What is known as the ‘bhajan kutir’ in ISKCON Mayapur is the first structure built on the property. It was also the original ‘temple’, functioning as chota Radha Madhava’s first place of worship when They arrived in Mayapur in 1972. An entire day is dedicated to this ‘temple’ during the Radha Madhava Golden Jubilee Festival from March 2 – 5, the 50th Anniversary of that arrival.
The kutir was built by Acyutananda Swami in 1971 on the order of Srila Prabhupada, who personally instructed him about the materials to use and the manpower to hire. Acyutananda Swami oversaw the design, construction and finances. When Prabhupada arrived in Mayapur and saw the finished kutir he happily remarked, “It shall be called Acyutananda Cottage.”
Bhavananda das recalls a most prophetic and important event :
The story regarding the straw house or bhajan kutir, as it was later called, and the TOVP really requires to be seen as well as heard because of Prabhupada’s arm gesture. However, I will try to narrate as best I can. In June, 1973 Prabhupada was in Mayapur and was staying in the Lotus building. That building was erected at the backmost border of our ISKCON land. The bhajan kutir was at the front border of the land next to Bhaktisiddhant road. The empty land between consisted of many paddy or rice fields. It was all just empty flat fields where Prabhupada had planned for the main temple to be constructed. During a morning walk Prabhupada and I were standing in front of the straw house. I turned to him and said, “Should we demolish this since we don’t use it anymore?” Prabhupada was quiet for a moment and then he said, “No, let the people see – this is what we were”, and then with a grand swing of his right arm he pointed up to his right and said, “and this is what we have become”. And, of course, as we now know he was pointing directly to where the TOVP stands today.
From Prabhupada Lilamrta by Satsvarupa Goswami:
The monsoons came, and the Ganges spilled over her banks, flooding the entire ISKCON Mayapur property. Acyutananda Swami had built a straw and bamboo hut where Prabhupada was soon to stay, but the waters rose until Acyutananda Swami had to live in the bamboo rafters. He wrote Prabhupada that had it not been for Bhaktisiddhanta Road the damage would have been extensive. Prabhupada replied, “Yes, we were saved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Road. We shall always expect to be saved by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada. Always pray to His Lotus Feet. Whatever success we have had in preaching Lord Caitanya’s mission all over the world is only due to His mercy.”
This year also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers book conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Brahmatirtha das (Bob Cohen) who, as a young Peace Corps worker in India at the time, met with Srila Prabhupada in the bhajan kutir for three consecutive days. Published in 1977, Srila Prabhupada personally gave the title of the book, and millions of copies have been distributed worldwide in over fifty languages since then.
More pictures are available on tovp.org
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ISKCON News Staff
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ISKCON Governing Body Commission
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Ekachakra Prana Dasa
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ISKCON Juhu Communications