Radha Madhav Dham

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Radha Madhav Dham, originally called Barsana Dham, is the main U.S. center of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat, a non-profit, charitable, educational and spiritual organisation located on more than 200 acres of land in Hays County, south of Austin, Texas.[1][2] It is a Hindu temple and ashram complex, [1][3][4] the oldest Hindu Temple in Texas[5] the largest in North America[1][2] and one of the largest Hindu Temple complexes in the Western Hemisphere.[1] It was built by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati in 1990.[6][7][8]

Radha Madhav Dham is a place of pilgrimage for millions of devotees living in the West,[2] and is reminiscent of similar locales in India.[9] The ashram is led by a board of managing members, headed by board president Mr. Raj Goel.[10] and vice president Diwakari Devi.[11]

In 2007, it was featured in National Geographic's "The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life".[12] In 2013, it was listed in Newsmax's 13 Fascinating Cathedrals and Houses of Worship in America.[1]

The organization follows the path of raganuga bhakti, [9] selfless devotion to Radha Krishna. The temple is involved in numerous charitable educational projects including JKP Education, which won the Nelson Mandela Peace Award instituted by the Economic Growth Society of India in April 2014.[13][14][15]

History[edit]

Radha Madhav Dham (Barsana Dham), was established in 1990, as the main US Center of the International Society of Divine Love, which was founded in the 1970s.[16] Radha Madhav Dham was built to be a representation of the holy land of Braj in India where Radha and Krishna are believed by Hindus to have appeared, around 5,000 years ago.[17][16][18][19] It has been designed as a place of pilgrimage in America.[20] Areas of Radha Madhav Dham have been developed to be the places for meditation.[16][19][21] Places of Braj like Govardhan, Radha Kund, Prem Sarovar, Shyam Kuti, etc. are represented in Radha Madhav Dham where a natural stream named Kalindi represents the Yamuna river of Vrindaban.[16][22]

In April 2011, following the disappearance of its founder Swami Prakashanand Saraswati after his conviction on 20 charges of sexual indecency with a child at Barsana Dham, the organization changed its name.[23] According to Austin American-Statesman, "Barsana Dham has moved aggressively on the Internet to wipe out all traces of its connection to the guru. The name of the ashram has been changed to JKP Radha Madhav Dham."[24]

In 2012, on the one year anniversary of the trial, Vrinda Devi, Radha Madhav Dham spokeswoman, stated that "What we've been trying to do since then is moving forward." She added that, "As far as Swamiji's presence, we've subdued that in order to go on and survive as a minority religious community."[25]

Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani Temple[edit]

Shree Radha Rani has many names.[26] Raseshwari is one of Her names and comes from the Upanishads.[26] The Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani Temple at Radha Madhav Dham is the first Hindu temple built in Austin, Texas, and one of the largest Hindu temples in the USA.[2] The temple encompasses about 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2) and is topped by a 90-foot (27 m)-high golden dome.[7]

The main prayer hall of the Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani Temple is decorated with the pictorial representations of teachings from ancient Hindu scriptures, which are captioned in both Sanskrit and English.[27] The philosophy of the Hindu scriptures are described in a continuous panel on the sides of the hall. A realistic depiction of the sky is portrayed on the ceiling.[22]

The temple architecture is a blend of north and south Indian, and modern styles of architecture.[17][22][28] It was designed by two architects from India.[28] The 90-foot (27 m) high temple dome is made of white and blue granite and gold. The tower is in the traditional shape, but it's built out of granite, whereas most in India are sandstone.[28] The artwork of the temple's shrine was hand-crafted by 15 artisans from South India. The artisans carved the pillars and ceilings with images of peacocks and floral patterns. There are 84 columns and five levels in the building with covered area of 35,000 sq ft (3,300 m2). The temple was built using special construction techniques and processes that would allow it to last for more than a thousand years.[29] A peach orchard, gardens of roses, jasmine and marigolds and wandering peacocks decorate the temple grounds.[30]

Festivals and celebrations at the temple attract up to 8000 people.[31] The temple and ashram complex is a center for traditional Indian cultural activities and weddings.[31][32][33][34] Weekly services are held every Sunday morning from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. followed by a community lunch. Approximately 1000 families attend Radha Madhav Dham. 96% of these are Indian, the remaining 4% being Westerners and people of Caribbean descent.[31]

According to Rinehart (2006)[32] and Lee & Nadeau (2011),[35] Radha Madhav Dham is an example of how builders of Hindu Temples in the US have replicated the sacred Geography of India, providing a familiar space and experience for Hindus from India, and fostering an identification with their adopted homeland.[32]

Festivals[edit]

