About Iskcon Bangalore/ Interview with Project Director, Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa

Interview with Project Director, Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa

Q1: What was the motivation and inspiration for conceiving and executing a project of this proportion?

The Krishna consciousness movement has wonderful things to offer to everyone. Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya, has taught us Lord Krishna’s instructions in such a clear way that they can be applied to any life situation to bring the best within oneself to achieve happiness. There is unlimited facility in today’s world to promote knowledge in various fields, in order to equip the society with the tools required to achieve happiness. But all these pertain to the temporary material sphere only. They cannot provide the real and eternal quality of happiness that we, the souls, are actually looking for. Any amount of material progress will not provide this. Thus although we have a very materially advanced world, we still have an unhappy, dissatisfied and disturbed humanity. Man is primarily spiritual and his real happiness lies at the soul level. He has to pay attention to develop his spiritual identity and serve his real needs along with his material pursuits. Specific attention has to be paid to develop the spiritual aspect of the society if real happiness and harmony have to be experienced. This is the service the Krishna Consciousness movement is doing for the world. This project provides a facility to disseminate Vedic knowledge in a practical and rational way for the benefit of as many people as possible.

Q 2: What makes this temple different from other temples?

The Vedanta sutra states, athato brahma jijnasa. This means that the most important activity for a soul, in the human form, is to enquire about spiritual life, brahma jijnasa. Every civilized society must provide for this to take place. In the advanced Vedic society, ample attention was given to cater to the spiritual aspects of life. With time, society has become practically ignorant of this need. And spirituality has come to the level of just blind rituals and sentiments. The ISKCON temple provides much more for the soul than those rituals. ISKCON temples are centers of spiritual learning through Godly association, centers where a visitor is inspired to learn about spiritual life. One can receive practical guidance in his spiritual life from those who are already on the path of spiritual advancement. Although the senses of the visitors may be bogged down by absorption in material endeavor, they can be purified and enlivened by coming in touch with the Supreme Lord in various ways and experience happiness. This temple provides such transcendental experiences as seeing the beautiful form of the Lord, participation in hearing and singing His qualities and pastimes, tasting nectarean prasadam and engaging in serving the Lord in various ways. Thus, step-by-step, they will realize the reality of their own spiritual identity and learn to cater to its needs.

Q3: How will the people of this country, a majority of who are struggling with the basic necessities, benefit from this complex?

Whether materially rich or poor, man is essentially spiritual. Wealth or poverty, good or bad, these experiences are bestowed upon us according to our past activities. Every action we perform in this world binds us by its reaction. From good actions we derive good results and by bad actions we derive bad results. Thus everyone is bound by the laws of karma. There is no guarantee that a man who is very rich today will be born rich in his next birth or even become a pauper in this life itself. The laws of material nature are very stringent. The overall poverty or wealth of a society is just the sum total of the karma of the individuals. As long as we remain ignorant of the purpose of human life and only serve this body. We will continue to remain bound by the laws of karma, which toss us from one experience to another, like the waves of the ocean. The soul needs to be equipped with practical knowledge to deal with the inevitables of one’s life, as well as knowledge to prevent such bondage in future. Rich or poor, every soul needs spiritual care and attention. Spiritual life is meant for everyone. Whatever we want to offer in this place is open to everyone, irrespective of social class, caste, gender, nationality or even religion. Edifices like this are needed to keep the balance between the material and spiritual needs of man. Today there is a great need for spiritual understanding, even deeper than sectarian religion. Krishna consciousness provides such an understanding. By the influence of God consciousness, we can alleviate suffering by treating the cause and the symptom, instead of treating the symptom alone. India’s real asset is spiritual knowledge. Today many Indians themselves do not realize its practical value. What remains of Vedic knowledge in the society at large is just some cultural backlash. Many do not know the progressive values of human life, which are the basis of Vedic culture. This is because they have not been presented with Vedic knowledge in a rational way. Srila Prabhupada did this through his extensive writing, which can easily be understood by everyone. How can we be complacent and not strive to appraise everyone the importance of our spiritual heritage, the neglect of which is driving society to chaos and confusion? Socially, the poverty of one section of society is caused by the extensive greed of another section. Due to the spirit of exploitation, men have forgotten each other’s spiritual equality before God. Though spiritual knowledge we can identify our common Father, the Supreme Lord, and thus realize our brotherhood. Only in this way can there be social equality, peace and harmony in our nation and between all nations of this world. No other quick fixes will work. So our task is spiritual education, and this project is an important instrument in fulfilling this.

Q4: What is the necessity of such a center in India where people already have some knowledge about the Bhagavad-gita and spiritual life?

To be born in the land of Bharatavarsha is considered most auspicious. It provides the greatest opportunity for spiritual advancement. Culturally, Indians are better situated to understand this knowledge, if they are willing. However in today’s spiritually degraded world even Indians have opted to neglect their own precious Vedic culture and follow the materialistic Western civilization. Instead of becoming a spiritual inspiration to the world, Indians have alienated themselves from the responsibility of learning, practicing and promoting the transcendental message of the Vedic scriptures. Unfortunately even the leaders of the country are practically ignorant of India’s unlimited spiritual heritage and do not make any attempt to follow or promote it. When Srila Prabhupada was asked why it was easier to preach in the West rather than in India, he said that it is easy to wake up someone who is really sleeping, not someone who is pretending to sleep, Westerners accepted their ignorance about spiritual matters and were eager students. Generally Indians prefer to appear familiar with the Bhagavad-Gita and other Vedic scriptures, although mostly they may know them only by name. Due to this mood, they do not always make receptive learners. ISKCON’s attempt is to inspire Indians to give attention to their spiritual aspect as an important part of their life and eventually become the guiding force of the world. We hope that eventually a new generation, who will become knowledgeable leaders of tomorrow, will emerge, to rejuvenate and inculcate these values in the Indian society and all over the world. The money spent by the society on this project is an investment for the revival of our Vedic culture. Eventually if we, who are born in India, learn to appreciate and practice the values of Vedic science and culture, the whole world will follow, as it is based on a holistic vision of life. Srila Prabhupada taught this Vedic knowledge to people all around the world and therefore is truly India’s cultural ambassador to the world. What is required is that the Indian take up the spiritual leadership of the world. We are not interested in cheap religious conversion. We are interested in making the world spiritually aware. Srila Prabhupada presented Krishna Consciousness as a science and people all over the world have taken it up and practiced it to improve the quality of life. If Indians pursue this path seriously, they can make a significant contribution to the whole world and India can become the guiding force for the world.

Q5: You claim to have raised all the funds locally, but we have been under the impression that you have access to foreign funds.

The privilege of funding the building of this temple was taken only by the people of 28000 life patrons registered in ISKCON Bangalore. Apart from this many people have become donors and sponsors of specific items in the building. ISKCON Bangalore houses about 60 serious, full-time life dedicated devotees. Many of these devotees are highly educated and have joined the movement, inspired by the lofty instructions of the Vedic scriptures, with a mission to do something constructive and spiritually uplifting for the society, By their effort thousands of people were inspired to contribute for this great cause.

Q6: How has participation in this project benefited donors and life members who have contributed towards it?

The opportunity to engage in the service of the Supreme Lord is very rare and valuable. All our donors and life members are very fortunate to have directly participated in this project, which is a direct service to the Lord’s mission. Service rendered to the Lord is also the highest pious activity. Even the smallest service rendered in this direction can save one from unlimited misfortune and become an eternal asset. The greatest welfare activity is to provide society with spiritual knowledge, due to the lack of which it is suffering. Our donors and life patrons have contributed for this cause and can take pride in being involved in it. It will surely be a matter of great satisfaction for them to see the fruits of their charity being distributed to everyone irrespective of caste, creed or color. By serving, Srila Prabhupada they have greatly pleased him. When a pure devotee of the Lord is pleased, the soul is immensely benefited. We are grateful to all of them for helping us in our endeavor, according to their mire, to serve humanity.

Q7: How is the day-to-day running of such a big complex managed?

It is a well known fact from our scriptures that prasadam, food that is offered to the Lord, has a powerful purifying effect on the consciousness, just like the effect of the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. By honoring prasadam one can accrue great spiritual benefit. And it is easily done one just has to literally relish the mercy, to move a step up towards spiritual life. We are feeding the 7000-8000 people who visit the temple on weekdays and about 22000 people on Sundays and holidays. Through this scheme we are not hoping to relieve the hunger of the society. The idea is that everyone who comes to the temple is the Lord’s guest. So why not offer a prasadam meal and make their pilgrimage a fulfilling one?

Pasted from http://www.folknet.in

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