QUESTION: I have heard whispers that the temple being built in Mayapura, called the "Temple of Understanding," in some ways falls short of the proper conception of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. I have also heard that this Temple of Understanding is thought by some devotees to be the Adbhuta Mandira predicted by Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. In your opinion is there any truth to this way of thinking?
ANSWER: Yes, it is true that the Temple of Understanding, as it is being planned today, does fall short of the highest understanding in Gaudiya Vaisnavism. As for the Adbhuta Mandira predicted by Bhaktivinoda, that has already been manifested by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura at the birthplace of Sri Caitanya (Yogapitha), the 'epicenter' of the spiritual world.
Adbhuta means the most wonderful conception, the conception of 'mahaprabhu sri caitanya radha krsna nahi anya' -- the combined form for Radha and Krsna as Sri Caitanya -- that is the most wonderful conception of Godhead ever to have been revealed. Mahaprabhu is indeed the full-fledged expression of rasaraja-mahabhava and this has been preached all over the world from the Yogapitha Mandira by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and his disciples, especially by his disciple Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Sri Navadvipa-dhama Mahatmya by Bhaktivinoda Thakura predicts the Adbhuta Mandira as follows:
"Nityananda next took Jiva to Advaita's house, twenty meters to the north. "Jiva, see the house of Sita-natha, Advaita Acarya, where the Vaisnavas would meet to discuss Krsna. Sri Advaita worshiped Krsna here and, calling loudly, brought this treasure, My Lord Gauranga."
"After rolling on the ground there, the four men went to the house of Gadadhara, just ten meters to the east. From that place, Nityananda showed Jiva the various houses of Lord Caitanya's associates. After seeing the houses of the brahmana community, they proceeded to the bank of the Ganges in a happy mood. There, at the border of Mayapura, Jiva saw the Vrddha Siva temple.
"Nityananda Prabhu said, "He is the guardian of Mayapura. This is where the Praudha-maya energy, yoga-maya, in charge of spiritual perception, is eternally situated. When our Lord disappears, by His desire, the Ganges will swell. The Ganges water will almost cover Mayapura 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 become prominent, and people will live in Mayapura as before. All these ghatas on the bank of the Ganges will again be manifest, and the devotees will build temples of the Lord.
"Nityananda Prabhu then said -
adbhuta mandira ei haibe prakasa
gauranga nitya-seva haibe vikasa
"'A wonderful temple will appear, from where Lord Gauranga's eternal service will manifest."'
(Bhaktivinoda Thakura - Sri Navadvipa-dhama Mahatmya, Ch. 5 - 'Sri Mayapura and Antardvipa')
In "Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava" the question and answer is also given:
QUESTION: Sri yoga-pithe sri mahaprabhur bhavi-mandira sambandhe sri bhaktivinoda bhavisyad vanite ki?
"What was Srila Bhaktivinoda's prediction regarding a future temple of Sri Mahaprabhu at Yogapitha?"
ANSWER: adbhuta mandira ei haibe prakasa gauranga nitya-seva haibe vikasa
"A wonderful temple will appear, from where Lord Gauranga's eternal service will manifest."
(Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava - Ch. 11)
Some contemporary Vaisnavas translate the word 'vikasa' in exclusive favor of their own missionary activities to mean, 'spread all over the world' but this is not correct. Vikasa means to manifest. The prophecy that Krsna consciousness will spread throughout the world in every town and village is a different prophecy than the prophecy regarding the Adbhuta Mandira.
It seems quite clear from "Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava" that the Adbhuta Mandira will be built at Yogapitha and not just at any location in Mayapura. Certainly this is only logical to anyone who understands the spiritual significance of Yogapitha!
Again some contemporary translations of the Adbhuta Mandira verse translate the word adbhuta to mean "huge and wonderful" but the word adbhuta has nothing to do with being huge or not being huge -- it simply means "wonderful." However, in some people's estimation big or huge is always better.
One should also note that in Navadvipa-dhama Mahatmya it is said that, "A wonderful temple will appear from which Gauranga's eternal service will be manifest." It does not say that the message will first be preached all over the world and then many years after that the Adbhuta Mandira will appear. From the temple (Adbhuta Mandira at Yogapitha) established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, the preaching of the service of Sri Caitanya has been manifest and is going on for almost 100 years.
In other words Sarasvati Thakura manifest the Adbhuta Mandira at Yogapitha in 1934 and from there the service of Sri Caitanya was manifest and was eventually preached and continues to be preached everywhere in the world. In some places ISKCON is preaching, in some places Gaudiya Matha is preaching and in some places humble individuals and humble missions are preaching the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya everywhere in the world, but in each case all these preaching endeavors are ultimately traced back to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta at the Adbhuta Mandira at Yogapitha.
