01/12/98 - 1493
Shri Mayapur News 1/4
India (VNN) - Shri Mayapur News. Vol 1, Number 4. December 1997
by Bhagavat Dharma das
Dear Maharajs and Prabhus
Here is the December issue of Sri Mayapur News. I have mainly
concentrated on the SMPDC meetings, which were held at the end
of November. I hope you will find this information interesting
This month has been quite a busy one for me, and I offer my apologies
to anyone who did not receive a reply from me. I hope that next
year, there will be another devotee working with me and we can
improve this service.
All glories to all the sankirtan devotees who are making great
sacrifices for Srila Prabhupada during this time of year.
I remain your servant
Bhagavat Dharma das
Shri Mayapur News. Vol 1, Number 4. December 1997.
adbhuta mandira ei haibe prakash
gauranga nitya-seva haibe vikasa
'One astounding temple will appear, from where Lord Gauranga's
eternal service will be preached all over the world'.
Lord Nityananda in the Navadwip Mahatmya.
This month, we have a report on the recent SMPDC meetings in Radlett.
This was an important meeting in terms of the progress of the
Project from being a design on paper to becoming an actual construction
on the ground. The meetings brought a flurry of activity to our
office here and a boost for all those present. There is a growing
sense of the need for a deeper commitment by everyone involved,
and also a need to involve a wider public of all the devotees
and supporters of ISKCON.
Personally, I found the meetings very informative and enlightening.
I began to see a bigger picture of the Sri Mayapur Project, and
I began to understand how important this Project is to Srila Prabhupada.
I hope my meeting notes will be able to convey a little of this
understanding to you.
The purpose of this newsletter is becoming more defined for us.
Our goal is to inform and involve you the reader, and to channel
your feedback to the managers and leaders of the Project. Our
first three issues have brought a tremendous response - over 250
letters in all. A large majority of devotees tell us that they
see the Sri Mayapur Project as a flagship preaching project, and
they feel encouraged in their own preaching endeavours to see
such a pro- active and co-operative effort. Your feedback is not
only influencing the way that we are presenting the Project, but
it is directly having an effect on the Project itself. Please
continue to let us have your views. I apologise to anyone who
I did not get back to with a proper reply. I hope next year to
have some help in this service, and I promise you better communications
from this end.
To complete this newsletter, I have included an article from Paramananda
das about the work of the recently re-named Human Development
Division, which will be working to improve the living conditions
of the dham-vasis who live around our campus in Sri Mayapur. Next
month we will return to our standard format.
Please keep in touch.
Bhagavat Dharma das
COM: Bhagavat Dharma MG
HOT NEWS #
On December 17th, Pada-Sevanam das, chief designer of the Temple
of the Vedic Planetarium received an award for architecture from
Prince Charles, at his official residence, St. James Palace. Britain's
next king and Pada-Sevanam discussed the importance of tradition
based on theistic principles. The Prince then expressed a desire
to visit Sri Mayapur, when there is visible work on the temple
construction, on the site. The Prince then chatted with Chakrini
dasi, who attended with Pada-Sevanam. They discussed traditional
SMPDC MEETING REPORT.
The Sri Mayapur Project Development Committee is a sub-committee
of the GBC, which was formed in 1979 to carry forward Srila Prabhupada's
intention to build a magnificent 'Temple of the Vedic Planetarium'.
The committee, over the years, looked at various possible designs.
They settled on developing a design by Pada-Sevanam das, which
was approved by a unanimous vote of the GBC in 1994.
The four members, Harikesa Swami, Jayapataka Swami, Abhirama das
das held a meeting in Radlett over a four day period from Nov.
27th to Nov 30th. It was a four-day marathon for the members and
for the managers and staff of the various divisions.
First day, Nov 27th.
The main event of the first day was a presentation by engineering
consultants Alan Baxter associates. The presentation concentrated
on three issues, River Engineering, Earthquake Strategy and Construction
Several devotees have written to ask about the possibility of
the Bhagirathi changing course and sweeping away the Mayapur campus.
Alan Baxter and his colleagues gave an in-depth presentation on
this and about ways to prevent future damage.
