for ISKCON News on Oct. 13, 2011
On September 24th, India`s Minister of Tourism met with Gopal Krishna Goswami to review the progress of the project of a new temple in Moscow.
India's Minister of Tourism Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai and the ambassador of India to Russia Mr. Ajay Malhotra visited the Moscow Krishna temple on September, 24 on Leningradskiy Prospect at the invitation of the Indian community. They arrived right after the opening ceremony of the Mother Teresa Monument, which was held in the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
During his visit to the Krishna temple, minister SK Sahai and Ambassador Malhotra paid their obeisances to the temple deities Sri Chaitanya and Sri Nityananda, and the founder acharya of the Society for Krishna Consciousness A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
After that, the distinguished guests spoke with the members of the Indian community, who had been gathering there every Saturday for many years. The main pujari (priest) of the temple Sriman Vishnurata Prabhu told the guests about the process of God worshipping and gave the them maha-prasadam from the Deities.
Traditionally, as a sign of affection, the guests were given special scarves called chadars, and minister SK Saha received a gift of the sacred book the Bhagavad-Gita in Russian.
The Minister got informed about the Moscow Vaishnavas` activities, he appreciated their contribution to the development of friendship between India and Russia.
The Minister met with the director of the New Delhi "Glory of India" Cultural Center, spiritual master Gopal Krishna Goswami. They spoke about the construction project of a new temple of Sri Sri Radha Madhava in the Russian capital, which would play a major role in deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.
Ironically, a few days after the Minister`s visit, there was an unfortunate turn of events that could clearly endanger these wonderful plans.
On September 30th, the Moscow Society for Krishna Consciousness received an official note from the local authorities, informing them that a decision had been made by the Commission on Land and Property, according to which the Society has to leave the territory, which it had been occupying. Failing to execute this order, ISKCON Moscow would have to face legal charges.
At the present moment, there are negotiations going on between ISKCON Moscow and the district government, with the understanding that until the new temple in the north of Moscow is built, the actual temple has nowhere to go.
The Moscow ISKCON temple is being visited by thousands of people each year. Approximately 10,000 people come during big festivals only. Each week, hundreds of Indians visit the temple. The authorities were also informed that, according to Hindu traditions, worship of the Lord in a temple cannot be interrupted once it is started.
When the Moscow government was giving the land for the building of a new Krishna temple, it promised that until the construction is finished, the present temple can continue to function where it is now. Such an agreement was also reached during a meeting between the Moscow authorities and the General Minister of Delhi Mrs. Sheila Diksheet.
The Russian devotee community hopes for a just decision, emphasizing that a modern city should be able to provide the believers with convenient infrastructure to practice their spiritual life, which is very important for peace and understanding.