By Rebecca Pickens Clise
New Vrindaban, located in Marshall County, West Virginia, near the Town of Moundsville, is an ISKCON (Hare Krishna) intentional community It is named for the Indian city of Vrindavan.
According to its website, New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 in pursuance of Srila Prabhupada’s mission to give Westerners an alternative to the materialistic way of life and to teach a lifestyle based on the principle of “simple living and high thinking.” The project is named after the holy land of Vrindavan, India, the place of Krishna’s birth, where life is centered around the service and glorification of Lord Krishna. Srila Prabhupada’s vision was to re-create the same spiritual atmosphere in order to uplift and inspire Westerners to embrace Krishna consciousness. In the pioneering years, from 1968-1978, life was austere, but enthusiasm was high, and much was achieved. Devotees built two temples, established a cow protection program, cultivated the land for food, started a school, built the first guesthouse, and began construction on Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold.
It is often assumed that the final goal of Indian spirituality is nirvana – the extinguishing of individual existence and the simultaneous absorption into an amorphous Absolute. The Bhagavad Gita reveals that this is only the preliminary stage of self-realization. Beyond this is the awakening of the soul’s eternal consciousness of Krishna, the personal form of the Absolute Truth.
ISKCON New Vrindaban is strictly vegetarian and believes that meat consumption creates negative karma. Alcoholic beverages and illegal substances (such as drugs) are prohibited in the main holy sites around the Temple of Understanding Circle Drive.