The week before Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, His Grace Radha Jivan prabhu, International Director of Fundraising for the TOVP, made his inaugural visit to Toronto, Canada. When prabhu landed in Toronto he was rolling a large duffel bag which actually looked like a Canadian ice hockey bag. However we quickly learned he came to play a different type of sport on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.
Radha Jivan prabhu’s weekend started with a TV interview on a popular Indo-Canadian TV Show, “Eye on Asia”, followed by a radio Interview. He was joined in the studio by His Holiness Bhaktimarga Swami, Canadian GBC, and they both delivered informative and rousing nectar on Sri Mayapur Dhama, The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, Srila Prabhupada’s vision, and the wonderful work being carried out by Sriman Ambarisa Prabhu (Alfred Ford) and the TOVP team.
After an enlivening Vyasa-puja evening for His Holiness Bhaktimarga Swami and a Sunday morning Bhagavatam class, Radha Jivan prabhu was raring to go with his first official program at ISKCON Brampton (a burgeoning Vedic Education Center on the West end of Toronto). At that program, the devotees got a glimpse of the Mayapur commemorative coins which were the treasures in Radha Jivan Prabhu’s “hockey” bag. As prabhu enlivened the devotees with stories of generosity by other devotees worldwide and shared Srila Prabhupada’s vision, dozens of congregation members and devotees stood up and sponsored Golden Bricks for the Panca-Tattva altar. Each sponsor received a commemorative coin from Bhaktimarga Swami along with a warm hug! The stack of Golden Brick coins with Mahaprabhu’s image were melting away and quickly “sold out” with devotees clamoring for more. The fundraising then switched to Tiles for Sri Nrsimhadeva’s altar, and within minutes the commemorative coins with Nrsimhadeva’s picture were also gone. It was a sight to be seen as the 2nd floor of the Vedic Education Center was transformed into a mini Mayapur Dhama in consciousness and love for Mahaprabhu!
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ISKCON Brampton was also the launch site of the new ISKCON 50thAnniversary Gratitude Coin collection campaign with special Silver, Gold and Platinum Gratitude Coins which will be used to present a collective gift of gratitude to Srila Prabhupada in 2016. Our very own TOVP Canada team member Rajasuya Prabhu and wife Saurabi dasi were the first ones to sponsor the $11,000 Silver Coin which they dedicated to their guru, His Holiness Bhaktimarga Swami. As they say, “put the money where your mouth is”, and TOVP Canada members are doing just that.
The evening program was at ISKCON Toronto – New Remuna Dhama’s Sunday Feast. ISKCON Toronto is special since it is one of the original 108 temples Srila Prabhupada established and it was under Prabhupada’s personal order it was acquired, just as the TOVP is being established under Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. Fortunately, Radha Jivan prabhu had left some commemorative coins back in his room and we secured every last one from his “hockey” bag. After Radha Jivan prabhu enlivened the packed house about the glories of Sri Mayapur Candradoya Mandir, the anticipation in the air was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Another TOVP Canada team member, Indresh das, asked his father Subhavilasa prabhu, a Prabhupada disciple and long time member of the local Canadian yatra to inaugurate the ISKCON Toronto collections by sponsoring a special ISKCON 50th anniversary Gratitude Coin which was followed by other silver coins and even an anonymous gold coin from some wonderful local devotees. Radha Jivan prabhu started announcing the Gold Brick program which literally caused devotees and congregants to rush the stage. Multiple devotees were trying to jot donors’ names down, Bhaktimarga Swami was trying to keep up with the hugs and coin giveaway, and the all of us were just astounded with the outpouring of support and love for Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON’s TOVP project. The conchshell blew for Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha’s arati and in this way the inaugural TOVP fundraising drive in ISKCON Canada came to an end.
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It was in this way that Radha Jivan prabhu’s heavy duffel bag which we termed the “hockey bag”, full of commemorative coins, was quickly emptied and we all witnessed how devotees in Canada can have an outpouring of love…one brick at a time.
The Sunday pledges were over $320,000 including 1 Gold Gratitude Coin, 7 Silver Gratitude Coins, 67 Golden Bricks and over 50 donors who contributed Nrsimha Tiles or Square Foot donations. All this is simply the first step of support from devotees “up north” with more coming next year as we lead up to ISKCON’s 50th Anniversary in 2016.