Hyderabad: At 69 years of age, Alfred Ford, heir to the Ford fortune, roams the globe tirelessly seeking donations for the world’s biggest temple coming up in India at an estimated $100 million. The great grandson of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford is focussed on completing the Temple of Vedic Planetarium (TOVP) at Mayapur, West Bengal, after retiring from the family business.
Alfred, who was in Hyderabad on Sunday, for a programme at International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Secunderabad, said despite so many temples in India and the country’s vast spiritual knowledge, not many are aware about Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu — the incarnation of Lord Krishna.
“Mayapur is the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya and in 1976, Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON founder, wanted me to finance the construction of the temple,” Alfred said during an interaction at the ISKCON event, which had ‘padukas’ of Lord Balram brought from Mayapur. “My wife Sharmila Bhattacharya is a Bengali, but she too was not aware of Lord Chaitanya. Later, she became a member of ISKCON, Australia; and we got married,” he said.
Why a temple? Why not a hospital or educational institute? Well, if a person is spiritually educated, he does not develop negative traits, fall for materialistic desires or take ill. Internal cleansing through spirituality is very important, Alfred said.
ISKCON did not approach any government for donations or seek help from companies, organisations and individuals. There is great response from people world over, and it is not only devotees, but others too are donating for the mega project, he said.
Though, Alfred retired from all business occupations, he invested in a company, which develops handheld devices for blood testing and gives results within minutes. “Anitha Goyal, an Indian-origin scientist developed the device. Though, I am not keenly following the progress, I want the product to be in the market at the earliest,” he said.
Completing the temple at Mayapur by 2022 is his ultimate goal in life. Almost 85 per cent of the works are done, he said, adding that “I wish to be a pandit and speak about Krishna Consciousness academically”. Alfred bought a house at Mayapur and made it his second home, after the one in Detroit, US.