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Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha’s installation

by | Feb 15, 2021 | Community, English | 0 comments

Radhadesh started life as an extension of ISKCON’s Amsterdam centre . Therefore, in order to understand the origins of Radhadesh we need first to pay a call in Amsterdam. Amsterdam was one of the first places where a Hare Krishna centre was opened in continental Europe. In 1970 Dhananjaya Dasa, who had been the president of the temple at Bury Place in London, came by himself to Amsterdam and started the Amsterdam centre. At that time the city attracted many young people, and the colourful Hare Krishna devotees became very popular there.

The ISKCON temple in Amsterdam quickly became a vibrant centre. By 1971 there were twenty-five full-time devotees there. That year Jagannatha Deities were carved by Haribolananda Dasa and Tirtha Sadhaka Dasa in Amsterdam, and Prabhupada installed Them on the 26th July the following year. This form of Krishna and His divine siblings is very popular in Orissa — Prabhupada himself had worshipped similar deities in early childhood. Because the centre was new, and none of the devotees were experienced, on the morning of the installation, preparations were still not complete. Many things needed finishing, including the altar, the clothes for the Deities, and flower garlands. Nevertheless, in the presence of Dutch television, Prabhupada firmly guided his inexperienced disciples to successful completion of this important installation ceremony.

In 1976 Deities of Gaura-Nitai were installed in Amsterdam. Gaura-Nitai are the divine brothers, Caitanya and Nityananda, who spread Krishna consciousness all over India in the early part of the sixteenth century. These Deities had been bought by Shyamasundar Dasa and Malati Devi Dasi in India. That same year, Radha-Krishna Deities, along with two gopi companions, were bought, also by Malati, in the historic Indian city of Jaipur. In 1977 these gorgeous Deities were installed in Amsterdam with the blessings of Prabhupada who gave Them the names “Radha-Gopinatha.” The installation ceremony was performed by Bhagavan Dasa, Jaya Tirtha Dasa, and Narottamananda Dasa. The purchase and installation of these three sets of Deities was a historic achievement for ISKCON in the Benelux.

In the beginning, the worship was naturally simple since devotees were inexperienced. However, over the years the standards of temple worship have developed to a high level, bringing to the Benelux the best of the tradition and spirit of ancient India.
In Gaudiya Vaishnavism deities are forms of God (Krishna) authorised in scripture and venerated in temples. ISKCON temples often have a Deity of the movement’s founder-acarya, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

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Before Radhadesh was bought, Amsterdam was ISKCON’s main centre in the Benelux. However, as more people be- came interested in Krishna consciousness, and the member- ship expanded, it was decided that a bigger property was needed to accommodate the community’s growing needs. This was a way to fulfil Prabhupada’s vision of creating Krishna conscious farms. In order to find a convenient and suitable property for a farm community in the Benelux, devotees from Amsterdam searched all over the Netherlands and Flanders, but found nothing in their price range. Searching further afield in southern Belgium they found the Château de Petite Somme nestled in the rolling hills of the picturesque Ardennes. Vimukta Sanga Dasa and Matanga Dasa were part of the transcendental search party. It is said that when they came over the hill and saw the château, they immediately felt they had found the right place. Although others were also inter- ested in the property, the owner sold it to ISKCON because he really liked ISKCON’s project.
“The name ‘Radhadesh’, ‘the land of Radha’, was given by Bhagavan Dasa. The landscape around here resembles Her home in Varsana.” — Nikunjavasini Devi Dasi
The château and its seventeen surrounding hectares were acquired by ISKCON by the end of 1979. At that point the castle had been empty for several years — going towards derelict — so it was a great challenge to make the place fit for a Vaishnava Hindu temple. Early occupants described the place as being “a spooky haunted castle, full of dust, cob- webs, and many black crows.” 
Jaya Gopal Dasa speaks of his first visit to the château: “When I first saw Radhadesh, I remember thinking, ‘This is very impressive. If this is going to be our new place, it’s going to be a big step forward and a lot of work. It’s going to be interesting to see how this will develop.’”
When the devotees moved in, there were also positive com- ments from the neighbours — they were happy that there were lights on again in the castle after several years of it ly- ing vacant. It is a great credit to the enthusiasm and dedica- tion of the devotees that the château is now such a bright and attractive place.
     
Early in 1980 the Deities from Amsterdam, and many devotees who had been serving there, came to reside in Radhadesh. On the journey from Amsterdam, the Deities were held up at the border for quite a long time. They were being brought by Vimukta Sanga Dasa and finally made it to Petite Somme.
From the very beginning Radhadesh was a hive of activity with devotees renovating, cleaning, scrubbing, polishing, and repainting the château. There were several devotees involved in this, including Raja Vidya Dasa and Bhakta Seva Dasa. After the initial cleanup and official opening, a num- ber of others came to help with the renovation work includ- ing Krsna Svarupa Dasa (a Dutch devotee who trained as an architect), Darius from Poland, an English carpenter called Peter, and Hrdaya Caitanya Dasa — Radhadesh’s longest standing temple president.

Food offerings

04.00 – Balya bhoga          €61 (mangala milk sweets)
08.00 – Upalaya bhoga    €41 (breakfast)
12.00 – Raja bhoga              €61 (lunch)
15.00 – Vaikalika bhoga      €31 (fruit offering)
18.40 – Sitala bhoga            €41 (dinner)
20.30 – Ratrikalini bhoga    €41 (bedtime snack) 

Flowers

Pushpadan bhoga €61 (one day’s worth of flowers for garlands and for decorating the altar)

Aratis

04.30 – Mangala arati        €31
07.15 – Shreengar arati       €25
08.25 – Dhupa arati            €21
12.30 – Raja Bhoga arati     €31
15.20 – Dhupa arati             €25
19.00 – Sandhya arati         €31
20.50 – Sringara arati         €25

Lunch at the temple (prasadam seva)

€608 (Monday to Saturday)
€808 (Sunday feast)

Cake distribution during lunch prasadam

Crumble pie with pudding   €50
Two layer sponge cake   €70
Three layer sponge cake   €80

Food and care for the cows (go seva)

€108 for one cow per month