Srila Prabhupada often used to say that Mumbai (then Bombay) was his office. In Mumbai he dealt more with the managerial aspects of Krishna consciousness in India. As Mumbai expanded into one of the most populated metropolises of the world, the state government of Maharashtra decided to build another city as part of its extension, which was named as Navi Mumbai, or "New Mumbai". This city is considered one of the largest planned cities of the world.
Srila Prabhupada wanted more than a dozen ISKCON temples to come up in Mumbai, because he considered Mumbai to be the most important city in India. With a view to fulfilling this dream, a team of dedicated devotees headed by Suradasa Prabhu has drawn up an ambitious plan to build a new ISKCON temple in Kharghar, a suburb in Navi Mumbai. This will be the latest addition to the ISKCON family of more than 500 temples situated around the world. Named as the "Glory of Maharashtra Temple a Vedic Educational and Cultural Project," this temple spread over eight acres will be the largest ISKCON temple in Mumbai till now. Located close to the planned Central Park and surrounded by the panoramic Sahyadri hills, this project promises to become a landmark of Navi Mumbai.
With a budget of Rs.125 crores, the project boasts of several prominent features, several of them centered on Maharashtra's glorious cultural and spiritual heritage:
1. The Deity altar: Their Lordships will be worshiped in five major altars: i) Sri Sri Radha-Madana-mohana, ii) Sri Sri Sita-Rama-Lakshmana-Hanuman, iii) Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai. Besides these three altars, there will be a special altar for Lord Vitthala, a beautiful form of Lord Krishna worshiped throughout Maharashtra, along with His eternal consort, Srimati Rukmini Devi, There will also be an altar for Prahlada-Narsimhadeva,
2. Museum of Vaisnava saints: Besides Srila Prabhupada and other saints of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, this museum will highlight the glories of prominent Vaishnava teachers of other bonafide traditions. Chief among them will be Maharashtra's Tukarama and the patriarchs of the four main Vaishnava schools – Ramanuiacharya, Madhvacharya, Visnu swami, and Nimbarkacharya.
Pastimes of Sabari and Lord Rama, Ahalva and Lord Rama, the fruit vendor and Lord Krishna, and Draupadi and Lord Krishna will highlight the special quality of Lord Krishna as bhakta-vatsala, or the lover of his devotee.
Overall, the museum will give a broad understanding of India's timeless Vedic scriptures through animation shows and other technological presentations.
3. Light and Sound Show: This section will focus more on the lives and teachings of the saints of Maharashtra.
4. Rivers of Maharashtra: Many rivers of Vedic importance – Godavari, Narmada, Chandrabhaga, Bhima – flow through this vast land. A visitor will get to know the spiritual and devotional significance of each of them. (Details needed)
5. Forests of Vrindavana: The project will also feature miniature versions of the twelve forests of Vraja-bhumi, the transcendental place where Lord Krishna enacted his early pastimes during his presence on this planet.
6. Bhaktivedanta Guest House: A majestic 100-room complex, this guest house will be open for all visiting guests and life members who wish to comfortably stay here to relish the spiritual atmosphere of the temple. Guests can tune into spiritual television and learn about leading a holistic life centered on devotion to Krishna,
Besides the above features, the temple will also include Bhakti-kala-kshetra, a devotional center for performing arts; Bhaktivedanta Art Gallery, where artists from all over Maharashtra can showcase their artistic work; Bhaktivedanta Auditorium, a world-class conference hall; Bhaktivedanta Library containing all of Srila Prabhupada's books and the books of the previous acharyas; and Bhaktivedanta College for Vedic Education. A vanaprastha ashrama, a monastery for retired householders who would like to take to active devotional life, will also come up. And, of course, for those who wish to enjoy a transcendental eating experience, there will be Govinda's restaurant where one can feast on a sumptuous meal of Krishna-prasada, food offered to Lord Krishna,
Mukundamala Dasa is a member of the BTG India editorial team.
If you wish to help in this glorious project in anyway, please contact the temple president Sura Dasa on +91-9820039911 or visit the website www.iskconkharghar.co.in/