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Ananta Shesha Sthapana at Vrindavana Chandrodaya Mandir

Vrindavana, the holy land where Supreme Lord Krishna enacted His wonderful pastimes, has several spiritual dimensions to it which cannot be seen with our mundane material eyes. It is revealed to only those devotees of the Lord whose eyes are anointed with love for Krishna. Over five hundred years ago, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhusent His disciples, the six Gosvamis headed by Srila Rupa Gosvami to uncover the locations of different pastimes of Lord Krishna in Vrindavana. Due to their efforts, today the whole world knows about the glories of Vrindavana.

Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, encouraged devotees to construct skyscraper temples for Krishna. Inspired by his instructions, the devotees of ISKCON Bangalore have initiated the construction of Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, a massive skyscraper temple, rising up to a height of 700-feet with a footprint of 5.5 acres in the village of Chattikara. It is the world’s tallest temple of Lord Krishna being built in Vrindavana.

Ananta-Sesha-Sthapana-VCM_Temple-Comparison1

To protect baby Krishna from the attacks of various demons like Putana, Shakatasura and Trinavarta, the residents of Gokula decided to shift their entire settlement to Vrindavana. On their way they halted at this village (Chattikara) and unyoked the bulls from the carts. The Supreme Lord has manifested in Chattikara as Sri Radha-Vrindavanachandra and is now residing in a temporary structure built here. Soon the iconic temple will rise into the sky and the Deities will move there and attract millions of devotees from all over the world.

His Excellency Sri Pranab Mukherjee, the Honorable President of India, participated in the ceremony of installing Lord Ananta Shesha (thousand-hooded serpent) at Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir on November 16, 2014. Lord Ananta Shesha is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. As stated in the Chaitanya-bhagavata (Adi-khanda 1.46),nivasa-sayyasana-padukamsuko-padhana-varsatapa-varanadibhih: Ananta Shesha serves the Supreme Lord by assuming various forms like umbrella, slippers, bedding, pillow, garments, resting chair, throne etc. Srila Prabhupada, in his Srimad-Bhagavatam purports explains that Ananta’s strength is so great that innumerable universes rest on His hoods. Since His strength is unlimited, all the universes resting on His hoods feel no heavier than mustard seeds.

Ananta-Sesha-Sthapana-VCM_President-doing-abhisheka

While constructing the temple, the foundation is laid and the Deity of Ananta Shesha is installed first. The idea of this ceremony, which is recommended in the Agama shastras (part of the Vedic literatures), is that the entire temple building of Lord Krishna will be resting on the hoods of Ananta Shesha. The sanctum sanctorum (garbha-griha) of the Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir is at a height of 15 meters from the ground. The Agama shastras recommend that the altar has to have bhu-sparsha (contact with the earth) and hence it is perched on a bhu-sparsha stambha. During the ceremony, the Deity of Ananta will be placed under the bhu-sparsha stambhawhich is formed by filling earth from several holy places and river basins from all over India.

Speaking on this occasion, Sri Pranab Mukherjee said that, “I am happy to hear that the followers of Srila Prabhupada from ISKCON Bangalore have conceived an iconic project of setting up a skyscraper temple for Lord Sri Krishna in Vrindavan. This is a historic undertaking. This project will highlight the significance of Vrindavan in multiple ways.”

He further expressed his hope that Vrindavan should become a beacon in spreading the spiritual culture of bhakti to Lord Krishna and give solace to thousands of people from all over the world. It should grow to become the spiritual capital of the world.

 

Press release on Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir Construction

Work begins on the construction of the World’s Tallest Skyscraper Temple for Lord Sri Krishna on the day of Janmashtami (18th August, 2014) in Vrindavan

Work on the construction of Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, a grand, tall and iconic skyscraper Temple Complex of monumental proportions, for Lord Sri Krishna, His message and His land Vrindavan, will begin today on Janmashtami, 18th August 2014.

The temple site is strategically located on Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg (formerly called Chhatikara Road), which is the main access to Vrindavan on the Delhi-Agra Highway. All tourists and pilgrims will pass through this road and hence the Mandir complex will enjoy huge visibility and footfalls.

On the auspicious occasion of Janmashtami, Lord Krishna’s birthday, the RCC piling work has begun on the construction site. Skyscrapers of these dimensions use piles to secure the foundation to the ground. Due to the soft nature of soil, the temple skyscraper requires piles of 1.2m (4ft) diameter, going as deep as 60m – which is equivalent to 20 floors in a regular building! In comparison, the Qutub Minar is 72.5m tall. More than 500 piles are required for the temple foundation. The pile work will be inaugurated in the auspicious presence of Shree Guru Sharanandaji Maharaj and Mrs. Hema Malini, Member of Parliament, Mathura on Janmashtami Day, Monday 18th August 2014.

To mark the occasion several special events have also been planned in the site area during Janmashtami. A detailed event list is attached in the invite.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa, President, Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, “This is an important milestone in the development of Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir project. On this auspicious Janmashtami day we are commencing the pile foundation work. This project is not only an architectural landmark; it is aimed to become a center for spiritual learning and human transformation.”

