Dr. Robert J. Rosenthal

Welcome to the "New Vrindavan History" site. Before you start exploring this intriguing story and the accompanying images, a few words about the background of this site.

I am the producer of the site, securing a grant from the Faculty Development Committee of Hanover College to underwrite costs of development and overseeing the conceptualization and production of the site. As professor and char of philosophy at Hanover I am not the most likely person to initiate a documentary history of a Hare Krishna community, so let me briefly explain what lead to this project.

My interest in New Vrindavan goes back to 1981 when I first began taking my class in "Utopias and Intentional Communities" for an intense field experience at New Vrindavan, lasing several days each time and engaging students in many aspects of the community's life and thought. Over the succeeding twenty year I have written a variety of papers on intentional communities, usually presented to the conferences of The Communal Studies Association and often exploring aspects of New Vrindavan. During that period I did considerable photo documentation of the community and drew on these images for my presentations. Over the years I developed a good relationship with Sankirtana das, who often served as our host and guide and came to our campus to do various programs on the Hare Krishna movement, sacred storytelling, and other matters. We talked about the need for a visual history of the community along with explanatory text written from an insider's viewpoint. That led to the presentation of a thirty minute slide-illustrated overview of the community's history, presented to the CSA conference in Zoar, Ohio in October, 1998. The program was well-recived and requests for the slide-show and text soon followed. But we realized how cumbersome that approach would be and considered making a video instead. But considerations of the technical difficulty, costs and problems of distribution put us off.

That's what led to the concept of this site. We wanted something which was widely accessible, at no cost, and open for ongoing revision in the light of new material and suggestions from users. Our hope is that the sight will be helpful for many people: students of intentional and spiritual communities, people interested in new religious movements, those with special interests in the Hare Krishna phenomenon, etc..

Sankirtana das is the author of the timeline and all the text providing a perspective which attempts to be objective while deeply informed by long personal involvement with the community. My role here has merely been to provide an external point of view in choosing topics and ways of treating them. There are over 170 images on the sire, most of the from my own collection, except for pre-1980 items. Two Hanover students have been involved in the website technical design work. Rob Moore has done all the detailed work on the site and offered his expertise to out considerations of broad design questions. At the formative stage of the project, another Hanover student, Amitabh Goshal, played a key role in thinking through the overall project.

So, I have been mainly an idea-guy and coordinator, orchestrating the broad knowledge and writing skill which Sankirtan brings and the technical expertise that Amitabh and Rob especially, have given. My thanks to them and to Hanover College for its financial support. Enjoy the site and let us know how it can be improved.

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