City Of God Era at New Vrindavan

1988 - 1993

Within a year after his excommunication from ISKCON, Kirtanananda Swami begins to reinvent New Vrindavan as an Interfaith City of God. His vision included a walled city of potentially ten thousand residents as well as the development of other Cities Of God in various parts of the world. Architectural plans for a once South Indian style temple begin to assume more gothic and Western dimensions.

In the name of experimentation, Kirtanananda asked the devotees to cooperate as he introduced Franciscan type robes, a pipe organ and other Western instruments, silent meditation, and Krishna-ized Christian hymns. The clean shaven look of Hare Krishna devotees was abandoned and many men dawn beards. A statue of Christ was also placed next to the statue of Srila Prabhupada in the temple. The organization was now known as Interfaith League of Devotees. New Vrindavan started to organize interfaith conferences.

Devotees of other traditions were invited to live in the community. Only a few take up the invitation. And in the meantime many faithful Hindu supporters became alienated by the changes, and some feel they have been cheated since they have given large donations to construct an Indian style temple.

Soon, the whole interfaith concept started to encourage more changes to the project. After a time the idea of a "city" was dropped. The plans were modified to build an elaborate temple surrounded by a wall which contained residential quarters. The name changed to the Cathedral of Healing, and finally to Cathedral of the Holy Name.

Murti Swami, the chief architect at New Vrindavan for 10 years, departed in the summer of 1993. During his stay he altered plans for Temple of Understanding /Cathedral of the Holy Name 30 times.

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