Vraja will again be known for its cow wealth

Vrindavan, May 23 2015: While the Brajwasis demanded to save the cow wealth of Vraja, the Divisional Commissioner, Shri Pradeep Bhatnagar promised to take all the necessary steps to protect the cows in the Mathura District by promoting the cow economy.
A conference held on Saturday at Jai Singh Gheara, to save the cow wealth and promoting the cow economy. The conference was organized by Friends of Vrindavan in which many goshala owners, local brajwasis, environmentalists, farmers and activists participated.
In his welcome speech, Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami threw light on the theme of the conference and stressed the need of protecting the pasture land for the cow grazing. He said, “The cultural disconnection with the tradition is the root cause of the distressed condition of the cows. The holy texts of Vaishnavism clearly stateDSC_0075DSC_0128

DSC_0069image001 that only cow milk should be used for the abhishek of the deities.” Goswami ji further added, “The tradition of the cow based sustainable economy should be revived. Cow based sustainability is being practiced since the time of Krishna, as 56 kunds were built alone by Nand Baba in Nandgaon to facilitate the drinking water for the cows.”
Many other speakers also addressed the conference to point out the problems which the cows and the goshalas are facing today. They emphasized on protecting the cows from being stolen in the night and making the goshalas self sustainable.
The Divisional Commissioner advocated for the greater synergy between the traditional cow economics with the modern day technology. He said, “The cows dung (gobar) and cow urine which is abundantly available in the record numbers of goshalas of the Mathura District must be used for the organic farming. The cow dung can help regain the lost fertility of the land. The organic farming will be promoted to ban the use of the chemical fertilizers in the phased manner. The farmers of Mathura and Vrindavan will be encouraged to use the organic manure by producing the vermi – compost.”
Shri Bhatnagar felt that Vraja should be known for its cow economy. He said that the cow and their grazing pastures will not only be protected but urgent measures would also be taken to reclaim Yamuna flood plains for developing new grazing ground for the cattle.
“We shall contact various agencies for the marketing of the cow products, which will boost the cow economy. A committee would be shortly constituted comprising of the goshala owners, environmentalists and departmental heads to suggest measures and monitor steps taken to transform Mathura district as a model of sustainable based on cattle wealth and forest produce,” added Shri Bhatnagar.
The commissioner was concerned about the excessive use of the chemical in the form of soil nutrients, insecticides and pesticides, which was affecting the fertility of the soil and causing serious health problems.
Shri Braj Khandelwal, Baba Ful Dol Bihari Das, Shravan Kumar, Swami Dev Swaroopananda, Bihari Lal Bashishtha, Acharya Naresh Narayan, Baba Jai Krishna Das, Jagannath Poddar, Dr. Suresh Dwivedi, Damodar Das Shashtri, Go Sevak Alok, Pradyumna Pratap Singh, Madhumangal Shukla, Ramesh Chandra Vidhishashtri, Nagri Das Baba, Shri Krishna Saras and many other addressed the conference.

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Students concerned of diminishing green cover

DSC_36221 (6)Vrindavan, April 22nd 2015: Samvid Gurukulam in collaboration with Friends of Vrindavan celebrated the World Earth Day on 22nd April in the campus of the Samvid Gurukulam. A seminar was organized in the assembly hall of the school in which the students discussed various environmental issues. Some guest speakers were also invited to interact with the students on this occasion. The students were worried about the diminishing green cover. They made a commitment to plant at least one tree in their life and nurture them to grow. But they were concerned about the non – availability of enough land where the trees could be planted.

In her welcome speech Smt. Gurinder Kaur, the principal of the school said, “The first step to become the Eco School has been taken, as we have partnered with Friends of Vrindavan to make our school as an Eco school. We have initiated the garbage management practices in the school by segregating the garbage and sending it to the FoV’s recycling units. We shall jointly plant trees in the school campus during monsoon.”

Dr. Arvind Kumar, the Scientific Officer of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) said, “The recent hailstorm was the result of the excessive pollution. We should do massive plantation and discourage the cutting of the trees. Unfortunately there is only three percent green cover in our district. We need to increase the green cover working closely with the forestry department. The UPPCB will sponsor as many trees as required by the students to plant in the school or any other place which may be adopted for the tree plantation.”

Shri V.P. Singh the Executive Engineer of the Electricity Department advocated the use of the organic manure in the farms. He said that if the farmers used the organic manure in their farm instead of the chemical fertilizers there would have been less damage of the crops. He asked the students to adopt the organic lifestyle.

Acharya Naresh Narayan, the editor of the spiritual magazine of the Anant Sandesh stressed the need of water conservation in Vraja. He expressed his concern on falling of the water table in various parts of Mathura. He advocated to reviving the traditional water harvesting systems by restoring the old water bodies.

