The ISKCON movement needs no introduction. Recongnised the world over, this group is one of the few international organisations that profound benefits of the Vedanta philosophy.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was established by his Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada) in 1966 when he visited the United States at the age of 69. ISKCON is a non-sectarian, monotheistic movement working towards promoting the well being of society by teaching the science of Krishna Consciousness according to Bhagavad-Gita and other ancient scriptures, as taught by 16th century Saint Chaitanya Maha Prabhu, an incarnation of Lord Krishna himself. As per His teachings of Chaitanya Maha Prabhu, Lord Krishna is the principle deity, God Himself, and that everyone can regain a personal relationship with Krishna through Bhakti, Sankirtana and chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. ISKCON today is spread over in all the 7 continents with more than 600 centers, including 80 farm communities, 50 schools, Hospitals and 90 satvik restaurants.
Once, when the train in which Srila Prabhupad and his disciples were traveling, stopped at the Delhi station, Prabhupad asked his disciples if there was an ISKCON base in Delhi. On hearing a negative response, he directed his disciples to get down and initiate one, which is precisely what the obedient disciples did. And today there stands a lofty temple overlooking the Delhi city. Thus each ISKCON temple has been constructed similarly. Every ISKCON temple is the fruit of the devotee’s efforts. And ISKCON Visakhapatnam temple is no different.
May 1999, an ISKCON devotee couple, Sri Samba Das and his wife, affectionately called by all as Mataji, reached Visakhapatnam from the United States, to build an ISKCON center, simply on directive from their Guru. With no backing, no funds to speak of and a language deterrent, they started from absolute scratch. Being new to the city, they searched around, took a house on rent (initially in Seetammadhara, and a year later shifted to Pandurangapuram) and embarked on their mission. To begin with, they called in people from in and around the vicinity to partake in Krishna Bhajans, Gita Parayanam, and such activities. They interacted with youth and children and taught them virtues, bhajans, mantra meditation, yoga and similar activities which eventually got the parents interested and involved. They have started small but the plans were grand with the ultimate aim – to build a grand temple complex for Sri Sri Radha Damodara, a project they fondly named the ‘Glory of Andhra’. While activities indulging in spreading the message of Gita, Sankirtan, Yoga and the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, these devotees embarked on a sanctified mission.
Sri Samba Das began the quest with dedication, determination and a confidence that few could fathom. There were many hurdles that he and his fellow ISKCON devotees tackled head on. Right from dealing with the government red-tapism, bureaucracy, the cash crunch, the opposition from local ruffians, it seemed like Krishna was testing their mettle and faith. The Lord rewarded each quandary, no matter how daunting, with success. Just when it seemed that all was lost, an unanticipated benefactor would step in, or a solution would materialize. And finally today, in the serene environment, adjacent to Sagar Nagar, the temple is slated to rise.
As on today, the deities are installed in a big spacious hall with a small kitchen, prasadam hall, offices and rooms for devotees alongside. Behind the temple, is a complex that houses Seminar Hall and guestrooms for ISKCON Life-Members. There is a 450 seater Multimedia Theater as well. In this theater, small snippets educating the public and children on various aspects of Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, emergence of universe, difference between good and evil, Science of Self realization and many more similar presentations will be shown. The speciality is that each seat will have a pair of earphones with a choice of language narration, i.e., Hindi, English or Telugu.
Also in place is a Goshala, big enough for about 50 cows. In the center lies the land earmarked for the main temple. And the plans are grandiose. With a Four stories high edifice housing six temples, namely the signature deities of ISKCON Radha and Krishna. Then there is a Jagannath Baladev and Subhadra (akin to the Jagannath of Puri Idols) sanctum. Also planned are sanctums for Rama-Lakshmana-Sita, Gour-Nitai, Narasimha Dev and Balaji. In addition, there are 12 Salagrama Shilas being brought in from Nepal.
One level below the temples, there will be an audio visual library and a hall where the diaromas of life and leelas of Krishna will be displayed. And below that will be two tastefully done Kalyan Madapas. In addition to this, also proposed is a cool underwater Mantra Meditation Hall, a Bhakti Vedanta Naturopath center wherein Yoga, Panchakarma and similar Naturopathy cures will be put into practice. A School is also in the plans, up to the tenth standard wherein along with normal studies, there will be an emphasis on Vedanta and Bhagavad Gita. Classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, and Kuchipudi, contemporary skills like cooking , stitching, and computer technology too will be taught to the interested. And for connoisseur, a Govinda Restaurant dishing out tasty, pure vegetarian eats is also coming up in the midst of all this Vedic Gardens.
As inspired by Srila Prabhupada’s instruction given to disciples in 1974, “No one within ten miles of ISKCON temple should go hungry… ” where there is an ISKCON establishment, there is always Annadanam. In this regard, the ISKCON Visakhapatnam is going to provide meals for the Government sponsored mid-day meal in Government schools. While the Government will contribute to provide hygienic tasty meals, ISKCON will dip in its own funds also. The proposal is to immediately equip the Annadanam kitchen with a Mechanized kitchen which will rustle up 8000 meals at one time. With such comprehensive exceptional plans, the temple is agreeable to sponsorships and donations in cash or kind. And considering the enormous potential the temple complex has, thanks to its tranquil location and the interest and awe it will generate, hopefully many vizagites would pitch in. For further details and to donate, one may contact Mataji @ 09848198614