Vanipedia:News and Views
On the 21st of March we launched the introductory version of Vanipedia 0.1 to communicate the vision of the project. Since then we have been working on different logistical stuff to prepare us for this launch of Vanipedia version 0.2.
Evaluating the platforms
We spent a few months checking out some platforms for the other petals, and even challenged ourselves to see if wiki was the platform that we would continue with for the Vanisource, Vaniquotes and Vanipedia petals. We bounced back and forth the advantages of a centralized database system versus the wiki platform of individual non related pages. Finally we again embraced wiki as the platform for developing these three petals. The conclusion was that while a centralized database system has some advantages to it, at this stage with the manpower and resources we have it is totally beyond us to create a platform that offers a centralized database and all the other features needed for collaboration, which wiki already facilitates us with. While this exercise took some time it ended up deepening our resolve to go with the wiki platform's wonderful collaborating possibilities. Actually we are very happy with wiki, as it flows, looks good, is easy to handle, and their philosophy of liberal distribution of knowledge resonates very much with Śrīla Prabhupāda's own program. The only difference is in their definition and our definition of what real knowledge actually is.
Compling form for Vaniquotes
So with that exercise out of the way, Acyutananda started making a compiling form for transferring Vedabase text into Vaniquotes pages with all the links to Vanisource. This took time as there are many complicated variables in the Vedabase's references, and all of that had to be worked out so that we could end up having clean links from Vaniquotes into Vanisource. We have at the moment a pretty clean form, and now as more people use it for compiling, any last dead links can be worked out. Actually the compilers who are already using the form can testify that this really makes the whole process very easy and sublime.
Matea and Rita started a crash course on compiling and writing a manual simultaneously. They did a great job, and now we have a pretty good beginning manual for compilers to refer to after being trained by a Vanitutor. As compilers become more familiar with the compiling process and use the manual, we will be able to fine tune it further. As we envision having hundreds of compilers, the time spent on the manual has been well worth it, as it is a great help to refer to when one gets a little lost.
This is a work in process. Now we have all of the major texts included, photos on each page, the speakers of every verse of the Bhagavatam on the bottom of each page (great resource when coming in from Vaniquotes) and practically all the links from cited verses in purports working.
We have not started yet, but as an ongoing process we will be linking different key words from Vanisource back into Vaniquotes. There is still some more content to place in Vanisource; the original 1972 version of the Gita, the legal documents, pre 1966 BTGs, and Prabhupāda's diaries. We will do that as time allows. Need more of you to be involved.
With faith that there is a steady future for Vanipedia, in 2009 we constructed an extension to BLS's existing building. The extension offers 4 more living rooms and storage facilities for the books. Now we have great facilities to perform our vaniseva. We have a more efficient setup for BLS on the ground floor: shop, office, mail-order, packing and book storage. And on the first floor Vanipedia has a really cool facility with two nice offices, and a great kitchen.
Now you can experience the compiling
There are already over 30 devotees actively compiling every month in vaniquotes and it is with great anticipation that we now take Vanipedia to its next step by creating the introductory articles in Vanipedia. If more devotees become involved surely within a very short period of time we can do wonders. Remember that Vanipedia is not only a shelter for ourselves as individuals but also it will be a shelter for the continual development of the whole Krsna consciousness movement way beyond our time in these bodies.
Are people really getting involved?
Here are some testimonials from a few devotees sharing their experiences so far.
Surabhi Kumari - Kuwait
The way I got service with Vanipedia is the surest evidence of Sri Sri Radha Vaninatha’s and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mercy. Earlier in 2012 I was looking for seva and Srimati Radharani heard me! Through Parthasarathy Prabhuji, I got in touch with Visnu Murti Prabhuji and since then Visnu Murti Prabhuji has kindly guided me into the wonderful world of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Vani. I’m not pure to understand his Vani but the seva has helped me realize that Śrīla Prabhupāda is still here - with us - through his Vani and that he has mercifully made it so easy for us to associate with him. I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunity to serve. I’m also grateful to be able to learn from and associate with a dynamic and inspiring international Vani team that is striving to familiarize the world with Śrīla Prabhupāda and his mission of spreading Krsna consciousness. Here is a quote from one of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letters that both metaphorically substantiates and encourages the vision of a moving temple - a Vani temple
“I once had a dream like this; that we would have a moving temple on the water, going from town to town. So you are making that dream come true. Thank you very much. Do it nicely and maybe I will come and join you also.” Letter to Abhirama 1971,
It is said that through giving, we receive - I've still to give to Vaniquotes but through the few attempts I've received much more than I hoped for and deserved - Śrīla Prabhupāda's personal association. He really meant it when he mentioned "I will come and join you also" :-)
Śrīla Prabhupāda ki Jai, Sri Vanipedia ki Jai!
Acyutananda Caitanya dasa - Colombia/ Croatia
My experience serving Śrīla Prabhupāda has always been blessed by great association; I have found in the Vanipedia team wonderful persons who are very intelligent, dedicated, humble and personal. Now my service has become the perfect arrangement, with the mix of great sanga with Śrīla Prabhupāda himself (through his teachings), sanga with his servants, and the fact that in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness you can (and should) be engaged according to your abilities and qualities. My abilities are in computer systems and technology, and Vanipedia offers to Śrīla Prabhupāda the most advanced, influential and interactive medium to propagate his teachings: the internet. I am very happy and honored to have this opportunity to render service and at the same time grow intellectually and spiritually.
Anasuya dasi - Belgium
I have been very fortunate to come upon this ecstatic service of compiling quotes. Due to physical difficulties it has been hard for me to find some service I can perform for Sri Sri Radha Krishna. Vanipedia gives me that opportunity. Not only does Vanipedia make my study of Srila Prabhupada's books more intense and deep, it makes that exact study a service. Thank you, Visnu Murti prabhu, for giving me an opportunity to serve the lotus feet of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha and of Srila Prabhupada. Vanipedia has been the light at the end of the tunnel for me.
Archana devi dasi - Sinpapore
Vanipedia is one of the best and most interesting ways to serve Śrīla Prabhupāda. I found that I can actually feel Śrīla Prabhupāda speaking to me while I am doing this service. This means that this service is making me more and more Prabhupāda conscious.
To compile Śrīla Prabhupāda's teachings into Vaniquotes is a great joy. A sense of pride and achievement is easily attained by performing this unique service. 'Joy' because you intensely read up a lot of different quotations from Śrīla Prabhupāda's nectarine books and compile them according to different categories. I feel that Śrīla Prabhupāda will be very pleased with the launching of this project because it provides easy access to His Divine Grace's teachings to countless generations of people at a touch of a finger. All intelligent persons should join in this service and make their lives successful. Thank you once again for engaging me in this service.
Chris Fellingham - UK
When I was first asked to take part in the Vanipedia project, I did not know what to expect. I soon found what a joy it is to be a part of such a monumental project and at the same time immersed in the nectar of Śrīla Prabhupāda's books. This project will truly give Śrīla Prabhupāda to the world, unlike anything that has gone before. It will also, being thematically arranged, serve as the ultimate reference/resource tool for generations of Iskcon devotees. Śrīla Prabhupāda ki jaya!
Kanupriya Agarwal - Delhi, India
I came to know about Vanipedia from “Back to Godhead” magazine. As a computer science student I always wanted to serve Krishna through computer and one of the powerful communication tools, Internet. By the mercy of HG Visnu Murti Prabhuji (my tutor) my desired has got fulfilled. Although I had no skills in compiling and editing but Visnu prabhu’s patience and guidance has made me a good compiler. I have got the affection and motivation regularly from my tutor. And I am feeling Prabhupada’s presence as we have to read Prabhupada’s books, lectures, conversations to compile them. Whenever as a beginner I have some problems and questions, my tutor is always available to solve them in spite of his busy schedule. This site is really very innovative and providing sanga, seva and sadhana to devotees. My tutor has asked to me to take care of Vanipedia like mother Yashoda takes care of Lord Krishna. I pray to Prabhupada that I serve this site for whole of my life. Prabhupada ki Jaya !!!
Laksmipriya devi dasi - Slovakia/Radhadesh
I have been serving with BLS for the last 6 years and from the very beginning I have loved every part of it . What can be better than being surrounded by all the wonderful books every day? When I came in, I said: "I want to learn everything about BLS," and over time I did. By now I have mastered quite a few things and am always eager to be fully engaged. The nature of the service with BLS is wavelike, which means that it comes in waves - sometimes I don’t know what to start first and sometimes I am wondering how to be engaged.
