Mother’s Day weekend, from May 8 to 10, 2020, marks the return of the once famous New Vrindaban Festival of Inspiration with the theme: Celebrating Vaishnava Arts. The three-day event will explore the hallmarks of Vaishnava art, theater, music, and speech and how they can enrich our lives, strengthen our communities, and assist us in spreading the wealth of the Krishna consciousness movement.
With devotees in all genres showcasing their talent and skills and presenting workshops, this is sure to be a transformative and inspirational weekend both for your creative and spiritual yearning.
Here are the highlights:
The Dramatic Arts
His Holiness Bhaktimarga Swami, known for his dramatic and spiritually enlivening theater performances, will present seminar sessions focusing on Vaishnava theater. Attendees will delve deeper into the nuances of dramatic theater and the place it holds in Vaishnava culture, following in the footsteps of great Vaishnava writers and poets like the Six Goswamis and many of Lord Chaitanya’s other prominent associates.
Lord Chaitanya would request His companions to recite their dramatic works, which were filled with spiritual rasas or emotions, giving solace to the heart and chasing away all lamentation. Because of these plays and poetic offerings, we have many important poetic verses that enrich our devotional lives today.
“I do not know how much nectar the two syllables “Krish-na” have produced. When the holy name of Krishna is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and therefore all the senses become inert.”–From the dramatic writings of Rupa Goswami
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Antya 1.120
The Art of Speech
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami, known for his flexible understanding and inspiring realizations of Srila Prabhupada’s books and purports, will present seminars and lectures aimed at uncovering the art of speech.
The art of speech is essential within ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada was such an eloquent speaker that he was able to evoke feelings and inspire actions simply with his words, which were empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Srimad-Bhagavatam elaborates:
“A speech should be composed of selected words, very sweet to hear, and appropriate to the situation. Such speech is called meaningful. It is said, “for one who has unflinching devotional faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is engaged in His service, all good qualities become manifest in his person.”–Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.22.17
This was especially true with Srila Prabhupada, and following in his footsteps, we can practice and perfect the art of eloquent speech by studying his books, lectures, and conversations, which contain the exemplary context and mood with which to speak as a preacher and as a devotee of Sri Krishna.
The Art of Study
Two special seminar sessions will be offered on studying strategies facilitated by Prabhupada Priya Dasi, Bhakti Academy Director at Krishna House in Gainesville, Florida, and former instructor at the Sri Mayapur International School in India. Prabhupada Priya is widely praised for her ability to preach and teach with practicality.
The study of Srila Prabhupada’s books are being offered worldwide in different ISKCON faculties of learning, from elementary to advanced courses, so it is imperative that devotees are taught efficient tools to assimilate this knowledge and apply it to everyday life.
New Vrindaban’s beautiful Kusum Sarovara lake will become the site of a two-hour session of watercolor painting led by Krishna Bhava Dasi, a long-time resident of New Vrindaban who is expert in various areas of painting. With her guidance, and assisted by other devotees with artistic skill, we are sure that you will begin to understand the full import of Srila Prabhupada’s words when he remarked: “Please go on with this painting work with all enthusiasm. Our Krishna consciousness is so nice. By painting, your love of Krishna will become mature.”
We hope that you will leave this lesson with the ripened fruit of affection for Krishna blooming within your heart.
The Musical Arts
What would an exploration of Vaishnava arts be without music? Kalakantha Prabhu, the head of Krishna House in Gainesville, Ananda Vardhana Prabhu, and many other musicians will enliven you with kirtan and musical performances. This is sure to be a celebration of devotion which will leave you rejuvenated and re-energized.
The Art of Storytelling
The art of storytelling enriches our lives as we tap into our own wellspring of stories.
A workshop entitled “In Search of Story – Exploring our Life’s Journey,” presented by Sankirtana Das, will honor its participants as you share your stories, focusing on creative expression, discussions, writing, and small group interaction.
You will explore and reflect upon some of your life stories; the stories which have shaped you, nourished you, and sent you forth on life’s journey. “In Search of Story” will also spark your creativity and expand the remembrance of your past.
The Art of Association
Not only do the arts focus on creativity, but it was originally aimed to inform and unify communities and villages. Through sharing the life lessons and expertise of senior devotees, we aim to unite the community of devotees and derive new ways to serve one another.
With this aim, we will also offer a seminar on sanga, how to build a community founded on strong devotee association. This enlivening seminar will be facilitated by Ananda Vrindavaneswari Dasi from Potomac, Maryland, and Kalakantha Das.
In Krishna Book, commenting on Krishna and Balarama’s stay at gurukula, Srila Prabhupada emphasized that these arts are necessary for human society.
We hope to imbibe and expand Srila Prabhupada’s ideas and vision on Vaishnava art in this year’s Festival of Inspiration, which will act as a springboard for more celebrations like these. These festivals add sweetness and joy to our spiritual practice and bring us closer to spiritual perfection in innovative ways.
We look forward to hosting you and celebrating with you this Mother’s Day Weekend.
We can’t wait to show you all that we have in store for you!