New shelves and more books equal excitement for librarians.
Expanding the library at the Mayapur Academy has been a vital but challenging project for many years. Recently, the library succeeded in acquiring much new material, as well as doubling its capacity with the installation of new custom shelving.
Many new additions to the collection are a result of an expedition to south India by Vidvan Gauranga Dasa, a friend and well-wisher.
“I took a train to Chennai and bought many books there,” Vidvan said. “My family helped me to pack and store them while I went on to Tirupati and other locations scouting for relevant books.”
The buying process was not always easy. Vidvan sometimes had to convince dealers to sell him certain books, and he often had rummage around shelves looking for books store owners didn’t even know they had in stock.
Nevertheless, the quest was a success.
“I was in a car [from Kolkata to Mayapur] which was packed to the ceiling with boxes of books,” says Vidvan. “There was barely enough space from me to sit.”
Although the focus of his search was to collect books and commentaries from the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya (the branch of Hinduism that ISKCON is affiliated with), Vidvan also obtained some books and commentaries from the Ramanuja and Madhva Sampradayas which he described as being like the cake, with the cherry on top being the Gaudiya Vaishnava literature. Vidvan also purchased some books on the Pancaratrika scriptures, which focus on the worship of the deity.
But more books mean more space. To meet this need, the library commissioned Buro, a local ISKCON carpenter, to install new shelving. The additional space has doubled the library’s capacity, and also features a central area that is designed to act as a display cabinet where visitors can see interesting memorabilia and rare acquisitions.
The Mayapur Academy was established by the Deity Worship Ministry to fulfil Srila Prabhupada's desire to create a center for training in deity worship and for the development of brahminical (priestly) culture in ISKCON. Its library is its heart.
“The library is very useful to students at the academy who are required to write papers on brahminical culture and ethics, as well as other topics,” says Gauranga Simha, Mayapur Academy administrator.
“It has also proved of benefit for the community of devotees. People visit the library on a daily basis, particularly from November to March, when the Mayapur Institute students are studying their Bhakti Sastri courses,” he said.
The teachers also use the library to prepare for classes and to mark work completed by the students. Simple amenities, taken for granted elsewhere but hard to come by in rural Bengal, are key.
“We have a very nice new multifunction printer,” Gauranga Simha said, “where students and teachers can scan and photocopy. The library contains two air conditioning units, so this summer it is the place to be to stay cool and absorb the nectar of Srila Prabhupada's words.”
Although all involved are pleased with recent developments, they look forward to an even brighter future.
“It has always been the desire of Nrsimha Kavaca Dasa [ISKCON Deity Worship Minister] that the library grows,” says Gauranga Simha. “He has a very expansive vision and sees the library becoming a world-class facility, including housing a rare acquisitions section with climate control, and developing separate study areas for men and women.”
“We already have plans to install another bookshelf and make major renovations to the entrance and layout of the library,” said Gauranga Simha.
To donate books or funds to the Mayapur Academy, go to www.mayapuracademy.org and click on the CONTACT button.