ISKCON Moscow update

September 15, 2007 at 9:34 pm Leave a comment

BY HH BHAKTI VIJNANA GOSWAMI

Dear Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to our beloved Srila Prabhupada.

I offer you and all the devotees my heartfelt congratulations on your successful celebration of Sri Krishna Janmastami and Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa Puja.

Here in Moscow, Janmastami and Vyasa Puja were celebrated with great pomp. Around six thousand people passed through the temple on these two days. HH Bhakti Chaitanya Maharaja was the guest of honor.

Srichand and Gopichand Hindujas also visited our temple on Janmastami night after their dinner with the Prime Minister of Russia. They were very pleased to see the festivities and to hear the update of the temple project.

Now, I want to share with you the important news I reported that day.

On Janmastami day, September, 4th we signed the contract with the architectural firm to go forward with the design and working plans for the future temple, and also provide all the governmental approvals and permits needed to start the construction.

The firm has retained our devotee architect as one of the authors of the project and to supervise the work of other architects, helping to ensure the devotional standards of the project.

We are now in full swing to meet the requirements of the city government to be ready for building in one year

This is really a challenge as similar projects in Moscow usually take much longer. It seems Sri Krishna is continuing to give us more and more opportunities to serve Him with all of our intelligence and resources.

For the detailed architectural work to begin we must start the land testing. Since the land is located on the high river bank, the land testing in itself is a complicated and expensive procedure (the pits to be dug should be around 40 meters deep). This work alone will cost us around $250,000.

With the work on the temple entering this new and exciting phase, I want to look back with you on all that we have achieved so far, our struggles, disappointments and success.

Please consider this our humble offering to Srila Prabhupada on his Vyasa-puja day.

Today, within the 3 years after we lost the previous temple building, we have:

1) built some 6000 sq.feet ashram where 48 brahmacaris and myself are living at present;
2) lost 2 court cases against the city government;
3) conducted 3 quite successful PR campaigns in defense of the temple project;
4) uninterruptedly continued to worship of the temple Deities;
5) kept the same or even higher level of book distribution;
6) revived the FFL programme;
7) arranged bigger than ever festivals in Moscow;
8) collected and spent on this work around 1,8 million USD;
9) and finally acquired 5 acres of land in a very beautiful area to construct the temple.

Here is how it all happened:

May, 2003 – Prime Minister of India AB Vajpayee speaks with President Putin about the Krishna temple in Moscow.

June, 2003 – The city government offers us to give the land in the center of the city in exchange of us vacating the governmental building which was used as the Hare Krishna temple since 1990.

Janmastami, 2003 – official inauguration of the new temple project in Moscow.
The first design of the temple is created and presented to the public.

October-November, 2003 – the first wave of resistance against the temple project instigated by some radical groups of people affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

December, 2003 – The Mayor of Moscow signs the order to give the Moscow Society for Krishna Consciousness 2.5 acres of land in the center of the city.

December, 2003 – January, 2004 – The second wave of resistance against the temple project.

2004, Spring – Big demonstration arranged by the ROC against the temple project; public TV debates between Madana-mohan das and the representative of the Church. Madana-mohan wins the debates in a very convincing manner, but that victory inflames the Church even more against the project.

Spring, 2004 – temporary building for the Deities is constructed on the new land and given to us free of charge.

June, 2004 – the old temple building is demolished; the Deities are moved to the new land. Around 35 brahmacaris rent a house. There is no water or sewage on the new land, even electricity connection is not completely legal.

Summer, 2004 – land is acquired for the ashram, and construction of the ashram begins. Fund raising campaign for the new temple project started.

2004 – several attempts to get the preliminary governmental approval of the temple design. 2 more new designs are created in order to get the approval, but rejected by the government.

October, 2004 – delegation of the Patron Council members of Bhaktivedanta Manor visits Moscow and promises to help the temple project.

August, 2005 – big Janmastami celebration on the new land, during which we received the first alarming message that the government is planning to take back the land from us.

October, 2005 – The Mayor cancels his initial order under some legal pretext.

November, 2005 – big PR campaign in India culminating in meeting with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. TV coverage on Indian TV and other Indian channels.

December, 2005 – Manmohan Singh speaks with President Putin about our situation and supposedly gets favorable answer.

January, 2006 – campaign in England inaugurated in the British Parliament; start of the litigation with Moscow government.

January, 2006 – New ashram (around 6000 sq. feet) construction is finished. Now 48 brahmacaris live and study in the ashram.

February, 2006 – During the GBC meetings in Mayapur the Fund-raising Committee for the Moscow Temple Project under the Chairmanship of HH Bhakti Charu Swami is formed. The new strategy to acquire the land is adopted.

March, 2006 – we lost two legal cases against the Moscow government. The appeal cases are also lost in May of the same year.

April, 26, 2006 – the government agrees to offer another plot of land for the temple construction.

May, 2006 – Chief-Minister of Delhi speaks with the Major of Moscow, and as a result the official agreement signed between the two cities mentions the construction of Hare Krishna temple in Moscow. The new plot of land is offered. The work on the new design suited to the new plot of land has started.

July, 2006 – Moscow Vedic Temple Development Board is formed. The Chairman of the Board is Mr. NK Sethia based in London.

September, 2006 – some legal complications with the new plot of land were found, we had to reject the offer. The government tries to offer some other plots of land which we reject.

October, 2006 – finally we accept the offer from Moscow government of the new land in the outskirts of the city. After some negotiations the government agrees to double the land, so as a result 5 acres of land is offered.

March, 2007 – the Mayor signs the order of the Moscow government. According to the conditions of this order we have to finish all the architectural and legal work within the period of 2007-2008. The new conceptual design is created.

April, 2007 – the City government approves the design.

May, 2007 – legal work begins.

July, 2007 – we get all the necessary preliminary approvals and start negotiations with the architectural firm.

September 4, 2007 – the contract with the Architectural firm is signed.

And so now today, after nearly four and a half years of struggle, we are poised to move forward vigorously towards a significant victory for the Krishna consciousness movement – the first Vedic temple in Moscow, one of the most important cities in the world.

We look forward to your prayers, support and encouragement as we embark on this next phase of the project.

Your servant,
Bhakti Vijnana Goswami





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Krsna’s Pastimes with the Demon Kamsa Vyasa Puja of Srila Prabhupada, 5-09-2007, Mayapur

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