Sunday, 9 June 2013


Prabhupadanuga Farm in Fiji
In response to our recent newsletters, we have received some inquiries from devotees who may be interested in participating in the New Jayapur farm project here in Fiji, or they are curious to learn more as to how we will structure things such as property ownership, jobs, local economy, village regulations,  management, etc. There were also many questions about Fiji in general.
Establishing a daivi-varnashram Prabhupadanuga Vedic village entails chaulking out one road from many different paths, charting a specific course – it is far more than just having a nice piece of land and some blind faith that all else will fall in place… There really needs to be a definite plan. To go much beyond a single family homestead into the realm of a village project requires, in my opinion, the following:

A.      The project’s real estate property should be held by a non-profit, religious/educational type of legal entity where the charter spells out the specific purpose and philosophical basis of the organization and its members. The charter shall be unchangeable, and will remain as a basis to the project forever. The charter should also hold that a project constitution will be the guiding principle to the details of the project.
B.      The constitution addresses many issues, to ensure project stability, define purity of spiritual purpose and philosophy, and also enumerate details regarding things such as tolerance of mundane media, required spiritual standards, dress code, internal economics, even pets, etc. The constitution may be modified by a deliberate process. Members are bound to the constitution by contractual agreement, with recourse as guarantee to conformance.
New Jayapura has 857 acres freehold fully titled land by the seashore in Fiji which is held by a non-profit overseas foundation with a charter describing its purpose and philosophy- namely to develop Vedic villages and abide by the instructions of Srila Prabhupada (to be brief). A constitution has been drafted and is being finalized with input from many nice devotees who have contributed from their vision, experience, and realizations. Of course the essence of the constitution is Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. In future newsletters we will try to discuss various themes and points in our emerging constitution, and we hope that others will take time to share their thoughts and feedback.
Someone wrote (abbreviated): “I am interested in more information about your Vedic Village. Are you selling lots? Would you allocate land at no or little charge to devotees wanting to build a home? In the Vedic culture as I understand it the saintly King would allocate free land…and then apply a 15% tax.”
REPLY:  This is a perennial question. New Jayapura will not subdivide its land and sell lots or parcels as in a land development. Many problems arise from this course of action, as seen in other devotee projects. This was done in Surabhi Kunj and Prabhupada Village, both in North Carolina, USA. Many unique homes were built there by enthusiastic devotees; straw bale, dome, log, concrete, and timber-frame are some of the types of homes. But gradually, due to the inevitable departure of some of the residents, karmis bought in and the integrity of the project was spoiled. One can wait a long time to find another devotee to buy your home in such a situation, and often time is too short, requiring open marketing. We ourselves experienced local devotees obstructing efforts to sell our property at fair market value, as they tried to scare away “outsiders” from buying into the diluted devotee subdivision. Once the title is sold, it is out of the project control, and the project fails. In Prabhupada Village, all efforts were made to find devotees to buy those parcels being vacated by departing devotees, and today the problem there is a frightening disparity of philosophical orientations, from rtvik to ISKCONites, from Narayan Maharaj to Tripurari Swami disciples… (what to speak of the apathetic, invisible residents that hardly participate).
Therefore, from experience we see the practical problems that will always follow from subdividing and selling parcels in a project. We are looking to establish more than just a “devotee neighborhood”- which is nice in many ways (as in Alachua), but cannot really be described as what Prabhupada had in mind for daivi-varnashram villages. At the same time though, interested parties are reluctant to relocate somewhere without a solid basis of security, commonly found in outright purchase of title.
Another option, which we have adopted, is the conditional lease, which conveys rights of use to a specific parcel under specific conditions (as per the lease document). The best of both worlds, so to speak, is contained in the lease arrangement- residents obtain legal security and rights to their land and home, but under conditions (such as abiding by certain spiritual principles), and if necessary, the project’s integrity is safeguarded by the ability to revoke an errant member’s lease.
It will be very difficult to find devotees eager to spend their meager funds on building a home on a lease parcel, however, and that is understandable, at least in the early stages of the project. (Later, we may have to turn away many applicants!) But 98% of interested devotees do not have the funds to build a home anyway, whether on titled or leased land, and still have some savings on top of that by which to support themselves during their transition from the modern rat-race economy into a self sufficient village lifestyle.
