New Navadvipa Mandir, Address: prov. Zoryaniy 16, Kurenyovka district, Kiev city 04078
Phone: +380 44 434 70 28
Websites: http://www.vedic-culture.in.ua and http://www.iskcon.org.ua
Presiding Deities: Gaura Nitai. The temple began functioning in 1992, when construction began. Small Gaura Nitai Deities were installed in 1995, big Gaura Nitai in 1997, and the current temple room opened in 2001. Construction still continues on the temple’s interior. The Kiev temple is a rather grand six-storey brick edifice that brings to mind a Ukranian church. Inside, however, the large and impressive temple room features a traditional black and white marble floor, a wrap-around balcony, large windows that let in lots of natural light, and a beautifully carved altar and Vyasasana for Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Srila Prabhupada. The temple also includes residential ashrams for men and women, and rooms for senior guests. Another building close by is home to the Kiev Spiritual Academy for Vaishnava Education. The temple is set in a residential area that was once on the outskirts of Kiev but became part of the city as it grew. Once down-and-out, it’s now seeing old buildings replaced by new homes and multi-story apartment blocks.
The community, and the deep and caring relationships between devotees. This has been a major focus since 2000, with the introduction of the councilor system, in which senior devotees with exemplary behavior and spiritual practice regularly mentor other devotees.
Number of residents: An average of 60 to 70 devotees.
Number of visitors: 20 to 50 people on weekdays, 400 to 600 on Sundays, and up to 1,000 for festivals.
Back in 1980 when Ukranian devotees Amala Bhakta Das, Kirtida Dasi, Achyuta Priya Das and Tungavidya Sakhi Dasi started ISKCON in Kiev, the country was also a troubled place, then under the communist regime. But in contrast to the situation today, back then devotees encountered extreme trials in their attempts to spread Krishna consciousness. Throughout the 1980s, devotees were put in prison and subjected to inhuman treatment in “psychiatric wards”. One of the most prominent, Bharadvaja Das, was arrested more than 20 times and was heavily drugged in an attempt to remove his devotion to Krishna. Still, he pushed on, making new devotees all over Ukraine, and assisting Srila Prabhupada’s first disciple the late Ananta Shanti Das in Russia too. By Krishna’s mercy, Bharadvaja survived the torture he underwent and remains a devotee of the Lord to this day.
Others reproduced Srila Prabhupada’s books as best they could. They were not printing, but were retyping them on old typewriting machines and then distributing them at underground meetings. Because they had to push the keys very hard, their fingers would become bloody from typing.”
Meanwhile, Achyuta Priya Das and his wife Tungavidya Sakhi, as well as ISKCON guru Niranjana Swami, gave their lives to building the Ukraine community, and continue to maintain it to this day. Through devotees’ hard work, Krishna consciousness spread from Kiev to other large cities like Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk. And in 1989, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and devotees could distribute properly printed BBT books, ISKCON began to grow at a rapid pace. In 1992, devotees began construction on a large temple in a destitute area on the outskirts of the city. The only place they could afford, it was was frequented by criminals and drug addicts. “But somehow – we feel sure it’s because we installed Gaura Nitai and began to worship them – the atmosphere gradually began to change, and now it’s a very peaceful family area.
Programs began at the new temple almost at the same time as construction, and Achyuta Priya and Vrishabanu installed small Gaura Nitai Deities in 1995. In 1997, Niranjana Swami oversaw the installation of four-foot-high Neem-wood Gaura-Nitai, and on Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day in 2001, the current large temple room, with its beautiful marble floor, wrap around balconies and large windows, opened.
Devotees run an extensive charity program in Kiev.
Group of 60 brahmacharis from all over Ukraine travel throughout the country every summer in buses, holding Harinam - chanting parties in two to three different cities every day, distributing thousands of books, and attracting many newcomers to Krishna consciousnesss. Ukrainian devotees keep themselves educated too, with 300 attending the Bhakti Sastri program at the Kiev Spiritual Academy for Vaishnava Education, and newcomers receiving a solid basis in the philosophy at the “School of Bhakti” new bhakta program.
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