Situated at New Vrindaban, West Virginia is Srila Prabhupada’s smriti shrine or memorial shrine – Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold. The stunning palace that was constructed by the disciples of Srila Prabhupada in 1973 as an providing of affection to their non secular grasp.
Over time, giant elements of the concrete domes, outer wall, balustrade railing, and steps began to deteriorate, sections of wrought iron rusted irreparably, and the roof sustained leaks.
In 2009, a Palace Restoration Committee was established. Deciding to patch up the roof till they have been able to embark on a full repair, the Committee started with extra seen, smaller initiatives that might enable devotees and guests to see the progress.
Palace Restoration Manager Gopisa Das describes the importance and urgency of the restoration. He states, “We wanted to do one thing to revitalize Prabhupada’s Palace because the palace is the guts of New Vrindaban. It was constructed out of affection by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples. There would by no means be one other place prefer it anyplace on this planet”
Gopisa Das got here to New Vrindaban for the primary time in 1979 for the palace opening and to assist end the Palace’s wrought iron gates. He shares how he got here into Krishna Consciousness and divulges his journey within the Palace restoration work. He additionally leads us into the longer term plans of ISKCON New Vrindaban.
How did you come into Krishna Consciousness?
Gopisa: In 1969, any individual obtained a small document from Apple. There was the maha-mantra on one facet and the non secular grasp on the opposite facet and somebody had the document participant and so they performed it. The music stored on in my thoughts for the following week. A few years later I got here again to the United States and was in a live performance whereby exterior I noticed two devotees one with mridanga and one with kartal. This was in Florida and so they have been from Miami. I heard them saying, “Stay excessive endlessly.” This was fairly fascinating. At that point my sister and I have been already vegetarian. She visited the temple at Gainsville, Florida and my mom was questioning what was occurring together with her. So, she despatched me to the temple. I met my sister and she or he requested me to satisfy Prabhupada who was coming to go to the temple. So, I met him, obtained very a lot attracted, and determined to maneuver to the temple in 1973. So, that’s how I got here to Krishna Consciousness.
How did the concept of the domes get conceived and what are your contributions?
Well, Srila Prabhupada’s Palace was constructed within the Nineteen Seventies. At that point the devotees have been very exhausting. It was all Prabhupada’s disciples. Some of the issues that have been executed, the way in which the concrete was poured in, the devotees realized as they went in doing. So, simply due to the kind of development that was executed on the time, there was some degradation. So over time as the fabric vitality is all the time degrading and so too with the domes, with the roof and there was leaking on the roof.
We knew we wanted to do one thing to convey Prabhupada’s Palace in its type and glory. So architects and engineers have been employed and included within the committee that was shaped. An important deal was executed to see the present state after which a plan was put to see what to do. So I grew to become concerned in that at a sure level and I used to be working beneath the course of the Palace Restoration Committee and a plan was put up. We spent an excessive amount of time, planning and deciding.
The new dome is definitely bigger than the unique. The form is extra elegant, much like the form in Krishna Balaram Temple in Vrindavan. We additionally wished to honor the temple there.
We designed on the unique outlay and simply enhanced it to make it much more stunning.
The design work was initially painted black and is now modified. So every part is now fairly larger. The entrance dome is a bit of larger. The subsequent dome is a bit greater with the bottom beneath the dome. The home windows that have been previously a part of the dome at the moment are a part of the bottom. The predominant dome has the identical base.
What have been the challenges that you simply confronted?
We bumped into Covid. The delivery went up dramatically. It was troublesome to seek out contractors. It grew to become very difficult however on the identical time rewarding as a result of the devotees have been actually pleased with the top end result. That was a very good indication that Srila Prabhupada is happy and accepted the service.
How was your expertise seeing everybody coming collectively and serving to restore Srila Prabhupada’s Palace?
It was fairly great. Everyone loves Srila Prabhupada’s Palace and to see Prabhupada’s Palace restored. So, after all, the cooperation was there. We have two Corporations- ISKCON New Vrindaban and ECO Vrindavan that labored collectively and truly contributed to the bills of restoring the palace. Besides the domes, we truly did the entrance wall and the steps. The steps have been the very very first thing as a result of there was a legal responsibility concern and the partitions are the very first thing all people sees. The railings have been put up. So the partitions have been redone and now the domes and the roof have been executed. Everybody contributed collectively by donating no matter they may.
What do you count on sooner or later with an increasing number of participation in defending the gorgeous Palace of Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada’s Palace is a centerpiece and a middle of actions. There are these great Sunday brunches the place they exit within the rose backyard all all through the summer time that are fairly great. And we have now Friday evening kirtans. Weddings going down. So actually we wish to see elevated exercise round Prabhupada’s Palace.
It is a giant undertaking. We have simply began with the steps, partitions, and roof. The complete floor exterior must be developed. There was a restaurant and reward store that has been closed down for a few years. We additionally intend to completely renovate the downstairs space ensuring there isn’t any moisture there. Then we wish to put in an audio-video room on one facet the place it will likely be the opening a part of the tour. People come to the again first after which they’ll be capable to expertise an exquisite audio-video presentation of Srila Prabhupada’s life and the constructing of the palace and Srila Prabhupada’s interplay with New Vrindaban and with the palace. And with the opposite half, we intend to construct a pleasant museum over there with Srila Prabhupada’s great artifacts and delightful dioramas.
We have fairly a couple of friends coming. Till now we have now round thirty to forty thousand folks coming and visiting New Vrindaban a yr. So we simply need that to proceed an increasing number of. We have our ‘Festival Of Colors’ that occurs in subsequent month that’s September and that takes place behind Srila Prabhupada’s Palace.
What are the upcoming developments we’d see in New Vrindaban for the reason that renovation of the wall, roof, and domes has been executed?
Any devotees out in ISKCON who’ve any explicit artifacts of Srila Prabhupada be it flowers from his authentic samadhi, from his garlands, or possibly a tooth of Srila Prabhupada or something they wish to give to the palace and improve the standing of Srila Prabhupada’s Palace. With flowers, it will turn into a Pushpa samadhi and with Prabhupada’s tooth or one thing like that, it will truly convey it as much as the best degree.
And being as distinctive and great as Prabhupada’s palace is, it will be an exquisite legacy for whoever needs to donate one thing like that. Like the clothes of Srila Prabhupada. It can be properly cared for, fantastically displayed, and naturally, whoever would make such an exquisite reward to the palace their direct preliminary can be there as properly.