From humble beginnings to grandeur... and everything in between
New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 in pursuance of Srila Prabhupada’s mission to give Westerners an alternative to the materialistic way of life and to teach a lifestyle based on the principle of “simple living and high thinking.” The project is named after the holy land of Vrindavan, India, the place of Krishna’s birth, where life is centered around the service and glorification of Lord Krishna. Srila Prabhupada’s vision was to re-create the same spiritual atmosphere in order to uplift and inspire Westerners to embrace Krishna consciousness. In the pioneering years, from 1968-1978, life was austere, but enthusiasm was high, and much was achieved. Devotees built two temples, established a cow protection program, cultivated the land for food, started a school, built the first guesthouse, and began construction on Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold.
Over the next decade, New Vrindaban continued to expand as many dedicated followers joined the community. By 1988, the property spanned over 2,500 acres with 600 resident devotees. Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold was completed, and additional developments including the Varnashram College, Palace Gift Store, Govinda’s Restaurant, and Govardhan Dairy arose as emblems of New Vrindaban’s monumental success. By the early 80s, the State of West Virginia had recognized New Vrindaban as an unincorporated town, and the Department of Highways had added it to the official state map.
Towards the end of the decade, however, immature and inexperienced leaders began to introduce deviant ideas and practices that quickly caused trouble in paradise. New Vrindaban was expelled from ISKCON. Hundreds of devotees left the community. Criminal charges were made against some of the leaders. To help New Vrindaban get back on its feet, devotees from other ISKCON communities stepped in with programs like Rupanuga Vedic College, ISKCON Society for Cow Protection, Gurukuli reunions, and ECO-Vrindaban. Gradually, morale was boosted, wounds were healed, standards were raised, and finally, in the year 2000, New Vrindaban was fully accepted back into ISKCON. The era of restoration had begun.
The next ten years saw the renovation of Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, the construction of the Radha-Gopinath temple (the first of the seven temples project), and the inauguration of the Yogashala, the Festival of Colors, the Pushpa Abhishek Festival, and Wheeling Ratha Yatra. In 2018, New Vrindaban celebrated its Golden Jubilee in a style reminiscent of its glory days of the 1980s, giving everyone hope that although the past had its dark moments, the future of New Vrindaban is bright. Now, New Vrindaban is supported by a large and growing congregation. Grand festivals, conferences, courses, retreats are held regularly, and many thousands of pilgrims and devotees visit each year to hear about, glorify, and worship Krishna is His holy abode.