Vrindavan, Govardhana, Jaipur, and Delhi
January 2012 - Book distribution and Preaching report by Abhirama das (USA)
This winter was passing by nicely in the beautiful temple of Sri Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Matha, immersed in hours of Hari Katha every day on the 10th Canto with the purports of Srila Gurudeva and the previous acharyas spoken by Sripad Vishnu- Daivata Maharaja. I learned that Maharaja would be going to Delhi to join Sripad Sridar Maharaja there who was conducting a week long Bhagavat Saptaha in cooperation with the Raman Bihari Gaudiya Matha and I quickly made up my mind to not lose the opportunity to go along with him to hear the sweet narrations of Krsna’s pastimes and to do some preaching as well.
Our party of four left the Matha before mangala arati and took a local train from the Vrindavan Road station direct to Delhi for only 20 rupees each! We sang kirtana along the way and distributed books to various people on the train collecting names and e-mail addresses for the Hari Katha mailing list. Along with the new edition of the hindi, ‘Way of Love,’ we also distributed artwork and flyers explaining we are the International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society and about its founder, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayan Goswami Maharaja.
In Delhi we reached Sri Ramana Bihari Gaudiya Matha without a hitch, gliding over the busy streets of in a quiet Metro, speaking with several people along the way. That night at the Bhagavat Saptaha we distributed 100 hindi ‘Way of Love’ to the eager audience who received them with great joy. The books were provided through the GVP book sponsorship program and within a short time we were receiving feedback from people who read the book and were amazed by its beauty, requesting more copies to give their friends and family.
The following night’s Hari Katha was filled with delightful pastimes and practical teachings about why everybody should adopt the ways and practices both internal and external of the Pure Bhakti Yoga Society such as wearing a sikha, kunti mala, tilaka, and chanting japa on beads. Both Sripad Sridar Maharaja and Sriman Ramachandra prabhu gave a presentation in which they demonstrated to all of the people present how to chant on a japa mala at which time the devotees passed out hundreds of malas and guided the entire audience in a group mantra meditation. After the program, myself and Jagadish prabhu from the Philippines, sold books and many pieces of artwork at a book table and gave people invitations to the Janak Puri Matha where the narrations of Bhagavan Sri Krsna and His devotees are continuously flowing.
The following weekend there was tremendous enthusiasm from the Delhi devotees to hear more Hari Katha and thus a group formed to come to Giriraja Govardhana to perform parikrama on the full moon day under the guidance of Sripad Sridar Maharaja. Myself and Jagadish prabhu distributed 100 hindi Way of Love books along the parikrama marga to people who were visiting Govardhana from all parts of India as we chanted the Holy Names with the devotees and heard Hari Katha at the holy places. Especially wonderful was how after our last books which we were carrying were distributed, we danced and chanted in ecstasy along the parikrama marga with the devotees while there was a full lunar eclipse in effect. Srila Gurudeva’s presence by performing his seva inspired us to give his precious books to everyone, and while remembering his instruction, “All for All,” we approached everyone in sight including the vendors as well as the quiet Babajis and Braj-vasis performing bhajan around the lotus feet of Govardhana. To our great joy they would very carefully receive the book into their holy hands, accepting it with veneration and holding it to their foreheads before proceeding to procure one rupee or two from their pocket or bhajan kutir to donate for the book. All glories to Srila Gurudeva who bestowed on us the opportunity to take the foot dust of such beautiful souls through engaging us in his transcendental book distribution while performing Govardhana Parikrama under the guidance of his sanyasis.
