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New Vrindaban Sets Up A New Altar

A new altar has been set up at ISKCON New Vrindaban. The deities of Lord Jagannatha,  

Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra  have been shifted there keeping in mind various factors.


Temple President Jaya Krsna Das said, “During deity greeting the devotees go around and offer obeisances to Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra, placed opposite of Srila Prabhupada, then to the six Goswamis, continuing on to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra, Sri Gopalnathji, Giri Govardhan and then Lord Nrsimhadeva. It felt unnatural to offer obeisances to Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra and then the Six Goswamis and again to Their Lordships.”


Anuradha Dasi, NV Director of Events and Communications added, “When you're singing Guru Puja to Srila Prabhupada, everyone's backs are to Lord Jagannatha. When you do parikrama, you start with Prabhupada, and then you go to Lord Jagannatha then you go to the Six Goswami. It wasn't feeling right in terms of how you pray in the natural order. 


The inadequate size of the altar was another reason for the making of the new altar. Jaya Krsna explained, “The current altar which had been brought from Bahulaban and Srila Prabhupada specifically served Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra before, did not fit properly for Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra. The altar has three sections and separates Their Lordships from the rest. Its height made it difficult to put turbans on Lord Balarama and Lord Jagannatha. It was therefore decided after discussion with the community members, that they should move to the front, get a new altar and the Six Goswamis move to their place. The Six Goswamis will then be opposite of Srila Prabhupada.”


Feedback so far indicates widespread approval among devotees and pilgrims for the new altar arrangement, completing the ensemble with Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, Lady Subhadra, Radha Vrindaban Chandra, Gaura Nitai, Gopalnathji, and Lord Nrsimhadeva.


There were many challenges faced. Jaya Krsna Das said, “COVID slowed down the altar making and when it finally arrived too many construction projects were going on to work on the move. When the temple was ready, it was the middle of a season with thousands and thousands of pilgrims and their darshan was not intended to disturb the reason the altar was set up during the winter season and once the curtain arrived after a three months waiting time for the specific fabric, Their Lordships could be moved during a joyous festival on Nityananda Trayodashi. Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra seem to smile a thousand times more after being placed on Their new altar.”



Long time back, New Vrindaban donated the deities of Sita Rama Laksman Hanuman to ISKCON of Towaco due to lack of pujaris.  The space of these deities had been empty for a while which was followed by Varsana Maharaja bringing his six Goswamis to the temple and placing them on the empty altar for the winter season, after which they stayed for around a year. In Janmashtami of 1975, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra were installed here.


It all started in July 1974, when Srila Prabhupada graced New Vrindaban with his presence. The subsequent year, he penned a letter to the devotees, announcing his intended month-long stay in August 1975. The community buzzed with anticipation - Prabhupada's imminent arrival! Every devotee fervently pondered how best to serve and gratify Srila Prabhupada. Meanwhile, Kuladri Das envisioned pleasing him by adorning Radha Vrindaban Candra's altar with a new throne (Simhasan) during his visit.


Thus, in early 1975, Kuladri Das journeyed to Bombay to commission a teakwood Simhasan for the deities. After personally presenting the designs to Srila Prabhupada, who was also in Bombay at the time, and receiving his favorable approval, Kuladri returned to New Vrindaban. Despite Srila Prabhupada's change in plans, with his absence in 1975, the Simhasan was reverently offered to the deities on Janmashtami of that year.


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