Mayapur, A Spiritual City

Note: This is an unpublished book from 2002

M ayapur

a spiritual city

S ri M ayapur C handrodaya M andir Founder Acharya His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

www.visitmayapur.com

T he K rishna C onsciousness M ovement has established its center in Maya­ pur, the birth site of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to give everyone the great opportunity to go there and perform a constant festival of sankir‑ tan-yajna, and to distribute prasadam to millions of hun­ gry people hankering for spiritual emancipation. This is the mission of the Krishna Consciousness Movement. -His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami In 1965 His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada left India for America at the age of sixty-nine to fulfill his spiritual mas­ ter’s request that he teach the science of Krsna Consciousness throughout the English speak­ ing world. Through his absolute dedication and faith he soon established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. In a dozen years he published some seventy volumes of translations and commentaries on India’s Vedic literature, which are now standard in universi­ ties all over the world. Meanwhile, traveling almost non-stop, Srila Prabhupada molded his international society into a world-wide confed­ eration of asramas, schools, temples, farms etc. In 1970 he began the Sri Mayapur project in In­ dia where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu - the incar­ nation of Godhead who inaugurated the Hare Krishna movement - appeared 500 years ago. In Mayapur Srila Prabhupada planned and set in motion the development of a spiritual city, a place of wonderful, spiritual culture and edu­ cation, that would demonstrate to the world the practical application of Krishna Conscious­ ness in every sphere of life. Today this fledgling city of Mayapur is carrying the torchlight for a spiritual culture that is literally illuminating the planet. 2

T he G anges flows from the H imalayas , eternal as time, and nearly as powerful. Even though all rivers are holy in their own way, a gift from God to maintain the life of His child­ ren, the Ganges has rightfully achieved fame as an espe­ cially sacred current in the history, religion, and everyday life of the people of India. As it travels across the land, it branches out, creating new rivers and streams, receiving its tribute of water from other rivers in return. In this way the Ganges, in her perpetual flow, is constantly giving and receiving for the benefit of all. About 135 km north of Kolkata, Mother Ganges flows through the lush West Bengal countryside. Past villages of mud huts perched on her banks, past glistening fields of rice, wheat and vegetables, past grace­ ful palm and mango trees, she arrives at a point of confluence with the Jalangi river. At their junction, one can see the blue-green water of Jalangi swirling through the golden Ganga, their currents as distinct from eachother as words on paper. They then become one river, flow­ ing on to Kolkata, and then beyond to the bay of Bengal. The Jalangi and the Ganges form their boundaries of another point of confluence, this time on land, and perhaps even more powerful than that of two rivers. Sri Mayapur Dham is a small town in the district of Nadia, in the state of West Bengal. To the casual observer, Sri Mayapur is an obscure little pilgrimage town. But history has shown that Sri Mayapur is a place of extraordinary encounters - between history and progress, spirit and matter, nature and humanity, Sri Mayapur itself and the world beyond. Like the Ganges, Sri Mayapur has given much - unique historical and spiritual gifts to the world that few are aware of. The International Socie­ ty for Krishna Consciousness, through its head-quartars in Sri Mayapur, has worked ceaselessly for nearly 40 years to share these gifts with the people of India and the world - sharing the divine love that flows through Sri Mayapur from the spiritual realm to the rest of the world. Through Sri Dham Mayapur the Hare Krishna movement seeks to in­ crease that flow. For this current of love to reach all who thirst for it, we must join our own love to it, just as the Jalangi joins the Ganges. This confluence of love will then flow beyond Mayapur, sprea d throughout India, and eventually innundate the rest of the world.

