Temple History

Sri Venkatakrishna Kshetra, a fully functional Hindu Temple, is managed by Sujnana Religious and Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit 501 (C) (3) organization affiliated to Puthige Matha, an 800 year old Institution established by Jagadguru Sri Madhwacharya in Udupi, India. It opened its doors on June 5, 2011 to the sounds of the temple bells and beats of the drums at its current location. The temple is located at 615 S Beck Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281. Prior to this, the temple was housed in a single family home at 6633 W Shannon Street in Chandler. It started as a small place of worship for the Indian community in the year 1999 with Utsava Murthy brought from India by Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, during his first visit to the USA. Sujnana Religious and Charitable Foundation is registered with the Corporation Commission of the State of Arizona.

Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji. Head Pontiff of Sri Puthige Matha, India and the President of World Conference of Religions for Peace, in whose presence, the rituals and formalities as per agama shasthras for installing the Deities, with pomp and fun fare were carried out by the ordained and trained Priests from India. The deities were carved and shipped from India and donated by the Devotees. More than 1000 people witnessed the consecration as this was a unique event in everyone's lives. Sri Swamiji in his address to the devotees stressed the significance of attending the temple and the need for Devotion and Prayer. He congratulated the citizens of Arizona for their contributions and cooperation.

The main deity is Lord Venkateshwara, the Supreme God Vishnu along with Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, and the Navagrahas (nine planets). The temple has also installed the first mrithika Brindavana in the United States for the great saint Sri Guru Raghavendra Swamiji of Mantralayam.

This was the millennium goal of Swamiji, when he visited Arizona on January 1, 2000 that became a reality in 2011, just 10 years later. Swamiji is a great visionary, leader to the people and an International Religious Ambassador with a deep sense of Globalization. His main theme has been that “Globalization of Faith among people must occur first before the Globalization of Economy occurs. Unfortunately, it has been the other way. Now, we must strengthen our beliefs and work together in harmony as brothers and sisters, understand each other and lead a cooperative life leading to Peace in the world that would ultimately help the economy.

The Temple in Tempe is correctly located near the "Priest Street" in the State of "Arizona", Swamiji lovingly calls "Harizona" - the zone or residence of the Supreme Lord.

The scholars of Puthige Vidhya Peeta - Nandikooru Janardhana Bhat, Khumbhasi Sridhara Upadhyaya, Kiran Kumar, Nagendra Udupa, Yogeendra Bhat, Jnanamoorthy Bhat, Sripathy Tantry, Raghurama Bhat, Suryanarayana Bhat and others carried out the rituals commencing with the Pooja for the Holy Cow and Calf for the installation of Deities according to the Vedic traditions prescribed in the holy scriptures. The celebrations included the recitation of Vedic Chants, Bhajans, and cultural activities. An important part of the events consisted of the distribution of Prasada (Anna Dhana), an Udupi Tradition, to all the devotees who participated in the ceremonies. Jayarama Kumar and Suresh Bhat prepared the Prasadams. Several volunteers from the community helped with the arrangements. The administrator, Sri Prasanna Acharya said, "The devotees felt as if they were in Udupi".

As this was the first temple that Swamiji installed a Moola Vigraha abroad, he declared this as Moola Matha (Original International Puthige Matha). In addition, he named it “Kshetra” meaning a “Pilgrimage Center”. Lord Venksteswara, the Kanchana Brahma is the presiding deity in the temple. Udupi Sri Krishna, the Anna Brahma is also installed. The Panduranga Vittala, the Nada Brahma is the main deity of Puthige Matha which has established this temple. Thus, as Swamiji said, there are Kanchana Brahma, The Anna Brahma and the Nada Brahma all in one place in Tempe, Arizona. Therefore, if one visits Sri VenkataKrishna Kshetra, one is blessed with the benefits of visiting all the three Kshetars – Tirupati, Udupi and Pandarapura in India.

Governor Janice Brewer could not attend the functions due to prior engagements. She sent a letter of welcome "applauding the Hindu community for their temple which stands as a testament that makes the Great State of Arizona what it is today. True to its mission, Sri Venkata Krishna Kshetra is a symbol of unity as it provides a sanctuary for worship as well as a place to teach future generations about their heritage."
Honorable Mayor Hugh Hallman, the Mayor of City of Tempe, proclaimed June 5, 2011 as "Venkata Krishna Kshetra Day" in Tempe, Arizona.  For two years 2011 and 2013, the Temple organized “Srinivasa Kalyanam” by the touring deities and Priests from Tirupati and “Badrachala Seetha Rama Kalyanam” by the Priests and deities from Badrachalam. More than 2500 devotees participated in each of these functions. In 2015, Maha Rudra Yaaga was conducted on the premises in the presence of Swamiji. Lord Venkateswara’s abode is on the top of seven hills in Tirupati. Lord Shiva has his abode in Mount Kailasa. Therefore, Swamiji considered it appropriate to install both Lord Venkateswara and Lord Shiva in Phoenix surrounded by Mountains. The Honorable Mayor of Tempe, Mr. Mark Mitchell, proclaimed November 13, 14 and 15 as “ Maha Rudra Yaaga Days” in Tempe, Arizona.

The temple organizes social, cultural functions in addition to religious functions and discourses. It conducts classes for children and adults on Religion, Hindu Philosophy, teaches several Indian language classes and serves the community as a “One Stop” for their religious, cultural and social activities.

For further information contact Sri Kiran Kumar Rao, the Chief Priest at 480 785 5217 or email: kvkumar678@yahoo.com