Sri Sri Guru Gaurangau Jayatah

Remembering the Festivals,
21st to 25th December 2002

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip

by Kum Kum Devi Dasi

Now we are remembering the grand holy festival of December 21st to 25th in Sridham Nabadwip, beginning with the Sri Vyasa Puja of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. Streams and streams of devotees from all over the world traveled here to give honour to His Divine Grace and to receive his unlimited blessings.

Just prior to the festival, many devotees from England, United States, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, France, Holland, Turkey, Italy, Mauritius, Georgia, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, and other sections of India joined the Bengali servitors. On December 18th, Srila Gurudeva and many devotees travelled from Kolkata and the affectionate care of Sripad Bhakti Prapanna Tirtha Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Madhurya Mangal Maharaj, and all the residents of Sree Chaitanya Saraswata Krishnanushilana Sangha in Dum Dum Park, to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Nabadwip. Arriving here, within a short time we all settled into our new quarters and prepared for the festivals.

Seeing the wonderful development taking place here, we tried to grasp the glories of the newly constructed 'Sriman Mahaprabhu's Divine Water Play and Sri Gupta Govardhan Sri Mandir' and the Sevashram, which are nearly complete, as well as the progressive work on the Mandir of Lord Shiva. It is hard to sufficiently express the extensive beauty of these manifestations of Gurudev's love for his Srila Guru Maharaj. Whether at sunrise, noon, sunset, or under the full moon with the torches lit, the new buildings appear like luminous crystal and porcelain, in the vicinity of the holy Sri Govinda Kunda and its stately steps and pillars, flowers, parikrama path, and swan-like geese.

When the grand morning of Srila Gurudev's Appearance Day arrived, the entire Dhama had flower accents. Intricate designs covered every inch of Srila Guru Maharaj Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj's Samadhi Mandir, the Mandir of Their Lordships Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundarjiu, the nat-mandir, and the outside and inside of Srila Gurudev's house. In some places these designs were made with garlands hung as swags and jabots and in others, the flowers themselves were the varying paint-colours forming one-meter pictures. All the morning's regular programmes were much more elaborate than usual to accommodate all the devotees who yearned for a chance to glorify our Spiritual Master and thereby receive grace.

Srila Gurudeva received as many as possible in his veranda in the early morning, from 3:30 onwards. To each "Happy Birthday!" wish expressed to him, he respectfully replied "Happy Birthday!" He descended his steps around 10:00 a.m. to give blessings to the many followers. All got to see his jovial, vigorous smile in the beautifully decorated nat-mandir. Srila Gurudev's talk glorified his Guru Maharaj with such sweet remembrance of their holy pastimes. We felt ourselves fortunate to catch a glimpse of the extreme affection between them.

As the limited time allowed, Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj and Sripad Bhakti Prapanna Tirtha Maharaj each spoke in English to the satisfied assembly. The exalted sannyasis attending from abroad were Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Kusum Ashram Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Chandan Parvat Maharaj and Sripad Bhakti Premik Siddhanti Maharaj. When it was time to offer puspanjali to Gurudeva, the river of devotees was channelled by Sripad Bhakti Amal Paramahamsa Maharaj to avoid crushing Srila Gurudev, because everyone wanted the chance to offer flowers and to be seen by him.

After arati the festival Prasadam was expertly distributed in practically every available sitting place in the Math. Hundreds of eastern and western adult and child devotees with bright faces honoured Prasadam in orderly lines in the verandas, Prasadam halls, and all sorts of walkways. The feast included dhal, plain rice, pushpanna rice, papadam chips, three subjis including jackfruit, tomato chutney, and misthi doy. As soon as we saw all of this in amazement, the other sweets followed: gulabjamans, rasagulas the size of goose eggs, channa jelabhi, sweet rice, and none other than cake and ice cream by the kindness of Srimati Sunanda Devi Dasi of Hawaii.

Thus satisfied, Srila Gurudeva and all the devotees, except the untiring kitchen crew and cleaners, laid their heads to rest.

Next Day: Sripat Bamunpara Festival

This annual pilgrimage gave us the opportunity to visit the place that captures the most blessed event, the Appearance Place of our Srila Gurudeva. Before morning Prasad on December 22nd we loaded into five buses plus several Tata Sumos and drove for almost 2 hours over roads that caused the vehicles to dance in accompaniment to the kirttans led by Sripad Bhagavat Maharaj and other enthusiastic leaders. On the way we stopped for breakfast. Everyone eagerly accepted boxes happily distributed amongst us of sweets and savouries, bananas, and loaves of butter bread. We were greeted all along the way by cries of "Hare Krishna! Haribol!" by eager villagers. It was remarkable to think about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda first exhibiting Their Sankirttan pastimes in this same area.

Just prior to Bamunpara, we stopped at the village of Denur to hear about the transcendental pastime of Lord Nityananda giving mercy to Srila Vrindavan das Thakur here. Under a particular haritaki tree, Sripad Paramahamsa Maharaj told us that during their transcendental travels, Vrindavan das Thakur collected the haritaki fruits, favoured by Nityananda Prabhu as an after-meal mouth-freshener and aid to digestion. However, when Lord Nityananda saw that Vrindavan das Thakur had stored some (for Nityananda Prabhu), he scolded, "This storing is not the behaviour of a renunciate! You remain here in a house." Because of this divine reprimand, Vrindavan das Thakur took the opportunity to settle here and write the Sri Chaitanya Mangal (now called Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat) in that holy village of Denur. Sri Veda Vyasa descended in Kali Yuga as Sri Vrindavan das Thakur. We also got darshan of the Gaura Nitai deities of Sri Vrindavan das Thakur.

Soon after this we reached our Sri Chaitanya Sridhar Govinda Seva Ashram, Bamunpara. The many devotees from Navadwip were met by hundreds more in the village on the parikrama to Srila Gurudev's childhood home. We saw the villagers, their animals and the huts -- most of which were made only of straw and mud, some with electricity and one with a television antenna.

The buildings that comprise Srila Gurudev's former home are maintained by his saintly family. We paid our respects at the family Deities' mandir which boasts a large picture of Gurudeva from a Mexican poster. We then went to the labour room of his mother which is Srila Gurudev's precise advent spot, and then we saw around the house, compound and goshala. We even saw his childhood bicycle.

Srila Gurudeva later told us that his parents had prayed to Lord Shiva for a son, whom they would allow to leave home after sixteen years, and that only later he realised that this exactly corresponded to the time he joined Srila Guru Maharaj and Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.

All of Srila Gurudeva's family members were charmingly hospitable, even the smallest children. It was ecstatic to reflect that the little boys were playing in the same places and similar ways as the childhood stories we have heard about His Divine Grace.

After Ashram Maharaj's and Paramahamsa Maharaj's talks, we returned to the Bamunpara Seva Ashram where we were sumptuously fed with varieties of Prasadam including delicious kittri, two subjis, yoghurt, salad, sweet rice, and rasagulas. As soon as the devotees finished honouring Prasadam they spontaneously began to enthusiastically assist serving Prasadam to more than 15,000 happy villagers.

Finally, the return bus trip gave more chance for Sankirttan. The devotees chanted constantly for the whole journey back to Nabadwip.


Disappearance festival of Sri Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad

The next day was the Avirbhav Mahotsava for Sri Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. In the packed-to-capacity nat-mandir, Srila Gurudeva spoke from about 11 o'clock about Srila Saraswati Thakur. He spoke in Bengali and it was pleasing to see the local devotees catching his humorous means of explaining the glories of Srila Saraswati Thakur, as we caught familiar words and phrases. His talk was followed by his own golden voice singing kirttans, then, to our astonishment, he sang 'Sri Rupa Manjari Pada' followed by the Mahamantra. Sripad Tirtha Maharaj then kept the kirttan going even longer. This feast was also very elaborate, with varieties of rice, subjis, dahl, chutney, sweet rice and rasagulas.

In this way I have tried to share these special days. With all apologies to the world-wide devotees for my complete insufficiency in attempting to account these divine pastimes of our beloved Gurudeva Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

Kum Kum Devi Dasi
December 26, 2002
Sridham Nabadwip

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Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip.