THE SWAMI WHO STARTED IT ALL
SRILA PRABHUPADA’S VISION
The third verse of the Guruvastakam prayer dedicated to our parampara acharyas states:
yuktasya bhaktamsh cha niyunjato pi
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam
The spiritual master engages in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna and also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.
In 1966 Srila Prabhupada registered ISKCON with the following objectives:
- To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
- To propagate a consciousness of Krishna as it is revealed in the Bhagavad Gita As-it-is and Srimad Bhagavatam.
- To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, and thus to develop the idea, within the members, and humanity, at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
- To teach and encourage the Sankirtan movement congregational chanting of the holy name of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
- To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
- To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.
- With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
To finance his plans for temple construction, Srila Prabhupada established the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) with strict instruction that 50% of the revenues generated by the distribution of his books be used for ISKCON temple construction.
Driven by the commitment of his grateful western disciples and the success of his transcendental books, between 1966 and 1977, Srila Prabhupada successfully established 108 Krishna temples on six continents, installing deities of Sri Krishna in each centre and training his disciples in the process of deity worship. In the period of 1970 to 1971 he opened 32 new temples, equivalent to almost three a month.
“Auspicious indeed are the places where there is a temple of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, in which He is duly worshiped … Anything spiritual done there is certainly very effective.” [SB 7.14.29]. Srila Prabhupada’s programme in pursuance of the order of Lord Chaitanya and his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur to bring auspiciousness to every town and village of the world was extremely ambitious. “The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is creating many centres just to create devotees so that by associating with the members of such a centre people will automatically become uninterested in material affairs. Although this is an ambitious proposal, this association is proving effective by the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. By gradually associating with the members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, simply by taking prasāda and taking part in chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, ordinary persons are being considerably elevated. [SB 9.6.51, Purport].
With deep conviction and devotion, Srila Prabhupada expertly engaged his disciples in building and opening temples. “So this grha is the utilization of the earth. People want some grha. So this propensity can be utilized by constructing temple. That propensity, that “I must have a very high skyscraper building,” that tendency is there, but if we utilize that tendency for constructing, as it is stated, bhavanam brahmanah sthanam… Instead of thinking that “I will have such big building,” if we transfer that thinking, that “I will construct such a nice big temple for establishing Deity worship,” that is the proper utilization of this tendency. One is for sense gratification; another, the same thing… If you construct a temple, you will have to labor in the same way, how to get municipal sanction, how to get cement, how to get stone, how to get this, that, so many things. But it is nirbandhaù krsna-sambandhe: it has got relationship with Krsna. That is Krsna consciousness. Your capacity to construct something material, residential… So if we do it for Krsna, then it is Krsna consciousness; your life is successful—you are thinking of Krsna always.” (Lecture on SB 3.26.46, 21 January 1975, Bombay).
Srila Prabhupada was acutely aware of the progress of Kali Yuga. In 1974, he wrote to Mr Apparoa “Actually we can see that by so much material endeavor, no one is becoming satisfied or happy. Rather the world is becoming a more hellish place to live. Therefore one who is able to take to Krishna consciousness is considered the most fortunate of men. To help people in this regard I have established my temple all over the world.”
Responding to an invitation from Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Srila Prabhupada landed in Mauritius for the first time on 1 October 1975. Four days later he wrote to Bhagavan das describing Mauritian youths as educated, intelligent, convinced about ISKCON and representing great potential.
During his visit Srila Prabhupada left a significant imprint on Mauritian society. His instructions live on today. The Temple of Unity is our humble homage to Srila Prabhupada’s matchless legacy. This architectural gem will stand tall at the heart of urban Mauritius as a strong symbol of ISKCON’s presence on our island.