Dr. RAKESH K. DHINGRA, a Houston physician, is the main contributor to the Hare Krishna Dhama project. In 1992 devotees asked Dr. Dhingra to lend them money so that the construction could continue during the fund-raising campaign. Dr. Dhingra agreed.
By the time the new hall opened last May, devotees had borrowed $218,000 from Dr. Dhingra, who then decided to give the $218,000 as a donation and gave $33,000 more. He has also bought an office near the temple for devotees to use during construction.
Dr. Dhingra lives with his mother in a house he recently bought across the street from Hare Krishna Dhama. His niece Guru Dhyana Devi Dasi is a disciple of Tamal Krsna Goswami.
The devotees of Hare Krishna Dhama offer Dr. Dhingra their heartfelt thanks for his generosity.
A Temple That Really Cooks
KRSNA CONSCIOUSNESS is sometimes called "the kitchen religion" because devotees place great importance on cooking for Krsna, honoring (eating) prasadam, His sanctified remnants, and distributing them to others. The devotees at the Houston temple are especially enthusiastic about cooking for Krsna.
Temples traditionally cook many preparations for Lord Krsna on special festival days. For example, on Janmastami, Lord Krsna's appearance day, devotees in ISKCON temples usually try to cook 108 different dishes for the Lord throughout the day. At the Houston temple, however, for Janmastami and at least two other festivals a year the devotees often cook 1,000 or more dishes for the Lord's pleasure.
How do they do it? Well, they really know how to cook! And each family tries to cook many preparations. Some cook fifty, a hundred, two hundred, or more. They start a week before the festival, making things that will stay fresh.
The dishes to be offered directly to the Deity are cooked in small quantities, but for festivals the cooks have to cook in large quantities too enough to feed two thousand people or more. Many of the Indian women are such expert cooks that they think nothing of cooking their special dish for a thousand people.
Besides dishes from all regions of India, the major feasts at ISKCON Houston also include Mexican-style food and Western specialties like cakes, pies, and breads. On seeing the display of the preparations at one festival, a guest exclaimed, "I think anything I could ever want to eat is here in this room!" Yes. And it was all cooked for the pleasure of Lord Krsna.
Krsna Consciousness Transcends All Boundaries
How one devotee is teaching Krsna consciousness to psychics, New Agers, and members of the Hispanic community.
I'VE BEEN INVOLVED with the Houston temple since 1988, but I first got serious in March 1995. When I heard about the Prabhupada Centennial, I decided to make it my Centennial project to introduce a hundred people to Srila Prabhupada's teachings. I had been a psychic and a New Age healer, so I knew many people.
One day a Spanish radio station called and asked me to talk about Prabhupada on the air. The show was so well liked that about two hundred people called the station to get more information. Then a Hispanic group that likes Krsna consciousness invited me to talk on their Spanish radio show every week for an hour. I felt like Srila Prabhupada was telling me, "Why only a hundred people? I want you to bring me 100,000!"
Now at least half a million people in Houston have heard about Krsna consciousness through the radio. Whenever I go on the air, I answer at least fifteen calls an hour, and I tell listeners they can call me at home. Seven to ten people call me every day at home. Most of the people call for counseling, so I let them know that their real problem is that they don't have a link with Krsna. "That's all you need to solve all your problems." I just tell them about simple things association with devotees, the atmosphere of the temple. That really attracts people, and it turns out that for them the temple is the greatest stress reliever.
About twenty people I've talked to come to the temple somewhat regularly. With the completion of the new community hall, I now have some space to hold Spanish programs at the temple.
I've also been on American and Indian radio shows, and they've both gone over well. Krsna consciousness doesn't depend on race or language. I always try to remember that Srila Prabhupada wanted to make a house for the whole world to live in.
I still get invited to psychic fairs and New Age fairs, so I go to those once a month. While I'm there I only talk about Krsna. The other psychics at the fairs are really baffled to see me putting all my effort into serving Krsna, rather than just trying to get money. But I tell them, "I've found Krsna. I've found the truth."