The fact that the Adbhuta Mandira predicted in Navadvipa-dhama Mahatmya has already been manifested is also confirmed by Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami as follows:
"With the help of a wealthy disciple, the late Sakhi-caran Bhaktivijaya, Srila Prabhupada fulfilled Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's prediction of an extraordinary temple being built at Sri Yogapitha. When the foundation of the skyscraper temple was being dug, on June 13, 1934, a four-armed Deity of Visnu was discovered in the ground. Srila Prabhupada studied the Siddhartha-samhita and, according to the positioning of the weapons and symbols in the Deity's hands, identified it as Adhoksaja Visnu accompanied by His Sri, Bhu and Nila potencies. Several expert archeologists, including Sri Ramaprasad Chandra, attested to the Deity's antiquity. Srila Prabhupada commented later that this was the Deity formerly worshiped by Sri Jagannatha Misra himself. This beautiful Deity is currently being worshiped at the Yogapitha temple in Mayapura. (B.P. Puri Gosvami, in "Of Love and Separation - A few Glimpses at the Lotus Feet of Srila Prabhupada")
We should not overlook the fact that when excavating the foundation for the Adbhuta Mandira at Yogapitha that the Adhoksaja Visnu Deity worshipped by Sri Jagannatha Misra was rediscovered. This indeed has great spiritual significance. Therefore, there should be no doubt that Yogapitha is the birthplace of Sri Caitanya and the natural site of the Adbhuta Mandira?
It is a fact that our Guru Maharaja, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wanted to build a magnificent temple at Mayapura, originally called the 'Planetarium,' from which the service of Sri Caitanya would continue to be preached all over the world, but he never indicated that he thought that his project was the Adbhuta Mandira predicted by Bhaktivinoda, or that his project superceded the work of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta.
The Adbhuta Mandira is not only a temple that is magnificent in terms of its construction but the Adbhuta Mandira must be absolutely wonderful in terms of the highest spiritual conception found in Gaudiya Vaisnavism. That is the achievement of Srila Bhaktivinoda and Srila Bhaktisidddhanta.
Whether or not Srila Bhaktisiddhanta has built the Adbhuta Mandira at its natural location, 'Yogapitha' is not actually a contention because his contribution has already been recognized by learned and self-realized pure devotees of the Supreme Lord. Any other claims to the credit for building the Adbhuta Mandira at some other location are simply pretentious and are in fact the product of false pride born of material wealth and grandeur.
As for the Temple of Understanding -- if it is indeed to represent the full fledged conception of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, then it must culminate in the representation of the highest conception of Divinity in terms of the name, form, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord.
Krsna is the emporium of rasa, the enjoyer of rasa, and Radharani is the fullest expression of love of God. These two are combined together in the transcendental form of Sri Caitanya. When these three transcendental forms of Divinity are shown together on one altar, then the highest conception of the name, form, and loving affairs of the Supreme Lord (prema-vilasa-vivarta) are present.
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmadA temple claiming to be the Temple of Understanding of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas must indeed culminate in the above understanding, otherwise it certainly falls short of the ultimate conception of transcendental love affairs of the Supreme Person.
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
caitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam
"The loving affairs of Sri Radha and Krsna are transcendental manifestations of the Lord's internal pleasure-giving potency. Although Radha and Krsna are one in Their identity, They separated Themselves eternally. Now these two transcendental identities have again united, in the form of Sri Krsna Caitanya. I bow down to Him, who has manifested Himself with the sentiment and complexion of Srimati Radharani although He is Krsna Himself.
(Cc, Adi 1:5)
Our Guru Maharaja first established the Caitanya Candradaya Mandira at Mayapura by installing the Deities of Sri Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha-Madhava (Sri Sri Gaura-Radha-Madhava). After the departure of Srila Prabhupada some of his disciples somehow lost sight of the conception 'mahaprabhu sri caitanya, radha krsna nahi anya' and overshadowed Srila Prabhupada's original intention by establishing large deities of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava along with the Asta-sakis.
The conception of Sri Caitanya as the combined form of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the present temple of Caitanya Candradaya has been greatly effaced by the installation of the larger Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and the Asta-sakis. I have been told that now the plan is to install ten foot tall Deities of the Panca-tattva and eventually to install large Deities of the parampara. But in the end it appears that unless something is rectified soon, then the highest conception of Divinity represented in the Deity form of Sri Sri Gaura-Radha-Madhava will remain effaced in that temple forever.
One humble sannyasi in ISKCON (H.H. Bhakti Caru Swami) once tried to explain to the planning committee that the larger Deity of Gaura-Radha-Madhava must be installed in the Temple of Understanding if indeed the conception established by Srila Prabhupada were to continue. Unfortunately, his humble attempt went unheeded. Now because the current temple plan does not properly represent the Gaudiya conception of theism in its fullest expression, it is sometimes sarcastically referred to as the 'Temple of Misunderstanding!'
If the Temple of Understanding is ever completed under its present plan it will be a great embarrassment to the spiritual dignity of Srila Prabhupada as a great Gaudiya Vaisnava acarya.
What should be done to set the conception in the right order is that larger Deities of Mahaprabhu and Radha-Madhava should be installed on the center altar at Caitanya Candradaya Mandira, Panca-tattva and the guru parampara should be established on the left altar, and Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and the Asta-sakis should be established on the right hand altar. It seems obvious that this is what Srila Prabhupada intended, otherwise he would not have established the deity forms of Sri Sri Gaura-Radha-Madhava in the first place. If this is done then the situation is easily rectified, otherwise all is lost.