Now coming back to Kolkata-the birth city of our beloved Srila Prabhupada, its not a new revelation that Srila Prabhupada wanted something reat and unique for Kolkata. Srila Prabhupada in so many letters has expressed his desire that something great should be done in Kolkata. He wrote in his Letter to: HG Gargamuni prabhu -- Calcutta 25 September, 1970 "We shall open a very gorgeous branch in Calcutta. Calcutta is my birth-place, so all of you as my disciples do something unique in Calcutta. That will be fitting service to your Spiritual Master."
Now Krishna Has taken the excuse we all had for not doing something in Kolkata for last 34 years: the hostile Communist government of West Bengal. Moreover Krishna Has blessed all of us by making a person the Chief Minister of the West Bengal who is favourable to ISKCON and cherishes to receive and honour our Shri Shri Radha Govinda ji's Mahaprasad. Not only the current Chief Minister is favourable but most of her top party leaders appreciates ISKCON and are connected with us.
The overwhelming mandate she had got will ensure that she is the Chief Minister for next 5 years.
We often go to meet her and the last time (2 days back) when we went to her then the Mayor of Kolkata was also with her. The Mayor himself told me in front of the Chief Minister that he is going to handover the pond in front of the temple at 3C Albert Road for maintenance to ISKCON. He is also going to name the pond after Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada has expressed his desire that we all should try to get the pond in front of the Albert Road and built something unique. Now this pond is very big (3.75 acres) and is about 70 feet deep. It is said that it is connected with the Ganges flowing about 2 kms from the pond from underneath ground.
To built something unique in the pond will definitely cost lot of money. Due to misrule of West Bengal for last 34 years by Communist regime, all the big industries closed down and there are very few people in Kolkata who can make substantial contribution towards that. For last 10 years (post Adridharan prabhu) and under the leadership of His Grace Dayaram prabhuji, Kolkata has come a long way.
By the generous & substantial contributions made by ISKCON Juhu (HG Bhima Prabhu, HG Devakinandan Prabhu, HG Braja Hari Prabhu)(20 lacs) ISKCON Kolkata has purchased the historical 1 Ultadanga Junction road property. We will also like to thank other ISKCON centres in India who also contributed for that including ISKCON Baroda (HG Basu Ghosh Prabhu), ISKCON Ahmadabad(HG Jasomatinandan prabhu ji), ISKCON Mira Road(HG Jagajivan Prabhu ji), ISKCON Tirupati(HG Revati Raman Prabhu ji).
Also we will like to express our gratitude for His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaji ji for donating Gold leafing (24 carates Gold) for the new simhasana for Sriman Mahaprabhu, Sri Sri Radha Govindaji & Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Devi.The Simhasan was made by ISKCON Ujjain devotees and the design was chosen by HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj ji.
Also we will like to thank Gauranga prabhu for organizing the Kolkata Kitchen & ISKCON Chowpatty for donating generously for the renovation of temple kitchen (12 lacs). Also ISKCON Chowpatty has pledged a donation of 22 lacs for purchasing the Srila Prabhupad's birtplace. Also ISKCON Chowpatty has give us a loan of Rs 30 lacs for acquiring the ground floor of 3C Albert road. We thank His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaji ji for inspiring all this.
Srila Prabhupada has started the 1st temple in India at 3C Albert road, Kolkata. The condition of the temple was in ruins, when HG Dayaram prabhu got it from Adridharan Das. We believed that unless we preserve, maintain beautify and properly use every inch square of what we have got in the preaching mission of Srila Prabhupada & in the service of Sri Sri Radha Govindaji, we all are not entitled for new facilities.