So our solution is very simple: we are offering to qualified and vetted interested parties a free home (basic, simple) and a land parcel on a trial basis, with option of long-term land lease thereafter. The process for interested parties is to inquire, come visit for at least a few weeks, and then maybe, if the chemistry and all details prove satisfactory on both sides, give life here a trial run. Go from there. It does not require a huge commitment, neither much more than plane tickets. New Jayapur has started construction of its first cottage for this program, a smallish 2 bedroom unit overlooking the garden. Members can of course expand and embellish their free home on their free lease-land, and in the future, those who want to and have the means, may build homes at their own cost on their leases.
Thus there is very little risk to incoming residents. Not much to lose, but possibly to gain a place in a stable, Prabhupada-centered farm village… and in the idyllic South Seas! (Hmmm, interesting…) By the way, there are no other lands nearby the farm for sale, neither are we encouraging such.
So the short answer is: subdivision-no. Free lease land and free home-yes (conditions apply).
This is a vast subject, but let’s try and cover a few things anyway… Another devotee wrote, wondering how we would be apply to supply jobs and how residents could earn some money for those items not provided by local self-sufficiency. Srila Prabhupada did not want us to run commercial farms solely for profit-making, but he encouraged us to sell or trade excess agricultural produce. The raison d’etre for New Jayapur is simple living, high thinking, not huge agricultural enterprise for becoming wealthy with paper money (for what…?). Prabhupada spoke highly about the Bengali farmers who worked in their fields for 3 months, and had all they needed for the whole year. Presumably the other 9 months are to be fully spent in various spiritual practices, reading, chanting, discussion, teaching, preaching, writing, puja…
Our jobs will be first of all to produce our own food. Annad bhavanti bhuvani- these are the words of the Supreme Lord, which Prabhupada wrote to me about New Talavan farm which he visited in 1975. Then we will trade or sell excess production to obtain other necessities. Of course, even though most everyone should have at least a little garden, not everyone is a farmer by varna. There are mostly sudras in natural human society, and they are engaged/employed by others in a wide variety of work according to their skills and nature. There are administrators, accountants, carpenters, artistic designers, technicians, cowherders, nurses, schoolteachers, traders, shop-owners… and more… that naturally will have jobs simply by offering their services to the village community or as assistants to others that will do so. As the village membership grows, so too will the local village economy, naturally. The free market works wonderfully well. We can well envision our own currency backed by grain, gold, or cows…
At present, we employ about 10 workers from town or nearby villages, and they are paid local rates, which is not much, but life in Fiji can be very affordable except for imported items of course. The Fiji tropics are very conducive to simple living- requiring no heat, AC, insulation, water bill, subways, expressway traffic… It is conceivable that some incoming members could replace these outside workers, although perhaps part-time work would be more commonly suitable. The main thing we have to digest is this- that we devotees from the western countries must learn simple living, to do without daily (even weekly) visits to WalMart, the health food store, the grocery supermarket, the gas station, the bank, the lawyer, and most of all, to do without so many endless little so-called necessities that we can do without just fine. True simple living is freedom… and does not cost very much. Village life requires very little money once land, home, tools, clothes, Prabhupada’s books, and a garden is in place… just some little maintenance income is needed (if we give up all those unnecessary “necessities”, that is). Incoming residents should have some amount of savings for the TRANSITION period (from one way of life to Prabhupada’s simple living way of life).
We, the products of a modern consumerist society, have been trained from birth to consume, spend, earn dollars, ad infinitum. We must readjust to a new way of life, in the farm village, sharing, growing, conserving, simplifying, renouncing so much useless burden in the trappings of modern life- disposables, time-wasters, endless mind-dulling entertainments, and redundancies. Instead, the village gives us the opportunity to peacefully chant Hare Krishna, honor prasadam, grow our own food, milk the cows, churn butter, read Prabhupada’s books, attend the morning program, associate with devotees, attend festivals, and save so much time for spiritual life. We will leave behind the demoniac society and make our own oasis of Vaishnavas in a safe, remote place (like Fiji)- a forerunner of the coming Golden Age of Lord Gauranga.

Yours in Prabhupada’s service,
Nityananda das
New Jayapur, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands

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