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  1. 288460379_7931125143595037_6129423906659666849_n.jpg

    The 33 day-long observance (7 June to 11 July 2022) was dedicated to Thakur Shri Radharaman under the guidance of Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami ji Maharaj and Acharya Venu Gopal ji Maharaj.

    The nectar-drenched ‘Nikunj Seva Mahotsava’ at Shri Radharaman Temple began on 7 June. The 33-day-long observance (7 June to 11 July 2022) is dedicated to Thakur Shri Radharaman under the guidance of Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami ji Maharaj and Acharya Venu Gopal ji Maharaj. Shri Abhinav Goswami and Shri Suvarna Goswami ji performed the seva from Mangala Aarti in the early morning to Shayan Aarti at night.

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    The celebration this year was accentuated with the delight of the 100th birth anniversary of ‘Nityalila Pravishta’ Jagatguru Shri Purushottam Goswami ji Maharaj.

    For the Pleasure of Shri Radharaman

    During the Mahotsav Shri Radharaman’s day begins at 4.30am with the early morning aarti and a complete reading of Shrimad Bhagavatam performed by 24 Sanskrit scholars. It was followed by renditions of Shri Chaitanya Bhagvatam and ‘sankirtan’ by Bengali Vaishnavas. Stotras such as Gopal Sahasranam and Narayan Kavach were then chanted to bestow auspiciousness on all.

    Dhata, Mitra, Aryaman, Tvastra, Varuna, Bhaga, Savitra, Vivasvat, Amsa, Pusan, Vishnu, and Indra (Sakra) are the 12 Adityas, Dhar, Dhruv, Soma, Aapah, Anil, Anal, Pratyusha, and Prabhasa -the eight Vasus and Hara, Bahurup, Triyambak, Aparajita, Vrishakapi, Shambhu, Kapardi, Revat, Mrigvyaadh, Sharva and Kapaali – 11 Rudras. Together with the two Ashwini Kumaras they make the Hindu pantheon of deities.

    Every day for 33 days, Shri Radharaman gave darshan from a new ‘Kunj’ made with flowers, leaves, fruits and other plant material. The idea behind these kunjs was that the service was being performed by the 33 koti (categories) of demigods (12 Adityas, 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras and 2 Ashwini Kumaras),  one for each of the 33 days. While someone pleased Radharaman with a mansion of delicious mangoes, others shielded Him from the summer heat with water fountains, hand fans and water pitchers.

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    Shri Radharaman ji seated in a Phool Bangla

    फूल महल बैठे नंद नंदन, फूलन तन सोभित सिंगार l फूलन की पाग फूलन की बागो, फूलन पटुका सरस सम्हार l फूलन के नख सिखलौं गहने, पहनें लालन मदन मुरार l फूलन कौ सिर पेंच वन्यौ हैं, फूलन कौ कटि बन्यौ इजार l तैंसी बनी राधिका प्यारी, फूलन झलकति सारी l तैसईं बने नंद नंदन प्रभु ‘सूरदास’ बलिहारी ll

    A special ceremony called ‘Rajopachar Seva’ is offered to the Lord twice a day during Shringar Aarati and Sandhya Aarati. Devotees held flags and other sacred insignia during the aartis as a mark of respect for the deity. People often comment that when Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami ji and his sons are in charge of the seva, Radharaman Lal looks like a young prince. Befittingly, Radharaman ji wore gorgeous new outfits specially woven by the family of Mahahraj ji every day. New ornaments and special bhog were offered to Him.

    It would be of interest here to note that His Holiness Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami Maharaj is one of the seniormost Acharya of Shri Radharaman Temple and an internationally acclaimed personality. He is also the founding trustee of ‘Vrindavan Today News’, and the founder of environmental group ‘Friends of Vrindavan’.

