New Vrindaban Community Tour Reveals Renovated Deity Facilities and More

Radha Vrindaban Chandra Gopal Nathji Gaura Nitai New Vrindaban

The main altar at the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Temple.

By Madhava Smullen

The community parikrama on the second morning of this spring’s ISKCON New Vrindaban and ECO-V Joint Board Meetings revealed a host of exciting renovations, showing that the efforts of recent years are beginning to bring a new sheen to a once crumbling infrastructure.

The March 15th tour began at 10:00am with a tangible sense of anticipation as residents and board members alike crowded into the hallway outside Sri Sri Radha-Vrindabanchandra’s Deity kitchen to the pounding of mridanga drums and chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.

Offering a ghee lamp and breaking a ceremonial coconut in the doorway, head priest Abhinandana Das welcomed everyone to follow a path of brightly colored rice mandalas into the newly renovated kitchen.

Visitors were met with bright new white paint on the walls, gleaming stainless steel counters, sinks and stove, and an overall polished, professional and mode-of-goodness feel. Everywhere, ceremonial ribbons, fruit and vegetables created a celebratory, auspicious scene.

After community president Jaya Krishna Das offered arati to pictures of Sri-Sri Radha-Vrindabanchandra, Lord Nrsimhadava and a small murti of Srila Prabhupada, milksweet cook Dhara Dasi boiled the first pot of milk for the Lord in the new kitchen, and the devotees cheered.

Facilities manager Gopisa Das then explained how the walls had been cleaned, stripped and painted, broken tile removed from the floor, and the floor painted and refinished to lessen the danger of slipping. The ceiling had also been refinished, and new lighting, more spacious sinks and an expanded area for the Lord’s plates installed.

Gopisa added that more renovations were still to come later in the spring, including new pot racks, heavy rubber non-slip mats, and new flooring in the hallway.

New Vrindaban Deity kitchen renovated 2015

A glimpse into the renovated Deity Kitchen.

The pujari room was the next stop, with Jaya Krishna and Gopisa pointing out the beautiful new wooden flooring, brand new granite countertops replacing the previous thirty-year-old ones, and walls repainted an attractive yellow. Broken cabinets had been replaced with nice new wooden ones, there were new lighting fixtures, and the ceiling – which used to be riddled with cracks that dirt would fall from – had been fixed.

“We are very happy about how it looks now,” said Jaya Krishna. “It’s a great improvement for their Lordships.”

Next the parikrama moved on to the truly stunning Deity dressing room. Five years ago, carpenter Vyasasana Das had installed new cupboards, granite countertops for dressing the small Deities, and a rich dark wood floor. Now, the ceiling had been redone, new lights added, and a huge wooden countertop installed in the center of the room for dressing the large Deities.

Because new Deity outfits are added every year, the cupboard space was still inadequate, however, and Jaya Krishna explained that an expansion would be added across the hall soon to solve the problem. In addition, a dedicated sewing room – an old mainstay of New Vrindaban – was being re-established.

“Radhanath Swami, an early resident of New Vrindaban, recalled that the community used to be famous for having the best outfit makers and jewelry makers,” Jaya Krishna said. “We want to go back to that.”

Sundari Dasi was behind the renovation of another spot, the temple library, which until now had been in such a dilapidated condition that devotees didn’t even want to set foot in it.

With new wood flooring, bright white repainted walls and ceiling, comfy new furniture, a trendy upstairs loft and wrought iron candle holders decorating the walls, it had been turned into a cosy reading retreat.

The library already carried Prabhupada’s books and conversations, works by other Vaishnava Acharyas and ISKCON authors, collections of Back to Godhead magazines, and encyclopedias and other reference books. Interfaith books, Jaya Krishna explained, would soon be added upstairs; special reading hours would be introduced, and there would be a system for devotees to borrow and return books. In the future, there would also be Internet access so that devotees could listen to classes through ISKCON Desire Tree and more.

“We’re very happy about doing something for brahminical culture,” said Jaya Krishna.

ISKCON New Vrindaban Temple Library Renovation 2015

The updated Temple Library.

The tour next visited the renovated guest rooms in the temple building. These featured new wood flooring, white sheetrock walls, attractive ceiling lights, and bedside tables and lamps, along with two double beds with clean white pillows and comforters – a very different scene from what most people expect to find in an average ashram room.

“After falling behind at least thirty years in maintenance, there’s still a lot to do at New Vrindaban,” Jaya Krishna said. “For instance in the hallways, the dripping ceilings need to be fixed, the flooring replaced and more lights added. But we’ve made a good start.”

The tour next made its way outside, to visit the ox barn in Bahulaban, which had been deconstructed to just its core and then rebuilt. Since the previous Joint Board Meetings in November 2014, when it was little more than a frame, it had come a long way thanks to Vyasasana Dasa and crew.

The outside of the two-storey building now featured an attractive green and white siding, with a new wooden stairway and landing leading up to the still-under-constuction top floor. Inside, there were stalls and hay storage areas for the oxen to eat from, and a tack room where handmade cherrywood yokes were displayed. Meanwhile outside in the back was a cemented training area where trainer Richard was taking handsome young Hari and Priya through a set of commands. Two other pairs of oxen are also being trained to till the gardens and pull carts.

New Vrindaban Bahulaban Barn Renovation ECO-Vrindaban March 2015

ECO-V’s remodeled barn at Bahulaban.

The final stop on the tour was the badly dilapidated utility building opposite the ox barn, which recently had its roof completely replaced. Plans were also underway, Gopisa explained, to gradually renovate the rest.

It was encouraging evidence for parikrama-goers, along with everything else they had seen during the tour, of a community being slowly yet steadily rebuilt.

New Vrindaban Utility Building Roof Replacement 2015

A brand new roof for the Bahulaban Utility Building!

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