Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple of Devotion and Understanding (ToDU) in Penang

SEBERANG JAYA - With the soothing blue lights radiating over the recently opened Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple of Devotion and Understanding (ToDU) in Penang, it felt like being in a land where the dreams comes true. And it was indeed a dream come true for Srila Prabhupada's desire to see a temple like that in Vrindavan built in Malaysia.  "I want a temple like this" he remarked when he was in Malaysia from 3rd to 7th May in 1971. And in Malaysia, we now have two new temples opened within just a difference of a couple of days. One in Penang and another in Ipoh. Absolutely gorgeous deities were installed in both temples. In Penang, the presiding deities have been named by HH Jayapataka Swami with a very apt and lovable name that is used by most devotees here to call their children - Kana, a pet name of Krishna, hence the name Krishna Kanaiya. Sri Sri Radha Krishna Kanaiya together with the older Sri Sri Gauranga Rai deities looked absolutely magnificent and just their presence in the spectacular and artistic temple made it look like being in Vrindavan. Deena Bandhu Prabhu a Vrindavan Dham resident described this temple as the "Pearl of ISKCON" taking after Penang which is know as the "Pearl of the Orient".

Sri Sri Radha Krishna Kanaiya in ToDU, Penang
Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga Rai in ToDU, Penang
In Ipoh, a smaller temple was consecrated and Sri Sri Parama Karuna Nitai Gauranga deities were installed. We have been very lucky to have the marble Gauranga and Nitai deities in places that Srila Prabhupada visited in Malaysia i.e. Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Teluk Intan and Penang. Indeed the seeds planted by Srila Prabhupada has sprouted and with our travelling deities Sri Sri Jagannnatha, Baladev and Subhadra Devi going on ratha yatra to the nooks and corners in Malaysia over 20 times in a year, it is just a matter of time before we inundate Malaysia with love of Godhead. 
Sri Sri Parama Karuna Nitai Gauranga in Ipoh
Sri Sri Doyal Nitai Gaura Hari in Teluk Intan
Sri Sri Nitai Sunder Gaura Hari in Kuala Lumpur
Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhatra travelling deities in Malaysia

Interestingly, the opening of these temples coincides with  ISKCON’S 50th anniversary of their founder, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada's maiden visit to USA in 1965. These offerings of love from the Malaysian yatra to mark this significance,  is made even sweeter with the launch of the philately stamps during the opening of the TODU temple as well as the opening of Srila Prabhupada's Gallery entitled "Walking with Srila Prabhupada - the Path of Perfection" on the mezzanine floor depicting Srila Prabhupada’s life as well as his visit to Malaysia through a variety of mediums including oil paintings, waxwork, hyperrealistic art, Penang street art, graffiti, dioramas, miniatures, 3D art, vector art and pyrography (burning an image into wood using a heated metallic point). 

Just a day earlier to the consecration of the temple, a Vastu Homa which is a pre-installation ceremony was performed performed by the Mayapur gurukulis in the early morning. It is a fire sacrifice to sanctify the location by worshipping the Vasthu-purusha. The ceremony primarily involves the removal of vasthu-dosas and was followed by Vandapanam which is the offering of 25 plus auspicious items to the deities.

In the evening, Shayana adhivas (resting in the bed) was performed to entreat the spirit of sleep into the deities for invoking the presence of the Lord as well as the ability to bestow auspiciousness on the devotees.

Just as the sun rose on the 29th of August 2015, the Nyasa Homa, which is a fire sacrifice was performed to establish various aspects of the deities. The ceremony involved the awakening of different limbs by touching kusa grass accompanied by chanting of mantras. This was followed by the Maha Abhisheka for the Radha Krishna deities which is a ceremonious worship of the deities by pouring of various types of glorified items over Them. Next was the much awaited Maha Kumbha Abhisek which involved the circumambulation of the temple with the Kumbhas and Chakras and was followed by the Kumbha Abhisek and Chakra Prathistha. After this, was the inauguration of the Temple of Devotion and Understanding.

The Maha Kumbha Abhisek ceremony for the Temple of Devotion and Understanding attracted over 10,000 people.

The unexpected gliding flight of two eagles believed to be garudas circled over the temple during the Maha Arati and just before the Maha Kumbha Abhisek  assured the faithful blessings of Lord Vishnu. And it was a fitting climax to the religious ceremony. But watching HH Jayapataka Swami being hoisted over 100 feet in a cherry picker crane to bless the Maha Kumbha Abhisek ritual was simply the icing on the cake for the devotees. 

Prior to the Maha Kumbha Abhishek ritual, the ashtabandanam was performed to the deities inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Ashta means 8 in Sanskrit and Bandhanam means tying or fixing. Ashtabandhanam is the process of affixing the deities to its pedestal (peetham) with a clay-like paste and applied directly around the base of the idol, so that the cemented joints become watertight. This process is believed to keep the deities rejuvenated for a period of 12 years. When the Bandhanam is performed with gold (Swarnabandhanam), the rejuvenating power of the deity is believed to last for a period of 100 years.


The Mandala-Abhishek Ubhayam is a prayer that is currently held daily for the next 48 days after the opening, where individuals or groups can sponsor for a day to benefit the deities of the temple, and also have prayers and a feast conducted for their well-being. Amazingly, one of our photographers managed to get an image of Sri Krishna in the fire sacrifice recently.

The Temple of Devotion and Understanding is an architectural marvel and has scored a number of firsts with its design. It is the first 3-storey octagonal-shaped temple in Malaysia designed after two famous temple in India i.e.Krishna Balaram temple in Vrindavan as desired by Srila Prabhupada, and the Jagannath temple in Puri. The sculpture and ornamental decorations is one of its kind in the world with 12 lions sitting on top of three large sikhara (domes) with the main sikhara and kalasha (spire) rising up to a height of 80 feet.

It is also stamps a first in Malaysia with 16 chhatris (ornate dome-shaped pavilions) which is located on each sections of the octagon that are aligned with the celestial deities or rulers of the eight directions (North, South, East, West, North East, North West, South East and South West) representing the various avatars (incarnations) of Lord Krishna.

Furthermore, it is the first temple in Malaysia to have two octagonal domes made from galvanized steel, stainless steel and glass that is structured like a pyramid in the brahmastana (centre)  of the temple roof.

This octagonal and pyramidal shape is specially designed for natural light penetration and ventilation without using air-condition. And this superbly unique designed temple building is architecturally based upon the ancient Vaastu Sastra (Vedic Sciences of Geomancy). 

The first floor of the temple is a prayer hall with a capacity to host 1,000 worshipers at any one time with an elevator provided for the senior citizens.

The inside of the temple is also fitted with acoustic wall panels and wall systems to provide acoustical treatment and beautiful aesthetics to its surroundings. Not forgetting the intricately carved Balinese teak altars with great finesse, not just for Srila Prabhupada and the presiding deities but also for all fourteen the smaller altars in the temple which houses the various incarnations of Lord Krishna. The words he spoke in Malaysia to Bhakta Neo in 1971 just before he took his flight echoes in our minds, "Whatever you do, do it nicely". Yes, we have done it with all we have got and we hope he is pleased with our humble efforts. 


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