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    The post Shri Radharaman’s Nikunj Seva Mahotsav appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

  2. The single-storeyed stucture spread over eight cottahs at Gauribari Lane off Raja Dinendra Street

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    Pre-renovation: The building at 60/14, Gauribari Lane, off Raja Dinendra Street. It is now locally referred to as ISKCON Ultadanga

    At 11.36am on Monday, minister Sashi Panja turned the key, along with senior disciple Jananivas Das, after doing an arati before the closed door, the lock on the door to Bhaktivinode Asan clicked open and devotees gathered behind them raised their hands, chanting Hare Krishna in chorus.

    Thus 100 years after the first meeting of ISKCON founder Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with his guru Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati took place in 1922, the building that hosted the meeting was reinstated as a seat of Vaishnava spiritual practice.

    The single-storeyed stucture, spread over eight cottahs, is at 60/14, Gauribari Lane, off Raja Dinendra Street, about 15 minutes by car from the Ultadanga crossing.  The Sitalnath Jain temple is a stone’s throw away.

    The building was taken on a monthly rent of Rs 50 in 1918 to set up Gaudiya Math after the founder, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, was advised to open a preaching centre in Calcutta, said Sourish Das, a research assistant at Bhakti Vedanta Research Centre which was commissioned to set up a museum here.

    A room on the ground floor houses the museum that chronicles important events that took place when the Gaudiya Math was situated here, till 1930, when it shifted to its current Baghbazar premises.

    The address was then 1, Ultadingi Junction Road which has been retained in the signage on the outer wall.

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    Post renovation: The building at 60/14, Gauribari Lane, off Raja Dinendra Street. It is now locally referred to as ISKCON Ultadanga

    Glimpses of past

    The museum has photographs of nam sankirtan happening on the road in front of the building, of Saraswati with eminent visitors and local residents, as well as letters written by him with the letterhead showing the building’s address.

    Among people who came to meet Saraswati during his stay at the building was Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, who visited on April 17, 1925 along with Pijuskanti Ghosh, the son of Amrita Bazar Patrika founder-editor Sisir Kumar Ghosh, and Pandit Panchanan Tarkaratna’s educationist son Shrijiva Nyayatirtha. The news was reported in the April 24 edition of the Forward newspaper.

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    Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati with a sankirtan party outside the building, then known as Bhaktivinoda Asan

    On October 5, 1930, the deities were removed in a chariot from the old address to be installed at the new math in Baghbazar. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, then the mayor of Calcutta, participated in the festival and met Saraswati. The newspaper Liberty reported this on October 12.

    Since then, the building was held in trust but due to lack of maintenance, was falling into a state of disrepair. Jananivas Das, a direct disciple of Prabhupada who is the head priest at ISKCON’s Mayapur temple, recalls being taken to see the building by local devotees long before ISKCON took it over in 2008. “I am so happy today,” said the 77-year-old born in the UK, as he stepped onto the terrace where Prabhupada is said to have been initiated into the spiritual path by Saraswati.

    There under a pergola, statues have been installed of Saraswati and his disciples in a preaching session. At a side, stands an attic which was Saraswati’s living quarters.

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    A disciple takes a picture of the museum exhibits

    Downstairs, there is a temple with pictures of Radha Krishna in one of the rooms. “We will install idols soon,” said Radharaman Das, vice-president, ISKCON, Calcutta. Next to it are rooms which will lodge outstation disciples. Outside, in an open-air corridor is a tulsi mancha next to which the 80ft wide boundary wall has been done up with terracotta panels depicting the life of Shri Chaitanya in relief, in the Bishnupur style.

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    The pergola on the roof with fibre models of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and his disciples meeting the young Prabhupada, then known as Abhay Charan De, and his friend Narendra Mullick

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    Radharaman Das of ISKCON shows etchings of Shri Chaitanya’s life in terracotta relief work to minister Sashi 

    In 2001, a devotee brought the building to the notice of the ISKCON authorities. Once research established its significance, there was news that a contractor who had purchased the building was set to demolish it. “It took us six-seven years of litigation to successfully negotiate with him and another 10 years to vacate the structure of three existing tenants. Restoration could finally be started in 2019,” said Radharaman Das, who showed the minister around.