4

T he vision of S ri M ayapur was born from a bija or seed spoken to Srila Jiva Go- swami by Lord Nityananda, whom we know as an incar­ nation of Lord Balaram Himself. Speaking more than 400 years ago the Lord told Jiva Goswami: “When our Lord (Caitanya) disappears, by His desire the Ganges will swell. The water will almost cover Mayapur for a hundred years and then recede. For some time, only the land will remain, de­ void of houses. Then by the Lord’s desire Mayapur will again become prominent, and people will live here as before. All the ghats on the bank of the Ganges will again be visible and the devotees will build temples. . . In this way, the devo­ tees will reveal the lost places. Know this for certain: at the end of four hundred years, the task of recovering the lost holy places will begin.” The prophecy appears to have unfolded wonderfully on schedule. At the end of the nineteenth century, the great vision­ ary Srila Bhaktivonode Thakur, a magis­ trate in the Bristish administration, took up a personal quest to locate the original birthplace of Sri Caitanya. He studied an­ cient maps, historical records and texts, and took help from seers living in the area. His diaries record how one night, in a lucid dream, he saw a light shining on a particular grove of Tulasi trees, one that he had often passed when walking along the Ganges. His guru, Srila Jagannath das Babaji, who was said to be over 120 years of age, and was so weak and frail

that servants carried him a basket, asked to be taken to the site. Upon arriving at the grove, Jagannath das Babaji leapt from the basket crying out the name of Caitanya, thus confirming the authenti­ city of Srila Bhaktivenode’s dream. Srila Bhaktivenode then personally begged one rupee each from over 50.000 homes to establish the first shrine to Lord Caitanya at Mayapur. A replica village hut now marks the birth site. The original neem tree has long since gone, but a new one has grown in its place. Pilgrims circumambulate, tie threads, and take on their heads the dust from its roots. This is the Yoga-pith - the place that connects the mundane earth to the spiritual world. In the past hundred years the reputa­ tion of Mayapur and appreciation of Lord Caitanya’s teachings have grown steadily. It is now well understood and recognized that Lord Caitanya was the most significant figure within the bhakti tradition. Lord Caitanya’s birthplace and home of His early pastimes in Mayapur have immense significance for devotees, Hindus, scholars, and spiritually minded people throughout the world, as do the places in the region associated with His contemporary disciples. In 1890 Srila Bhaktivinode foresaw that Lord Caitanya’s message was not to be limited to India. He predicted, “A day wil come when the fortunate Russians, Prussians, English, French, Americans and all other nations come together in Sri Mayapur under the banner of Sri Caitanya and raise kirtan throughout the land of Nadia!” 7

F rom modest beginnings Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir has become an international center of pilgrimage and spiritual tourism. Starting with just a few acres of land, Srila Prabhupada, with the help of a few of his Western students and funds contributed by supporters from nearby Kolkata, es­ tablished the first residential quarters along with agricul­ tural and dairy programs. By the time of his passing away in 1977 accommodations for more than 600 residents and guests, facilities for cottage industries, a dairy for 75 cows, and a large pavilion for free food distribution to more than one thousand needy persons at a sitting, had been con­ structed. A primary level boarding school had also been established providing 60 children with a unique educa­ tional program that helps build strong character as well as academic skills. Since Srila Prabhupada’s passing in 1977 the project has expanded immensely. The members of ISKCON Mayapur, with the help of congregation, friends, and supporters from around the world, have continued the work he out­ lined. Several additional guesthouses have been built, ac­ comodating up to 5000 overnight guests. The West Bengal government has also provided dharmasallas in the area to serve poor pilgrims. There are now four dining halls regu­ larly serving three thousand hungry guest a day. The food relief programs has served more than four million free nu­ tritious meals and provided crucial emergency relief, dis­ tributing 400.000 meals during the recurring floods that cover the Sri Mayapur area. The primary school has expanded to more than 100 stu­ dents and over one hundred residential units have been constructed. Plans have been made for the first phase of the development of the Mayapur city, a large univerity and a unique temple which in addition to its worship functions would also house extensive exhibitions of Vedic philoso­ phy, science, and culture. This temple will include a unique Vedic planetarium depicting ancient Vedic concepts of the universe in context of modern scientific discoveries. Part of ISKCON’s mission is to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s vi­

