Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Pre-Conference Workshop

If you're coming to the Festival of Inspiration you might consider arriving a day earlier for my workshop. Whether you’re in theater or interested in storytelling or are a workshop presenter or want to enhance your preaching, this workshop has something for you.

The Dramatic Edge
A workshop for those interested in utilizing the dramatic arts

Only $20

In this one day intensive participants will explore the essentials of the dramatic arts - voice, gesture, movement. You will walk away with some solid techniques for learning and improving your performance or presentations, making your points by strengthening the voice and pronunciation, engaging the imagination of the audience, and understanding the power of the age old art of storytelling. We’ll also discuss promoting yourself and your work. Five hours of personal and professional growth.

BIO: In college Sankirtana majored in Theater and Film. Since 1975 he engaged in writing, acting and directing scriptural dramas, taking productions to Off-B’way, colleges, temples and special events. In the past 15 years he has focused exclusively on offering dramatic storytelling programs and workshops to schools, colleges, churches, libraries, museums and conferences, including the 2006 National Storytelling Conference and 2000 Religious Communications Conference. He is also the recipient of a West Virginia Artist Fellowship Award.

Thursday, May 6
Morning session: 10:30 – 1 and continues after lunch: 2:30 - 5
To reserve a spot, contact me at story108@juno or 304 845 6840 and


“Sankirtana Das is my storytelling guru.” Sacinandana Swami

“Over the years, Sankirtana Das has coached me on a variety of pieces, that led to my landing parts and also getting into college, where I studied acting. More importantly, he was the first to introduce me to the concept of technique and stress its importance, in turn helping to shape my approach to all my work.” Halavah Sofsky, Actor/Filmmaker, NYC

“Sankirtana is a gold mine for anyone digging in the storytelling field. In addition, he is well equipped to provide the necessary tools for any prospector of tales. He has been my storytelling coach over the past ten years and has helped me tremendously. I have attended his workshops and have received private instruction as well. He offers a mix of humor, honest constructive criticism and knowledge of the art of storytelling. I enthusiastically recommend his services for anyone interested in developing their storytelling and writing skills.” Kripamaya Das, Musician/Storyteller, West Virginia

“Although I've been writing and periodically telling stories for years, Sankirtana’s expert guidance has taken my creative abilities to a whole other level. His mentorship has been invaluable. Over two decades of performing, writing, and teaching have given Andy the insight a master has of his subject, inside out and outside in. He recently helped this attached writer to learn to edit her work from an initially wordy and heavy script into an effective and fast moving tale that sacrificed none of the emotional content. What a difference this process has made in my ability to communicate in a compact and effective manner. THANK-YOU SANKIRTANA SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!” Harinam DD, Storyteller/Writer, Flordia

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I enjoyed reading Kaunteya’s clear and thoughtful comments on the topic of ISKCON membership.

Just want to interject a few additional thoughts.

Once upon a time, you had to move into the temple, give whatever you had to the temple, get initiated and serve the temple 24 hours a day to be considered a member. Obviously those standards have fallen away and the movement is continuing without that mindset and is actually florishing in many places. But I’d like to understand why now is there a need to define membership? What is the purpose?

In regards to the analogy of citizenship, Prabhupada always said that the trees, cows and other animals were also citizens and should be afforded the same rights of protection as any citizen. A citizen in good standing certainly abides by the rules of the land. As a citizen, one also has certain rights and privileges. What privileges will a members of ISKCON have? To vote? To receive an ISKCON pension? Healthcare? The children of citizens also have the same rights as their parents when they grow up. Citizenship is probably not a good analogy for membership because in most cases citizenship does not require a active decision by the citizen.

Here in New Vrindaban, as I’m sure at other temples, we have long time supporters who strongly identify with the efforts of the community. They might consider themselves members. Will the move to define membership alienate our supporters and well wishers? What category do they fit in? What privileges will ‘members’ that they don’t have?

Our supporters already naturally honor initiated devotees and temple residents. By doing so, they make advancement. Why artificially accentuate this distinction with member and non member status? Will we end up like to Mormons where only members in good standing can enter the Church?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Students Visit New Vrindaban

I want to thank Tapapunja prabhu for organizing a stellar event for the visiting students (both college and high school) and some of their teachers. The day here included four break out sessions (lead by Jamuna dd, Jayasri dd, Rupanuga and Tapapunga), tours of the Palace by Bhakta Tom, a performance by Devananda and myself, and topped off with a fantastic feast.

The visitors came from all over the country as part of The Ignatian Solidarity Network’s spring Teach-In. The three day Teach-In was hosted by Wheeling Jesuit University with the focus on environmental justice and sustainability. (Hummm, maybe we could start hosting stuff like this.) Tapapunja was one of the speakers there and he inspired 55 students and teachers to make the drive up to New Vrindaban this last Sunday.

After the feast, I met with visitors in the lobby and gave them this inquiry: “Please offer a brief reflection of your visit. How were the presentations, the food, and the overall schedule of the day? Your comments will help us improve our presentations. Thanks.” Some told me they really appreciated their time here, while others gave the written responses below. Some suggested room for improvement. Overall, the devotees’ concerted effort made a lasting impression on the group. Kudos to all involved.

The preaching events and festivals are certainly the life of New Vrindaban. There will be at least two other student groups coming in April and one in May.


The music session was wonderful and I learned so much. The talk on food was interesting as well. I loved the tour of the Palace. It was beautiful. The food was delicious and all the people were so kind and informative. The only ‘complaint’ I have is that the group sessions weren’t organized well. Groups should have been informed when to switch.


The schedule of the day worked out really well. My friends and I loved the tour of the Palace (very informative). The food was excellent.


I thought it was very interesting to learn about the Indian culture and different religions. I had a lot of fun. Thank you.


I thought the tour of the Palace was very neat. For the short amount of time we had, it was cool to still be able to learn about the spiritual cooking, the music and the Palace. The food was excellent. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for your hospitality.


Wow! I had no idea what to expect when we signed up to come out. It was far and away an amazing experience. Everyone was so welcoming. The tours, presentations and food were all great.


It was educational. I learned a lot, and the atmosphere and all the music had a very tangible energy.


We were lost in one room for three sessions, but I loved the place and the people. Namaste.


Peaceful. Prayerful. Inspirational!


This was a wonderful experience. As a fellow resident of WV I feel empowered by knowing we share the beauty and spirituality of this wonderful land.


I came here unaware of the scale in which the Hare Krishna foundation was established in the area. It was truly a highly enjoyable day.


It is something wonderful to witness when a stranger opens his home to us - this is God welcoming us. To hear unfamiliar sounds crafted into music – this is God speaking to us. To taste unimaginable spices from the work of many hands – this is God sharing with us. Hare Krishna – many thanks.