Bhaktivedanta Manor is a Gaudiya Vaishnava temple set in the Hertfordshire countryside of England, in the village of Aldenham near Watford. The Manor is owned and run by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known as the Hare Krishna movement. It is ISKCON's largest property in the United Kingdom, and one of the most frequently visited Radha Krishna temples in Europe. It stands in 70 acres (280,000 m2) of landscaped grounds, consisting of lawns, flower gardens, a children's playground, an artificial lake that attracts many water fowl, and a substantial car park.
Previously known as Piggott's Manor, the property was donated to the Hare Krishna movement in February 1973 by former Beatle George Harrison, after the Radha Krishna Temple in central London became inadequate to house the growing number of devotees. The donation included 17 acres of land, following which the estate was extended through the acquisition of neighbouring properties. Harrison had a close relationship with the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and visited him at the Manor on several occasions. "Bhaktivedānta" is Sanskrit for "devotion-Vedanta" – that is, "the Vedanta which is about devotion".
Harrison said he envisaged that the Manor would be a "guide to Krishna consciousness" and "A place where people could get a taste of the splendor of devotional service to the Supreme Lord". On the 40th anniversary of Bhaktivedanta Manor, "The George Harrison Memorial Garden" will be officially opened to the public with George's widow, Olivia Harrison, in attendance.
- 12th century: The Abbot of Westminster granted land at Aldenham to a Thomas Picot.
- 13th century: The surrounding land was owned by Lord Picot, and the place was therefore named Picot's Manor.
- 1884: A mock-Tudor mansion was built on the site, replacing a much older real Tudor building.
- 1920s: By now the name had changed to Piggott's Manor.
- 1957 to 1972: Piggott's Manor was a nurses' training college, run by St Bart's Hospital as the Preliminary Training School.
- 1973: The Manor was donated to the Hare Krishna movement by George Harrison.
- 1994: There was a famous campaign involving a protest of some 36,000 people to keep the temple open against the wishes of local government.
A nearby road, which was earlier an unnamed track across a park, is now named Dharam Marg, which is Hindi for "the way of truth".
Inside the temple
All activity at Bhaktivedanta Manor focuses around the temple room with its altar of carved wood and gilt containing three domed shrines. The first houses deity forms of Radha and Krishna, named Radha Gokulananda. The second houses Gaura-Nitai deities, and the third, Sita, Rama, his brother Lakshman and Hanuman.
The rest of the property comprises a shop selling souvenirs and devotional paraphernalia, a bakery, a farm with working oxen, college facilities, ashrams, a primary school, and a small theatre. The latter is used for performances of the dramatic arts illustrating bhakti yoga and stories about Krishna. The theatre is frequently used as a venue for Vaishnava religious festivals, Hindu family gatherings, general open days and civil weddings.
- Clayson, p. 306.
- Tillery, p. 111, 162.
- Dwyer and Cole, p. 32.
- Tillery, p. 111.
- Clayson, pp. 268, 306.
- Gibson, p. 7.
- Giuliano, Geoffrey (1997). Dark Horse: The Life and Art of George Harrison (rev. ed. ed.). New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80747-5.
- "George Harrison memorial garden opens to the public | News". NME.com. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "Bhaktivedanta Manor", History.UK.com (archived version retrieved 16 September 2014).
- Elaine Law, "The Rewards of an Unusual Change in Career", RLH League of Nurses, May 2005 (archived version retrieved 16 September 2014).
- See Manor Campaign.
- Clayson, Alan (2003). George Harrison. London: Sanctuary. ISBN 1-86074-489-3.
- Dwyer, Graham; Cole, Richard J. Cole (eds) (2007). The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-84511-407-8.
- Gibson, Lynne (2002). Modern World Religions: Hinduism – Pupil Book Core (Modern World Religions). Oxford [England]: Heinemann Educational. ISBN 0-435-33619-3.
- Greene, Joshua M. (2006). Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-12780-3.
- Tillery, Gary (2011). Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books. ISBN 978-0-8356-0900-5.
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