The divine Goddess blessed this Earth by Her birth on the nuptial day of Ashtami of Bhadrapad Shukla Paksh. Sri Radha Rani marks the existence of Sri Krishna, for she is his soul. Sri Krishna (to whom the trinity bows) himself bows to Sri Radha’s feet where the trinity resides. Shri Radha’s beauty, power and aura create the ethics of love. None of the scriptures consists of the power to verbalize her beauty, for it is clear enough that when beauty of Sri Krishna makes several hearts leave their boundaries, her
of comfort for our parents, it was a source of shame for us. We thought the Hare Krishnas were freaks, fake Indians aping Indian ways. Not that we wanted anything to do with real Indians, either. We wanted to be home watching TV. We would only grudgingly pile into the car for the drive, then sulk as we snaked our way up the Ohio River, through the small towns of rural Appalachia, and into the panhandle.
At the commune, we saw white women wearing the very saris I begged my mother not to wear to my school functions. We saw Americans chanting ecstatically in the same Sanskrit I deliberately garbled and mumbled under my breath during my family’s weekly pujas at home. When my parents tried to send my brother and me to summer camp there, we refused. When they considered renting a cabin by the commune’s lake, we protested. Our classmates spent summers inner tubing on the river. Why couldn’t we do that? Why couldn’t we be more like them?
My parents must have been both proud and confused to see these white Americans modeling themselves after Indians — dressing in traditional Indian clothing, adopting Indian customs and religious practices — even as their own children were flatly rejecting Indian culture and desperately trying to assimilate.
This was long before we knew anything about Swami Bhaktipada’s legal troubles. By 1990, when he was indicted on federal racketeering charges stemming from the murders of two devotees, my family had stopped going to New Vrindaban. The South Asian population in our small town had grown, so perhaps my parents felt less of a need to find community elsewhere. New Vrindaban was no longer new and exciting. The sheen had worn off. The place was falling into disrepair.
But a few months ago, my parents went to New Vrindaban again for the first time in many years. They went because my cousin was visiting from India and she wanted to see it. She is a Hare Krishna devotee. That my cousin, who has lived her whole life in India, belongs to a Hindu movement that started in America is amazing to me. That the Hare Krishna temple in West Virginia was on her list of sacred sites is even more so.
My mom said that the commune was now approaching its former glory. The gardens are once again tended, verdant. There were no elephants, but she said she saw a peacock.
If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of your picture. You will also receive a free Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10% discount towards the purchase of the Forensic Genealogy book.
If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books! Click here.
Thanks to Dawn Colket for submitting the this quiz.
Comments from Our Readers
I don’t recall the exact search term I used, but it was something like ‘Dancing Statues Pond,’ which allowed me to find a similar image on Google Images. Coincidentally, my brothers and I with our spouses and children were in Moundsville in October of 2009 to celebrate Steve’s daughter’s wedding celebration. Had I known about the Palace of Gold at the time, I would have definitely gone for a visit. Even though we missed out on the Palace of Gold, we did get to visit the old West Virginia Penitentiary, supposedly haunted, which at the time was set up as the Dungeon of Horrors—it was Halloween.
***** It wasn’t easy for me to find the answer, but I finally entered pond with pagoda and found a picture that led me to the Palace of Gold. An interesting place, it would be nice to see it.
***** The name of the pic was “dancers2”. That was my first lead. Googled pics of dancer statues
***** John and I decided to go back and redo some of our searches on BING (instead of GOOGLE) and the site popped up right away.... Do you find a difference between Google and Bing?
Then I saw your email with the hidden clue in the subject line. I was happy to see that even though it wasn't exactly where I guessed (PA, upstate new York), we were in the general area. I wonder why it never popped on Google searches.
Congratulations to Our Winners!
John Pero Donna Jolley Daniel Jolley Timothy Fitzpatrick Marcelle Comeau
1. New Vrindaban, Moundsville, West Virginia
2. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu
3. Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Swami, two early disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
How John Solved the Puzzle
At first I had trouble coming up with the right combination to search and was literally all over the world until I went back to a basic "two women statues pond", found pic on a travel site and binged from there.