sion for Sri Mayapur as a place of joy, a perpetual spiritual festival site, and his followers have given this top priority. Busloads of pilgrims arrive daily, eager to tour Srila Prabhu­ pada’s samadhi, the current temple and the flower gar­ dens. The vast number of pilgrims that flow into Mayapur every day reflects not only visitors from within India, but an ever increasing number of international pilgrims, tour­ ists, and students of religion and Indian culture. Besides this, special celebrations such as Gaura Purnim and Krishna Janmastami attract many more visitors. As many as a mil­ lion people visit ISKCON Mayapur during Gaura-Purnim. Beyond the ornate temples and gardens, other features draw the faithful and the curious to Sri Mayapur. The spiri­ tual and cultural offerings integral to the daily operations of the temple round up the Mayapur experience for the visitor and provide opportunities for them to directly en­ gage in the Lord’s service. ISKCON’s standard of Deity wor­ ship is of the highest caliber; many pilgrims make the trip to Sri Mayapur simply to witness the offerings they have sponsored in honor of loved ones. Musical and dramati­ cal productions are part of the regular cultural fare, and daily classes in Bhagavatam and other scriptures - held in English as well as Bengali - are as much appreciated by au­ diences as any entertainment. The devotees serving in Sri Mayapur take pride in constantly developing innovative ways to both serve and engage the fortunate souls who make the journey to this holiest of cities. It is easy to see that the success we enjoy today indicates a wonderful future for Sri Mayapur. The hard-ships endured years ago by the young devotees developing the project have been compensated many times over by the great benefit it has given, not only to the devotees themselves, but to the millions of souls who have set foot on this sa­ cred land over the past 40 years. Many have come forward during that time to contribute their time, resources, and efforts to make Sri Mayapur the spiritual capital of the world it is destined to become. Please join with them in securing these blessings for your­ self.

8

P ilgrimage to S ri M ayapur has increased steadi­ ly in the past 30 years, largely due to ISKCON’s efforts in spreading the teachings Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu within India and globally. After the installation of Sri Sri Panca Tattva this up­ ward trend has increased explosively. Future projections indicate that within the next ten years the number of daily visitors should reach 100.000 - a four fold increase of the current number. This projection reflects not only the number of pilgrims, ie. those who visit for spiritual reasons, but also an increase in spiritual tourism, a rela­ tively new trend in the travel industry. Spiritual tourists, generally people of a higher income demographic, are those who plan their vacations with an eye toward relax­ ation, education, and recreation in a spiritual atmosphere. Sri Mayapur City is being planned to accomodate all va­ rieties of guests, providing appropriate facilities for all to fully experience the benefits of an extended stay in the holy dham . Sri Mayapur City is not only a pilgrimage center, a transient city, but also a community. With an estimated 4 million visitors currently walking through the city’s gates every year, the corresponding personnel - comprised of hospi­ tality workers, clerical and administrative personnel, secu­ rity, business owners, etc., will inhabit a major portion of the city. Studies have indicated an ideal initial population of 12.000 permanent residents in the city, 11.000 of which will be directly employed in pilgrimage and tourism ser­ vice. Residential neighborhoods will occupy certain ereas of the plan, away from the hustle and bustle of the pilgrim core around the temple, while allowing free access to all parts of the city for the conduct of normal household and business activites. The development of the infrastructure needed to support both the transient and resident popu­ lations as well as roads, lighting, flood control, health care facilities, and many other requirements, has been stud­ ied and planned for the Project. The management in Sri Mayapur will offer land, buildings and housing on lease along with infrastructure and other incentives for invest­

