By the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaja and Sri Sri Gaura-Radha-Madhava, this year's Janmastami festival was a great success with about ten-thousand guests attending.
The main organisers of the festival were Syamasundara Dasa and Rupanuga Dasa who made arrangements two months before with the help of all our devotees in Mandya and Mysore. Invitations were sent out, brahamana cooks were assembled, electricians, lights and sound-systems were organised ahead of time, car-parking was arranged etc.
On the day of Janmastami, the Deities were wearing a new pink and gold outfit, designed by Deepa Mataji, which resembled lotus-leaves. Everybody that took darsana were spellbound at the beauty of Sri Sri Gaura-Radha-Madhava, which was augmented by Their new clothes.
Srila Guru Maharaja gave class in the morning and spoke about Srila Prabhupada's contribution to India. When Srila Prabhupada brought his foreign disciples to India, the Indians thought that it was amazing that westerners had taken to Krsna consciousness. Prabhupada called them his 'dancing white elephants.' However, some sections of Indian society were not so impressed and were suspicious of these foreign Vaisnavas – in particular the orthodox brahmanas, the Caste-Gosvamis etc. Many thought that they were CIA or that Prabhupada's movement was some scam. Guru Maharaja went on to say that nobody could say that Govindaji Gardens was a scam to make money as we don't have any and our biggest collect every year is the vegetables that are donated from the Mandya market for Janmastami.
Guru Maharaja also mentioned that Govindaji Gardens is the best place in India to celebrate Janmastami. His reason for saying this was because Sri Krsna was originally born in the city (Mathura) but His appearance was celebrated in a village (Gokula). Similarly, Govindaji Gardens has a unique village atmosphere.
Guru Maharaja continued by saying that years ago, one famous Indian yoga-instructor from Mysore heard about Govindaji Gardens and how foreigners had established a Krsna temple and were worshipping Him and following the process of bhakti. The yoga teacher stated that it was impossible!
Guru Maharaja said that he agreed with the yoga teacher – it is impossible without bhagavata-krpa and guru-krpa. However, it is not a question of only foreigners not being able to follow sanatana-dharma – even so many Indian swamis also find problems following even the most basic codes of morality. He mentioned a recent case of one god-man from Gujarat who has been accused of immoral activities with female disciples and explained that one of the problems is that such 'gurus' have no parampara. They invent so many process but without the backing of a real parampara, everything they do is useless.
Guru Maharaja said that an ordinary person who has no parampara may worship Sri Krsna at home, and such an activity is very good. But one who professes to be a guru must be in parampara because he is giving instruction how to advance in spiritual life.
This led into Guru Maharaja giving hari-nama initiation to four aspiring disciples – Manjunath and his wife Madhuri from Mandya, Candrika from Kerala and Leda from Brazil. Manjunath became Manohara Dasa, Madhuri became Krsna-madhuri Dasi, Candrika became Bhakti-candrika Dasi and leda became Lila-sakti Devi Dasi.
After the initiations some of the devotees continued to cook in the kitchen while others performed kirtana in front of the Deities and others prepared for the afternoon yajna and evening abhiseka.
At 4:30pm Giri Maharaja and Gaura-Gopala Dasa performed a yajna in the yajnasala in honour of Lord Krsna by offering oblations with Purusa-sukta, Narayana-sukta, Visnu-sukta, the one-hundred and eight names of Krsna and ended with Vaisnava homa.
At 6:30 Srila Guru Maharaja came over to the temple to perform the abhiseka for Kaliya-mardana Krsna. This year the abhiseka was also shown in the garden on a huge plasma TV screen. Madhava Maharaja and the devotees sat in the temple room and sang bhajanas while Guru Maharaja bathed the Lord with various auspicious substances.
At 7:15 Sri Sri Radha-Govinda were taken to Their ratha and were taken in a grand procession around the temple to the accompaniment of nagesvaram, flute and sankirtana and after eight round, Their Lordships were brought back to the altar for the evening arati.
Meanwhile, outside the temple, prasadam distribution was going on and with the help of our devotees in Mandya as well as other devotees such as Guru Dasa, about ten-thousand guests were served Sri Krsna prasadam.
Inside the compound, some of our devotees from our Mysore sanga, Vishal, Pratap, Naresh, Rahul, Hari and Kailash, were busy taking care of the temple shop and selling books, DVD's bhajana CDs and photos.
Between 8:00 and 9:30 Murali-Krsna Dasa and his students played flute for the pleasure of Radha-Madhava and at 9:30 there were bhajanas followed by a class given by Giri Maharaja and Caitanya Dasa on the appearance of Lord Krsna.
At 11:30 over one-hundred and sixty items were brought to the altar to be offered to Their Lordships. Some of the devotees had been cooking for three days prior to the festival. In particular, Rasikananda Dasa, with the help of Dhruva Dasa and Caitanya Dasa, had prepared chappana-bhoga for Radha-Madhava – the famous fifty-six preparations that are offered to Lord Jagannatha every day in Puri. Advaita Acarya Dasa took care of overseeing all the cooking.
At midnight Giri Maharaja offered arati to the Deities while Madhava Maharaja led the devotees and guests in singing 'Yasomati-nandana'. Each year, more guests come for the midnight arati and this year was no exception – the temple room was packed beyond capacity and everyone was pushing to get darsana of the Deities during the arati.
After the arati, Giri Maharaja and Satyaraja Dasa distributed laddu-prasadam from the altar to all the guests and devotees.
Due to the great numbers of guests this year, prasadam was served to the devotees and guests outside the temple compound in our field.
We would like to thank all our devotees and friends in Mysore, Mandya, Srirangapatna and Pandavapur for their various services which made our Janmastami celebrations a great success.
Sri Krsna Janmastami ki jaya!