On February 14th, all members of ISKCON’s Governing Commission attending the Annual General Meeting in Mayapur, India assembled in the center of a construction zone. It was the site of the long-awaited Temple of Vedic Planetarium (TOVP), a massive and impressive temple dedicated to displaying the Vedic view of the spiritual and material worlds.
The TOVP will become the new home to Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Sri Pancha Tattva, and Sri Narasimhadeva, the Deities of ISKCON Mayapur. According to Srila Prabhupada’s desire, however, the TOVP will also house a functioning planetarium, exhibit halls, a library, and classrooms dedicated to the research of and education on Vedic cosmology and science.
Construction of the temple officially began this year. The grounds of ISKCON Mayapur’s campus that extends from Srila Prabhupada’s Bhajan Kutir to the Chakra Building lengthwise, and between the Conch and Lotus Buildings widthwise, have been cleared and are now home to two lofty pile drivers. To create the foundation for such a massive structure, 2,600 tubes will be hammered sixty feet into the ground. The tubes are then filled with concrete and reinforced with stainless steel rods. To ensure the longevity of the building, six million dollars of the TOVP budget will be spent on stainless steel.
February 14th marked the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium’s inauguration ceremony, and thus the entire GBC body was asked to participate.
A simple pandal tent was set up for the ceremony in the center of the building’s footprint, now outlined in chalk. GBC members were seated in two rows as Hari Sauri Dasa introduced Niranjan Babu, the Vastu expert and Vastu consultant for the project. Niranjan Babu is considered one of the leading Vastu experts in India. He is also the son of famed astrologer BV Raman and is the chief editor and publisher of the Astrological eMagazine.
Hari Sauri Dasa explained that while the construction team is building the physical foundation of the temple, Niranjan Babu is helping to establish the metaphysical foundation of the TOVP. To create this metaphysical foundation, nine holes were prepared within the marked footprint of the temple. Four marking the cardinal directions, four the intermediate directions, and one in the center. Likewise, nine square copper plates, one for each hole, with Vastu markings on top, were also prepared before the ceremony.
As kirtan began under the shade of the pandal, GBC members and members from the TOVP team were individually invited to help place a specific copper plate into each hole. Crowds of devotees ran to one location after another as the plates were successively placed, and everyone enthusiastically chanted the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra as each plate went into the ground.
The inauguration ceremony concluded with an opulent feast, sponsored by the TOVP team and served out in Gada prasadam hall to all of the devotees in Mayapur. For more information on the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium project, please visit tovp.org.