How it all began…..22 miles, in the West-end of the historic city of Richmond, VA, Sri Amrutha Sai Narayana Sarveshwaralayam temple stands tall in the serene and picturesque location in the country side of Manakin-Sabot, VA. With the divine blessings of His Holiness Sri V.V. Sridhar Guruji, under whose guidance and instructions, Pandit Sri B. Rajagopalan (popularly known as Mama), along with a core group of devotees, started out on an arduous mission of bringing to life a unique temple that will bring peace, happiness, health and prosperity to the part of the world, which is typically considered as a Bhoga Bhoomi (materialistic land). While the mystical, serene, peaceful environment draws each one of us to this beautiful temple, named affectionately by our beloved Guruji as “Sri Amrutha Sai Narayana Sarveshwarayalam, people wonder what is so special about this temple?” We think that this is temple happened by the sheer Grace of God. Here is a brief story that gives the various events that, though seemed random happenings, culminated into the creation of a unique kind of temple.
As early as 1998, Guruji had prophesied that Mama would be instrumental in building a temple in the US in the coming years and that Guruji would guide him through the process and would personally perform the Prana Prathishttha (consecration) and Kumbabhishekam. Things are set in motion, when on December 27,2004, at Siva Gowrishankar and Soumya’s residence in Richmond, Va when Mama came to perform the first Yantra Puja. Nobody in Richmond had ever witnessed anything like this puja till then. The preparation, the elaborate abhishekam, the Gadyams of Guruji and the chanting and Mama’s involvement and energy stuck into the hearts of all who attended the puja. Incidentally, another key person, Sarada Jammi, who is a staunch devotee of Shirdi Sai also attended this puja, which captivated her.
In those days, Mama used to live in Canada and would drive throughout the night from Canada to Richmond to perform pujas in the house of various devotees. Everyone who participated in the puja were spell bound with Mama’s energy levels (despite driving the whole night and not getting a wink of sleep) and his mastery of the puja rituals. Eventually as days and months passed by, more and more people participated in these yantra pujas. Thus the core group of devotees started coming together satisfying their craving for having a blissful satsang (congregation).
In 2006 July, Poojyasri Guruji had performed a Prayoga Maha Yagnam in Srikurmam in Srikakulam District in Andhra Pradesh. After the Yagnam, Guruji asked Mama to come to Hyderabad in a van to pick up something. To Mama’s utter surprise Guruji gave Sri Kurma Narayana Murthy to him and asked to him to take it to USA. This Kurmanarayana Murthi was specially made for the Sri Kurma Yagnam. Mama who was the living in Canada, tried head over heels to bring the Vigraham to Canada; somehow nothing worked and this unique Vigraham stayed in his home in Kattallai for more than a year. It was only after he moved to Richmond permanently in 2007 July that some movement started and finally Sri KurmaNarayana arrived at the temple site after the Bhoomi Puja and first Prayoga Maha Yagnam in October 2007. Kurmam has a very special connection our temple….. infact Guruji observed that our whole land itself is in the shape of a turtle with the head in the pond in the Northeast and its raised back supporting our current temple and the tail in the south. Additional fact to note here is that Babu Jammi’s forefathers are also closed associated with this Sri Kurma Narayana temple, going back to several generations. Prayers to Sri Kurma Narayana help us to achieve our normal daily goals with ease.
During one of Mama’s visits in 2006 November, Sarada, who was very attached to Sai Baba asked Mama what is it we need to do if we want to have a place of worship for Baba here in Richmond! Mama said, “it is very simple Sarada, you can do all the 4 arathis everyday and read the Sai Satcharitha everyday….. infact all of you who congregate regularly can make a schedule and do the parayanam of the satcharita. Then, as he was leaving Mama asked Sarada to start the Parayanam and arathi from then onwards. Thus from November 2006, at her residence Sarada started the 4 arathis and Saptaha Parayanam. She never knew that this is the beginning of a unique temple to be built by the Lord himself through ignorant and immature group of people like her. Yantra Puja was being performed at Babu & Sarada’s home, on the night of December 31, 2006. It was during the puja, Mama said very soon Baba’s temple will come to life here in Richmond and that all of us should work together to make this a reality. No one knew that soon would be as early as Januray 18, 2007. Maybe this is what is called “divine sankalpa.” It wasn’t something that was planned out in exquisite detail. It was something that happened – just like that.
Upon his return to Canada, Mama called Sarada on January 14, 2007 and told her to formally register “Sri Sai Narayana Organization” on January 18. With the Grace of Sri Sai Baba and Poojyasri Guruji, Sri Sai Narayana Organization was founded on January 18th 2007. On the way back home when she called Mama to inform that the organization has been formally registered, Mama immediately asked her start looking for a suitable site for the temple. Then started the hunt for a suitable land to house the beautiful temple for our beloved Baba. Initially a plot of land was chosen 25 miles away from the current location. An advance was also paid. But based on some intuition and other practical considerations, Mama and Smt. Sarada contacted the realtor again asking if there were any other plots of land close by. They found that there was one that wasn’t too far off and that had just gotten on the market. They got directions and drove out there to see it. It was 5.67 acres of lush green beauty in Manakin-Sabot, in Goochland County, Virginia, which is part of the Greater Richmond region, and about 4 miles from Short Pump downtown. From that point, there was no looking back. Things were just falling in place with divine grace.
|The land was purchased on May 30st of 2007 for a total cost of $225K with an initial down payment of $67K. At a time when there was severe crunch of the funds, by Lord Sai’s grace, 2 people, one of them never even heard of Baba gave an interest free loan for amounts of $40,000, and another devotee gave $ 27,000.|