Radha Madhav Dham celebrates all the major Hindu festivals[36] which attract thousands.[9] The Temple is home to one of the biggest Janmashtami celebrations in North America.[16][37] To commemorate the yearly Rath Yatra festival at the temple, October 27, 2001 was named 'Radha Rani Rath Yatra Day' by Austin Mayor Kirk Watson.[38] The 2011 Rath Yatra celebration was attended by "Bhajan Samrat" Anup Jalota.[39] Various other Mayors of Austin and Governor of Texas have visited or offered commendations to Barsana Dham.[31][40] 50,000 visitors[11] from both Indian and Western communities participate in the lessons, religious programs and celebrations there.[41] The celebrations are:

Retreats and family camps[edit]

At various times throughout the year, the temple offers special weekend family retreats, mini-intensives, and weekend seva retreats. These retreats and programs include Hindi, yoga and Indian dance classes. Radha Madhav Dham has been named one of the "best places to relax, reflect, and renew".[3] Radha Madhav Dham also conducts tours for schools, other educational institutions and community groups.[9]

Radha Madhav Dham also organizes free family camps and "Basics of Hinduism" courses[45] in Hindu temples in Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C. and New York.[46]

Each fall, the Texas Yoga Retreat, organized by Charles MacInerney and Ellen Smith is held at the ashram. This retreat provides an opportunity to experience ashram living along with 250-plus other yoga enthusiasts.[47] There is also a new year retreat organized by Radha Madhav Dham. This weekend long stay involves relaxation and meditation. Families are welcome to the yoga classes and meditation sessions, and a 24-hour continuous chant known as Akhand Sankirtan takes place from noon on New Year's Eve to noon the following day.[48]

Educational and charitable activities[edit]

Radha Madhav Dham opened its doors to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, and executed a fundraising drive in its wake.[49] In September 2008, Radha Madhav Dham launched a fundraising drive for victims of the flooding in Bihar. The immediate goal of the drive was to raise US$150,000 for relief efforts.[50] In the same month, hundreds of evacuees of Hurricane Ike were given food and shelter at Radha Madhav Dham.[51][52] Radha Madhav Dham is also active in a number of local and global charitable activities including housing rehabilitation work in Central Texas, flood relief efforts for India, and the ongoing support of hospital operations oversees.[52] The temple hosted 300-400 evacuees from Hurricane Rita in 2005.[53] Radha Madhav Dham has organized charitable walks in Dallas to raise funds for its $2.3 million Kripalu Charitable Hospital in the town of Barsana, India[54] which was inaugurated in 2008. Besides the hospital in Barsana, JKP Radha Madhav Dham's center in India also opened the 'Kripalu Charitable Hospital' in Mangarh in 2003. That facility provides free diagnostic exams, treatment, surgical procedures, hospitalization, emergency services and medication to hundreds of patients daily.[54] National eye camps and mother/child welfare programs also have been established throughout India, providing free eye exams, cataract surgery and polio vaccines to those in need.[54]