ment. Propespective residents are expected to cooperate in the Sri Mayapur social experiment and participate in regular spiritual functions meant to unify the township residents around spiritual ideals. At the outset of the Sri Mayapur City development, construction of the temple and exhibition complex will be the center of attention. The Project, through its sustainable development initia­ tives, will guide the natural growth of various cottage and tourist industries, and the opportunities for employment coming in the wake of the city’s progress. Although ur­ ban, the environment will be a far cry from the modern cities of today. The activities and urban forms will reflect the devotional nature of the city’s aspirations. Economic, social, and spiritual development will combine to support and magnify the good that each does individually. A hos­ pital supplementing the present Ayurvedic and conven­ tional medicinal clinics are planned along with commu­ nity buildings, open spaces, and administrative offices. The requirements of the socially dependent have also been carefully considered; provisions within the master plan for widows’ asramas and low income housing for elderly devotees have been made, along with the usual facilities for sannyasis and brahmacaris. These communi­ ties are dedicated to one-pointed service in devotion to this holy city; their contribution to Sri Mayapur not primar­ ily financial. That they should find shelter and welcome in Sri Mayapur is not due merely to a sense of charity or social duty, but is absolutely required to provide the wis­ dom, leadership, and vibrant spiritual atmosphere that is the essence of spiritual life - sadhu sanga. Beautiful build­ ings and other spectacular features will attract the casual visitor the first time to Sri Mayapur, but it is association with the saintly that will inspire guests, pilgrims, and new residents to come year after year. Prospective residents of the Sri Mayapur settlement are invited to come from all over Bengal, India and even the world, as they are already doing, and help create an international, intercultural en­ vironment that lives and fosters principles of universal brotherhood and devotion to the Supreme Godhead. 11

S ri M ayapur D ham ’ s greatest at traction, which charms millions of hear ts, are the Deity forms of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, Sri Nrsimhadeva and Sri Panca Tat tva. Sri Panca Tat tva or the Lord in His 5 aspects appeared and per formed Their pastimes only a lit tle over 500 years ago in Sri Mayapur. Worshipped at ISKCON Mayapur with unparalleled grandeur, Sri Panca Tat tva are the largest astadhatu Deities in the world. Astadhatu is a combination of 8 metals. Sometimes tourists on a visit to a holy place car­ ry the misconception that “God is a poetic myth”. This misconception gets shat tered to pieces when feasting their eyes on the very real, tangible forms of the Lord at ISKCON Mayapur. The Hare Krsna festivals shower a taste of spir itual bl iss. ISKCON Mayapur organizes fantastic festivals throughout the year. The most remarkable one is the 3 weeks Sr i Gaura Purnima festival or the ap­ pearance of Lord Sr i Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who establ ished the spir itual process recommended in this age of quarrel , to inundate the wor ld with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, a process also known as Sank ir tana. Other impor tant festivals are Sr i Kr ishna Janmastami , the apperance celebra­ tion of Lord Kr ishna fol lowed by Sr i la Prabhupada’s appearance day and Sr i Nrsimha Caturdasi . The Deities are bathed in great opulence with as many as 30 items whi le devotees sing, dance, and play musical instruments. These festivals are also high­ l ighted by per formance of dramas, other k inds of per formances l ike sk its, pantomimes, screening of soul-stirr ing spir itual f i lms, display of exhibits and feasting. Par ticipation in these festivals heightens one’s spir itual awareness. 13

F estivals are a regular event , and sometimes feel like a daily occurrence: colorful, celebra­ tory, loud, and exciting. Nrsimha-caturdasi, the boat festival, Julan-yatra, Balarama’s appearance day, Janmastami, Radhastami, Kartika–one follows swiftly on the heels of another in a head-spinning haze. Each festival brings its own special feel, filling the hearts of all with a unique energy. These festivals are also highlighted by performance of dramas, skits, pantomimes, the screening of soul-stirring spiri­ tual films, exciting kirtanas, and of course feasting. But during Gaura-purnima, Mayapur reaches even beyond the extraordinary and becomes a spiritually surcharged, devotionally drenched atmosphere. It is both a festive, celebratory atmosphere, and a deeply meditative, in­ tense time. Both moods are available always – a slight turn away from an intense drama or uproariously funny comedy being performed center-stage, and one is ab­ sorbed in the deepest mellows of Mahaprabhu’s mis­ sion, as the holy name floats gently from the endless kir­ tana at Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan kutir. The holy name echoes all over the dhama from morning to night, as parikrama parties set off in various directions around the nine islands of Navadvipa. Temple kirtanas are exciting, uplifting, leaving devotees and guests breathless, satu­ rated with love and appreciation for the holy name. Mayapur exhales slowly; the guests depart, the pandals come down, the main stage is disassembled, and all signs of the festival are hidden once again from view. Except in the heart; the impressions of saintly associa­ tion, loving exchanges, and heart-opening kirtanas are permanently etched in the minds and hearts of all. An­ other festival is over, the summer starts to set in, and Mayapur returns to normal. Then it becomes so quiet that we realize: the festival is normal; everything else is just a preparation …

