Pandharpur Dhama Floods, ISKCON Temple Under Water
BY: EKALAVYA DAS
Aug 11, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA (SUN)
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
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
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
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.
Servant of your servants,