The Skyscraper temple project will include Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, a Temple with a height of 210 meters (70 stories) and footprint of about 5 acres, surrounded by the recreated forests of Braj conceived by the devotees of ISKCON-Bangalore.

In pursuance of the great desire of Srila Prabhupada (Founder-Acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement), it will be a center for disseminating the profound message of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, delivered in a modern context so that the people of the world irrespective of caste, creed, color, nationality or gender, are freed from the sufferings of material existence and find everlasting happiness through Krishna consciousness.

“The vision of Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir is to bring about a spiritual awakening among Indians and create a nation that is not only full of talent, creativity and energy but also adorned with exalted values and character,” added Chanchalapathi Das, “A nation we all ought to be proud of. We believe India truly has immense talent and brilliance to contribute for the global good, provided we build our character on the basis of the ancient wisdom that we have inherited. Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir aspires to provide the impetus for and facilitate this transformation of the society, to make Indians responsible global leaders who are guided by a spiritual worldview and imbued with sublime values.”

Features of the project

  • 210 meters or 700 ft. in height (70 storeys)
  • A capsule elevator takes visitors from the ground level to the 700 ft. tall Viewing Gallery giving an immersive 3D sound and light experience of the different planetary systems described in the Vedic literatures.
  • A look-alike of the verdant forests of Vrindavan will be recreated around this magnificent temple from descriptions in the Srimad-Bhagavatam; sprawling 26 acres it will consist of the twelve forests (dvadasha kanana) of Braj.
  • Krishna Lila Theme Park attractions will include Themed story telling areas, musical fountains, garden lawn and water features, Yamuna creek for boating experience, Braj heritage village and goshala to recreate the atmosphere of Vrindavan of Lord Krishna.
  • Krishna Heritage museum, Bhagavad-gita Expo, Lecture halls, centre for Krishna heritage studies to ignite minds about Lord Krishna.

Social Development Projects to be undertaken by Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir

  • Increasing and sustaining the support for Akshaya Patra mid-day meal program for feeding children studying in government schools of Mathura district (presently feeding 1.65 lakh children everyday)
  • Welfare programs for the widows of Vrindavan (presently feeding 300 widows)
  • Restoration, up-gradation and rejuvenation of the important sites of Braj
  • Restoration of River Yamuna to her original and pristine glory
  • Goshala for demonstrating cow protection

For further information on Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir project please visit www.vcm.org.in

The website was revamped and launched during the event.

Please direct all media queries to:

Bharatarshabha Dasa, Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, Cell: 9341034710
Bhavani Giddu, Volunteer, Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, Cell: 9999500262

Akshaya Patra kitchens inaugurated in Gujarat and Odisha

“If we can provide quality food to children under mid-day meal scheme, we can drastically decrease the drop out ratio,” said Gujarat Chief Minister Smt. Anandiben Patel, while inaugurating a fully-automated kitchen, built by The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) at Bhadaj, Ahmedabad in Gujarat on August 3, 2014.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a non-profit organization in India working towards providing food for education and eliminating classroom hunger in the country.

Recently, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated a state-of-the-art centralized mid-day meal kitchen at Bamphakuda in Nayahat area on the outskirts of Cuttack (Odisha). The centralized kitchen housing rice-cleaning machine, cold storage, boilers, conveyor belt along with modern packaging and distribution systems would provide hygienic meals for nearly 45,000 students of 190 schools daily.

 

Within a month’s time, TAPF has inaugurated another state-of-the-art kitchen in Ahmedabad spread across 2 acres and is built at a cost of Rs.15 crore. Hailed as one of the biggest in the country, the new kitchen is equipped with a roti making machine that can churn out up to 60,000 rotis an hour, as well as boilers, rice cleaning machines, rice and dal silos, cold storage and more which makes it possible to produce up to 2,00,000 meals in five hours. The kitchen is also fitted with a full-scale bakery to produce wheat-based food for the school children.

The Gujarat CM takes a look at the automated kitchen equipment

On every school day, 4.5 tons of rice, 8 tons of vegetable and 3 tons of dal will be cooked and loaded into 44 custom designed meal distribution vehicles and delivered to 121,508 children in 666 schools across Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad districts. “Food prepared in this kitchen will be sent to numerous government-run schools and Anganwadis within the periphery of 100 kms as mid-day meal to school children,” TAPF Vice Chairman Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa said. The kitchen was set up with the generous contribution of The Hans Foundation (Principal Sponsor), Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (Co-sponsor) along with Chimanlal Agrawal & Family and Nandlal Agrawal & Family (Land Donor). Patel was accompanied by the Minister for Women and Child Development Smt. Vasuben Trivedi, Ahmedabad Mayor Minakshi Patel, Chairman of TAPF Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa among other dignitaries.

ISKCON Kitchen ‘God’Fidential

With 10,000 visitors daily, ISKCON Bangalore has seven kitchens to serve different needs — from offerings to temple deities to midday meals. A behind-the-scenes glimpse into what goes into this undertaking.