The following weekend was another adventure in book distribution thanks to Sri Guru and Vaishnavas and especially GVP’s book sponsorship program. We piled a box high with many of Srila Gurudeva’s powerful scriptures in Hindi such as the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Rasa Pancha Dyaya, Gita Govinda, Ujvala Nilamani and many others. Taking a bicycle rickshaw that was sitting idle in the Matha, we peddled across Vrindavana dodging the bulls and garlanded pilgrims along the streets to reach our destination on the Parikrama Marga in front of Ananda Dhama. It was Ekadasi and as we chanted the Holy Names holding our sign with Srila Gurudeva’s and Sri Gaura Nitai’s picture, we began to disseminate some of the most highly exalted transcendental literature in the universe to the fortunate souls who were attracted by our simple display. It did not take long, no more than two hours, before our entire book cart had been emptied by the deserving pilgrims including the Babas doing parikrama who took the books with great interest and respect giving whatever donation they could. Along the auspicious path we met Sripad Sridar Maharaja, Sripad Vishnu-Daivata Mahraja, and several devotees who were performing parikrama at the time. Counting our blessings and Laksmi, we returned to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Vinodha Bihariji where we deposited our collection into the temple donation box with love. What fun and exhilaration to pedal through the streets of Vrindavana carrying the precious treasures of the most Holy and most highly exalted of Rasika Vaishnavas, our Srila Gurudeva. Our attempt however could not make a dent in the stock room of the Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Matha book supply which is piled high with every title imaginable. It remains a concentrated storehouse of the love of our Gurudeva for all jiva souls of this planet available for any dedicated book distributor to move the books into the hands of the hungry people of this world tormented by the three fold sufferings and bereft of the sweetness and beauty that can be only expressed in that unique and powerful way through our Srila Gurudeva’s books.
The following weekend was the disappearance festival of our most exalted Yuga Acharya, Srila Gurudeva, and was marked by an auspicious celebration observed in Srila Gurudeva’s eternal abode in seva kunja, Sri Vrindavana, where a majestic festival was arranged by Sripad Sridar Maharaj in honor of Srila Gurdeva and Srila Vamana Goswami Maharaja in the Sri Rupa Sanatan Gaudiya Matha. The following day myself and Jagadish prabhu went along the streets of Kunja gali, Mana gali, Dana Gali, and Yamuna gali requesting the local Braja vasi vendors and residents to give a donation for our Gurudeva’s and to receive one of his divine books. Nearby temples proved to be incredible outlets for spreading the glories of the holy name through spiritual books and at one temple even the beggars sitting nearby at the entrance to the temple began to chant the Holy names with us in unison, melodiously requesting the visiting public to join in the spirit of Love of Godhead by accepting the chanting of ‘Hare Krsna’ and ‘Radhe Radhe.’
A recent excursion in spreading the glories of Srila Gurudva and His mission, the International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society, through the medium of transcendental book distribution provided by the book sponsorship program, was a trip to Jaipur again under the guidance and in the presence of the heart melting Hari Katha of Sripad Sridar Maharaja. We arrived on the second-to-last day of the Bhagavat Saptaha arranged by the local sanga of Srila Gurudeva’s Jaipur disciples for Maharaja and we brought along with us a guest who was visiting the Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Matha from Bombay, Rohan. He was seriously interested in Krishna Consciousness and after we repeated the Hari Katha we had heard from Srila Gurudeva to him, we mentioned there was a sadhu in the line of Srila Gurudeva speaking Bhagavat Katha in Jaipur and we could go and also take darshana of the original deities of Sri Vrindavana. It did not take Rohan more than a moment to make up his mind and thus the following day we arrived in Jaipur and met the local devotees who brought us to the Bhagavat Saptaha that evening where the glories of Giriraja Govardhana amongst many other wonderful childhood Lila’s of Krishna’s pastimes were being extolled in a most captivating and enchanting manner. After resting that evening we proceeded to the home where Sripad Sridar Mahraja was residing during his stay in Jaipur and our companion Rohan gratefully accepted Harinama initiation and Gopal mantra, receiving the name Rasikananda das along with many loving instructions about chanting the Harinama Maha-mantra and the Gopal mantra.
After the initiation we were ushered immediately to the Govindadeva temple by one kind local devotee, Vijay, who gave all three of us our first experience of the majesty of the Govindadeva deities. It was such an overwhelming experience, we all felt transported back to Sri Braja Bhumi as we fell flat in front of Srila Rupa Goswami’s worshipful Lord. As we waited for some time for the laddhu booth to open to acquire prasada for the eager devotees back in Vrindavana, we distributed around fifty books to the many happy and pleasant visitors to the temple, several of whom expressed their desire to come and visit our temples in Sri Vrindavana dhama. After that, we went outside in front of the temple where we encountered the group of book distributors from Vrindavana who had come to perform Harinama Sankirtana and book distribution including Damodar Priya, Rasesvari, and Caru Chandrika didis. They had a book table set up with many books of Srila Gurudeva both in Hindi and in English and were engaged in preaching to the throngs of pilgrims flowing in and out of the massive temple. We joined them by performing Harinama Sankirtana and meeting the public for an hour or so, drawing many people to come to the table to discover the transcendental goods. It was our great good fortune to meet the pujari of Sri Govindadev, a disciple of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, Sri Govinda das Mukherji, who came out to visit us and very kindly and sweetly bestowed his blessings and the blessings of Govindaji by bringing us the Mangala arati maha prasada of the deities. We honored with great relish this prasad which reminded us of the transcendental prasada of Lord Jagganath in Puri and felt immense bliss that Govindadeva would shower his mercy on his insignificant servants who were coming to take darshana of His lotus feet. Sri Govindadeva ki Jaya!