Accordingly, devotees of ISKCON Kolkata in last couple of years has renovated the 3C Albert road temple hall, alter, Radha Govindaji dress room & kitchen. Also they have added over 7000 sqare feet of additional floor area (including a new Bramhachari ashram). The preaching is going at its best in Kolkata under the guidance of His Grace Dayaram prabhu, His Grace Radhey Shyam Prabhu ji, His Grace Acaryaratna Prabhu ji, His Grace Ashray Gauranga prabhu ji,His Grace Ananga Mohan prabhu ji, His Grace Navayogendra prabhu ji's and other bramhachari's.
Now the biggest challenge with all of us is the money for so many projects. If it was only about making one temple in Kolkata, we could have managed the money locally for that. For now with so much positive changes in couple of days, we all will have to struggle hard to match up with the generosity which we expect to be shown by the West Bengal Government to ISKCON.
Apart from building an ISKCON Temple in Kolkata at Gurusaday Road, the other urgent projects related to Srila Prabhupada is as follows:-
(1) POND in front of Albert Road:- It was Srila Prabhupad's desire that ISKCON should build something unique.
Status: The Government is going to rename the pond and handover it to ISKCON for maintenance soon.
Our position: ISKCON will take charge of the pond with park (it means that ISKCON will have the keys of the Park). We will beautify the park and the pond.
Since we are not confident at the moment about how much money we can collect and since we are committed to start temple at Gurusaday road in few months, I have not spoken to Mayor about building a temple in the pond.
(2) 3C Albert Road: Purchasing the adjacent property of 3C Albert road, which a promoters wants to demolish. The market price of that property is over 10 crores rupees. If we can purchase this adjacent property then, the whole 3 Albert road temple can be preserved where Srila Prabhupad room is located and from where he purchased the Mayapur land.
(3) 1 Ultadanga junction Road (Where the 1st Gaudiya matha started by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaj, where Srila Prabhupada met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaj for the 1st time and where he got the direct order to preach in the western world)
Status: Already purchased by ISKCON. Out of three tenants, one we have negotiated and removed. We need money to settle with the remaining 2 tenants and more money for the restoration work. Once we restore this historical building, then we can make this into the place for preserving the Gaudiya history, the place where all the Gaudiya Vaisnav's can come and offer their obeisance's at the place which is the root of Gaudiya matha. The Mayor will soon declare it to be the HERITAGE BUILDING.
(4) Srila Prabhupada Birth Place: ISKCON has acquired an adjacent plot to the birth place (about 7000sq. ft.). We are planning to acquire at least 2 acres at Srila Prabhupada temple to built a grand temple there. The Jackfruit tree underneath where Srila Prabhupada appeared has some legal issues which we hope to short out with the help of Government (Theka tenancy act). Although the current occupier is ready to give possession of the land for 20 lacks Rupees. Now its up to ISKCON to decide that should we pay the money and have the physical possession of the property and later we can work on getting it right legally. In my personal opinion we should get at least physical possession for 20 lacs although it might seams that we are risking the 20 lacs rupees.
(5) Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir, Burrabazar:- The ancestral deities of Dey family (more than 250 years old). Srila Prabhupada performed his 1st Rathayatra when he was 5 years old, in the courtyard of this temple.
Status: We are developing good relation with the trustees of this temple. Now for last 4 years they have invited ISKCON Devotees, every year and requested us to carry the deities of Sri Sri Radha Govindaji in procession around Burrabazar.
(6) 151 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Burrabazar, Kolkata: This is the place where Srila Prabhupad's father's house was.
Status: Now it is owned by Gita Press. If we will have sufficient funds, we can purchase this building.
(7) Srila Bhaktivinode's Thakur's House.
(8) Moti Seal School: Srila Prabhupada did his schooling from here.
In addition to all this we are also looking for a big piece of land where in future we can built 2nd temple of Kolkata (after building temple at
Gurusaday Road, since Gurusaday road is too small & is less than an acre).
All devotees of ISKCON Kolkata humbly request that Kolkata-the birth place of Srila Prabhupada, should be given special status like (Vrindavan & Mayapur) and devotees from all over the world should support all these projects also.
Always at your mercy and aspiring to be in your service