(Photos Nitai Caran Dasa)
Mayapur, India, March 7, 10:00 AM –The 2019 GBC Annual General Meeting is in session in Sridhama Mayapur. The ISKCON Governing Body Commission, or GBC as it is commonly known, gathers here every year at ISKCON’s world headquarters in West Bengal. Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya,established the GBC as the ultimate managing authority for his movement. At present, the GBC body is comprised of 37 members who are each responsible for overseeing the management and spiritual standards of ISKCON centers in different regions, as well as supervising specific projects, initiatives, and ministries.
March 7thwas the first full day of meetings directed towards general GBC business. The morning session of the meetings began with the worship of Srila Prabhupada and kirtan, followed by a welcome and reading presented by Chairman Madhusevita Dasa.
The first topic of discussion at the morning’s meeting was the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (ToVP). The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium is a grand temple and scientific planetarium conceived of by Srila Prabhupada in the 1970s. He desired the temple and planetarium to depict the universe as it is described in Vedic literatures and to be a hub of scientific and spiritual thought that would draw people from across the globe. Construction on the ToVP began in 2010, and the temple is slated to open in 2022.
Ambarish Dasa, the ToVP Chairman, and other members of the ToVP team presented an hour-and-a-half report on the progress made in the past year and described the plans and projections that will see the ToVP to its grand opening in 2022.
Chairman Ambarish Das giving a presentation about the ToVP.
Braj Vilasa Dasa, the International Fundraising Director, presented the ToVP’s financial report and projections. In 2018, the ToVP team surpassed its financial projections. The past year’s success gives the GBC and ToVP team confidence that the final target of inaugurating the ToVP in 2022 can be achieved.
Braj Vilasa Dasa outlined one of the ToVP’s new fundraising campaigns, the Pillars of Devotion campaign. 108 pillars are available to be sponsored, and sponsorship is available in four categories: Sravanam, at $21,000; Kirtanam, at $31,000; Smaranam, at $51,000; and Atma-nivedanam, at $108,000. Ten of the pillars are already sponsored, and Braj Vilasa Dasa expressed confidence that the rest will be sponsored soon.
Now that the completion of the initial construction is in sight, the ToVP team and the GBC are also turning their attention to the continued maintenance and running of the new temple upon its completion.
Sadbhuja Dasa, Managing Director of the ToVP Construction Department, and others from the ToVP design team gave a report on the ToVP design work. Samples of decorative cast iron and golden metalwork were shown to the GBC members to examine. Sadbhuja Dasa explained some of the milestones the ToVP has achieved in the creation of new design methods and materials that will withstand the test of time, such as the golden colored metal used on the domes, chakras, etc., which has been formulated to be rust-resistant and withstand weathering.
Sadbhuja Das ToVP Managing Director addresses the GBC.
Next, a representative of Cushman and Wakefield presented their ToVP project execution strategy report. Cushman and Wakefield is a global real estate services company that assists with areas such as project management and development. They are now working with the ToVP team and the GBC to see the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium to completion, and have expressed their excitement to be working on this project. Care has been taken to familiarize members of Cushman and Wakefield with the unique history and culture of the ToVP project so that they can appreciate it for the landmark spiritual project that it is. Their report presented the areas of focus that are necessary to meet the 2022 opening date.
Madhusevita Dasa, the Chairman of the GBC, voiced the overall mood of optimism and gratitude in the room when he expressed the GBC’s thanks to Ambarish Dasa for his dedication to fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s vision for the ToVP.
ToVP Chief Architect Vilasini Devi Dasi
“Without Ambarish,” Madhusevita Dasa said, “we’d just be having kirtan in a field. Thanks to him we’ll still be having kirtan, but in a beautiful temple! Our thanks to the whole team. People will be chanting and dancing in this temple hundreds of years from now.”
[ bengal ] [ gbc ] [ leadership ] [ mayapur ] [ tovp ]
“Now you all together make this Vedic planetarium very nice, so that people will come and see. From the description of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, you prepare this Vedic planetarium. My idea is to attract people of the whole world to Mayapur.”(Srila Prabhupada, June 15th1976)