Archive for the 'BRC' Category

BRC inauguration
5 July 2009

June 30 2009

Well, after 5 months of hard work in the heat and humidity of Kolkata, today we saw the auspicious inauguration of the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre (BRC) library. Taking advantage of the presence of both HH Jayapataka Swami and Bhakti Charu Swami in Kolkata for the Rathayatra festival, we conducted a successful opening ceremony of the library.

[please note that some of the photos in this report are incorrectly dated as 02/14/2008 due to a wrong setting on the camera]

The day started with the transcendental chanting of the young brahmanas from the Mayapur Bhaktivedanta Academy, led by Bhagisar prabhu.



From 7.30 AM to 8.30 AM these young trainee priests expertly chanted ancient and modern mantras, filling the air with purifying smoke and sound vibrations in praise of the Lord and His devotees.


With the scene thus perfectly set, we gladly received HH Bhakti Charu Swami at 1.00 PM. Sri Madan Chanda Shamsukha, our donor, along with his wife Geeta mataji, came to the entrance to offer Maharaja garlands and thanks for blessing this inaugural event.

Maharaja was then taken on a tour of the building.


When he came on April 2, not much of the renovation was evident. However, this time he was able to see the completed library plus several rooms of the new guest house.


Although we were not able to demonstrate the computer system yet, which still needs one or two key components, Maharaja was very happy with the progress and inspired enough that he offered a donation of Rs. 5 lakhs (about $10,800 at today’s rate) in September, which should cover the remaining renovations for the 7 guest rooms. We are very grateful for his generous support and his sharing our vision for the project.


We took a brief respite in the VIP flat on the fifth floor, where Advaita Candra prabhu, the owner of Torchlight Publishers showed him some of their publications, including new title Where’s Hanuman? due to be released shortly.


Soon enough it was time to go down to the front entrance to receive HH Jayapataka Swami. Once again Mr. Shamsukha and his wife along with Bhakti Charu Maharaja were delighted to form the reception committee to receive him with fragrant garlands and deep appreciation.


Jayapataka Maharaja is the living epitome of the drdha-vrata mahatma. His determination to go on with his preaching despite multiple bodily failures caused by his stroke, leave the onlooker in awe and deep respect.

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BRC needs a librarian
12 May 2009

May 12 2009

Here’s a wonderful service opportunity for anyone interested in information technology, storage and retrieval systems:

I just put this advert out on

Head Librarian

The Bhaktivedanta Research Centre (BRC) situated at 110A Motilal Nehru Road, Kolkata 700029 is seeking a creative and enthusiastic librarian.

The successful applicant should ideally hold an MLS or B. Lib. Sci or have on-site experience of information management and be able and willing to lead a variety of services in the development of the BRC library:

•    collection development
•    marketing
•    proposal writing (fund raising)
•    providing user education to patrons
•    liaison to various ISKCON bodies, the BBT, as well as secular institutions, libraries, centers of education, academics etc.

The librarian will develop the library in a variety of formats; develop and manage exhibits and outreach events; research external funding sources, write proposals, be detail-oriented and have a minimum of several years of computer experience.

Librarian must have strong communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills and be able to assess patron information needs to determine appropriate information resources to meet patron requirements.

Work will include research, serials management, cataloging collection development, instruction on accessing library services, acquisition of hard-copy and electronic information resources, website maintenance and customer service.

Librarian must be fluent in English and a working knowledge of one or more of Bengali/ Hindi/ Sanskrit is a big plus.

We would like to stress that this represents an ideal opportunity for devotional service in the academic field and should be seen from that perspective, rather than as merely a work or job opportunity.  Modern accommodations and a basic stipend will be provided to the successful candidate.


If you are interested, or you know someone who might be qualified and interested, please contact me.

Bhaktivedanta Research Centre
7 May 2009

May 6 2009

“A priceless treasure house of Vaisnava lore…” Srila Prabhupada 1972

An exciting new ISKCON project is taking birth in Kolkata, the city of Srila Prabhupada’s birth.

The location is four-story building in the heart of Kolkata.


The building was donated to ISKCON in 2000 by Sri Madan Chanda Shamsukha and his wife Srimati Geeta Mukherjee Shamsukha.


Praharana dasi, Ravindra Svarupa dasa, Mr. MC Shamsukha, Hari-sauri dasa, Mrs. Geeta Mukherjee Shamsukha.


Mr. Shamsukha getting the blessings of HH Jayapataka Swami for the project.

Known as “Gita Bhavan” the building is being transformed into a major research centre and guest house. The Bhaktivedanta Research Centre (BRC) is an exciting new facility aimed at providing a ‘one-stop’ resource for the world-wide academic and Vaisnava community concerned with Vedic studies and in particular, Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

The library has five main sections:

•    Vedic library, containing the Vedic literature and the commentaries of the leading acaryas along with all Srila Prabhupada’s books.

•    Gaudiya Vaisnava original literature and commentaries

•    Vedic cosmology

Old manuscripts and rare books identification and preservation

•    Bhagavad Gita library with all language translations of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, plus the commentaries of the previous acaryas.


