Connecting disciples of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami
All Glories To Srila Guru & Gauranga!
All Glories To Srila Prabhupada!
This is what captured my attention in the introduction part of the ‘Safari’ book by HG Teja Gaurangi Devi Dasi: “The Safari was a pilgrimage, but it was indeed much more. Besides the opportunity to visit holy places, the safari gave us a wonderful chance to take part in and develop a taste in preaching. This pilgrimage in the mood of harinaam sankirtanafollowed the route tread by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He traveled across Bharata-varsha. The intensity and sweetness of it all was greatly enhanced by the association of many devotees from all over the world, which we enjoyed for three full weeks without a single break! ”
Well the Sri Khetra Parikrama was for only three days, the tour gave us unlimited spiritual benefits and devotional ecstasies and spiritual battery surcharge. Sri Khetra Jagannath Puri is the most important and significant Dham for Vaishnavism. Many of Mahaprabhu’s followers never visited Vrindavan but went to Puri. Mahaprabhu stayed in Purusottam Khetra for 18 years and did His Anta-Lila Pastimes. All the Dhams like Vrindavan, Navadvipa, Dwarka is in Jagannath Puri and so is the benefit churned out of this parikrama. Kapila Samhita says:
“Sakshad Vaikuntha Rupam Tat Kshetram Sri Purusottamah
Kshetra Nam Api Kshetram Ca Tirtha Nam Api Yad Varam”
The place famous as Sri Purusottam Kshetra is actually Vaikuntha, Vaikuntha’s direct manifestation. This place is more significant than any other holy place.
We reached there by Howrah-Puri express (the experience in the train was a sublime one, there were more devotees going to the parikrama than others!) on 23rd November morning, and got our hotel rooms and wrist bands according to registration, at the Bhakti Kuthi, ISKCON Puri, which was the house of HDG Bhaktivinode Thakur, our Acarya, & the then Magistrate of Puri and Bengal, the highest power an Indian can hold under the British Raj. Arrangements were very splendid which was very necessary to do all these fast. Hotel rooms were clean and fine, and the hotels were near to the Prasad & Stage base grounds. We quickly freshened up and got out to meet the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Jagannath and His two siblings, Baladev and Subhadra, at the Sri Mandir. Our very simple, merciful, devoted, and (unlike most of the other Pandas!) generous panda, who is very dear to HH Radhanath Swami, HG Ramkumar Panda Prabhu helped us go inside and have a lovely and fantastic darshan of the Divine Trio. Jagannath is so merciful upon me every time I ask something from Him, like this time I prayed to Him so that I don’t miss the parikrama, I thanked Him for everything in my life. The previous times we went there, we went inside the garva griha, the altar room, but luckily we got saved this time as entry to that room was closed that time. HG Jananivasa Prabhu, head pujari of Mayapur (and you can say of the entire ISKCON world!) said in His lecture later that there are thousands of Saligrama Silas, Lord Vishnu manifested in His small stone forms, under the floor of the room and hence, its better to avoid stepping on the holy floor.
After paying obeisances, we came out and visited the other significant temples around the main mandir, like Rohini Kunda, Bimala mandir, Nrisimha temple, Kshirachora Gopinatha temple, Mahalaxmi mandir, and the temple that have Mahaprabhu’s footprints on a stone. All the temples in the premises have lots of wonderful pastimes which is there in the books of HH Bhakti Purusottam Swami.
The lunch was at 2:30pm, we had time in between so we decided to go for a sea bath. After a sea bath which was really boring (my mom was with me and every time I would go deeper, she would start shouting at me to come back near the shore!), we went for the lunch. Mahaprasad was tasty and nice and pleasantly they were giving us more than what we asked for, each time! Expert cooks were brought from Mayapur and Krsnanagar side in Bengal. We then headed towards the beach at the Srila Haridas Thakur Samadhi ghat where a splendid stage was built and the evening cultural programmes were to held over there, amidst the roaring sound of the waves, beautiful star-lit sky, soft touch of the sand, gracefully huge number of devotees and royal presence of the senior sannyasis and devotees. After the inauguration kirtan by HG Amala Kirtan Prabhu of Mayapur, HH Bhakti Purusottam Swami gave lecture on the importance of the Dham and the parikrama. Then we had the blissful presence of HH Jayapataka Swami, who inspite of still having an unfit body, has come this far to Puri and then walked over the sand to the stage to prepare us, our heart, mind, and intelligence to have the perfect mood and thoughts during the parikrama. Simply His graceful presence brought thousands of devotees at the venue and HH was very happy and ecstatic to see the ocean of devotees next to the Mahasagar, chanting “Gauranga” with Him. Actually all the Gauranga shouts would seem to be ever continuous, when the devotees had finished the ocean seemed to start which would go on and on!! After His lecture there was the Mahasagar arati, HH did the arati and that was also spectacular, there was so much wind around still the none of the wicks of the ghee lamps went off, it seemed Samudra dev was Himself present at the place and accepting the arati!
