Srila Prabhupada’s Temple in Bangalore
Spread over 8 acres of land atop a hill, in the heart of Bangalore is ISKCON’s largest temple complex in the world. Also known as the Hare Krishna Hill, this is home to 5 temples of various forms of Lord Krishna: Sri Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra, Sri Krishna Balarama, Sri Nitai Gauranga, Sri Prahlada Narasimha and Sri Srinivasa Govinda.
The temple complex which was inaugurated in May 1997 by the President of India, His Excellency Sri Shaker Deal Sharma, has been visited by over 5.1 million visitors since inception, including various dignitaries of the country. Mr. Ramakrishna Hedge, Former Chief Minister of Karnataka and Former Cabinet Minister, and a frequent visitor to Hare Krishna Hill since 1987, commented: “Every time I visit this incredible edifice, the abode of Sri Krishna, I experience a unique divine feeling. This temple represents the essence of all religions.”
Dr. Mural Menorah Joshi, Mrs. Rama Devi, Governor of Karnataka, Mr. HE.DO. Devegowda, former Prime Minister of India, Mr. I.H. Patel, Former CM of Karnataka, Mr. Rajinder Singh, Chief of the RSS and Mr. Ashok Singhal, President of the VHP are amongst the other dignitaries who have visited Hare Krishna Hill, seeking the blessings of the Lord. The distinct neo-classical architecture of the temple has attracted the interest of designers and artists from around the world. The design, which was developed by ISKCON devotees Madhu Pandit Dasa (President and Project director) and Jagatchandra Dasa, both graduates from the IIT Mumbai, combines elements of traditional South-Indian as well as modern styles of architecture in a harmonious blend, to provide a gorgeous residence for the Supreme Lord.
The temple complex is equipped with various facilities for the purpose of promoting the spiritual and cultural message of Lord Krishna and His pure devotee His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya and spiritual master of the entire ISKCON movement:
The Deities and Daily Programs
All activities on Hare Krishna Hill are centered around the principal Deities of Sri Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra. Beginning with the mangala-arati at 4:15 am, a typical day is filled with spiritually inspiring programs of aratis and kirtanas. The morning’s program includes a procession where devotees performing sankirtana, accompany the Deity of Srila Prabhupada on a palanquin to the various temples. The day ends with the festive shayana utsava, when the Lord tours His temple room on an ornamental palanquin before entering His sleeping quarters for rest. This daily utsava offered to the Lord is a unique feature of ISKCON Bangalore.
Free Prasadam for All
Every visitor to the temple receives a cup of free kichiri prasadam, made of rice and dahl. This is a humble attempt to fulfill the vision of our guru Srila Prabhupada, who, expressing utmost compassion, said in 1974: “God is the father; wherever there is the father, there cannot be hunger… No one within a ten-mile radius of our temples should go hungry.” The temple’s Pilgrims’ Prasadam Kitchen is provided with modern equipment to prepare large quantities of prasadam in a short time and can feed up to two thousand visitors per hour. Since May 1997, about 750 tonnes of prasadam have been prepared and distributed to the visiting pilgrims.
In addition to the free prasadam, this kitchen is also used to prepare varieties of sweet and salty items, which are offered to the Lord and made available as prasadam to the visiting pilgrims for a nominal price. ISKCON’s Bakery, which began operations only 2 years ago, is well-known in Bangalore for its eggless cakes and biscuits.
Puja on Birthdays of Donors
The temple was erected with donations received from nearly 25,000 donors in and around Bangalore city. These donors receive an invitation on their birthday to visit the temple along with their family and a special puja is offered to the Lord in their names.