    The principles of heritage conservation were followed in the repair and renovation of the chun-surki (lime and brickdust) structure. “We found a mason from Murshidabad adept in handling heritage buildings. He took us to the Burrabazar masala patti and bought a variety of spices, chite gur, rotten woodapple (bel), pumpkin... All this was fermented and the juice extracted was used for binding of the construction material. Even for the damaged portions which had to be taken down, the brick dust was preserved and reused with fresh lime and the organic binding material,” he pointed out. One hundred litres of mustard oil were used for water-proofing of the roof.

    Even as the sun beat down upon the roof, the ground floor remained cool. The answer lay in the care taken to retain the architectural characteristics of the original structure. Every room has 16 shutters of doors and windows combined to allow maximum ventilation, he pointed out.

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    The roof itself is over 16 inches thick. To replace the damaged wooden beams, tall trees were shipped in from South America. “We used teak for the doors and windows but needed sal for the beams for which a timbre merchant was contracted to arrange for the import,” said Radharaman.

    Above the wooden logs, there are two layers of brick tiles over which 16 inches of chun-surki were laid. “This is why you get this naturally air-conditioned feel even in the heat,” he smiled.

    The cost for the renovation, including the rehabilitation of the tenants, came to about Rs 4 crore.

    Minister Sashi Panja was effusive in her praise for the effort. “This place was witness to the meeting of two great gurus that resulted in the proliferation of the messages of The Gita. The math is a pride of Calcutta as well as the whole of India,” said the minister.

  3. Shrila Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Swami

    On Thursday, January 2nd, 2020 at 1:31pm, corresponding with saptamī during the month of Pauṣa, Caitanyābda 534, our beloved Guru Mahārāja, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahamsa Parivrājakācārya Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja entered the eternal midday pastimes (madhyāhna-līlā) of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava. He was surrounded by his disciples, friends and well-wishers who were loudly singing the holy names. According to astrological calculations, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja departed at an auspicious moment, indicating that he is no longer a participant of this material realm.

    Śrīla Guru Mahārāja had been performing pastimes of illness for about five months while establishing an āśrama in Vermont, USA. During that time, he extended his mercy to many disciples and well-wishers, giving them final instructions and blessings. Although he experienced many physical disturbances, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja remained mentally alert and at the end of December 2019, he decided to return to Govindajī Gardens in India. How all this unfolded was nothing short of miraculous. Indeed, everyone that personally witnessed this could see the divine hand of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa at play. All the devotees of our mission are deeply indebted to Guru Mahārāja’s very dear friend, Śrīpāda Bhakti Abhaya Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Kuñjavihārī Prabhu, the object of Guru Mahārāja’s affection. Both these devotees performed outstanding guru-sevā during Śrīla Guru Mahārāja’s illness pastimes in Vermont. Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Kuñjavihārī Prabhu were able to bring Guru Mahārāja back to India against all odds. All the devotees in Vermont – Kalki, Mañjarī, Dāruka, Yogamāyā, Vāsudeva, Anaṅga, Bhakta-priya, Kṛṣṇa Kīrtana, Daniella, Līlā-smaraṇa, Vraja-kiśora, Vṛnda, as well as Hari Prasāda and family, all helped in so many ways to make this seemingly impossible journey a reality. Other devotees such as Prahlāda Prabhu and Anurādhā also contributed in many ways to serve Guru Mahārāja. Our humble daṇḍavats to all these Vaiṣṇavas and all the other innumerable devotees who helped.

