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Narasimha Chaturdashi

Narasimha Chaturdashi

Weeping, I will beg at the lotus-feet of Lord Narasimha for the benediction of worshipping Radha and Krsna in Navadvipa, perfectly safe and free from all  difficulties. When will this Lord Hari, Whose terrible form strikes fear into fear itself, ever become pleased and show me His mercy?

Bhakti Vighna Vinashak Narasimha Dev, the destroyer of all obstacles on the path of bhakti, is very merciful to all his devotees and his appearance day, which is celebrated on the chaturdashi tithi of the Vaishakh month, is celebrated by one and all with great enthusiasm, with the desire to please lord Narahari and become fearless on the path of bhakti, so that we may attain the ultimate goal of life, which is the loving service at the feet of the divine couple Shri Shri Radha Shyamsundar.

This material world is nothing but the perverted reflection of the spiritual world, and therefore all the rasas that are experienced here are present in their pure state in the Supreme Lord, and hence when once the Lord desired to taste vira rasa, the mellows of chivalry, the lord’s internal potency, Yogamaya, mada an arrangement that when the four Kumaras, who were exalted devotees of the lord, came to Vaikuntha, to take darshan of Lord Narayan, Jaya and Vijaya, the gate keepers of Vaikuntha, being influenced by Yogaymaya stopped them, and the four Kumaras, displaying transcendental anger at their behavior, cursed them, and told them to choose between taking 7 births as great devotees of the Lord or 3 births as demons, who would be killed by the Lord. Understanding the desire of the Lord and wanting to please him, Jaya and Vijaya chose to become demons, so that the Lord may enjoy vira rasa by fighting with them. There is no one qualified in this entire universe to satisfy the desires of the Lord other than his pure devotees, and therefore this desire of the Lord also had to be fulfilled by the pure devotees of the Lord, and for the pleasure of the Lord his servants descended on this earth as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu.

After Hiranyaksha was killed by Varahadev, Hiranyakashipu became furious and with a desire to take revenge for his brother’s death and to kill Vishnu, he proceeded to the mountains to perform severe austerities and gain the benediction of immorality so that he may defeat Vishnu. While he was performing severe austerities by not eating or drinking anything and his entire body was eaten by ants, Indra kidnapped Kayadhu, the wife of Hiranyakashipu, with the intention to kill the child within her womb, thinking him to become a threat to the demigods when he would grow up, but Narad muni after convincing indra about how great a devotee the son of hiranyakashipu would be, he took kayadhu to his ashram, where he instructed prahlad, while still in his mother’s womb, about the science of Krishna consciousness. Being thus instructed by Narad, Prahlad maharaj, when sent to school by his father, started preaching to his friends about bhakti and transformed all the demoniac children in to devotees. He gave them the instruction of nava vidha bhakti, which are the nine prominent kinds of bhakti out of the sixty four angas of bhakti mentioned in the shastras.

sri-prahlada uvaca
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam
sakhyam atma-nivedanam

iti pumsarpita visnau
bhaktis cen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha
tan manye ‘dhitam uttamam
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.5.23-24)

[“Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) – these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.”]

When, however, Hiranyakashipu realized the devotion that Prahlad had for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and he was informed that Prahlad was imparting that knowledge and devotion unto other students as well, he was infuriated, and deciding to kill his very own son, he tried to harm Prahalad maharaj in various ways, like throwing him of a mountain cliff, trying to burn him by putting him on the lap of his sister Holika in the midst of a blazing fire, dipping him in boiling hot oil and many more cruel tactics of torture to kill him. Enraged by the fact that none of his endeavors were harming Prahlad in the least, he demanded to know the source of his strength because of which he was being protected, in answer to which Prahlad maharaj started glorifying Lord Vishnu. Upon hearing the glories of Vishnu from his son, Hiranyakashipu asked him about the whereabouts of the Lord and Prahlad told him that the Supreme Personality is omnipresent and is therefore present in every part of this universe. Envious as he was of the Lord, he immediately struck a pillar with his fist after Prahlad had confirmed that the lord would be present there too, and out came Lord Narasimha dev, the lord’s half lion, half man incarnation, which was so ferocious in his appearance that Hiranyakashipu could understand, his death was now certain. Yet he fought with the Lord, and Narasimhadev, without transgressing the benediction that Hiranyakashipu had received from Brahma, tore open his body and killed him, thus giving pleasure to the entire universe, which had been suffering due to the atrocities of the demon.