It is important first of all to understand that the Bhagirathi
has not been the main channel of the Ganges for many years. In
the middle of this century, the Bhagirathi began to dry up, and
only received waters from the main Ganges branch during the monsoon
season. The Indian government, concerned about water levels at
the port of Calcutta, built a massive dam across the Ganges, close
to the Bangladesh border in northern Bengal. This dam, opened
in 1974, is known as the Farrakah Barrage, and it has been a subject
of constant dispute with Bangladesh over irrigation rights. The
barrage can be raised for water to flow down to the Padma in Bangladesh,
or it can be lowered, to channel the water, via a canal, down
the Bhagirathi. A recent settlement with Bangladesh means that
more water must be sent to the Padma, and consequently less down
to Mayapur. The Bhagirathi is therefore not as wild as in former
That having been said the Bhagirathi is a very powerful river
and a method was sought to protect the temple in case the course
was to change. The first idea was a thick diaphragm wall, which
would be placed in a trench up to 15m deep around the temple.
Recent studies by Alan Baxter, on the Navadwip Bridge, showed
that eddies in the current were more powerful than expected, and
it was seen that the River could erode down to 25m. An alternative
was needed, and after studies on other bridges and embankments
in India, the engineers suggested a solution called 'riprap'.
This procedure involves arranging very large boulders, larger
than 2m in diameter, around the temple area. If the river approaches,
the land is eroded, but such large boulders are not swept away
in the current. They form a new bank and protect the area. Alan
Baxter gave the example of the Paskey Bridge in Bengal, which
crosses the Ganga. The bridge uses a riprap protection for pillars
and columns. It has survived successfully since 1905.
Mayapur does not lie on a major fault, but there are occasional
earth movements in the Bhagirathi basin. The engineers presented
a risk assessment of the likelihood of large earthquakes in the
region in the next 1000 years. They then suggested construction
and protection elements for the temple accordingly.
The important construction element, which has been incorporated
in the design, is to build the main masonry columns, which must
take the weight of the domes, with a buttressing angle of 78 degrees.
In addition, the four side domes must be built separately to the
main central shikara, and all elements of the building must be
free standing and not depend on each other for support.
Buttressing is always a feature of large masonry buildings that
support a dome or roof. In non-technical terms it means that the
base of a column is wider than the top. The rising angle of the
columns gives added support. The engineers concluded after various
studies on large masonry building in earthquake zones, and on
technical calculations, that 78 degrees would support the additional
forces generated by a moderate earthquake.
The bedrock under Sri Mayapur is 300 meters below the ground level.
Building of the temple requires, first of all, the construction
of large concrete 'raft'. The engineers presented the first draft
of a actual construction plan for the temple, beginning with the
ground preparation and concrete raft, with appropriate balanced
building on the raft in the following years. The presentation
included manpower requirements for all the various stages. At
the peak of building work, 1,300 people will be working on the
construction, including 150 skilled masons. There was also a discussion
about sourcing raw materials in the most cost-effective way.
Second Day, Nov 28th.
Akhandadhi das presented various crucial design issues to the
The design grew in scale since the last presentation to the SMPDC.
The main reason was a decision to increase the size of the central
altar. An option was presented to the SMPDC to reduce the overall
size of the temple by 7 percent. They were in favour of this change.
Various issues were raised. The designers were asked to look again
at the corner areas of the temple, which would house the exhibitions.
Sadaputa prabhu had expressed a need for large projection areas
within the exhibition areas, of at least 5m high. There was a
discussion on the inclusion of simulators, and the possible vibration
and stress they would place on the building. There was also a
discussion about large entrances to the temple for trucks and
other vehicles. The exhibitions division will refine and present
their needs more clearly within the next year.
There was a discussion on sacred geometry with Pada-Sevanam das,
the chief designer. The temple has been designed according to
the principles of Vastu as given in the Vedic scriptures. Pada-Sevanam
showed that the design included ratios and measurements based
on important astronomical distances. He also showed how the temple
aligned with an energy pattern generated from atomic substance.
He stressed that the design of a temple was meso-cosmic, an intermediate
step between the micro and the macrocosm. These details were accepted
as important for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, and more
detailed work will be done in this area.
At the end of the second day, it was clear to the SMPDC members
that as the actual construction approaches, a much more streamlined
process would be needed for decision making. It was also clear
that a more efficient system of accountability would have to be
Third day, Nov. 29th.
On the third day, two parallel meetings were held. The SMPDC members,
along with some of the senior managers discussed a change in approach,
while the division managers discussed ways to make their presentations
more efficient. In the late afternoon, both groups came together
The SMPDC decided to completely restructure the way they work,
and each decided to make a greater commitment to the Project.
Harikesa Swami, as Chairman of the Board of Directors is responsible
for vision and overall co-ordination, In addition, he heads the
Human Development Division and the Exhibitions Division.
