palace patching up paradise
blue home story multimedia about right

When the sprinkler system kicked on, the deities on the altar sat unmoving. Nrishimhadev, Gura Nitai and the smiling faces of the siblings Jagannatha, Subhadra, and Baldev stared out into the sanctuary as hundreds of gallons of water sprayed throughout the temple, an Escher optical illusion of stairwells and corridors that bend and warp back into themselves. A Hare Krishna follower had left burning incense unattended on a padded chair upstairs. The aging sprinklers saved the wooden building that February day. But the pools of water warped the sanctuary’s floor and had to be cleaned up by a handful of monks.

Two towering wooden doors lead out from the sanctuary to the entranceway, the water of a few weeks’ ago mopped up and shoes stacked neatly along the walls. Plastic sheeting hangs over the wide glass doors to the outside to form a makeshift defense against an indecisive winter of rain, sleet, snow and ice. Without shoes the floors are uncomfortably cold. Thick wool socks emerge from monks’ plain robes. Chipped tiles and insulation peek through knots in the walls’ wood paneling. Among expressionless portraits of an androgynous, blue-skinned Krishna are the doors to modest guestrooms of ill-fitting sheets, sloping roofs and portable radiators. In one, duct tape secures a sprinkler to the wall. This temple, built in the 1980s, was just temporary, but a more permanent one has yet to become more than a thought.

The muted sounds of monks chanting wafts from the sanctuary. A monk leans forward, preparing to place his head to the wooden floor. He stops and gently places a piece of dark parquet flooring back in place — silently doing his small part to keep the temple together for one more day. He presses his forehead to the floor in the direction of Nrishimhadev, Gura Nitai, and the other ornate deities, who are worshiped and cared for as embodiments of the supreme incarnation of God, Krishna. The monk returns to chanting: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Fire, chanting, singing, and dancing all play a part in worship services at New Vrindaban.
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all content copyright Rob Hardin and Eric Hornbeck 2008