Gaura Purnima Maha Harinam
Posted by iskconklnews on April 12, 2010
By Bhakta Mayank
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati padam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate
Glory to the Sri-Krsna-Sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This Sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
“namnam akari bahuda nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrisi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
surdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah”
O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names, like Krsna and Govinda. In these transcendental names, You have invested all your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach you by your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
nama om vishnu-padaya krsna presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-swamin iti namine
namas te saraswati deve gaura-vani-pracharine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvatī Gosvāmī. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
vancha kalpatarubhyas cha
krpa-sindhubhya eva cha
patitanam pavanebhyo vaishnavebhyo namo namah
I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord. They are just like desire trees who can fulfill the desires of everyone, and they are full of compassion for the fallen conditioned souls.
I would like to present my respectful obeisances and heartfelt thanks to HG Rasika Murari Prabhu on whose instruction and encouragement, I made an attempt to write this article about the Maha Harinaam at Rawang, on the eve of Gaura Purnima with the sole intention to serve the devotees and for my purification.
I would also like to offer my respectful obeisances to all the senior devotees of the congregation of Shri Jagannath Mandir, Kuala Lumpur, who are always blessing us with their association. I would like to seek their kind blessings, for me to develop some faith and attraction towards serving the Lord and His devotees. With a feeling of gratefulness, I would like to convey my regards to all the devotees for their valuable association and for all the lessons on etiquette that we learn from their example.
I would thus like to beg forgiveness to all, for any offence being committed in this attempt for my own purification.
It was Friday, the 26th of February, a local ‘holiday’ at work for many working organizations at KL and a ‘holy-day’ as well, for the ‘Vaishnavas’ all over the world. It was an “Ekadashi”. It had been a few months since Mahesh Prabhu and me, started to observe a partial fast.
In the morning, we completed the daily ‘rounds’ of chanting, in the inspiring company of Gautam Prabhu and later tuned together to a few lectures. We thereafter, honored the delicious ‘Ekadashi Prasadam’. For those observing a partial fast, the food that can be consumed on the Ekadasi day includes fresh and dried fruits, milk products, vegetables and nuts. The exotic ‘Prasadam’, expertly cooked by Mahesh Prabhu, was an exquisite cuisine consisting of a thick paste of potatoes and tomatoes, mixed with curd, fried-salted peanuts, and a pampering banana-milk shake for the dessert. Thus began a day of fast, with a full-fledged feast!
Later in the afternoon we were asked by Gautam Prabhu to accompany him to the temple, Shri Jagannath Mandir, from where a team of devotees were scheduled to travel to Rawang to participate for the Maha Harinaam, on the auspicious eve of the celebration of the Grand festival of Gaura Purnima, the appearance of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, to be celebrated, on the coming Sunday, the 28th of February.
We reached the temple as dark rain clouds hovered upon us with the distant rumble of thunder. The winds lingered furtively across the earth embracing the trees and rustling through the leaves. We were amongst the first few to reach the temple. Owing to the absence of neither devotees nor the bus, we stood about the entrance to the temple hall, and let another few anxious moments pass. For once we felt confused whether the information was correct.
It was the heavily overcast sky, which reminded me of one of my favorite quotes which said “The best thing one can do when it rains, is to let it rain.” Somehow after being in constant association of devotees, for quite a while, the quote now revealed its meaning to me, which was, to simply leave everything upon the Lord!
It was soon time for the evening ‘Darshan’, and we gathered in the temple hall, as a few devotees arrived. Offering our obeisances to Shri Jagannath Baladeva and Subhadra, the presiding deities of Shri Jagannath Mandir, Kuala Lumpur, graciously accompanied by ‘Shri Radha-Syamsundar’ at the right and ‘Shri Gaura-Nitai’ at the left, a melodious kirtan, in the soul-stirring voice of Mahesh Prabhu was all we needed to set the mood for the ‘Sankirtana’, which we were about to participate in.