Afterwards there was the dance performance by the Bhaktivedanta National School (Mayapur) girls who had come to Puri to keep the festivity spirit on by presenting dances related to pastimes of the Lord. Then there was the “dasavatara” dance by a very renowned group of Orissa, the Prince group. And this was one of the best programmes I’ve ever seen, later I got the news that they even staged this dance before many national TV channels like Zee and Star groups. In so quick time they showed so many pastimes of the Lord with a dazzling and fulgurous impressions with innovative dresses and all-new dancing fusion of modern, acrobats and classical, there were shouts of Haribol every 30 secs or so. Then there was some bhajan singing and I left for the Srimandir for a Mahaprasad dinner!
On the next day, 24th, the devotees’ groups viz., English, Hindi, Oriya & Bengali met at the Tota Gopinath temple premises and chanted harinaam. At 6am HH Lokanath Swami, HH Subhaga Swami, HH Ram Govinda Swami, HH Gauranga Prem Swami, HH BHakti Purusottam Swami, HG Jananivasa Prabhu, HG Pankajanghri Prabhu, HG Bhadra Caru Prabhu arrived and in the holy garden of Gopinathji, in front of the Chatak Parvat, underneath the shady leaves of the trees, we had the amazing experience of hearing katha from these wonderful personalities. HH Lokanath Swami had just returned from Vraja Mandala Parikrama and He sang “Radha Krsna Prana Mora” which took all of us to Vraja! Later HH Jayapataka Swami also arrived and spoke for a few minutes. A drama was enacted on the installation of Tota Gopinath, directed by Bhadra Caru Prabhu where my counselor, Siksa-guru and spiritual guide, HG Ananga Mohan Prabhu played the role of Gadadhar, with other Mayapur devotees as Mahaprabhu and Nityananda, and the drama was so fantastic and touching, all the 3 days after this I heard its glorification from the devotees. All the sannyasis and senior devotees present praised HG AMp for his wonderful performance.
It was 9:30am and the devotees’ were asked to leave to their respective prasadam points, and I had to make some adjustments. It was 2 weeks before that HG AMp has told me to adjust and shift my registration from Bengali to the English group (as his group will be staying with that group & HH BPSM has requested HG to guide the group for the entire parikrama), but I, being always lazy and okay-no-problem type, didn’t do, I had the blue band on my wrist instead of the brown one, who are only meant to stay in the English group. What to do, I put my watch on my right wrist to cover up the blue one and started “mahaprasade govinde…!” and had the watch on my right wrist for the rest of the tour! Anyway after the yummy breakfast we set out for darshan. We went to Yamesvara Mahadeva, Siddha Bakula, Sveta Ganga, Gambhira and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya’s house, under HG AMp’s guidance. The oriya group was led by HG Bhadra Caru Prabhu, and the Bengali one by HH Gauranga Prem Swami. We had the divine presence of (The ISKCON Dvujtattva!) HG Jananivasa Prabhu and HG Pankajanghri Prabhu with us and nectar kept flowing from Their Lotus mouth, something that gave us the real insight and understanding of the significance of the places we were going to. At the Siddha Bakul, HG Jananivasa Prabhu spoke something while describing Srila Haridas’ pastime of being whipped at 22 market places for chanting the holy name, that got etched in all our memory: HG told “Srila Haridas told the guards “As lons as there is one fibre of energy in my body, I wont stop chanting”. These words had a big effect on me and when I listened to that, I came in front of Sri Sri Radha Madhava, and prayed the same thing that as long as there is one fibre of energy left in my body, I wont leave Your service”. Really inspiring and encouraging, isn’t it?