Walking through one of the seven kitchens at the ISKCON temple premises in Rajajinagar, there’s a sense of awe at the scale of operations. Giant cauldrons of milk being churned mechanically, kadais, the size of drums, with boondi being fried in hot oil, hundreds of trays of ghee-laden Mysore Pak, laddoos, gulab jamuns, ras malai, namkeens and more being packed by a line of workers — for a moment, it’s easy to forget that we are on temple premises, this could easily be a mithai factory.

It’s about 4.30 pm so all is quiet in one of the neighbouring kitchens, which incidentally, is where theAkshaya Patra or midday meal scheme was first initiated in 2000. But a visit early next morning presents equally hectic scenes with workers in uniforms wearing face masks and hair nets, using shovel-sized ladles to transfer steaming hot mounds of vegetable rice into vessels that are then ferried in steel carts to be packed into massive dabbas that will be distributed in 487 schools covered under the midday meal programme.

Rivalling the output of these two kitchens is a third one that prepares the daily prasadam of khichdi that’s distributed among the 10,000 visitors that come to the temple every day (on a festival day like Janmasthami this number goes up to a lakh).

In all of this, there are two underlying principles that unify these commercial-scale operations. One, all of the food is Sattvic (which means no onion, garlic or meat and egg-based products) and two, everything is first offered to the Lord first — smaller idols of the temple deities adorn the entrances of all these kitchens and as soon as a batch of food is ready, samplers are laid out for the Lord to bless. This, basically also means that cooks cannot taste the food while preparing them, hence, they need to follow very precise recipes.

Away from the chaos of the kitchens, seated in the hush of a conference room, ashram initiate Bharatarshabha Dasa, head of their communications team, talks about the philosophy behind their many community kitchens. “At any temple, the primary focus is prasadam because no worship is complete without it. Even what is offered in the restaurant (Higher Taste, their fine dine space which opened in 2005 ) is also prasadam,”Bharatarshabha says going on to recite lines from the BhagavadGita that forms the essence of this idea: Yatkaroshiyadasnasiyajjuhoshidadasi yat. “It essentially means, ‘whatever I do, whatever I eat, should be an offering to the Lord’ and that is the fundamental principle.”He’s one of the 25 ashram devotees who are dedicated to the various sevas of the temple deities — eight in all: Radha-Krishna, Krishna-Balaram, Nitai-Gauranga, Prahlada Narasimha and Sri Srinivasa Govinda — one of which is preparing seven offerings that have to be presented to the Lord through the day. So, Bharatarshabha’s day begins at 3.15 am following which an offering of sweet rice is made to the deity around 3.45 am. Thereafter, they offer milk, dry fruits, sweets, fruits, etc, at regular intervals, with the largest offering being the Raja Bhog with a minimum of 12 items (this can go upto 108 items during festivals) at 12 pm — with separate plates for each of the eight deities. Unlike the other kitchens, which have a mix of volunteers and paid staffers — about 250 in all — supervised by an ashram devotee, the deity kitchen can only be accessed by ashram initiates like Bharatarshabha. And at any given point there are about 10-15 devotees who are in charge of cooking for the deities.

Even the food that is cooked for initiates like Bharatarshabha, who work full-time at ISKCON, comes from a separate kitchen. In all, there are about 120 ashram initiates — a 100-odd brahmacharis who live within the premises and the rest like Bharatarshabha, who is a Grihasta (even his wife is a full-time devotee at ISKCON), are given an allowance to rent a small place nearby. “The food that’s cooked for the deities is usually distributed among the initiates and volunteers who come from outside. Apart from that, two simple meals consisting of rice, dal, sabzi, roti and buttermilk or curd is cooked for us,” Bharatarshabha says, adding that their food is very light, and made without spices.

The whole idea being that Sattvic (pure) food is nourishing and elevates one’s thinking unlike Rajasic (stimulating) and Tamasic (base) foods. “It goes beyond vegetarianism; we are Krishnatarians. Meat, onion, garlic and intoxicants, even caffeine, is in the mode of passion which increases your desires, pushes you to think on the mundane platform.”

Interestingly, the Higher Taste kitchen has a separate team of about 40 employees that are overseen by ashram devotees who are passionate about food. An in-house food lab, set up in 2005, a sort of mini kitchen, is used by the chefs to try out some of the more innovative items on the menu such as paan ice cream, gooseberry soup, Kabulistani biryani (made with potato and cauliflower), Vedic coffee (like a kashaya). “For instance, one of the devotees who had gone to Brindavan, found some old recipes there and we tried it out here during the week of Janmasthami. So, we test on a smaller scale at the lab and then introduce it on the menu,” Bharatarshabha explains.

A bird’s eye view of ISKCON today can easily make one forget its humble beginnings in 1997 when they had only about 3,000 visitors.

With the growing number of devotees visiting every year, their plans include setting up a annadana hall where visitors will be served prasadam. But the core idea of serving food that’s rich in Prana or life-force remains their divine purpose.