After the anger of the Lord had been pacified by the prayers of his dear devotee Prahlad, being desirous to bestow upon Prahlad a boon, he asked him to ask for anything that he may desire. Being a great Vaishnava, Prahlad maharaj prayed to the lord for the welfare of all the conditioned souls, upon which the Lord proclaimed that anyone who would hear the description of the story of Prahlad Narasimha would be quickly liberated and would not have to suffer in this material world. On this auspicious occasion we too implore the Lord to bestow his mercy upon us, so that being freed from all obstacles on the path of bhakti we may make rapid advancement in spiritual life and go back home back to godhead.

In Iskcon Vrindavan, the festival of the appearance day of lord Narasimha dev is observed by all the devotees by keeping a fast for the pleasure of the Lord till dusk.  In the morning all the devotees engage in glorifying the Lord’s pastimes and in the evening all the devotees assemble for the abhishek ceremony of the lord accompanied by uproarious kirtan. After being bathed, Lord Narasimha dev and all the deities are offered an elaborate offering prepared by the devotees with great devotion. After the offering and evening arati, all the devotees honour ekadashi prashad to their full satisfaction.

tava kara-kamala-vare nakham adbhuta-śṛńgaḿ

dalita-hiraṇyakaśipu-tanu-bhṛńgam

keśava dhṛta-narahari-rūpa jaya jagadīśa hare

O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of half-man, half-lionl All glories to You! Just as one can easily crush a wasp between one’s fingernails, so in the same way the body of the wasp like demon Hiranyakasipu has been ripped apart by the wonderful pointed nails on Your beautiful lotus hands.

Radha Raman appearance day

Radha Raman appearance day

All glories to the most beautiful and lustrous Shri Radharaman, the three-fold bending posture of whose soft and shining form submerges the hearts of all the devotees gazing at his smiling, playful, ever fresh and ever youthful face, which puts to shame the beauty of millions of lotus flowers, into an ocean of unprecedented transcendental bliss. His exquisitely beautiful and enchanting lotus like eyes, his arched eyebrows, his gorgeous nose and mischievous broad smile churn the hearts of the devotees with love. His lotus like face, which is said to be like that of Shri Gopinath, profusely oozing with nectar that draws the bumble bee minds of the devotees to him, desirous to relish his beauty which is sweeter than the sweetest honey. His broad and sturdy chest, the resting place of all the goddesses of fortune, tapers down to his thin waist, from which no one is able to remove their eyes, and the lure of his deep, enchanting navel, which cannot be described in words, is likened to the form of Govinda dev. And his charming legs and delicate feet, which are the solace of the living entities burning in the forest fire of material existence, resemble those of Madanmohan. In this way, Radharaman, the most ravishing and gorgeous manifestation of Krishna in the form of a deity, is the combination of the three most prominent deities, namely Madanmohan, Govinda dev and Gopinath. Adorned with beautiful garments and jewels, Radharaman, the one who is enjoying pastimes with Shrimati Radhika, rules over everyone’s heart.

On Vaishakh Purnima, which is tomorrow, the appearance day of Radharaman is celebrated in Shridham Vrindavan with great splendour and enthusiasm. It is on this day that the Lord manifested his, this most attractive, form for the pleasure of his dear devotee Shrila Gopal bhatta goswami.  This most intriguing story, of how the lord is always desirous of fulfilling the desires of his devotees, starts when one of the six Goswamis of Vrindavan, Shrila Gopal bhatta goswami, who had the good fortune of serving Mahaprabhu in his childhood when Mahaprabhu stayed in his parent’s house for chaturmasa during his tour of South India, goes to the river Gandaki in the Himalayas before coming to Vrindavan, as per the instructions of Mahaprabhu, who told him to serve his parents till their departure from this material world and thereafter go to Vrindavan. When bathing in the Gandaki, twelve Shaligram shillas entered the bathing pot that Gopal bhatta goswami was using. He placed the Shilas back in the river as he was not willing to take them with him, but when the same incident occurred thrice, he understood that the Lord wanted him to serve the Shaligrams and therefore he brought them with him to Vrindavan, where he served them with great love and devotion while residing in the association of Shrila Rupa goswami and Sanatan goswami. After some time, a wealthy man came to Vrindavan and wishing to render some service to the Vaishnavas, donated gorgeous garments and jewellery to Shrila Gopal bhatta goswami to use in the service to his deities. However, due to the shilas being round and not displaying the fine features of the Lord, he was unable to utilize these gifts in the service of the lord, and was therefore remorseful, thinking of how it would be so wonderful if he had a deity of the Lord, whom he could dress and adorn with jewels. He spent his entire time contemplating the beautiful form of the Lord and how he would feel very joyous at heart if he could serve a deity of the Krishna. Meditating thus on this matter, he went to sleep. The next morning, when he opened the bag, in which he used to keep his Shilas, to worship his Shaligrams, he saw, that instead of twelve, there were only eleven, and that the Damodar Shila had transformed into an exquisitely beautiful deity of Krishna, resplendent with charming features. He immediately told Shrila Rupa and Sanatan goswami of what had happened, and being overjoyed everyone bathed Radharaman with tears of love and devotion. In this way the lord manifested himself for the pleasure of his dear devotee, who then dressed and decorated the Lord with the garments and jewellery that he had received, thus feeling immense satisfaction and pleasure in his heart.