At 3pm there was again ecstatic Mahaprasad lunch and then at 5:30pm we assembled at the beach where HH Bhakti Gaurav Narayan Swami, HG Jananivasa Prabhu and HG Pankajanghri prabhus told us Their wonderful realizations and the pastimes of the place. At 7pm we went to the main stage near the Gambhira and heard from HH Jayapataka Swami with another 7000 bengali and oriya devotees. Then there were dance performances by the BN School girls, and a Oriya dance by a local group who got a national prize for their excellence in the dancing. We went for the dinner Prasad and went to sleep.
On 25th we took breakfast Prasad as early as 6am and got out for darshans. We went to Kopala Mocan Mahadeva, Paramananda Puri Kupa, Markendeshwar Sarobar, the birthplace of HDG Bhakti SIddhanta Saraswati Goswami, Jagannath Vallabha Garden, Narendra Sarobar, Indradyumna Sarobar, Adi-Nrisimha temple and Gundica temple. HH Lokanath Swami spoke to us at the birthplace of HDG BSSG about the glories and pastimes of HDG and told that actual dham darshan is through the ears. HG Avadhut Prabhu was translating into hindi, all the lectures those we attended. Our guide was HG Ananga Mohan Prabhu, and apart from keeping the walking and other programs enthusiastic by his wonderful kirtans, he kept us informing about the glories and pastimes to wherever we went with a bit of his unique sprinkles of humorousness in those so that we keep laughing and our mood stays fantastic! All of the devotees in the English group were amazed and happy at his spirit and leadership qualities, each of them would do each programs with the same spirit of enthusiasm; there was a unique mood of bliss and smiles on each of us for the whole tour. HH Rama Govinda Swami was with us and He told us that He’s pretty amazed being at the Jagannath Vallabha Gardens for the 1st time! He also spoke the pastimes of Srila Ramananda Raya which happened in that place.
Beside the Gundica there was a stage built where devotees of all groups met and there were lectures from HH Jayapataka Swami, HH Subhaga Swami, HH Lokanatha Swami. Afterwards there were dramas on the pastime of Srila Ramananda Raya and Indradyumna Maharaja, directed by HG Bhadra Caru Prabhu. HH Lokanath Swami was very happy seeing the parikrama going on so nicely and promised to be present each time!
We went back, again sumptuous lunch Prasad! Then went for another sea bath with one Kolkata devotee and another devotee whom I met at the parikrama, HG Madhumangal Prabhu. He’s originally from delhi and stays in South Africa, does wonderful kirtan, plays mridanga, and is equally humble, sober, devoted, humorous and friendly, a very rare devotee whom I found so easy to talk with! The sea bath was nice as we went deeper with my mom not present there to call me up! I narrated one pastime of HG Jananivasa Prabhu’s sea bath at Oct., ’05, when HG came with the Kolkata congregation, and then we were going to get out when suddenly we saw HG Jananivasa Prabhu and HG Pankajanghri Prabhu coming into the water! We called the cameraman and got many pics with Them when groups of devotees started to get shots, though none of the pics got delivered! At evening, HH BPSM spoke to us at the beach some of the most amazing pastimes of Jagannath in the Dham. We the English group then had a very blissful experience of getting HH Jayapataka Swami with us and distributing the mercy of Jagannath and Gauranga and Their Pastimes at the Dham. He spoke His heart out about His profound and indescribable feelings about Lord Jagannath. As most of the group members didn’t have Indian bodies and couldn’t go into so many temples for darshan, He explained the reason behind this strange rule of the Sri Mandir and many temple. I did s few things for the 1st time here which I never did before, playing kartaals in the kirtan of Guru Maharaja and asking Him a question publicly over microphone! Then HH met the devotees personally and accepted many of the Oriya devotees under His Lotus Shelter or Guru Caran Ashraya.
