Iskcon opened the world’s largest Pujari floor on 17th Feb 2020 in Mayapur on the auspicious occasion of the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura.
The Pujari floor is part of the Temple of Vedic Planetarium (TOVP).
Spread over 2.5 acres, the Pujari floor will have 69 rooms.
This is the largest facility in the world to serve the Lord.
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The plan is to open TOVP by 2022. It will be the tallest temple in the whole world.
HG Braj Vilas Prabhu who coordinated the whole event in his opening address said, “Every Vaisnava acharya has been trying their best to serve Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakura built the Yogapita and for that, he collected Re 1 from each house. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura established 64 Gaudiya Maths with its headquarter, Chaitanya Math, in Mayapur. Srila Prabhupada wanted to build TOVP as his personal offering to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He would encourage all to come together to build this magnificent temple for the prince of Mayapur.”
This auspicious occasion was graced by many Iskcon sannyasis, Iskcon leaders, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and thousands of devotees who congregated in Mayapur to witness this wonderful event.
The first speaker was HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj without whom Mayapur is incomplete.
HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj said:
“Lord Nityananda had said, “Ek Adhbut Mandir hoibe prakash, Gauranga Nitya seva hoibe vikas.” A wonderful temple will be built which will broadcast the message of Lord Chaitanya all over the world. TOVP is that ‘Adbhut Mandir.’
This is a special service to Prabhupada. Someone asked Prabhupada why Lord Chaitanya or Lord Nityananda did not preach all over the world. Prabhupada said that because they gave me the service to spread Krishna Consciousness all over the world.
Prabhupada once called all his godbrothers and said that we all should come together to satisfy our spiritual master, HDG Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. But unfortunately, it did not work out. We are still trying to unite. In the evening we are inviting devotees from Gaudiya Maths.
I want to thank all. I like to see opening of the temple. Krishna has blessed me. I am still here. I hope to be there when temple will be opened.”
Ambarish Prabhu, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, is the chairman of TOVP. He is the great-grandson of Henry Ford. It is because of his efforts that this magnificent temple, an architectural marvel, is wonderfully manifesting. In his address, HG Ambarish Prabhu thanked all the devotees who have been putting their best efforts to build the temple. He welcomed all the devotee community for enthusiastically participating in the Pujari room opening event.
Ambarish Prabhu said:
“Srila Prabhupada had planted the seed of this temple in my heart in 1976. In 1976, Srila Prabhupada was discussing the TOVP model with many of his disciples. I was also present during that conversation.
After describing how TOVP should look, Prabhupada looked towards me and asked, “So Ambarish Maharaj what do you think about it.”
He would lovingly call me Ambarish Maharaj!
I said the idea sounds nice.
And Srila Prabhupada immediately said, “If you like the idea then why don’t you help us fund it.”
At that time, I had no idea of Mayapur and where is Mayapur in India. But these immortal words of Prabhupada got imprinted in my heart and since then I am trying to help build TOVP.
As the communist regime in West Bengal was making difficult to build the temple so there was a plan to build it in Jagannath Puri.
But in 2005 -06, I had a dream and, in the dream, Prabhupada asked me to build TOVP in Mayapur.
I thank Sadbhuja Prabhu who worked with gammon on the idea of building a magnificent dome for the TOVP.
When a wealthy person plans to move to his summer home then before his arrival all the arrangements are made for his comfort. Radha Madhav is the richest couple of the universe so before they move to TOVP in 2022 efforts are being made to make all the arrangements so that they can be served magnificently.
I thank HG Srinathji Prabhu who helped a lot financially to build the temple. HG Srinathji Prabhu left this world a few years back. But his wife and children are carrying his dream and helping TOVP. Many devotees have come forward to fund this great project. There are devotees who are contributing 20 dollars because this is what they can afford and there are devotees who are contributing a million dollars.
I thank each one of them and request more devotees to come forward and contribute in building this adbhut (astounding) temple for the Lord.
HG Swaha Mataji is the wife of HG Ambarish Prabhu. They both are teaching by their personal example that how husband and wife should cooperate with each other to serve the Lord. Mataji while speaking remembered that in 2018 how all had gathered for the installation of Lord’s cakras. And today (13th Feb 2020) on the most auspicious occasion of the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura all gathered for the opening of the beautiful pujari room for the Lord.
HG Swaha Mataji said:
“Lord Nityananda Prabhu had predicted that an adbhut (astounding) temple for the Lord will come up in Mayapur 500 years ago and it is by his mercy only TOVP is wonderfully manifesting.
Lord Nityananda Prabhu expands as dham and also as Lord’s paraphernalia. And currently, the Lord Nityananda’s padukas are travelling all over the world inspiring all to help build this magnificent temple.
The spiritual world is always expanding and services to the Lord are also expanding. So this new palace is required so that Sri Sri Radha Madhava and Asta Sakhis, Lord Narasimhadev, Pancha Tattva, and Srila Prabhupada and all the Vaisnava acharyas can be served magnificently.