Jayapataka Swami is now the Design Director. He is empowered by
the SMPDC to make design and concept decisions, for the Temple
Design, The Master Plan and the Exhibition concepts.
Abhirama das, previously a developer for a major hotel chain in
India, was appointed as full-time Managing Director. He will now
work closely to oversee and support the work of the Project Management.
He will work with the Project Management to look for ways to rationalise
the structure of the Project.
Naresvara das is the Director of Administration. He will oversee
all financial decisions, including budgeting and cash flow. He
will also oversee all legal affairs, contracts and archiving.
In the afternoon, there was a fast moving meeting, chaired by
Harikesa Maharaj, which went over various issues. It was decided
to establish a West Bengal Support campaign to gather political
support for the Project on the local, district and state level
in West Bengal. Abhirama das and Rajarama das were deputed to
put together a workable system for building permits in the township.
There was a discussion about landfill. Gaura Shakti das, head
of construction presented a plan to fill the entire area of construction
up to a level of 6.5m above the river level. This will be decided
at a later date. A group was formed to arrange a presence at Expo
2000, a large millennium exhibition in Hannover. It was decided
that the Mayapur Gurukula will have to be re-located. Abhirama
das and Rajarama das will look at the various options.
There was a discussion about Communications. Akhandadhi das presented
feedback we have received. There was a discussion about the nature
of the township. It was agreed that there must be opportunities
for independent economic development for the residents. The Master
Planning team will look to co- operate with the ISKCON Social
Development group. Some devotees have expressed the view that
Srila Prabhupada, given the history of ISKCON's development, may
have chosen to emphasise Varnasrama development now, rather than
the construction of a new large temple. Harikesa Maharaj spoke
of how Srila Prabhupada sent him off to the fields to begin the
temple building. Jayapataka Maharaj related that Srila Prabhupada
said that the temple must be started as soon as possible, while
he was still present. It was agreed that the Project would bring
many benefits to ISKCON on a world-wide basis. It will show that
ISKCON has a historical and cultural weight, and is not a 'new
Fourth day, Nov 30th.
On the fourth day, the SMPDC went into various aspects of the
Master Plan. Abhirama das, aided by Samba das presented the most
recent development map, which now includes new land in the north
east of the Temple. It was agreed that the overall purpose of
the Project should be defined as educational. The Temple itself
is designed to teach visitors that there is an alternative to
the empirical western view of life and the universe. There will
be many teaching institutions in the new township.
There was a discussion about tree planting. It was agreed to set
up a tree nursery when the requirements are fully understood.
The members looked at a new road scheme started by the West Bengal
government, which is a four-lane highway from Calcutta to Siliguri
via the Navadwip side of the river.
The meeting ended on a Sunday evening, and all the devotees returned
to their various services in the following days. In many ways,
this was a ground- breaking meeting. The proximity of the start
date of construction is focusing the minds of everyone, especially
the SMPDC themselves. The SMPDC members have realised that their
responsibility requires them to be more directly involved in the
day-to-day running of the design and construction teams, and they
are requiring more efficient management and accountability. The
next meeting of the SMPDC will be in Mayapur during the Gaura
========== THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT DIVISION. ============
What is the Human Development Division?
In building a beautiful temple and temple town in Sri Mayapur,
we must be very conscious of our effect on the local region. The
Human Development Division is our effort to improve the lives
of those who will be living close to the Project. We want to bring
in planned changes, in partnership with local authorities and
stakeholders. We particularly want to avoid typical unplanned
shantytowns around Sri Mayapur built of oil drums, bamboo and
At this point we have little or no influence on the area around
our ISKCON campus. We have no means to steer the direction of
-development around us. The purpose of the Human Development Division
is to develop relationships with local forces and exert a positive
influence. We will work with landlords, business owners, politicians
and other stakeholders who will be influenced by, and who can
influence, the development of the region of greater Mayapur.
Our partnerships must be built on a win-win basis. We cannot expect
others to join wholeheartedly with us where only ISKCON benefits.
We want all partners to see the planned sustainable development
of Sri Mayapur as their personal concern. For a long time, we
have been able to offer help to the region in times of crisis,
especially during floods. Now our policy is to develop permanent
welfare and social improvement programmes.
Healthcare and Education.
In the beginning we will develop health care services and education.
