Who we are.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. This society was founded in 1966 at New York City by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. This movement of mercy has spread to all continents of the world including Malaysia.

It began when Srila Prabhupada visited Malaysia in 1971. He came with a mission to officially honor his pledge to receive a plot of land for a Sri Sri Radha Krishna temple building project in Kuala Lumpur. This gift of land, however, did not materialize as the conditions which came with the gift were not favorable with ISKCON management principles.
Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada continued with vigorous preaching programs covering 4 major towns – KL, Teluk Intan, Ipoh and Penang [from central to north Malaysia] in the remaining 5 days while also pursuing the purpose he came for. In Kuala Lumpur, Toh Puan Uma Sambanthan, the wife of a federal minister who was the head of the Indian Congress Party requested for a darshan with Srila Prabhupada. At one point during darshan she begged Srila Prabhupada for his mercy.
Srila Prabhupada immediately summoned his secretary to get his briefcase. Opening his briefcase, His Divine Grace (HDG) took out a paper sketch of a temple and said “I want a temple like this”. Toh Puan Uma did not commit and nothing happened after this meeting. Srila Prabhupada had to leave Malaysia for Australia. However, he had already set his lotus feet and planted the seeds of devotional service in Malaysia. We just needed to cultivate these seeds, realize the fruits and eventually fulfill his instructions. His instruction “I want a temple like this” remained to be fulfilled.

In 1980, ISKCON Malaysia was officially a registered organisation. Since then, the Krishna Consciousness movement has grown rapidly in Malaysia and now we have over 25 active preaching centers in Malaysia, not including the innumerable number of get-togethers. Book distribution, Food for Life, and many major ISKCON festivals are some of the essence that attracts many new members to ISKCON centres.

However, that all changed during Gaura Purnima in 2001 as the unfailing mercy of Srila Prabhupada was showered on the devotees from the Northern Region. Serving at the heart of the town planning office of the Penang Development Corporation, HG Kalesa Dasa highlighted to ISKCON leaders the availability of an acre of land amidst a religious enclave at the new Seberang Jaya Township. ISKCON made no mistake and with all proper formalities, secured this God given land.

ISKCON Malaysia was formally registered as a society in 1980, and has since spread all over Malaysia, from north down to south, from the east to the west. Currently there are over 25 active preaching centres, and numerous smaller devotee gatherings, spreading the wonderful words of Lord Chaitanya and His senapati-bhakta, Srila Prabhupada. Quite a number of these centres go way back to the beginning of ISKCON in Malaysia, however, most were rented premises, and if not rented, were located in areas where the chance to expand their facilities were restricted.

However, that all changed when at the turn of the millennium, a piece of land in Seberang Jaya, Penang turned up. Its location was within an area designated for religious movements, and it so happens to be the largest and most symmetrically cut plot, too. No time was wasted in trying to obtain the land and by 2001, it was legally ISKCON Malaysia’s. Work began immediately on what was going to be the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple Complex.

By 2004, the Bhaktivedanta Cultural Centre had opened. The first of three phases of buildings was finally completed, and the congregation now had a firm base in mainland Penang. It grew rapidly, and became the northern regions most important hub for various preaching activities.

In 2008, the first presiding deities, Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga-Rai, were installed, and the following year the piles broke ground as the new temple was approved and got enough funding to start. 6 years later, and there it stands, grand and mighty, the temple that fulfilled Srila Prabhupadas desire for Malaysia, the Temple of Devotion & Understanding.

Aerial view of the temple complex.

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