By the time the ‘Darshan’ was over and the curtains drawn shut, all of us were now eager to embark on the journey to Rawang, where we awaited the Maha Harinaam. With spirits soaring high, we made our way out of the temple hall.
One of the devotees, smiled at me, and in a light humor expressed his concerns “Prabhu, I hope we are not the only ones for the Harinaam this evening.” I noticed it was not more than ten devotees, who had showed up to participate in the event.
I had no reasons to understand the way, the Lord reciprocated with the devotees, until the next moment, when “Nitai-Sachi Suta”, the presiding deities at Sunil Prabhu’s house, blessed us with their auspicious presence. It was just a moment ago, when a devotee of the Lord had expressed concern over the association of fewer devotees for the Harinaam, and the next moment marked the arrival of the Lord Himself!
Paying obeisances to the deities, Mahesh Prabhu and Gautam Prabhu led them onboard the bus as we followed shortly behind. We were welcomed with a loud conversation, in a Tamil video that played on the TV set. As we occupied our seats, despite our constant struggle to appreciate, what was in front of our eyes in the form of a devotional movie, and to show no offence to the loud portrayal of demigods, we felt annoyed to some extent. One could well imagine if this was the case with the characters of the demigods, what to mention of the demons!
Our constant prayers and efforts were all left in vain, as upon our repeated requests the driver confirmed that the volume couldn’t be lowered. Sunil Prabhu was however determined to do the ‘rounds’ of chanting on the beads as he had decided even before boarding the bus. We felt inspired and decided to join him taking out our bead bags.
With a finger of my left hand, closing my left ear, and with the right hand, holding the beads in the bead bags, I started to chant the Mahamantra. Hardly a minute had passed, when all of a sudden, the speakers roared with a loud laughter. Imagining the arrival of a demon in the movie, I found myself quip, as I saw a character in the movie laugh his head off! Unable to concentrate any longer, I somehow tried hard to keep a straight face.
Losing the battle against my mind, which kept pushing my senses towards the television anticipating the humorous sight, I slightly opened my eyes and looked around to find Gautam Prabhu. I saw even him smiling with his eyes closed and the next moment, almost together we looked at each other and burst into giggles. It was one of the moments, which was to remain fresh in my memories for long.
Somehow, struggling hard to concentrate, amidst the constant battle between the demon of my mind and the chanting, I finished a round of chanting. The bus had by now, left the temple, and was racing past a highway as we heard the “Nrsimha Pranaam” prayers being recited, led by His Grace Gaura Chandra Prabhu. The devotees, who had by now grown in number wholeheartedly followed.
I remember HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu, ever since the day that I had first met him, to be a beaming personality, carrying the huge aura of delight and bliss around him. As we got to hear more of “Krishna Katha” and realizations from him in the temple and the counselor meetings, I soon realized he was far beyond, what my material mind could conceive.
It was the grand celebration of “Radha Asthami” in the temple. We sat closely at the temple hall, surrounding him as he spoke of the condition of the living entity in the material world, giving an example of a person travelling by a local train to the next station. He mentioned that while travelling, a person feels the need of certain things which could make his journey a bit more comfortable.
“Considering that he somehow arranges for an air conditioner or a television or a bed or whatever he desires, what importance and comfort will these provide, the moment he realizes that he has to disembark the next minute!” Prabhu left us wondering.
He later explained that as the same person struggles to carve his way out, through the densely packed crowd, he realizes that the objects which were a source of comfort to him few moments ago are now nothing but a burden. As he struggles to get out of the train where he rolls over and over between the passengers who are getting in and out, he still finds hard to let go of the attachment for the so called comforts, which now turn out to be the source of miseries. Concluding the example, Prabhu had summed it all up declaring “This is the real condition of the people of the world.”
“Do you want to have some fun?” HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu now held on to the microphone. A few nodded, while the rest appeared confused at the question.
