Chapter 24 – A Temple in Bhubaneswar Just Like the Jagannatha Puri Temple

I came here [Bhubaneswar], erected that hut. I was living there; Prabhupada stayed there for sixteen days. Nothing was here. I collected some money which was exhausted completely in erecting that hut. I applied for a water pipe, by Krsna’s grace it was sanctioned. Then I wrote a letter to Srila Prabhupada and said, “Now I have done this thing according to your instruction, when will you be coming to Orissa?”
—His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter to Gour Govinda Swami; in it he said, “I want to build a temple in Bhubaneswar just like the Jagannatha Puri temple. My disciples are not allowed into the Jagannatha temple, but Jagannatha will come and stay here (Bhubaneswar). Come with a plan and estimate.”

17th November, 1976

My dear Gaura Govinda,

Please accept my blessings.

What is the climate like there in Bhubaneswar now? I want to come there. I want to begin work immediately on constructing a temple exactly like Jagannatha’s temple in Puri. You can immediately begin to get estimates from contractors. It will be a very important temple.

Hoping this finds you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

N.B. What is the progress with the land registration?

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: Prabhupada said, “I will build a temple like the Jagannatha temple because Jagannatha will come. The western devotees aren’t allowed there. That type of temple I will build in Bhubaneswar; come with a plan and estimate.” “Plan and estimate??!!” I thought!

The engineer will do a plan and estimate; it will take so much money. I have no money, not a single paisa with me, I am a beggar. All right, Prabhupada has said; what can I do, it must be done!

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja was somewhat overcome with the request of his spiritual master, but he knew that the duty of the disciple was to do the bidding of the spiritual master. He wanted to do this, but he had exhausted what money he had in just building a small cottage so he could move onto the ISKCON property, and now to build a temple on the property like the Jagannatha temple in Puri! This was a mighty task, but if his spiritual master wanted it, then he would have to do it to the best of his ability.

He went to the government offices, and somehow, by Krsna’s mercy, he established a friendship with an architect/engineer. He asked him, “Please help me; my Guru Maharaja requires me to do this thing. I am going to Hyderabad to see him, and he said, ‘Come with a plan and estimate,’ He wants to build a Jagannatha temple—one as good as the Jagannatha Puri temple!” The architect said, “It will take months to make the plan and the estimate for such a huge building as he Jagannatha Temple, and so much money is required!” Gour Govinda Swami had no money, and within a week, he was going to Hyderabad for a meeting with Srila Prabhupada. He said to architect, “My spiritual master has written me a letter.” Then he said, “You are a great person, a famous architect; can’t you do something to help me? Please give something, anything. Some rough estimate, anything! Such a famous architect, please help me.” “All right, all right,” said the architect. “I will do something, I will help you.”

So within two days the architect made a sketch—one draft, some sketches from the Jagannatha temple, and some estimates of the cost. The estimate was crores of rupees; Gour Govinda Swami had the fare to Hyderabad and back by train, no more. But he had such great faith in the words of his spiritual master that he knew that the temple would come about.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja: So I went with that plan and estimate and showed it to Prabhupada. “O, so much money!” “Yes, if you build a Jagannatha temple,” Prabhupada said, “It must be.”

Gour Govinda Swami went to Hyderabad and showed Srila Prabhupada the plan and estimate for a very beautiful temple. On the same visit he asked Srila Prabhupada when he was going to come to Orissa. Srila Prabhupada told him, “I’m going to the Kumbha-mela. From the Kumbha-mela I’ll go to Orissa; you just connect the electricity for me, nothing else. I need electricity for my Dictaphone.”

Gour Govinda Swami went back to Bhubaneswar and arranged for the electricity, in anticipation of Srila Prabhupada’s visit.

Then later in 1976 Gour Govinda Swami received another letter from Srila Prabhupada encouraging him in his efforts to print books and build a temple:

11th December, 1976

My dear Gaura Govinda,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 30/11/76.

Yes, as soon as we get electricity, the sooner it will be fit for my coming there. For my translation work I require electricity. I am going to wardha on the 17th. Find out the travel arrangements from wardha to Bhubaneswar. Whether there is a direct railway line? Or are there airplane flights from Nagpur to Bhubaneswar?

Hoping this would meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

N.B. I have just now received your letter dated 8/12/76. You may come to meet me in Hyderabad before the 17th or come to Bombay by the 22nd December 1976.


Then in a letter from Hyderabad dated 14th December, 1976, Srila Prabhupada wrote to Gurukrpa:

…Please keep the money you have in the bank. I’m thinking of one temple in Bhubaneswar. It will be required later on. India is poor. Hawaii has already has a building. A temple is required, but not very urgent. As it is convenient we can do it. Because our devotees are not allowed in the Jagannatha’s temple in Puri I’m thinking to build a duplicate temple at Bhubaneswar. You are welcome to come to India. When you come we’ll begin the Bhubaneswar temple by the 15th of January.

