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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Golden Years of Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji
“Birth and Childhood”
Prior to his initiation into monastic life, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji was known as ‘Hayavadana’. He was born in 1961 at Maniyur in Udupi District. His parents Govindacharya and Kamalamma were known for their piety and devotion to Sri Krishna. Right from his childhood days Hayavadana developed a great interest in religious and spiritual matters.
The pontiff of Puttige Matha, His Holiness Sri Sujnanendra Theertha Swamiji decided to select a disciple to succeed him,“Education”
He chose Hayavadana after meticulously processing about five hundred horoscopes to the esteemed position.
Thus, Hayavadana came to be initiated into sanyasa at the tender age of thirteen (youngest among those who have been initiated into sanyasa at Udupi.) and came to be known as Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji in 1974.
A renowned scholar saint, His Holiness Sri Vidyamanya Theertha Swamiji was the spiritual and academic teacher of Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji , who kept a close watch on strict self discipline and religious studies of the young sanyasi. His intense thirst for knowledge prompted him to resume the study of scriptures with a perseverance that was matched only by his unswerving devotion. He embellished his in-depth study of the Sudha with mastery over Tarka, Vyaakarana, Mimamsa etc. (these are all supplementary sacred texts needed to complete mastery over the scriptures). He celebrated "Sudha Mangala" several times for scores of students.“First Paryaya (1976 – 1978).”
Following the attainment of Haripada by Sri Sujanendra Theertha Swamiji, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji succeeded him as the pontiff of the Puttige Matha at a very young age. Incidentally, he also ascended the Paryaya Peetha for the first time at the age of fifteen in 1976.“Second Paryaya (1992 – 1994)”
In the entire history of the Sri Krishna Matha spanning over 750 years, nobody else had managed the Paryaya at such an young age! Even his ardent well-wishers had misgivings as to whether the young Swamiji would be able to cope with such an enormous burden, with little or no background. The Swamiji carried a wise head on his young shoulders and possessed administrative acumen far beyond his age and experience. He conducted the paryaya with pomp and splendor, in a manner befitting the greatness of the Puttige Matha, earning for himself the unstinting admiration of all.
His Holiness Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji ascended the Paryaya Peetha for the second time on 18 January 1992.
Banking on nothing except his indomitable faith in Sri Krishna and His devotees, the Swamiji launched several major projects during his second Paryaya. The success of these projects proves that there is no power more potent than Lord Krishna, and there is nothing that devotion to him cannot achieve.
Project 1: Magnificent Welcome tower erected at the main entrance to Udupi.
Project 2: In order to solve the problem of pilgrims who were facing difficulties in search for accommodation, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji constructed a big guest house, ‘Indraprastha’ at Udupi.
Project 3: Inspired by the phenomenal success of ‘Laksha Gita Lekhana Yajna’, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji embarked on the construction of the Gita Mandir which was his long-cherished dream.
The Gita Mandir is a standing testimony to his dedication and dynamism. Its foundation stone was laid by the then President of India, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma and was inaugurated by King Birendra of Nepal in 1993.
The imposing and splendidly artistic multi-storeyed edifice houses the Dhyana Mandir, Madhva Mandir, Akshara Mandir and the Vishwaroopa Darshana.
The hollowed chambers of the Gita Mandir have all the Shlokas of the Bhagavad-Gita sculpted in Sanskrit by a Christian on a black granite stone. Another hall in the Gita Mandir contains thousands of Bhagavad-Gita copies published in various languages all over the world.
Project 4: An outstanding feature that made this Paryaya a memorable event was the free food that was provided to people coming to Udupi. It did not matter if they were pilgrims, tourists or school children on excursion; they were welcomed with open arms and provided sumptuous food in the Krishna Matha. This is a very laudable achievement that needs to be commended and practiced by everybody
“Third Paryaya (2008 – 2010)”
The ‘Paryaya 2008’ evoked a lot of interest not only among the local people and devotees of Sri Krishna, but all over India and even the world at large. This was chiefly due to the fact that His Holiness Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, a world renowned Seer was ascending the ‘Paryaya Peetha’ at Udupi for the third time. The third Paryaya of Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji , was an international event with wide-ranging media coverage throughout the world. A large number of priests, devotees, scholars, statesmen, artists and tourists from different parts of the world were present at this elaborate and significant Paryaya ceremony.
Highlights of Paryaya 2008
During his Third Paryaya, Swamiji offered Navaratna Kachita Ratha to Udupi Sri Krishna . The ratha named “Navakanaka Ratha” is nine-ft-high and weigh about two tones. It has 500 kg of copper, 18 kg silver, 12 kg gold and 1.5 lakh gems.
“Contribution to Mankind”
Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji is a Seer with extraordinary talents and caliber. He has won the hearts and minds of the devotees of Sri Krishna not only in India but also abroad. He has won world-wide fame and respect through his learned discourses and scholarly writings and publications. He has authored many books on religion and philosophy. His learned works include ‘Suguna Maala’ in Kannada and ‘Suguna Digest’ in English.
During 2007, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji attended the Peace Summit at Mount Hiei at Kyoto in Japan along with other world religious leaders. He is globally respected for his progressive vision and as a champion of ecology and protection of environment. The Swamiji had the unique distinction of being elected as the President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace. One of the greatest contributions of Sri Sugunendra Threetha Swamiji in popularizing the Bhagavad-Gita was the ‘Laksha Gita Lekhana Yajna’ launched by him. The aim of the programme was that one lakh people would transcribe all the 700 shlokas contained in the Bhagavad-Gita offering their prayers to Lord Vishnu and seeking solutions to their problems. A unique feature of this Yajna was that all were free to participate in it without any distinction of caste, creed or gender.