“If not, then you are not a living entity.” Silence was all which was left hanging as everybody anticipated what followed next.
“Every living entity wants to have fun, isn’t it?” he added, clarifying his previous statement and thus lighting up smiles on all faces.
A small announcement was made, about the activities planned up through the journey, which included a kirtan to begin with, followed by a quiz about the life of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The devotees, appreciated being equipped with the microphone, which served well, save getting intermittent at times, thus sang the Hare Krishna Mahamantra in true spirit. The same speaker system, which had earlier troubled us with the loud laughter of the characters playing demigods and demons, now spread the absolute sound vibration of Mahamantra.
The much awaited quiz was soon started as the devotees glued themselves towards HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu. The first few questions included the name of the scripture where the Hare Krishna Mahamantra is mentioned- the ‘Kali Santarana Upanishad’, the place of birth of the Lord- Yogapit, names of His parents- Shri Jagannath Mishra and Mata Sachi, His childhood names,- Vishwambhara, Nimai etc. The answers to some of the questions appeared familiar to me, as I noted everything down in a notebook.
However some of the questions, about the later part of the life of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared Greek to me as I sat lost, amongst devotees who were shooting most of the questions down one after the other.
It was astounding, in particular to be a witness to the responses given by Shyam, a young kid, who answered almost all the questions. When directly questioned for the name of the place where Mahaprabhu took ‘sanyasa’, I found my mind fumble “K… K… K….” before I heard myself, finally blurt out “No Idea Prabhu Ji!” I watched on as Shyam jumped up and shouted “Katwa”
I couldn’t help compare myself to the kid, so nicely brought up in the devotee family of HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu and HG Chandrika Mata Ji as proud parents.
I recently heard HG Yashoda Yogeshwari Mata Ji, share a statement, in one of our counselor meetings, that these kids are but great ‘Vaishnavas’, who have taken birth in the family of devotees.
The statement made me meditate on the benediction achieved by devotees practicing devotional service in the previous lives to be blessed with a birth in either an opulent family or in the family of a devotee, to help them continue their devotional life, as mentioned in one of the verses of ‘Bhagavad Gita’. Considering the precious time of my life that I had simply wasted, I wondered what level of devotion and purification a soul would have undergone to be this kid. Inspired and humbled by the innocent and inspiring display of knowledge by this young kid, I resolved to get more regular with my reading and listening habits and prayed for the mercy to help me develop attraction towards the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord.
Finding me lost and confused, Gautam Prabhu, consoled me stating that most of the questions were from the recent three-session evening discourses given by HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu, in the temple, which I had unfortunately missed. It was hard to get a cab for the temple in the evenings as most cabbies seldom agreed to drive to Old Klang Road, due to heavy traffic. Besides that, most of the cab drivers didn’t even consider to halt for us, as they noticed us wearing dhotis.
As I badly regretted having missed attending the three day Gaura-Lila discourses, glancing through the window panes, the natural beauty that lay outside provided peace. The dense green forests and tiny waterfalls trickling through the rocks, in the backdrop of grey sky ran down a chill of tranquility within the heart.
The land which was at times covered by thick forest on either sides of the highway now grew flat, covered with lush green plain lands spread far until the dark grey horizon. Rawang appeared to me to be a scarcely populated town, untouched with the hustle and bustle of the big cities like KL. The roads appeared narrower, and mostly deserted. The serenity of the place spoke volumes for Rawang being the perfect choice as a place for a Harinaam.
Amidst light drizzle, we arrived at the Durga temple, bustling with devotees, preparing to welcome “Nitai- Sachi Suta”. The auspiciousness of the moment was marked with a heavy downpour that started almost as the bus arrived at the spot. Somehow, with great care and delicacy, Nitai-Sachi Suta were welcomed in the temple, where arrangements were already being made for an altar at the temple hall along with a mellow kirtan that appeared to progress in sync with the rain.
