Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Andy Fraenkel’

Experience the World of Krishna at New Vrindaban Temple

Temple Altar

Temple Altar

The spirituality of India comes alive in the mountains of West Virginia. After the visit to the Palace of Gold, the tour continued just down the road in their New Vrindaban Temple. Arrival happened just in time for one of their worship services, which are held seven times a day every day of the week. Before entering, shoes must be removed or covered, to pay respect to the deity within the Temple.

Stained Glass Ceiling at New Vrindaban Temple

Stained Glass Ceiling at New Vrindaban Temple

The inside of the Temple is where the statues of Krishna can be found in a golden setting. The statues are shimmering while the stained glass ceiling allows filtered light to fill the room. People from all over the world come here to worship their Hindu beliefs. Ladies were dressed in their finest saris to honor Krishna. Their fine dress also showed their affluence and success to everyone present.

This is a congregational worship service with all those in attendance chanting a prayer to their God. They also use prayer beads, a string of 108 – a special number for their faith. To say a full prayer, you must go around the string sixteen times, which usually takes about an hour. Basically, the prayer that is repeated says: Hare Krishna, please allow me to serve you.

Children chant and dance before the altar.

Children chant and dance before the altar.

But mainly going to the Temple becomes a place to receive Darshan – you are looking at Diety and they are looking at you for a transfer of grace and spirituality. A priest made and accepted offerings at the altar through fire, incense, and water. An offering tray filled in the center with their holy burning butter was carried through the Temple. Those who desired could receive a blessing connection from its fragrant smoke.

After the service, a vegetarian lunch was served in the courtyard of the Temple. Dishes included: Basmati rice; Chickpeas sauteed with spices;  Subji -sauteed mixed vegetables; and Halavah – a sweet dessert made with farina toasted slowly in butter.  Our table was honored to be joined for lunch by Andy Fraenkel, the wonderful storyteller, and even Jaya Krishna Das, the president of New Vrindaban Temple.

Andy Fraenkel, Master Storytaller

Andy Fraenkel, Master Storytaller

Back inside the Temple, listeners sat on the floor with Andy as he told stories of Krishna.  One, in shortened version, began with Krishna’s birth in a dungeon of a wicked king. They were imprisoned because the king wanted to be certain to kill the new baby boy, as he was the eighth son born on the eighth night of the month, and was prophesized to be the king’s slayer. But, he escaped with his father after everyone fell into a deep sleep and the dungeon door opened.

Krishna and his father were protected on their journey by a Divine snake. His father carried Krishna in a basket through the waters of a river that parted to ensure their safe passage. There they traded Krishna for a female child and his father took the female baby back to the dungeon before the king discovered the birth.  Eventually as years passed, Krisha came back to the city and killed the wicked king.

Many stories were told that day but you will have to visit yourself to hear more!  Many of the stories describe the many forms that Krishna took during his lifetime. Some of those include:  Butter Boy, Blue Boy, amd Lion Man.

Surrounding the Temple is the New Vrindaban community. Only a small portion of the believers now live on the grounds, but there is a group of apartments where devotees can stay. The basic teaching of the Krishna Consciousness is that we are all individuals and have a loving relationship with God.

Cows and Cabins

Statues of Cows with guest cabins in background

Where once only woods stood, now visitors can stay in a beautiful lodge built in 1981-82, or cottages along Swan Lake. Many families spend their vacations here to worship in a Hindu atmosphere. Around the lake are several gigantic statues honoring their faith: Sacred Cows, Elephant, and a pair of 30-foot-tall Sri Sri Gaura Nitai statues.

These Krishna followers are basically very simple people who enjoy serving God in the way they believe.   As Andy said, “If you can’t be satisfied with a little bit, you will never be satisfied  with a lot.”

