Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa), a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, is a biographer, scholar and author in the fields of philosophy, Indic religion, and comparative spirituality. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies and associate editor of Back to Godhead magazine. His thirty-plus books include Essential Hinduism (Rowman & Littlefield); Yoga of Kirtan: Conversations on the Sacred Art of Chanting (FOLK Books); Krishna's Other Song: A New Look at the Uddhava Gita (Praeger-Greenwood); and Sri Chaitanya's Life and Teachings: The Golden Avatara of Divine Love (Lexington Books).
David Patrick Carter (Hladini Shakti Dasa), a disciple of His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, is a retried Unitarian Universalist Minister. His published writings on Vaishnava culture include "Encounter and Acculturation in 19th Century Bengal: Bhaktivinoda Thakur and the Unitarians" in Journal of Vaishnava Studies (JVS, Volume 23, No. 1, Fall 2014); Chapter Seven of Food for Soul. Vegetarianism and the Yoga Traditions, and essay on vegetarianism as natural evolution, co-written with Dr. Marguerite Regan (Praeger Publishers, 2011); "A Shepherd in the Trenches: Notes From a Hospice Chaplain," in Ultimate jurney: Death and Dying in the World's Major Religions (Praeger Publishers, 2008); "Minister's Musings," a monthly column for the Unitarian Universalist periodical In Touch. Retirement means that now he can devote more time to his lifelong love of writing. He is currently readying for publication An Aristocracy of Swans, a collection of his poetry; The Christmas Pup, a book for young readers; Ayodele's Dream, a devotional drama for actors, musicians, and dancers based on the Svetasvatara Upanisad; and working on an (as yet) untitled autobiographical memoir.
Gopala Krsha Maharaja and I were peers, struggling through and growing together during the formative years of ISKCON. He constantly watched me on his radar screen, provided opportunities for me to grow by increasing my responsibilities and enabling my development. Even when I tried to escape his tenacious grip, he would track me down. It was impossible to resist his profound and judicious leadership. When Gopala Krsha Maharaja became the GBC (Governing Body Commission) of India in March 1975, he suggested to Srila Prabhupada that I be appointed co-president of ISKCON Bombay with Giriraja Maharaja, to offset the criticism that ISKCON was too westernized. It was Maharaja who convinced Prabhupada to appoint me Head and In-Charge of the BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) Traveling Sankirtana Party along with my Bullock Cart Sankirtana Party. Maharaja has since then been managing the BBT. In many ways, our lives are inextricably intertwined in our service to Srila Prabhupada, and our hearts will always remain perpetually blended. Before Maharaja came to India to take up the responsibility of GBC, Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter that for half a decade no new temple had been built in the capital of India. Srila Prabhupada believed that Delhi was the most important city in India and a very good propaganda center because of the foreign embassies, diverse cultural people, schools and colleges, libraries and most importantly, different printing houses. Srila Prabhupada instructed him to develop Delhi and Maharaja has taken that instruction to heart.
Becoming the president of ISKCON's Delhi temple in 1978, was what I considered to be my first really substantial service, and when Gopala Krsna Maharaja decided to focus his efforts in Delhi, I began working with him very closely to develop it as Srila Prabhupada had envisaged during his founding years in Delhi.
From being temple president to regional secretary, I had the rare opportunity to work closely with and in Gopala Krsna Maharaja's administration to bring one iconic temple to completion. When we procured the ideal land after much struggle, Gopala Krsna Maharaja and I commenced the construction of ISKCON Delhi's first ever temple, Sri-Sri Radha-Parthasarathi Mandir, and the temple project was entitled Glory of India Vedic Cultural Centre. Up until then we were together in Delhi, as I had moved across Yamuna on to Noida side. Even after shifting to Noida, I continued to serve Maharaja in Noida, as well as in the state of Maharashtra in my capacity as regional secretary of the zone. Maharaja's astute leadership is manifested in this monumental publication, ‘India’s Glory: Prabhupada's Desire Fulfilled... in Delhi & Beyond.' Gopala Krsna Maharaja's achievements in Delhi are certainly a remarkable splendor.
As I went through the contents of this book, I was feeling appropriately sentimental, rekindling the adoration and love that I feel for this exemplary soul.
This book is a testimony of Gopala Krsna Gosvami's excellence in devotional service to his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. In my humble association with Maharaja over the many years, I know him to have established the most number of temples, made ineradicable history in the number of books distributed, made countless devotees, organized the maximum number of festivals, worshipped innumerable Deities and cultivated an endless number of government heads of state, officials, leaders, prime ministers and presidents. This is undoubtedly an unmatchable record of a timeless list as noted through the comprehensive coverage in this book, India's Glory: Prabhupada's Desire Fulfilled...in Delhi & Beyond.'
Satyaraja Prabhu, the writer of this book and a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, has authored more than thirty books on Vaisnavism and related subjects. Given this vast experience, Satyaraja is an inspired writer with incredible literary strength. He is thus able to skillfully navigate core philosophical components of Gaudiya Vaisnavism with much ease.
