The Minister for Culture at the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Monika Mohta, hosted a presentation of ISKCON’s new mega-project—the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium—on August 30th at the Nehru Centre, London.
The Nehru Centre strives to foster a cultural dialogue between the United Kingdom and India—where the temple is being built in Mayapur, West Bengal—and is the cultural wing of the High Commission of India.
As guests entered, they were welcomed with traditional bhajans sung by Meera Patel.
MC Praghosa Dasa then opened the ceremony by invoking the blessings of ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada, the presiding Deities of ISKCON Mayapur Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Sri Sri Pancha-tattva and Lord Nrsimhadeva, and the presiding Deities of ISKCON London Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara.
Sukanti Radha dasi followed with an illustrated introduction to Sridhama Mayapur. She gave the audience an overview of Mayapur, its activities and lifestyle, explaining that it is the home of Harinama Sankirtan (public chanting of God’s names)—which was given to us by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Krishna who appeared in Mayapur 500 years ago. And one day Mayapur, as predicted by Srila Prabhupada and other previous spiritual teachers, will turn into a beautiful city.
Sukanti Radha also explained that Mayapur was a place many visited to advance in scriptural knowledge, and that it is referred to by pilgrimage organizers Mayapur Worldwide as ‘the Spiritual University of the World.’ She concluded by inviting everyone to visit Mayapur and explaining the importance of visiting Mayapur before visiting the other major Vaishnava holy place Vrindavan.
The audience were then treated to a history of the mridanga drum—an instrument synonymous with Mayapur and Sri Caitanya—by Krishna Chaitanya Dasa. Mesmerized with his intricate rhythms, the audience appreciated the glories of this beautiful instrument that is very new to western culture.
Next with gentle humor Praghosa Dasa captivated the audience with more glories of Sri Mayapur, and explained how the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium was an integral part of the holy place. He detailed the history of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, including the visions of Vaishnava saints Nityananda Prabhu and Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and the present day realization of those visions. He also communicated the extremely unique significance of the planetarium project.
The audience also got to hear about the team responsible for bringing the project to fruition, headed by Ambarisa Dasa. The presentation wrapped up with a live video of the architecture and ultimate manifestation of the planetarium, accompanied by Kripamoya Dasa’s melodious chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.
Professional singer Jayadeva Dasa concluded the programme with another rendition of the maha mantra, which Her Excellency Monika Mohta thoroughly enjoyed.
Her Excellency then spoke, welcoming the audience and the Vaishnava community to the Nehru Centre. She said she felt honoured to host such an event. She thanked ISKCON, Sukanti Radha Dasi, Praghosa Dasa and all that attended the event. She said Sukanti Radha dasi was the driving force behind the programme and praised how well it was organized--then asked the Vaishnava community to accept the Nehru Centre as their home!
Mohta also praised the work of ISKCON and expressed the peace she finds in kirtana. She enthusiastically expressed how she has now allocated time in next year’s diary to accommodate the philosophy and teachings of Krishna consciousness at the Nehru Centre. She requested regular kirtana at the Nehru Centre, which Sukanti Radha is most delighted to organize.
Her Excellency will soon invite Sukanti Radha Dasi for a meeting to discuss planning of these upcoming 2011 programmes.
The evening concluded with sumptuous prasadam, provided and served by Amala Manjari Dasi and the UK’s congregational outreach Bhakti Vriksha team.
Apologies were received from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as Mr Laksmi Mittal, who were not able to attend.
For more information about the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, please visit http://tovp.org
To watch BhakTV's documentary about the first phase of the Temple's construction, please click here.