On January 14, 2021, the much-awaited book I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story by Giriraj Swami was launched. This landmark book stands as a historical document of the blood, sweat, tears, love, and devotion that went into building the Juhu temple under Srila Prabhupada’s guidance in the 1970s. The celebration of the book’s advent coincided with the 43rd anniversary of the grand opening of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple at Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai, on the auspicious day of Makara-sankranti.
The main event took place at the Juhu temple, with hundreds of devotees joining the celebrations physically or virtually. Giriraj Swami had planned to be there in person, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic was unable to travel. Devotees gathered at his ashram in Carpinteria, California, to join the celebrations on Zoom. Eminent ISKCON leaders, including Radhanath Swami and Indradyumna Swami, also Zoomed in for the event, and Gopal Krishna Goswami graced the occasion with his physical presence.
The book’s cover
After a brief introduction, Giriraj Swami led a soulful kirtan and then spoke on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.21: “The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.” Srila Prabhupada spoke on that same verse in Juhu on November 21, 1974. He related the verse to the struggle of establishing the Juhu temple, glorifying devotees such as Giriraj Swami, who in the face of extreme opposition and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, exhibited the qualities of true sadhus.
After the lecture, Mukunda Madhava Das described Giriraj Swami as the “treasure house of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions” on Juhu, and he praised Maharaja’s meticulous efforts to get accurate details for the book. Gopal Krishna Goswami spoke about the history of the Radha-Rasabihari temple and Srila Prabhupada’s valiant fight to build it. Radhanath Swami described the book as the most authorized, authentic, firsthand account of the Juhu story and an invaluable resource for generations to come. Indradyumna Swami, appreciating the monumental efforts of Giriraj Swami, remembered Srila Prabhupada’s words: “Giriraj is Bombay; Bombay is Giriraj.”
The book being offered to Srila Prabhupada on the anniversary of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple opening in Juhu by Gopal Krishna Goswami.
The program culminated with Gopal Krishna Goswami, along with other dignitaries, offering the book first to Srila Prabhupada and then to the Deities: Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari, Sri Sri Sita-Rama-Lakshman-Hanuman, and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai. Of the 9,500 books to be printed, 200 had been sent ahead for the launch, and every one of them was purchased on the launch day itself.
Knowing Giriraj Swami’s love for Vrindavan, a team of his disciples and well-wishers were inspired to hold a simultaneous book launch there. They worked in cooperation with the local temple managers to organize a program. A case of books was dispatched to Vrindavan just in time for the event. When the darshan-arati ceremony began on the morning of January 14, copies of I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story shone triumphantly from every altar. Three disciples of Srila Prabhupada—Srutakirti Das, Deena Bandhu Das, and Daivisakti Dasi, all of whom had contributed to the success of the Juhu project, spoke at the event, along with Visakha Priya Dasi who played a major role in the production of the book.
The book offered at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram in Vrindavan
Despite the cold, foggy eight-degree Celsius weather in Vrindavan that morning, all the devotees’ hearts were warmed by the presentation of this landmark book, which brought poignant reminders of the great sacrifices devotees made in the early days of ISKCON Juhu, which led to the success of what is today one of ISKCON’s most glorious temples. And the book arrived at the altars of Sridham Mayapur a few days after Makara-sankranti.
Srila Prabhupada said that his project in Bombay was his heart, and Giriraj Swami’s book reveals this heart—his unwavering faith, indomitable courage, and profound humility. I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story is a riveting piece of writing which carries the emotional intensity and sacred message of ancient texts such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Bhagavad-gita,in which great souls triumph over impossible odds.
I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story has been published by the BBT and will soon be available for devotees worldwide. For more information about the book and its availability, visit www.thejuhustory.com. Also coming up is the global launch—a two-hour event showcasing the genesis of the book and readings from the author himself. Be sure to follow “thejuhustory” on Facebook and Instagram.
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium