It Is Very Surprizing March 17, 1968

If you take Srila Prabhupada’s naming of New Vrindaban as the official authorized start, then today is the 40th anniversary of NV.

While the second page of the letter wherein SP named NV was missing from the archives, its existence was well known in NV. It has been cited in at least 3 Brijabasi Spirit articles from the early days, including this one by an unknown author, although the editor of the BS at that time was Taru so it is relatively safe to assume he wrote it:

(Brijabasi Spirit Vol. 6 No. 6 September 1979)

It Is Very Surprizing

Srila Prabhupada’s conception of New Vrin­daban is first expressed in his 1966 printed pro­spectus. therein, one of ISKCON’s five main purposes is to “erect for the members, and for the society at large, a holy place of transcenden­tal pastimes, dedicated to the Personality of Krishna.”

But Srila Prabhupada first specifically speaks of New Vrindaban as a community of devotees in a letter dated March 17, 1968: “I am glad to learn that one gentleman is going to open an ashram in the West Virginia, and he was se­cured a big tract of land, 320 acres, and I wish that this tract of land may be turned into New Vrindaban. You have New York, New England, and so many “New” duplicates of European countries in the USA; why not import New Vrin­daban in your country?”

And, he adds: “If Kirtanananda endeavors to utilize the 320 acres for turning it into New Vrin­daban, I may permanently stay there and try to serve you in constructing a New Vrindaban city in West Virginia.”

Now Srila Prabhupada is permanently residing with us in his Palace. From atop this hill, His Divine Grace may survey the imminent const­ruction of seven temples on seven hills.

Srila Prabhupada has already named the tem­ples: “I shall place seven different temples in different situations, as prototype of Vrinda­ban. There will be seven principal temples, namely, Govinda, Gopinath, Madan Mohan, Shyamsundar, Radha Raman, Radha Damodar, and Gokulananda. Of course in Vrindaban, there are about 5,000 temples; that is a far distant scheme.” (Letter, August 23,1968).

Srila Prabhupada has many plans for New Vrindaban, ranging from a post office to a suspension bridge linking ridge to ridge. He en­visions five thousand temples in an area “One mile long and one mile broad.”

And for whom is New Vrindaban meant? Who are to be the inmates”?

“I hope that New Vrindaban will give shelter to so many unhappy men of this country and they will be happy by working there, and living there in good association of devotees…” (Lett­er, Sept. 22, 1968)

Now that Srila Prabhupada is personally sur­veying his New Vrindaban Scheme from his Palace, we can reflect on his first arrival here. May 22, 1969.

As recorded in a journal of an original inmate: “Srila Prabhupada arrives in an old Lincoln Continental we’ve just bought for $100 because no-one around here can pay to keep it afloat. His Divine Grace is arriving freshly triumphant from a large joyous kirtan with the Ohio State Univer­sity student body and poet Allen Ginsberg. As he gets out of the Lincoln at the old schoolhouse, he is escorted into a roaring, smoking and shut­tering 1952 Ford Power Wagon. Upon surveying this vehicle. His Divine Grace says, “Why not walk?” The devotees protest that it’s two miles up the muddy road to the Vrindaban farm. “No matter,” he says. “We can walk.” The devotees, however, insist that he ride in comfort in the Power Wagon over the bridge across the Benson farm.

“Srila Prabhupada relents and takes off with jolts and bounces up the gravel road lead­ing to the Benson house and a back pasture. The Bensons aren’t home—the devotees seek to ask permission to traverse their land—and it is decided to go on anyway as in the past Mr. Ben­son has graciously permitted passage. As the Power Wagon stops for the second gate, it sudd­enly explodes with pops and bangs, then sizz­les and dies. “What is that?” Srila Prabhupada asks, hardly surprised. The devotees look at the engine with quiet despair. Mr. Benson, furious, rides up on a tractor. “You might have asked permission,” he growls. Many apologies and explanations that this is our spiritual master and that we knocked at the house but no-one was about, etc. etc. until Mr. Benson surmises that he is going to have to pull the antique Power Wagon off his property, and grumbles, “Well, all right. But the next time ask permission.”

“The devotees look up to see Srila Prabhupada walking down the hill to the muddy road. “Bet­ter walk,” he says, walking so fast that the de­votees have a hard time keeping up. He glides up the two-mile road as if on transcendental roller skates, the devotees suggesting from time to time that he sit down on a log to rest, and he refusing, less out of breath than they. His Div­ine Grace walks up the two miles without stop, smiling and sometimes commenting on the vio­lets and new May flowers.

“And in the afternoon, Srila Prabhupada sits beside the old farm shack, selecting a grassy spot beneath a persimmon tree. There he sits and chants, gazing out over the hills, gazing East, for it is bad to look toward the declining sun. “We have a very nice place here now” he tells the devotees gathered about him. “Now in this New Vrindaban we will have a community of enlightened fathers and mothers, and of sannyasis and brahmacaris. Actually we make no such distinctions. Whoever is in Krishna con­sciousness, whoever can understand this science of Krishna, can become a spiritual master, a teacher. In New Vrindaban we should live in such an ideal way that people will learn what human life and civilization actually are. We must teach the world the real purpose of civil­ization. So now I am requesting that you develop New Vrindaban in such a way that it will be exemplary.”

“As Srila Prabhupada sits beneath the persim­mon tree talking softly, his disciples quickly gather about and sit beside him on the grass. A beautiful sight. Immediately the land is trans­formed, transcendentalized, Vrindabanized.

“This human form of life is meant for ending all the miserable conditions of material exist­ence,” Srila Prabhupada says, “but people are being misguided and are being sent to the slaughterhouse. This is not a very happy civil­ization. So one of the major advantages of New Vrindaban is that we are out of contact with it. It is Krishna’s desire that no man of ordinary interest will come here.” Srila Prabhupada looks around, toward the two-mile muddy road, and laughs. “No. It is beyond the reach of the ord­inary class of men.”

Now that you are in your Palace, Srila Prabhu­pada, please grant us the grace to assist you in building a transcendental community united in praise to Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Candra, to actualize your vision of seven temples on seven hills. Guide us patiently to perfection in your service. Assure us that the day of unalloyed love for Krishna will come. Yet we need no signs. Your presence here is assurance of victory.

“Krishna has given you New Vrindaban,” you once wrote us, “As well as He has, out of His good will. He has come to you. It is very surpris­ing.”

(this last quote wasn’t given a citation in the original article it is from a letter in the VedaBase dated 9/22/1968)

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