In 1973, Srila Prabhupada invited the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, to come down to earth and manifest Himself in one of the main city in the world, i. e. Paris. The ceremony took place at “Rue Le Sueur” where the temple building was rented. Attracted by the prayers of Their pure devotee, Radha and Krishna, the divine couple appeared in the fascinating form of Sri Sri Radha Parisisvara.
Very soon, the temple became too small and the devotees decided to move elsewhere and to buy a permanent place for the Deities. They chose to buy a “hôtel particulier” (an old traditional noble town house) in the very heart of Paris, rue Vieille du Temple.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood was so “un-devotional” - the less we can say- and the situation became worse and worse. So the Deities have to accept the change again; and it’s not their last moving!
So there is an attempt to go to Ermenonville’s castle (a little far in the north of Paris), then a transition in the rural ashram of New Mayapur in the centre of France, and in 1987 They come back to Paris, in the suburb of Noisy le Grand and finally move in the same road in 1998, in the so tiny house on 35 rue du Docteur Jean Vaquier.
There, the devotees have served the Lord in very austere condition for about ten years, with a temple room just available for twenty guests at one time…
But, during all those years, the idea of a decent and permanent temple for Krishna was never abandoned, and several attempts of raising funds were made, with never a concrete conclusion.
The actual beginning of change was during the European GBC meeting in Spain, in 2005. During this workshop, the pitiful situation endured by Sri Sri RadhaParisivara was addressed by the leaders of ISKCON. Inspired by HH Sivaram Swami, they created the RYF: the committee for Revival of the French Yatra.
Since that time, the search for a new temple intensified, and simultaneously the research of the funds needed to buy a place. But that time, encouraged by the international support, many devotees and donors of the congregation participated with enthusiasm.
Finally, in 2007, the temple president, Nitai Gaurasundara Prabhu, finds a house in Sarcelles - a northern suburb of Paris; and, after some negotiation with the owner, the price became interesting. This residence seems suitable both for a temple and an ashram and it is located close to the Charles de Gaulle international airport and also to Paris center - near the A1 highway which connects Paris to the northern Europe.
So after visiting the place, the RYF team had given their agreement. The funds were quickly collected (mainly thanks to the donations from the international community) and the property is purchased. But the devotees are far from the end of their efforts: many things have to be repaired to use the house as a temple, and mostly the township of Sarcelles demands to buy twelve parking-places very close to the house before delivering the necessary authorization to receive public guests inside the house!
At that very same time, Pitavas Prabhu - a French disciple of Srila Prabhupada, who has been the temple president in the 80s - came back to France after more than twenty years in the USA. The RYF asks him to be fully dedicated to the research of those specific parking and, for that, he starts living in this new house during the icy winter … without heating.
Pitavas is well known among the devotees for his limitless enthusiasm to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission and for his natural ability to create social contacts with anybody in just a few minutes; even with these advantages, the task was not easy.
After some long weeks of no-result search, Pitavas create links of friendship with a close neighbor who possesses the most beautiful house of the place. He asks him whether he should accept to sell his estate to the devotees, because the house is in the middle of a 1400m2 land very suitable for the so-desired parking.
Of course, at the beginning, the neighbor said no, but after some time, charmed by Pitavas, he opens his mind and presents a price: quite the double of the first house. As there is no longer any money available, the RYF does not take this proposal too seriously. But the house is really a beautiful one and we considered several possibilities: first to sell the previous house to have the money back to buy the second one.
But… it was the time of the financial crises, and the hope to send it to the public is no longer available. Then we think about selling the first building among the devotees, separately as flats and studios: they should appreciate a flat with the new temple at the next door. Three families are interested… but give up later on.
And then, Krishna manifests His grace suddenly. Among those three families, one of them decides to generously give half the sum needed to buy the new house. The most funny is that they are descendants of some parent who was violently against the spiritual choice of life of their children, and even had declared to be personally an enemy of Krishna! That just contributes and helps the children of this “God’s enemy” to make up their mind: this real money belongs definitely to Krishna, and must be used only for Him.
With this consequent amount, local donors are inspired to participate and the rest of the sum is quickly collected. The selling contract is then signed, and for the first time since so many years, Their Lordship Sri Sri RadhaParisisvara enter a temple of Their own.
The official inauguration took place on Janmastami, August the 14th, and 700 persons came to visit the temple on that day, mostly Gujarati families. Many Gujarati families reside in this part of Paris. The Gujaratis, who yet worship Krishna naturally from their own tradition, are yet engaged in the service of the temple in many ways since the very opening (food donations, cooking-help, garlands-making for the Deities, etc.). Many Tamils had come also, they are very dedicated to help the temple for a long time now…
Most of the guests were impressed by the estate, by the central house and the big garden surrounded with some fig trees and flowers; they unanimously said that, as Krishna is the most valuable piece of jewelry, this estate may be compared with a very suitable case to receive the Supreme Jewel.
Of course many things may be improve to make this place even more convenient to the mission of Lord Caitanya and more worthy of Sri Radha Parisisvara, but all the potencies are there and we just have to develop the existent facilities. Among the major projects, the priority is to renovate the present buildings.
The first house is used nowadays as a guest-house and receives many guests each week, but important reformations are needed (restaurant room, a meeting room…)
The temple outbuildings (600m2) are just waiting to be transformed in an office and a professional kitchen. And finally, certainly the most important project: to build a new temple room, behind the house, to receive several hundred people.
So, opportunities to serve Krishna are not missing in the temple of Paris, and all those who desire to help to develop this project are welcome. If you wish, you may join the "Metro Yoga" program, inspired by Gadhadar Priya Prabhu, who joyfully widespread the glories of the maha-mantra Hare Krishna every day in the metro of Paris. As Sri Krishna is now installed in a worthy temple, it is up to His servants (us!) to invite all the souls of Paris to come and see Him and pay their obeisances.