By Binita Das
Kolkata, Aug 8 (IANS) The world’s first museum dedicated to the life and teachings of 16th-century saint and social reformer, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is ready to be inaugurated at the city’s Baghbazar Gaudiya Math on August 13, an official said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will inaugurate the technically-enabled ‘Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Museum’ built to preserve information related to the great saint.
“The museum is the dream project of Gaudiya Mission which will be a reality after it’s inauguration on August 13. Amidst the prevalent cruelty, clashes or say intolerant situations in our society, we wish to showcase Mahaprabhu’s teachings and vision and serve the society,” Bhakti Nishtha Madhusudan Maharaj, the mission’s assistant secretary and museum in-charge told IANS.
The Gaudiya Mission, a spiritual and philanthropic organisation established in 1935, propagates the teachings of Sri Chaitanya and the Vaishnava faith. It has many centres in India and temples in London and New York.
He said that they aimed at spreading the message across society and not just keep it restricted to the devotees. They want researchers, intellectual and scholars to avail of the library facilities and experience a detailed life of Mahaprabhu by visiting the museum.
The museum is a three-storey structure built on an area of approximately 1,350 square metres and includes galleries, public utility areas and a library.
Each floor is dedicated to different phases of the saint’s life starting from his birth, his marriage with Vishupria, journey throughout the country up to the period after he attained ‘Sanyasa’ (sainthood).
Life-size models, 3D films, audio tracks and animatronics will ensure maximum engagement of the visitors. The museum has been designed by the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM).
“While the museum seeks to play a key role in creating awareness among the present generations, its primary objective is to preserve all the evidence of Vaishnava heritage, living traditions as well as the intangible heritage which are disappearing very fast,” the official page of the museum said.
A rich collection of resources such as the saint’s memorabilia, artefacts, manuscripts, rare books, pictures and other valuable exhibits are on display. People can even get a glimpse of hsi original hand-writing.
Also, there is an auditorium, archive, meditation room, Library, space theatre and a canteen.
Multimedia display, light and sound illustrations have been used for an immersive experience.
There is Virtual Reality to depict the ‘Nagar Samkirtan’ (religious chant) where visitors will feel that they are participating in ‘Kirtan’ along with Mahaprabhu.
The budget of the state-of-the-art museum is somewhere around Rs 12-14 crore, a mission official said.
While laying the foundation stone in 2013, the then president of the Mission Bhakti Surhid Prabrajika Goswami Maharaj had said that it was the world’s first museum on the saint with modern communication methods which will collect, preserve and disseminate archival literature of the Sri Chaitanya cult.