission.

Serving as the Global Minister of Communications for twenty- some years, I’ve learned that I am at my personal best not only when I espouse the superexcellent stature of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa but also when I try to hear His voice in the words of others. When I listen to and interact with others in this frame of mind, opportunities abound and partnerships flourish.

My dear friend the Reverend Doctor Kenneth Cracknell tells of his experience as a young Methodist minister, sent to Africa to share the message of Christ. As a missionary, his mind was filled with inspiring images of bringing God to a forgotten people. Upon his arrival in Africa — seeing the joyful spirituality of the people — he recognized, to his surprise, that God was already there. Indeed, he was there long before Reverend Cracknell.

That story should resonate with all Vaiṣṇavas. As humble ser- vants of the Lord (and His servants), we are meant to share our truth with humility — as eager to learn as we are to teach. This was ordered by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the sixteenth-century saint and ava- tar: “Be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false pres- tige, and ready to offer all respect to others” (Śrī Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam 3). Part of that humility is realizing that iskcon and its members are a work in progress.

In a letter to a disciple, Śrīla Prabhupāda succinctly said: “If you make some of the big government officials interested in our movement, then our strength will increase. Because we are in the material world, sometimes we require that help” (letter to Tejīyas, 15 August 1973). Gaining such help is one purpose the journal serves.

Since Śrīla Prabhupāda founded iskcon in 1966, it has achieved many things. It has hundreds of beautiful temples; active and grow- ing congregations; half a billion books and magazines in print; the largest vegetarian food-relief program worldwide; networks of ecovillages and restaurants. Moreover, iskcon has hosted heads of state; dialogued with imams; met popes; created museums of sacred art and award-winning films; held festivals and parades for tens of thousands in Los Angeles, New York, London, Durban, Kolkata, and many more cities. On Kṛṣṇa’s Janmāṣṭamī festival, some iskcon temples alone host several hundred thousand worshipers. These achievements make every iskcon member proud.

Yet iskcon has faced challenges — some minor, some severe. This journal helped iskcon navigate through those difficult times by serving as an instrument of self-reflection. Past issues carried the voices of Catholic archbishops and Protestant ministers; professors of sociology and history; leaders of organizations that protect new religious movements and leaders of organizations that fight the abuses of cults; women’s advocates; children’s advocates; iskcon’s governing body members; communication specialists and more. Articles have scolded iskcon to study its own history, enlightened iskcon about its tradition’s teachers and reformers, encouraged iskcon with insights on its progress, and shocked iskcon with reports of child abuse within its own schools and communities.

This revived journal will continue to discuss iskcon’s growth and its hopes and shortcomings. From its pages, readers will better understand iskcon’s role as a global Vaiṣṇava society and its potential to uplift people worldwide. I believe that iskcon’s future is bright — if we keep shining the lights of self-reflection, self- assessment, and self-improvement.

In “The Seven Purposes of ISKCON,” Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote that iskcon’s first purpose is “To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the tech- niques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values

ISKCON Communications Journal in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.” That’s a ix lofty goal, and one we iskcon members should not shrink from.

Such an inspired mission cannot be achieved without continuously and honestly examining ourselves. We need to better understand what we have to offer the world and what we need to learn from it. By continuing to promote that needed introspection and dialogue, ISKCON Communications Journal will help us fulfill the monumental ambitions that Śrīla Prabhupāda placed before us.

Anuttama Dāsa Global Minister of ISKCON Communications



1 The ISKCON Communications Journal (icj) was published from 1993–2005 under the direction of Shaunaka Rishi Das, at that time the director of ISKCON Communications Europe. He moved on when he needed to serve exclusively as the executive director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Later, the jour- nal morphed into the ISKCON Studies Journal (isj), from May 2009 (Volume One) to September 2014 (Volume Two). Owing to a lack of focus, perhaps, and our energies going elsewhere, isj ceased to continue after those two issues. The Communications Ministry made it a priority to relaunch icj. Thus it is gratifying to see this issue.