HH Bhakti Charu Swami visited the work in progress on the library on April 2 2009—seen here with Acyuta dasa (center) and Mr. Shamsukha.

As well as the library there is a temple cum meeting hall for seminars etc.


and three other floors are dedicated to a guest house for visiting scholars to stay.

Srila Prabhupada’s desire

Vedic Library

The inspiration to establish the BRC was born out of the direct desire of Srila Prabhupada. In August of 1976 Srila Prabhupada met with the temple president of Bombay, Giriraja dasa Brahmacari, and his former servant Nitai dasa, to discuss the establishment of a library in the new Bombay Juhu temple:

Hari-sauri dasa recorded this meeting in Volume 4 of his Transcendental Diary series:
August 15 1976 – Bombay

“There was no darshana this afternoon, although Srila Prabhupada did go up onto the roof to sit for a while with a few devotees. Then it began to rain so he returned to his sitting room. There he met with Giriraja and Nitai prabhus to discuss requirements for a library for the new building. Nitai has been given Rs. 4,000 by the temple to purchase books for it. Srila Prabhupada said the library should contain all his own books, those of all the acaryas, as well as the Upanisads and other bona fide Vedic texts. He said even those of Sripad Sankaracarya could be included — but not anything from Gandhi, Vivekananda or Rama-tirtha. “They are all rascals,” he said. “The Vedas instruct us that we should not even look at their faces.”
I was puzzled. “Doesn’t Caitanya Mahaprabhu instruct that if anyone read’s Sankaracarya’s books he is doomed?”
“Not if he reads with proper understanding,” Prabhupada said. “We can read to know what is their philosophy.”
[end quote]

Later in 1976 in a meeting with Dr. Theodore Kneupper, professor of oriental philosophy at Slippery Rock University, Arkansas, the idea of this Vedic library was again mentioned:

November 6 1976 – Vrndavana
[Srila Prabhupada’s secretary Jagadisa dasa is reading a news article about ISKCON to Srila Prabhupada and Dr. Kneupper]

“In fact, many Westerners come here to discover the real India for themselves, (indistinct) life experience. For this reason we are building a model Vedic community at our Juhu center in Bombay, providing all the modern amenities for scholars, students, and sophisticated inquirers from abroad as well as from India who can study the original Indian culture and practice. The center will include a Vedic library, theater, prasadam restaurant, gurukula school, an international guesthouse, as well as a temple and asrama.’
[end quote]

Unfortunately for various reasons the work was never completed. To this day ISKCON has no such library facility and this will be a major provision of the BRC.

Vedic Cosmology

The necessity for a library dedicated to Vedic cosmology became apparent as soon as Srila Prabhupada started talking about building the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP) in Mayapur. Ravindra Svarupa prabhu recalls discussing the planetarium concept with Srila Prabhupada in Mayapur and then going into Calcutta to study the idea further. He had the realization that unless we have a library of all materials dealing with Vedic cosmology, the TOVP would not be taken seriously by the very people it was meant to attract–scholars and cosmologists from around the world. The history of delay in the building of the TOVP need not be dwelt upon here, but after many years, the realization of Srila Prabhupada’s dream seems immanent and the need to establish the library is imperative.


Purchase of cosmology books has already begun

Several years ago a cosmology team was formed to begin the research for the TOVP. With funding from Ambarish prabhu the team began talking seriously about establishing a library and last year in February 2008 the cosmology team were given the facility of a large 1100 sq. ft. hall in the building in Kolkata.

Gaudiya Vaisnava studies

Another aspect of the center was developed in conversation with Sriman Pranava dasa from Gothenburg Sweden who is completing his dissertation on the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura this summer (2009). He has had a long held ambition to establish a center for studies related to Lord Caitanya and the Gaudiya Vaisnava movement.

Pranava prabhu has proposed the following:

“To initiate an ongoing and long term project for the mapping, collection, digitization, translation and study of literature belonging to or dealing with the Vaishnava tradition that developed from Caitanya (1486-1534) from the 16th century up to the present.  The literature is written mainly in Bengali, Sanskrit, Hindi and English. The first aim is to collect a body of resources and bibliographies of primary and secondary literature at the BRC. The second is to conduct research and translation of these resources. The third is to make available these materials to the larger academic community and the general public. The project may facilitate research in a number of more specific areas as theology, sociology, history of ideas, philosophy, gender studies, anthropology and science. The project may also result in closer cooperation between a properly run center such as the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre and relevant academic departments and universities in India and around the world.”

The BRC is now working with Pranava prabhu to make this proposal into a reality.

Manuscript preservation

The inspiration for the final component for the center came from an exchange of letters between Srila Prabhupada and his disciples in 1972 regarding some hand-written manuscripts of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura which at that time were in the hands of his son, Srila Lalita Prasada Thakura:


Srila Lalita Prasada Thakura, Acyutananda Swami, Gurudasa and Srila Prabhupada

In a letter to Acyutananda Swami dated  12 June, 1972 Srila Prabhupada told him:

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