Assisting from the sideline, I have seen the conception and birth of Vanipedia, understanding the potential and the greatness of the whole project. In spite of that, I felt hesitant to become engaged in compiling, thinking that its not really for me. After all, I already spend so much time in front of a computer and I am more of a physical person, even though I love reading Śrīla Prabhupāda's books every day.
When the last wave of wondering how to keep myself engaged came, Visnu Murti suggested that he train me in compiling in Vaniquotes, so being unengaged I agreed. After the initial training session I started to explore the whole world of Vanipedia and Vaniquotes in detail. I have become awestruck. Diving deeper and deeper into the different compilations and finding the pearls of exquisite beauty of Śrīla Prabhupāda's usage of language was such a soul refreshing shelter, that I couldn’t hold my happiness for myself. We discussed, and brainstormed on everything we can compile and how we can organize things to develop better the project.
My first steps in making the different compilations on my own felt a little insecure, but with each and every new push of the save button, I became more confident to continue on. I realize how Śrīla Prabhupāda is calling us again and again to assist him in his service and how these compilations are such a treasure for every devotee and for all people.
I am very much gladdened by and grateful to Acyuta, who made the compiling process so easy and automated by creating the compiling form. It is really simple and everyone can learn it, if so desired. Hare Krishna.
Matea Zajec - Croatia
From the first year of living in Radhadesh and studying at the Bhaktivedanta College, I have found a true well-wisher, mentor and a spiritual guide in Visnu Murti Prabhu. I have considered myself to be a small part of the Vanipedia team even before I actually started offering service, because I have tracked the project's creation and advancement through it's senior team members. If one spends time with and takes knowledge and association from the devotees engaged in Vanipedia, and listens to their incredibly enthusiastic testimonies, I think the natural step is to become very amazed and interested in the service as the project is becoming so fruitful and fulfilling to others. In this way I decided to offer some service to the Vanipedia and presented myself for professional training and instruction.
Every day it is as if a whole new world is revealing itself before me. I know the depth of Śrīla Prabhupāda's wisdom and instructions is immeasurable, but I never imagined there would be one place where the whole ocean of knowledge could be accessed. What really amazes me is that each devotee in the Vaniteam naturally experiences a completely individual adventure working on this project. This has definitely been one of the most pragmatic and intriguing experiences I have had in ISKCON, I perceive working on this project to be very helpful for deepening my understanding of Vaishnava philosophy, and I will carry the experience gained working on Vanipedia throughout my life. And thanks to the Internet, Vanipedia will be available for active access and engagement for a very long time.
Radha Madan Gopal Das - Mumbai, India
As sadhana, I think everyone whose conditions are favorable to serve through Vaniseva should do so. Through Vaniseva we get more hands-on with the authority of the scriptures and their practical application. This seva is also very good for preachers because it reflects different moods and intricate issues which Prabhupada resolved from time to time in a very simple way.
As for me, I enjoy doing this seva. In terms of content, I think it will definitely come up in the first page of any web search like Wikipedia does, and it will enlighten users to dive into its deep Vedic knowledge and application.
As sanga, it's a great experience to associate with all the devotees to serve Prabhupada's mission, as it lets us know the true happiness of giving and being generous in a true sense that will help mankind. It is also like associating with Prabhupada.
My only lamentation is that I am not able to spread this to more devotees and not able to contribute more to compiling and editing Vaniquotes.
Rati - 14 years old / Hungary
I joined Vanipedia because I wanted to know what Srila Prabhupada really meant when he was telling us how to love Krsna and all the other things. I think that by serving Vanipedia I finally know my nature better, and now I know which path to follow. I know now what Srila Prabhupada wants from me.
The compiling is really interesting and I think that everyone should at least try it out because I think it will help everyone to get closer to Prabhupada. Thank you Visnu Murti for introducing me to Vanipedia.
Sahadeva dasa - UK/Vrndavana
At the beginning of this year Visnu Murti prabhu introduced me to a wonderful way of glorifying Śrīla Prabhupāda and Krsna lila! This Vanipedia project offers a new way to study and research with a computer and Internet connection. I'm very interested in seeing who's who in Krsna lila and Gaura lila and so started researching the Vedabase for all references Śrīla Prabhupāda makes to different personalities. This seva is an absorbing way of reading i.e. to choose a subject and fully research it over hours and sometimes days and then to present the results of that work on the Web for others to benefit is very satisfying. Vanipedia allows for anyone to contribute on subjects that interest them and as Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote and spoke about so many different things, we now have a place on the Web to collect, preserve and refer to all of his vani nectar.
