Pandharpur Dhama Floods, ISKCON Temple Under Water



A tremendous flood has ravaged Maharashtra. The disaster has caused damage amounting to Rupees 1,500,000,000 /-. Newspapers report 1000 people dead including 429 people in Mumbai. 3500 buffaloes and 23,000 goats are dead and 250,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed.

Pandharpur Dhama is the beautiful holy abode of Lord Vithala, Sri Krishna Himself. Located in Southeastern Maharashtra, Pandharpur Dhama is the spiritual headquarters of Maharashtrian bhaktas. Sri Chandrabhaga River usually gently curves around the town of Pandharpur in a crescent half moon shape, thus her name Chandrabhaga which means "half moon".

Located in a beautiful scenic location on the bank of Chandrabhaga, overlooking the town of Pandharpur, ISKCON Pandharpur has a perfect location for peaceful meditations as well as an occasional dip in the holy river. This morning, due to record breaking heavy rains in the mountains near Pune where river originates, Chandrabhaga rose to such a height, our ISKCON Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath Temple had a visit from Chandrabhaga herself. During Mangal Arotika, at 4:30 in the morning devotees were hiking up their dhotis and dancing and splashing in the temple to the beat of the mrdunga drums and kartalas.

After mangal arotika, devotees busied themselves doing their best to move Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath's properties and valuables to higher and higher ground. Racing against time, the devotees were transferring all the Deity dresses, Srila Prabhupada's books, office, kitchen equipment and Srila Prabhupada's Murti was hard work.

Chandrabhaga's waters were rising higher and higher. Palm trees were almost completely submerged. A variety of animals, insects, and even reptiles were seen seeking the shelter of higher ground. The temple had become a half submerged island on the bank of the river. In the past, we used to hear of the Mayapur floods. Now we are experiencing a sampling of that here. At 7:15 am, when the conch blew for the darshan of the Deities, the devotees gathered in an excited mood. When the curtains opened, devotees were delighted to see Lord Pandharinath (Krishna) also dressed in shorts, as if preparing for a dip in Chandrabhaga Himself.

Taking the small Deities (Utsava Murti) to a safer location on higher ground, we decided to utilize the situation for a spontaneous boat festival. With spontaneous enthusiasm, the head pujari arranged to convert a large inflated circular rubber tube into a beautiful decorated platform on which Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath were to enact Their pastimes. The calamity of flood transformed into joy as the devotees of ISKCON Pandharpur, led by His Holiness Lokanath Swami Maharaja, engaged in beautiful kirtan, bajans and dancing as they escorted the boat around Pandharpur Dhama.

After more than one hour, the festival concluded with an offering of breakfast to the Deities, and then the devotees also took their breakfast. Chandrabhaga continued to rise, and the devotees stayed busy by moving the cows and bulls from the goshalla to higher ground and continuing to secure the properties and valuables of the temple. Visvambhara Prabhu suggested that a special lila darshan be prepared for the next morning, by dressing the Lord with two additional arms, creating a four armed Garbodaksai Vishnu form and resting on a giant snake (Ananta Sesa), in turn floating on the Garbodaka Ocean (Chandrabhaga). At that moment, a small serpent appeared in the temple room.

By lunch time, the waters had entered the kitchen and cooking had to be done upstairs in the ashram. After lunch, we were excited to look down and see a giant cobra snake more than six feet long trying to enter the temple complex. The experience of flood is incomplete unless the snakes appear.

By the middle of the afternoon, Chandrabhaga rose to wash the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath. During the night, we expect the height of the water to reach Their knees. As we are writing this now, at 8:30 p.m., Chandrabhaga is still rising and the ashram is like a lone island in the river. In a few hours, we expect the waters will enter the guest rooms and offices on the ground floor. Jaya Vijaya, the guardians of the temple are now up to their necks in water.

August 4, 2005

Today the waters continued to rise up to the level of Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath's necks. The temple is now submerged up to the roof.

We are surrounded by water. Heavy currents are sweeping right in front of the temple. 30 devotees are staying in 2 rooms along with all the Deities. Everyone else is running for shelter. The neibours are wondering why we are not leaving. The reason is that here we have the Lords of our heart, Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath.

Electricity and telephone lines are down. It should take at least two weeks to repair them, even after the flood water goes down. Drinking water along with other essential supplies have to be brought in by flood relief.

H.G. Ishtadeva Prabhu and the devotees of ISKCON Solapur, which is a Preaching Center located one hour from here, have promised to bring flood relief of drinking water, vegetables and flowers for the Deities. We are calling for boats to come in the morning to help us bring the supplies from the road. We are grateful to Ishtadeva Prabhu and all the devotees for their kind concern and help for us here at ISKCON Pandharpur. We humbly request the devotee community to pray for us and our service to Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath and Pandharpur Dhama.

The ISKCON "Boat" Festival

Unfortunately, The damage to ISKCON property has been tremendous. Our crops of sugar cane, pumpkin field, and other agricultural crops have all been destroyed. We have sustained damages amounting to more than Rs. 300,000. This is a significant amount of damage to our small temple, not centrally located in one of the cities. Furniture have been destroyed. Rooms have cracking and will require repainting. Our Tractor and Auto Rickshaw are submerged. On the top of that we are worrying about how we will raise the funds for Krishna Janmastami as the devotees are stranded. We are in crisis.

The Central Government is giving a grant of 10,000 crores to the Maharastra Government. Many families are approaching the government to help. We are naturally approaching our spiritual family, the devotees of ISKCON, our friends and families to help.

If you would like to help, please take your best pen right now and kindly write a cheque payable to "ISKCON" and post it to:

International Society For Krishna Consciousness
Shree Shree Radha Pandharinathji Mandir
Across Chandrabhaga river, Pandharpur - 413304

For international donations for the flood relief, please contact me at

Thank you very much.

Hare Krishna.

Servant of your servants,

Ekalavya Das


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