ISKCON Auckland - New Varshana
Home of New Varshana, the vibrant Hare Krishna center near Auckland, New Zealand. At a visit to the New Varshana community in Auckland, New Zealand on June 21st, New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys asked deep questions and expressed a lot of appreciation for ISKCON. The visit was the result of a long-gestating friendship with temple president Kalasamvara Dasa. “A decade ago, when he was a local MP, I would meet him every year at the Buddhist community nearby, where dignitaries are invited for Buddha’s Birthday,” Kalasamvara explains. “We developed a relationship there. He always showed an interest in what we were doing. So this year, we invited him to visit during the year-long 40th anniversary celebration of our Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari, who were installed by Srila Prabhupada in 1972.”
This June, as he was visiting local schools in the area, the Prime Minister finally had the chance to visit the ISKCON community for one hour. He first spent nearly forty minutes at the Hare Krishna School, a government funded primary school that’s one of the oldest in ISKCON. Next, Prime Minister Keys visited Sri-Sri Radha Giridhari’s temple. From the very beginning, it was clear that New Zealand’s head of government held a lot of respect for the sacred place.
Temple president Kalasamvara shows the Prime Minister around the temple.
Immediately upon entering the temple, Keys admired the beautiful oil paintings of Krishna’s pastimes on its walls and ceiling, and was particularly taken with the stained glass window work, which Kalasamvara explained the devotees had done themselves. The temple president then led Keys to the altar, where he received the Deities’ crown respectfully upon his head, and accepted charanamrita, water that has bathed the Lord’s feet.
Prime Minister Keys receives Charanamrita from the Deities. “He was especially impressed by the size of the kitchen, and the fact that we feed up to 5,000 people on our biggest festival, Sri Krishna Janmastami,” says Kalasamvara. “We also presented him with a copy of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Kurma Dasa’s cookbook Great Vegetarian Dishes. He was very happy to receive the latter, as one of his daughters is becoming a vegetarian.
Finally, the Prime Minister was served some light prasadam snacks as he continued to chat with Kalasamvara Dasa in the temple president’s office about spiritual topics. The two discussed how perceived differences in world religions are simply a misunderstanding, and the Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for ISKCON’s work in educating the youth of New Zealand.
He also enquired about ISKCON’s temples in India, and listened with interest as Kalasamvara told him about the monumental Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, West Bengal.
Web site: http://harekrishna.org.nz/ Video gallery >>