…We have got the land already in Bhubaneswar. I’m waiting for the plan and estimate. So keep the $160,000 for this purpose. Further developments I shall let you know. The Bhubaneswar address is as follows: ISKCON Centre/Nayapalli/Bhubaneswar-12/Orissa.

Srila Prabhupada was openly enthusiastic about the prospect of opening a center in Orissa in Bhubaneswar, which is the gate to the Jagannatha Puri Dhama; this is mentioned in the Utkala-khanda in the Skanda Purana. To do parikrama of the Jagannatha Puri Dhama, first one must enter through Bhubaneswar and obtain the permission of Lord Siva who is the guardian of that dhama and enter through and on to do one’s parikrama of Puri.

Then Srila Prabhupada again wrote to Gour Govinda Swami:

24th December, 1976

My dear Gaura Govinda,

Please accept my blessings.

I am prepared to come to Bhubaneswar immediately to begin construction on the following conditions. The growth of the temple should be based on book distribution. I am prepared to print books. You can sell them and 50% of the collections must be returned to the BBT to pay for the books. The balance can be used for construction. Whatever you can raise by this method, I am prepared to give an equal amount toward the construction. In other words, the amount required for construction will come 50% from your side and 50% will come from me. In the beginning I can advance something if necessary so that we may begin immediately. I will print books for you to distribute. You distribute, and whatever you collect, 50% must go the BBT to pay for the books.

The balance may be used toward the construction. Whatever you can raise in this way for construction, I will give an equal amount. And, in the beginning I may some give advance. Is that clear? So, let me know whether you like this proposal. If you agree, I am prepared to come there immediately to begin work.

Hoping this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Some Oriya scholar may be engaged to translate our books under your check to expedite printing work.

Krsna Sent Him

On the 5th January 1977, in Bombay prior to going to Kumbha-mela, Srila Prabhupada was in discussion with a few of his disciples, and had this to say about his dear disciple Gour Govinda Swami:

Prabhupada: So I have decided to construct a temple in Bhubaneswar.

Gopala Krsna: You have? Okay.

Prabhupada: The conditions is that I’ll invest money for Oriya language books, and you’ll sell—half the collection for temple, and half the collection for printing again, the same principle.

Gopala Krsna: They won’t’ be able to collect one crore by selling books.

Prabhupada: No, no, if they can, I have no objection. I can give them ten crores.

Gopala Krsna: But they’ll never be able to..

Prabhupada: No, that you can’t say. It is all in the hands of Krsna. Not one crore. Say a few lakhs. He’s ready to go town-to-town, village, in Orissa. He wants that in my absence somebody must be there to look after the construction. That is quite reasonable.

Gopala Krsna: Oh, yes, definitely.

Prabhupada: So I have told them “Any amount I can invest. You print books and sell.” This is my open secret. Print books, and distribute, and spend half in whichever life you do and half, again print books. That is my ambition (vision?). I want to see our philosophy is widely spread by different literatures. That I want to do.

Gopala Krsna: Yes. That will be very good. There are a few people like, Vijeta, who is Saurabha’s assistant, he could probably go to Bhubaneswar and supervise the construction.

Prabhupada: Yes. So arrange.

Gopala Krsna: There are too many people here. We don’t need that many in Bombay for the Bombay construction.

Prabhupada: So let him come to Bhubaneswar. I am going after Kumbha-mela. And begin the work immediately. We have got one gentleman, professor. He is good learned scholar. I can engage him for translating.

Gopala Krsna: Oriya. Very nice.

Prabhupada: He was writing…That machine….I can see the manuscript. In this way, arrangement make.

Gopala Krsna: Very good. We just printed two books in Oriya, Topmost yoga and one more. One more.

Prabhupada: He likes Oriya language.

Gopala Krsna: Who? Gour Govinda Swami? He is very sincere devotee.

Prabhupada: Oh, yes, undoubtedly.

Gopala Krsna: Very sincere.

Prabhupada: Krsna sent him. He….In Vrndavana, he said that “Please give him shelter.” I thought that “There are so many Indian comes and go.” So when he insisted, “All right, you stay.”

Harisauri: Yeah. He took sannyasa at the opening of the temple. I remember that.

Prabhupada: He’s a good boy.

Harisauri: He’s stuck it out for a long time in Orissa. He’s been there a long time, by himself a lot of the time too.

Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. He’s organizing nicely.

Gopala Krsna: He’s very sincere. He follows all the regulations very rigidly. He gets up in the morning, ideal example.

Jagadisa: He understands the philosophy quite well.

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. And he is educated. He is B.Sc. he knows Hindi also.

Gopala Krsna: He worked in Hindi translation for some time.

Author’s comment: It is clear from the discussion that Srila Prabhupada had a high opinion of Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja. He valued him for his loyalty and his devotion to Krsna, his strictness in observing the regulative principles, his willingness to accept hardships in the cause of fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s vision, his understanding of religious philosophy, his education and his intelligence.

We will see that throughout his whole life Srila Gour Govinda Swami was a sincere devotee—very sincere; and that Krsna sent him. He strictly adhered to the regulative principles and was an ideal example—always.

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