The devotees, mildly drenched in the rain, having made the endeavor to assemble together with the sole motive to glorify the Lord and His holy names, now eagerly awaited to be showered with the mercy of their Lordships, who glanced over the devotees, beautifully gracing the altar.
Meanwhile, as the possibility of the Harinaam began to appear uncertain, with clouds pouring buckets of water nourishing earth, the devotees were being nourished with an introduction to the event, by HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu, who presented beautiful narrations of the forms of Lord Krishna, explaining the difference in the mood of Lord Shri Krishna as Lord Jagannath and as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Within moments, as the curtains were drawn open for the main altar of the Durga temple with the ‘Arati’, the heavy rain, that appeared to be testing the determination, gave way for the devotees to proceed for the Harinaam.
“So, let us pay our humble obeisances to Goddess Durga, who is a great devotee of the Lord.” HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu thus said, as the devotees prepared to depart for the Harinaam. The words, however reminded me of the video that we had watched in the morning with Gautam Prabhu. In the lecture, His Holiness Tamal Krishna Maharaj, spoke about the different demigods and presented several statements from the scriptures, revealing their positions as great devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Maharaj mentioned that Goddess Durga or Kali is like the mother of the universe and therefore worshipped by some as the supreme, but we should always understand that, although a mother gives birth to a child, it is the father who has to plant the seed into the mother before the child can be born. Therefore we have the statement given by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita that I am the seed giving father of all living entities. Therefore it is not the mother ultimately responsible for the birth; it is the father, who plants the seed. So, from this we should understand that even goddess Durga or Kali is not free on her own; she also has to take instruction. She is also serving someone.
Actually she is a great devotee of the Lord but she has a thankless task, just like the prison house-keeper, no one really likes him, but actually he is very good servant of the state. So, she is the dear-most servant of the God, but she has a thankless task. She has to keep the living entities within this material world. However for one, who surrenders unto the supreme Lord Krishna, very easily goddess Durga will help this person to get out of the material world.
Paying obeisances to Goddess Durga, the devotees then left for the Maha Harinaam, led by HG Rasika Murari Prabhu. A team of devotees took forward the task of door to door book distribution, as the rest followed the Kirtan singing along the melodious “Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna He”!
The evening, filled with freshness, after the heavy rain, thus became a perfect platform for the devotees to go out and spread the holy names. HG Vishnu Chaitanya Prabhu, temple president of Shri Jagannath Mandir, soon took lead of the kirtan, spreading the peace and purity of the holy name at the same time providing great joy to the hearts of the devotees, who enthusiastically followed in small groups. It was highly inspiring to be an insignificant part of such an auspicious event, in the association and under the shelter of some of the most senior members of the temple congregation.
It was an altogether different kind of Harinaam experience for me. While the previous experience at Batu Caves was high on energy being carried out amidst a huge crowd, this time we simply strolled our way through the locality singing along mellow tunes of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and at the same time relishing the blissful atmosphere created by the association of devotees in the twilight.
As the evening grew dark, walking under the dull amber light of the street lamps, I remember Gautam Prabhu, to be the only one, dancing all through the Harinaam with Ram and Shyam. Carrying my excuses on my shoulders in the form a back-pack and a megaphone, I smilingly declined every time I was asked to join. I couldn’t escape too long as soon Sunil Prabhu compassionately took the megaphone from me. The megaphone shifted hands from Sunil Prabhu to Mahesh Prabhu and then to Gautam Prabhu, providing all of us an opportunity to experience the bliss and joy in letting go one’s hesitations and releasing oneself fully to the kirtan. It was but the association of such souls that added taste to the experience of the Harinaam.
Few faces peeped behind the curtains of the windows from the houses, as witnesses to the captivating display of joy and bliss by the devotees in singing, dancing and distributing books, all being fully absorbed in the moment. At times while the devotees offered books and Prasadam packed in small packets, people often invited them in, for the kirtan to be carried out in their houses. A few devotees would then gather in the living room and chant ecstatically, spreading the auspiciousness in the homes through the holy name.