Jagannath Poddar from Friends of Vrindavan said, the small steps taken by the students for the environment conservation will have big impact. He asked the students to go for the zero waste policy. He emphasized on the proper waste segregation at the source. The garbage should never be burnt to minimize it. It emits poisonous gases which is harmful for the health and environment.

The students asked many questions on the measures of the environment protection from the guest speakers. In the end of the interactive session, the students planted some trees in the school campus with a promise to do a large scale tree plantation during the monsoon.

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Students clean Vrindavan station in support of Modi’s Swacch Bharat Mission

1 (6)DSC_3622Vrindavan, 2nd October: To strengthen the Clean India Campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s dream for a clean and developed nation, Indian Railways joined hands with Friends of Vrindavan to clean the Vrindavan Railway Platform. Friends of Vrindavan and its eco-school partner Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and International School (Iskcon) together cleaned the Vrindavan railway platform which had remained neglected for a long time.
The students of the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula cleaned the railway track near the platform. Hundreds of baskets full of garbage were removed by the students with the support of the FOV volunteers. Other local residents also joined the drive to encourage the students.
Shri Dhananjay Gautam a local priest said that the Vrindavan railway station should be developed as a heritage station. The toilets are never opened and cleaned. Vrindavan is increasingly becoming a tourist destination for pilgrims. Its railway station should be developed in a way that could attract more people to this pilgrimage town. Vrindavan should be connected with the other pilgrimage towns through the railway system.
Shri V.K. Dwivedi, the Assistant Commercial Manager of the Railways administered the Svaccha Bharat oath to the railway staff, the local residents and the Gurukula students present at the station. V.K. Singh, the Reservation Supervisor of the Vrindavan station was also present during the event.
The students read the pledge, “I will remain committed towards cleanliness and devote time for this. I will devote 100 hours per year that is two hours per week to voluntary work for cleanliness. I will neither litter nor let others litter. I will encourage 100 other persons to take this pledge which I am taking today. With this belief, I will propagate the message of Swachh Bharat Mission in villages and the towns” along with the some other pledges.
Jagannath Poddar, Director of Friends of Vrindavan, said “We have already dedicated ourselves to making Vrindavan clean, but we can only be successful in our mission when littering is punished by fining offenders.”

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‘Water conference’ organised on Vedic water day

IMG-20150322-WA0001IMG-20150322-WA0001IMG-20150322-WA0013IMG-20150322-WA0008March 23, 2015: In a unique move Friends of Vrindavan celebrated the appearance day of the Matsya Avatar by organizing ‘Vraja water- conference’. The occasion coincided with the International Day for water conservation or the World Water Day. More than fifty activists participated in the conference which deliberated on the impending water crisis in the region and adopted a Vrindavan declaration listing 20 demands, including one that calls for fair sharing of Yamuna water by cities downstream of the hathini Kund barrage in Haryana. The speakers raised different water issues in the conference in front of the Chief Development Officer of the Mathura, who represented the Mathura District Administration.
In his inaugural address, His Holiness Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami ji Maharaj narrated, “There is a scientific reason for celebrating the water day on the appearance day of the Matsya Avatar. Matsya is believed to symbolize the first stage of evolution, as aquatic life was the first being on earth. Fish is the symbol of transformation and creation. This is observed in the ancient history in which Vishnu transformed himself into a fish (Matsya) to save the world from a great flood. In this form, he guided king Manu’s boat (which contained selected few survivors & seed of life to re –create the world after the flood subsided to safety. All the varieties of seeds, the seven saints, along with the serpent Vasuki and other animals were taken on the boat. The boat of Manu only sailed and rest of the world submerged in the water. The Lord himself pulled the boat. Thus Matsya Avatar also stood for the seed conservation also along with the water conservation”. He pointed out that it had been a practice in many places that new fish was put in water bodies during the auspicious occasion.
On the Yamuna Pollution Goswami ji said, “The Yamuna remained un-polluted until people considered it as sacred and holy mother. It began to be polluted when people started to consider it just as a river. The temples of Vrindavan used the sacred water of Yamuna in the temples for the rituals. But due to the increased pollution in the Yamuna water the temples stopped using the Yamuna water. It was a practice for a long time to carry Yamuna water to Nathdwara from Vrindavan by daily morning bus. But it is stopped now due to the extreme level of pollution.”
He further added that Vraja had numerous water bodies. There were fifty two kunds only in Nandgaon as Nanda Baba needed several water bodies to cater water for his big number of cows.
Acharya Naresh Narayan expressed his concern about the water scarcity in Vraja. He said that this region was once known for its holy “kunds” (ponds) and numerous water bodies amidst dense forest is struggling for the water. He suggested that the ghats of the Yamuna should be restored, besides clearing all drains of untreated effluents and sewer into the river.
Shri Shravan Kumar from the Braj Mandal heritage conservation society demanded the demarcation of the Yamuna’s flood plain boundary, while Madhumangal Shukla from the Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance demanded the demolishment of the encroachment on the Yamuna Flood plain.
Dr. Laxmi Gautam sought war like efforts to dredge and de-silt the Yamuna river bed to increase its holding capacity and open up the choked aquifers that prevented percolation of water.
Addressing the conference, the Chief Development Officer of Mathura Shri Andra Vamsi said along with efforts being by the government agencies, the local populations of the towns of Mathura and Vrindavan must also come forward and share the responsibility of keeping the river. “Give me 500 volunteers and I will myself pick up the broom to clean up the mess,” he promised.
It was unanimously resolved that a ‘shram-daan’ programme will be organized to clear the ghats from the debris on the bank of the Yamuna. The CDO promised his participation in the ghat clearing activity.
Dr. Chandra Prakash Sharma, Shri Vikram Bhuwalka, Ram Narayan Brajwasi, Dhananjaya Gautam, Madan Gopal Banerjee, Dan Bihari Sharma, Go sevak Alok, Shri Vraj Khandelwal, Swami Sushilananda, Sushil Sharma etc also spoke on the various water issues of Vraja.

