PIONEERING THE WAY
Srila Prabhupada Impacts Mexico (Part 16)
YOU CAN ORDER DEITIES OF SRI SRI RADHA KRISHNA
Srila Prabhupada's direction and involvement in the Deity worship program of Mexico City is a good example of his unflinching drive to establish a bonafide standard of the ancient Vaisnava tradition of Deity worship for people of all continents on the globe. Only months after the installation of the Deities of Lord Jagannatha, at the beginning of 1973, Srila Prabhupada granted a request to get a set of full size set of Radha Krishna Deities for ISKCON Mexico.
You can order marble Sri Sri Radha Krishna Deities
The standard in the temple is high. There were enough brahmanas to help with the Deity worship and expert devotee cooks insured that were good food offerings for the Deities which meant good prasadam for the devotees as well as for the guests. The preaching programs kept going strong with devotees meeting and attracting persons from all walks of life to the temple programs. Especially to the Sunday’s feast which like the swollen flow of the Ganges continued to flood the temple with hundreds of people every weekend. Many of who, including entire families, would seriously support the temple in many ways.
With the temple dealings running smoothly and backed by a supportive public, Haihaya das the temple president, asked the head pujari Turya das to send Srila Prabhupada a letter asking him to authorize the installation of Sri Sri Radha Krishna Deities. Turya das told Srila Prabhupada about standards that were being kept and the manpower that was available. The new local brahamanas along with the more experienced foreigners were ready to take part in the worship of the large murtis. And to reinforce the group he requested the brahminical initiation of two lady devotees, one Mexican and the other American.
Srila Prabhupada's Reply
“My dear Turya das, Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you for your letter of December 21 1972 and have noted the contents carefully. The reports that have come from Mexico City temple have always been encouraging and I am glad to learn that now you wish to increase your service still further. Krishna is unlimited and his devotee’s service should also be unlimited.”
Srila Prabhupada was very glad to hear about the successful preaching activities of ISKCON Mexico and, he was extremely pleased with the Mexican yatra's service mood.
“Since you have more than five brahamanas who can participate in worshiping large Radha Krishna Deities, and you have done nicely in worshiping Jagannatha you can order marble Radha Krishna Deities. Make the worship of Radha Krishna Deities most opulent, profusely decorated with flowers, celebrate all the festivals and in this way automatically large crowds of people will be attracted to your temple.”
As requested by Turya das Srila Prabhupada also granted brahminical initiation to two lady devotees:
“I am enclosing the gayatri mantra sheets for Laxmi Priya devi dasi and Kusha devi dasi as you have recommended them. Now you can perform the fire sacrifice in the assembly of devotees only and teach them to count on their fingers. They may hear in the right ear the Gayatri mantra chanted by me on the tape recorder.”
As the Yuga-dharma-acharya Srila Prabhupada's preaching was attracting people from all over the world. Consequently it was impossible for him to be everywhere, so he took advantage of modern means to preach and initiate all over the world. His use of the tape recorder to teach mantras to his disciples is an example of his breaking with stagnant and stereotyped ways of preaching. And by doing so he effectively made brahamanas all over the world. He ended his letter by requesting his disciples to develop the qualities of a brahamana.
“Every one of my disciples should become so nicely trained that they may all develop the brahaminical qualities." (Letter January 27, 1973)
As ordered by Srila Prabhupada the initiation ceremony took place shortly after.
The preparations begin
After receiving a positive response from Srila Prabhupada the preparations for accommodating the new Deities immediately began. The first step was planning a larger altar for which a more spacious room for the temple building was selected. The new room was conveniently situated next to the main entrance hall and still held an air of elegance. Decorative mouldings on the walls lined the ceiling and encircled the double-door opened into the room and at the other end its rectangular shape was broken by a half circle with stained glass windows where Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana would be placed. Everyone enthusiastically took on a variety of tasks of accomplishing the blissful endeavour. Prakashananda das, Mexico’s first bhakta, took charge of making the wooden rest for the marble on the altar. The base was to be arranged in three levels, with the top one for the Deities to stand on, and the other levels for the disciplic succession and the offering trays. Madan Manohar das, a Mexican Devotee, and Kusha Devi dasi, an American lady, used their artistic experience to paint a scenic backdrop of three transcendental towns for the altar: Mayapura, Vrindavana and Jagannatha Puri, each behind their respective Deities. In this way the temple’s atmosphere was permeated with the meditative anticipation of receiving Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
The Deities were Purchased in Jaipur
Srimati Malati devi dasi: “I was in Jaipur preparing to leave to go to Bombay when I received a telegram. The telegram said, “BRING DEITIES LARGE SIZE A.C.BHAKTIDEVANTA SWAMI” So from literally being on my way to the train, I quickly readjusted and was somehow or other able to find a very suitable pair of Deities. Anyone who has had any involvement with purchasing Deities can understand that its not like you go to the supermarket, you find that it’s a quite more involving experience. Sometimes when you find a suitable pair of Deities there will often be some remodifications to be done. Somehow or other these Deities were there ready and there was only a minimum amount of extra work to be done on them. I personally packed the Deities in a box, put them on a truck and rode with the truck to Bombay. When I arrived at Juhu Beach the devotees told me that Srila Prabhupada was waiting for me. He was not staying in Juhu at that time, which was only a tent city. Srila Prabhupada was staying in an empty apartment that had belonged to a life member. The apartment has just been vacated due to his death so, Srila Prabhupada had a very nice apartment. I was called in to cook and clean together with my daughter. My husband, who was Srila Prabhupada's secretary, had arrived with him. The Deities were brought up into the living room and unpacked. Srila Prabhupada came soon after this locked at them and said to bring them to his room. He had them positioned right in front of his desk and he looked at the Deities very fondly, and it was obvious that he really liked them. In front of Srila Prabhupada the devotees measured the Deities and put clothes on them. Srila Prabhupada said that Radharani looked very beautiful, that she had lotus eyes and she looked Mexican. Therefore he said they were to be sent to Mexico City."
