Having lived in the United States for the last fifteen years, I had heard about Kentucky only with reference to Kentucky fried chicken, Abraham Lincoln, the Kentucky Derby, and excellent college basketball. I also knew, from a little online research that the best-selling car in the U.S., the Toyota Camry is assembled in Georgetown and the well-known Ford F-Series trucks are assembled in Louisville.
A little about Kentucky: It’s known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the indigenous variety of pasture grass ubiquitous in its fertile soil. It is a land with diverse terrains and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park, and the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the continental United States. The Bluegrass Region in central Kentucky is home to two of its major cities, Louisville and Lexington.
Although Ohio is the neighboring state to Kentucky, since there were no ISKCON temples or congregations in Kentucky, I never had a chance to visit. Upon further research, I found out that in the early ‘90s, a preaching center existed in Louisville, Kentucky, started by Malati Dasi and then run by Rasa Manjari Dasi, but had closed down years ago.
In 2011, Adikarta Das and his good wife Ruchira Dasi (both duly initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada) along with their son Madhumangala purchased a 250 acre farm in Lee county, Kentucky.
Adikarta Das joined ISKCON in London in 1974 and got initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1975. From the outset, he joined the team of travelling book distributors in UK. Today, he remains a stalwart book distributor in Srila Prabhupada’s mission. He and his wife were the first to open a temple in Dublin, Ireland along with another married couple.
They relocated to South Africa serving the budding mission there in the 1980’s travelling and distributing books throughout the country. Also during this time, he started a preaching center in Johannesburg which inspired many to join the movement.
After a brief stay in Mayapura, he moved his family to Prabhupada Village in Sandy ridge, North Carolina. In the 1990’s his home was the temple for that growing community. In 2002, he moved to Alachua, Florida where he preached in the University of Florida Gainesville, introducing many new people to Krishna consciousness.
As a pioneer of Krishna consciousness on three continents, he had achieved a wide range of service experiences, yet his heart ached to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desire to establish self-sufficient farm communities where devotees could live simply in Krishna consciousness, enjoying the abundance of Krishna’s nature.
With this desire and missionary spirit in place, at the age of 65, he and his wife decided to start life anew; they packed up lock, stock and barrel, and after scouting through several properties, decided to settle on a heavenly locale in Irvine, Kentucky, calling it Cintamani Dham.
The farm is 30 minutes from Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond and within one hour driving distance to Louisville and Lexington. These are the two largest cities and boast the two largest Universities in Kentucky. Cintamani Dham is easily accessible by road or flight or, you can swim right on down the Kentucky River. Why not?
True to its name, Cintamani Dham is 250 acres of pure bliss. Nestled in a beautiful valley, surrounded by the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains, the farm possesses natural waterfalls, hiking trails, a wide creek running through it and plenty of natural spring water.
I spend last week drinking fresh water right from the stream, chanting japa on the natural trails, hiking the mountains, enjoying the intoxicating prasadam cooked by Mother Ruchira from fresh farm produce and drinking hot ahimsa milk from their protected, beloved cows.
Devotees at the farm distribute books at the nearby universities and cultivate local students. At Eastern Kentucky University, local students have started a Bhakti Yoga club. Jared, a native of Kentucky is the president of the club which hosts a weekly Wednesday evening program on campus.
Programs feature yoga, kirtan, a talk on Bhagavad-gita and sumptuous prasadam, and are attended by about 30 students each week. Devotees are also preaching regularly in Cincinnati, Ohio, with its own growing congregation and demand for ahimsa milk, fulfilled by the farm. ISKCON’s temple in Columbus Ohio, regularly purchases milk, paneer, and yogurt from the farm as well.
Woofers, students from local colleges, and those who are simply interested in learning about sustainability and agriculture regularly visit Cintamani Dham.
Srila Prabhupada said that living in cities is for those who are preaching or making lots of money to support the mission. If you are not doing that, farm life is more wholesome. If families, couples, or single men or women wish to experience serene farm life with opportunities to preach in the nearby towns, colleges and universities, Cintamani Dham may be the perfect place to find their niche.
Speaking of his vision for Cintamani Dham, Adi Karta Das had this to say:
“Srila Prabhupada gave many diverse instructions. One of the most important is to distribute books. While devotees are humbly trying to do that, they also need to show the world a better way of life. We are supposed to have all the answers, environmental, cultural, psychological, familial, spiritual. Srila Prabhupada wanted to demonstrate a simpler, more natural lifestyle, free from the constraints of the city.
A common pattern of the past has been that devotees join ISKCON , become brahmacharis for some time, more often than not get married, and then struggle to survive, either by returning to college, or working very hard just to pay the bills, all the while giving up their sadhana, and becoming very weak, spiritually, in the process. Meanwhile, neither they nor their children are blessed with milk from protected cows.
We would like to be able to supply our future restaurants, and surrounding city temples with milk from our Cintamani Dham eco village. It is not to be expected that everyone contributing at Cintamani Dham will be farmers. We need all kinds of skills. Builders, preachers, pujaris, book distributors, artists, etc.
We have fantastic land and enough laxmi. We need devotees who understand the crucial importance of these farm communities to please give us your association; at least bless us with a short visit.”
The vision is to have families live on the farm, contribute their bit and use the rest of the time in cultivating spiritual life and preaching to the locals. The farm is meant to become a home for many devotee families all united under Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON movement.
With enough devotees helping with the farm and preaching, he is excited about opening preaching centers in Lexington and Louisville and expanding the number of Bhakti yoga clubs in nearby colleges and universities. Devotees moving to the farm do not have to worry about maintenance or investing money, they will simply contribute their labor and skills to the farm and help with preaching.
If interested, please contact Adikarta Das, by email, phone or post:
Akd108.email@example.com, (1) 386-853-5132
Adikarta Das, 474 Billey Fork Rd, Irvine, Kentucky, 40336[ dham ] [ farming ] [ sustainability ]