15

A s the road to that most sacred of places, Sri Dham Mayapur, leaves Bamanpukur and winds its way towards Hulorghat, the visitor passes many temples established by the followers of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. One temple’s dome stands out head and shoulders above all the others against the skyline. It is the mas­ sive Samadhi Mandir of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhakti­ vedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. While Srila Prabhupada’s body rests in Samadhi at his beloved Krishna-Balaram temple in Vrindavan, the garland he wore as he entered Samadhi in 1977 lies in the pushpa Samadhi located within the grounds of Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. The pushpa Samadhi was begun soon after His Divine Grace’s departure and finished in 1995. Although fol­ lowing the traditional design of the Samadhis of previ­ ous acharyas, this Samadhi is significantly bigger rising to over 155 feet at the top of the golden tiled kalash, towering over the other buildings in the area as a fit­ ting tribute to the person who established Krishna consciousness all around the world in 12 short years from 1965 to 1977. From the outside the building is a harmonious blend of sandstone balustrades and columns, compliment­ ed by soft peach, yellow and saffron painted facades, supporting a dome measuring 50 m in diameter clad with white marble tiles hand picked under the blister­ ing sun at the mines in Makrana. Entrance to the main chamber is afforded by two sets of staircases on each side. After walking up the gleam­ ing white marble steps, the glare of the reflected sun is mitigated by the cool interior and a befitting mood of reverence and respect falls upon the visitor. Across 30 meters of polished marbleflooring, including a colourful inlaid lotus flower, the larger than life-size bronze murti of Srila Prabhupada greets one. Behind massive teak doors inlaid with bronze and mother of 17

pearl, Srila Prabhupada sits on a marble vyasasana against a backdrop of yellow and burgundy Italian marble. The eye is drawn to the top of the marble cham­ ber in which Srila Prabhupada sits, to the shining 24 carat gold enameled terra cotta kailash a full 15 feet from base to tip, then on up to the beautiful mosaics decorating the inside of the dome, to a huge painting of Lord Chaitanya and His associates that adorns the apex of the dome. The building is an offering of love and gratitude from the members of ISKCON to their eternal spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, and his activities are depicted throughout. The mosaic work done by Mr. Ganguli from Kolkata shows 12 memorable scenes from Srila Prabhupada’s years as Acharya of ISKCON, including the construction of the first solid building in Mayapur; San Francisco Rathayatra; the first gurukul; Prabhupada’s stress of a simple agrarian way of life and cow protection; Deity worship; his translation of the Bhagavatam, and others. Demi-gods show their respect and appreciation for this great devotee of Lord Krishna by showering flowers from the clouds. Along the parikram path inside the central chamber are dioramas showing more activities of ISKCON’s founder; his first printing of Back to Godhead, his move­ ment’s primary magazine; taking bath in the Ganga with his disciples; a morning walk and discussion. On the balcony level is a full walk-by exhibition of three dimension models, showing 13 key moments in Srila Prabhupada’s life beginning with his childhood rathayatra in Calcutta, up to his final moments in Vrindavan. Beneath the chamber is an auditorium for performing arts glorifying Krishna and His devotees and seminars on the practice of Bhakti yoga, the science of becom­ ing Krishna conscious. Around the outside of the mandir are 30 panels some measuring nearly 200 square feet, made from enameled terracotta. These panels which were all made on site using traditional methods are a wonder in them­ selves. Each one illustrates a pastime from the Srimad Bhagavatam endorsing the nine processes of devotional service as the only way to obtain Krishna’s lotus feet. The site of the Samadhi was originally chosen by Prabhupada himself for his resi dence, but he departed from this world before it could be built. Since he had expressed a desire for a pond, a large pukur was excavated and a multicolor foun­ tain added. Every year Sri Sri Radha Madhava visit Prabhupada at his Samadhi and enjoy Their Naukavilas lila in the pukur, accompanied by Their devotees and enthusiastic kirtan. Of the approximately 4,000,000 people who visit each year, it is rare for any­ one not to be impressed and leave with a greater appreciation for the person­ ality to whom it is dedicated, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. 18

