Badrinarayan Prabhu began attending Srila Prabhupada’s Sunday feast lectures at the old Los Angeles temple in the summer of 1969 and in 1970 moved into the Laguna Beach, California temple. Soon there after, he was sent to the new (Watseka) temple in Los Angeles to take care of the gardens. Srila Prabhupada was staying in Los Angeles working on the Krishna Book and the Nectar of Devotion. It was a most wonderful time.
By 1972 he was on a traveling sankirtan party in the Midwest USA and they began to hear about Srila Prabhupada’s plans for Mayapur including a grand temple. It would put Mayapur on the world stage and fulfill the desire of the previous acharyas. The mantra amongst the book distributors became “Every book distributed is one more brick for Mayapur”.
In 1973 he had the great good fortune to come to India on the famous devotee-filled chartered flight. The devotees held kirtan in the aisles of the plane and were dancing so enthusiastically that the pilot had to get on the intercom and ask them to please sit down as they were rocking the plane too much.
When we drove up Bhaktisiddhanta Marg, all there was outside the few Gaudiya Math temples were rice paddies for as far as the eye could see. It was in the evening and all of a sudden we could see the lights of the just-completed Lotus Building silhouetted against the night sky and hear the sound of blissful kirtan rolling across the fields. It was a mystical moment.
We had a great time with parikrama every day and Srila Prabhupada giving the morning Bhagavatam classes every day. But being neophytes in India for the first time, we all got sick. We were innocents abroad, out in the banana groves of West Bengal and just trying to make it through the day. Building the big new temple was far away from our minds.
As the years passed, we remembered Srila Prabhupada’s vision and plea to us to build the big temple but there was so much resistance (from the Communist West Bengal government, the start-and-stop of numerous varying plans and design teams, the constant question of the location and building material to be used. Of course, there was also nagging question of where the full funding would come from. Given all these obstacles, the vision became almost a dream only. We were like the Gaudiya Math members who thought that the prediction of Lord Chaitanya that the Holy Name would be heard in every town and village around the world was a quant and theoretical goal but in practicality unobtainable.
Yet here we are today with this huge structure rising up in the heart of the Mayapur campus. It as if it has landed from spiritual sky, growing at an amazing rate, like the Lord in His Matsya incarnation. The sense is that like the Ganga flowing to the sea, by the will of Krishna it cannot be stopped.
There are those who question that the design is ‘not Vedic enough’. But Srila Prabhupada created a unique institution. His ISKCON cannot be classified as Indian or Hindu, Western or Eastern, traditional or modern. Thus, as Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON is unique and beyond these designations, it is only fitting that the temple representing world-wide ISKCON should also be of the same unique and transcendental nature.
Another sweet aspect of the TOVP project is that its offices are full of devotees from around the world. ISKCON is an international society and the vitality of that is confirmed by the global nature of the TOVP team. Especially pleasing is seeing so many 2nd generation staff members giving their heart and soul to this effort. It underscores that ISKCON’s future is bright as the torch to carry on the mission has been taken up by the next generation.
Krishna had His own plan for the right time and circumstance to launch this mammoth effort. Now the TOVP is manifesting. I would like to offer my deep respects and appreciation to Ambarisa prabhu and his team for their dedication through thick and thin. So many people said that it could not be done. Yet here the TOVP is, even more amazing and glorious than we could have imagined.