Krishna Balaram temple inauguration, Sunnyvale, CA
By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, and with the blessings and good wishes of all Vaishnavas, we were able to inaugurate our newest branch of Srila Prabhupada's temple here at the heart of Silicon Valley, in Sunnyvale city, California, on the 29th October 2011, with the installation of the Deities of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Srila Prabhupada. This also happened to be the Disappearance day of our most beloved spiritual master, His Divine Grace A C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. It was a fitting tribute to Srila Prabhupada on his disappearance day.
Many devotees worked hard to bring up this place and there is no doubt that it is a manifestation of Srila Prabhupada's pure desire. Even though Silicon Valley is a busy place for professionals, somehow, all the devotees (who are all working professionals) worked extra hard with devotion, commitment and determination to bring up this temple and please Srila Prabhupada.
His Grace Chanchalapathi prabhu, senior vice-president of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON Bangalore, has provided invaluable guidance, vision and encouragement since the inception of this project. His Grace Vikram Krishna Prabhu, even though working away in a distant place and with a very busy work schedule, gave constant focus, direction, energy and unwavering commitment for this project to happen. All the local devotees of the Sunnyvale/San Jose area gave more than their best and sacrificed many personal comforts to make this project happen in such an accelerated time frame. I would have loved to name each of the devotee who worked for us but that is beyond the scope of this article. There is no way to express my gratitude to so many devotees who spent sleepless nights to put up this temple. I am sure Srila Prabhupada will be very happy about them and this is the best gift they could have earned for themselves.
His Grace Yasodanandana Prabhu, a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada, kindly accepted to perform the various ceremonies of Deity installation. He planned this event meticulously for a period of over one month in arranging and procuring various things required for the installation ceremony. He researched the various ceremonies that were conducted during Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence for Deity installation ceremonies in his temples. Due to the chaotic situation we were in just before the installation ceremony, Yashodanandan Prabhu too had to put up with a lot of inconvenience during those 3 days of events and practically slept only for 4 or 5 hours everyday. But he did all these cheerfully and never complained. We offer our sincere thanks to him and his team (consisting of his god-brother H. G. Damodar prabhu, Vidura prabhu and Bhakta Francisco) for making this event a smooth one.
We also offer our gratitude to His Grace Sridham Krishna Prabhu who took his busy time out and came all the way from Bangalore to help us in this event and to train us in Deity worship. He is still with us and training seven devotees in pujari services. All the guests and senior devotees blissfully participated in the festivities despite some lapses in our arrangements simply because of their magnanimous nature. We thank them profusely for that.
We also wish to thank several devotees from ISKCON Bangalore and associated temples in Vrindavan, Jaipur, Chennai and Bellary, who assisted us in many ways: His Grace Madhu Pandit Prabhu for being the support, guidance and encouragement in this project. Vasudev Keshav Das, Radhakanta Das, Akshara Brahma Das, Virupaksha Das, Bharatarshabha Das, Prahladesha Das, Amitasana Das, Chitranga Chaitanya Das, Suvyakta Narasimha Das, Angada Das, Ratnangada Govinda Das, Shyamasundara Das, Yudhishtira Krishna Das, Sammohini Radha Mataji, Chamari Mataji, Usha Mataji and many more devotees assisted us in getting the Deities, Deity paraphernalia, Deity dresses, temple decorations and a host of other things. (Please pardon, if I have missed any one).
Finally, we offer our sincere thanks to all the innumerable devotees, some of whom came from faraway places, to witness and participate in this event. We need all your good wishes and blessings. We faced many hurdles along the path from the beginning of this project but by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, we could overcome all of them gradually and Their Lordships Sri Sri Krishna Balarama and Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga finally decided to manifest Their divine presence in our humble facility.
We were apprehensive about the turn out on the Deity installation and inauguration day as we could not get much time to publicize the event. We got permission from City Authorities only a few days before the installation date. But to our surprise, the temple hall was thronged with devotees and visitors as the Deity Abhisheka went by. Throughout the whole day, there were close to 700 visitors who came for witnessing the Deity installation and other activities on the inauguration day. People were spell bound by the beauty of the Deities and the towering presence of Srila Prabhupada on his vyasasana and everyone was very satisfied as they went back.
Thanks to all matajis headed by Priya Sakhi DD (erstwhile Praveena). They worked round the clock to prepare dishes of delicious hot prasadam for the visitors. Thanks to all the volunteers who took extra care to make sure all visitors are satisified in all respects.