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Free Heart Care for the Vrajawasi children

DSC_2165DSC_2183Vrindavan, September 10th, 2014: Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), a leading national non-profit organization committed to making India a healthier and disease free nation announced the launch of free heart care for the poor children of Vraja. In a ceremonial launching of the project, at Gambhira in Jai Singh Ghera Vrindavan, jointly with the local environmental organization Friends of Vrindavan, in presence of many dignitaries of the brajwasi, saints. Priests and the residents, Padmashree Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, President of the HCFI declared that the project aimed at providing technical and financial support to all those people living in Vraja bhoomi who belong to economically weaker sections of the society and can’t afford treatment for heart disease. This initiative is taken under the Sameer Malik Heart Care Fund, a project of the Heart Care Foundation of India. All surgeries will be done in leading hospitals in New Delhi and stay for patients will be provided at concessional rates.

Blessing the event Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami, Founder Trustee, Friends of Vrindavan and sevait of Shri Radha Raman Temple said that the project aims to work towards eliminating blue babies from Vrindavan. Medically, a child suffering from cyanotic congenital heart disease is termed a blue baby. However, in the holy town of Vrindavan the color blue is worshiped as a representation of Lord Krishna depicting consciousness and vastness. Then why must children in Vrindavan succumb to heart disease just because they cannot afford treatment? Through this project, all people suffering from heart ailments, who otherwise don’t have the means to undergo surgery, will be provided assistance through the Sameer Malik Heart Care Foundation Fund.

Speaking about the initiative, Jagannath Poddar, Director, Friends of Vrindavan and Mukesh Gautam, the chairman of the Vrindavan Municipal Council said in a joint statement, “It is our privilege to be associated with such a humane cause. We hope that together we can help not just the people in Vrindavan but all across Vraja. We truly believe that every person has the right to live a healthy and happy life irrespective of his or her religion, caste, gender or economical condition”.

An expert committee assesses all applications received by the Sameer Malik Heart Care Foundation Fund. Once sanctioned, the funds are directly deposited in the bank account of the medical establishments treating the patient. Heart Care Foundation of India has also negotiated minimal rates with leading hospitals in the capital city for surgical treatments.

Two children having the heart problems were registered in the first day. Swami Maheshananda Saraswati thanked the organizers of the project on behalf of the Vrindavan community for taking up such a noble cause.

Radha Krishna Pathak, Swami Sevananda Brahmachari, Dr. Chandra Prakash Sharma, Dr. Om ji, Rajesh Kishore Goswami, Munesh Sharma, Acharya Badrish, Dr. Devendra Chaitanya Brahmachari, Dr. Rakesh Haripriya, Pt. Damodar Shashtri and many other dignitaries were present during the launching of the project.

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Tatiasthan receives the Green Temple Award

