by Madhava Smullen
New Vrindaban, established in 1968 by ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada as his society’s first rural community, is continuing its transition into an exciting new phase.
After a series of difficult pioneering attempts in the early years, the community struggled for decades with a dedicated skeleton crew.
But since spring 2011, a renewed effort has been made to revitalize New Vrindaban and refocus on becoming the exemplary self-sufficient, Krishna conscious community that Srila Prabhupada envisioned.
“By the end of this week, we’ll be all finished putting up the hay bales in the barn for the season!”
These are words that every farmer likes to be able to boast, before winter sets in. Down at New Vrindaban’s farm and cow shelter, Ranaka was able to make this claim with great satisfaction, as another summer leaves New Vrindaban. “We put up 800 to 1,000 bales this year. It was a good year,” declares Ranaka. This cowherd boy is especially happy because he is helping to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s vision for New Vrindaban, which includes the importance of cow protection.
Intimate and sweet. Those were the words most often used to describe this year’s Kartik 24 Hour Kirtan in New Vrindaban. The main organizer of this year’s kirtan, Vrindavan das, expressed it this way, “Many of the devotees told me that although the bigger and more extravagant summer 24 hour kirtans are always exciting, still this kirtan had a special, intimate feeling that made people feel more connected. There weren’t all the usual well-known kirtan leaders but many said that they really appreciated the more traditional and intimate kirtan mood of this weekend.”
by long time New Vrindaban resident and award-winning storyteller Sankirtana Das
In the late 1960’s, while in college, Sankirtana Das discovered an old book in the library. The Indian Story Book (1914) by Richard Wilson, a collection of India’s ancient stories, included some from the epic Mahabharata. Sankirtana majored in Theater/ Film and turned one of the Mahabharata stories into a one act play. His theater class chose the piece as one of several plays they performed for elementary schools in New York City.