Many devotees and visitors got a chance to perform abhisheka for Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga and Srila Prabhupada. That was very unique, and the most satisfying. If we are able to achieve this with just a handful of devotees in the Silicon Valley, it is only because of the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. He wanted this to be manifest in this way and things automatically got arranged for everything.
On the day prior to the inauguration day, we performed Purusha Sukta homa (fire sacrifice) and the dhanya-adhivasa for the Deities. His Grace Yasodanandana Prabhu performed these ceremonies with attention to all detail.
The inauguration day started with the Deities opening Their divine eyes, technically called 'Netra unmilinam'. After waiting for one muhurta (1 hour 48 minutes), the Deities with open eyes were finally open to the eagerly awaiting public. The Deities were shown all auspicious items and paraphernalia like Srimad Bhagavatam, a picture of cows, some nicely decorated young kumaris and kirtana.
After this there was the marvelous abhisheka. H.G. Chanchalapathi Prabhu and H.G. Vikram Krishna Prabhu performed the first abhisheka for Sri Sri Krishna Balarama; H.G. Sridham Krishna Prabhu and H.G. Yasodanandana Prabhu performed and orchestrated the abhisheka for Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga and Srila Prabhupada. The Deities were bathed with panchamrita and a variety of fresh fruit juices and flowers.
At the end of the abhisheka, the screens were closed and people eagerly awaited for the first darsana of Their Lordships fully decorated. As it turned out, the first darsan of the Deities was just spell binding and the Govindam adi purusham song lifted the atmosphere to even higher dimension.
Before the screens opened, behind the closed curtains, there was this ceremony called 'ratnadi nyasa' which involved laying down precious ratnas underneath the lotus feet of the Deities and securing the Deities to the Deities base with bee wax. Again, this ceremony was performed by H.G. Yasodanandana Prabhu. After the darshana of the Deities were opened to the public, the first arati was offered to Their Lordships. The kirtan was ecstatic throughout the day and it was led by Bhakta Anuj, who would easily rank among the top kirtaniyas.
All the visitors received the sublime nectarean charanamrita of their Lordships and were fed sumptuous feast throughout the day. Later on in the afternoon, for the pleasure of their Lordships, we had various cultural performances performed by renowned performers of Silicon Valley. We also gave opportunity to many children who are eager to show case their devotional talent in front of the Lord.
In the evening, we had a special program on the occasion of the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada. H.G. Yasodanandana Prabhu and H.G. Chanchalapathi Prabhu both spoke on the importance of accepting a pure devotee as the spiritual master and how Srila Prabhupada continues to guide us. H.G. Chanchalapathi Prabhu narrated an incidence prior to Srila Prabhupada's disappearance lila in 1977, where Srila Prabhupada says: "I shall remain your personal guide, whether physically present or not, as I am getting personal guidance from my Guru Mahārāja." This is a profound statement which has to be remembered by all sincere followers and disciples of Srila Prabhupada. The evening ended with a beautiful rendition of Damodarastaka by Bhaktin Shravya and all devotees offered lamps to Sri Damodara in celebration of His famous lila. Devotees were more excited than exhausted.
The next day was an even bigger day for a few of the devotees. The next day, Harinama and Brahmana initiation ceremony was performed and ten devotees participated in the same. H.G. Yasodanandana Prabhu performed the fire sacrifice and spoke about the importance of initiation. H.G. Chanchalapathi Prabhu also spoke about the importance of initiation and briefly spoke about the ritvik system of initiation setup by Srila Prabhupada. After the event, all the devotees and visitors honored a feast.
At the end of all events, one of the visitor remarked, "A great work has been accomplished." But we would consider, the work has just begun.
Your servant in Srila Prabhupada's mission,
ISKCON Sunnyvale temple tour:
Sri Sri Krishna-balarama opening - Sunnyvale, san jose CA - part 1:
Sri Sri Krishna-balarama opening - Sunnyvale, san jose CA - part 2:
Sunnyvale ritvik initiation ceremony - part 1:
Sunnyvale ritvik initiation ceremony - part 2:
Sunnyvale ritvik initiation ceremony - part 3:
Sunnyvale ritvik initiation ceremony - part 4:
Sunnyvale ritvik initiation ceremony - part 5:
Sunnyvale ritvik initiation ceremony - part 6:
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