for ISKCON News on Oct. 6, 2011
With smartphone applications currently one of the hottest and most dynamically developing ways of distributing content, ISKCON is getting on board. And within a few weeks, people will be able to watch the first Krishna conscious videos on their iPhones, smartphones, Androids, blackberries or tablets at home, during a break from work or school, or while commuting on the bus or train.
The development is a result of ISKCON Communications’ recent membership with Odyssey Networks. Formerly a coalition of primarly Christian organizations called Faith and Values Network that produced television shows for cable TV, Odyssey broadened its membership two years ago to many more faiths, opening the door for ISKCON to join.
The company’s Call on Faith application only costs 99 cents and brings regularly updated inspirational, religious and spiritual videos to your smartphone. “Prayers, thoughts and stories to uplift your day, help you through the tough spots, and remind you of what's truly important,” the description reads. “From the world's great faiths and spiritual traditions—anytime, anywhere, right on your smartphone.”
These short, bite-sized videos are offered in a variety of different genres. For instance, in “My Stories,” people of faith tell inspiring stories of how they regained their faith in God, or how they survived dangerous situations and learned important life lessons. In “Wise Words,” interviewees share inspiriational wisdom from their own religious traditions; and in “Compassionate Acts,” they describe how faith put into practice helps others, in the form of charity or welfare work.
With groups like the Seventh Day Adventists and the Bahá'ís already providing content, ISKCON has recently jumped on board too.
This June, ISKCON News managing editor and professional documentary film-maker Krishna-lila Dasi directed three short films of three minutes each to submit to Odyssey Networks, with Hillary of Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium on camera duties, and ISKCON Communications Director Anuttama Dasa executive producing. The films were shot in Anuttama’s home in Washington D.C.
“We interviewed spiritual teacher Radhanath Swami for all of the videos, in which he tells stories from his book The Journey Home that we hope will be inspirational and uplifting for a wide audience,” Krishna-lila says. “The first two fit into Odyssey Networks’ My Story genre. One is about how he found himself sinking to his death in quicksand while bathing at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers in Prayag, how he survived, and what he learned from the experience. The second is about how, while trekking through Kandahar, Afghanistan, he spent the night with a mongoose in his hair because he was told that if he moved it would tear him apart.”
In the last video, which will appear under Odyssey’s “Wise Words” genre, Radhanath Swami gives the analogy of how all of us have a good dog—representing our higher nature—and a bad dog—representing false ego, greed and envy—fighting each other within us. And how the winner will be whichever dog we choose to feed.
“The shooting only took one day, and the post-production in Hungary only several days,” says Krishna-lila. “It was a simple process. But these videos could reach millions.”
Krishna-lila and Anuttama presented the shorts to Odyssey Networks heads at the organization’s annual dinner on Monday September 26th. The event was held at the Interfaith Center in New York City’s Upper West Side, affectionally referred to as “The God Box” as it is home to the offices of around twenty-five different religious organizations.
The dinner included workshops for film-makers, introductions to some new members—Odyssey Networks has doubled its membership in the past three years—and a talk by president Nick Stuart, who as a professional journalist back in his native England had written a story called A Day in the Life of a Krishna Devotee.
“Nick mentioned in his talk that Odyssey now had 108 members, and I pointed out that this was a very auspicious number in the Vaishnava faith, as there are 108 Upanishads and 108 gopis,” Anuttama says. “Interestingly, one of the Christian members later commented that there are also 108 beads on the Catholic rosary, which I did not know.”
Anuttama also spoke at the event, explaining that Vaishnavism is a monotheistic tradition under the broader Hindu umbrella, and that adherents understand that every soul is looking for God, and that the different religious faiths are simply expressions of that desire.
Finally, Krishna-lila showed her films to Odyssey’s production manager Mary Dickey, who said that they were excellent quality, and that she was very excited to include them in the Call on Faith application.
“I think this will be a long and fruitful cooperation for many many years,” says Krishna-lila.
The three videos featuring Radhanath Swami will also be featured on Odyssey Networks’ website soon.
With Odyssey’s positive feedback, Krishna-lila plans to follow up with as many as forty or fifty more videos within the next year, including book reviews (beginning with The Journey Home and Nature’s IQ, an alternative to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution), clips on meditation and kirtan, and even comedy with ISKCON funnyman Yadhunath Dasa. Eventually, ISKCON may have its own channel.
“We’re currently looking for more ideas, as well as sponsors to help make them a reality,” says Krishna-lila. “I would also very much love to involve other devotee film-makers from all over the world. There are so many inspiring stories that need to be told and shared with the rest of the world through this medium.”
Anuttama, meanwhile, feels that the project will help expand interfaith outreach. “One of the things that’s exciting about working with Odyssey is that it demonstrates the opportunities that are there for ISKCON communities to work with interfaith organizations for our mutual benefit,” he says, “As well as to help promote a broader God consciousness in our respective countries and communities.”
Click here to download the Call on Faith Application for your iPhone:
To watch videos from the Call on Faith Channel online, visit