A Telegram from Calcutta
When all the preparations were at full speed a telegram from Calcutta was received coming from Srila Prabhupada's personal secretary.
PAIR EXQUISITIVE MARBLE DEITIES
48 INCHES READY FOR SHIPMENT MEXICO
MUST ACT QUICKLY LEAVING INDIA FEBRUARY
ITS IMPERATIVE YOU CABLE EXPRESS
SEVEN HUNDRED 700 DOLLARS SAMUEL SPEERSTRA
AMERICAN EXPRESS CALCUTTA IMMEDIATELY
INCLUDE ALL PARAPHERNALIA PHONE CALCUTTA
After receiving this telegram Haihaya das made contact with Shyamasundara das in Calcutta and sent the requested amount of money. Within the few weeks the Deities arrived at Mexico City international airport and to the devotee’s relief they passed customs without any problem. Srila Prabhupada's strong desire to preach the glories of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna with the help of his devoted disciples successfully paved the way for their Lordships around the world, now with his escort; they would soon appear in their beautiful new temple in Mexico City.
Even if you don’t get that particular building
The temple's successful preaching spirit was so encouraging that Haihaya das, the temple president, tried to get a building on “La Avenida Madero”, one of the most important business streets in the heart of the city. After first having rented a space in the building for a boutique he discusses the possibility of buying it with the owner. The temple president requested Turya das to write to Srila Prabhupada telling him about the project. His Divine Grace answered with the following letter:
“My dear Turya das, Please accept my blessings, I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 29th January 1973 and I have examined the contents carefully. Your project for a temple sounds alright to me, and even if you don’t get that particular building, Radha Krishna Deities are approved for the present temple.”
Srila Prabhupada could understand that the devotee’s lofty enthusiasm was leading them to an ambitious project so he warned them that their plan for a new building could turn to be unsuccessful. And the experience showed his hunch to be right since the Krishna consciousness movement was new in the city and seemed too eccentric for the “so called” conservative businessmen of the area the devotees were asked to leave the boutique and the project came to an end. Since Srila Prabhupada's society was spreading all over the world it was difficult for him to manage everything so he requested Turya das to consult the local GBC secretary for details:
“Of course I want that you can work out all these kinds of details with Karandhar your GBC secretary.”
After discussing the temple business Srila Prabhupada answered Turya das's question regarding a name for his newly born child. His Divine Grace further requested Turya das to bring the child up carefully by becoming and ideal householder and taking a leading position in the society:
“Yes, the name Gokulananda for your new son is approved by me; now train this sankirtana man very carefully in Krishna consciousness. Now you can be an ideal householder and one of our society’s leaders, so kindly follow the regulative principles strictly.” (March 8, 1973)
Srila Prabhupada's personal involvement with the Mexico Deity worship program at the beginning of 1973 made the event all the more absorbing which like a whirlpool pulled in everyone available, not only full time devotees living in the temple but also close friends of the temple, regular temple visitors and anyone who happened to come by would get involved in the preparations for welcoming the Deities. Caught up in the middle of the flurry were many lady devotees living both in and outside the temple who lead by Shaktimati devi dasi intensely engaged in sewing gorgeous dresses for their Lordship's reception. So many enthusiastic people were coming forward wanting to take part in the grand temple event that eventually all the preparations were coming to an end with only last touches going on. The new temple room featured first-class marble and the beautiful painting canvassed on the altar’s back and sides walls which Modhan Manohar das and Kusha devi dasi had dedicated so many days were finally finished.
Although Srila Prabhupada saw to their purchase, personally reviewed them and then had them shipped to Mexico, he could not install the Deities himself; So Haihaya das invited one of his senior disciples, Satsvarupa das Goswami, who resided in the Dallas community at the time, and had recently accepted the renounced order of life.
Srila Prabhupada names the Deities
After the installation ceremony a letter was sent to Srila Prabhupada to inform him that the Deities he had personally chosen for “ISKCON de Mexico” were already presiding over Mexico City and to humbly request that His Divine Grace name them as he had done with other Deities around the world. Also, several devotees were recommended for initiation.
Ramanya das: “Early in 1974 Haihaya das, the temple president had recommended some devotees for initiation. One day Radha Krishna das, the temple secretary, told me that a letter from Srila Prabhupada had arrived with the name of the Deities and the names of the devotees that would take initiation. 'You are one of them', he told me. Srila Prabhupada had named the Deities Sri Sri Radha Madan Gopal. Soon afterwards a big initiation ceremony took place where many devotees accepted initiation from Srila Prabhupada. Taruna Krishna das, who was one of the biggest BTG distributors, helped with the fire sacrifice."
Rama Govinda das
(R.G. Bhakti Prapana Parvata Maharaja)