Photo Tour Report
Badger, California
[Dear Readers,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.
Please forgive us. The last harikatha mailing you received, which stated in the Subject section, "Birthdays, Grains and Gratitude" was actually a San Francisco report called "Meaningful Meditations". There was a technical confusion in our sending, and therefore it went out with the wrong title. Now, you are really receiving the "Birthdays" tour report.
Please pray for us that we can perfect our skills in sending out the hari-katha lectures to our ever-growing list.
Your aspiring servants,
The hari-katha team]

On June 12th, after a four-hour drive from San Francisco, Srila Narayana Maharaja arrived in Badger, New Vraja. About 200 devotees greeted him with a loud and blissful kirtana.

Srila Narayana Maharaja immediately walked to the large pandal and sat on his vyasasana (the elevated seat of the representative of Srila Vyasadeva, the literary incarnation of God). He then requested several local senior devotees to stand and explain the reason that Sri Narada Muni and our disciplic succession of self-realized spiritual masters travel the world. Then, as his arrival address, he personally discussed this topic.

He began by saying, “I am very happy that so many devotees are here – more than in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and more than in other cities. I am seeing old faces, and some new also. I consider this place to be Vraja (Vrndavana), and that is why I come here. This is my 12th year here. When I first came to America (in 1996), I also came here. Iskcon leaders tried to ban me from coming. They warned the devotees, “Don’t give a place to Narayana Maharaja,” but Nirguna prabhu hosted me. I cannot repay him.

“This place is Vraja because Giriraja Mountain is here, Yamuna River is also here, and all kinds of natural facilities are here. 

“In Srimad-Bhagavatam it has been written that Sri Krsna took birth in Gokula from the womb of Mother Yasoda, and Baladeva Prabhu took birth from the womb of Mother Rohini. Six or seven days after Krsna’s birth, the sage and astrologer Gargacarya went to Gokula.  Nanda Baba worshipped him with great respect, bathed his lotus feet, sprinkled the foot-bathing water on his own head and on the heads of his relatives, and prayed to him, ‘You have nothing to take from anyone. You are self-satisfied. You have no desire to take anything from anyone. You come in the homes of householders, who are always sinking in their relationships between their children, wives, fathers, and household jobs. They have no time to go to sadhus, so sadhus mercifully come to their houses.’

“The residents of America and other countries did not invite Srila Bhaktividenta Swami Maharaja. Still, even in his advanced age, he went door-to-door – everywhere. He had nothing to take, but everything to give.”

Srila Narayana Maharaja began his hari-katha classes the following night. Each evening he spoke to an audience of about 700 devotees and guests on Canto Eleven of Srimad-Bhagavatam – the conversation between Nimi Maharaja and the Nine Yogendras, and the conversation between Sri Krsna and Uddhava. (These classes are being transcribed and will be sent to you soon).

Each morning around 6 am, he went for his morning walk, and during the day he met with devotees and continued his translation of our acaryas’ commentaries on Srimad-Bhagavatam.

When he returned from his walk on June 21st, he met two devotees whose birthdays were on that day. He gently threw flowers on their heads and blessed them (with utterances of ancient Vedic mantras) to be happy in this life and in their transcendental lives.

On Wednesday, he met with for the devotees from Canada, Chicago, and other cities in America.

Meeting a new person, a well-known artist and writer, Srila Maharaja blessed him and said,

“You should think, ‘I am not this body.’ The body is a bag of urine, stool, and blood. You are present in this body, but you are not this body. After some time this body will be old and rotten, and you will have to give it up. You cannot take even one penny or anything else from this world with you when you leave.

“So try to realize the Supreme Lord, who is also present in your body. By knowing Him, you will be happy; there is no other means. Money cannot give you happiness. Rather, it creates more problems. Somehow maintain your life, but try to realize the Lord by hearing hari-katha from superior Vaisnavas.”

A devotee from Montreal expressed some difficulty in chanting.

