Mayapur, A Spiritual City

I n 1974 , S rila P rabhupada was looking out from his room at ISKCON’s Mayapur, when he noticed a group of village chil­ dren fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. Shocked and sad­ dened by what he saw, Srila Prabhu­ pada turned to his disciple and said, “Imagine how hungry they are! Krish­ na is the Supreme Father, and where ever the Father is, children should not go hungry.” He gave a mandate: No one within ten miles radius of ISKCON Mayapur temple should go hungry. He wrote to one of the temple presidents, “Our temple should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiri­ tual knowledge.” These prophetic and historic words rang loudly and in­ spired his followers to expand into a global network of prasadam distribu­ tion services. Food for Life as the name suggests is a unique project for bringing food and life to the needy of the world through the liberal distribution of karma-free vegetarian meals. To expand this proj­ ect to benefit underprivileged people in the country, ISKCON has formed a non-profit, non-religious, non-sectar­ ian charitable food distribution pro­ gram, ISKCON FOOD FOR LIFE. The Food For Life program in Sri Mayapur consists of three main components: 1. Dhamvasi Seva: Twice a week public distribution to more than 2000 poor and needy villagers from the

area and five day’s a week distribution to approximately 1500 children and mursing and pregnent mothers. 2. Pilgrims Seva: Every day ISKCON distributes more than 2000 plates of food to the visitors. 3. Flood relief: During the massive f loods that occur on a regular basis in West Bengal Mayapur Food For Life helps launch extensive relief ef forts and is able to deliver by boat more than 5,000 meals a day to stranded villagers. Prasadam is cooked and dis­ tributed from sunrise to sunset during f loods. Over the last 30 years hundreds of volunteers are distributing food in and around Mayapur to establish this vegetarian food relief services. The to­ tal amounts to more than 30,000 free meals per week or more than a million meals per year. R ecognizing education as being es­ sential for the development of the individual and society, ISKCON runs a government acredited school, charg­ ing minimal fees due to generous sponsorships from well-wishers. With over 500 students already the school plans to expand further to better fulfill the needs of the commu­ nity. T hrougout the year ISKCON helps thousands of the local villagers by organizing health camps and distri­ buting free medicines. Last year alone 60,000 patients were treated free of cost by a team of doctors from USA. 27

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