It was the Taj Mahal of Appalachia, “Heaven on Earth” in “Almost Heaven West Virginia,” a sprawling, opulent affair with lush gardens, a beautiful temple, a Palace of Gold, accommodations for hundreds of devotees, statues of Radha and Krishna, and even, at one point, an elephant.
New Vrindaban — named after a holy town in India — was the largest Hare Krishna commune in America, and was opened to the public in 1979. It was led by Swami Bhaktipada, one of the movements earliest and most controversial American disciples, who died Monday. And it was less than two hours from the West Virginia town where I grew up.
My family went there often in those first years, ferrying carloads of Indian friends and relatives who came to see us (and the palace) from all around the United States.
Religious Celebrations J. Gordon Melton
Nityanda Trayodasi is the appearance day (or birthday) of Sri Nityananda Prabhu (b.c. 1474), the close associate of Chaitanya Mahaprobhu (1486-1534), a 16th century Bengalee saint revered for his effect in reviving bhakti yoga in eastern India. Chaitanya is considered to have been a reincarnation of Krishna. Nityananda was such a close devotee of Chaitanya that he has been seen as a reincarnation of Balarama, Krishna's brother.
Nityananda was born in Ekacakra, a small village in what is now West Bengal. His birthplace, where a temple has been constructed, remains a popular pilgrimage site. As a child, he showed an unusual devotion to deities, and at the age of 13, became a traveling companion of sannyasin Lakshmipati Tirtha, which allowed him to meet a wide circle of Krisha devotees. He met Chaitanya in 1506, their first greeting transforming into an intense spiritual encounter. He later became an instrument in the revival movement through Bengal and Orissa that formed around Chaitanya.
Nityananda Trayodasi is celebrated during the waxing moon of the
My parents and their friends were part of the first wave of Indians to arrive in America after the 1965 Immigration Act loosened restrictions on South Asians. This new immigrant community, just putting down roots, had very few places to worship; there were hardly any Hindu temples in America. For them, New Vrindaban provided an opportunity to pray in a proper mandir instead of at a makeshift altar in someone’s basement.
And it was also breathtakingly beautiful. Situated at the very top of a hill (which some said resembled the foothills of the Himalayas), the palace was replete with stained-glass windows, crystal chandeliers, marble floors and gold-leaf decorations. Even our family members from India, who had all heard of the Palace of Gold, wanted to see it. For many, a trip there was more than a sightseeing excursion: it was a kind of pilgrimage.
But not for me and my brother. We hated those trips. If New Vrindaban was a source
Hindu lunar month of Magha (January-February on the common era calendar). Members of the International Society of Krisha Consciousness will fast until noon on this day, and their temple will be open for celebrants who wish to acknowledge Nityananda. Temples rituals will focus upon care of the statues of Chaitanya and Nityananda, song in their praise, and talks on their virtues.
Sri Radha and Sri Krishna Mystical supremes
As for me, I no longer feel a distinction between being Indian and being American. I travel to India frequently with my partner, Robert. We like to visit yoga ashrams in the Himalayas and, while there, follow a rigid schedule of meditation and spiritual instruction perhaps not so different from what the Hare Krishnas in New Vrindaban might follow. Of all the activities, I find myself particularly drawn to chanting. In fact, “Hare Krishna, Hare Ram” has become one of my favorites.
It makes me smile now to remember how miserable my brother and I were at New Vrindaban. We might not have even gotten out of the car were it not for one thing: the gold leaf that covered the palace. We’d heard it was real gold. So we would walk around staring at the marble floors, hoping we’d glimpse a glimmer, a flake forgotten somewhere in a corner, something precious we could secret into our pockets and take back home. We weren’t so different from our parents, then, after all. What the temple gave them wasn’t much, a day trip, now and then. But at a time when there was so much about America to make them feel lonely and insignificant, New Vrindaban made them feel rich.
