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The author of the book: Mukunda Goswami
Edition: Torchlight Publishing
Date of issue: April 10th 2001
ISBN: 1887089284
ISBN 13: 9781887089289
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 32.48 MB
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A brief history of ISKCON Communications Briefings in Hare Krishna movement

The author began his work in Hare Krishna organization as the ISKCON communi¬cations director for the opening ceremony of Mumbai temple in 1978. It was the time when ISKCON was largely viewed as a cult both in India and abroad. The leadership and its communications wing had to adapt a military-style approach to find good leadership, dedicated followers, and loyal allies. The organization needed to have sound strat¬egies, regulation, discipline, and confrontation with critics and distracters. Growing in a relatively hostile environment the group had to protect from malicious attack, and fighting for spiritual justice. ISKCON Communications Global (ICG) created favorable strategy for advancing its goals and building a comprehensive infrastructure for the 21st century. This book explains how ISKCON quietly developed its identity, and it certainly makes a good discussion topic for an undergraduate class in modern religion/new age movement or journalism or marketing. The book is described in 10 chapters and each chapter deals with ISKCON Communications Briefings (ICB) for each year starting from 1989. A major part of ICG's activity is to ensure that devotees can connect, share information, de¬bate issues, and know what is happening in ISKCON world. We learn from this book the specific problems the organization faced. This book discusses the advice provided to answer such questions as: ''Are you a cult? Doesn't singing and dancing in public put people off? Isn't public soliciting for money annoying to the public? What about murder, drug abuse, and other criminal activities in the organization?

The ICB followed a policy of strict privacy until 1991. It was thought be an "inside" information because the ISKCON distracters were not just vociferous but were also in head-hunting (paid kidnappings) and de¬programming efforts. This information ban was lifted in 1991, but the newsletter usually remained within the confines of local temples. The writings commented on events of the day: the demise of Mother Teresa and of Princess Diana, euthana-sia, nuclear proliferation, Oprah Winfrey's legal battle over meat, and issues on the environment mainly from the Hare Krishna viewpoint. In one instance in 1976, Srila Prabhupada was angered by a defamatory article that appeared in a Bombay tabloid called Blitz. The devotees contacted magazine but the stories continued for nearly a month, and later it also published favorable articles about ISKCON. The planned lawsuit was called off. Another interesting development was in 1986 in Springbook, Australia, the Krishna kids sang Hari Bandhu's arrangement of "Dear Mr. Gorbachev, Please Let Our Friends Go." This was promoted in support of the oppressed Soviet Hare Krishnas, culminating in a popular record sung by twelve-year-old Prahlada dasa, the media covered this campaign, and the two pictures (in this book) of adorable Krishna kids in traditional attire singing, and holding protest signs outside Soviet embassy in Sydney speaks volumes about the tremendous effect on the conscious of the public.

The Sunday feast is a traditional temple service followed by generous distribution of prasadam (delicious vegetarian dishes) in the form of Food for Life has helped the positive image of the organization. In the wake of a US Supreme Court decision banning collecting monies for books in US airports, ISKCON Los Angeles took its case before the Los Angeles City Council early 1990s, and its purpose was to establish its right to distribute books and collect money in the Los Angeles airport. The council agreed with ISKCON, a successful negotiating strategy worked. ISKCON used the threat of a lawsuit as a means to negotiate for a positive story. One such battle was with NBC in 1978 when NBC aired a malicious story about ISKCON's Bombay temple. The threat of lawsuit resulted in the airing of another positive story about the "Palace of Gold" in West Virginia.

Good community relations with neighbors have helped ISKCON centers in Detroit, Dallas, and Kiev (Ukraine). In 1980s, devotees in Detroit purchased several houses opposite the temple and renovated them and the local government and neighborhood associations treated this as good commu¬nity service. The area was like a slum but ISKCON volunteered to improve the neighborhood. Similar story from East Dallas, a poverty pocket of the city, but the devotees dug in, bought houses near the temple, and started renovating them. They also turned a school-house into a beautiful temple room, built up an attractive and popu¬lar restaurant, and managed all operations carefully and with great concern for the "host" community. In Ukraine, the capital city of Kiev, devotees wanted to construct five floors of a projected seven-story building, which will comprise a temple, community hall, restaurant, and living facilities for men and women. The construction site is in the middle of a suburban residential area. The devotees found themselves with no permission to build, because of widespread corruption in the government, even though they did have all the funds and building materials on hand to complete the entire structure. So they decided to begin an intensive Hare Krishna Food for Life program among their would¬-be neighbors, promising to make this a lifelong program. Local officials tried to pressure the neighbors to petition against the devotees, but to no avail. In fact, the neighbors insisted that ISKCON's plan move forward unobstructed. Their neigh¬bors became supportive of their ongoing presence in the neighborhood.



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