ISKCON currently runs two clinics (At Swarupganj and in the temple
compound), and one village school (at Balaldighi). Working with
a specialist charity, we plan to launch an ambitious and sophisticated
programme to improve mother and child health. We will develop
our clinics and begin a desperately needed local ambulance service.
The Balaldighi village school program will be upgraded and we
intend to start vocational education to help lower the unemployment
in the region. In due course we will go into economic development
with a micro-credit bank of the type that has been so successful
in Bangladesh. Care will be taken that all our development is
done with a concern for nature and in accordance with the United
Nations principles of sustainable development.
At first the partnerships will be formed around specific issues,
but in the future we will try to form a permanent body to channel
the co-operative spirit. In principle it shouldn't be difficult.
The development of Mayapur concerns everyone living in the area.
It is in everyone's interest that it is done nicely. In real life
it will obviously be very difficult since there is always a lot
of suspicion between various interest groups. The crux is to foster
an understanding that everyone will benefit from co-operation,
and of course that is something we must deeply understand ourselves...
The success of these development programs will obviously depend
on our funding. To pay for all of this we have two schemes:
1. Through partnership with international development agencies,
primarily government agencies. We have built some relationships
over the last year.
2. Through an international fund raising organisation. We have
begun our work in the UK, and we now employ Divya Simha das to
lay the foundation for a program that later can be exported to
other countries, beginning with USA, Germany and Italy.
For the work in Mayapur we are currently looking for an executive
manager. Do you know anyone suitable to manage the Mayapur charity
work, or someone willing to help in some other capacity? Please
let us know. At the end of this newsletter there is an advert
that for some time has been passed around in development circles
The easiest way to contact me is here on COM, Paramananda.HKS@com.bbt.se.
####### STOP PRESS - HOT NEWS FROM SRI MAYAPUR ############
A consultation meeting was held in Sri Mayapur on December 14th,
between representatives from the local region, ISKCON, various
charities and the UN Development Programme. Here are some excerpts
from an excited letter we just received from Paramananda das....
Dear Maharajs and Prabhus.
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
It went fantastic! It turned out that one after the other was
praising ISKCON and the work ISKCON is doing for the local people.
The purpose of the meeting with the locals was to find out what
their real needs are. We got a lot, and I mean A LOT, of information.
The United Nations people and others were surprised at how much
valuable information we managed to get. The points that came up
as the most urgent were exactly the ones that we are planning
to address first: ambulance and mother-child health...
There were a number of politicians and officials present, all
of them also speaking very nicely about ISKCON. The Panchayat
Pradhan of Belpukur said that you are doing so nicely in Balaldighi
with health camp and school, why can't you do it in my village.
I said that in Balaldighi we have a man that is co- operating
nicely with us, so there it is possible for us to work. If you
want to work with us, then we can do something at your place as
well. He said, "You can set up a health camp in the Panchayat
building. I am the Pradhan, I will take care of you." We are going
to act on this within a week
Dr. Sudarshan, of the UNDP, appeared to be very pleased with everything.
Now he said that he definitely wants to work with us on an ongoing
Jayapataka Maharaja took part the second day when we discussed
future co- operation. Maharaja displayed very nicely his fatherly
attitude to the locals by telling the story of when Srila Prabhupada
gave the famous instruction that nobody should go hungry within
a 10 mile radius. I am very grateful that he came.
Conclusion: This meeting was clearly a milestone, a major leap
ahead. It is now just a matter of formulating our program, something
that will take two or three months. This text is obviously not
a proper report, rather an exclamation of ecstasy. Preparation
and printing of a proper report will take about a month.
========= SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES. ==========
The Radlett Design office needs a qualified Executive Architect,
with 15 years experience, and an Architect with 5 years experience.
Applicants should be ready to start early in 1998. Salary will
be according to experience.
Please contact; COM Bhagavat Dharma MG Internet Bhagavat.email@example.com
========== COPYRIGHT. ==========
This is an internal newsletter for devotees and supporters of
ISKCON. The copyright holder of this newsletter is Mayapur Developments,
a company registered in London, UK. Permission for reproduction
is hereby given to all publications, e.mail lists and web-sites
that have as their primary purpose the promotion of the ISKCON
mission of His Divine Grace Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
under the direction of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission. Permission
for reproduction in all other circumstances should first be sought
from the copyright holder. Enquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org,
========== ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. =========
I would like to thank the following devotees who helped with this
issue: Harikesa Swami, Rajarama das, Paramananda das, Divya Simha
das, Pada-Sevanam das.
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