On February 26, in Mayapur, West Bengal, devotees held opening ceremonies for a memorial to Srila Prabhupada. The same day, the following article appeared in Amrita Bazar Patrika, a Calcutta newspaper. (The photos were not part of the original article.)
VEDIC SCRIPTURES say that the material body of a spiritual master becomes spiritualized by constant engagement in devotional service to the Lord. So the body of a pure devotee is not cremated but placed in the ground. This interment is called "placing in samadhi" [samadhi literally means "full concentration on the Lord"], and the memorial at the burial site is called a samadhi.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada spent his last days in the holy places of Sri Vrindavana Dham and Sri Mayapur Dham. He instructed his disciples to place his body in samadhi in whichever of these places he departed this world from and to make a pushpa ["flower"] samadhi in the other. Obeying these instructions, his disciples began his Pushpa Samadhi Mandir [temple] in Mayapur shortly after he departed this world in Vrindavana on November 14, 1977.
During the samadhi ceremony in Vrindavana, some of the flowers in contact with Prabhupada's divine body, as well as other objects such as hair, pieces of cloth, and personal articles, were saved in two boxes, one gold and one silver. The boxes were brought to Mayapur and interred ceremoniously deep beneath the central foundation of the mandir.
Srila Prabhupada's Pushpa Samadhi Mandir is an ambitious attempt to glorify Srila Prabhupada. It will be fully manifested in 1996, the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth. From the inauguration ceremony in February, the finishing touches will be undertaken in preparation for the mandir's official grand opening in early 1996.
Spectacular Memorial to a Great Visionary
The glistening main dome of the Samadhi towers 160 feet above the surrounding landscape. The dome spans 80 feet. It is clad with 36,000 marble tiles and capped with a 30-foot-high golden kalash [tower] covered with more than 230,000 glass tiles fired with dazzling gold. The interior mosaic ceiling is the largest in Asia. Twenty artists worked four years installing the 1,400,000 mosaic tiles inside the dome.
From the lotus-shaped fountain at the front of the building, a ribbon waterfall the first of its kind in India cascades 60 feet to a pool at the base of a sweeping marble stairway. The entire monument is surrounded by a multi-colored terra cotta frieze with more than 1,200 lifelike figures of Hare Krishna devotees chanting with Srila Prabhupada.
Around the ground floor of the mandir, statues and relief panels show the nine processes of devotional service to Lord Krishna. Each panel depicts a personality engaged in the particular service through which he achieved perfection. All the sculpting was done in Mayapur by local artists and devotees using traditional modeling techniques. Western technology was used for the glazing and firing.
The samadhi chamber is lined with white marble from Makrana, Rajasthan. It was hand-carved in Makrana and at Mayapur and is inset with red, green, and yellow marble imported from Italy. A bronze murti [carved figure] of Srila Prabhupada sits on a white marble vyasasana [seat of the guru] highlighted with beautiful blue South American marble. The teakwood chamber doors are six inches thick, hand-carved and inlaid with silver and mother-of-pearl. The main hall is surrounded by a parikrama [circular path], where visitors and devotees can see Jaya and Vijaya [gatekeepers of the spiritual world] and members of the disciplic succession.
The Mayapur Project
Srila Prabhupada's Pushpa Samadhi Mandir in Sridham Mayapur is a magnificent memorial to Srila Prabhupada the great spiritual leader who spread the sublime knowledge of Krishna consciousness throughout the world. The inauguration of the spectacular Samadhi Mandir is a stage in the development of Sri Mayapur Dhama a project that has been foretold since the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Srila Prabhupada is the driving force behind the development of Sri Mayapur. His extensive writing and direction guide every aspect of the project, from community development to architecture. His vision of Sri Mayapur as an international center for learning, spiritual understanding, and the practice of pure Vedic culture is now being realized.
His vision continues to inspire everyone involved with this challenging project. As his great plan unfolds, Sri Mayapur Dham has already become an international place of pilgrimage and spiritual enlightenment. Srila Prabhupada's Pushpa Samadhi Mandir is the project's first major architectural achievement.
Ujjvala Dasa worked for manyyears as a creative director for major advertising agencies in Australia. He is now using his skills for various ISKCON projects.