New Vrindaban is an unincorporated town and ISKCON (Hare Krishna) intentional community located in Marshall County near Moundsville, West Virginia. The town consists of 1,204 acres (4.87 km2) (of which 0.1 km2 is of water), and several building complexes, homes, apartment buildings, and businesses including the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple (RVC Temple) and the Palace of Gold. New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 by Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Swami. New Vrindaban is named after the Indian
city of Vrindavan. The religious organization, ISKCON New Mathura Vrindaban, was expelled from ISKCON in 1988, but was readmitted 10 years later.
According to the 2010 US Census, the 6 census blocks that make up New Vrindaban had a population of 352 and has the West Virginia status of unincorporated town. It is bordered on the north and northwest by Big Wheeling Creek, on the East by Stull's Run, and on the southwest by the village of Limestone. The town's water and sewage utilities are provided by the New Vrindaban Public Service District and following the Marshall County Commission's road naming project all streets in New Vrindaban have been fully named. In addition to ISKCON, the town is the location of McCreary Cemetery, resting place of West Virginia pioneer Lewis Wetzel, various locally owned business, and other ISKCON affiliated organizations. The chief economy in New
Palace of Gold
Vrindaban are tourism, agriculture, and cottage industries.
The religious organization, ISKCON New Mathura Vrindaban, is the largest holder of land in New Vrindaban with 38% of the land in the town, agribusiness GEETA Inc. holds 14%, and all other organizations and individuals own 48% of the land encompassing New Vrindaban. In addition to the previously mentioned organizations, jewellery manufacturer Lone Ones Inc., organic commercial bakery World's Best Cookie, Vaishnava Performing Arts Inc., and
New Vrindaban Boys Choir
Vedic Heritage Trust Inc. have facilities in New Vrindaban.
Originally intended in 1972 to be a residence for A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977), the Founder/Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), the plans evolved after Prabhupada's death in November 1977 for an ornate palace of marble, gold and carved teakwood, which was dedicated as a memorial shrine on September 2, 1979. Kirtanananda Swami (the leader of the New Vrindaban Community) and Bhagavatananda das (the community's principal architect and sculptor) were the two primary forces behind its design and construction.
It reportedly cost $600,000 in materials, and the labor was donated by the devotees. The unpaid workers were often untrained and learned on the job.
Kirtanananda explained, "In the beginning, we didn't even know how to lay blocks. As
our Krishna consciousness developed, our building skills developed, then our creativity developed, and the scope of the project developed."
The Palace of Gold opened in 1979 to positive reviews. CBS PM Magazine reported, "the magnificence of the Palace of Gold would be hard to exaggerate." Life magazine called the Palace "a place where tourists can come and be amazed." The New York Times proclaimed "Welcome to Heaven." The Washington Post called the
New Vrindaban Orchestra
Palace "Almost Heaven." The Courier-Journal of Louisville stated, "It's hard to believe that Prabhupada's Palace is in West Virginia. In fact, it's hard to believe it's on this planet."
Since the early 1990s lack of sufficient financial resources has caused palace maintenance to be neglected; nevertheless, 50,000 tourists and Hindu pilgrims reportedly still visit each year.
As of mid 2011 an ambitious five-year, 4.27 million-dollar restoration effort has been underway to restore and renew the Palace.
beauty is so mesmerizing that it makes Him loose consciousness. Then it is practical that a thousand Kamas and Ratis are just soil particles before her. Sri Radharani is sweeter than her beauty as she reins the world of love. Hence, one who chants her name before and along with Sri Krishna, for example- ‘Sri Radhakrishna’, is sure to reach Sri Krishna’s source full Bhakti. Usually we are told that Sri Radharani was a Gopi who was most dear to Lord Krishna’s heart, but it is not true. In the world of Nikunj vrindavan, she is the empress of the world of Nikunj where Gopis and Sakhis serve her selflessly. Sri Radharani is the soul of Radhavallabh Sampradaya. The reason and the inspiration of existence of Radhavallabh Sampradaya is the transcendental love filled bond of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna. The supreme existence of Sri Radharani is believed to be the soul of Sri Krishna Himself. Sri Krishna, the trinity ruler, who himself is said to be most handsome, charming and unbelievably brave, bows to Shri Radha’s feet. This describes how magnificently exotic and pristine is the supreme power of Sri Radha.