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October 27, 2000   VNN6374  Comment on this story

Flood News From Mayapur

BY BHAGAVAT DHARMA DASA

MAYAPUR, Oct 27 (VNN) — Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Mayapur has been on the minds of many devotees these last few weeks, especially those having friends and family in the holy Dham. The floods this year have, according to official figures, been the worst since 1905.

Now, devotees and managers of Mayapur, who were in Calcutta have managed to get back to the Temple, and we have a full report and appeal from Dayarama Dasa, on behalf of the Mayapur Administrative Council.

Details connected with this appeal are on our website as follows

* This Appeal Letter: http://www.mayapur.org/community/flood2000/fld2000_dayaram1.htm

* Village Flood Relief Programme: http://www.mayapur.org/community/flood2000/fld2000_dayaram2.htm

* Damage and Losses by Department: http://www.mayapur.org/community/flood2000/fld2000_dayaram3.htm

* Bhaktivedanta Gurukula Village: http://www.mayapur.org/community/flood2000/fld2000_dayaram4.htm

* Summary of all expenses, plus list of contributors to the detailed report: http://www.mayapur.org/community/flood2000/fld2000_dayaram5.htm

I have now put up a photo-gallery of pictures I have received from Pancaratna Dasa and Vidvan Gauranga Dasa. You can access it at:

http://www.mayapur.org/galleries/8

Without further ado, I will let you read Dayaram's appeal below.



YS Bhagavat Dharma dasa Shri Mayapur Project, Communications.



A HUMBLE APPEAL TO ALL DEVOTEES

===============================

Dear devotees,

Hare Krishna! Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Usually, every year, we get flooded in Mayapur. About a month or two back, a small flood came and went. So we were not expecting another flood this year. The water started to flow in from the Bhagirathi on the 20th September. When we came to know that water was flooding the campus, devotees started to move all their respective materials above flood level. Due to excessive rains, certain dams had released too much water too fast with out any prior intimation and the water had raised so high that several devotees were unable to even enter their rooms anymore to protect or safeguard their belongings. Devotees had thought that if there is a flood this year, it would be like the previous years' floods and had only taken up precautionary measures for the usual flood. However, the West Bengal State Government announced via the radio that this was the highest flood in the last 100 years!

In West Bengal, a total of nine districts, including the towns nearby Mayapur such as Nabadwip, Krishnanagar and Ranaghat, were flooded. The State Government declared it an emergency situation and sent helicopters to distribute some food packets to the flood victims.

Due to the emergency situation, the Government was also seizing boats from people for their flood relief activities. Therefore, with such a scarcity of boats, it was difficult for us to communicate from building to building as the waters rose within and without the ISKCON Mayapur campus. However, within a very short time, we moved all the devotees, families, and children to safe areas.

The water level was so high that our electricity generators and water pumps were submerged under the water. Thus for more than two weeks, devotees had no proper water to consume, no electricity, and no telephone connection. There was no transportation by bus or train in Nadia district and in some other districts.

So devotees could not even buy materials for cooking from any place nearby! Food was not available at all, neither were any vegetables even available for sale! And even when devotees had gone to buy food materials, people were trying to snatch away the food materials. It is reported that once when some devotees had gone for purchasing materials to cook, their boat was seized along with the food materials, and the devotees were detained by the people. However, other devotees had to come from ISKCON to rescue the detained devotees the next day and somehow they were released.

Thus, while 700 devotees (including children) were stuck in the middle of the flood without no impending guarantee of food, HH Bhakti Charu Maharaja kindly sent a launch with food materials for devotees from Calcutta. Also some visiting devotees from West who had to leave Mayapur got stuck up, but they left safely with the launch when it returned back to Calcutta. Devotees were somehow managing to adjust to the available food and lived on rice, dal and potatoes. They were coming to the Lotus building for prasadam.

The situation was, however, tense. There were indications that some dacoits were planning to attack ISKCON and so some devotees were staying up during the night as guards for security in the buildings. The current of water flow was dangerously strong. Luckily, we had several life-saving jackets and none drowned. Snakes were around in the water, but by Radha Madhava's mercy, there were no casualties.

The water was 12 feet above the ground level around Srila Prabhupada's park, next to the Lotus Building. Had the water risen one feet higher, it would entered the first floor of the Lotus building as well. The water had entered the first floor of the Chakra building and there was four feet of water in the first floor of the Chakra building, which also includes the Office Block. Devotees, who had moved from other areas in the campus to the first floor of Chakra building for shelter during the flood, had to relocate elsewhere. Water had also entered the reception of the Gada building.

Inside the temple room, the water had reached uptil the knees of Sri Sri Radha Madhava. Lord Nrsimhadeva was totally submerged under water. Sri Sri Pancatattva, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Prahlada, Srila Prabhupada and the utsava-murtis of Sri Sri Radha Madhava, moved to the GBC Conference Room to receive the devotees' worship. In every building (Lotus, Chakra, Brahmachari, Sankirtan and Conch), devotees were continuing with the regular temple programs such as mangal arati, darsan arati and sandhya arati. HG Jananivasa Prabhu conducted a seminar on Deity worship.

Spending lakhs of rupees, we had earlier raised our Goshalla well above the usual flood level. However, this year's flood was so high that water still rose uptil the cows' knees. At that time, we had no way to move the cows to a higher land. Finally we decided to move all the cows to the roof of the Sankirtan Academy building. The cows were safe there and we had sufficient food for the cows.

Likewise, it was not possible to move Radha Madhava's elephant (Gulap Kali) to the Jagannath temple. Devotees often tried to move her up to the Samadhi but repeatedly failed as she would adamantly refuse to be moved. Finally they succeeded in moving her to an area higher than the elephant shed. Still, the water level was so high that she was standing in the water waist-deep during the entire flood.

The damages due to the flood are substantial and far-reaching. All permanent exhibits for preaching to visitors such as Expo, Caitanya Lila exhibits were destroyed. The entire gurukula structure is devastated. All Gurukula huts were submerged under the water and 80% damaged. The Gurukula gardens, dispensary, books were destroyed and buildings badly damaged. The other schools have also received substantial damages. Srila Prabhupada's Bhajan Kutir was totally under the water. All of our crops (several acres of them) as well as the parks were destroyed. All roads are damaged. All the deer in the zoo swam away. Most of the materials to be used for construction were also washed away.

Mayapur has become completely devastated and seems to have lost its beauty. Since the last few days, however, the water has started to go down. Hopefully, within two weeks, the water will recede soon. Immediately after the water has fully receded, we plan to work on an emergency mode to try to restore all that we can in Mayapur to prepare for the visitors during the winter and for the Gaura Purnima festival. We have roughly estimated the losses and amount involved to bring Mayapur to its proper shape and we will need about Rs 10,000,000 (one crore of rupees).

Thus, this flood has practically broken our back-bone. Apart from this, the thousands of people are left in the surrounding areas without any food to eat. Some people were even living on top of trees, watching entire houses being swept away by the water. We are providing these flood victims with food, tarpaulins, medicines, etc.

For all this, we are depending on the devotees and friends of ISKCON all around the world. Some devotees have already started donating: Radha Jivan Prabhu from Alachua had given Rs 100,000 for the flood relief; Ambarisa Prabhu is giving $10,000; the Patron Council of the Bhaktivedanta Manor has approved a donation for the relief work and restoration of the temple; the Malaysia yatra and devotees from the Middle East have also pledged to donate. Individual devotees have also come forward to donate for the relief and restoration work. We are very grateful to all of these devotees for their kind donations.


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