De­spite small size, Krishna Tem­ple has large im­pact

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Sage Smi­ley & Lib­erty Tatham

At 6 a.m., the first hints of wa­tery morn­ing sun­light are just start­ing to touch the over­grown pas­tures and muddy roads. The town ap­pears to be still. Stand­ing out­side in the briskly fad­ing twi­light, though, one might be able to hear faint drum­ming com­ing from a hill down the road. It’s Sun­day morn­ing in Utah Val­ley, which means that the ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents of this quiet town will soon be up and pre­par­ing for Lat­ter-day Saint (LDS) wor­ship ser­vices in one of the many chapels that dot the val­ley. For Nan­darani Dasi and the small group of devo­tees at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Lo­tus Tem­ple, though, wor­ship for the day has al­ready be­gun. On the op­u­lently dec­o­rated sec­ond floor of the mod­est tem­ple, a man stands fac­ing a large al­tar, keep­ing a throb­bing beat on a long, thin drum. Nan­darani, two men and an­other woman sit on one of the ori­en­tal rugs to his right, hold­ing stringed in­stru­ments and chant­ing.

What they chant is called the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, 40-year-old Nan­darani con­veys. “That’s for pu­rifi­ca­tion,” and they chant this two-hour-long mantra ev­ery day. Nan­darani ex­plains get­ting used to the daily chants as a jaun­dice-rid­den hu­man tak­ing sug­ared candy to get bet­ter. “When they first start tak­ing this sugar candy, it may taste a lit­tle bit­ter .... But once they keep tak­ing the sugar candy ... then they start tast­ing the sweet­ness of the sugar. So it’s the same thing with chant­ing ... [soon] you don’t want to stop ... if you just dis­ci­pline your­self and you chant your 16 rounds, and you keep do­ing it ev­ery day, then you can start tast­ing the sweet­ness of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.”

When asked about the ul­ti­mate aim of the prac­tice of de­vo­tion, Nan­darani dis­closes that the de­sire is to de­velop bhahti, or love and de­vo­tion for God. Chant­ing God’s names helps her and the other tem­ple-go­ers to “re-es­tab­lish our lost re­la­tion­ship with God,” she says. She hopes oth­ers learn to bring that change into their own spir­i­tual life. She ex­plains its im­por­tance through the story of our world. “We all have a re­la­tion­ship with God, but out of our im­ma­tu­rity, we wanted to en­joy with­out God, so he cre­ated this place [Earth] for us to en­joy. It’s never re­ally that en­joy­able .... Be­cause God wants us to go back to the spir­i­tual world with him more than we want to go back .... Through the chant­ing, we can re­al­ize our lost re­la­tion­ship with him, and get back to where we be­long.”

In ad­di­tion to chant­ing, the devo­tees give daily of­fer­ings of veg­e­tar­ian foods, flow­ers and spices to the or­nate al­tars that re­side on the tem­ple’s sec­ond floor. Along with daily chant­ing, th­ese of­fer­ings are one of the most sig­nif­i­cant ways that the Hin­dus show their de­vo­tion to Krishna and their other deities. The wor­ship ser­vices are open to any­one; they take place daily at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Nan­darani, who goes by her spir­i­tual name, joined the Hindu faith as a 22-yearold in Cal­i­for­nia, par­tic­i­pat­ing in wor­ship there un­til they moved to Utah in 2012. She is one of sev­eral mem­bers of the ashram, or com­mu­nity, that live on the tem­ple grounds. Her two man­agers are the builders and own­ers of the Lo­tus Tem­ple, hus­band and wife Vaib­havi and Charu, who funded the tem­ple 12 years ago.

Con­sid­er­ing its size, the Krishna Lo­tus Tem­ple has a big im­pact on the nearby com­mu­nity; the Salt Lake Tri­bune re­ported last year that around 70,000 peo­ple at­tended the end of March Holi Fes­ti­val, or fes­ti­val of colors. When asked why the tem­ple throws such huge fes­ti­vals, Nan­darani laughed and then be­came very se­ri­ous. “We have th­ese fes­ti­vals be­cause they are for the ben­e­fit of all .... Peo­ple come here and get to hear the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, and it is said that if some­one even gets to hear the name of Krishna [God], they at least in their next life get a hu­man form ... they get to start where they left off spir­i­tu­ally.” So, though the tem­ple is small, the tiny Hindu pres­ence in Utah Val­ley will con­tinue, “for the good of all.”

The Sri Sri Radha Krishna Lo­tus Tem­ple

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