Serene Ramasamy - Singapore
When reading the letters by Srila Prabhupada to the devotees I came to know the hardship he went through as a single man at the beginning, and I couldn’t stop admiring his courage and determination. We have the chance to learn a lot, not only about the scriptures and the material and spiritual worlds, but also about Prabhupada’s commitments. It is very impressive and inspiring. My only wish now is that, if I’m given the opportunity, I would like to work with Vanipedia until the last day of my life in this world. I’m sure all the Vanisisters and brothers will have the same feeling after reading about Srila Prabhupada.
Visnu Murti dasa - NZ/Radhadesh
My enthusiasm for Vanipedia is truly inspiring me, and my prayers to develop the abilities needed to help the whole project to be realized are more intense and focused than in any other project I have ever been involved with. Serving in Vanipedia means directly serving Prabhupāda's heart, and I have experienced some very special mercy, so I just keep diving into the ocean of Vani with full faith and continual experience that Śrīla Prabhupāda lives in his teachings and that we can all live with him. I am convinced that inside of Śrīla Prabhupāda's teachings is the key for people to actually become successful in attaining the goal of human life.
Big party saying thank you to Eivind
In September 2006, Eivind Morland came for a few months to BLS to help with the distribution of books. He offered services in customer care, packing up books for shipping, cleaning, and little general tasks. Joyful Eivind created a nice spirit around him, as he was always available to do whatever was asked of him.
In October 2006, Visnu Murti requested him to spend some time looking for the best platform to begin the Vanipedia project. He jumped into it, and spent whatever time he could surfing around the web. In January 07 we decided on wiki, and we bought the domain name Vanipedia. As this was in his real nature and passion, we freed Eivind to work on Vanipedia full time. So little by little, along with Acyuta (who came in May of 2007), they both built the whole site. Eivind spent many hours becoming expert in different areas of web management.
Now after two years of wonderful service he is going back to Norway to see what the next things are that Krsna has in store for him. Eivind will always be a founding member of Vanipedia, has stopped being a core team member, and will now offer different services to Vanipedia as a volunteer from his homeland.
We want to take this opportunity to thank Eivind from the bottom of our hearts. There is no doubt in our minds that Vanipedia will one day grow to become the standard of how we approach Prabhupāda's teachings for qualitative research on all topics. Thousands and millions of people will use Vanipedia in the future and every one of them, when understanding the history of how it all began, will be able to thank Eivind that he came forward when he did, and how he was chosen by Krsna to begin a very strategic service for the glorification of Śrīla Prabhupāda and the spreading of Krsna consciousness worldwide.
The three S's are present in Vanipedia
Śrīla Prabhupāda emphasized that for a devotee's life to be successful one needs to have sanga, sadhana and seva on a regular basis. Sometimes these elements are not always there for us, especially for those devotees who live independently from the temples. Now there is an opportunity for everyone as Vanipedia facilitates all of these.
Sanga is there - by associating with Krsna, His incarnations, Śrīla Prabhupāda and all the other great saints found within Śrīla Prabhupāda's teachings, and by associating in teams with the devotees involved in the Vanipedia project.
Sadhana is there - by reading attentively in order to make high quality Vaniquotes pages, and the other aspects of the services that relate directly with having to study Śrīla Prabhupāda's teachings.
Seva is there - by offering the various kinds of services needed for the completion of the project. They all culminate in missionary activities, as we are all serving to help Śrīla Prabhupāda and his assistants to preach Krsna consciousness. There are also many services that will be generated as Vanipedia becomes more and more successful.
The printing press is the representative of Radharani
by Visnu Murti das
On Srimati Radharani's appearance day, I was doing a little compiling about Her in Vaniquotes. I came across this quote which I found very profound:
Letter to Jayagovinda — Los Angeles 4 July, 1969: "I am glad that you have named your printing press the Radha Press. It is very gratifying. May your Radha Press be enriched in publishing all our books and literatures in the German language. It is a very nice name. Radharani is the best, topmost servitor of Krishna, and the printing machine is the biggest medium at the present moment for serving Krishna. Therefore, it is really a representative of Srimati Radharani. I like the idea very much."
