Janmastami Celebration

For the last few days, Vrindavan has been celebrating Janmastami, the birthday of Krishna. We offer you our brief report of the event. Listen to the sounds and submerge yourself into the atmosphere of the festival:

Krishna-Balaram Mandir, evening kirtan by Govinda Swami on the day before the festival
      Kirtan on Janmastami Eve | download

Krishna Balaram Mandir, Mangala Arati early morning on Janmastami day, by Govinda Swami
      Mangala Arati | download

Roaring kirtan at Krishna Balaram Mandir on Janmastami night. Listen to the full length track below and check this short video we filmed on iPhone (sorry for the quality, but it was simply impossible to use any bigger camera in such a crowd 🙂 )

 

Janmastami night kirtan at Krishna Balaram temple in Vrindavan, full length soundtrack
      Janmastami Night Kirtan | download

photo by VishakhaThe appearance day of Srila Prabhupada, the very next day. Guru Puja performed by Govinda Swami
      Guru Puja to Prabhupad | download

The offering to Srila Prabhupada by Govinda Swami
      Offering to Prabhupad | download

Gurvastakam prayer sung by Govinda Swami
      Gurvastakam | download

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photo by Govinda SwamiI arrived to the Krishna Balaram temple but was too late for the morning arati, having been in the car from Delhi airport most of the night. I sat down doing some meditation, enjoying being back in Vrindavan and waiting for the altar to open. The minutes were crawling on quite slowly and I had been waiting for months. Now it was only a few minutes and finally the doors opened. The priests were blowing their conch, and seconds later the curtain was drawn.
photo by Shyam GopalI was standing right in front of Him, and he was smiling, happy to see me (?) again. I realize how great his love is, he is not a piece of marble, marble cannot radiate love like he does, and marble cannot communicate.

The kirtan was more and more powerful and reaching its climax. The mridanga player was making a big show, like a transcendental rock artist, and suddenly the kirtan was over and everybody bowed down to the floor in a dandavat pranam.

I had forgot the Bhagavad Gita book at home, so I went to the Goura Nitai bookstall to buy some new books to read on the journey I was about to undertake. Standing by the counter, I noticed some pendants looking like Sri Radha’s feet, and I heard somebody telling me to buy one of them and put it into my shirt pocket. What could I do but accept the request?

A few minutes later, we were sitting in the car heading for Gangotri but before, to Meerut and Rishikesh. We stopped in New Delhi for lunch and some shopping, and a couple of hours later we reached Meerut Abu lane, Babajis house.
Abhir and Prithi came to meet us. It was good to be back with my brothers and sisters in Meerut.

We were sitting and talking with Abhir and Prithi, when the small voice from inside said “Now you can give Sri Radha’s feet pendant to her”.
I picked up the little box from my pocket, gave it to Prithi and told her, “I am bringing you Sri Radha’s feet from Vrindavan”. She was speechless. Abhir then told us that it was her birthday that day and that in the morning, she had prayed for long to Sri Radha that she wanted to always be in Sri Radha’s devotional service. Then a few hours later, I was bringing the pendant with Sri Radha’s footprints.

I then told her I’m only the mail man here, the givers of this gift are Radha and Shyamasundar and they were using me as postman since I was coming here. Time in Meerut is always too short. We had to reach Rishikesh by the evening and were trying to get there in time for Ganga arati. Soon, we were on the road again.

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photo by Shyam GopalMy first time in Vrindavan was in 1995-1996, when together with my husband we went there to study and we had the experience that it is “an incredible India”. Although we were warned about the dirt, polluted water, difficult weather, etc, just by entering the outskirts of Vrindavan, I was literally transformed. There was something in the air that made me feel like I was in the holiest place in the world. People would greet each other saying “Jaya Radhe”, indicating who is ruling over this place. photo by Govinda SwamiThe cows were frolicking freely on the streets, not disturbed by people. The chirping of peacocks, parrots and millions of other birds and the ringing of bells, announcing temple worship, were heard from all directions.

Now, everytime I get a chance to go to this most amazing place, I just hanker to be immersed in the spiritual emotions which are so strong there that you can almost touch them with your hand.

Here is a story I’ve personally heard when I was in Vrindavan last November.

photo by Shyam GopalWe were walking on the path by the back fields, marveling at the beauty and serenity of the old Vrindavan, undisturbed by vehicles. On the way, we met a farmer who was beaming with a huge smile. We stopped to talk to him. He told us he has four daughters and a son, and that all his gardens had recently been destroyed by the heavy flood during the rainy season. He lost 200 000 rupees, which is a fortune not only for a poor farmer. When we heard that, we couldn’t help but ask him why he was so happy. After all, in our understanding he must have been suffering a lot of distress and anxiety. His answer shows the glory of a real devotee of the Lord: he said, “Happiness is the heart full of love”. He then walked on, while we stood staring at him in admiration, hoping to one day achieve that “heart full of love”.

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photo by Govinda SwamiBefore going to Vrindavan I heard so many times that this place is special. Before my trip I read so many books about this Holy Vrindavan. I thought I was ready for this special trip but … the adventures were coming….. 🙂
At Delhi airport my friend and I decided to go to Vrindavan not by taxi but by public transport (thinking we could manage it). That was our mistake, we underestimated this country. India is very extraordinary! It took us eight hours to get to Vrindavan (If you take a taxi, usually it takes  you about 3 hours…) photo by Govinda SwamiThere were so many adventures on our way: the bus got broken several times, I had to stop the bus because I didn’t feel well, we had to take different motor-rickshaws packed with a huge bunch of people. When we arrived at Krishna-Balaram Mandir (the ISKCON temple) we were sooooo happy to reach this special place finally!
photo by Shyam GopalOur friend found a very nice ashram for us.  Our room was simple and a little bit austere but we loved it. Our ashram was situated in a temple. Whenever we were going out of our room, immediately we could find ourselves in the temple room. Every morning we were woken up by sounds of indian musical instruments and sweet melodies of mantra Radhe Syam. This experience is unforgettable!
I liked to spend my mornings in different Vrindavan temples (by the way, there are more than 5000 temples in Vrindavan, that’s impressive, isn’t it..?) I was sitting in a temple, meditating, chanting the Maha-Mantra and watching the people in the temple. photo by Govinda SwamiI was very fascinated by how every early morning people would rush to one of their favorite temples and they would stand in a queue to buy a garland or sweets for the Lord, they would crowd the temple room, trying to pass their offerings to the temple pujari so that he could offer them to the Lord. And only after making these offerings would they go to work. This happens every morning!!! While I was watching the Vrindavan style of life I remembered Moscow mornings…people are rushing to their work, they are standing in a queue to buy cigarettes or newspapers,  then they are stuck in huge traffic jams. Everybody is aggressive and angry, all their thoughts are only about  work, money and (I hope) family…
photo by Govinda SwamiI love Vrindavan! God is in the centre of everybody’s life and the result is: Vrindavan inhabitants are peacefully happy!
I wish I could go to Vrindavan every year and experience this spiritual happiness. When you are surrounded by sadhus, spiritually happy people, you become happy as well, it’s contagious!!!

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