Sunday, 6 October 2013
Friday, 4 October 2013
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Thursday, 26 September 2013
MY VISIT TO NEW JAIPUR IN FIJI
Recently I visited New Jaipur in Fiji. Headed by Nityananda Prabhu and his good wife Sridevi Mataji, who are under the guidance and in service to our most merciful master His Divine Grace Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the most beautiful Sri Sri Radha Govinda, the presiding deities of New Jaipur.
ARRIVAL: I arrived in Nadi and was greeted by Nityananda Prabhu. Catching the next flight to Labasa. All I can think of is how warm it is and how pink my face is going and how beautiful the ocean looks down below....grateful to the air hostess man for the cool bottled water. Nityananda Prabhu had to pick up building material for New Jaipur like cement and pipes, so I tagged along and got a tour of Labasa. I spot at least 3 Mosques and see a lot of Indian influence. Heading to SavuSavu, Fiji so far reminds me of India, with out all the pollution and masses of people. Lots of trucks stacked with sugar cane are frequently spotted.
Next up - New Jaipur! The road is gravel and it's great! One bus refuses to let us pass..."New bus driver," reckons Nityananda Prabhu. We finally reach New Jaipur and this 800acre farm is beautiful, peaceful and the perfect place for simple living and higher thinking.
We reach the house...THE HOUSE. I was expecting little grass huts or something, but no, it's a lovely house, build with wood milled on the farm, from the farm and has guest facilities. Enough bathrooms to avoid early morning queues and A VIEW! A view of the pacific ocean...how can you not think of and remember Krsna here?
Greeted by the gracious Sridevi Mata, I immediately feel welcome. The children Saradiya, SriGovinda and Shyamananda are friendly and introduce me to their pet Hari, a musk parrot who can say his own name. Vrnda (a Native fijian young woman who has taken up the process of Krsna Consciousness, chanting 16 rounds a day and attending mangal arti every morning) greets me shyly and continues with her service. Sridevi offers me some delicious prasadam and I take darshan of the most beautiful Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Srila Prabhupadas murti form looks on and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to come here. Thank you Krsna!
THE FARM: Fiji is a perfect place for simple living, as the native people live simply and off the land mostly. The soil at New Jaipur is fertile and the farm has a fresh water spring and river. So far, they have planted citrus orchards and different vegetables, including Mung beans! Also while I was visiting, I got to help thresh the rice that they had grown and harvested.
Morning programs and japa are the order of the day and fresh papaya prasadam for breakfast if you like! :) Picking fresh water crest from the creek. Swims in the river after a hot day. Coconut and papaya trees everywhere. Weeding and watering the garden. How beautiful is Lord Krsnas creation. Eggplants growing and workers clearing the land for the Temple. Star fruits strewn across the lawn. There is talk of cows coming soon! Flowers blooming for tomorrows artike.
PREACHING: But if you think it's all too much simple living and not enough opportunity to preach, it's off to town (SavuSavu) on Saturday morning. Sixty minutes later we're in town and setting up the Sankirtan table. Srila Prabhupada’s original books, little packets of prasadam sweets (delicious!) and of course the Holy Name. The whole family takes part in this preaching activity. Saradiya is on mrdanga, with Vrnda on kartals chanting.
Sridevi mata preaches, sells a Bhagavad Gita As It Is!!! (Jay Haribol!!!) and sells the prasadam sweets at the table while the boys, Sri Govinda and Shymananda do a bit of book and prasadam distribution on the main street. Nityananda Prabhu dashes here and there to collect different things needed to continue to develop New Jaipur. The fresh market here in town, is open all week and the stall holders are friendly. A Ratha Yatra in this cute little town would be wonderful! Padayatra in Fiji will be really successful too! So much mercy to be had! We are all invited to one devotee ladies house for a little program. Class, kirtan and prasadam. Great way to end the day.
TRANSCENDENTAL MUSEUM: Just when I thought I could not be wowed anymore by the sincere efforts of this family I get to take a tour of Srila Prabhupadas museum. I will not spoil it and describe what you will find inside this room of treasures...so, you have to go there, if you want to get the mercy. :)
VISIT NEW JAIPUR: This project has great potential. I would recommend any devotee who is serious about simple living and higher thinking and fulfilling the orders of Srila Prabhupada to establish these varnashrama communities to check out New Jaipur in Fiji and to bring your simple living and higher thinking skills. Obviously, it is a work in progress and thus far there is only Nityananda Prabhu and his family living there.
