BY JANANANDA GOSVAMI
The Temple Model
After years of planning and endeavour by many devotees in Malaysia, the moment everyone had been waiting for, the moment some doubted would ever happen, the moment which felt like Srila Prabhupada’s face lit up, the moment which beckoned the fulfilment of his desires finally dawned.
38 year earlier (almost to the day) on his visit to Malaysia Srila Prabhupada had come in anticipation of settling some land for a temple here. It didn’t fructify. Undaunted Srila Prabhupada expressed his eagerness when meeting with the wife of the leading Indian minister at the time.
As Prabhupada explained the process of Krsna consciousness he quoted many Sanskrit verses. Mrs Sambanthan said: “Yes that is so true. You quote Sanskrit so nicely Swamiji.” After some time Srila Prabhupada said: “So you are appreciating our philosophy very nicely. You must help us spread this Krsna consciousness movement.” She answered: “With your mercy, Swamiji.” Srila Prabhupada said: “Mercy is already there. You simply have to take it.” She answered again: “With your mercy Swamiji.” Then Srila Prabhupada gave an analogy. He said: “If someone is drowning in a well and crying out ‘Help’, and another person hears him and throws down a rope so he can catch it. If the person drowning in the well cries, ‘Help me take the rope’, it is not right. It is up to him to take the rope and be pulled out. The mercy is there. You simply have to take it and become freed from all illusion and lamentation.”
As Prabhupada continued talking he seemed very intent but at the same time acting nonchalant. Then a wonderful thing happened. Prabhupada asked for his white vinyl hand-case, and pulled out a paper and put it in the lady’s hand. He said: “I want a temple like this.” Prabhupada very much wanted this lady to help build a temple here in Malaysia. At the same time by his calm expression he seemed to be restraining his extreme enthusiasm.
On the paper was a sketch of a three-altar temple, and the floor in a design of squares. It looked just like the Krishna-Balarama Temple, later constructed in Vrndavana. Mrs Sambanthan explained that her husband was already building a temple but she would discuss it with him. There was no definite response. Prabhupada was just overflowing with enthusiasm to spread the movement and he took every single opportunity to try to engage others in helping.
Devotees gather around the model and the golden pile
The Golden Pile
HH Kavicandra Maharaja addresses the devotees
38 years pass -The first pile
Now even though the wife of the minister could not help, it is still happening. We may go in vain but the words of a pure devotee never go in vain. Despite our reluctance and incompetence, Prabhupada’s desire is on the way.
The day was chosen to pound the first pile. Aksaya Trtiya, the auspicious day to begin new projects – April 28th 2009. Site – Butterworth (Seberang Jaya if you live in Malaysia)
A fabulous day – the weather just perfect.
Hundreds of devotees have gathered from around the country despite being a Monday morning.
The anticipation grows – the huge piling machine sits silent. Tents, balloons, a fire yajna, a covered model of the new temple building. All wait in anticipation.
Welcome to all. Please be seated. The yajna begins, the kirtan takes over, capturing everyone’s heart, sweetly and purely adding to the already auspicious atmosphere within and without.
The crowd swells. The Yajna complete but not the Nama Yajna as it carries on and on.
Just at that moment when the devotees were proceeding to the piling area the sun was shining softly through the light clouds, which then began to shower a refreshing light spray of rain over the event. It was as if one could feel the blessings of the Devas the gods on high. As soon as we were ready to unveil the model of the Temple building the rain stopped. Three devotees from the Philippines had come over to build the model for the occasion. The model is fully bedecked with windows, doors and even model Deities inside. From inside lights come on.
Then speech time. What a surprise – out of the blue Kavichandra Maharaja has arrived, as he is prone to do, and gives a wonderful talk reminding us of the real foundation. The piling may make a solid foundation for the building but unless we make our spiritual foundation strong – hearing and chanting about Krishna etc…, it will not stand.
He also told us a story about Srila Prabhupada in Bombay:
When they were to begin building the Juhu temple the engineer informed Srila Prabhupada that they would have to go down deep in the soil with foundation piles. Srila Prabhupada said no – there is no need too pile here. Call another engineer. One came and he said it was not necessary. Another came and said it was. Prabhupada called the builder who then began digging down to see the nature of the land after 6 feet his digger hit rock. “It is not necessary to pile for this building he said.” Prabhupada was correct.
We were wondering whether the message was indicating we had made a mistake. It’s a bit late to call this all off. However on our land the soil is alluvium – we are close to a river. Piling has to go down about 80 ft It’s full steam ahead. Kavichandra Maharaja sits in the driver’s seat of the hydraulic piling machine, with a small deity of Srila Prabhupada in his hands. Maharaja’s hand moves forward and together with Prabhupada’s, presses the button. Bang! again Bang! Bang,Bang….as the first pile sinks slowly into the ground. a roar goes up form the devotes – Haribol! Jaya Prabhupada! Jaya Rama! – The first pile is a golden one (not real gold), sponsored by generous well wishers. In fact almost all the piles – 2000 of them – have been sponsored. On each pile will be written the name Rama and that of the sponsor.
The building has now begun – two buildings going up in the same contract – the Temple building and a Cultural Hall to facilitate public programmes, weddings etc. The Cultural hall will seat at least 500. There will be facility for guest rooms, kitchen and prasadam serving. An Exhibition area and forms displaying the Das Avatars (incarnations of Lord Visnu) are also planned.
The structural work is to be completed within one year and then the Sthapati (Vedic architect and designer) will oversee the final work to complete the Temple.
Kavicandra Maharaja and Kalesh Prabhu launch the balloons
Away they go
Srila Prabhupada about to press the Button
The Fire Yajna
Sri Sri Nitai-Gauranga Rai
When a Vastu architect first looked at the plot of land he commented that “This is a Godsend”. Our property is flanked by a Hindu Temple, a Buddhist Temple, a Christian Church and the property for a Sikh Gurudwara. Behind us is a Bird park where peacocks crow melodiously morning and evening evoking the mood of Vrndavana. . The Temple will be the first new Radha Krishna Temple in Malaysia since independence in 1957? It will be a landmark for South East Asia and for ISKCON and a centre to facilitate the needs of the society in this part of the world. We don’t want to be over optimistic and count the “gulabs before they’re made”, but it is anticipated the completion will be within 3 years – at least by 2012.