I want to share with you my realizations:
Here Śrīla Prabhupāda is stating that Radharani is the topmost servitor of Krsna and the printing press is the representative of Radharani, as it is the biggest medium at the present moment for serving Krsna.
I note that he says at the present moment. This was written in 1969, and we know that Śrīla Prabhupāda did not ever change his understanding of the power of the printing press in distributing Krsna consciousness, for all the time he was physically with us. He imbibed this spirit from his spiritual master Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja, who in the 1930's had stated many times that the printing press was the "brhat mrdanga" as it could be heard far more further a field than a mrdanga, which is audible only around the neighborhood where it is played.
In May I introduced Radhika Raman prabhu to the vision of Vanipedia. He embraced the vision quickly and could easily understand what we were trying to do. He made two very enthused and clear statements which I could immediately identify with.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Vanipedia will become the standard for how we approach Śrīla Prabhupāda's teachings, because it is presented via themes and it is on the Web." He also said "Bhaktisiddanta Sasavati said that the printing press was the brhat mrdanga, and Prabhupāda understood it as such. I think that Vanipedia is the brhat brhat mrdanga"
It is this second statement that I want to explore a little. For the best part of the 20th century the printing press and the products that it produced were the tools that resulted in so much successful propaganda by so many groups of people. Prabhupāda stated how expert the communists were to spread their influence in India via the pamphlets and books they distributed. Prabhupāda used this example to express how he wanted to make a large propaganda program for Krishna consciousness by distributing his books all over the world.
Now in the 21st century the power of influence has shifted to the Internet. In the last 20 years it has started to slowly influence how we do things in so many ways. And its influence is not waning. It is on the increase.
Śrīla Prabhupāda's statement of "at the present moment" was made long before the Internet started to have any influence on people's lives.
In 1970 Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote this letter to one of his leading disciples of the time: "Krishna has said in Bhagavad-gita that "whoever explains my transcendental glories to others is most dear to me in this world and never will there be one more dear to me than he". So go on with your organization for distribution of my books through press and other modern media and Krishna will certainly be pleased upon you. We can use everything—television, radio, movies, or whatever there may be—to tell about Krishna and outside of devotional service all these modern paraphernalia are just so much rubbish."
Notice that Prabhupāda directly says "go on with your organization for distribution of my books through press and other modern media" so this is indeed what we trying to do with Vanipedia. We are trying to give Śrīla Prabhupāda an unparalleled platform in an unparalleled modern media.
It seems that Śrīla Prabhupāda would embrace the Internet as a way to communicate to people the truths of Krsna consciousness.
Let us rise to whatever challenges we face and create this significant platform for Śrīla Prabhupāda books. There is no doubt it is the "biggest medium at the present moment for serving Krishna." If Radha's Press can be stated by Śrīla Prabhupāda to be "really a representative of Srimati Radharani" then we can be sure that Vanipedia is also "really a representative of Srimati Radharani."
May Radharani bless you all in your aspirations to assist Her in making Krsna happy.
3 years to prepare - 12 years to perform
In 3 years, on the 4th of October 2015, there will be many festivities around the world celebrating a very important event. It will be the 50th anniversary of Śrīla Prabhupāda first placing his lotus feet on western shores. And then for a period of 12 years there will be many more 50th anniversary festivities celebrating the glorious activities and great achievements of Śrīla Prabhupāda throughout the globe. This will all culminate on the 2nd of November 2027 when the last 50th anniversary of Śrīla Prabhupāda will be celebrated - him physically leaving this world.
Vanipedia takes these dates very seriously. Within these 3 years we would like to complete the compiling in Vaniquotes, link the Vanisource, build the Vanictionary, populate the Vanimedia with Śrīla Prabhupāda's audio, video and photos, make the compendiums in Vanibooks, write all the introductory articles in Vanipedia, and create all the educational courses in Vaniversity.
Once we succeed to achieve all this then for the next 12 years of celebrations we will be free to actively serve with all the devotees to truly establish the vaniculture of deep dependency on Śrīla Prabhupāda's "vani", so that the second 50 years of the world-wide Krsna consciousness movement will be gloriously successful under Śrīla Prabhupāda's and Lord Krsna's direct guidance.
If you want to compile or want more information or how to be involved in other ways please contact us here.We will be very happy to serve with you.