From Nityananda Charitamrta she told a pastime:
Once Lord Nityananda brought 40kg of very fine white rice from Bengal and gave it to Gadadhar Pandit. He also brought a beautiful coloured cloth for Lord Gopinath.
Gadadhar Pandit was so pleased to see the beautiful dress and fine quality rice for the Lord. He plucked some spinach and the tender leaf of tamarind from the Tota Gopinath temple in Jagannath Puri and prepared a nice preparation of rice.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu smelled the aroma of the rice and came running to Tota Gopinath temple and said how can you celebrate a festival without me.
And then the three Lords enjoyed the simple preparation of white rice. Mahaprabhu glorified Gadadhar Pandit’s culinary ability. Gadadhar Pandit knew how to prepare a wonderful thing for the Lord and offer him by love.
Similarly, Srila Prabhupada, an intimate associate of Lord Nityananda, knows how to offer wonderful things to the Lord.
This TOVP is an offering of Srila Prabhupada to his spiritual master and all the great acharyas and we are fortunate that he left it for us to manifest his dream. For this, we are eternally grateful.
I thank GBC and all senior leaders who are actively working to help the project.”
HH Gopal Krishna Goswami, Chairman of Indian bureau, said:
“TOVP was very dear to Srila Prabhupada. Once HH Giriraj Swami asked Prabhupada what will please him the most. Then he himself said, “I think if we distribute your books and build TOVP you will be so happy.”
And Prabhupada said, yes. Prabhupada wanted this temple because it was the desire of Lord Nityananda that an adbhut (astounding) temple comes up.
Prabhupada wanted to make temple like Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal is so famous and people from all over the world come to visit it. Similarly, TOVP should be built so attractively that people from all over the world come here.
He wanted this temple be built from the support of all the people of the world.
Lord Krishna can build the temples on his own, but he has given us an opportunity to build the temple for our own purification.
We should endeavour sincerely and go from house to house to collect funds for this temple.
There are more than 60 pujari rooms. The purpose of opening Pujari rooms is also to make everyone especially donors aware that we are making progress. We should work together. TOVP will enhance Srila Prabhupada’s reputation. It will attract the whole world.”
HH Shivram Maharaj gave valuable inputs in designing the kitchen. Initially, he was not satisfied with the Kitchen look. He said that this is Radharani’s kitchen and so it should be shining and beautiful. He arranged for 10,00,00 dollars to make sure that the kitchen looks beautiful. In his address, he emphasized the importance of deity service.
HH Shivram Maharaj said:
In my experience of traveling to different temples, I found that deity worship is a struggle. Srila Prabhupada wanted to establish deity worship on the level probably not seen for a long time and we should continue with that standard.
I thank HG Jananivas Prabhu and HG Pankajangriya Prabhu for maintaining a high standard of deity worship in Mayapur.
TOVP will set a standard of service to Krishna and will make wave of Krishna Consciousness.
I thank Ambarish Prabhu, his wife, and Braj Vilas Prabhu for their efforts. This is one project where everyone contributes. This shows that Iskcon is an international organization. We should come together. No doubt Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada will give us the ability to complete TOVP.
HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj
In his address, HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj explained that Pujari room is Krishna’s personal room. And this pujari room also has kitchens and kitchen is Srimati Radharani’s favorite room. Pujari room will have Krishna’s personal belongings and from here Krishna will be given personal services.
He further said that in 1977 Srila Prabhupada was in his last week at Krishna Balarama temple in Vrindavan. Devotees were performing soft kirtan.
In the middle of the night, Srila Prabhupada whispered in the ear of Brahmananda Prabhu and asked where the Pujari is.
In those days, devotees were coming from all over the world, so no one knew where the Pujari is. But fortunately, he was in veranda, sleeping. Brahmananda Prabhu woke him up and gave the message that Srila Prabhupada wants to see him.
It was middle of the night. The Pujari was in shock. He was thinking what is so urgent. What happened?
He got up from the floor and ran to Prabhupada. He put his ear close to Prabhupada’s mouth so that he can hear clearly.
Prabhupada said, “Pujari is the most fortunate because he is always close to Krishna.”
And that’s all Prabhupada said and asked him to go. So, pujari rooms and pujaris are very special.
Maharaj further said: In 2022 we are planning to open the TOVP temple.
2022 is the 100th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada receiving the instruction from his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to preach all over the world. That instruction is the seed of the root of Iskcon.
And 2022 is also the 50th anniversary when HG Jananivas Prabhu and HG Pankajanghri Prabhu began the worship (puja) of Sri Sri Radha Madhav in Mayapur.
So the year is so special. Let us all come together to complete the temple.
HH Loknath Swami Maharaj, the Kirtan Samrat of Iskcon, in his address said:
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura gave instruction to Srila Prabhupada, “You seem to be intelligent. You should propagate Bhagavat Dharma in the western world in English language.”
The two Lords – Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda – were speaking through Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura to Abhay.
Srila Prabhupada took the instruction very seriously.
He fulfilled the instruction of both the Lords.
Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s instruction was – pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma/ sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma. “In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.” Prabhupada travelled 14 times all over the world. He went to different countries, cities, towns and villages to spread the names of Lord Chaitanya. He made that prediction true.
And then Lord Nityananda also made a prediction. Lord Nityananda was taking Jiva Goswamu for Nabadwip Mandal parikrama. On the first day of parikrama he told Jiva Goswam in Bengali – Ek Adhbut Mandir hoibe Prakash. There will be an astounding temple around here. He pointed in a direction. And then he said, “Gauranga Nitya seva hoibe vikas.” The eternal service to Lord Gauranga will be propagated from that temple all over the world. And that temple is this TOVP temple. So Prabhupada is making the prediction of Lord Nityananda also true by establishing TOVP.
Prabhupada received instruction in 1922 from his spiritual master.
1972 i.e. on the 50th anniversary of receiving that instruction he organized first Mayapur festival.
At that time there was just a little piece of land. Not many followers were there. Only 40 – 50 devotees were there but it was considered that so many devotees have come.
Prabhupada immediately got into action. Groundbreaking ceremony was performed. Ananta sesa was installed. Temple opening proceeding was inaugurated.
Prabhupada started the temple in 1972 and it is taking us 50 years to open the temple in 2022.
Ambarish Prabhu said how Srila Prabhupada planted a seed in his heart in 1976 in Detroit.
Once the seed is planted, it has to be watered. From seed comes the tree. From that seed is springing up the tallest temple on the planet.
Ambarish Prabhu is playing the role of Hanuman. Hanuman helped in building the bridge from Ramesvaram to Lanka. He was bringing big boulders, mountains, and trees for the bridge.
But also, there was a little squirrel who was assisting. He was rolling on the sand, picking some particles of mud or sand, climbing on mountains of big boulders and was throwing the sand between the boulders to fill the gap.
So ultimately it was a team effort.
We do not want this temple to be known as Alfred Ford temple. Like in India we have Birla temple.
In fact, Ambarish Prabhu also does not want it. Of course, he will always be remembered for his herculean task.
We little squirrels have also to play our role. So, let us join the effort.
I was thinking why the opening of the temple floor is happening. We have heard many reasons. Pujari floor opening is also a confidence-building measure.
We older folks have been doubting whether we are going to see the temple completed. Now Ambarish Prabhu, Braj Vilas Prabhu and the immediate core group working with him is giving us confidence. When VIPs come, they will see the Pujari floor opened. Then next is Sri Sri Radha Madhav, Pancha Tattva, Lord Narsimhadeva, Prahlad Maharaj and parampara. It will happen.
So just keep backing up, supporting, contributing.
Lot more has happened. Lot more has to happen. We should dedicate our life and heart in this temple.
HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami Maharaj in his brief address said:
We are opening the Pujari floor. HH Shivram Mahraj was saying it should be named as the deity floor. But before deity comes Pujari, so Pujari floor. And here the Pujari is HG Jananivas Prabhu. He was given the service of serving the deity in Mayapur by Srila Prabhupada. So, it should be Jananivas floor.
We are opening Pujari floor 2 years before the temple is opened because so many preparations are required to serve the deities. When I went to see the Pujari room, I found in different rooms vast preparations are being made to serve the deity.
This should become a museum.
People should take tickets and come and see how wonderful facilities have been created to serve the Lord. In fact, the whole world will see how important it is to serve the deity.
HG Jananivas Prabhu said:
This is Gauranga’s temple so it has to be the best. Lord Nityananda while revealing the dham to Jiva Goswami said that the temple will come by the desire of Lord Chaitanya. So this temple is coming by the desire of Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord.
Once in Mayapur Bhavananda Prabhu had asked Srila Prabhupada, “We are now sitting in a rice field. There is nothing here. You want us to build a beautiful temple, a city. But from where the money will come.”
Prabhupada said, “O Bhavananda, you are always worried about money. But here we have Sri Sri Radha Madhav. Madhav means the husband of the goddess of fortune. Serve Madhava nicely and the money will come.”
Prediction is that Gauranga’s service will spread all over the world from Mayapur.
What is that service? Mahaprabhu has come to give braj prem (love), Krishna prem (love) which is very rare in the form of service to the Lord. How can you love without service? By serving the Lord we express our love. Without service, you cannot love. Mahaprabhu is giving us the service and we should take it up.
At present, the most important service is to finish the temple by 2022. This is the ideal way to service. “
TOVP team has been receiving help from all over the world and it was time to thank all those who have been contributing in building the tallest temples of the world. A Memento, a replica of TOVP, was presented to the donors and all those who have been serving sincerely. After the gifts, it was time to light the fire and perform yagna. It was followed by melodious kirtan.
And then the Pujari floor was thrown open to the world to come and see how wonderfully devotees are working hard to serve the Supreme Lord.
All are now waiting for 2022 when the deities will move to TOVP.
Pic Courtesy: www.tovp.org
For Complete video of the Celebration please visit: www.tovp.org