The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, a project that has been ISKCON’s evasive super-goal for over two decades, is finally coming to fruition.
What’s so special about the TOVP? Well, it was back in the 1970s that ISKCON’s founder Srila Prabhupada first expressed his desire to build a Vedic Planetarium at his society’s headquarters in Mayapur, India. “Within the planetarium we will construct a huge, detailed model of the universe as described in the text of the fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam,” he said.
Of course, as with everything he did, Srila Prabhupada was acting in fulfillment of the desires of previous spiritual teachers. A grand temple for Mayapur was predicted by none other than Lord Nityananda, the most intimate associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, some five hundred years ago. Speaking to Srila Jiva Goswami, the Lord said:
“When our Lord Chaitanya disappears, by His desire, the Ganges will swell. The Ganges water will almost cover Mayapur for a hundred years, and then the water will again recede. For some time only the place will remain, devoid of houses. Then again, by the Lord’s desire, this place will again be manifest, and the devotees will build temples of the Lord. One exceedingly wonderful temple (adbhuta-mandira) will appear from which Gauranga’s eternal service will be preached everywhere.”
Srila Prabhupada wanted this great temple to have a specific look. In July 1976, during a visit to Washington D.C., he instructed Yadubara Dasa and Visakha Dasi to take photographs of the domed Capitol building there, as a basis for the TOVP. And in the early days of ISKCON in London, he gave further detailed instructions on what different parts of the temple should look like, directing many senior devotees make drawings and models of the building.