History of The Palace of Gold

By Varsana Swami - 17.3 2023

Srila Prabhupada visited New Vrindaban four times. One of the significant sites of his pastimes is the house in Madhavan where he resided during his last visit in 1976.

The house in Madhavan (where Sankirtan Prabhu now lives) is the site of the last darshan Srila Prabhupada gave to the New Vrindaban plow department. Darshans were scheduled according to department, and I was a member of the plow department. The last darshan is very exceptional because Srila Prabhupada was commenting spontaneously as Pradyumna, his Sanskrit translator, read and translated from Srimad Bhagavatam.

When devotees arrived for darshan, Srila Prabhupada did not come out of his room. Pradyumna told the devotees that Srila Prabhupada was not feeling well. We waited for some time, and then thinking that our presence might be an imposition we began walking down the driveway away from the house in a very downhearted spirit.

Seeing this, Srila Prabhupada told Pradyumna, “Call them back.”

We returned and Srila Prabhupada came out of his room. He was clearly not feeling well. He wasn’t speaking. Knowing Srimad Bhagavatam to be the ultimate remedy for his illness, he requested Pradyumna, “Read from the 12th Canto.”

Pradyumna began reading “Symptoms of Kali-yuga.” At first, Srila Prabhupada did not comment; he just listened. He perked up, however, when he heard the verse stating that in Kali-yuga, “Beauty will be considered to be related to the length of one’s hair.”

Srila Prabhupada said, “Just see, Srila Vyasadeva is trikalagya (one who can see past, present, and future). He has not seen any hippies yet and still he predicted they would come!”

Srila Prabhupada became even more animated by the verse that says that in Kali-yuga people will abandon all Vedic rites and rituals except for one – they will continue to go to distant places to take bath in a holy river. This phenomenon had been prophesized by Lord Krishna near the end of Dwapara-yuga when Ganga Devi approached Him and requested to follow the example of Saraswati Devi who had already gone underground. Specifically, Ganga Devi was anxious that the people of Kali-yuga would cling to one principle of Vedic culture, taking bath in her holy waters for the sole purpose of depositing their sinful reactions, while neglecting the more substantial practices necessary for spiritual growth.

Hearing this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada really perked up. He said, “I have seen. Growing up in Calcutta on the bank of the Ganges. People leave the bank of the Ganges to travel to Haridwar to take bath in the same Ganges. They are not concerned with hearing from sadhus and just perform an external ritualistic bath.”

From that theme, Srila Prabhupada developed the conclusion that New Vrindaban is non-different from Bhauma Vrindaban. By the force of SrilaPrabhupada’s intense desire, Krishna’s homeland of Vraja had been successfully transplanted to the west.

Srila Prabhupada had been instilling that truth in us all along. The devotees in that darshan had already accepted that conclusion as our life’s inspiration. We all knew by heart Srila Prabhupada’s first instructions in 1968, “The hills may be renamed New Govardhana. And if there are lakes, name them Shyama-kunda and Radha-kunda.”

“Seven temples on seven hills” had been the mantra of the entire community ever since receiving the letter in which he had instructed, “But now, let us build at least seven temples. On seven hills we will build seven main temples as in the original Vrindavan: Govindaji, Gopinatha, Madana-Mohana, Shyamasundara, Radha-Ramana, Radha-Damodar, Gokulananand.”

Nonetheless, during that last darshan with us,Srila Prabhupada developed the conclusion that New Vrindaban is non-different from Bhauma Vrindaban.

Simply reading the transcript from that darshan, one is devoid of Srila Prabhupada’s physical body language as well as the other facilities and innuendos he used to bring the concept home. Thus, one might miss out on the full impact of what Srila Prabhupada was conveying. The devotees were feeling that all our sacrifices and ordeals were being perfectly acknowledged, appreciated, and reciprocated as Srila Prabhupada developed the message of his last darshan,

“This New Vrindaban is non-different from Bhauma Vrindavan. You don’t need to go to India, you have Sri Sri RadhaVrindavan Chandra here. Work together in a cooperative spirit to bring this vision into a manifest reality.

Where is the Dham? The Dham, like Krishna, is all-pervading. That is why we do not confine the Dham to a geographic location. The abode of the Lord, just like His flute song vibrating throughout all sound, reflects the all-pervading nature of the Lord which cannot be restricted to any specific location.

The more relevant question is: Where is the Dham manifest? Srila Prabhupada requested his disciples and followers in New Vrindaban to develop a replica of Vrindavan. His intention was not for us to produce just a physical copy, but a place infused with the Brijabasi spirit where our consciousness is transformed into the mood of Vrindavan.

The mellows of Vrindavan are very confidential, however, and they generally remain exclusively in Vraja. Simply excavating kundas, building temples, and renaming places according to their facsimiles in Vrindavan does not constitute a holy dhama.
One of the key ingredients to manifesting the Dham is the samadhi of the perfected Vaishnava. That samadhi is also called Yoga Pith, the place where the spiritual and material realms interact, mirroring Goloka Vrindavan here on earth. The Dham is decorated with samadhis of sadhus (ascetics) and acharyas (exemplary teacher).

Samadhi means “the perfected stage beyond the realm of illusion.”

It is the state of the soul who has achieved the final stage of yoga where the mind is fixed on the self; the stage at which one’s consciousness is absorbed in Krishna, His form, His holy name, and His pastimes.

When the soul in the state of samadhi departs from this material world, the bodily remains are a blessing to the earth. Therefore, the bodily remains are not burned or cast in the river. Instead, they are placed in bhu-samadhi which means “resting within the earth as a benediction.”

Via the medium of the bhu-samadhi, Krishna invites souls forever thereafter to honor His pure devotee, to cultivate a personal relationship with the pure devotee, and to assist him in his ongoing service in the spiritual world. This is our right of entry into that Supreme Abode – following in the footsteps of the pure devotee.


Because Krishna is more pleased when His pure devotees are honored than when He is worshiped. Lord Shiva instructs Parvati, “The highest form of worship is worship of Vishnu. Higher than that is thadhiya, worship of Vishnu’s belongings of which the Vaishnavas are foremost and including the belongings of Vaishnavas.”

Krishna knows that people will not continue in their worship of the departed Vaishnava if they do not experience a sense of reciprocation. Therefore, Krishna Himself maintains the spiritual purity of the remains of the pure devotee. Thus, the remains continue to manifest the divine influence – the bhava – of that pure soul.

The structure where we are now assembled has come to be known as “The Palace of Gold,” which is actually very appropriate because “golden” is the luster of bhakti. This Palace is also the first samadhi of Srila Prabhupada in the world and it contains some of his belongings – his drum, cane, and shoes.

When the great souls depart from this mortal realm, they leave behind their bhava for the benefit of the conditioned souls. One who follows in the footsteps of a great soul imbibes that bhava.

This bhava is the boat by which the conditioned soul may cross over the ocean of nescience as easily as stepping over the water in the hoofprint of a calf. More significantly, that bhava is also an impetus for vipralambaseva (service in a deep mood of separation from a beloved).

In 2006, the GBC designated the Palace as Srila Prabhupada’s smrti-samadhi due to the deep and significant remembrances of Srila Prabhupada in the Palace that the structure preserves, and the significance of Srila Prabhupada’s remains which are enshrined at the Palace.

Krishna Himself is preserving the spiritual potency of the Palace. Thus Krishna is inviting all souls to experience a tangible connection, an ongoing relationship in deepening guru-bhakti with Srila Prabhupada. This is how Krishna activates, preserves, and increases our worship of Srila Prabhupada.