A Report on Janmastami Celebrations '99 in Mathura
By Manjulaali Dasi
2 September 1999 (Day before Janmastami)
A huge procession of harinama sankirtana by Kesavjee Gaudiya Math set the hearts of all the people and lanes of Mathura ablaze with joy on the eve of Janmastami. Leading the procession was a huge elephant decorated like a king's personal servant followed by a camel competing in decoration with the elephant. Six men sat on the camel playing four drums simultaneously. There were five kirtana parties within the harinama which had at least 2000 singing and dancing devotees as participants. There were four chariots one in front of each sankirtana party. Leading was the chariot of actors dressed beautifully as Krishna and Balarama. On one of the chariots sat Shrila Gurudeva with Navina Krishna prabhu on his side, and the chariot in the end was that of Shrila Radha Vinode Bihariji and Mahaprabhu who, believe it or not were smiling! The highlight was the dandia dance by the ladies in their own kirtana party which came as a front page news the next day in the local paper. The whole ecstatic harinama lasted for four hours. Shrila Gurudeva said the next day that anyone who heard the kirtana be it an insect, animal or a bird will all receive special mercy.
3 September 1999 (Janmastami Day)
Morning Class by Shrila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
In the morning Shrila Gurudeva went to Janma-bhumi and later on we all sang bhajanas. When we sang Dasavatarstrotam Shrila Gurudeva said --
Here 'Kesava dhrita...'This is the vandana of Kesava Himself. He is the one who dons the form of matsya (fish) for lila purposes. How does He do that? By His amsa or kala and in His original form of Brajendranandana Syamasundara He only tastes so many mellows in Vraja. Do not think that Rama is different from Krishna. Mahaprabhu and all our acaryas did not see Rama as different to Krishna. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam it is described that all dasavataras are Krishna Himself although they could be His amsa or kala or a sub-kala. Today is the appearance day of Shri Krishnacandra. We are all doing stava stutis to please Him. But even more powerful is the stava stuti of His priyaji. So we all pray to Him on His appearance day -- (Gurudeva reads a sloka which we all repeat after Him and then he translates)
"Oh! Syamasundara! One who wears the peacock feather, one who has a beautiful smiling face, please give me this mercy -- Please make me a particle of dust (servant of servant) of your Priyaji's lotus feet.
Prananatha Shri Vrsabhanunandini(?)...... '
"Oh! Rasika-shekhara, fountain of all rasas, You are the prananatha of Vrsabhanunandini and She is also Your life and soul. If You are really pleased with me then please give me the benediction of remaining at Shrimati's lotus feet.
"Oh! Mahendra nandana! With a blade of grass between my teeth I humbly pray to You to give me the boon that Your Prana-vallabha should be my isvari in every birth."
If you will please Krishna, He will give you this wealth. Today you must not criticize any Vaisnava even if his behavior is rude or bad -- Krishna will punish him Himself. Do not make fun of Vaisnavas. Always remain in such sat-sanga where you get such teachings. Today in Kali-yuga a pure Vaisnava guru and disciple is very hard to find. If you are not following the bhajana of Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada then how will you do bhajana?
(Then Gurudeva asks the brahmacaris to read from Brahma-Samhita. After the reading Gurudeva says--)
Brahmaji is doing prayer to Krishna--
venum kvanantmarvindadalayataaksham barhaavatamsamsitambu sundarangam
kandarpa koti kamniya visheshshobham govindmadipurusham tamaham bhajami.
Oh! Krishna who is playing the venu, who has lotus eyes, pitambara, beautiful limbs -- one who reciprocates the same bhava by which you do his bhajana.
'Ramadimurtishu kalaniyamen tishthan nanavataar makoradbhuvneshu kintu
Krishnaha swayam samhavat paramaha puman yo govindmadipurusham tamaham bhajaami
Here Rama Adi means one who through his kala or amsa incarnates as Rama and sometimes as other incarnations. Do not think Brahmaji is trying to insult Rama here. Rather he is glorifying Rama. Although Rama is a kala avatara, He is still same as Krishna. Krishna reciprocates in the same bhava you have. Whether it is krodha - like Sisupala had so much anger towards him. Kama - here kama is highest state of prema of gopis. Even those who are envious or have enmity towards him He gives them mukti. He reciprocates the pranaya of sakhas or of Baladeva's bhava or vatsalya of Yasoda. Even Kubja who had kama bhava was delivered by Him. Pranaya of Vrajavasis etc. We should follow them. Never disregard or disobey prayer of Brahmaji or think that 'Oh how he knows this tattva although he is a devotee in santa bhava.'
3 September 1999 - Evening Class
I told before that today is Janmastami. Now we will start Shrimad-Bhagavatam.
In Namisharanya sixty thousand sages had assembled, frightened by the onset of Kali-yuga. They asked Suta Gosvami -- You know all sastras, puranas and vedas by the mercy of your Gurudeva Shrila Sukadeva Gosvami. You were a very dear and close disciple of his, so you know confidential things also. A disciple who has no nistha or trust does not receive any mercy or any confidential things from his guru. So the sages are asking for mercy from Suta Gosvami. In this age of Kali-yuga, the intelligence is decreasing. The symptoms of foolish people in Kali-yuga is that they all think they are very intelligent like those who disobey their guru. They are always suffering from some kind of a disease. People in this Kali-yuga although inflicted by suffering from all sides think themselves to be superior. They always have a lot to say even to their guru. So Suta Gosvami you know the essence of all vedas and sastras because of the mercy bestowed upon you by your guru so please tell us. Then Suta Gosvami began. He first paid his obeisances to his gurudeva. 'Anartha prayeshu.'
Always do seva of one who does Bhagavata and gives this fruit of Shrimad-Bhagvatam. Suta Gosvami began the tenth canto -- He described first the meeting of guru and disciple -- Narada and Vyasa. When Vyasa was not satisfied after completion of four vedas, then Narada Rsi helped him and told him, "You have not explained the very sweet pastimes of Krishna in Vraja. You have not glorified the Vraja residents." When he reached 10th canto.......(Pariksit Maharaja stuti to his guru, sloka one of 10th canto)
Those who have not heard Bhagavatam are those who are killing themselves. But one should hear from a bona fide source, from realized souls. Never think of guru and Krishna in same level as yourself. Oh our guru and Krishna have so many anarthas. This katha is like sweet nectar. Demigods from Svarga came and offered amrta to Sukadeva Gosvami and told, "Please give this to Pariksit Maharaja and he will not die even when the snake bites him. In return we want to hear this katha."
Sukadeva Gosvami said, "How foolish! Pariksit Maharaja will never do that!"
Once in Satya-yuga Drona did austere tapasya of Brahamaji and asked for the benediction, "I want vatsalya towards Bhagavan." So Brahma gave. So Drona and Dhara entered the body of Nanda and Yasoda in the next birth. They did not become Nanda and Yasoda. That is not possible because Nanda and Yasoda are eternal associates of Krishna. How could Brahma who did not have this bhava give benediction of vatsalya? Brahma knew that Krishna was going to come and also Nanda and Yasoda, so he fitted in Drona and Dhara somehow. These Drona and Dhara did raganuga bhajana under the guidance (anugatya) of Nanda and Yasoda. Brahma is not ordinary. He has got gopala-mantra and kama-gayatri. So Drona and Dhara entered the bodies of Nanda and Yasoda and maybe in later pastimes came from a womb of a gopi.
4 September 1999 (Nandotsava and Appearance Day of Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
We are very lucky to be in Mathura, near Gokula, on the banks of Yamuna for observing this festival Janmastami. But today is a special occasion. A very dear and eternal associate of Krishna was sent by Him today. Especially on the Nandotsava, it is very rare. It is the appearance day of Om Visnupada Shrila Swami Maharaja. He was born in a respectable high class family. His father gave him kartala and mrdanga and Deities of Radha and Krishna when he was little. We never see like that. He did not play with toys or guns. I am fortunate that I served him. I am happy his senior disciples are here who served him from beginning.
Jadurani joined him in New York, also Mulaprakrti, Vrndavana Vilasini, he has given such a beautiful name to her, Gopanandini, Manjari etc. He was so intelligent from his boyhood. He went to western countries preached there, translated so many authentic books of Gaudiya Vaisnavas like Caitanya-Caritamrta, Shrimad-Bhagavatam. He made hippies very happy. He engaged them in the service of Krishna. He quickly published books. He also established so many centers in America, Australia, England etc. Everywhere I go I see centers and also he was quick to join the eternal association of Krishna. . . . [end of report submitted by Manjulaali dd]