When the alarm went off this morning, I felt like hitting the snooze button and taking some more time out. But I could hear the other devotees were already up. I most definitely did not want to loose out on any action. I survived the cold shower and did not spend too much energy being upset about the lack of proper facilities – this was India after all! If ever you find yourself in Jaipur – try not to stay at Stephels. At this hotel, each time you leave the room, the caretakers would come and switch of the electricity as the mains were outside each room. So if you left your cellphone or ipod charging with the hope that it will be done by the time you get back – then too bad for you. We gathered at Jai Singh Palace, the hotel where the other devotees were staying. Surprisingly, we left on time. When we got to the Radha Govinda temple, Guru Maharaj was already there.
Their mangal aarti programs are different but really sweet. I just love the mood of the devotees there. They sing so beautifully and with such emotion. I could not believe we were at mangal aarti at the Govindaji temple in Jaipur. How much sweeter can our experiences get?
After that very wonderful darshan we had a very nice japa session with Guru Maharaj. Guru Maharaj had His own program and He gave a short class before greetings. During this class he discussed the sambandhadhideva, abhidheyadhideva and prayojanadhideva pranam mantras – the mantras of Madan Mohan, Govindaji and Gopinatha respectively. Guru Maharaj said that these deities are the 3 main deities of the Gaudiya vaishnavas. They are all forms of Krishna and someone can argue – why not just Krishna? Why these 3 different forms? Why are there different forms like Radha Madhava and Radha Radhanatha? Why not just Krishna?
So Guru Maharaj explained that Krishna has different moods, each of which is very special, deep and wonderful. Devotees like to focus from time to time on a particular mood or manifestation of the Lord eg. Lord Nrshimadeva. He is very much in a particular mood. When Srila Prabhupada first became ill in America, he instructed devotees to begin practice of chanting Nrshinga mantras. Srila Prabhupada could have just said chant Hare Krishna and that would have not been wrong, but Nrshimadev is Krishna in a particular mood focussing on that. For the glory of Krishna himself we chant the name of Lord Nrshimadev. We are not minimising Krishna but rather enhancing the glory of Krishna.
Similarly with these 3 deities, we know they are Krishna. They have specific moods displaying specific characteristics. When we focus on them in the right context it brings out the glory of Krishna more. Yesterday we were at the Madan Mohan temple at Karauli and the darshan was very wonderful. Guru Maharaj said if we looked through some binoculars, we would’ve seen the face décor was so beautiful. Madan Mohan is there to help the neophyte devotees. He is there to help all devotees but he is particularly concerned with the beginner devotees. He is checking whether you are able to control your senses and mind and He is watching you like that. If He sees that the devotees are not able to control their senses and mind, but He knows that the devotees are sincere and trying, then Madan Mohan will be kind to that devotee and give His mercy to help in those particular regards.
Govindaji is watching how the devotees are engaging their senses and mind in practical devotional service. If He sees that the devotees are a little weak, He gives them some special mercy – here you take some devotional service and you engage in devotional service. That is Govindaji’s particular focus. It does not mean that Madan Mohan is not concerned about engagement in devotional service and vice versa, but they still have particular interests. Like Lord Nrshimadeva is looking to see when the devotees need to be protected. He is not so much focussing on rasa dancing – not that He does not like it, He does like it – it is just not His thing.
These specifics are in the context of acintya bheda abheda tattva. For example, the prayer to Madan Mohan – one is expressing feelings of weakness – being lame, ill advised…We can say that we are getting bad advice from materialists but Guru Maharaj cautioned us that there is one other material person – he is our mind. We are responsible for the mind. If we do something wrong in Krishna Consciousness, we cannot simply say “it was my mind, not me. I am good, my mind is the problem.” Guru Maharaj said “we are rascals therefore we got rascal minds”.
Govindaji is prayed to differently. Cupid (Madan) wanted to agitate Krishna so he went to the rasa dance arena to fire arrows at Krishna. He was trying to aim at Krishna but He was moving so fast that he was struggling to focus on Krishna. But he tried and tried and he saw how beautiful Krishna is. He dropped his bow and arrow and fainted. This is Madan Mohan. He is very important for those of us who need help with controlling the mind and senses. But how do we control our mind and senses? We cannot just sit there. We need engagement in devotional service and also the mercy of Govinda.
We ultimately need the shelter of Gopinatha. We need to be able to appreciate the pastimes of Krishna, not just control our mind and senses and not just serve, serve, serve. We need to appreciate who is Krishna, what is His personality, what are His activities? This needs to be there as part of the greater picture. Therefore Krishna Consciousness is wholistic. We do not just worship Madan Mohan for a while then give Him up, then worship Govinda for a while and then give Him up, then worship Gopinatha and then give Him up. No, it is not like that. All these deities are always very important in the lives of all the devotees.
Guru Maharaj said “when I was in the process of joining Iskcon, I was on the material platform very nicely but I had some interest in spiritual things. I met a congregation devotee who was reading Krishna Book. He read some to me. He read some description of the rasa dance. I knew nothing but I heard this amazing description including how this was pure love, spiritual love and not material lust. Therefore my mind became attracted”. This was part of the big picture. Govindaji is a very important part in the whole picture. He is overseeing the process of practice of pure devotional service. He is also Lord of the cows. He was given the name Govinda 5000 years ago by the cows. It is a very important part of the process to respect the cows.
Yesterday we saw Madan Mohan, Govindaji and Gopinatha. Today our focus will be Govindaji and Gopinatha. Guru Maharaj asked us to remember the prayers that we read.
After class we walked to the Gopinatha temple for darshan. Gopinatha was worshipped by Madhu Pandit, a close associate of the 6 Goswamis. The original cap and chaddar that he wore can be seen here. It is made purely from tulasi beads and is kept in a glass cabinet. Guru Maharaj called for the door of the cabinet to be open so that we could have nice darshan. They were very obliging.
Then for a short while we just visited the local temples. We went to the Radha Vinodha temple. The Radha Vinodh deities are the original deities which were found by Lokanatha Goswami. “Vinodh” means resting place. Guru Maharaj said “Krishna is the resting place of everything and the best of everything is within Krishna. So if we take shelter of Krishna very nicely, then we will get the best of everything”.
We walked through the town and it was quite busy, especially the roads. We had to cross one huge intersection and Guru Maharaj said it was “hair raising” crossing the road but we all made it to the other side unharmed.
We then stopped of at the Radha Damodara temple. These pastimes are covered in our Vrindavana Town reports earlier in the parikrama, so I will not repeat them.
We returned to Jai Singh Palace for lunch. At about 2pm we gathered again to go to Kanak Vrindavan – the garden of Vrindavana. There we visited two Radha Madhava temples. Then we had to decide if we wanted to go to the garden or to the town of Jaipur to do shopping if we needed. The garden got the votes eventually as we may have not had enough time for shopping. We bought our entry tickets and we stayed on and spent some time in the very beautiful gardens. The gardens are really beautiful and there were some preparations for some sort of reception which was about to happen. Here there is a place where one could dress up in different costumes and have their picture taken. We just walked and chanted with Guru Maharaj. It was about closing time when we arrived at the garden so we went back to the hotel for supper and then called it a day. Tomorrow morning is mangal aarti at Gopinatha temple. This will be our very last day on parikrama and I am feeling sad even as I type this. All this while that I spent reporting felt like I was actually on parikrama again. I’ll bring the last day to you soon. Hare Krishna!
Syamarani devi dasi