Posing for the local newspaper journalist before starting the parade.

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Mathura, India- August 15-17, 2006
Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

On August 15th Srila Narayana Maharaja arrived in Mathura for the celebration of Sri Krsna Janmastami, the appearance day of Lord Krsna. He traditionally organizes a three day festival starting on the evening before Krsna Janmastami, with a big parade through the streets of Mathura. A camel, an elephant and a local brass band led the parade, followed by two children dressed up as Radha and Krsna riding on two horses, then a kirtana party of mostly Western devotees. Following this party was Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai on a chariot, a ladies' kirtana party and a float carrying children dressed up as Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. The third kirtana party of mainly Indian devotees followed them, and they were followed by Srila Narayana Maharaja in his elaborately garlanded car. Finally, Sri Sri Radha-Vinoda Bihariji and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu were gloriously riding on a decorated bullock cart.

August 16 was Sri Krsna Janmastami day. That morning Srila Narayana Maharaja led the devotees in singing different kirtans, astakams and bhajanas glorifying Lord Krsna's qualities, pastimes and associates. Among the bhajanas sung were Sri Mangala-Gitam, Sri Dasavatara-Stotram, a selection of verses from Sri Govinda-Stotram (also known as Sri Brahma-samhita), Sri Nanda-Nandastakam, Sri Radha-Krpa-Kataksa-Stava-Raja, Sri Damodarastakam, Krsna Deva Bhavantam Vande and Yasomati-Nandana. Between the different songs, Srila Narayana Maharaja gave short explanations in Hindi. Near the end of the class he captured the essence in these few English lines, as he explained the song:

"Hearing all these stavas and stutis (hymns and spiritual songs), Sri Krsna becomes very happy and says, "Oh, you can ask any benediction you like."

Then you will say, "Oh Sikhanda-sekhara (You who wear a peacock feather on your turban), Murali-manohara (You who enchants the world by Your flute-playing), if You are happy with me, please give me one benediction. Only one: I want Radha-dasya (service to Srimati Radhika). I want Your priya-dasya (service to Your most beloved Radhika), nothing else."

But Krsna may test you, to see if you will allow yourself to be cheated. He may say, "Why do you want this? You should be like others. You should serve Me directly."

So we should say, "No, I want only this. Please make me the maidservant of Radhika. Always. Always. Birth after birth."Srila Maharaja leading the devotees in singing various kirtanas.

Around 8 pm Srila Maharaja came to the temple room for the traditional Janmastami evening program, with musical performances of devotees and local professional musicians. Under his guidance the devotees performed the abhisekha (bathing with sacred substances) of Sri Sri Radha-Vinoda Bihariji just before midnight, and shortly after that all honored the Janmastami prasadam feast.

The next day, August 17, was Nandotsava, the anniversary of the day on which Nanda Baba (Lord Krsna's father) organized a huge feast to celebrate the birth of his son. Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha remembers this pastime by serving out prasadam from morning untill late afternoon to all Mathuravasis, pilgrims and whoever visits the temple on that day. On this day they served about 19,000 plates with mahaprasadam.

Nandotsava is also the appearance day of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. Srila Narayana Maharaja therefore requested all the devotees to come to the temple at 6 am for offering puspanjali (flowers, representing their offering of their hearts). Srila Maharaja first performed the arati of Srila Svami Maharaja, and then all the devotees sat down and listened to Srila Prabhupada glories, as narrated by his disciples and followers present there.

Early the next morning Srila Narayana Maharaja left Mathura and went to Delhi for a routine health check-up. He returned to Govardhana on August 22.

Visit the Photo gallery of pictures accompanying this report.