2014 was a banner year for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Sridham Mayapur.
Construction continued to outpace expectations, buoyed by a robust fundraising campaign. The construction of the main dome is nearing completion, and the auxiliary domes are now being constructed. The project has entered a new phase of construction beginning a new contract for laying the brick walls. The brickwork reveals a new dimension of progress as the construction site becomes gradually transformed into a recognizable and massive temple.
The construction of the main altar is also progressing rapidly. In the future, thousands of people from all over the world will stand in the vast temple room to chant and dance before Sri Panchatattva, Sri Sri Radha Madhava and the Guru parampara. Simultaneously, the altar for Lord Nrisimhadev is progressing under His separate dome beside the main temple room.
The centerpiece of the temple complex will be the grand chandelier which will hang in the main dome of the TOVP. It will serve as a model of the universe to provide visitors an enlivening tour of the various regions of the cosmic creation according to descriptions in the Fifth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam and detailed instructions in the 1976 letter of Srila Prabhupada to Mr. Dhani. The TOVP team of artists and scholars have worked diligently to create a scale model of this chandelier inside a model of the main dome. This will help demonstrate how the mechanism of the planets will work as an exhibition inside the dome space.
As far as fundraising, our very competent team headed by Radha Jivan prabhu and Braja Vilas prabhu have been traveling around the world collecting for the project with enthusiastic success.
$5,000,000.00 has been collected from around the world in 2014, mostly from sincere supporters in South Africa under the leadership of Bhakti Chaitanya Swami, as well as in the Middle East. An additional $3,500,000.00 has been pledged. The BBT continues to generously support the project year after year, as outlined by Srila Prabhupada.
During Kartik this year my wife, Svaha devi dasi and I traveled to Vrindavan where an evening session was organized in the gardens of the MVT lawn. 200 + devotees attended, and several sanyasis. Radha Jivan and Braja Vilas prabhus introduced the Gratitude Platinum, Gold and Silver Coins to the audience and the total collection that evening was $1 million. One devotee from Doha took a platinum coin, Jayasri devi dasi from Sydney took 2 platinum coins at $250,000 each. Also donated was one gold coin at $108,000 and several silver coins at $11,000 each.
After Vrindavan we travelled to Dubai, Bahrain and Doha, where just in the devotee community we collected in pledges $2 million. Our ISKCON congregation is identifying with this “Gratitude Coin” program and many are finding it possible to pledge participation in one of the three levels. The gratitude is in reference to expressing gratitude to Srila Prabhupada as the 50th anniversary of Iskcon approaches in 2016. The others in the audience were gladly contributing $1600 for a gold brick and this way were are able to solicit participation from the devotees of every category.
I also want to mention some specific donations. Devamrita Swami kindly steered one of his disciples to give one million dollars to the TOVP project, for which we are extremely grateful for his exemplary leadership. Also Guru Gauranga from South Africa and Florida has given and pledged well over a million dollars. For these and the countless smaller donations which are propelling this project towards completion, may Srila Prabhupada give unlimited blessings.
In 2015, the TOVP team will be carrying the “holy shoes of Lord Nityananda Prabhu” to many of the major temples in the world, asking the congregation to come forward to fulfil the Prophecy of Nityananda Prabhu in building this adbhut mandir. The tour will travel to South East Asia, Australasia, North America and parts of Europe with the intension of unifying the congregation of the world, and together offer this temple to Srila Prabhupada as our collective gratitude for giving us ISKCON for the last 50 years.
Praghosa prabhu, our vice chairman, has made the proposal to make 2015 “The Year of the TOVP”. We will be presenting this idea in Mayapur for the blessing of the GBC. In 2015 we are looking forward to the auspicious event of placing the kailash and chakra on the top of the main dome. It will be fabricated of stainless steel and coated with a gold, mirror finish of titanium nitrate. We pray to continue to receive the blessing and well wishes of Vaisnavas from around the world.
Thank you very much.