DSC_1975DSC_1976DSC_1977DSC_1987DSC_1979August 28th 2014: In a ceremonial event organized in the auditorium of Shri Rama Krishna Mission Sevashram, Vrindavan Green Awards 2014 were given to five distinguished personalities and institutions for their efforts of conserving the ecology of Vraja – Vrindavan.
The event began with worshipping the picture of Varah Dev and Vrinda Devi by Shri Anurag Agarwal, who sponsored the event in the memory of his father Shri Girdhari Lal Agarwal and mother Smt. Sudha Agarwal. Shri Sarang Thakur Das, a senior devotee of Iskcon also joined him in the ritual.
Bhajan concert and Odissi dance were also organized in the honor of the Green Awardees. The Surdas and Raskhan bhajans were sung by Shri Damodar Sharan and the Odissi dance were performed by the Venu Nad Kala Kendra in the honor of those awardees.
The Green Temple award of this year went to the Tatiasthan, the temple shrine which practices the Green culture in its place. The trees are given special care and worshipped here. The name of Radha is naturally inscribed in certain trees of this place. The temple hasn’t been using polythene in its campus and the electricity is not used by the temple and the saints live there.
The Green School Award was given to the Vrindavan Public School. This school is unique in its endeavor to give green education to its students. Every year tree plantation drive is organized by this school and the students are taught about the ‘green life styles’.
The Green bureaucrat award went to Shri Ajay Shanar Pandey (IAS) for his initiative of the Yamuna Mitra Panchayat during his tenure as CDO in Mathura. Shri Pandey couldn’t be present personally to receive the award, but Shri S.B. Singh, the Secretary of the Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority received the award on his behalf.
Shri Pandey formed village committees to check pollution in Yamuna. Massive awareness campaign was conducted through these committees. However it didn’t work further as Shri Pandey was transferred from the district. In a written letter sent by Shri Pandey, he promised the revival of the initiative through Friends of Vrindavan.
The Green legal intervener award went to Shri Akash Vashishtha, who has been fighting in the Green Courts against the concretization and illegal encroachment on the Yamuna Flood Plain. The Green journalist award went to Raina Paliwal of Amar Ujala, who has been highlighting the ecological issues of different Krishna Lila sites of Vraja-bhoomi.
Dr. Chandra Prakash Sharma said that Varah Dev saved the earth from getting submerged in water. So FoV celebrates it as the Earth Conservation Day. Shri Nishant Vashishtha, said that the distribution of Green Awards began in the year 2013. This is the second consecutive year the ‘Green Awards’ are given. Jagannath Poddar, Director of Friends of Vrindavan, said in his address that all the temples, schools and institutions should take example from the Green Awardees.

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Enthusiastic students planted trees to revive the tree culture of Vraja

CIMG1663CIMG1676Ajhai Kala, Vrindavan, July 22, 2014: “Na Puro na janpada, na graamo na grihavayan, nityam vanauk satat vanshaila nivasinah”. The cities, the cultured lands nor the villages their houses are ours, we are the forest people dear father, we always live in the forests and on the hills. Shri Krishna said this to Nand Baba, as quoted in Shrimad Bhagwatam, reminds how much Shri Krishna had love for the forests and hills of Vraja. The enthusiasm among the young students in planting the trees to revive the sacred groves clearly showed their affection and devotion for Krishna and His land.
“Seeing the enthusiasm of the student I felt for moment that Krishna himself was present during the plantation drive,” said Madhumangal Shukla. The excited students planted trees chanting the holy name and singing the bhajans. “Playing with soil was the favorite childhood pastime of Krishna, and the students reminds us of the Dwapar Yuga when Krishna played with his sakhas in the forests of Vraja,” added Shukla, a social activist from Vrindavan.
The middle school students of the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula & International School (BGIS) planted one hundred trees in the Ajhai Village. The tree plantation drive was organized by Friends of Vrindavan (FoV). The BGIS and FoV are partners in the Eco School programme under which the Environment Education programme is organized in time to time.
The trees of Mulberry (Shehtoot), Amla, Kanji, Pipal, Neem, Gulmohar and Amaltash were planted during the drive. The students were divided in three groups. The first group dug the pits for planting the trees; the second group put the manure on the pits and planted the trees, while the third group watered them. It was a wonderful coordination between the three groups.
BGIS Vice-Principal Shri Lila Govinda Das who was present during the tree plantation drive said that the BGIS has a plan to make a botanical garden in that land. The plantation drive in this land is a part of the process of making the botanical garden. “Efforts will be made to find out richness of forest heritages in places like Chitrakoot and Namisharanya and all those plants will be grown in this land.” “All the varieties of the typical trees of Vraja, the medicinal plants and the forestry trees are being planted here.” “We are making some water bodies also to attract the migratory birds,” said Lila Govinda Das.
Shri Nishant Vashishtha, the expert behind making the designs of the botanical garden said that the replica of the Goverdhan hill, Manasi Ganga and Yamuna are being made there. “We want to give a perfect Vraja look to this land,” said Shri Vashishtha.
Jagannath Poddar from Friends of Vrindavan said, “We couldn’t plant more trees because of the scanty rainfall this year.” “We are waiting for the rain to plant more trees in different locations of Vraja,” said Poddar.
It was decided that the students will visit the plantation site on every Sunday to take care of the trees. The vermi-compost organic manure made by Friends of Vrindavan recycling the flowers and garlands was used for planting the trees. FoV staff & volunteers along with the BGIS staff helped the students to plant the trees.

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