Managing Director of the Sri Mayapur Project Development Committee
THE VISION of the Sri Mayapur Project was born from a seed (bija) mantra spoken to Srila Jiva Goswami by Lord Nityananda, whom we know as an incarnation of Lord Balarama Himself. The mantra, spoken five hundred years ago, foretells the appearance of a marvelous temple dedicated to the service of Lord Caitanya a temple destined to have a powerful influence on the world.
eka adbhuta mandira ei haibe prakasa
gauranga nitya-seva haibe vikasa
"An astounding temple will appear and will engage the entire world in the eternal service of Lord Caitanya."
As ripples spread out when a stone is dropped in a pool of water, the Sri Mayapur Project embodies the multiple emanations from the original divine vibration spoken by Lord Nityananda.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of ISKCON, brought us the philosophy of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which states that the Lord's thinking, glancing, and speaking are the mysterious cause of creation. The Lord's words, which set in motion the process of creation, are a seed mantra that expresses His desire. Then the work of organizing matter into the shapes He desires is performed by His servants, such as Lord Brahma.
Similarly, Lord Nityananda's seed mantra revealed the vision for the great temple, and a succession of our saintly gurus has worked diligently to bring forth that vision. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838-1914) expanded the vision to include a temple town with residents from all countries. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati (1874-1937) built a major temple at Lord Caitanya's birthplace. Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) defined the size and design details of the temple and town. He also bought the land, laid the cornerstone, and left the royalties from his numerous books to help fund the construction.
Srila Prabhupada gave his disciples the task of completing the Mayapur Project. He described a glowing vision of "The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium," a sacred structure that will not only be a great place of worship, but will also challenge the predominant atheistic doctrines of these times. The temple will house detailed exhibits showing a God-centered universe that provides opportunities for a personal relationship with the Supreme.
When an honest and intelligent person understands that he is a speck in the universe created by God, he naturally wants to connect with that God and understand his role in God's plan. If you're convinced that the universe functions without the hand of God or is created by a big bang, you have no sense of purpose. Modern science aims to convince you that the universe is functioning accidentally and without purpose. This concept divorces you from a sense of meaning in your life.
The Vedic Planetarium will describe all the physical details of the universe and their relationship to God. It will encourage a sense of wonder in the creation and in the hand behind it.
Srila Prabhupada's mission was to establish the best method of God realization for this confused age, namely the glorification of the holy names of God. Constructing this temple helps strengthen the foundation of his spiritual movement and leaves a legacy of his work. Prabhupada required his fol-lowers to build temples. He said, "I do not want people to say that they came, they chanted, they danced, and they went away." He wanted temples so that people would have many opportunities to serve the Lord.
The religion of the holy name has its sacred place: the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. Building a great temple here at this focal point has enormous potential to inspire faith and enthusiasm in people everywhere. Indeed, our acaryas have insisted that this temple be built.
What would Islam would be without Mecca? What does St. Peter's mean to the Catholics? These are not piles of bricks. They embody the very spirit of these religions and speak for centuries to each new generation of the values and faith of their founders. The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium will be a wonderful and inspiring building that will capture the imagination of the world.
Nothing could be more important than for the teachings of Lord Caitanya to enter the global consciousness. Srila Prabhupada never lost his sense of urgency. Daily we hear of the "global village" and the emerging one-world culture. This temple will put the message of Lord Caitanya on the world map and bring pilgrims flocking to Mayapur to offer thanks and to draw on the age-old wisdom and strength of Vaisnavism.
Speaking in Mayapur at Gaura Purnima time in March 1975, Srila Prabhupada compared the Personality of Godhead to the moon. He spoke of the great task of spreading the moonshine all over the world.
"Of course we shall try to construct a very nice temple for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu," he said, "and from this place, this moon Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu will distribute [His message]."
We sincerely believe it is time to take this vision of Srila Prabhupada and our acaryas to heart. We do not want to waste this opportunity. This glorious temple can be built in our lifetimes. We have completed much of the design, planning, and preparation. We are ready to start building in the first few years of the new millennium. Now our most important task is ahead of us to communicate with the world and enlist the support and contributions of devotees and pious souls.
We must first build this temple in our own hearts and minds. I feel great joy to have this opportunity to share in this shining vision of our saints and gurus. To work for the completion of the Lord's plan is the greatest adventure and satisfaction. Please, come onboard with us. We need your prayers and support.
We now have a team of nearly one hundred professionals and devotee volunteers. We are determined to bring this vision from the subtle plane of desire to the gross plane of existence. Our acaryas saw the temple through their divine vision. Now we can all play our part to manifest it on the earthly plane. The beautiful Temple of the Vedic Planetarium has the power to attract even the most cynical to the message of Lord Caitanya. I know that future generations will look to Mayapur and see a beacon of hope, even in the darkness of this age of Kali.
It is time for each of us to step forward and contribute something to this divine endeavor. With your support, we will see this through. It is within our reach!
Abhirama Dasa was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1970. He managed ISKCON temples in America and India, and in 1977 he served as one of Srila Prabhupada's personal assistants. He has been a successful resort developer and operator, as well as a senior executive in leading hotel companies, such as Hyatt and Oberoi. He is now fully engaged as the director of the Sri Mayapur Project, overseeing and coordinating all department heads.
Mayapur Project History
1973: As construction of the guest house and first temple progres-ses, Srila Prabhupada instructs Jayapataka Swami in Mayapur to purchase land "for developing a spiritual city."
1974-75: Srila Prabhupada stresses the international flavor he wants for Mayapur. He tells devotees that the mercy of Lord Caitanya will radiate from Mayapur, and that he will construct "a very nice temple" for the Lord.
1976: Srila Prabhupada explains his vision in more detail and with a greater sense of urgency. He articulates his ideas for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium and speaks of attracting people from all over the world. He returns to the theme of a "magnificent international city based on this Vedic culture," and speaks of the need for unlimited funds for its development.
1977: Just before his passing, Srila Prabhupada approves the setting up of the first committee for design and research in Mayapur. He also directs his leading disciples in installing the Ananta-Sesa Deity along with the cornerstone of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.
1978-1995: Development of the Mayapur project is postponed after Srila Prabhupada's passing, to allow all resources to go to the establishment of his two samadhi temples, in Vrndavana and Mayapur. The latter opens to the public in 1995. Research and design work go on in the intervening years, with input from some of the top architects in India.
1994: The GBC, ISKCON's governing body commission, enthusiastically approves a temple design done by a young Australian devotee, Pada Sevanam Dasa. A design office is set up in London.
After four years of work, with input from design and engineering experts in England, the design moved back to India last year, and work is now gathering pace in a small office in south Delhi. Pada Sevanam Dasa is the chief designer. He is working with a team of six architects to complete the overall design by the end of this year. Work will then begin on the detailed drawings needed for construction.
At the same time, the Delhi office is designing the spiritual city envisioned by Srila Prabhupada and his predecessors, while devotees in Mayapur are making preparations. ISKCON Mayapur is discussing with local government authorities the benefits the project can bring. ISKCON is also showing responsibility for local people, through sponsorship of the Sri Mayapur Vikasa Sanga, which is helping to improve health care, education, and economic development.