N avadvip was famous as a centre of learning throughout India for centures. ISKCON’s Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandira is reviv­ ing this heritage. Education at all levels is available in Mayapur, with the presence of primary and secondary schools–and the Vedic learn­ ing academy, the Bhaktivedanta College–contributing to the Mayapur city’s atmosphere of spiritual and cul­ tural learning. The foundation for success–spiritual or material–is education. Sri Mayapur’s educational initiatives are de­ signed to cultivate the knowledge and skills that will promote spiritual, economic, and social growth and stability in the Mayapur region. Srila Prabhupada, the Founder Acharya of ISKCON, writes: “There are so many departments of knowledge all over the world and many huge universities, but there is, unfortunately, no university or educational institution where the science of the spirit soul is instructed. Yet the soul is the most important part of the body”. - Bhagavad-gita, Chapter 9, Text 2, Purport There are three educational centers in Sri Mayapur for children upto the age of 18: Rupanuga Paramarthika Vidyapitham, a Vedic Gurukul; Sri Mayapur Interna­ tional School (SMIS) affiliated to Cambridge University, and Bhaktivedanta National School affiliated to CBSE. At each of these centers, comprehensive training is provided to children not only in academics but on Vedic culture centered on Krishna consciousness that includes corollary disciplines like music, dance, drama, cooking, sewing, martial arts and so on. There are two educational centers for adults, the Maya ­ pur Institute of Higher Education and Training (MIHET) and Srimad-Bhagavata Vidyapitham. Here adults have the opportunity to exclusively and deeply study Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and other impor­ tant scriptures. 21

Mayapur’s schools seek to provide the best in both academic and spiritual education in a safe, wholesome atmosphere. The goal is to develop a full-fledged educational system that will one day serve over two thousand children. The current programs show the beginning of our growth in this area. Three separate facilities, each serving a unique population, comprise the primary and secondary levels of Sri Mayapur’s schools. The Bhaktivedanta Academy provides Mayapur’s link to spiri­ tual education, focusing on the philosophy, science, and cul­ ture of the Gaudiya Vaisnava heritage, and maintaining as the essence of all education the spotless teachings of the Srimad- Bhagavatam. In the beautiful, peaceful settings in a corner of the property, this traditional and modern collection of build­ ings is a magnificent example of the richness and beauty of the Vaisnava culture. The Sri Mayapur International School (SMIS) accommodates boarding and day students from Mayapur and around the world, immersing youngsters in a blend of traditional, eter­ nal spiritual values and contemporary academics, providing Cambridge University scholarship standards and diplomas. Serving the children from the rural and economically weaker areas of Mayapur, the Bhaktivedanta National School aims to provide quality education that is affordable to rural parents. The school functions on the lines of an English-medium pub­ lic school, aiding the spiritual and intellectual growth of the children, with special emphasis on character building. The Mayapur Institute of Higher Education & Training (MIHET) provides a solid grounding in universal theological principles. Established by ISKCON’s Ministry of Education, MIHET offers 35 courses in seminar and workshop format. There is no shortage of knowledge in the world, especially in this age. The challenge has always been how to use it, and to what purpose. In providing educational opportunities for children and adults based on spiritual principles, Sri Mayapur’s educational facilities will give students much more than ac­ cess to the power that is equated with mere knowledge. They will also be able to tap into a timeless wisdom and a higher consciousness–for their good and the good of others. 22