Srila Narayana Maharaja told her, “Still you should chant. Even if the medicine is bitter, still you must take it. Chant, even if you must do it forcibly.”

Srila Maharaja then performed a grain ceremony (anna-prasana)* for Govinda-Madhava dasa, the eight month-old son of Dayanidhi dasa and Madana Mohini dasi, and grandson of festival organizer, Nanda-gopala dasa. Amidst the chanting of auspicious sacred mantras, he very attentively and affectionately fed the baby three spoonfuls of a sweet-rice preparation and requested the baby’s parents and other relatives to each feed him a spoonful, and then he uttered the mantra “Sri Krsna Caitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasadi Gaura bhakta-vrnda.”

Govinda-Madhava was then presented a tray of various paraphernalia to choose from, that would indicate his future. He first chose the bangles, indicating prosperity, and then the scriptures, indicating absorption in bhakti. Srila Maharaja then firmly placed the scripture on his head, to impress increasing bhakti in his future.

He told the baby, “May Krsna-bhakti come to you. Honor your parents – your father and mother.”

Dayanidhi dasa asked, “How can we always understand that he is your son and not our son?”

Srila Maharaja patted the baby on the head and then replied, “You should preach my mission. You are qualified. And also, distribute my books here and there. Have you done so before?”

Dayanidhi dasa replied, “Previously; in New Zealand.”

Srila Narayana Maharaja said, “You should do more. (Indicating Dayanidhi’s wife Mohini dasi:) She is very qualified. She should preach everywhere. She can sing; she can do drama plays; she can give class; she is qualified in so many ways. Here in Badger she should make a very high class of drama related to the gopis.”

After his morning walk on June 22nd, Srila Maharaja visited the home of Sripad Prana Kisora dasa and Campakalata dasi. About 150 devotees were present, singing beautiful devotional Bengali bhajanas as they waited for Srila Maharaja to arrive. After Srila Maharaja’s arrival, Prana-kisora dasa and his family performed a foot-bathing ceremony and offered arati.

Performing guru-puja

Srila Narayana Maharaja spoke in brief about his gratitude to Prana-kisora. He said, “We have come to the home of a very senior and sincere devotee, Prana Kisora prabhu. He is a hidden Vaisnava. He does not want to expose himself in my meetings and elsewhere. He knows everything of our philosophy and he can speak on any topic in relation to devotion to Krsna; yet, he is always hiding.

“When I was in Mathura, the building of our Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha (Temple) was very old and about to collapse. He was the first Western devotee to come to me. He came forward and with some friends and collected money for me. He did not tell me at the time, but he sold his car, his house, and he even the ornaments of his wife, and he gave all that money to me.

“I am indebted to him. With his money, I repaired our Mathura Matha, and then I built Sri Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Matha in Vrndavana. I cannot repay him and his wife. He is an example of how to perform Guru-seva. He sold all his property, the ornaments of his wife, and even his car. In Western countries one cannot go here and there without a car, but he sold it.

“Then, when I first came to America, he was driving me here, there, and everywhere.

“We should give our heart and our life for the service of Gurudeva. In his service, we should all learn how to be Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis. Then transcendental bhakti will come.”

Two days later, in another meeting with devotees, Srila Narayana Maharaja performed the grain ceremony for eight-month old Damodara dasa, the son of Kesava dasa and Yamuna dasi. With extreme difficulties in securing his passport and visa from the Philippine government, the baby had come all the way from the Philippines for his grain-ceremony.

First grains.

Indicating his future

Birthday blessings in a darsana on June 25th.

[*Endnote: According to Vedic culture, at this time (called anna-prasana) it is customary to offer the child both coins and books in order to get some indication of the future tendencies of the child. On one side there are coins and on the other side a scripture. At this time the child also receives his first grains.]

Editorial Advisors: Pujyapada Madhava Maharaja, Sripad Brajanath dasa, Sri Prema-prayojana dasa
Editor: Syamarani dasi
Transcriber and reporter: Vasanti dasi
Proofreader: Krsna-kamini dasi