Archive for the 'Mayapur news' Category

Vintage Mayapur
20 November 2009

Here’s a few photos from the Bhaktivedanta Archives of Mayapur circa 1972-1980.  It serves to remind us that Mayapur has been a continuous development and will continue to be so. Just as rice paddies were turned in to parks and fountains, now the parks and fountains are making way for something new–the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

Here’s how it all began:

International Headquarters 1971

International Headquarters 1971

During a flood mid-1970s

During a flood 1979

Circa 1980

Circa 1980

Eternal Residents of Mayapur, Sri Sri Radha Madhava and Sri Caitanya-1971

Eternal Residents of Mayapur, Sri Sri Radha Madhava and Sri Caitanya-1971

and Their eternal servants

and Their eternal servants

the transcendental twins about whom Srila Prabhupada said "These twins, everyone should know it, there is no comparison."

the transcendental twins about whom Srila Prabhupada said "These twins, everyone should know it, there is no comparison."

Their Lordships and Their intimate servants--1979

Their Lordships and Their intimate servants--1979

Sri Sri Radha Madhava 1979

Sri Sri Radha Madhava 1979

from the Lotus building to the main gate 1976

from the Lotus building to the main gate 1976



1980 - Lotus building

1980 - Lotus building

Gurukula 1980

Gurukula boys 1980

So what are you waiting for? Come and visit Mayapur...

So what are you waiting for? Come and visit Mayapur...

All Things Must Pass… Gone-vindas and the late Lotus
5 November 2009

Great news from Mayapur. Here’s a few photos I took today. As you can see, some major changes are taking place. The park is being cleared in preparation for the ground work to begin on the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP).

There is a good deal of nostalgia for the park, the famous Lotus Fountain, the lawns and trees and flowers. Literally tens of millions of visitors (four million just during last year) have enjoyed the peaceful environs of the ISKCON Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir gardens and they have served us well. Still I can’t help but be elated in seeing the acceleration of the demolition as preparations gear up.

By January we hope to see the pile drivers in place and work on the foundations begin in earnest. In early February the entire GBC body will attend an inaugural ceremony to create an auspicious beginning for the works. If you are coming for Gaura Purnima, be prepared for some major changes!

The park area circa 1976

The park area circa 1976

Lotus Fountain -- the beginning (circa 1980)

Lotus Fountain -- the beginning (circa 1980)

Lotus Fountain -- the beginning

Lotus Fountain -- the beginning

And the end... November 2009

And the end... November 2009

After nearly 30 years of service, the Lotus Fountain goes under the hammers

After nearly 30 years of service, the Lotus Fountain goes under the hammers

30 years and millions of visitors later, the Lotus Fountain bids adieu

30 years and millions of visitors later, the Lotus Fountain bids adieu

All things must pass

All things must pass

Here’s the new perimeter demarking the boundary of the TOVP. These poles will be adorned with tin sheets and the whole area will be off limits to visitors while the construction goes on.

TOVP perimeter fence poles go in

TOVP perimeter fence poles go in

Take a last look, by Gaura Purnima this will be a solid fence

Take a last look, by Gaura Purnima this will be a solid fence

One place I was particularly glad to see dismantled was this:

Govinda's dhaba bites the dust

Govinda's dhaba bites the dust

Going, going, Gone-vinda's

Going, going, ...

Gone-vindas -- will be replaced with an new first class air conditioned restaurant


A new first class restaurant is under construction and will be operational within two months. It will comprise of three areas-Bengali cuisine, Indian cuisine, and an air conditioned full service Italian restaurant. Another area will be for snacks and take-aways so that sit down diners will not be disturbed. There will be three kitchens with different crews cooking for each one.

BBC documentary on Gurus
3 August 2009

August 3 2009

A popular travel documentary a few years back on the BBC was

Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends“.

Weird Weekends

Weird Weekends

He did a show on Indian gurus and a trip to Mayapur was included. At that time I was one of the co-directors of Mayapur, along with Jayapataka Swami. When Louis came, both of us happened to be in residence and it was also Jayapataka Maharaja’s birthday.

I never got to see the final product although it was aired on British TV at least 3-4 times. Finally, last night my nephew Harry, who is studying architecture in England and works part-time in New York on his university breaks, sent me the following link to Youtube where the whole series is posted. Parts 3 and 4 contain the Mayapur segment.

Its interesting although, as you would expect from an entertainment show, a little shallow. I think about 1% of what I told Louis actually made it past the editors. Still, the holy names are prominent, and it was seen by millions of viewers in England.

Here’s the video: 

Miracles and God’s inconceivable energy
28 December 2008

December 28 2008

Here’s a wonderful story from Sriman Nanda Kishore prabhu to add to my post on December 3 2008 about miracles:

“On 18th March, 2008, Sri Maheshbhai Dhokia, congregation member from London called me and told me that His wife, Srimati Jayshree Dhokia is suffering from acute uterine cancer and she is being flown to Frankfurt for the last time. Maheshbhai asked me if the devotees in Mayapur could do some prayers for his wife. Doctors in London had given up the hope and claimed that she may not last more then 3 months as the cancer had spread to most parts of lower body that is abdominal and pelvic area.

