MY VISIT TO ISKCON AT MAYAPUR.


 

Visited ISKCON, Mayapur for two days–11.06.2018 & 12.06.2018, total cost was very minimum, only Rs 950 per head per day, but enjoyment was unlimited. On 11.6.18, Monday, me and my wife reached Nabadwip Dham Rail station at around 8.00 am in the morning, then availed a TOTO to reach ferry ghat, immediately boarded the launch. Soon after reached the other side of the Ganges, and then caught a TOTO ride to reach the main ISKCON temple. It was 9.30 am. Soon we reported at the reception counter to book accomodation and buy lunch coupon, but for this our stay would be impossible.

Mayapur is a holy city located on the banks of the Ganges river, at the point of its confluence with the Jalangi, near Nabadwip,  130 km north of Kolkata . The headquarters of ISKCON are situated in Mayapur and it is considered a holy place by a number of other traditions within Hinduism, but is of special significance to followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, regarded as a special incarnation of Krishna in the mood of Radha. It is visited by over a million pilgrims annually.

A main attraction in Mayapur is Srila Prabhupada’s Pushpa Samadhi Mandir, a memorial to ISKCON’s founder. The main shrine is surrounded by a museum depicting Srila Prabhupada’s life using fiberglass exhibits. In 2002, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness was planning to construct a garden in memory of George Harrison. Another imprtant place to visit is the Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. This temple has 3 main altars, Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Panca-tattva and Lord Narasimha Deva. These Pancha Tattva deities are the largest deities of Pancha tattva in the world. The Panca-tattva comprises Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Gadadhara Pandit and Srivas Thakur.

But I did not seek much details during the tour, for, my philosophy in life is not a conventional type. I am not ritualistic type, I believe in good work, and when you are so, you don’t need to go too far to satiate HIM unlike hypocrites, you get HIS love and blessing from afar automatically.  So during this visit to Mayapur, I spent very little time before the deities, and much more time spent visiting various sites and talking with people who came for pilgrimage. I passed a substantial time enjoying the serenity of the place.

crossing the jalangi river at Mayapur.
crossing the jalangi river at Mayapur.

I usually avoid holidays to visit such tourist places, therefore avoided sunday. Eleventh June being a Monday, rush was less. Accommodation was available at Rupees 100/200 for Kutir, Rs 300/500/800 for rooms in various Bhavans built entirely for the pilgrims, and also Rs 2000 for AC rooms. We opted for Non AC rooms charging Rs 800 per day. Lunch coupons are sold at various rates which are Rs 30/70/ 150 respectively. For we two we bought coupons for Rs 150 each. We were allotted rooms in Ishodyan Bhavan in the first floor. Our room no was 1112, well lit, furnished and ventilated. From the room through the window their property extends as far as you can see, all empty land, full of greenery. Some people told me their area covers 22,000 acres, but there is no authenticity to prove that. I tried to find out their owned property in the net but I could not. If some of you know it, please inform me at 9022641876. There is a lot of free space inside the temple area, free of noise hard to get in and around our city. I enjoyed supreme bliss here in this divine loneliness.

This apart, what struck me very interesting is the kutirs, cost of rent is Rs 100/200. Festival time, and saturdays and sundays, those are full. I guess it will be interesting to stay there, in a future visit I will try those. I visited the kutirs, those are well maintained, neat and clean. Outside the main temple area, there are protected gates through which you can move to distant villages owned by the temple trust, entirely meant for foreigners. There is I am told a village inhabited by the Russians also. If I had my say I would like to make entry to that place and live here permanently.

Next important thing what a tourist is concerned with, is about the food and refreshment. Food coupons are available at a price of Rs 30/70/ 150. Items are too many, as many as, 10 items for Rs 150, and lesser for Rs 70 and 30. For Rs 150 one, it is buffet system, your food is served on a table in a AC hall, for lesser amount you have to squat on a floor, in a line, and they serve food in a trolley. Food is tasty , mostly grown in their agricultural field, by their own men. Their sannyasis, just do not pray, the learn many trades for earning. They drive TOTOs, run various shops for garments, gift items etc etc, basic requirements are provided by the temple, a share of the profit has to be donated to the temple trust.

There are sweet shops selling snacks, sweets and other refreshments at a reasonable price. Here, everything is priced, You have to pay for which you take a service, a common line in this time of market economy. The day of free khana or prasadam in a temple, is over. I personally do not have any objection. Any charity or subsidy is counterproductive.

There is puja/ arati which also we  attended. At four in the dawn, we woke up, arrived in in the main temple. Attended Bhajans and kirtan. Usually, there are presence of foreigners in this arati, but their nos appear to have gone down. I inquired the reason of lesser presence of foreigners from regular visitors, according to them, it is that there are more and more ISKCON temple have come up in America, Europe and rest of the world; therefore, what the seek here, is available at home country, therefore no necessity of visiting in hordes to Mayapur. I think, there is much more to it. Might be, due to existent threat of terrorism, foreign nationals are discouraged from visiting in this part of country where required security cannot be provided.

I enjoyed my stay in ISKCON, Mayapur. Purpose of both devotional, and holidaying. I had a mind to stay a few more days, but tremendous heat of summer, and no rain, discouraged me from continuing.

 

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Author: BHANU CHAKRABORTI

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