Save Srila Prabhupada's Bhajan Kutir
Posted August 1, 2006
Nirmal Chand Goswami has had the ISKCON Devotees beaten and thrown out of Srila Prabhupada's Bhajan Kutir in Radha Damodar Mandir. In the scuffle, the Goswami almost threw the murti of Srila Prabhupada on the ground as the devotees were trying to place him back in his sacred rooms at Radha Damodar.
For last few months ISKCON Vrindavan has spent more than RS.200,000 to renovate and restore Srila Prabhupada's rooms. Due to the renovation work, no devotee was staying there and the murti of Srila Prabhupada was removed and placed with the murtis of the Six Goswami's next to the altar of Radha Damodar Mandir. On June 30, the devotees found that our locks had been removed and other locks placed on the doors. This in spite of the fact that Srila Prabhupda has been renting these rooms since 1959 and after his return to Goloka, ISKCON has been faithfully paying the rent. In India it is totally illegal to remove a renter forcefully.
So then several devotees came and broke the locks and sat in the rooms peacefully chanting japa. Some devotees went to place Srila Prabhupada back in his rooms and the Goswami stood in front of the doors and roughly grabbed Srila Prabhupada and almost dashed him to the ground. He and all his sons ran to the street and began shouting that foreigners are taking over the temple. Several people appeared and slapped the devotees and tore their kurtas, while the devotees did not engage in any violence.
Then the goswami locked the rooms and stopped Srila Prabhupada's service. We went to the police, but out of respect for the fact that he is the sevayat of Radha Damodar, we did not press charges against him. But we petitioned them to return our tenancy to the rooms.
The next morning the goswami posted a sign that no foreigners or ISKCON devotees are allowed to enter the temple. For a couple of days, he closed the temple to the public altogether.
All this took place while our temple president Devamrita prabhu is lying in the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Bombay recovering from a major accident here in Vrindavan. The goswami also waited till the summer when most devotees are out of Vrindavan and most devotees, myself included, were attending the various ISKCON Rathayatra festivals. He even sent his son Kanika to negotiate with poor Devamrita whose cheek bone and jawbone is shattered and cannot even talk or eat. They demanded that ISKCON build a guesthouse, restaurant, 25-man residential facility for brahmacaris to do 24-hour kirtan, and a Sanskrit college. They wanted all this to be built by ISKCON and given to this man and his sons to run.
The District Magistrate of Mathura, after seeing all our rent receipts and other documents proving ISKCON's continuous tenancy, then ordered the police to return to the tenancy in the rooms. On 7th July, when for 7 days Prabhupada's service was stopped, forty police and the City Magistrate arrived in Radha Damodar Temple along with us. They assured us they were going to break his locks and return our tenancy to the rooms.
Many Sadhus and other important persons also came with them. They all tried to reason with this fellow, but he refused to give the keys to the city authorities under any circumstances. The sadhus and even local political leaders pleaded with him to cooperate with the District Administration, but he flatly refused. Instead he sent the women in his family to stand in front of the doors of Prabhupada's rooms, to prvent the police from entering. In fact he arranged for many other people to make disturbances on the street. So fearing a breech of peace, the City Magistrate, Shailendra Singh, decided to seal the rooms, by putting the Government locks on the door, so neither party can enter till the court decides the case. Till today Srila Prabhupada's service has been stopped by this rascal.
Now the District Administration is promising to put a receiver in charge of the rooms, until the case is settled so that Srila Prabhupada's service can be started. We have petitioned them that Sri Mahant Hari Shankar, President of the Vrindavan Akhara Association who worked tirelessly in Kumbha Mela to make Lokanatha Swami a Mahant, to become the receiver. Till now no order has been forth coming. This situation may possibly continue indefinitely.
This evening the temple leaders called many important people of Vrindavan like Padmanabha Goswami and Bhuti Krishna Goswami from Radha Raman temple, Anupam Goswami from Sringar Vat, Dr. Surendra Sharma, an RSS leader, Braj Bihari from Ganga Prasad and other merchants, as well as other respectable people of Vrindavan to a meeting. They all said that this goswami has been creating the false impression in the media that the foreigners are attempting to taking over Radha Damodar Temple. We have to change this image and get the public on our side. Bhuti Krishna Goswami said that just like Lord Chaitanya, we should start a kirtan protest and go every morning to Radha Damodar, not entering the temple, but going past. Anupam Goswami invited us to come to Sringar Vat, the temple next door where the traditional gurus of the Radha Damodar Goswamis live. They opined that this will give us the best publicity and win over the public to our side.
So starting from tomorrow we will begin Nagar Sankirtan to Radha Damodar until Srila Prabhupada's rooms are opened. All the Goswamis and others in the meeting promised to join this Kirtan. This is just like Prabhupada's own Sankirtan Protest when the Bombay Sheriff declared that our Sankirtan at Juhu temple a public nuisance in 1974. We will also start a rotating hunger strike in front of our temple, with banners and flyers. Now the summer is over and devotees are starting to come. So we invite devotees from all over the world and to join in this Sankirtan Protest. There is not even one sannyasi here to lead us.
Please come help us: "Save Srila Prabhupada's Bhajan Kutir!"