E xperience real tranquility when you visit this place of shelter for the sacred cows of Mayapur. The quiet strength of the bulls and gracious elegance of the cows is apparent when you en­ ter the peaceful area of the goshala. The cows are happy and friendly, approaching visitors and locals with friendly licks and nuzzles. They are the soul of the community and generously give around 140 litres of milk a day for the service of the Lord and resident devotees. Satyabhama, Sacimata, and Rohini consistently give the most: 18 to 20 litres each, daily! But the cows are not a business: the number one priority here is pro­ tection, not production. They are cared for with love and devotion, and as a result, they give ex­ cessive amounts of milk willingly. Of all kinds of animal killing, the killing of cows is most vicious because the cow gives us all kinds of pleasure by supplying milk. Cow slaughter is an act of the grossest type of ignorance. In the Vedic literature it is stated that one who, being fully satisfied by milk, is desirous of kill­ ing the cow is in the grossest ignorance. There is another prayer in Smriti where special stress is given to the protection of the cows and the brahmanas. Brahmanas are the symbol of spiri­ tual education, and cows are the symbol of the most valuable food; these two living creatures, the brahmanas and the cows, must be given all protection—that is real advancement of civiliza­ tion. In modern human society, spiritual knowl­ edge is neglected, and cow killing is encour­ aged. It is to be understood, then, that human society is advancing in the wrong direction and is clearing the path to its own condemnation. A civilization which guides the citizens to be­ come animals in their next lives is certainly not a human civilization. 24

I n 1974 , S rila P rabhupada was looking out from his room at ISKCON’s Mayapur, when he noticed a group of village chil­ dren fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. Shocked and sad­ dened by what he saw, Srila Prabhu­ pada turned to his disciple and said, “Imagine how hungry they are! Krish­ na is the Supreme Father, and where ever the Father is, children should not go hungry.” He gave a mandate: No one within ten miles radius of ISKCON Mayapur temple should go hungry. He wrote to one of the temple presidents, “Our temple should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiri­ tual knowledge.” These prophetic and historic words rang loudly and in­ spired his followers to expand into a global network of prasadam distribu­ tion services. Food for Life as the name suggests is a unique project for bringing food and life to the needy of the world through the liberal distribution of karma-free vegetarian meals. To expand this proj­ ect to benefit underprivileged people in the country, ISKCON has formed a non-profit, non-religious, non-sectar­ ian charitable food distribution pro­ gram, ISKCON FOOD FOR LIFE. The Food For Life program in Sri Mayapur consists of three main components: 1. Dhamvasi Seva: Twice a week public distribution to more than 2000 poor and needy villagers from the

area and five day’s a week distribution to approximately 1500 children and mursing and pregnent mothers. 2. Pilgrims Seva: Every day ISKCON distributes more than 2000 plates of food to the visitors. 3. Flood relief: During the massive f loods that occur on a regular basis in West Bengal Mayapur Food For Life helps launch extensive relief ef forts and is able to deliver by boat more than 5,000 meals a day to stranded villagers. Prasadam is cooked and dis­ tributed from sunrise to sunset during f loods. Over the last 30 years hundreds of volunteers are distributing food in and around Mayapur to establish this vegetarian food relief services. The to­ tal amounts to more than 30,000 free meals per week or more than a million meals per year. R ecognizing education as being es­ sential for the development of the individual and society, ISKCON runs a government acredited school, charg­ ing minimal fees due to generous sponsorships from well-wishers. With over 500 students already the school plans to expand further to better fulfill the needs of the commu­ nity. T hrougout the year ISKCON helps thousands of the local villagers by organizing health camps and distri­ buting free medicines. Last year alone 60,000 patients were treated free of cost by a team of doctors from USA. 27