But with the input of more sincere Prabhupada disciples, who are really into simple living and higher thinking, this project can become a huge success and in my mind, it already is. So if you are craving simple living within the association of like minded devotees, book your tickets today! :) You won't regret it. Since I've been back home, all I can think of is going back, so you may regret one thing...leaving New Jaipur. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who inspires us all to live in Vrndavan villages! All glories to Sri Krsna, the eternal cowherd boy, who cares for His cows, who frolicks on the banks of the Yamuna and plays with His friends in the forests of Vrndavan!
Auckland, New Zealand
OUR TRIP TO NEW JAYAPUR
When we visited New Jaipur Dham, the Prabhupadanuga farm community near Savusavu, in Vanua Levu Island, on the Northern side of Fiji, in September 2013, we were very impressed with what we saw, spending a wonderful three days there with the devotees.
We were greeted in true Vaisnava fashion, and were made to feel very much at home. Everything there was first class. We were given a nice room to sleep in, in their huge brand new ashram. The devotees there Nityananda das, his wife, SriDevi dasi, and their adorable kids, 12 year old daughter Saradia, Shyam, who is ten, and little Sri Govinda, eight, the young sons. Also, the only native Fijian Prabhupadanuga in all of Fiji, Vrinda devi. All nice humble Vaisnavas.
We were also very fortunate to be in New Jaipur for Radhastami. To be with the devotees in their beautiful temple room was just heavenly. The little devotees doing the offering at mangala artik so well. Nityananda Prabhu has trained his children very well.
New Jaipur consists of approximately 850 acres of Fiji forest and flat lands, with a few rivers running through it providing much fresh water. The favorable weather is good for growing coconut, bananas, papaya, pineapple, taro, cassava and much more, and Nityananda Prabhu has been working very hard planting thousands of trees and vegetables. There is an orchard with all kinds of fruits, so everything is growing beautifully, and all the Prasad we ate was all organically home grown.
The main house is huge, with six bedrooms and four bathrooms, plus living room, kitchen and a large temple room where in you will find the beautiful marble deities of Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Together with a very nice full sized murti of Srila Prabhupada.
Nityananda Prabhu is building five cottages for prospective members. The rule is that they give one fifth of what they grow, to the Deity. The cottages are located not far from the main house, and also near the proposed new temple complex to be situated on the top the hill behind the house.
The thing that impressed me most was the Museum around the back of the main house. There, you can see Srila Prabhupada’s personal Mercedes car, the one that took him to and from the airport and other locations in and around Southern California in the seventies. Nityananda Prabhu has collected a mass of Srila Prabhupada memorabilia, comprising papers, photos, magazines, press cuttings, travel documents, passports, signed books, clothing, paintings and even Srila Prabhupada’s old 1950’s typewriter.
The weather was just beautiful. Fresh sea breezes, as New Jaipur is overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which was just a pretty sight from any part of the house. We saw a thunderstorm one morning during Guru puja, the lashing rain almost drowning out our singing, then, later on, white puffy clouds populated the sky, and at night, because of the absence of street lighting, countless stars twinkled in the night sky, shining brilliantly.
So, if you get the chance to visit Fiji, stay at the holy dhama in Savusavu with Nityananda Prabhu and his family. You’ll love it. Hope to see you all there.
Your humble servants,
Pranav das and Bhaktin Stella
Los Angeles, USA.
VEDIC VILLAGE REVIEW # 28
September 27, 2013. Adventures in New Jayapur, Prabhupadanuga Farm in Fiji
MUSINGS ON THE HILLSIDE
It is Sunday again, and I am with the three children for their weekly garden expedition. It is good for them to practice their earthly skills and learn the ways of nature and how to grow garden produce. At least we are trying to move towards self-sufficiency, be it slowly and bit by bit, gradually shedding our modern “civilization” conditionings. We are part time gardeners, coming an hour twice a week. Still, though we are inexperienced, the good mother earth yields us something according to our efforts. We have 8 rows mostly with French, mung, and long beans. There is a row of staked tomatoes, some baby okra plants, and a dozen young pumpkin plants. Half is mulched with sawdust, which really helps control the weeds and grass.
Although the primary necessity is weeding, the children prefer to plant seeds and harvest- look! Our first tomato! Two, actually, and more coming… We find that we should pick them small and green before the worms discover they are getting ripe. They will ripen on the kitchen counter, away from the worms. We also pinch the top of the plants at about 3 or 4 feet so they will branch out more.