The next day, 26th, was the birthday of Krsna’s Conchshell, Pancajanya, and the day scheduled for the 19kms Sri Kshetra Parikrama. HH Lokanath Swami told that the result of 1 month Vraja Parikrama and 7 days Navadvipa Parikrama is equal to one day Sri Kshetra Parikrama! Also we will get the reukt of doing caturmasya and bhisma panchaka! Jay! HG Bhadra Caru Prabhu did the arati of Sada Bhuja Mahaprabhu and a Conchshell, who would be with us at the long parikrama on devotees’ head, and then ocean of devotees started moving! HH Lokanath Swami, HH Rama Govinda Swami, HG Janannivasa Prabhu, HG Pankajanghri Prabhu, HH Bhakti Purusottam Swami, HH Gauranag Prem Swami were at the front row, leading everyone, and though I tried to keep up with them at the front, there was so much rush there I had to come back to the middle of the loooooooooonnggg row of devotees! There were liquid refreshments called “tanka turani", type of "santra juice” at points and long markings with white along the roads with indicators pointing out the turns, in case anyone falls behind. We kept walking and had talks with devotees like Madhumangal Prabhu and water, daab, glasses of santra and HH jayapataka Swami distributing Jagannath Prem to everyone in the form of Lord’s Khaja Prasad near the sea ghat at Chakra Tirtha! I was a bit nervous of the long bare-footed walk but then by the causeless mercy of Guru & Gauranga I didn’t feel any problem in walking the distance in just 4 hours 15 mins without a single minute rest or sitting…”pangur langhayate girim”.
It was during this walk that I had the most important realization of the tour. Actually on Dec.’09 when I went to Mayapur in a Bhakti Vriksa camp, for one day parikrama I was fortunate to be the personal servant of HH Ram Govinda Swami. Now here I met Him, but couldn’t get a valid reason to go and talk with HH, I considered approaching Him and reciting that memory an utter disturbance I’ll be creating to Maharaja. So I only said “Haribol” to Him. To my surprise, He asked me “I feel I’ve met you somewhere!”, to which I just gave an intro of that day of ’09 and He patted me. Now here is the sweetness! Though I did nothing that mentionable that day, still you see, the same principle- “don’t try to see God. Act in such a way that God Himself will try to see you!’. I later confirmed it by HG AMp that yes its better not to move around the senior devotees or Guru Maharaja all the time, talking and wasting His time over petty issues like “Bless me” a 1000 times and etc, but its better that our authority takes us to our Guru Maharaja and praises us, for that will make Them more happy, or at the best, our Guru Maharaja searching us, becoming happy with our endeavors to please Them. Nice, isn’t it?
On way back we passed about a few kms along the beach and a foot inside the water, I was stunned by the preaching spirit of HG Avadhut Prabhu. He was just fired up and giving slaps (with words, of course!) left and right to all the demoniacs like the ones sitting by the beach and looking down on us with dhotis and all, RK Mission and many such public! When we returned, we were burning with heat and saw devotees in thousands all taking sea bath! We quickly got changed and went into the water. Literally into, as Madhumangal Prabhu, my dear Godbrother Caru Govinda Prabhu and I went too deep this time which now even amazes me! There waves were too big and strong, about twice my height of 6 feet! We were playing inside when suddenly saw a mataji in her forties(or fifties!) swimming towards me ( I was at the fathest line of the devotees). I thought she’s an expert swimmer but then suddenly she caught hold of my shorts and shouted for help! I thought she’s swimming but no, there the pull current was soo strong, she was carried away! Now that I got to know the behaviour of big waves, I caught hold of her hand, and with the force of a huge wave tossed her 15/20 feet outside. Then other devotees helped her out. Goodness gracious! Jagannath had let me save someone when my mom thinks I need safeguards everytime I go into the water! Huh!
Yes, really “huh”, because I got back to the shore and found out my slippers and gamchha missing! Anyway, I got back and went for the lunch Prasad. After the Prasad and goodbyes to most of the devotees specially my new friend Madhumangal Prabhu and inspiration to writing for the pleasure of the devotees like this one by HG Chitrangada Mataji from Malaysia but now in Ujjain, I went to take rest. After getting up, we went to witness first the annual abhishek of Radha Giridhari of ISKCON puri and then the magnificent Bada Sringar Besh of Jagannath in Sri Mandir. There I talked for hours with my another very dear Godbrother Ritudvipa Gaura Prabhu about my (eternal!) question and discussion: should I take to celibacy or married life. After he, CGp and HG AMp left at 9:30pm, I went inside the temple room to see the dress change of the Lord. In front of Jagannath I met HG Golokeshwar Govinda Prabhu, one of Guru Maharaja’s servants who also came to see the event, and I discussed few of very important topics on how we can have HH Jayapataka Swami Guru Maharaja 100% fit, as soon as possible, like following all the promises and etc. Jagannath got His dress changed and accepted bhoga and then took to rest, it was 12:30 am. We got out and to our surprise Jagannath has arranged vehicles to take all of us to our respective hotels at the middle of the night!