Radha Madhav Dham participates in inter-religious services such as Austin Area Interreligious ministries,[31][38][55] Hindu-Jewish Solidarity Day[56][57][58] and PBS's Many Voices project.[59] The organization was selected[by whom?] to represent Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Grigonis, Richard (November 8, 2013). "13 of America's Most Fascinating Cathedrals and Houses of Worship". Newsmax Media. Newsmax. Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Library of Congress. Retrieved from [1]
  3. ^ a b Ricci, J. Yoga Escapes: A Yoga Journal Guide to the Best Places to Relax, Reflect, and Renew. Celestial Arts.
  4. ^ Walker, J.K. 2007. The Concise Guide to Today's Religions and Spirituality. Harvest House Publishers.
  5. ^ India Today International. Volume 1, Issues 1-8. Living Media International. 2002.
  6. ^ a Dham Blooms in Texas
  7. ^ a b "Hindu Temple Opens in Texas", October 14, 1995. The Washington Post. Section: METRO
  8. ^ Kurien, P.A. 2007. A Place at the Multicultural Table: The Development of an American Hinduism. NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  9. ^ a b c d Ludwig, M. March 9, 2002. "Houses of worship". Austin American-Statesman (TX)
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ a b Hindu cultural centre hosts speaker. Daily Herald-Tribune
  12. ^ Grout, P. 2007. The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life. National Geographic Books. [3]
  13. ^ Nelson Mandela Peace Award bestowed on the charitable organization supported by Austin based Hindu temple. April 24, 2014. Voice of Asia
  14. ^ Austin-based Hindu Temple gets Nelson Mandela Peace Award. April 23, 2014. India Herald.
  15. ^ JPK Education gets Nelson Mandela Peace Award. April 20, 2014. IANS
  16. ^ a b c d e f Kamath, A.P. August 12, 1999. "Janmashtami Events In Cattle Country". Rediff.com.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Harvard Plurism Project
  18. ^ a b Perks, K.S.L. August 24, 1997. Hindus honor supreme deity with festival. Austin American-Statesman
  19. ^ a b Prothero, S.R. 2006. A nation of religions: the politics of pluralism in multireligious America. University of North Carolina Press
  20. ^ Kettmann, M. 2009. "The Salt Lick, a Hindu Temple, Disc Golf, The Horseshoe, and Texas Wine". Santa Barbara Independent
  21. ^ Journal of Vaishnava Studies, Volume 13, Issues 1-2. 2004.
  22. ^ a b c Ciment, J. 2001. Encyclopedia of American Immigration. Michigan: M. E. Sharpe.
  23. ^ "With guru on the lam, ashram changes name", by Sean Kimmons, San Marcos Mercury, April 22, 2011, accessed May 16, 2011
  24. ^ "Missing swami may have left Mexico, U.S. marshal says", by Eric Dexheimer, Austin American-Statesman, May 13, 2011, accessed May 16, 2011
  25. ^ Guru still missing, one year after he failed to show up for sentencing in groping trial Austin American Statesman March 5, 2012
  26. ^ a b Sharma, M. & Paliwal, B.B. 2005. Message of the Upanishads. Diamond Pocket Books Ltd.
  27. ^ Jain, N. "An Austin Haven". The Daily Texan
  28. ^ a b c Parker, J.M. October 25, 1996. "3,000 expected at Hindu celebration". San Antonio Express-News
  29. ^ Stevens, D. 1995. "Far Eastern Religions expanding in Texas". Associated Press.
  30. ^ a b Nevans-Pederson, M. November 16, 2002. "Seeking Divine unity through Hinduism". The Telegraph-Herald
  31. ^ a b c d e "Barsana Dham Hindu Temple". The Pluralism Project at Harvard University.
  32. ^ a b c d e Rinehart, R. 2006. Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice. ABC-CLIO.
  33. ^ "Flavors of India". April 10, 2009. San Marcos Daily Record
  34. ^ "Best of Austin Award 2003". The Austin Chronicle
  35. ^ Lee, H.X. & Nadeau, K.M. 2011. Encyclopedia of Asian American folklore and folklife. ABC-CLIO
  36. ^ Hylton, H. & Rosie, C. 2006. Insiders' Guide to Austin. The Globe Pequot Press Inc.
  37. ^ Busby, M. 2004. The Southwest. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  38. ^ a b c d "Mayor Watson declares Radha Rani Rath Yatra Day in Austin", November 17, 2001. India Herald
  39. ^ a b c "Rang De with Anup Jalota at Radha Madhav Dham, Austin". Indo-American News
  40. ^ Ruth, D. 1997. "Barsana Dham". Awareness magazine. July/August 1997 Issue.
  41. ^ Chan Santos, M. October 29, 2011. "Hidden Neighborhood: Three small neighborhoods in northern Hays County known for nature". Austin American-Statesman
  42. ^ Murthy, A. 2010. "Holi At Barsana Dham". Nazar Online
  43. ^ Joshi, M. April 29, 2005. "Ram Navami celebrated with great fanfare". India Abroad
  44. ^ "Diwali Roundup: Where to Go to Celebrate". October 16, 2009. East West magazine. [4] (Website temporarily down)
  45. ^ Thomases, D. 2007. "Following the Swami: Diaspora, Dialogue, and the Creation of a Hindu Identity in a Queens Community". Insight Undergraduate Journal, 1(1), pp. 68 - 84.
  46. ^ Prbweb. "JKP Barsana Dham to Offer Gita Class in New York during February School Break"
  47. ^ Ricci, J. (2004). "7 Destination Ashrams". Mar-Apr 2004 Edition. Yoga Journal
  48. ^ Robberson, S. & Speakerman, M.R. December 21, 2007. "New Year's Eve Dining & Lodging". The Austin Chronicle
  49. ^ Joshi, M. (October 7, 2005). "Community rallies to help Rita victims". India Abroad. [5]
  50. ^ "2008, Bihar Relief Campaign". Retrieved September 6, 2008
  51. ^ Powell, B. (September 15, 2008). "Barsana Dham Center houses evacuees". News 8 Austin
  52. ^ a b "Barsana Dham Temple Shelters Hurricane Ike Evacuees"
  53. ^ Hindu organizations unite to provide hurricane relief. N.D. India Herald.
  54. ^ a b c Wu, E. (March 8, 2007). "Walk is part of mission to aid needy in India" The Dallas Morning News
  55. ^ Maze, H. November 24, 2002. Interreligious organization, volunteers help give thanks". News 8 Austin
  56. ^ Duke, M.C. January 13, 2011. "Local event promotes Hindu-Jewish solidarity". Jewish Herald-Voice
  57. ^ Giri, Kalyani. January 17, 2011. "Building Bridges Between World Cultures". Indo American-News
  58. ^ "More pictures from the 1st Annual Hindu-Jewish Solidarity Day". 2011.
  59. ^ "Collecting Many Voices". 2004.

Coordinates: 30°9′20″N 97°57′28″W / 30.15556°N 97.95778°W / 30.15556; -97.95778