Dallas Temple Has Oldest Deity in Western World
Posted August 21, 2007
Five hundred years ago in India, Kalachandji, literally translated as "the beautiful moon-faced one," was worshipped as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by thousands of devotees. Impeccable craftsmen constructed an elaborate temple for Him; famous artisans decorated it. Accompanied by drums, cymbals and tambouras, His followers filled the halls with melodious prayers throughout the day, and the air was sweet with richly fragrant incense. Daily He was offered sumptuously prepared foods made from grains, milk products and fresh vegetables. Everyone, from the king to the street sweeper, visited Kalachandji, paying respects and obeisances. No one could imagine passing the day without having His audience.
From one generation to another the tradition continued till the Moguls invaded India. Fearing for Kalachandji`s safety, His devotees hid Him from the iconoclasts, and thus the opulence and worship which He had formerly enjoyed all but came to an end. With grief in their hearts, His followers prayed for the day when His true position could be established again.
Centuries later, the great devotee of Krishna and founder of this Palace, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, arranged to have Kalachandji brought to America where he had a large temple building in Dallas. So it was that "the beautiful moon-faced one" found a home in a new land.
At the outset of 1972 Srila Prabhupada, founder-acarya of ISKCON, instructed two of his disciples, Kausalya devi dasi and Srimati devi dasi to travel to Jaipur, India to secure marble deities for the Denver, Detroit, Montreal and Dallas temples.
Kausalya prabhu had been living in India for the last two years and Srimati prabhu, having just arrived in India, saw her as a perfect guide and companion. In Jaipur, while attempting to check into a hotel, Srimati realized she had forgotten her passport in Delhi. The hotel receptionist made special note of this and agreed to let them stay. The next morning, after having attending Mangala-arti for Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, the famous Deities of Srila Rupa Goswami, Kausalya began singing bhajans for Their Lordships in the temple. At this time a large crowd gathered to see the American devotees. For many of them it was perhaps the first time they had ever seen foreigners worshipping Radha-Govinda. Kausalya was not only able to sing but ended up lecturing about Srila Prabhupada to her audience. They were also fortunate enough to meet one of the pujaris of Sri Sri Radha Govinda.
Later, returning to their hotel room, they were met by the police who were ready to arrest them, having been informed by the receptionist that Srimati prabhu had no passport. The Indian-Pakistan War had just begun, with India siding with Russia and Pakistan siding with the U.S. What right, they thought, had an American to be in India without travel documents?
When the pujari from the Radha-Govinda Mandir arrived on the scene, he recalled their singing and preaching, and proclaimed that they were actual devotees. Not only did he vouch for them, but he ended up sponsoring them and inviting them to come and stay with his wife and family.The police finally relented, under the condition the devotee women would not leave Jaipur until Srimati's passport was sent from Delhi and presented before them.
Through the pujari, Srila Rupa Goswamiseems to have have assisted Srila Prabhupada and Kalachandji. What had seemed an incipient tragedy unfolded into a great opportunity as the pujari began introducing Srimati and Kausalya to many of the respected families of Jaipur and instructing them on how to obtain the deities they had been sent to look for. Kausalya prabhu recalls: "I simply began telling everyone I met about Srila Prabhupada and chanted to Radha-Govinda. Gradually by Srila Prabhupada's and Radha-Govinda's mercy, people became so enthusiastic that recognized local industrialists, businessmen and even the Maharani of Jaipur were inviting us for lunch to hear about Srila Prabhupada. Many of them became so interested to meet Srila Prabhupada that they sponsored Srila Prabhupada to come to Jaipur and organized a large pandal program in which Srila Prabhupada installed the Radha-Govinda Deities of New York City and awarded sannyasa to His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami.
It was during this time that Srimati prabhu found her way to some to the finest murtiwalas of Jaipur. Srimati recalls how pleased Srila Prabhupada was. She remembers: "I was walking from shop to shop, thinking what type of deity would be suitable for Dallas, Texas. Suddenly I saw this beautiful deity. He had a large round face and fine soft features. As soon as I saw Him, the first thing that crossed my mind was that this is the deity of Dallas."
The deity was holding the door of a showroom open, having been placed as a doorstop. The deity looked ignored, completely unkempt, nothing like the deities she had previously seen for sale. As she approached the man in charge of the shop, he explained that this particular deity was not for sale. "This deity is very old," said the man, and he tried to interest her in other newly carved deities, describing and pointing out the newest styles. Srimati simply became more determined and continued pursuing her original interest. Looking at the deity again, the man kept saying the deity is very old, more than 500 years old, some type of museum piece.
Srimati dasi continued requesting the man to give her the deity, explaining that the deity would be sent to Dallas. Finally she began talking money. As the price became more lucrative, the man finally consented.
As there was not a deity of Radharani to match, Srimati started looking at other deities and had the murtiwala carve a suitable one to complete the set. Previously, Srila Prabhupada had written to Srimati, directing her how to pack the deities she was shipping to guard against breakage.
Lokamimoni dasi received a telegram from Mithaheli dasi, explaining that the deities must be waiting in New York. Anxiously, she and her husband Jagadisa das called Mithaheli and located the deities along with two other sets of Radha-Krishna deities which were meant for Detroit and Toronto. They dispatched the deities to the respective temples.
After installing the Deities in Dallas, Srimati recalls how pleased
Srila Prabhupada was. Prabhupada had even handwritten a document after
the installation: "Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji, The Deity of Dallas! --
A.C. Bhaktivedenta Swami"