If I talked about doom of Māyāpura yesterday then it naturally follows that we are building a temple of doom there, too. That’s not a nice way to describe our rising Temple of Vedic Planetarium but, just like any other devotional practice, there’s a danger of misusing it, hence possibility of “doom”.
Of course no devotee will even be doomed in any sense by supporting, meditating, or simply marveling at TOVP but there will be some impact, and in the material world each impact has two sides, good and bad. That’s what duality here means. No matter what we do, it can always turn ugly.
One could say that with this approach nothing will ever satisfy me because it allows me to find legitimate faults in any activity, but that is just how it is – some things are favorable for devotional service and some are not. None of what happens to us is fatal, we just pause to gawk at the illusion, waste some time, nothing really serious.
The reality is also never black and white – a wise man can learn good lessons from bad things and a not so wise man will pick bad habits even from good lessons, and, to complicate it even more, no lesson is absolutely good or absolutely bad.
This allows us to see devotion everywhere, in everyone’s heart, it also allows us to criticize even the best of the devotees, and it also means that we will never fully agree on anything. It means that everything that happens in devotional service is full of shades and tastes and every time you think about it you find something new to appreciate. Or something new to criticize.
Back to the temple, however. I’ll try to extricate less favorable aspects for our progress so that the rest of our thoughts and attitudes remain pure and we can go on with our service.
Śrila Prabhupāda wanted this temple very badly, there’s no question of not building it, it’s our mission, well, part of it, but we can’t ignore Śrila Prabhupāda’s desires.
There’s also the prediction by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, or rather his vision of a huge temple rising in Māyāpura where people of all nationalities will come together to dance and chant Lord’s names. I don’t know about that. When Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī opened Yoga Pīṭha everyone thought that it was the temple envisioned by Bhaktivinoda.
I’m also not so sure that Śrila Bhaktivinoda had this vision in the house across the river to the south from our ISKCON temple. It’s what they tell us on parikramā but I suspect that in those days Śrila Bhaktivinoda lived across the river to the west from the future Yoga Pīṭha.
Still, new temple needs to be build. We need a proper place four our Pañca Tattva deities which are housed in a barn like temporary appendage to our main temple. They’ve been there for almost ten years, which is ten years too much, and they deserve a temple worthy of their stature – they are BIG.
On the other hand, it means they will be the main deities in the new temple and our Śrī Srī Rādhā-Mādhava and their sakhis will be demoted to stand on the side. Personally, I don’t like this demotion, there’s too much history there, but that’s how Śrila Prabhupāda wanted it so who am I to argue.
Then there’s planetarium fixture. Prabhupāda wanted it to show everyone that our Bhāgavatam model of the universe is legit. We should certainly respect his wishes but we should also remember that times have changed and it probably won’t have the same effect on the general public as Prabhupāda expected nearly fifty years ago.
We don’t need a gargantuan temple to show a model of the universe. There’s software to render such things these days, people at Google Chrome can make it work as a walk through in their browser with therm HTML5 magic. Navigate the Vedic universe with your mouse, or by tilting your Android phone – everything is possible and will reach far more people than a temple somewhere in India.
Indians have been to Māyāpura already, whatever spiritual impact we were supposed to make on their lives by attracting them there has already been made. When we finish TOVP they will, of course, come to visit again, but we can’t build a new temple every time we want to talk to people about Kṛṣṇa, it’s a huge waste of our resources.
I mean to say that the preaching value of this temple is going to be limited. As for the model of the universe – we don’t have it yet, or at least it’s not ready to be made public. Maybe it’s Lord Caitanya’s plan to reveal it at the very last moment but then it means it has little preaching value, otherwise why wait?
So, we don’t really need another temple in Māyāpura, we don’t really need a planetarium, is there anything else we don’t need this temple for?
Umm, yes, for preaching in the West. People on the streets there can’t care less about our temples in India. Maybe we’ll make the news one day and all the media and everyone on twitter will talk about our temple but that will not last long, at best a week. Even if people would still remember it – what does it really matter when we try to awaken them to the truth about them being spirit souls? Not much, it’s not a magic pill and it’s not a substitute to surrender to the lotus feet of our guru and Lord Nityānanda.
If that’s what we hope the temple will do to us – to make selling books easier so that we don’t have to fully surrender, then it will truly be a temple of doom. Luckily, it will affect only those who harbor such thoughts, not everybody.
There’s also another aspect to the temple – we want it to be the center of our new, Vedic community there. If we are going to build a spiritual city in Māyāpura then we surely need a temple, but that’s a whole other can of worms. The way Māyāpura has been developing, it won’t be a showcase of anything anytime soon. The temple itself and other temple properties are fine but the rest is not how cities are build these days, it’s how they grew up like mushrooms in the industrial age – people just come and settle, and then look for non-existent jobs.
During industrial revolution farmers lost their land and sources of sustenance so they had to sell their labor, vaiśyas became śūdras, and were placed in horrible, horrible conditions. Still, they had no choice but to embrace their new situation and it took several hundred years for them, as a class, to attain a more or less comfortable lifestyles.
What will happen to all those who have come to Māyāpura? I don’t really know but I have a few ideas, which I will spare for another day