What memorable visit to the temple inspired you in a special way?
My most memorable temple visit was my first. I walked into the temple and felt like I had stepped into another world, and though I knew next to nothing about Krishna or devotees, I had an instant feeling of somehow being home. There was beautiful music, colors, sounds, and smells, all unfamiliar but familiar at the same time—like a forgotten memory rising to the surface. But most of all it was the devotees, with their instant friendship, kindness, and desire to teach knowledge of Krishna without force or pressure, that really left its mark on me.
I left that day with tulasi beads, a picture of Krishna given to me by a devotee, and an overwhelming feeling of being purified. That was two years ago, and I’ve been a devotee ever since.
It was 1992, when I had started going to a small ISKCON center that had just opened in Austin. The devotees at the center were very enthusiastic to expose the congregation to various ISKCON festivals, so they took us to the nearest ISKCON temple, located in Houston, for Govardhana Puja. This was going to be our first exposure to the festival, and we did not know what to expect.
Most of us knew the history of how Krishna asked His foster father to worship Govardhana Hill instead of Lord Indra, which led to Krishna’s lifting Govardhana Hill on His tiny finger for seven days to protect the Vrajavasis from the heavy rain sent by Indra. At the temple what impressed us most was the huge number of offerings to Sri Govardhana, who is Krishna Himself. None of us, including the devotees who brought us to Houston, expected so many offerings. We were completely surprised. We were told that this is the only festival when anyone can bring food items for Krishna, in the form of Govardhana Hill, and He will accept the offering.
We saw how the devotees were enthusiastic, dedicated, and in a festive mood. The whole atmosphere was inspiring and contagious.
This visit to the Houston ISKCON temple strengthened my faith in Krishna and ISKCON devotees. It also inspired me to learn more and get involved more in the Krishna conscious activities at our local center. Over the years, I have learned a lot and continue learning more by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, chanting the maha-mantra, and associating with devotees at ISKCON temples wherever I go.
Vaikuntheshvara Balaji Dasa
I was on a school geography trip in downtown London last year and desired to visit the Radha-Krishna temple after we were dismissed from the trip.
Later that day during the evening rush period, although there were huge crowds of people packed in the underground or walking swiftly across the streets, I felt ironically alone. Soon after, my ears were filled with the nectar I was desperately hankering for, as the sound of small handheld cymbals accompanied by the familiar Hare Krishna chant signaled the shortening proximity of my destination. After receiving kind instructions from a devotee named Adam, I arrived at the Radha-Krishna temple feeling hugely enthused and happy to be part of a culture that I can never become lost or alone within.
During my very first visit to Vrindavan, the ecstatic sankirtana along with the abhisheka [deity bathing] ceremony awakened my dormant love for Krishna and inspired me to reestablish my original, eternal relationship with Krishna.
Rohtak, Haryana, India
During a business trip, I visited an ISKCON center in a mid-size city on the east coast. The temple has deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra and consistently has the one of the most opulent Sunday feasts in all of America. Sri Jagannatha mercifully gave me the service to wash the Sunday feast cooking pots and pans for a few weeks. Through this activity, the Lord began the process of washing my heart. I got the realization through this service that we are always eager for prestige, adoration, and respect, and for being the center. And because we are interested in loving our own selves only, we never really turn to God or His devotees with love.
Because there is no temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I live, each visit to the Chicago temple is memorable for me. I am inspired me in a special way whenever I go and see the deities and am able to do service for Lord Sri Krishna. I also cherish going to the Rathayatra Festival in Chicago and seeing devotees from other cities.
I like to go for other festivals when I am able. At the temple I like to listen to the lectures on Srimad-Bhagavatam. It also gives me time chant on my beads and to associate with the devotees.
I like to go help with preaching if the devotees want me to do that. Or I help with cooking or make garlands for the deities. Most of all, I’m inspired just being there to see the deities of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.
Arati Devi Dasi