Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta
Photo Tour Report
THE AUSPICIOUS OPENING OF
SRI SRI RADHA-MADHAVA GAUDIYA MATH
Haridwar, India: August 18 and 19, 2007
After the busy summer tour, and the very successful Guru-purnima festival at the
beginning of August, Srila Narayana Maharaja traveled to Rishikesa, a city at
the base of the Himalaya for a few weeks of resting and writing. From his place
of devotional services and meditation, situated in a hotel on the banks of the
holy river Ganges, he could hear the refreshing sound of the celestial water,
flowing fast due to the heavy monsoon rains higher up in the mountains. All the
devotees respected his resting time, giving him full opportunity to focus on his
translation work on Srimad-Bhagavatam.
On August 16th Srila Narayana Maharaja went to Haridwar, a city of spiritual
significance, situated one hour south of Rishikesa. There, the Hare Krsna Hare
Rama Seva Trust, founded by Mr. Somnath and his three brothers and his wife
Poonam, had constructed a guesthouse called Madhavi-kunja. They offered this
facility to Srila Narayana Maharaja, who kindly accepted it as his new temple
and renamed it Sri Sri Radha-Madhava Gaudiya Math. The temple was officially
opened at a two-day ceremony, August 18th -19th, at which time Srila Narayana
Maharaja installed the new temple Deities. About a hundred-fifty devotees from
Mathura, Vrndavana and Delhi were present to take part in the festivities.
Early in the morning on the 18th, the devotees began preparing for the official
temple opening. They cleaned, cooked, decorated, made garlands, and set up all
the paraphernalia for the fire sacrifice. Around 10am, the ceremonies began
under the guidance of Srila Narayana Maharaja and performed by Sripad Tirtha
Maharaja. The devotees enjoyed a sumptuous prasadam feast at lunchtime, and in
the late afternoon Srila Maharaja sent them out for nagara-sankirtana through
the streets of Haridwar. Headed by a local band, the devotees danced from the
temple to the city center, and up to the main bathing ghata, known as
Harikipauri, where large groups of people gather throughout the day to bathe in
the Ganges. The sankirtana party did not return until 7pm, and therefore Srila
Maharaja did not give class that night.
Preparing for the festival ladies from Mathura and Vrndavana
Sripad Tirtha Maharaja begins the fire sacrifice, while workers
complete the altar room for the next days Deity installation.
Just after mangala-arati (the early morning ceremony that glorifies the eternal
pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna and thus invokes and auspicious day) on the next
day, the thunderous sound of drums announced the arrival of the local band,
waiting to accompany the devotees in a parade to the Ganges, to collect water
for the ceremony of bathing the new temple Deities.
Srila Maharaja talks to the devotees who are waiting to go to the
Ganges to collect water.
On their way to the Ganges.
Upon returning, the devotees began kirtana, and made all preparations for the
Deity installation. Around 10 am, Srila Narayana Maharaja joined the
festivities. Mr. Somnath and his family welcomed Srila Maharaja by washing his
feet and performing guru-puja. Then, all sat down and the Deities were brought
out of the altar room for their bathing ceremony.
Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, just outside
of the altar room, waiting for Their bath with auspicious ingredients.
Srila Maharaja and Mr. Somnath watching the installation
After the bathing ceremony, Srila Maharaja lead the devotees in the arati of Sri
Sri Radha-Madhava and Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Offering arati to Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and Mahaprabhu.
The Deities then returned to the altar room, where, behind closed doors, they
were dressed in new outfits and offered a feast.
In the meantime, Srila Narayana Maharaja gave class in Hindi. He started by
telling some of the pastimes that took place in Haridwar. He said it is the
place where Daksa, the father-in-law of Lord Siva, used to live. Daksa performed
a large fire sacrifice here, but he did not invite Lord Siva. Sati, Lord Sivas
wife, desired to attend her fathers fire sacrifice anyhow, even without
invitation. Therefore she came here, to Haridwar. Seeing her fathers disrespect
towards her husband, she became very angry, and by yogic meditation she gave up
the body her father had given her she left in a blazing fire, by meditating on
the fiery elements within her body.
Srila Maharaja explained that Haridwar is also the place where, at the beginning
of Kali-yuga, Sri Narada Muni met Bhakti-devi and her two sons, Vidya and
Vairagya. Bhakti-devi looked very old and was crying over her two sons, who were
lying on the ground as if dead. Narada Muni advised Bhakti-devi to go to
Srila Maharaja said that there are many mayavadis (impersonalists) present in
Haridwar. They worship many Deities, mainly for material benefit. He said that
devotees, however, worship God with only one purpose: to attain bhakti
devotion. We should think how we can make our present life successful. Only in
the human form of life can we think about these things; animals cannot. We
should therefore use this life to do bhajana, worship of and devotion to the
Supreme Personality of Godhead; not for eating fish and onions. We may be young
now, but old age will surely come, so one must do bhajana and chant Hare Krsna.
Srila Maharaja then indicated to Krsna dasa brahmacari to begin kirtana, and to
Sripad Tirtha Maharaja to begin the fire sacrifice to celebrate the installation
of the Deities.
After that it was time for noon-arati,
at which time Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and Mahaprabhu gave their darsana to all
Noon arati: the very first darsana of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and
Mahaprabhu after the installation ceremony.
After arati, all the guests and devotees were offered a prasadam feast, and new
cloth (dhotis and saris) was distributed to all.
In the evening, Srila Maharaja again gave class. He began by saying that the
festival had been very successful, and that all present had been properly
honored according to their qualification. He then requested Sripad Rasananda
prabhu, Sripad Tirtha Maharaja, Sripad Sagar Maharaja and Sripad Madhava
Maharaja to speak on how the Deity is not just a statue made from stone or wood.
The speakers gave various examples of how, in past histories, the Deities
reciprocated with Their devotees. Srila Narayana Maharaja himself told the
pastime of how Srila Sanatana Gosvami found the Deity of Madana-mohana, and how
he used to talk with Him.
Srila Maharaja ended by saying that some people claim that God does not have a
form. But how is this possible? Can we have something more than God? If He does
not have a form, how is it possible that we have forms? People who say such
things cannot claim to be learned in theological philosophy.
On the morning of August 20th, Srila Maharaja traveled from Haridwar to Delhi.
On the evening of August 22 he celebrated Jhulan-yatra in his Delhi temple in
Janaka-puri, and on the morning of August 23rd he continued to Mathura and
Vrndavana for the celebrations of the Jhulana-yatra festival (the swing
festival), the disappearance day of Srila Rupa Gosvami (August 25th) and the
appearance day of Lord Balarama (August 28th).
Editorial Advisors: Pujyapad Madhava Maharaja, Sripad Brajanath dasa and Sri
Prema Prayojana dasa
Reporter: Janaki dasi
Translator of the excerpts of Srila Maharajas classes: Karuna-mayi dasi
Proofreader: Krsna-kamini dasi
Photographers: Sulata dasi and Janaki dasi
Editor: Syamarani dasi