Around 800 devotees gathered in Mayapur to attaned the annual ISKCON Leadership Sanga
The 2014 ISKCON Leadership Sanga (ILS) was inaugurated on Sunday, February 16, 2014 in Sridham Mayapur. During and after the morning program, crowds of devotees could be seen registering for the event whereupon each attendee was given a reusable jute bag packed with goodies including a schedule, a pen, a notepad, a map and various fliers highlighting numerous projects and resources.
After a satisfying breakfast, devotees made their way to one of three huge pandals set up to take part in a wonderful guru puja kirtan led by Kadamba Kanana Swami. After invoking prayers, members of the GBC’s Strategic Planning Team (SPT) took to the stage and welcomed the eight hundred devotees who had gathered from all corners of the world. After a brief introduction about the work of the GBC’s SPT, attendees were left with a dual call to action: To take the knowledge and tools that will be presented during the next eight days and take them home to 1) help manifest the GBC’s strategic plan within the different yatras around the world; and 2) share that inspiration to help empower local and up-and-coming leaders.
After a quick recap of the eighty-eight various seminars and workshops that will be presented during the next eight days and their locations, participants dispersed to the first session of the day. Despite the rain, smiles were abundant and the anticipation and excitement for the upcoming days could be felt in the air.
Day 1 consisted of three sessions during which at least ten seminars would run in parallel per session. Heads could be seen huddled together as groups of devotees consulted their schedules and decided which ones to attend. These seminars represent the results of months of hard work and time put in by the GBC’s strategic planning committees.
Seminars such as Effective Outreach (Outreach Committee), How to Implement the 5 Steps of Succession and Identify Future Leaders (Succession Committee), Devotee Care Through Cow Care (Devotee Care Committee), Invest in the Future (Education Committee), and To Love is to Cooperate (Srila Prabhupada’s Position Committee) were just a handful of the numerous seminars devotees had the opportunity to attend.
After attending the first session, devotees were warmly greeted into a huge pandal where prasadam was served. Conversations about the experiences of each seminar filled the atmosphere along with the delighted exclamations of seeing friends from different places around the world.
The afternoon consisted of two more back-to-back sessions whereupon devotees could be seen carrying numerous umbrellas to avoid the heavy rains. Despite the weather, spirits were high and after dinner attendees got the chance to spend time with one another and attend the evening program.
Day 2 of the 2014 ISKCON Leadership Sanga (ILS) began with the full morning program, which was capped off with an insightful class by Krsna-ksetra Das who continued on the theme of leadership. Krsna-ksetra Das offered a very practical approach to successful leadership by offering four basic principles: vision, inspiration, facilitation and continuous self-reflection.
After a hearty breakfast, attendees congregated in the huge tent where the destinations of the two parikramas (pilgrimage), as well as the parikrama leaders, scheduled for the afternoon were announced. Devotees could choose to go to Lord Chaitanya’s birthplace and Srivas Angam with Lokanath Swami or a join the parikrama led by Bhakti Chaitanya Swami to the birthplace of Bhaktivinod Thakur and Surabhi Kunja.
Devotees also learned about the hard work and efforts of Ravindra Svarupa Das who has spent years researching and putting together a small book on the position of Srila Prabhupada called “Srila Prabhupada The Founder Acharya of ISKCON – A GBC Foundational Document”. Before leaving the tent to attend the morning seminars, devotees were presented with complimentary copies to take home.
With only two seminar slots taking place in the morning, devotees had the opportunity to attend talks such as Unity in Diversity (Strategic Planning Team), Being Trusting and Trustworthy (Devotee Care), Harmonizing Lines of Authority (Lines of Authority Committee), Srila Prabhupada: The Living Bhagavatam (Srila Prabhupada Position Committee), The Avanti Schools Model (Education Committee) or a Theatre Arts Workshop (VANDE) which were among the twenty two seminars offered in the morning.
The theme for the afternoon was “sanga, sanga, sanga” (or ‘association with one another’.) As devotees congregated in the two pre-assigned meeting places to go on the two parikramas the sound of the holy name was in the air along with happy smiles, introductions and the sharing of realizations from the various seminars.
As happy devotees returned back having made new friends and their feet bathed in the dust of the dham (holy land), a healthy dinner was awaiting them after which devotees had the opportunity to continue to associate with one another and attend the evening program in the temple.
Article written by: Vrndavana Vinodini Dasi