The history of the Detroit Temple, Devasadan, is known to many, and within that history lies the seed of the fruition of Srila Prabhupada’s vision of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. As the story goes, as told by Ambarisa prabhu at all of his TOVP presentations, he joined ISKCON in Detroit which is a center for car production in the U.S. His great-grandfather was Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company.
He was sitting with Srila Prabhupada in his room in the temple with several other devotees, and they were discussing the Mayapur project. He had just financed several million dollars worth of renovations to the newly acquired Fisher Mansion, now Devasadan Mandir, and Srila Prabhupada was extremely pleased with the results. Srila Prabhupada then turned to Ambarisa and asked what he thought of the Mayapur project. Although not knowing anything about Mayapur, as a dedicated disciple, he replied that he thought it was a very good idea. Srila Prabhupada then spoke his famous and prophetic words, “So, you can help finance.” These words stuck deeply within Ambarisa’s heart and he has carried them with him ever since. Thus, the Detroit temple represents a most important aspect of the roots of the TOVP project. The presiding Deities are Sri Sri Radha Kunjabihari, Sri Sri Gaur Nitai, and Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva and Lady Subhadra.
On Saturday, June 27th, before the evening TOVP presentation, we had a tour of Devasadan Mandir, formerly the Fisher Mansion. It was a huge mansion, one of the largest and most unique in the U.S. at the time, with pure gold embellishments on the walls throughout the structure, each room representing a different International theme with appropriate structural designs and carvings. We ended with a visit to the original diorama theater created during Srila Prabhupada’s time. After the tour we were taken for a lunch program at the home of Nityakrishna and Nitya Kishori prabhus, attended by the TOVP Team including Ambarisa and Svaha prabhus.
When we arrived at the temple for the TOVP program the special presentation room was filled with devotees chanting the holy names and the crowd increased to almost 300 during the evening. An abhisheka was performed for the Padukas and Sitari and the TOVP presentation began after a heartwarming introduction by Jagad Guru prabhu, the Temple President. The Team spoke to all the devotees and a special feeling arose in everyone’s hearts because of the closeness of Devasadan Mandir to the TOVP project. Pledges started coming in and devotees started becoming ecstatic. In the end $1.6 million was pledged by the assembled devotees, after which prasadam was served.
All glories to Lord Nityananda Rama. All glories to the devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
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