PHOTO TOUR REPORT
In the Lap of Govardhana
September 12-13, 2007
After celebrating Janmastami (the appearance day of Sri Krsna), Nandotsava (the birthday celebration of Krsna in Vrndavana), and the appearance day of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja went to his Giridhari Gaudiya Matha in Govardhana, where he stayed until Radhastami (the birthday of Srimati Radhika). There, the traditional one-week explanation of Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavat-saptaha) took place from September 7-14.
Bhajanas began at 3:30 pm., after which Sripad Tirtha Maharaja began speaking about the pastimes narrated in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srila Narayana Maharaja did his japa-walk in the garden from about 5:30 until 6:00pm and then entered the temple at 6:00pm. Sripad Tirtha Maharaja continued to speak about the Bhagavatam, and Sripad Rasananda dasa brahmacari also spoke, and then Srila Narayana Maharaja spoke for about 15 minutes before evening arati began.
On the morning of September 12th, along with about 40 devotees, Srila Narayana Maharaja went to bathe the large Deity of Sri Giriraja at Mukharavinda (Giriraja Govardhana’s lotus face) at Manasi Ganga. He did this in order to receive special blessings for a successful Bhagavat-saptaha.
When he returned to Sri Giridhari Gaudiya Matha from Manasi Ganga, he and the devotees circumambulated the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-vinoda-vihariji, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Giriraja Govardhana, and Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, and then offered a ghee lamp and flowers to Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja in honor of his appearance day that day.
On the night of September 12th, as part of the Bhagavat-saptaha, Srila Narayana Maharaja briefly told the pastimes of Pralambasura and Venu-gita. He then asked Sripad Tirtha Maharaja to tell the pastime of Krsna lifting Govardhana Hill, and then he himself gave a short lecture.
He said, “In our sampradaya, Sri Madhavendra Puripada offered Annakuta* [See endnote 1] continuously for one month. Even nowadays, many people in Mathura come to Girirja and offer annakuta bhoga such as puris, kachoris, sweet rice and so many other delicious preparations – more than 360 types of preparations – every day for 30 days. Not only do the residents of Mathura do this, but people from all over India and the entire world are offering Annakuta.
“We can perform Annakuta anytime, not only during Kartika month.
“Many people, while performing parikrama of Govardhana, bind two twigs of a tree, which means they want to have a good husband or wife, or if parents are doing this, it means they seek good marriage-partners for their children. Others want to have a multi-story building, and so they pile up bricks by the parikrama path. Govardhana easily fulfills their desire.
“However, if one does not have any mundane desires, but only desires Vraja-bhakti (service to Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the transcendental land of Vrndavana), and especially if someone desires to be a maidservant of Srimati Radhika, Giriraja becomes overjoyed. Then, when that devotee performs parikrama, Govardhana fulfills their desire. Sri Giriraja Govardhana, in whose caves and secluded groves the divine couple Sri Sri Radha and Krsna performs Their transcendental pastimes, bestows His mercy.
“It may be that Laksmi-devi, the Goddess of Fortune, will have to beg some time, but whoever takes part in the festival of Annakuta, in any way, will never be a beggar in this life or any future life. His house will always be filled with many grains, and he or she sill never have to beg for maintenance.
On the morning of September 13th, 15 learned and well-known scholars from Mathura, Vrndavana, Gokula, and Govardhana came to Sri Giridhari Gaudiya Matha for a conference to extol the glories of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The topic of the conference was: “What is the most important subject matter and final goal of Srimad-Bhagavatam.”
The scholars present were: Sri Vishnudatta Pandey, Sri Jagadish Prasadji, Sri Baladeva Prasad Shastri, Dr. Achuta Lal Bhatta, Dr. Madhu Kandelwal, Sripad Tirtha Maharaja, Acharya Syamasundara Chaturvedi, Sri Ramkrishna Chaturvedi, Sri Murari Lalji, Dr. Vasudeva Krsna Caturvedi, and the chief guest from Gokula, Sri Chimman Lal Gosvami.
After the distinguished speakers glorified the Bhagavatam, Srila Narayana Maharaja himself spoke briefly. He began by humbly glorifying the speakers:
“It is very rare to hear such glorious descriptions about Srimad-Bhagavatam. I called all the learned Vaisnavas here, and today I am very happy by having their association. They all explained the subject very beautifully. I am personally not such a learned scholar, but I have listened to some topics of my Gurudeva and other superior Vaisnavas in our disciplic succession. By their mercy, I will try to speak some words about the glories of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“To know the real meaning of Srimad-Bhagavatam, we have to begin at the beginning. In the first canto, first chapter, the sages headed by Saunaka Rsi addressed the speaker of the assembly, Srila Suta Gosvami thus: ‘You are very fortunate that you have listened to this topic from Srila Sukadeva Gosvami. In this Kali-yuga, the Age of quarrel and hypocrisy, people are degraded; they have short lives and suffer from many diseases. Please tell us how the people of Kali-yuga will attain the goal of life.’”
