PARSIPPANY — The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) founded in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is in the process of constructing a grand Hare Krishna Temple in the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills. They recently celebrated an important milestone in this project – the commencement of the construction of the first walls marking a visible rise in the soon-to-be temple structure.
As part of this celebration, covered by a number of media outlets, a special kirtan (congregation chanting of prayers) was conducted followed by a presentation outlining the project as well as a series of media interviews of dignitaries, advisory committee members, and temple leaders.
“It is our great honor to welcome all our guests and the media today as we celebrate this magnificent temple in the service of Lord Sri Krishna.” said Nilamani Das, Temple President of ISKCON of New Jersey, “The founder of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada, encouraged all of his followers to promote this divine message of Bhagavad-gita and the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra all over the world. He directed his disciples to build gorgeous temples which will be beacons of spiritual knowledge (adhyatmika jnana) and loving devotional service (bhakti) to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. This magnificent temple is a labor of love made possible by the incredible hard work and support of our devotees, friends, contributors, and well-wishers. It is an amazing success story so far and we invite everyone to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The 3.25-acre worksite was abuzz with construction activity, even on a Saturday, as workers quickly erected the wall-forms for the concrete structural walls that will be poured in the next few days atop the extensive network of steel-and-concrete rebar footings.
His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami, an American-born disciple of Srila Prabhupada since 1971 and one of the leaders and gurus in ISKCON was one of the chief guests at the event. “We are very happy that this temple of Krishna is being built in Parsippany. This is to serve Krishna and to serve spiritually inclined people, and even those who are not spiritually inclined. Everyone can benefit from the knowledge in the Bhagavad Gita and from hearing the Holy Names of Krishna”, explained Jayadvaita Swami.
Said Manasi-Ganga Devi Dasi, Head of the Child Protection Team, “The children of our community are our most valuable asset and the future of society. Our ISKCON of New Jersey Sunday School program has been imbibing rich, spiritual values among our children and youth for over forty years. Currently, we have about 80 children across four age groups learning about Krishna and bhakti as taught in the Gita in a very dynamic and fun way. This new temple will allow us much bigger and better facilities to provide these valuable educational opportunities for more and more children and families.”
“ISKCON of New Jersey has been serving the community since 1981 from our temple in Towaco, NJ, just a few minutes away from Parsippany” explained Madana-gopala Dasa, Director of Communications for ISKCON of New Jersey, “Our current Towaco location is now too small for our growing congregation, most of whom live in Parsippany, and so it made sense to locate our new, larger temple in this town, which was recently rated as the Best Town in New Jersey by Money Magazine. Just a few months ago we had our groundbreaking and foundation stone laying ceremony by Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano, one of our most enthusiastic supporters. He applauded the fact that ISKCON is such a diverse religious institution with devotees from all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, and that we do such good work for the communities around the world.
“Our congregation of about 300 enthusiastic worshippers has been instrumental in raising $ 4 million so far, which enabled us to purchase this land back in 2008 for almost $2 million. It took us nearly five years to get the zoning variance to construct this house of worship here and so far most of the remaining funds have been spent on-site work (stormwater draining system and underground infrastructure), legal and design fees, and other construction-related items. We require another $4.5 million to complete our first phase of the project which will allow us to move into the new facility and begin our services here. We currently have a $2 million loan from the bank and will need to raise the remaining $2.5 million over the next 10 months or so” continued Madana-gopala Dasa.
Piyush Patel, international entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Chairman of the ISKCON Advisory Committee stated “Over the next 12 months we plan to complete the construction of the structure and move into this building. It is certainly an ambitious goal to raise the $2.5 million during this time, but we are confident that the Indian community and friends of Lord Krishna will step forward and take advantage of this great, one-time opportunity.
Gautam Shah, a prominent businessman and chairman of the project fundraising sub-committee reiterated, “We therefore humbly appeal to everyone to support this project with their generous contribution and help us across the finishing line. As you can see it is a magnificent building and our many generations will enjoy the benefits”
The completed structure will be a 38,000 square foot building that will house the main prayer hall, ornate altars that are a trademark of ISKCON, a professional-grade state-of-the-art kitchen to prepare hundreds of free meals that are distributed weekly to the public, a library of scriptural texts, a number of classrooms and study areas, a large multipurpose hall for stage presentations and celebrations, a spacious welcome area and lobby, residential ashram facilities for devotees, guest rooms, books, and gift store as well as a vegetarian restaurant.
Popularly known as the Hare Krishna Movement, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a worldwide confederation of about 600 temples and preaching centers, 100 vegetarian restaurants, and a wide variety of community projects.
ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya, or denomination, a monotheistic tradition within the broad Hindu culture. It is scripturally based on the 5,000-year-old Sanskrit text Bhagavad-gita, or “Song of God.” ISKCON traces its lineage directly to the speaker of that sacred book, Lord Krishna, who is revered as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a 16th-century incarnation of God who emphasized the chanting of Hare Krishna as the most effective means of achieving self-realization and love of God in this age.
In 1965, at the age of 70, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanata Swami Srila Prabhupada journeyed alone from India to America, to bring the teachings of Krishna west. On July 11, 1966, Srila Prabhupada officially registered the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in New York City, and thus began the Hare Krishna movement in America. Srila Prabhupada passed away in 1977.
This nonsectarian, monotheistic movement’s mission is to advance the well-being of society by promoting the science of Krishna consciousness.
ISKCON bases its philosophy on the ancient Vedic literature. These include the Bhagavad-gita, the 30- volume Srimad Bhagavatam, and the 17-volume Caitanya-caritamrita. Study of these scriptures takes place at ISKCON temples daily, and special narrations or sermons are often part of weekly community gatherings and festivals.
ISKCON teaches that the goal of life is to develop a love of God. Love of God is realized through the practice of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. This ancient yoga system teaches the art of spiritualizing all human activities. To achieve Krishna consciousness effectively, members chant and meditate upon the holy names of Lord Krishna:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In addition to daily chanting and meditation, ISKCON members practice their faith by attending regular worship services, studying scriptures, sharing sanctified vegetarian meals, and fostering fellowship among other Krishna devotees.
Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine, November 2020. Click here to view.