Simple living and high thinking


It had been evident from ISKCON’s earliest days that Srila Prabhupada desired to establish farming communities. In his seven-point charter drawn up in 1966, Prabhupada mentioned how he wanted the movement “to demonstrate a simple, more natural, way of life”. Such a life (and Srila Prabhupada thought of the villages of India, where people lived just as Krsna lived) was most conducive to developing Krsna consciousness.
In his correspondence with the original founding members of New Vrndavana, ISKCON’s first farming community in North America, Prabhupada had clearly established the direction for Krsna conscious country living. Prabhupada had said he wanted the community based on Vedic ideals, everyone living simply, keeping cows, and working the land. The devotees would have to develop these ideas gradually. But even in the beginning the keynote should be “simple living and high thinking”. Because the community would remain completely aloof from the city, it would at first appear inconvenient and austere. But life would be peaceful, free from the anxieties of the artificial urban society that was based on hard work for sense gratification. And, most important, the members of such a community would be serving Krsna and chanting His name. Prabhupada wanted that this Vedic way of life should serve as a model for the rest of society.

Prabhupada’s earliest instructions for establishing Krsna conscious farming communities in the South Seas were to Tusta Krsna in early 1972. When Tusta Krsna expressed great eagerness to establish a branch of the Krsna consciousness movement in New Zealand, Prabhupada encouraged him to start at once — in the country.

Yes, go immediately to New Zealand. When you get there, don’t go to the city, but rather, open a farm and start cow protection. This will be the most influential, exemplary and important project in New Zealand. Take the boys from the city, train them.

After the first centre had been opened in Auckland, Prabhupada again wrote Tusta Krsna.

I am very happy to hear your report. Krishna is giving you facility there to develop a very nice varnasrama society in New Zealand. Try your best to develop an ideal society there, to set a perfect example to human society of how one can live very simply, chanting Hare Krishna and developing love for Krishna. Make sure that you keep the whole program pure by carefully following all the rules and regulations that I have given: rising early, attending mangala arati, and holding classes, chanting sixteen rounds daily, observing the four basic principles, no intoxication, meat-eating, etc. Then everything will be a great success.

In 1976, when both a city centre and a farm had been established in New Zealand, Prabhupada suggested to Tusta Krsna how both projects could assist each other.

The farming and opening of restaurants are correlative — in farming you produce enough milk and milk products, at least ghee. The ghee is dispatched to the restaurant in the city and with that you prepare first-class samosas, kacaris, vegetables, halava — so many things, people will like them very much. The principle is that not a drop of milk should be misused.

Such restaurants, Prabhupada explained, would also be influential in attracting people to take up spiritual life.

It is a very good idea for people to come to our vegetarian restaurant and take so many nice things. Especially the panir, fried cheese, and sandesa, kacauri, rasagulla, samosa and in this way they will forget their meat-eating. If you make a soup of fried panir with asafoetida and ginger, this will replace lobster soup nonsense. Of course we are not interested in giving them vegetarian food; we are wanting to give them prasadam. Then gradually they will become devotees.

Prabhupada was also eager to establish a Krsna conscious farming community in Australia. In January 1975, he had written Madhudvisa Swami:

Try to get some nice farm. That will be very good. If we can produce milk products and grains, there will be grand success.

On a morning walk during his last visit to Melbourne in 1976, Srila Prabhupada had been told of a 200-acre plot of land in Queensland, in Australia’s tropical north. The land, Guru Krpa had explained, was cheap and was suitable for growing produce. Prabhupada had been very enthusiastic. “So grow fruits, flowers, grains,” he said. “Keep some men there. It is very nice.”

Although the purchase had never eventuated, the devotees were enthusiastic to locate a suitable property as soon as possible.

– From “The Great Transcendental Adventure” by HG Kurma Prabhu

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