Among the pontiffs of the Ashta Mathas, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji has manifested progressive outlook and dynamism. Along with Gita Mandira, he has been credited with the construction of the Sri Puttige Sanskrit Vidya Peetha at Puttige, The Govardhana Mandir at Bangalore
Sri Krishna temples in Kolkata, New Jersey, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Toronto and in several other places in India and abroad. Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji is well versed in Vedic scriptures and has become an international spiritual celebrity. He has visited a number of foreign countries for the propagation of Hindu philosophy and spirituality as interpreted by Sri Madhvacharya. While on his foreign tours he had also met heads of state and government including George Bush, President of the United States and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.
He is respected by the world leaders as the ‘messenger of peace’. He has also visited many Arab countries where he has been honored.
Besides religion and spirituality, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji has also manifested his love for culture. He has directed several dance dramas like ‘Vishwaroopa Darshana’ and ‘Aananda Mukunda’. It was in recognition of his great service to the cause of religion and his love for cultural awakening that the honor of chairing the ‘Sarva Dharma Sammelan’ in India was conferred on him at a very young age. He also played a crucial role in the World Conference of Philosophers held in India and the World Conference of Hindus held abroad. Sri Puttige Sanskrit Vidya Peetha is another brain child of Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji. The aim of this institution is to produce full-fledged priests, well versed in the science and arts of performing various rituals with spirituality. Sri Puttige Sanskrit Vidya Peetha, which provides education from the Pre-University level up to M.A. in Sanskrit, is affiliated to the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidya Peetha, Dehradun. The Swamiji’s multifarious activities were not confined to religious and spiritual spheres alone. He has a strong social commitment and visualizes the total welfare of people. Realizing that the problem of unemployment is not only the bane of society but also the root-cause of many evils, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji established an institution named ‘Suyoga’ to impart training to the un-employed youth in the rudiments of selected vocations. Sensing a yearning in the minds of devout madhvas for a spiritual and cultural organization they could call their own, Swamiji set up a World-wide Madhwa Sangha called Vishwa Madhwa Sangha, with its headquarters in U.S.A and branches all over the world.
Apart from these glorious accomplishments ,Swamiji has other pursuits too. He has set up an old-age home in Bangalore to care for the cause of the old and helpless. Nor has the cause of the cows escaped his attention. "Goraksha Kendra" has been established to cater to all round welfare of destitute cows. The Adarsha Educational Trust set up by him is managing a wide variety of educational institutions, harnessing the talents of able and worthy leaders.“Religious and spiritual institutions”
His Holiness Sri Sugunendra Teertha Swamiji is the head of over 35 religious and spiritual institutions in India and abroad. Some of the more prominent ones are
SUVEDA (Society for Universal Vedic Education and Dharmic Accommodation) : 4 Vedic Pata shalas in Rameshwar, Dwaraka, Rudraprayag and Badri.“International Recognition”
Suguna Educational Trust: Publisher of Suguna maala and Suguna Digest, and books on religion and culture.
Suguna Samshodana Samsath, Puttige : To research and publish ancient palm leaf manuscripts.
Prajna International School Foundation, Udupi
Sri Puttige Vidyapeetha at Puttige
Sujnana Religious and Charitable trust: In Udupi and California
Sri Sudheendra trust and Badarika trust, Bangalore
Sripoorna Charitable Trust, Kolkata. Adarsha Gurukula Educational Trust, Adarsha Education Trust, Bangalore
The swamiji believes in simple living and high thinking. Yet, by his erudition, his child-like simplicity and his wide spectrum of religious and cultural interests, he has endeared himself to a large cross section of society throughout the world and has carved for himself a niche in their hearts, making him a living legend. Kings, presidents, governers and other powerful personalities hanker for his presence and words of wisdom.“Moving Encyclopedia”
The Swamiji was elected as the President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace for a term of five years.
Presided over peace conferences in Jordan, South Africa and Russia.
Keynote speaker at the historic World Philosophers meet at Pune in 1990
Chief Guest at World Hindu Conference, Kathmandu, Nepal
Presided over Vishnu sahasranaama yagna in Pittsburgh, USA
Organized and presided over the first “Mettilotsava” function held in the US (perhaps the first Mettilotsava outside of India)
Founder President of Vishwa Madhva Sangha, with members in all 5 continents.
Felicitated as “Honorary Ambassador” by the Governor of Oklahoma.
A "moving encyclopedia" of Indian philosophy and religious texts, His Holiness Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, has been a promoter and teacher of non-violence. For him religion is a tremendous source of knowledge which can be used positively to overcome violence or terrorism. Swamiji has taken up the much needed mission- ecology and environment protection, as a part of his ascetic life. Even today He is busy distributing saplings for the growth of forest wealth. He has a target distributing 10 million saplings in the coming years. While the Swamiji's love for our ancient culture is phenomenal, he does not ignore modern views and thinking. It is his fond hope that we can achieve wonders if the old and new are harmoniously blended.
“Messenger of Peace”
Swamiji is honored as “Messenger of Peace” because he spreads this awareness among masses wherever he goes. He passionately strives to get people to understand the above message of Sriman Madhvacharya which leads to Harmony. If every Individual understands that the person in front of him is unique and special and respects him, there is no unrest or enmity on the face of this earth. This is applicable to people of every race, nationality and religion .If his track record were anything to go by, it is safe to assume that he will lead us to an era of unparalleled artistic renaissance all over the world.