The following morning, I humbly requested HG Pankajanghri prabhu and explained him the whole situation. We were both in the pujari room near Radha Madhava altar. I was dressing Mahaprabhu at that time of the year and HG Pankajanghri prabhu was making his final preparations for all the abhisekha of Lord Nrisimadeva.

Nrsimhadeva puja Mayapur

HG Pankajanghri prabhu asked what is the name of the mataji. I just gave the name written on a piece of paper.

In Germany, it was just during the same time the operation was going on to save Srimati Jayshree mataji. After she gained her consciousness she told her husband that she dreamt of lord Nrisimhadev of Mayapur. Bhakta Pralad Maharaja was there  to tell her the glories of Lord Nrisimhadev.


She also told her husband that she completely feels like a new person and something evil has left her body.

Read the rest of this entry »

18 November 2008

November 18 2008

For those who haven’t seen it yet, there is a nice video of Laksmipriya, our Mayapur elephant, on YouTube:

And here’s a few photos from Hrimati mataji, our defacto elephant expert.

Hrimati with LP

LP loves the hose


Read the rest of this entry »

H.H. Jayapataka Swami -Srila Prabhupada’s Victory Flag
24 October 2008

Ocotober 24 2008

Now we have another major crisis with HH Jayapataka Swami in hospital in Mumbai with a severe stroke caused by brain aneurysm. His condition is very critical, and the doctors have admitted that there is not much they can do, and the main thing now is our prayers for Maharaja’s well being.


At this moment I can’t describe my feelings. The apprehension of the loss of this very dear friend is not something I want to contemplate right now. And despite his current crisis, as Ravindra Svarupa prabhu just put to me, Maharaja has more prana than anyone he has ever met. He is a fighter and he has tremendous strength of constitution.


We have clearly entered the era where the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples is going to be a regular affair. That’s the material world, always hankering and lamenting. Our consolation is Srila Prabhupada’s statement that we shall have another ISKCON in the spiritual world and that our spiritual relationships are all eternal. 


I was just with Jayapataka Maharaja in Mumbai. We had our MVT meeting in Chowpatty on the 18th. He appeared to be very tired and didn’t look well, but like everyone else, I thought it was simply the symptom of the almost perpetual jeg-lag that Maharaja suffers due to his intense and continuous travels. I thought with a few days in one place he would catch up his rest and be back to his usual energetic self.

It only takes a second and everything changes.


I first saw him in 1975 but I didn’t get to know him until early 1976. Srila Prabhupada had arrived in Mayapur on January 17 and stayed for just over two months. Jayapataka Swami was his stalwart assistant in developing the Mayapur project. I remember one particular incident that nicely summed up their relationship:

[TD 1] January 18, 1976 – Sri Dhama Mayapur 

With the festival only six weeks away, Jayapataka expressed doubts how it [the Long building] could be completed in time. Prabhupada told him if they engage at least one hundred men it could be done. Then Bhavananda Maharaja raised the objection that there was no money. Prabhupada told him that if that was the only problem, he would give him the money. But he said they must start immediately. Jayapataka, however, was still apprehensive. He said there was a shortage of bricks. Nevertheless Prabhupada pushed him to begin construction. He told them that they should do whatever they can, but the work must begin immediately.

Leaving the pukkur we hesitated to go down the steep incline of the embankment. Jayapataka, however, had no problem running down, even in his wooden shoes. Srila Prabhupada laughed. “Victorious flag — Jaya-pataka,” he called out, appreciating his disciple’s dexterity.

Since those days Jayapataka Maharaja has been carrying the flag of victory all over the world on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, spreading the glories of Sri Mayapur Dhama far and wide and increasing the family of ISKCON devotees for the pleasure of his spiritual master. Now that seems to be at the end of an era.

We can simply pray that Srila Prabhupada’s victorious flag is not lowered to half mast any time soon.

Grey as a mouse, big as a house
5 October 2008

Ocotober 5 2008

Elephant Child- Rudyard Kipling

Grey as a mouse,

Big as a house,

Nose like a snake,

I make the earth shake,

As I tramp through the grass;

Trees crack as I pass. …

Biggest of all,

Huge, old and tall.

If ever’d you meet me,

You wouldn’t forget me.

If you never do,

You won’t think I’m true;

But old Oliphaunt am I,

And I never lie.

