#3 | Temple Visits
Following the Master | Holi Vrindavan India 2020
08 March 2020
Yesterday Guruji didn’t make an appearance at morning prayers, which were longer than usual as the devotees chanted the Vishnu Sahasranama, the Narayana Suktam and Pancha Suktam, as is customary on Saturdays.
Shortly after the morning prayers, Rishi Akashananda delivered his first lecture. Rishiji focused, first of all, on the understanding of the position of the Swamis towards the devotees of Bhakti Marga. He stressed the need to understand that whatever the Swamis do or say is intended for the benefit of the devotee’s spiritual growth, with the ultimate purpose of getting the devotees closer to Guruji. Rishiji then explained two types of morals: heteronomous and autonomous. The heteronomous moral is imposed from external authority, whilst the autonomous moral it is rooted inside of us. He used this to help the devotees understand the way Guruji works with them, starting from the feeling of the imposition of rules at the beginning of their journey, up until the moment they embody the principles and practices, making them their own.
To conclude the lecture, Rishiji told the story of the sword of Damocles and the story of Shukadeva and King Janaka. From the story of Damocles, one can learn how, from an egocentric position of power, the danger is what surrounds one, because one might lose what one has as a result. While from the story of Shukadeva, the teaching is that one should always be focused on Narayana, without getting entangled in that which surrounds one on a daily basis.
After the lecture, we had a quick lunch before the pilgrims set off for a long walk to the Katyayini Devi temple. After waiting for a good while, Guruji arrived and spoke to the group about the importance of this temple. It was there that the gopis performed their 40-day vrat and worship of Katyayini Devi to earn Krishna as their husband. Guruji said that, unfortunately, many people worship Devi and Shankara for material benefits, but those who pray to them purely for the attainment of Sriman Narayan, then that is the best prayer.
Then we headed to the Govinda Devji temple established by Rupa Goswami. There the story was told of how the original deities, said to have been created by Krishna’s great-grandson, Vajranabha, were transported to Jaipur during the Mughal attack on Vrindavan, led by the then ruler, Aurangzeb. The original ones remain in Jaipur, so the devotees took the darshan of the current deities installed, which of course resemble the originals. The pujari then took Guruji and a few devotees inside the mulasthanam where they received a special darshan of a Katyayini murti that Rupa Goswami had personally worshipped.
After this special darshan, the group headed on to the main Sri Sampradaya temple in Vrindavan, the Sri Rangji temple. The main deities are Krishna and Andal, although there are several side temples, including one for Sudarshan Narasimha, Venkateshwara and Sri Ramanuja Acharya together with Nammalvar, Madhurakavialvar and Natha Muni. The entire group of 300 pilgrims chanted for Sriman Narayana with great joy as we circumambulated the main temple. As it was getting pretty late, the group decided to make a last stop at the temple of Gopeshwar Mahadev. On the way, we made a quick pause at Brahma Kund, the spot at which Lord Brahma performed Sri Krishna’s abhishekam after the famed Brahma Vimohana lila. At the Gopeshwar Mahadev temple, the pilgrims all performed abhishekam to Lord Shiva, offering milk, perfume, chandan, flowers and all the usual puja items. Many devotees were able to personally rub the offerings onto the Shiva-lingam itself, whilst the rest sang the praises of Gopeshwar Mahadev (Lord Shiva in the guise of a gopi).
We then headed home for our planned evening kirtan session. We were very happy to receive the legendary kirtan singer, Vaiyasaki Das Prabhu, and several other musical guests, who rocked our temple! Guruji and the pilgrims sang at the top of their lungs and danced incessantly for hours! Apart from a small interruption for arati and prasad distribution, the kirtan lasted around 3 hours - and were it not for neighbourly ethics and hungry stomachs, we could have happily gone on for hours!
Stay tuned for more posts as we ‘Follow the Master’ on an adventure to the Divine!