ISKCON in the World Social Forum
The highlight of my preaching tour in Belém was lecturing in the World Social Forum. Nearly 100 thousand people, including several heads of state, came to the WSF, from all over the world. This year was the first time the organizers allowed religions to actively participate and share their message.
ISKCON was given two 90 minute lecture slots and another 20 minutes for a “religious ceremony”.
In the WSF, dozens, if not hundreds, of activities happen simultaneously, in several different locations in the city. In each location, there are different “territories”, such as ones dedicated to workers rights and unions, black rights, indigenous peoples rights, Cuban issues, agrarian disputes, etc. Ours happened in a space dedicated to religions.
I was, thus, happily surprised to see that we had maximum capacity at our lectures, despite so many alternative programs being offered. Our interfaith tent had some 200 people for each of our lectures.
The first lecture was the same I’d given at the World Forum on Theology and Liberation, on the environmental impact of non-vegetarianism.
The second one was “The Path of Knowledge and Peace in the Yoga Tradition”. For this lecture I use Bhagavad-gita verses 13.8-12 and 5.29, as well as sutras from the Yoga Sutra.
We used our 20 minute “religious ceremony” session for some kirtan and to explain the Hare Krishna mantra. I led the singing first, then my wife did. The sound of the mantras gradually attracted a large crowd (especially when my wife was singing!). Too bad we only had 20 minutes !
More Activities in Belém
While in Belém, I also gave two more workshops and one Sunday Feast class.
One of the workshops was “A Summary of the Yoga Sutra”. This workshop is effective for both newcomers and regular ISKCON devotees. Regular devotees learn how the Yoga Sutra is perfectly aligned with our philosophy and learn useful facts on the workings of our consciousness. Newcomers get a nice introduction in general to the path of yoga.
The other workshop was “Mantras from the Center of the Universe”. This is always a very nice workshop as we chant and discuss beautiful and powerful prayers from the 5th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
The Sunday Feast class was on BG 9.34. I emphasized the need to bring Krishna into our lives, praying often to Him by revealing our heart and by regularly studying the Srimad Bhagavatam. My wife led a sweet kirtan.
Check out many nice pictures from these events and Belém here.