What do John Lennon (of the Beatles), Indira Ghandi (Prime Minister of India), Allen Ginsberg (popular 60s speaker), and Sterling Moss (Formula One Racer) have in common? They all met Srila Prabhupada.
To say that the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Srila Prabhupada, was an epic “Communications” person, is an understatement.
From July 25-28th at the Washington D.C. ISKCON temple conference hall, the topics of Communications as a department of the institution, as exemplified by Srila Prabhupada, were discussed and deliberated by members from a variety of East Coast U.S. ISKCON centers.
“Unfortunately,” said ISKCON Communications Minister Anuttama Dasa, “A lot of times communications isn’t considered a core principle of our philosophy." He continued that “Emulating Srila Prabhupada is part of the spiritual process, however there is a lot of room to grow in the department of communications work." Rebuilding North American Communications is now his priority, and this conference was the starting point.
The ISKCON Communications Ministry (previously known as the Ministry of Public Affairs) for the global movement started as a brainchild of Mukunda Goswami in the 1970s, with Anuttama Dasa taking the lead in 1993. However, today ISKCON has dozens of proactive departments in temples, countries and internationally and has helped to establish, maintain, save or expand the Krishna consciousness movement worldwide in their efforts behind the scenes.
“We help prepare the ground," said Anuttama Das. "For instance, we help our centers who are trying to get a building permit for the new Govinda’s; or help get media coverage about important events."
"Communications is an important pillar to any community because 'it is about building relationships,' added attendee Gopal Das from North Carolina.
Building relationships includes those with other faiths. “No one religion holds a monopoly on the truth, the revelation of God or our relationship with God," says the official ISKCON Interfaith Statement. The key audiences of ISKCON Communications are: Government, Interfaith, Neighbours, Media, other Hindu faiths, and Academics (to name a few).
During the five days, the attendees were engaged and probed on their own perceptions of the philosophy and attitude towards others as well as exercises on understanding their role in the society as “not just being a cheerleader, but being a conscience,” as Anuttama Dasa said.
Values of ISKCON Communications include: helping the society keep consistent with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and example; advocating for consideration of time, place, circumstance and person in dealing with external communities; creating mutually beneficial relationships with external organizations and entities; and leading with exemplary character and humility, respect, integrity and trustworthiness.
The North American Communications Leadership team was formed during the training conference, and will serve the various Communications representatives across the country in their efforts to strategically build bridges between ISKCON and the world the organization lives within, through friendship, win-win situations, and compassion.[ anuttama ] [ communications ] [ north-america ]