The next day, 27th, there was an initiation ceremony at the ISKCON temple by HH Jayapataka Swami where He accepted about 50 1st & 2nd initiation candidates. He told that each of the disciples should never give up any of the promises made, even at the cost of their lives. Then after the fire sacrifice I with my family and few other devotees of Kolkata went to the Sri Mandir to honour a feast for which I wait the whole year: Jagannath Mahaprasad! Yes, inside the temple premises we took upto our neck, rice, daali, patal, besara (my most fav. dish of that temple!), polao, another type of fried rice, rasamalai and malpoa! Aaaahaaa!!!!!!!!!
On the way coming to hotel I passed the Swargadwar Burning ghat and there I had another realization. I’ve never liked to watch the scene over there but this time I just went forward and stood there, staring at the citas (burning woods and bodies). Suddenly I heard a deep-penetrating sound of a loud cry of a lady, whose relatives are holding her and pushing her out of the ghat, may be her son or husband is dead. I don’t know. But the sound of the cry and its effect is clear: we all will have to leave our bodies and then the bodies have to be burnt like that. Why then, so much interest on the beautification and wrong usage of the bodies? Isn’t it too foolish?
I was about to leave the place when another female sound entered my ears: “Trust me, I love you dear”, turned back and saw a couple in highly modern dress and hands locked in each other’s, going past the road just 1 feet away from me. God the sound of the 1st woman wailing is still going on, and here this sound of the same world but of exactly another scenario. Now which one comes after the other, I thought. The wailing, of course. More the attachment, more the cry of separation. Whats the use of bodily attachment if it brings bitter cries? Okay, “live life now” theory? Not bad. But bad if like in this case she’s striving to get his trust! Is there really any happiness from these bodily conceptions? Not really. Not really if you have got to hear the constant wailing sound of the former. Why not turn every relation towards Krsna? Source of all Love and love personified in the centre, alongwith the power of detachment! Just erase the bodily attractions and get all miseries erased out! So simple, yet so powerful and infallible. Yes, got to try this!
“The most amazing thing in this world is that though everyone sees others dying, people think they will never die.”- Maharaja Yudhisthira to Yama.
Enough sound of cries. Kakatuya mistann bhandar is in sight, got khajas for me and for my devotee friends back in Kolkata. Actually I didn’t have this habit, but one of my godbrothers told, he will buy khajas for his relatives and then I realized, who actually my relatives are. They are the devotees! Well they are the one who supports me all the time, became utter happy to hear my success in the SBI (in contrast to few of my bodily relatives who became jealous that their sons or daughters didn’t get through!) and after all they will be waiting in anticipation for Jagannath Mahaprasad when I’ll be back! The sad time came at night (when we had our train at 10:30pm) but then at the station I couldn’t find anyone unknown! All known devotees! Train ride even got so better! Will become more and more filled up if the preaching expands!
Jay Srila Prabhupada for this wonderful Bhakta sanga and everything!
Jay Srila Gurudeva for giving me a bit of interest in taking to this wonderful and ecstatic life!
Jay Gauranga for blessing me with everything i need, like Guru, Sadhu, Shastra. And Your mercy!
Thanks to HH Bhakti Purusottam Swami and HG Bhadra Caru Prabhu and all the other devotees in the management for arranging this wonderful parikrama!
Also a lot of thanks to HG Ananga Mohan Prabhu to gift to me the guidance always and keeping me inspired and encouraged to go deeper into the movement!
And Thank you, readers, for reading this biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig but a humble and insignificant try to serve You all!
Servant of your servants,
Sasvata Nimai das (souvic das), Kolkata.
(wait begins for another 355 days…tick..tick…tick…tick…!!)