I had taken a file to sharpen my hoe blade, and it chops the weeds’ roots quite easily, but is still hard on my back. In Auckland I found a little hand weed chopper that works really well, and the kids try it out in turns. After awhile we head back to the pigeon peas. These 10 foot high bushes give 3 inch pods of large peas that go into the dahl or the veggie dishes, and are high in protein. It is a grain that is easy to grow, bearing in cycles every few weeks or so. In Panama they gave out after a year; we have yet to see what will happen here in Fiji. As I reach for and pull down the straight branches to pluck off the ripe pods (you squeeze them gently to see if the peas inside are mature), I glance down below at the three cottages that are under construction, and I begin to muse…
How many devotees will be able (and willing) to extricate themselves from their modern circumstances, giving up their city lives, jobs, supermarkets, grid power, the crutch of sending their children off to the “slaughterhouse” public schools- and actually shift out of that kind of trap into a simple lifestyle in one of these basic cottages, here in the South Pacific? It is as yet an unanswered question, although some interested parties are scheduled to visit and see firsthand what all this might entail. The theoretical understanding may be there, and the intelligence has perhaps even accepted the principle of simple living, and it is also clear that Srila Prabhupada wanted the future of his Hare Krishna movement to expand along the lines of rural devotional communities based on land and cows.
To change one’s life so drastically would normally be very hard, especially it is later in life. But devotees naturally begin to simply their lives as they advance in spiritual consciousness, even while they reside in cities or towns. Gradually comes the detachment to unnecessary things and artificial lifestyles, and attraction to the mode of goodness found in the countryside becomes stronger- and one day… it is time to make the jump! From New York City or wherever, the subways, skyscrapers, and air pollution- to the tropical islands, parroted rainforests, and pure air, water, and soil… of a Prabhupadanuga farm. And if world events deteriorate as quickly as they seem they will, surely our cottages and guest rooms will soon be taken with devotees even more inexperienced than ourselves! From somewhere, I feel an urgency to complete the list of basic project developments (a few more roads, two bridges, fields cleared, agricultural pioneering, and the five cottages too, of course).
We have an amazing property of virgin rainforest, 857 acres in size, and no debt. We have our own little river and a very suitable warm climate with plenty of rain. We have Sri Sri Radha Govinda, Their Most Beautiful Lordships to preside over us with Their boundless mercies. We have fortunately understood the critical and paramount importance of keeping Srila Prabhupada in the center as our bonafide siksha and diksha spiritual master. Krishna has given us a complete package, and it is not ours to keep for ourselves alone, but to share with other likeminded devotees who may wish to join in this transcendental adventure of simple living and Krishna consciousness in the South Seas.
Our Vedic village has a plan laid out in a project constitution. For those without sufficient means, through an application process, cottages and leased land are free to those who wish to take part in Prabhupada’s farm village. Residents will contribute one fifth of whatever they produce to the project. It is a Vedic concept, the way the human society was before Kali Yuga started, and like it was for millions of years. Varnashram dharma must be re-instituted because it is Krishna’s arrangement for making spiritual progress in the material world. While the present demoniac civilization degenerates into unemployment, poverty, war, and miserable chaos, the disciples of Srila Prabhupada, the Jagat Guru, must try to distribute and implement Prabhupada’s teachings around the world… including the “second half” of the Hare Krishna movement, namely the farm projects, or Vedic villages. We pray that New Jayapur here in Fiji will be a part of this Vedic revival of humanity.
After the rice was cut with small sickles, stacked in round heaps, and covered tarps, it turned rainy for a week. As the skies looked to be clearing, I drove over to the Dongoro Indian settlement a few miles away. Jayapal somehow had heard that I was coming, and opened his wire gate at the end of a long and muddy entrance drive. His great grandfather had come from India to work in the sugar cane fields near Labasa, and his grandfather had bought their 800 acres for 200 British pounds well before the 1930’s Depression. This was a rice farm, with great expanses of low-lying flats between the river, the hills, and the vast, swamp of mangrove forests. Jayapal was growing rice on only a fraction of the land his ancestors did.
We loaded the portable Chinese made rice thrasher with a 3 Hp gas engine into the back of my pickup. I tied it down with a couple ropes. Asking about how to thrash the rice, and then what to do after that, Jayapal just grinned and said he would be over the next morning to show me everything. He did just that, bringing 4 others with him too. We set up the thrasher next to the rice stacks, and pulled back the tarp to find that it was leaky and the rice stalks were quite soaked. Fortunately the rice seeds had not started to germinate. Starting the engine, several guys began throwing clumps of rice stalks into the thrasher mouth. The machine beat the stalks onto a spinning drum and the seeds fell down onto the tarp while the soggy and mashed stalks blew out the back.