Andy Fraenkel ( www.SacredVoices.com )  is an award-winning author and recipient of a WV Artist Fellowship Award. He is available for in-depth tours to small and large groups, and even student groups from elementary school to college level. For more info you can get in touch with him at afraenk@icloud.com

New Vrindaban is located just down the road from the Palace of Gold.  From Moundsville, WV take Route 250 South. Watch for signs along the road for easy directions.

Peace at the Palace of Gold

Palace of Gold from Rose Garden

Palace of Gold from Rose Garden

Step out of the Appalachian Mountains of Moundville, West Virginia into the Palace of Gold, which reminds many visitors of life in India. “It felt like I was coming home,” described the feelings of one recent guest from New Delhi.

Greeted by Andy Fraenkel, master spiritual storyteller, we were led on an in depth tour of the Palace and grounds. Andy also explained through story, many of the beliefs of the people who built this magnificent structure. Only outside pictures were permitted at the Palace of Gold.

Repair work on Palace of Gold dome

Repair work on Palace of Gold dome

This beautiful golden temple glistens in the sunlight as sunrays catch on the gold coated roof and walls. Construction began here in 1974 with the intention of making a beautiful home for Prabhupada, who founded the Hare Krishna Movement. While Prabhupada did visit the Palace four times during its construction, he never got to live at the Palace due to his death in India two years before it was finished. Upon its completion in 1979, it became a memorial and an instant attraction.

It was decided to build a palace around the original home, adding abundant marble, gems, and gold to make it remind others of similar places in India. This was a huge undertaking and took five and a half years to complete at a cost of $400,000. That may not seem like much for a beautiful palace, but costs were kept low due to volunteer labor of the commune that lived nearby at that time. When the Palace of Gold opened in 1979, 25,000 people were on hand.

 

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Before entering the Palace of Gold, you will be struck by the beauty of their famous Rose Garden, the perfect place for a time of meditation amongst the beauty and scent of the blossoms. There are over150 varieties of roses plus a hundred water fountains to add to the ambiance, as you bathe yourself in the morning sun.

Lotus Pond

Lotus Pond

A lotus pond is covered with blossoms in this secluded Garden of Time. It’s the perfect place to spot a white swan or duck floating among the lotus. The pathways around the grounds make a peaceful place to walk with nature, and enjoy blossoms from spring through fall. Gorgeous peacocks are frequently seen wandering through the garden as well. From here you can see vistas of three different states.

Now it’s time to discover the inside of the Palace of Gold. Sunshine again plays its role in enhancing the stained glass windows. Sparkling crystal chandeliers reflect inner light from the mirrored ceilings. A Great French Chandelier, over 150 years old, brightens the room so semi-precious stones and pure gold glisten. While it is called the Palace of Gold, there are actually only about 80 ounces of gold used in construction. Gold leaf was applied in very thin sheets, 1/1000″ thick, and brushed onto the walls and ceiling.

Lions guarding the Palace of Gold

Lions guarding the Palace of Gold

As you walk on floors of marble imported from Europe, Asia and Africa,  there are designs on the walls describing the Krishna religion. One wall had several peacock designs as they are a symbol of royalty and bring good fortune. Lord Krishna wears a peacock feather in his hair.

Cows and elephants have their special place also. The cow is revered as a source of food while the elephant is a symbol of wealth as kings rode them during peacetime and wartime. During the 1980’s, an elephant actually stayed on the grounds near the Palace of God, but it didn’t like the cold weather.  So they actually got a semi and sent the elephant to Florida on vacation for the winter. But that expense only happened one year!

The Palace is home to those of the Hindu faith, whose many denominations are all religious manifestations of Dharma. Andy explained, “Each one of us has different unique abilities. Use your talent as an offering to God.”

According to the Dharma teachings: “The path to enlightenment is very simple – all we need to do is stop cherishing ourselves and start cherishing others.”

The Palace of Gold is located at 3759 McCreary Ridge Road outside of Moundsville, WV. Take route 250 South, which is a curvy, mountain road and watch for signs to direct you to the Palace of Gold. It is very well marked.

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