In August 1965, a few weeks before Srila Prabhupada left for America, on his way to see Srimati Sumati Morarji, the shipping magnate who secured him passage to the US, he passed a neglected four-acre plot of land near her residence on Juhu Beach, outside Bombay, and thought it would be a nice location for a Radha-Krishna temple.
It took thirteen years—including six years of battling the crooked landlord, his agents, and corrupt municipal officials, all the while enduring terrible hardships, facing a score of obstacles, and responding with tremendous sacrifice and perseverance—for Srila Prabhupada’s vision to be realized. On January 14, 1978, Makara Sankranti, two months after Srila Prabhupada departed from this world, the Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari temple was finally inaugurated by his dedicated disciples.
In the seven years leading up to the grand opening, Srila Prabhupada spent 554 days in Bombay, more than anywhere else in the world. In 1972 he appointed his disciple Giriraj das Brahmachari, who had met him in Boston in 1969 and been selected as part of the group to accompany him back to India in 1970, to lead the Juhu effort. “He has not trembled in any circumstance,” Prabhupada later commended Giriraj. “That is his qualification.” As temple president and later as Governing Body Commissioner from 1972 to 1999, Giriraj Swami raised funds and oversaw every aspect of the project—the only devotee to be closely involved throughout that period.