Through his accomplished writing, Satyaraja Prabhu adeptly traces Srila Prabhupada's footsteps in Delhi/ Vrndavana for preaching purposes in the early 1950s, capturing the challenges of a founding organization and his unlimited enthusiasm to develop Krsna consciousness. The historical analysis moves beyond simple description. Satyaraja Prabhu navigates this two-part book expertly. It is a masterful look at the life of Gopala Krsna Maharaja's life time work in the service of Srila Prabhupada. The intensity of the writer's emotion is sharp and the pace with which these emotions emerge to describe Gopala Krsna Maharaja, makes this book a powerfully gripping read.
This book focuses on two phenomena: One is a series of non-moving structures, and the other is in constant motion - though some might say that both are moving at the speed of light. The stationary phenomena manifests as a conglomerate of Vaisnava temples, constellated around a major one: The Glory of India Project, which takes center stage. These temples are all spearheaded and inspired by one non-stationary or active phenomenon: Srila Gopala Krsna Gosvami Maharaja.
The temples are largely in Delhi, India, which has a long and time-honored history of Vaisnava culture, as we will see. Gopala Krsna Gosvami, born Gopala Krsna Khanna in that very same Delhi province, eventually became a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), the founder and spiritual preceptor of the International Society for Krsna Conscious (ISKCON), and changed history with the knowledge and devotion that his master gradually bequeathed to him.
Thus, before detailing the specifics of the temples and the spiritual personality forming the heart of this work, some background information is in order: Just what is this Vaisnavism that captured Gopala Krsna Maharaja's attention, changing the course of his life, and what is a Vaisnava temple? Why is Delhi so important in terms of the temples discussed in this book, and who is Maharaja's spiritual teacher, Srila Prabhupada? These are some of the questions we will address in the first portion of this book. As for Prabhupada himself, his journey will be detailed in the latter part of the next chapter and in the one after that.
What is Vaisnavism?
Although the word "Vaisnavism" is of Indian origin, referring to the worship of Visnu or Krsna (Sanskrit names for the Supreme Personality of Godhead), its greatest teachers see the tradition as a non-sectarian science of spirituality, far transcending its geographical dimensions. As such, Vaisnavism is properly referred to as "Sanatana Dharma," or the "eternal function of the soul," with roots in the Vedas, which are the earliest religious texts known to man.
In terms of history, Vaisnava truth can be understood in terms of three paradigms: Since it is considered each living being's eternal nature and the spiritual essence of all reality, it exists outside of history, not subject to the vicissitudes of time. Each soul is constitutionally a Vaisnava. Secondly, as stated above, it is a "Vedic" religion and thus partakes of the authoritative texts that have been revered since time immemorial. But thirdly, and in some ways most importantly, Vaisnavism has been systematized by great teachers who have elucidated its inner meaning and expounded upon its esoteric dimensions. This last paradigm allows it to be viewed from within a historical frame of reference, and gives us the form of the religion we receive in the world today.
Although there are four traditional lineages that have inherited Vaisnava teaching and passed it down to the present in disciplic succession, Gopala Krsna Maharaja is affiliated with Gaudiya Vaisnavism, which is widely considered the cap on the Vaisnava tradition. All forms of Vaisnavism, it is said, culminate in the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1533), Krsna Himself in the form of His own devotees, and his scholarly disciples, the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana - this is the form of the religion that came to be known as "Gaudiya" (referring to the region of Gauda-desh, where Mahaprabhu enacted his earthly pastimes).
As commonly understood, Vaisnavism is a form of "Hinduism" focusing on Visnu (or His many manifestations and incarnations) as Supreme Divinity. What is often left unsaid is that it is a form of monotheism and thus unlike other traditions usually associated with Hindu thinking. Vaisnavism perceives other deities as subordinate - as demigods or empowered beings - and so acknowledges only one Supreme Godhead. The tradition claims many millions of adherents, for it is the most widely practiced form of Hinduism on the Indian subcontinent.
Still, the word "Hinduism" itself is a misnomer. While as a matter of convenience, all forms of Vedic religion can be labelled "Hindu" - and usually are so labeled by the layman or the uninformed - such an imprecise term can only be misleading at best. Indeed, it is applied to a host of very different Indic religions, such as Saivism, Saktism, Vaisnavism, and so on, and has no basis in Vedic or post-Vedic texts.
The word "Hindu," in fact, was created not by Hindus but by India's earliest Muslims. In attempting to label the indigenous people who lived on the other side of the Sindhu River, the Islamic practitioners of the region searched for a convenient, all-inclusive term that would distinguish their neighbors as non-Muslim. Thus, these people all became "Sindus," i.e., "people who live near the Sindhu River." Moreover, the language of the local Muslims, Arabic-Persian, which substitutes "h" for "s," disallowed them from properly pronouncing the word "Sindhu," causing them instead to say, "Hindu." This gave rise to what we now call "Hindus," practitioners of "Hinduism" (as if it were some single, monolithic religion), merely because these people all lived on the bank of the same river.
In other words, "Hinduism" is an inaccurate umbrella term for the many religions that arose near the Sindhu.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Children’s Books (39)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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