“They May Smash Our Buildings,
but Not Our Beliefs”
Press statement from ISKCON Bhubaneswar
“They May Smash Our Buildings,
but Not Our Beliefs”
The worldwide disciples and followers of ISKCON Guru Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami are devastated by the demolishing of his samadhi building and ISKCON Founder Acharya Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan-kutir at the temple premises in Bhubaneswar. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday July 28 2018 demolished these structures because of flooding of water in front of the temple. They are now planning to dig into the place where the siddha-deha of Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami has been resting since February 1996. This is a tirtha or holy place in worldwide ISKCON.
As Bhubaneswar is a planned city, the city management did not take care of a good water management system. In Nayapalli district, the walls of the national highway next to the Temple added a new problem, causing water not to run freely. And the city and NHAI did not plan well in advance to take care of the issues with excess water etc.
In 2011/2012 the authorities had demolished Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan-kutir. The samadhi was not touched at all. After negotiating with the authorities the bhajan-kutir was erected again in the understanding that this situation was permanent. Therefore, we do not understand why they not only demolished the bhajan-kutir but also the samadhi altogether.
Due to heavy flooding right in front of the temple, causing cars to float on the road and leading to water coming into the houses of residents, the city administration has taken immediate enforcement measures. Due process and time for taking actions by the devotees was not allowed. They have demolished the bhajan-kutir and samadhi and are in the process of placing drains to contain flooding of water.
ISKCON Bhubaneswar is together with the residents and businesses in Nayapalli (the local district) the victim of bad planning, management and now reverse engineering to address the sudden flooding of water. What the authorities (BMC, BDA and NHAI) conveniently overlook is the fact that water is flooding from the National Highway only to the side of the Temple. Furthermore, most problems with water come from drainage at the other side of the highway at Krishna Towers. This problem is well known and is not addressed. On top of this, local companies and residents dump their garbage etc. thus blocking the drains. So all these excess waters are collected in front of the Temple and then flooding the area. Unless the authorities do not tackle the real technical problem, the Nayapalli district will continue to suffer.
You can find more information on Google by typing: “show cause notice ISKCON Bhubaneswar Temple” or “water flooding ISKCON Bhubaneswar”
We do not know the wording of the show cause notice of BMC, but even if the authorities are justified to demolish the buildings (bhajan-kutir and samadhi-kutir), digging in the burial ground needs proper legal justification. We do not know if the temple requested for official burial ground permission for the samadhi. Anyhow, by custom after 22 years it would be clear that, at least from a materialistic perspective, this is a burial ground. For devotees it is a samadhi.
Removing a body from a burial ground requires specific legal justification and permission. Is BMC able to demonstrate that they have the specific permission to remove a body for this place in concern? Is this specifically mentioned in the show cause notice or any other document? We explicitly request this. We are entitled to see the proper legal document. When removing the body, the authorities should give enough time for placing the body in an alternative place. When that alternative place is not ready, digging should not start until then.
Furthermore, as disciples we may have been unable to stop the demolishing of our dearmost Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan-kutir and our life and soul’s Srila Gurudeva’s samadhi. But our belief that Srila Gurudeva’s siddha-deha lies in this specific samadhi is part of our fundamental religious beliefs and practices as Gaudiya Vaisnava’s, which is protected by article 25 of the Constitution of India. It would require only one local Oriya Srila Gurudeva’s disciple to file a PIL stay order at the local court to delay all activities at once. By doing so, at least we buy time in order for the necessary arrangements to be made.
There is a precedent. In 2014 Ashutosh Maharaj past away in Punjab. He told his disciples he was going into samadhi and would soon return. They kept his body in a freezer. Several court-cases went on. In 2017 the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowed his body to remain preserved in a freezer by his disciples. Now is a freezer mobile and our samadhi is not. But most importantly is that this Court acknowledges the execution of freedom of religion protected by article 25 of the Constitution of India.
So as disciples, we may have not been able to protect the buildings of Srila Gurudeva’s samadhi, we are protected by the Consitution of India with respect of execution of our religious beliefs. Filing a PIL stay order would be the way forward. The BMC must be aware of our position. Therefore they give us some time. They may think we are foolish sadhaka’s who believe anything. And we may have to cooperate with them. But we are aware of our position and options. And will act prudently and wisely.
Please spread this message to as many people as possible via social media. Perhaps the authorities may come to understand what atrocities they have committed.
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