Since the stalks were wet, rice stuck onto them, and with sticks two men flipped and shook sections in the air to dislodge the loose seeds, then tossed the empty clumps of stalks aside. Suvarnamanjari Prabhu, visiting from New Zealand, and myself did the same by hand. It was sort of fun. Definitely a new experience- the slightly moldy harvest dust was billowing around, everyone was busy, all 9 of us now. After a little over an hour, it was done. By hand we sifted more stalks out of the rice piles on the tarps, then bagged the seeds up. I got some cookies and sodas from the farm canteen (general store), passed them out, and drove Jayapal and the thrasher back to his farm.
The rice seeds were brought up to the dharmashalla and we spread them on tarps under the porches, out of the rain. Whenever the sun came out, we dragged the rice tarps into the yard and turned the seeds over for drying. There was still plenty of moist stalk chips mixed with the rice, so we devised a screening method with large crates that had narrow slots in their bottoms. Shaking the crates, the rice was again purified, so to speak, a little further. The next day was sunny with a strong breeze. With 2 foot plastic pans, Vrinda, Saradiya, and I began winnowing the rice by tossing some up in the air to allow the breeze to blow aside the fluffy stalk pieces. By eye, we picked out some odd pieces like small stones or wood debris. After a couple hours, we had clean rice seeds in 4 big flour sacks.
Soon thereafter I needed to go to Labasa and dropped off the rice sacks outside town with an Indian boy who milled rice with his father’s tractor-powered husking machine. Returning a few days later, paying $7 in fees, I took away 3 bags of husked rice. The Indian boy asked about our farm, said “Haribol!” and advised that the rice was mostly broken because we must have let it get wet after cutting, which was true. We should have thrashed sooner after the harvest, and the rice would be higher quality. This was our first crop, and we are still learning the tricks about rice farming. There was over twice the amount we had planted, a good and normal return for broadcast planting.
I brought some to the kitchen and we have been cooking the farm rice with our daily deity lunch offerings. The taste is a little more crunchy and filling than the white polished jasmine rice we have been accustomed to, and the kids were not used to it, so I sold it all to the workers who were more familiar with local rice. Next time we will improve on our techniques, having learned from our first successful grain production adventure.
NEWS BY BITS & PIECES
We have sent the deposit off to New Zealand for six Guernsey milk calves- one bred heifer 20 months, three heifer calves, 2 bull calves (7 month calves). They are being chosen, tested, and gathered in preparation for air shipment to Fiji by March 2014. This will be the only pure Guernsey herd in Fiji, probably the only pure herd of anything in Fiji! This is a major commitment and step in fulfilling our destiny… (actually our humble attempt to serve Srila Prabhupada).
The cottages are going slowly, so far we have 5 septic systems complete and 3 concrete slabs done.
We have planted 7650 dalo (taro) which will be ready to harvest in 7-8 months. We fertilized them with goat manure (bought locally for $5 a huge sack)… after all, we are an organic farm, right? Dalo will finance our continued development and construction next year.
In the last month we have had some visiting devotees. First Suvarnamanjari dasi came for 10 days from New Zealand and was a blissful guest who is very focused on various self sufficiency skills and techniques. She will bring us next time some cotton seeds and just acquired a beautiful wooden loom. Then Pranav and Stella Prabhus came from Los Angeles. Stella is a native Fijian Indian and had returned to Fiji to visit family. They stayed a few days and enjoyed the South Pacific experience in New Jayapur. Next it was Dharmabhavana and JaiGovinda Prabhus from Dallas. She is also a native Fijian Indian with relatives to visit. They took long walks and will retire soon to the Fijian countryside, perhaps here.
We acquired 1000 sandalwood seeds and will be now trying to sprout them, planting very steep hillsides in this valuable timber for future resource and, of course, the deities’ sandalwood reserves. The vegetable garden at the bottom of the hill is proving to be too wet an area and we are noting the bean stems rotting and the tomatoes behaving stunted. Yesterday we dug up a small area on top the ridge near the passion fruit vines as a new garden spot (eventually there should be many…). We moved the small okras and it looks like 20 will survive the shift, also a dozen smaller tomatoes were brought up.
Yours in Prabhupada’s service,
New Jayapur, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands
PS. If you would like to be added to our regular mailings of Vedic Village Review news bulletins, please send us an email at email@example.com, or send us your feedback and news from your side. Please write if you want to make any donation to New Jayapur. Hare Krishna! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!