The worship of Radharaman is, till the present day, being carried out upholding the highest standards, since the time of Shrila Gopal bhatta goswami, by his followers. Shrila Gopal bhatta, who is the author of Sat kriya sar deepika and Hari bhakti vilas, gaudiya literatures describing about deity worship and the different sanskaras, set high standards for the worship of his beloved Radharaman which is still being carried out by the present day goswamis. Radharaman is served and taken care of with utmost care and affection in accordance with the season and the various pastime of the Lord. Various bhajans, suitable to the time of the day and the pastimes that the Lord performs at those times, are sung by the devotees for his pleasure. His form, the beauty of which is unparalleled, is adorned by various decorations, which make him appear even more splendid. When Shrila Prabhupad was establishing the Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan, he instructed his disciples to go and learn deity worship from the goswamis of Radharaman and follow the standard of worship being followed there.

Praying at the lotus feet of Radharaman on this auspicious day of his appearance, we hope that one day out of his cause less mercy, he will make his divine appearance in our hearts and fill them with Krishna prem. May we all remain forever enamoured by his most enchanting three fold bending form, that puts to shame the beauty of millions of sapphires and is more delicate and soft then butter tinged with the hue of blue lotuses and may we be blessed with loving service to his lotus feet, which would make our lives successful.

Rukmini dwadashi

Rukmini dwadashi

The Shukla paksha Dwadashi tithi in the auspicious month of Vaishakh is the holy appearance day of Srimati Rukimi devi, the eternal consort of Sri Krishna and the foremost of his 16,108 wivees in Sri Dwarka dham, where Krishna performs his eternal pastimes as Dwarkadheesh. Born as the daughter of King Bhishmaka, Rukmini was the princess of Vaidarbha and the sister of Rukmi. Having heard of the superexcellent qualities of Sri Krishna, she had given her heart to him and wanted to marry him, which, when her parents came to know about it, was supported by her parents, but Rukmi, her brother, was a wicked minded person having friends like the evil Jarasandha and Shishupal and, being envious of Krishna, he decided to give her in marriage to Shishupal against her desire. When Rukmini came to know of this, she immediately sent a trusted Brahmana messenger to Sri Krishna in Dwarka, and explaining her predicament, she requested him to come kidnap her and except her as his wife. Excepting her request, Sri Krishna went and kidnapped her and excepted her as his wife. Lord Balaram also went after Krishna when he got news of the happenings and he fought the battle with Jarasandha and Shishupal while Krishna was kidnapping Rukmini. On Rukmini’s request, Rukmi, who had followed the chariot of Krishna, was spared from being killed by Krishna after the fight that ensued between them when Rukmi caught up with Krishna’s chariot, but, as a punishment, Sri Krishna shaved his head and left him to live with the dishonor of being defeated. Taking his newly wedded bride back to Dwaraka, where the residents of the place welcomed them with a grand festival to celebrate the occasion, Rukmini devi went on to be Krishna’s most prominent wife and the mother of Pradyuman and 9 other sons and 1 daughter of Krishna. There are many other pastimes as well, showing the transcendental glories of Rukmini devi, like the time when Satyabhama devi, Krishna’s another wife, gave Krishna in donation to Narad muni, in accordance to a vrata that he told her to do in order to gain more affection from her husband, and then he instructed her to give as much gold and jewels in donation as Krishna’s weight. She put all her jewels and even requested the other queens to give their jewels, but the scale would not budge at all. She finally had to swallow her pride and request Rukmini to solve the situation and Rukmini devi, offering her respects to her husband, placed a leaf of Tulsi on the scale and immediately the scales tipped to the other side. This pastime shows her devotion to her husband and extols her transcendental qualities. Srimati Rukmini devi is extremely devotes and submissive to her husband Sri Krishna and is the epitome of Swakiya rasa. She is the expansion of Srimati Candravali, the lead Sakhi of the rival group in Sri Vrindavan dham. On her appearance day, we offer our respects to her and hope to receive her mercy to someday engage in the service of Sri Krishna in Sri Vrindavan dham as the maid servants of Srimati Radhika.