His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami
I supervise a special community in Pennsylvania, USA. When Srila Prabhupada left Vrindavana in August 1977 to go back to America, he was on his way to this particular community, Gita Nagari. There he wanted to teach varnasrama dharma to the devotees. Srila Prabhupada wanted to show the example of self-sufficiency, simple living and high thinking.
This is the theme I am working on, and the first aspect we emphasize is improving relationships among devotees. Before starting this movement, while based in Vrindavana, Srila Prabhupada wrote “The Gita Nagari Prophecy.” In this document, he explained that he wanted a community for the heart and that Gita Nagari should be a community for the heart. Prabhupada wanted to see a place where the focus is not on external things, but a place that is a hospital for the heart. In Gita Nagari we are trying to give emphasis to the heart, to developing sweet sadhu relationships among Vaisnavas. We have love-discussions on
how the different ashrams can help one another and how individual devotees can help one another. We have many, many meetings and istha-ghosthis where the congregation shares on issues such as how to take better care of children. We promote samskaras and we perform them in ways that foster a sense of community. We celebrate together when a couple gets married or a baby is born, when a child takes grains for the first time, or starts going to school or goes through his first hair-cutting ceremony.
Now Gita Nagari is a small community of about sixty devotees. Many own their house and land. We grow food through both personal and community farming. We encourage devotees to use alternative sources of energy and to make herbal medicines. We’re looking into traditional methods of construction and into an alternative educational system. We research how to be less and less dependent on material culture. In Gita Nagari we have people from different backgrounds and different countries, but the emphasis is on creating a spiritual atmosphere even within the material realm. If we can raise our consciousness by love-association, we can create Satya-yuga within Kali-yuga. That’s the meditation among the devotees there.
(Excerpt from the book The Nectar of Congregational Preaching by ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry)
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