After spending almost two blissful hours in the locality, spreading the holy name, purifying homes, and relishing the taste of the devotional life within, the devotees returned to the Durga temple for the Prasadam.
As we gathered once again in front of the deities, a light kirtan was performed for the pleasure of the Lordships, before we found ourselves face to face with yet another feast, as a variety of dishes lay served as Ekadashi Prasadam- simple food that tastes extraordinary every time. I feel sure that, for those who have relished such feasts, a menu with Ekadashi rice, vegetable made up of potatoes, boiled and fried peanuts or “Kacang”, salad, and potato fries, all after being offered to the Lord, could leave their mouths flooded at any given time.
A special dessert that came as a surprise for me was in the form of appreciation from HG Rasika Murari Prabhu for the previous article that I had written about a Harinaam at Batu Caves on the eve of Thaipusam.
“Mayank Prabhu, you should write about this Harinaam as well.” Prabhu Ji said as he patted my back smilingly.
“I will try Prabhu Ji.” I smiled back.
“No! You have to write. It is my instruction.”
With that I wasn’t left with any other option but to say a meek “Yes, I will.”
I felt elated, having received the words of appreciation from him and the right with which he instructed me. At the same time, I observed my mind blissfully sailing high in the sky, spreading the wings of false pride!
On our journey back in the bus, while many devotees glued themselves to the television, watching a video depicting the pastimes of Prahlada Maharaj in Tamil, I pressed my head against the window pane, trying to ignore the nightmare come true, with the loud depiction of demon ‘Hiranyakashyap’. I have had enough from the characters depicting demigods, earlier during our journey to Rawang, making it intolerable now, to bear the loud screams from the character depicting demon ‘Hiranyakashyap’.
At the same time, I noticed Sunil Prabhu, engrossed in chanting, while Mahesh Prabhu and Gautam Prabhu engaged themselves in a conversation. Since the dialogues in the movie were filled with high pitch exclamations, that too in Tamil, the laughter was all I could relate to. It was too hard for me to keep myself from bursting into laughter whenever I heard the same demoniac laugh.
Being too engrossed in the scenes where demons would laugh together at anything, I had almost forgotten that I was travelling in a bus full of devotees and most of them were resting, until I noticed a few heads turn towards me. I wasn’t sure what they thought, but I soon realized that I was loud enough to compete with any of the demoniac laughs I had witnessed throughout the day! Ashamed of myself, I wished for a demon to appear, preferably from the television itself, and gulp me down his throat, saving me from the embarrassment!
In the background of the loud noise coming from the speakers just above, where I was seated, what HG Gaura Chandra Prabhu shared with us, being two seats away to the front, was completely inaudible, except the statement where he shared that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu loved to hear the pastimes of Prahlada Maharaj and Dhruva Maharaj.
As the bus approached nearer to the Shri Jagannath Mandir, I was woken up from the nap, by a melodious chanting of “Narayana namah”. It was none other than Prahlada Maharaj in the movie, urging a demon to chant the names of Lord Narayana or Vishnu. The devotees in the bus, overwhelmed with joy loudly chanted “Hari Bol” when under the influence and deep conviction of Prahlada Maharaj, the demon who had come to convince Prahlada Maharaj to chant the names of Hiranyakashyap, himself started chanting “Narayana namah”!
Celebrating the victory of a devotee over the demons, just as we stepped down from the bus at the temple, where we were to stay overnight at Gautam Prabhu’s place, I prayed for Lord’s mercy to save us from the clutches of our demoniac senses, working under the influence of the contaminated mind.
Like always, I could sense the reply to my prayers, in the form of devotees, who by now bid Hare Krishna to each other before departing to their respective places. Just following in their footsteps, all we had to do was to make a sincere endeavor! Quite like the one we had just made!
All glories to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada!