ALBUQUERQUE, NM – This past week, the residents of the Hare Krishna temple vacated their three story building located in the busy heart of downtown. They have relocated forty-five minutes north, along the interstate off exit 154, between Pooja Imports Food Market and Patel Bazaar.
New Hare Krishna Temple opens way the hell outside town.
“It was becoming increasingly difficult to preach inside of a city with so many people,” relates Subhash Jeevanandam, temple president. “The philosophy is so nice that if you preach to them, they want to join up, they want to keep coming back. That becomes big, big expense.”
In order to curtail such a frivolous use of money, the temple management board unanimously voted to move the temple way the hell outside of town where “nobody will find us.”
The Hindu Laxmi Mission Cultural Center co-sponsored the building after the Krishnas agreed to fill half the slots on their temple board with the Mission’s highest-ranking officials.
“Now, we can do fund raising exclusively within the Hindu community,” said Bipal Patel, temple board member. “All of our monetary needs are met through samskaras and birthday parties. What need do we have for street preaching and book distribution?”
The Hare Krishnas had been long-time residents of downtown Albuquerque opening their temple in 1972. Since then, devotees had been a staple of city life. The free Sunday “Love Feasts” were attended and appreciated by city-bound followers, the homeless, curious passers-by and neighborhood residents.
“Yes, many people would come,” said Mr. Patel. “But you would have to preach to them and give them free food and sometimes free books. They had no money for donations. Did they think we were in the business of liberally distributing the Lord’s mercy for free?”
Chris Jenkins, who regularly attended the Sunday feast program, claims that he will miss the downtown temple, “I can’t make it all the way the hell out there on Sunday nights. I work the next morning.”
Temple board members conceded that they will lose some city devotees, but did not express concern. “The city devotees were not self sufficient. They would come and eat our Sunday feast and give only a little donation or maybe buy a book.”
Temple president, Jeevanandam continued, “They could not sponsor feasts or ceremonies. They did not even want car pooja. How are they not wanting car pooja – so fallen! Not only does our new congregation demand car pooja, they sponsor the feasts, and cook them too.”
Since the new congregation is not preached to, book sales have plummeted. The temple has even returned several pallets of unneeded books to the BBT.
“What were we going to do with them?” asked Mr. Patel. “Our congregation now is Hindu, what need do we have for Srila Prabhupada? His books won’t bring as much money as maha-kalasha or pooja thali. Prabhupada always said to do the needful, but what is the need for so many books way the hell outside of town?”
On the first Sunday night without a downtown free feast in 36 years, a crowd gathered near the closed down and boarded up ex-temple. Several brought drums and finger cymbals. One long time attendee softly sang the Hare Krishna mantra as other wiped tears from their eyes before singing along.
“It’s a shame they had to do this,” said Bonnie Clarkson, another weekly attendee from the city temple, “I was really taking to the philosophy. It seemed perfect.” Adding, “maybe we’ll go check out the Narayana Maharaja folks or the Ritviks, at least they still seem to be preaching. Plus they’re not way the hell outside of town.”