It need not be like other religious structures.
We can think of a multi storied building limited to three floors, for being energy conscious these should not be fitted with lifts and hence preach the first principle: concern for the environment. Ar Rachit Seth- a committed g
Gandhian- has some aesthetic Gandhian designs and we can take help of such advanced designs to preach the message of harmony and peaceful co-existence.
The basement should be completely left for parking.
The first floor should have a pure vegetarian restaurant,
Pure veg would not mean things without onion and garlic but stuffing generous quantity of milk products. Unlike the religious interpretation of vegetarianism it would follow the ethical line, hence onion and garlic would be used for their therapeutic values and animal products like eggs and milk would be eschewed on ethical ground.
As it is practiced by Bahais and the ashramites of Aurobindo ashram at Pondichery, here also, we can strive for a high degree of silence and serenity so that those who so desire can even use the canteen as a reading room.
Very low cost and at times free foods should be provided to elderly, poor and needy people from the canteen and all the genuine humanists/ Gandhians should make it a point to physically serve in the canteen; be as a dish washers, a floor cleaner, a food distributor etc; as is the practice in Gurudwaras and there by uphold the dignity of manual labor in the true Gandhian tradition.
The second floor would house an office and a library.
The library would stock books and journals from all walks of life, especially those which have been peer reviewed, on all recognized sciences. The library would not pander to such pseudo sciences like astrology and Vastu and such superstitious literatures, like on blind beliefs like jagyans and animal sacrifice. Effort should be made to make it a 24 hour library to facilitate the academic sadhana- pursuit- of needy poor students.
The third and final floor should be a decent auditorium cum prayer hall:
The hall should be fitted with appropriate acoustic fittings to facilitate meetings and discourses. As per the coherent architectural plan it can have a high arching sealing and provision for appropriate ventilation to let nature douse the assemblage with its cool breeze, whenever it is appropriate and also provisions to completely stop the out side noise and disturbances in case of a stormy night, by closing all the large windows and sky lights. Well not being an expert I need not explore the design part any further. We’d leave that to Ar. Rachit [:)]
As for dedicating it to Gandhi, we can have his life sized oil paintings instead of idols and that can be put in the fore or back ground. The walls of the chapel / auditorium can adorn replicas of such classics like the painting by Leonardo da vinci – The last supper, and that of the mediating or sermonizing Buddha or the likes. Ugly practices like burning Ghee and such sticky things which destroy the walls and create black shoot should be a strict no no.
Besides daily sermons on tolerance and ahimsha, diploma and degree courses can be offered on humanism and such allied subjects and this would require an academic department and alliance with some quality university (some universities in USA have a humanity chaplaincy). Acharyas like Prof Richard Dawkins can be invited to visit the temple/ chapel regularly and shed the latest light of knowledge so as to take humanity to new heights.
The complex should have a landscaped garden and all the floors should have appropriate approach ways and wide entrances to facilitate easy navigation of differently abled people, as is done in hospitals and old age homes.
There should be a few quarters for the staff of the temple/ chapel and also a few rooms and a dormitory for visiting guests and poor students.
Unlike the regular practice of temple administrations of newly built temples/ churches etc the complex should be built on duly acquired land and at no time any kind of unlawful encroachment be made on government lands. Probity and integrity in maintaining the finances should be the first priority and all the transactions should be made at arms length and the administration should be run democratically by regularly effecting peaceful transfer of power from one CEO/ president to another at a fixed interval of time – say every 6 years or so.
A library of secular and humanitarian sermons and prayers would be developed, on audio and video, and without being a nuisance to the surroundings, these would be played/ aired for internal consumption. Being techno-savvy an FM station could be run from the premises of the Gandhi temple/ chapel, which would air the values and practices of Gandhi for public consumption, so has to be designed on popular lines. I am sure we’d get adequate number of Munna Bhais and Janhvis [:)] to call the faithful to action at the crack of the dawn with Gooooooood Moooooooorning India (not Maharashtra, Odissa or Tamilnadu) or better still Good morning Humanity…
As is the practice in a church, no body would be asked to remove their shoes at any place of the temple/ chapel and the cleanliness would be maintained, as is done in a church, by frequent cleaning, vacuuming and scrubbing.
Wishful thinking [:)] well we Gandhians are incorrigible dreamers; are we?