Bengaluru: President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said a single defining feature of the quest of ‘rishis-munis’ in ancient times that has inspired society along with others is plurality.
Dedicating the ISKCON Sri Rajadhiraja Govinda Temple here in a ‘Lokarpana’ (inauguration) ceremony, he said religious impulse is at the heart of India’s culture.
”The quest of the rishi-munis of this land in ancient times has also inspired our society along with its kings and scholars, poets and architects. If there is a single defining feature of this quest, it is plurality”, the President said. ”All competing worldviews, from ‘Advaita Vad’ to ‘Vishishtadvait Vad’, all have flourished under one umbrella. There are different sects, such as ‘Vaishnavism’, ‘Shaivism’ and ‘Shakta sampradaya’,” he observed.
Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai were among those who graced the occasion. According to ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Sri Rajadhiraja Govinda Temple on Vaikuntha hill at Vasanthapura on Kanakapura Road is a traditional, stone-carved structure and a replica of the famous Sri Venkateshwara temple in Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh.
The dimensions, stone carvings and aesthetics are also similar. ”The deity of Lord Srinivasa is nearly the same height and has been named Sri Rajadhiraja Govinda, which means He is the king of kings,” ISKCON said.
The President said he is confident that this temple will emerge as a modern-day pilgrimage point, and will attract a large number of devotees. It is good to see that arrangements have been made to accommodate about 5,000 visitors to comfortably wait for their turn, he said.
Moreover, there will be an ‘Annadhaan’ hall where free meals will be served to all the devotees, Kovind said, adding that all the donors should be thanked for their generous contribution to this project.
He said ISKCON Bengaluru has made a positive difference in the lives of lakhs of people for the last 25 years. A barren hillock has been transformed into the magnificent ISKCON Sri Radha Krishna Mandir at Hare Krishna Hill due to the hard work and determination of the devotees, Kovind noted. It was there that the ‘Akshaya Patra Foundation’, the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme, was born, the President said. This initiative feeds fresh, nutritious mid-day meals to over 18 lakh children in government schools across the country every day. ”During the pandemic, Akshaya Patra and its supporting organizations also provided over 25 crore meals to the distressed people. Such humanitarian-assistance interventions have benefitted all sections of society,” he added. The senior vice president of ISKCON, Bengaluru, Chanchalapathi Dasa told reporters later that the temple was a tribute to A C Bhaktivedanta Srila Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the ISKCON movement. ”It was the wish of Swami Prabhupada to have a temple of Venkateshwara built on the lines of Tirupati. On the 125th birth anniversary of the ISKCON founder, the Rajadhiraja Govinda Temple near Vasanthapura has come up, which is a replica of the Tirupati temple. This temple is a humble offering to the desire of Swami Prabhupada,” he said.
According to him, the temple premises is spread over 27 acres and so far Rs 105 crore has been spent on the temple, while many more projects including Krishna Leela Theme Park and Annadana Hall are also underway. The icon of the main deity of the temple was built by Perumal Sthapathi of Mahabalipuram while the black stone was from Kanchipuram, he said. ”The icon is about nine feet but just one centimetre less than that of Tirumala Hills as an honor of the main deity,” Dasa said.
He also said the development of the temple was going on for the past eight years after overcoming many challenges. The temple will be open for public from August 1 onwards after completing the ‘Mandala Pooja’ of Lord Rajadhiraja Govinda for 48 days in solitude. It will be open from 7 AM to 1 PM and again from 4 PM to 8.30 PM every day.