H arinam - sankirtana , or the congregational chanting of God’s holy name and the dis­ tribution of this name to others, is the only process of spiritual deliverance and pure happiness in this age, as described in the Vedic scriptures. To inundate the world with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, and to glorify Lord Sri Cait­ anya Mahaprabhu–who established this process–Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada instructed that akhan­ da, or non-stop harinama should be performed in Sri May­ apur, the holy birth place of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In accordance with that instruction, the holy names of the Lord are sung twenty-four hours a day at what is known as Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan kutir. This was Srila Prabhu­ pada’s initial place of residence when the ISKCON Project of Sri Mayapur began. Additionally, during the day there are various harinama parties singing and dancing through­ out the campus and surrounding villages for the pleasure of the Lord. Tourists frequently participate in these joyful harinamas. “Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of God­ head in this age has delivered the medicine for all prob­ lems of the world by his introducing the Sankirtan move­ ment. Sankirtan means to chant the Holy names of the Lord and to give up all other engagements. The chant­ ing is a process of purification. Just like we use soap to cleanse the body, this is material, but the chanting is spiri­ tual cleansing. The conclusion is that one should learn the art of chanting the Holy name of Krishna 24 hours a day and that alone is the remedy for all problems of material existence. How is it possible to chant 24 hours a day? Lord Caitanya gave the hint, ‘One can chant the holy name of God in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street, more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all kinds of sense of false prestige, and always ready to offer all respects to others. In such a humble state of mind one can chant the Holy name of God constantly.’” –Letter from Srila Prabhupada, August 29, 1973 28

T he desire of ISKCON’ s F ounder -A carya , Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhu­ pada, was that the culture of Vaisnavism be taken up by people all around the world. His own spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, told him, “If you ever get money, print books and take this knowl­ edge to the western countries.” Srila Prabhupada fulfilled his spiritual master’s instruction by going to the United States in 1966 and starting his inter­ national Society in New York. The first members were American, and Britain, Australia, France, Ger­ many, and the rest of Europe, Africa, and Austral­ asia soon followed. Within a few short years, “Hare Krishna” was in every home, every town, and every village. And now, from all around the world, devotees come to Mayapur to ex perience living in the Holy Dhama. Ashram living is an integral part of the worldwide ISKCON community. Living in the asso­ ciation of other devotees is one of the five primary processes of spiritual life recommended by great acaryas like Srila Rupa Goswami. In Mayapur, devo­ tees from practically every country of the world come and stay for short periods or long periods to fully experience the wonder of living in the holy dhama. Here, life is simple, and the centre of the community is the Lord in His worshipable form as the deity: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associ­ ates, the Panca-tattva; Sri Sri Radha Madhava and the eight principle gopis; and Sri Nrsimhadeva. Serving and living together in Mayapur, the devo­ tees are “in training” for the spiritual world, where everyone serves the Lord and His eternal associ­ ates, engaging in blissful pastimes. Organizing fes­ tivals, hosting guests, sewing dresses for the dei­ ties, making garlands, decorations, and jewelery for the deities–all these activities are joyfully per­ formed by the resident devotees. 30

The Beginning. . .

P ublishers ISKCON Mayapur 2009

D esign & L ayout Mayapur Media

A ccommodation M ayapur G uesthouse B ooking MGHB@pamho.net +91 3472 245620

C ontact M ayapur T ourism D epartment MTD@pamho.net

P hone +91 3472 245219 +91 9733578071

F ax +91 3472 245360

P rinter CDC Printers Kolkata

P hotography Madhumangala das Kaivalya Sundari devi dasi Pankajanghri das Krishna das (Russian) Vrindavan Lila devi dasi Sundara Govinda das Kurma Rupa das

www.visitmayapur. com

Page 1 Page 2-3 Page 4-5 Page 6-7 Page 8-9 Page 10-11 Page 12-13 Page 14-15 Page 16-17 Page 18-19 Page 20-21 Page 22-23 Page 24-25 Page 26-27 Page 28-29 Page 30-31 Page 32

tovp.org

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online