— Sam Gamgee, Lord of the Rings

There was a time when elephants were held in awe and reverence, but it seems that time has passed:


Here in Mayapur at least, there’s still a home for at least a couple of India’s pachyderms

Here’s a few more photos of Visnupriya, just delivered to my by Hrmati mataji. As you can see, at about 3 years old, she’s really cute.

pic 5 

Visnupriya and Mum

Read the rest of this entry »

first photos of Visnupriya
4 October 2008

October 4 2008

By the grace of Her Grace Hrmati mataji, here’s a couple of photos of our (hopefully) new elephant Visnupriya. She’s a lovely little lady of about 4 years old.

Visnupriya gets a biscuit from Hrmati mataji 


When she is old enough, Visnupriya will be trained as the carrier of the Deities in our winter weekend hati processions around Mayapur, carrying chota Radha Madhava on her back.

Visnupriya, Mayapur’s 2nd new elephant
25 September 2008

September 25 2008

I just got a call from Hrmati dasi. She’s a German disciple of Srila Prabhupada who has lived in Mayapur now for the last decade or so. She’s quite a character. Apart from raising a multitude of kids by herself, living in a grass hut with her own bullocks and cows, she is also the person who was responsible for bringing our new elephant, Laxmipriya from Assam in March.

Laxmipriya in Mayapur

Laxmipriya is doing well. She’s growing nicely and is being trained for her future service of carrying the Deities of Chota Radha Madhava on Their Saturday night processions during the winter months.

Laxmipriya with the devotees

[see article: 14/new_elephant_packs_her_trunk_iskcon_mayapur ]

Now Hrmati is back up in Assam arranging to give a home here in Mayapur to another one. Why two? Because nowadays Indian laws are quite strict about elephant ownership. One of the rules is that you cannot have just one elephant, you have to have at least two. Otherwise they get very lonely and it reduces their life span considerably.

Every elephant in India is also supposed to be implanted with a microchip so that proper records can be kept. Failure to comply is supposed to result in confiscation.

In practice there are many elephants in the jungles of Assam that have not been implanted and due to various factors remain with their owners. According to the local officials its almost impossible to enforce this law.

The elephants are not wild, they are either forcibly retired animals thrown into inactivity due to the forcible shut down of the logging industry, or decendents thereof.

According to a report in 2006 by the Wildlife Health Unit (WHU) EcoSystems India:

The states of Northeast India, especially Assam, have a long history and tradition of domesticating elephants for timber logging operations. Of the total captive elephants (about 3,500) in the country, the Northeast accounts for over half the population (about 55%). Following a central government ban on uncontrolled tree-felling activities in the region in 1996, about 1,800 working elephants became burden upon their owners, as there were no alternative means of using the animals. Since then the condition of many of these creatures has deteriorated. Apart from the medical attention given to the animals by the owners in emergency situations, no attempt has been made by either government or non-government agencies to provide services for the elephant healthcare in Assam.

Their owners, poor tribals for the most part, are having a tough time. Whereas a working animal would earn them around Rs. 50,000 per month, an unemployed one is a Rs. 10,000 per month liability. Many owners allow the mahouts to take their charges out on the streets and its a common sight in Assam to see them blocking the traffic in order to solicit donations. These magnificent beasts have now been reduced to begging.

Its also not possible to sell them to new owners because elephants are a schedule 1 protected species. They cannot be bought, sold or even given away. On top of this well-meaning but misguided NGOs sometimes object to their being taken to homes outside the state even if the conditions are better. Thus the laws that stopped the logging in order to protect the forests have created a situation of gross neglect for the inhabitants, and the once proud pachyderms have become skinny, runted beasts that noone has any use for.

By good fortune our intended calf Visnupriya, who is about 3 years old, may well end up spending her days happily here in Mayapur. The process of transferring her to Mayapur to serve the Deities is going on and Hrmati had to go up there this week to make sure she is properly microchipped and the papers submitted.

Good job she did. The owner died since the last time she was there and his brother was attempting to file the papers under his own name. A friendly officer who has been assisting Hrmati to get through all the redtape realized the irregularity and they were able to catch it in time. Had they not, it would have caused big complications later on and lengthy delays. They sent for the deceased man’s son, the true owner, and the papers are now being correctly drawn up.

Another delay came when everyone started running for cover. Not due to a mad elephant but due to a report that some operatives of the notorious United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) terrorist group were in the near vicinity. Hrmati had to jump in a car and be taken out of the area for a couple of hours until things settled down again. Nothing is straight forward in India.

The microchip is implanted in the ear through a syringe. Its about the size of a grain of rice.

 elephant-microchip.jpg     syringe

That was done this afternoon and now the rest of the procedure can go ahead. Hrmati says Visnupriya is quite friendly. The officers remarked that out of all the elephants in the vicinity (there’s a batch headed out to Bihar soon) Visnupriya is notably calm and even tempered. At her age they can be a bit boisterous and difficult to handle. Even though she has grown up in the jungle Hrmati was able to approach her and feed her a few biscuits.

It will take some weeks to settle all the paperwork and Hrmati is hoping that by mid-December we should be able to bring Visnupriya to Mayapur for her new life in service to Sri Sri Radha Madhava.

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