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Conference Report: ISKCON Communications Europe Leadership Team (ICELT) annual meeting

Lal Krishna Dasa

29 April – 3 May 2003
ISKCON, Nava Jiyada Nrsimha Ksetra, Germany

Conference Report: Vaisnava Alliance of Care-Providers: Second Annual Mental Health Conference

Candramukhi Dasi and Aghari Dasa

‘Counselling, Therapy, and Social Care: A Krsna Conscious Perspective’

31 May – 1 June 2003
ISKCON Potomac, USA

Dealing with Difference: A Catholic Point of View

Mons. Felix Machado

This paper is based on a talk given by Monsignor Felix Machado of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican’s central office for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue, in April 2004 at the annual ISKCON Communications Europe Leadership Team meetings near Bergamo, Italy. In this paper Mons. Machado argues that interfaith dialogue does not require difference be ignored for fear of offending. Quite the opposite: he argues that difference must be acknowledged and respected before proper inter-religious understanding can take place, and that ignoring difference is more likely to lead to a breakdown of relations between people of different faiths. Here he examines some of the unique difficulties and opportunities presented by Christian theology in interfaith dialogue and how Christian doctrine regards the diversity of faith that now pervades almost all societies. This paper and the talk it is based on mark a significant development in ISKCON dialogue with other faith traditions, a dialogue that was begun in earnest with the 1999 statement: ISKCON in Relation to People of Faith in God.

Devotees of Krsna in Slovenia

Ales Crnic

This paper is the result of a survey of ISKCON in Slovenia. It contains comparisons between the devotee community and the wider Slovene population as well as between devotees and Slovene Catholics. As well as being a useful guide to the changes in ISKCON in Slovenia, this paper is a textbook example of the changes that many ISKCON communities faced throughout the 1990s. It documents the shift from temple-based communities to more congregationally-based communities. It highlights the factors that caused this shift and the effects of that shift on an ISKCON community.

Editing the Unchangeable Truth: An Overview of the Editorial History of the Books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Jayadvaita Swami

‘Don’t add anything. Don’t subtract anything. Don’t change anything.’ This was the instruction ISKCON’s founder-acarya, Srila Prabhupada, many times gave to his disciples. Yet some disciples he engaged to edit his words for publication—that is (by definition) to add, subtract, and change. Here I present a brief history of that editorial work.

God and Science: Christian and Vaisnava Perspectives

Jonathan B. Edelmann

This phenomenal world or material world in which we are placed is complete in itself because the twenty-four elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation, according to Sankhya philosophy, are completely adjusted to produce complete resources which are necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. There is nothing extraneous, nor is there anything needed. (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)(1)

Hermeneutical Strategies in Jīva Gosvāmī’s Bhāgavata-sandarbha

Ravi M. Gupta

The task of a Vedantic commentator is to show that his philosophical viewpoint consistently and comprehensively explains the entire body of scriptural texts. This interpretive task becomes especially challenging in two areas where scripture often makes conflicting statements: the nature of Brahman and the relation of the world to Brahman. In this essay, Ravi Gupta shows how Jīva Gosvāmī addresses these two Vedantic concerns from a Caitanya Vaiṣṇava standpoint in Bhāgavata-sandarbha. The key to Jīva Gosvāmī’s hermeneutical strategy lies in the concept of Bhagavān, which is the starting point for the doctrines of a three-fold Godhead and a three-fold energy. Gupta argues that these two well-known doctrines are more than ontological claims about the nature of Divinity; they also serve as hermeneutical tools to explain, interpret, and reconcile conflicting scriptural statements.

Krsna Conscious Co-Counselling: A Peer-Counselling Model for Vaisnava Society

Aghari Dasa (Andrew Marks) and Chandramukhi Dasi (Chandra Wright Marks)

Care within any society requires listening skills; skills that are not always available when needed. In this article, the authors propose a grass-roots system of peer-counselling as a way of helping individuals to cope with life’s problems. At the same time care is taken to ensure that the principles of Vaisnavism and peer counselling do not clash.

Preserving Prabhupada’s Legacy

Ranjit Dasa

The early years of ISKCON were times of intense activity under the guidance of ISKCON’s founder, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada actively embraced twentieth-century technology to broadcast his message, ensuring an enormous legacy of photographs, writings, sound and video recordings, and other materials. Within the whirlwind that was ISKCON in its early days, there was a danger that some of this valuable material would be lost. The Bhaktivedanta Archives, which this year marks its 25(th) anniversary, is charged with the task of collecting, restoring, and maintaining material from this time. In this article, Ranjit Dasa outlines the history of the Bhaktivedanta Archives, examines the challenges facing the Archives, and the strategies adopted to meet these challenges.

Psychological characteristics of ISKCON members

Dr Tadeusz Doktor (Institute for Social Sciences, Warsaw University)

There is a question of great interest in countries where ISKCON’s freedom to practice may be under threat: What effect does membership of ISKCON have on the personality and mental health of its members? Dr Tadeusz Doktor of Warsaw University notes that, although mental health is often mentioned in debates on religious freedom, actual scientific research is rarely referred to. In this paper he begins to address this deficiency by summarising the major research projects on this subject. Are the effects of membership negative or positive? How do these changes occur over time? How do they compare to those experienced by converts to other traditions? A further question: Do these findings take into account possible conflicts between concepts of ‘normality’ in western and eastern societies?

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