Srila Maharaja then gave an introduction to Srila Suta Gosvami’s reply by quoting and explaining the following two Srimad-Bhagavatam verses:
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
“The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord by one’s body, mind, and moods. One must avoid all other desires than to please the Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.”
janayaty esu vairagyam
jnanam ca yad ahaitukam
“If one performs unalloyed devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, one automatically acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world. The knowledge referred to here is not impersonal knowledge, but knowledge of the science of the Supreme Godhead and also knowledge of His supreme feature of sweetness. Knowledge of the Lord’s impersonal feature, devoid of devotion, is not accepted.”
Srila Maharaja then explained that the great sage Sri Narada Rsi performed pure bhakti, and at the time of leaving his body he was able to place his feet on the head of death and attain a spiritual body. He began to travel everywhere in the material and spiritual worlds – on Earth, in Heaven, in Vaikuntha and in Goloka Vrndavana. He may be in this universe at present, but we cannot see him.
Srila Maharaja said that Srila Vyasadeva (the compiler of all the Vedic literatures) also attained perfection by absorption in his trance of bhakti-yoga, after which he saw all of Sri Krsna’s pastimes in Vrndavana and Dvaraka, from the beginning to the end. Srila Vyasadeva then compiled Srimad-Bhagavatam, by hearing which one attracts Sri Krsna to enter one’s heart.
Srila Maharaja then quoted and explained the following two verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam, which reveal its own glory:
yasyam vai sruyamanayam
bhaktir utpadyate pumsah
“Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness.”
atmaramas ca munayo
nirgrantha apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukim bhaktim
“All different varieties of atmaramas (those who take pleasure in atma, or spirit self), especially those established on the path of self-realization, though freed from all kinds of material bondage, desire to render unalloyed devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead. This means that the Lord possesses transcendental qualities and therefore can attract everyone, including liberated souls.”
Srila Maharaja concluded his talk by discussing the five different rasas, or relationships with Sri Krsna, as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam. He stated that among these relationships, madhurya-rasa, or the mellow of conjugal love, is the highest, and that within this rasa, there are also two varieties. One is called svakiya-bhava (wedded love) and the other is called parikiya-bhava (paramour love). Svakiya-bhava is the love of Krsna’s queens of Dvarka, and parikiya-bhava is the love of the gopis of Vraja. Among the gopis, Srimati Radhika is the topmost, and the beauty of Her mood, or service to Her as a maidservant, is the ultimate purpose of Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is the ultimate purpose of presenting Srimad-Bhagavatam to the people of the world.
[*Endnote 1: “After the bathing ceremony was finished, incense and lamps were burned and all kinds of food offered before the Deity. These foods included yogurt, milk and as many sweetmeats as were received. The Deity was first offered many varieties of food, then scented drinking water in new pots, and then water for washing the mouth. Finally pan mixed with a variety of spices was offered. After the last offering of tambula and pan, bhoga-aratrika was performed. Finally everyone offered various prayers and then obeisances, falling flat before the Deity in full surrender.
“As soon as the people of the village had understood that the Deity was going to be installed, they had brought their entire stocks of rice, dhal and wheat flour. They brought such large quantities that the entire surface of the top of the hill was filled. When the villagers brought their stock of rice, dhal and flour, the potters of the village brought all kinds of cooking pots, and in the morning the cooking began. Ten brahmanas cooked the food grains, and five brahmanas cooked both dry and liquid vegetables. The vegetable preparations were made from various kinds of spinach, roots and fruits collected from the forest, and someone had made bada and badi by mashing dhal. In this way the brahmanas prepared all kinds of food. Five to seven men had prepared a huge quantity of capatis, which were sufficiently covered with ghee , as were all the vegetables, rice and dhal.
“All the cooked rice was stacked on palasa leaves, which were on new cloths spread over the ground. Around the stack of cooked rice were stacks of capatis, and all the vegetables and liquid vegetable preparations were placed in different pots and put around them.
Pots of yogurt, milk, buttermilk and sikharini, sweet rice, cream and solid cream were placed alongside the vegetables. In this way the Annakuta ceremony was performed, and Madhavendra Puri Gosvami personally offered everything to Gopala. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 4.64-4.75)]
Editorial Advisors: Pujyapad Madhava Maharaja, Sripad Brajanath dasa and Sri Prema Prayojana dasa
Reporters: Vasanti dasi and Savitri dasi
Translator of the above-mentioned excerpts of Srila Maharaja’s class: Sripad Madhava Maharaja
Photographer: Vasanti dasi
Editor: Syamarani dasi