    On returning to India, a group of devotees helped Kuñjavihāri serve Guru Mahārāja around the clock – Advaita Ācārya Prabhu, Gaura-Gopāla Prabhu, Rūpānuga Prabhu, Caitya-Guru Prabhu, Caitanya Dāsa Prabhu and Śyāma-kuṇḍa Prabhu. Our tireless Syāmasundara ‘Sevā-vigraha’ Prabhu also did tremendous service in organising so many important legal and managerial necessities. Guru Mahārāja's very dear godbrother Śrī Prema Kiśora Prabhu had also come with his wife Paṇḍita Mātājī, and he led kīrtana every night for the transcendental pleasure of Guru Mahārāja. We should also mention here the very important services rendered by Mukunda Prabhu, Thaldīpa Kṛṣṇa Prabhu, Muralī-Kṛṣṇa Prabhu, Yaśodā Mātājī, Dr. Phanimādhava and Dr. Rājendra.

    On the day of his disappearance from this mortal world, for about six hours, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja’s eyes remained open, without blinking. Then, five minutes before his departure, all his vital signs returned to normal again and at 1:31pm, his eyes closed for the last time.

    His transcendental form was bathed, he was dressed in new cloth and tilaka was applied in twelve places. Then the sannyasa-mantra was written on his chest and he was decorated with candana and flower garlands. At 6:30pm hundreds of people flocked to take his darśana, offering garlands and flowers at his lotus feet. For many hours, the devotees and many members of the public sat outside on the verandah of his bhajana-kuṭīra chanting the mahā-mantra. On hearing of his departure, many beautiful words of appreciation came from godbrothers, godsisters and admirers from all corners of the globe.

    The following morning at around 8:00am, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja was carried in procession from his room for darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrī Śrī Gaura-Rādhā-Mādhava, Jagannātha, Gaura-Gadādhara and Yoga-Narasiṁha. As his transcendental form came to Govardhana Hill, the bamboo under the basket he was being carried in, began to slip and the devotees carrying him were forced to put him down between Govardhana and Govinda Kuṇḍa while they fixed the bamboo. Those who are of keen spiritual intelligence will understand that this was no accident – it was indicative of the desire of our pūrvācāryas to find residence at the foot of Govardhana Hill where they engage in the nitya-sevā of the Divine Couple.

    His divine form was then lowered into the samādhi-pītha, where he was offered worship and naivedyam by Kuñjavihārī Prabhu. All the devotees then took antya-darśana (last darśana) of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja. After the samādhi-pītha was filled, a photo of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja was established and the first arati was offered by Syāmasundara Prabhu, during which time Gaura Gopāla Prabhu sang the newly composed samādhi ārati song for the pleasure of Guru Mahārāja and the devotees.

    For all his disciples and followers, Śrīla Guru Mahārāja was like a blazing sun, dissipating the darkness of ignorance. His articles, books and lectures are the invaluable legacy that have inspired devotees around the world, and will continue to do so for years to come. But now the sun of Śrīla Guru Mahārāja has set, and we, his followers, are drowning in a deep, dark ocean of intense pain and separation, bereft of shelter. We have lost our spiritual guide and our dearmost friend – the thought of never seeing him again in this lifetime has broken our hearts. We will never again be able to sit with him, discuss philosophy, laugh or honour prasādam together. Everything around us feels bleak and lifeless.

    śūnyāyate mahā-goṣṭhaṁ girīndro 'jagarāyate
    vyāghra-tuṇḍāyate kuṇḍaṁ jīvātu-rahitasya me

    “Now that I no longer have the preserver of my life, the land of Vraja has become desolate, Govardhana Hill has become like a great serpent, and Rādhā-kuṇḍa appears like the gaping mouth of a ferocious tiger.” (Prārthanāśraya-caturdaśaka, verse 11, by Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī)

    Our only consolation is that he is now with his Guardians, Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and Śrīla Purī Mahārāja - either preaching with them on another plane, or with them in the green pastures of Vraja-bhūmi happily serving the Divine Couple, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara.

    He has left us with the priceless gift of devotional service and the treasure of Gauḍīya siddhānta, and all his sincere and dedicated followers will be able to find the strength that they require and attain his direct, personal association by faithfully adhering to his instructions and propagating them.

    Swami B.V. Giri

     

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