The most recent preaching opportunity which was afforded to us by the grace of Lord Krsna and His pure devotees was a fabulous opportunity to distribute more than 600 hindi “Way of Love’ to the children of Braj thanks to the GVP book sponsorship program. It was an art exhibition which was sponsored by a local organization called ‘Prayas’ which means ‘endeavor’ in Hindi. We met the president, Prabhu Abhay Vaisistha, a Harinama initiate of Srila Gurudeva, through some of the devotees of Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Matha who were taking Hindi classes from him. We were invited to attend this function which would bring together over 600 children of Vrindavan from several different school districts to display their art and were asked to share our spiritual culture and art. Upon learning the location was only a fifteen minute walk from our temples, and within view of the Govindadev temple, we once again fell flat in the dust of Srila Gurudeva’s transcendental home Braja Bhumi, grateful for his immense mercy to engage us in his sweet service.
That morning our merry band of devotees came together at the time prearranged and wheeled our rickshaw cart stocked high with a bucket of fresh halva cooked in ghee, a mic and speaker, a rug for sitting, art work and flyers, posters, and of course, the hindi ‘Way of Love’ books… reminding us of the lila which Sri Krsna performed of kicking a cart stocked full of paraphernalia. Arriving at the park as the sun broke through the Vrindavan winter cloud covering, we were met by a festive atmosphere and greeted by hundreds of children who examined our unique group with many giggles and smiles. To our amazement over twenty five devotees convened from our Vrindavan temples including Gopinath Bhavan, Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Matha, and the Rupanuga Bhajan Sthali, collectively and cooperatively creating a beautiful and magical atmosphere through the manifestation of transcendental kirtana, books, prasada, and artwork. The disciples of Srila Gurudeva worked together most harmoniously and very beautifully, enabling all the children present to glimpse the sweetness of pure devotion that is inherent in their own culture. During the program we were asked to perform kirtana and to speak before the assembled mass of Braja vasis at which time Sripad Vishnu Daivata Maharaja delivered an important messages about the value of following the pure spiritual practices inherent in Vaishnava dharma. Enthusiastic and mesmerized by the presence of Srila Gurudeva in the hearts of all present, after the program finished the devotees wheeled their rickshaw cart back to the temples, eagerly discussing plans for the next event. It was an extraordinary experience, most especially to see how many of Srila Gurudeva’s followers came and joined together in so many various ways in spreading his mission for the benefit of the future generation. Even Nani, Rupa Sanatana Matha’s elderly Mataji, came and scooped halva into leaf cups for the kids.
There is going to be another event coming up on January 21, 22, and 23rd called the Vrindavan Mahotsava where 20,000 people will convene on a public park along the parikrama marg in Chaitanya Bihar in Vrindavana where our devotees have been asked to participate to represent Srila Gurudeva’s society. Our efforts are humbly offered at his holy lotus feet, and we hope that he will be pleased and shower his mercy upon all who participate and support our attempt to try and serve him. If anyone wishes to sponsor prasadam, decorations, equipment, or books for this major outreach event in Vrindavana please contact Anita Dasi in Gopinath Bhavan, or click on the donate button below.
I am offering respects at the lotus feet of all the Vaishnavas and Vaishnavis, especially those who are promoting the mission of Srila Gurudeva to establish his mano-bhista or internal desire in this world by creating an international society in order to preserve and protect his teachings and to give shelter and strength to all his followers and devotees. Most especially to enable all sincere seeking souls who did not have a chance to meet him personally but who have now come to know and love him through his books, to receive his “heartly blessings” through the channel of his pure followers.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya!
International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society Ki Jaya!
-Insignificant aspiring servant of the pure servants of Srila Gurudeva,
Abhirama das (USA)