Shata Koti Nama Japa Yajna
To promote world peace and harmony, a program to chant 1 Billion holy names of Rama and Krishna in the year 2000, on Hare Krishna Hill, was begun on January 1st this year. The venue for this program is the temple’s harinama mantapa, located just before one enters the first temple of Prahlada Narasimha. This mantapa is fitted with two sets of granite steps (each containing 108 steps) and on each step a pilgrim can chant the full Hare Krishna mantra once. To guide the pilgrim to chant properly, recorded chanting of Srila Prabhupada is constantly played from a CD player in the mantapa. After chanting on the 108 steps (which means after chanting the maha-mantra 108 times), the pilgrim enters the Narasimha temple through an exclusive entrance where he receives a free packet of a prasadam sweet. It has been observed that about 60% of the visitors choose to enter this mantapa and chant, before having darshan.
The “Friends of Lord Krishna” (FOLK) program for bachelors between 19 and 29, has created a lot of enthusiasm for understanding the Vedic culture amongst the youth of Bangalore. This program is held on Saturdays and Sundays and consists of classes, discussions and practical sessions on Vedic philosophy and lifestyle. Meditation sessions are also held during these programs. Each program ends with a free prasadam feast.
Vedic wisdom advocates cow protection as one of the primary elements necessary for a prosperous and healthy society. ISKCON Bangalore goshalla maintains 40 cows in its goshalla on Hare Krishna Hill. Milk from these cows is used to make various products for the service of the Deities.
ISKCON encourages organic farming, in which grains, vegetables and fruits are grown naturally without the use of chemicals and fertilizers. ISKCON Bangalore’s 100-acre farm near Mysore, on the bank of the River Kaveri provides an active model of such farming. The farm’s products are made available in the temple’s natural foods shop on Hare Krishna Hill known as “Dharani”.
ISKCON Bangalore has a scheme to promote and protect the traditional art and craft of South India. This project encourages and supports talented craftsmen by providing them an outlet for their work. It gives them an opportunity to sustain themselves through the creations of their artistic expression. Through this service, ISKCON Bangalore is bringing into focus the richness of Indian tradition and the need to recognize its importance in preserving our culture and heritage. The products made under this scheme are available at “Dakshinakriti”, the temple’s sculpture showroom.
The Multivision Cinema at ISKCON Bangalore was conceived by devotees and produced in the United States. This is India’s first show combining visual projection and animatronics. The 14 projectors, Laser Disc players, the surround sound processors and the animatronics mechanisms are controlled by a special purpose computer which operates through electronic control units and software developed in Sweden. The 40-minute Cinema conveys a simple yet significant spiritual message and is priced nominally. Nearly 50% of the visitors to the temple choose to watch the cinema, which operates at specific times in the morning and evening.
The temple complex also houses “Dwarakapuri”, a marriage hall with ultra-modern finishing and “Mathura”, a hall for seminars and conferences. These halls help generate revenue for the temple’s maintenance and preaching activities.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
The Bangalore branch of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is housed on Hare Krishna Hill and is involved in translating and publishing Srila Prabhupada’s voluminous works in the Kannada language. Eminent Kannada writers Prof. L.S. Seshagiri Rao, Prof. N.S. Laxminarayana Bhat, Dr. Shivarudrappa, Dr. A.R. Mitra and several others are involved in translating the books. Since 1985, 123,000 Kannada copies of the Bhagavad-gita alone have been printed and distributed by the BBT. In all, 430,000 pieces of literature have been distributed since May 1997. At present, 39 titles of Srila Prabhupada’s works are available in Kannada.
Goloka Seva Trust
The Goloka Seva Trust promotes and maintains the valuable art of incense (agarbatti) making, using purely natural ingredients. At present the Goloka Seva Trust produces 73 varieties of incense that is meant for worship. The trust also conducts in-house research to develop varieties of non-toxic user-friendly incense and related products. These products are also made available at the temple’s counters for the visitors.
Srila Prabhupada Museum
The construction of the Srila Prabhupada Museum is scheduled to begin shortly. This museum will also be an architectural marvel in itself and will be dedicated to creating awareness amongst the general public about the glorious contributions of ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya and spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.