Speaking on the occasion, the President said that temples have been among the most important symbols of Hinduism. At one level, they are sacred sites. Worshippers feel the presence of the divine, be it in the form of vibrations or energy or a rush of the intense devotional feelings. Coming to a spot like this, one can leave the world and its noise behind and feel enveloped in peace. At another level, temples are often much more than places of worship. They are like the sangam sthal, or the point of holy confluence, of art, architecture, language and knowledge traditions.
Speaking about the contribution of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in spreading the message of Gita to the world, the President said that one cannot mention the Bhagavad Gita and not think of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. His commentary on the Gita has guided more seekers around the world to the mysteries of Lord Krishna’s discourse to Arjuna than any other book. Millions of copies of this work have been distributed in more than 70 languages, bringing the eternal message to countless people. He said that for those seeking spiritual help in troubled times, Srila Prabhupada’s words must have felt like first drops of rain feel to the thirsty. The chanting of ‘Hare Krishna’ on city streets became a cultural phenomenon.
The President said that according to Srila Prabhupada, service to the needy is also a form of worship, and hence ISKCON has come to be known equally for humanitarian interventions. He noted that ISKCON Bengaluru has made a positive difference in the lives of lakhs of people for the last 25 years. He said that a barren hillock has been transformed into the magnificent ISKCON Sri Radha Krishna Mandir at Hare Krishna Hill due to the hard work and determination of the devotees. It was there that the Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme, was born. This movement was inspired by Srila Prabhupada’s wish that nobody, especially no child, should go hungry within a ten-mile radius of a Krishna temple. This initiative feeds fresh, nutritious mid-day meals to over 18 lakh children in government schools across the country every day. He noted that during the pandemic, Akshaya Patra and its supporting organisations also provided over 25 crore meals to the distressed people. He said that such humanitarian-assistance-interventions have benefitted all sections of society. The President extended his best wishes to Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa and the dedicated members of ISKCON Bengaluru for their religious and humanitarian initiatives in the coming years.
On the occasion, the President received a copy of the book, titled ‘Sing, Dance and Pray: The inspirational story of Srila Prabhupada’ written by Dr. Hindol Sengupta from Senior Vice President of ISKCON, Bengaluru, Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa.