Chakra Living

Consider environmental impact of Mayapur Project

by Shyammurty das

Posted November 26, 2004

We should be rather building temple of the heart, where Krishna can actually come and stay. The massive temple buildings in the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is something recent; if you study histories from Lord Caitanya up to the time of Srila Bhkativinoda Thakura, there was hardly any emphasis on temple building.
— Isvara das (GGS), Touchstone Media

Building a massive temple to support 50,000 residents and millions of tourists and concreting the island will cause irreparable loss to the ecosystem of Mayapur.

I have studied the Master Plan and discussed this issue with several environmental scientists and town planners, including one Mr. Lalit who is serving for Auro Future in Auroville, Pondichery). During 1997 or so, Lalit was at Mayapur as a Town Planner on the project team preparing the Mayapur Master Plan.

I have deeply thought about the consequences of urbanizing Mayapur. Mayapur is not like other temple cities like Tirupathy, Visvabharathy or Dharmsala; it is a small island surrounded by perennial holy rivers. Degrading the quality of land, water and air will lead to irreparable environmental loss to Mayapur. Its beauty as a village should be preserved; it is "hidden Vrindavan"; why should we urbanize Mayapur, like Vrindavan?

A massive temple will mean hectic fund raising and destruction of the habitat.

Our mission is to spread the holy names of the Lord. We need preachers and Krishna conscious communities. Temples have a lower priority in Kali Yuga.

The ecosystem of Mayapur consists of a variety of flora and fauna, and we should preserve them. Mayapur can adapt the development model of Auroville and think of building an eco-friendly and sustainable environment. We should not make Mayapur as a concrete jungle.

Mayapur is surrounded by the holy perennial rivers with a delicate ecosystem; tampering with this will have catastrophic effects on the environment in the long run. Mayapur may disappear again if the rivers join together due to shifting patterns and erosion of the landmass by the rivers. The offshoot of urbanization will be pollution, and proliferation of damage to the natural resources. We can present a virtually endless number of points against the construction of a massive temple and consequent urbanization of this village.

Instead we can think of a sustainable model for development and, at the same time, focus on our core activity of preaching and book distribution. We can convert Mayapur to be a learning center for the whole world. We can build sustainable devotee communities focused on Vaishnava education, and follow the principle of "simple living and high thinking".

A massive temple means a lot of business opportunity and its impact on spiritual development. Present-day ISKCON is riddled with high-pressure internal conflicts because we have converted this movement from preaching to fund raising. Fund raising should be a secondary activity; we should not take up projects with heavy investments to reveal our ego as a great people among Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

MAC is developing Mayapur as a business center. Land prices have been artificially boosted by ISKCON's greed to grab the land around. Having grabbed all the land, ISKCON is not, however, using the land resources. Simple living has become impossible due to such artificial demand created by ISKCON. This trend has to be reversed.

We can laterally focus on Vaishnava Education and Training. Thus we can develop hundreds and thousands of preachers in a large scale. We can develop an excellent university offering Vedic science for the whole world. We can use our land resources for practicing Daiva Varnashrama and follow the principle of "simple living and high thinking". By this we can satisfy Srila Prabhupada's priorities like preaching and book distribution.

The Mayapur Master Plan has not taken into consideration the environmental impact of this project. There were recommendations for setting up cottage and handicraft industry as part of the development plan in and around the project area; it does not mean anything, and there is no specific measure to preserve the environment from destruction. If we are truthful and sincere to the Dham and its residents (including its habitat) then, as a priority, we should undertake a study on the environmental impact of this project with an open mind. This should be the deciding factor for the New Temple project.

Finally, I would like to tender my sincere apologies if I have offended anyone by expressing my frank opinion on this issue.