Dandavat pranams to all my Godbrothers and Godsisters worldwide.
On Wednesday 22 July 2009 the Disappearance Festival of Srila Guru Maharaj Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj began in auspicious style, with a brief darshan of Srila Gurudev His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj in the early hours, followed by the morning kirttan programme downstairs. We chanted from 7am until around 9:30am during the hours of the eclipse, singing many traditional songs favourite to Srila Guru Maharaj and our Srila Gurudev. Even Ranjit Prabhu joined us for some kirttan, which was a rare and special happening.
After the morning programme, the kitchen explosion began. Headed by Deva Bandhu and Ranjit Prabhus and assisted by all the devotees here, many delectable dishes were prepared for the satisfaction of Srila Gurudev and Srila Guru Maharaj.
At around 10:30, His Divine Grace spontaneously came downstairs to begin the glorification of Srila Guru Maharaj. Srila Gurudev appeared in a grave yet simultaneously overflowing mood. He began by singing the famous 'anthem' of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, 'Sri Rupa Manjari pada', forcibly stealing away our whole attention, drenching everyone in the liquid sweetness of his kirttan, and reminding us of the highest aspiration, and final destination of our lives: at the lotus feet of Sri Guru, the non-different manifestation of Sri Rupa.
For myself, hearing this kirttan from the lotus mouth of Srila Gurudev again, being witness to his otherworldly movements, so fluid and serene in his somewhat cloaked expression of transcendental emotion, and then reading Srila Guru Maharaj's life-altering explanation of this most venerable prayer of Sri Narottam Thakur, further reminded me that the gift of our Divine Masters, and the practice of Krishna consciousness, is ONLY about the most intense type of sweetness, beauty and love divine, and everything we do is only for that. That is why we came out from our houses, why we have left our worldly aspirations and so-called friends behind - to search for that charming substance that is abundantly present in the heart of our Sri Gurudev.
And this is only possible to achieve by extreme self-forgetfulness, self-sacrifice and continual single-pointed hankering and prayer in the service of Sri Guru (as shown by our Srila Gurudev's own life example). We hear all these expressions so often in relation to Krishna consciousness, but we feel only a hazy reflection of the true experience. But in the person of our Sri Gurudev, we find them living in their fullest expression. And by his unconditional grace, he is sharing that within this world, instilling within us a tangible faith by his own experience that such a thing does exist, that such a treasure is real, more real than our present life, and that it is possible for us to achieve - if we can make ourselves a 'good receiver' of his mercy. By his compassionate connection, he is allowing us to feel something of the extremely ecstatic, all-blissful nature of the divine realm of Goloka Vrndavan, the plane where he lives eternally in the service of his Srila Guru Maharaj.
It is the condensed essence of everything sweet, everything beautiful, everything wonderful, beyond the furthest reaches of imagination or sense experience. Anything within this world of tangible understanding which we find to be sweet, of soothing nature, anything beautiful, anything charming, anything of fine taste, which excites wonder within us or brings us happiness, has its origin, and finds its ultimate fulfilment, in the service of the source of all these things - the divine lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Govinda - through the merciful dispensation of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga, in the line of Sri Rupa. If we can only remember this, as we live and move in this world, moment by moment, day by day, our lives will be fulfilled beyond our expectations.
Here is an excerpt from Srila Guru Maharaj's commentary on Sri Rupa Manjari pada.... (Srila Gurudev repeated this entire verse twice.)
"Sei mora rasa-nidhi - if there is anything, the source of any and all desirable ecstasy is only to be found there. The mine, source, and fountainhead of all rasa is there in her feet. Sei mora vancha-siddhi - and if I am to expect any other fulfilment in life, that is also there in her feet. Sei mora vedera dharama - if any duty is recommended by the Vedas for me, I would like that such duty be at her feet.
"Sei brata, sei tapa - if at all there is any desired accumulation from any penance or observance of vows, that is also to be found there - sei mora mantra japa - and the continuous repetition of a mantra in japa all ends there: all things have only one end in my case, and that is that they all meet in different phases in the feet of Rupa Manjari. If she is satisfied then the variegated nature of all sorts of my devotional practices are satisfied. Sei mor dharama-karama - and any of my conceptions of duty or activity of any phases or form all have one end and meet in one point: the holy feet of Rupa Manjari."
After singing this kirttan, Srila Gurudev feeling unable to speak, asked Sriman Srutasrava Prabhu to speak something about Srila Guru Maharaj. What ensued was a powerful, heart-melting discourse, illuminating the depth of our Srila Govinda Maharaj's divine mercy and grace, in revealing and giving us all the connection of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, the grand guardian of devotion and foremost follower of Sri Rupa. The main tenor of his talk was that we cannot know Srila Guru Maharaj, nor his unique message, without the mercy of His Divine Servitor - Srila Govinda Maharaj.
Srila Gurudev was extremely happy with Srutasrava Prabhu's discourse, and commented that he had covered everything from 'top to bottom'.
After this we sang the Mahamantra for about ten minutes, thus concluding the morning programme. Srila Gurudev then returned to his quarters upstairs, and the cooking continued in the outside kitchen which has been set up to serve the devotees.
The bhoga offering was made a little after midday, and at Srila Gurudev's request we sang Srila Guru Maharaj's arati ('Jaya Guru Maharaja Yati Rajesvara...') while Deva Bandhu Prabhu performed the puja, followed by pushpanjali (offerings of flowers and prayers by the devotees). Srila Gurudev then honoured Prasadam upstairs, along with the devotees who honoured the Prasad remnants downstairs. Everyone was more than satisfied with the wonderful feast which manifested by the sincere efforts of the cooking crew.
The standout highlight of the feast I must say was the gulab jamans made by Ramachandra Prabhu. Praises must go to him for his sincere and tireless efforts in always trying to satisfy the devotees. Praises must also go to the crew who help every day with chopping veggies and cleaning, etc.: Damayanti DD, Bindumati DD, Ananda Moyi DD, Annapurna DD, Radharani Dasi. And of course Nakula Prabhu who assists Deva Bandhu Prabhu with Srila Gurudev's cooking every day, and obviously Ranjit Prabhu, Chinmoydev Prabhu, Saraswati DD, Jamuna Priya DD and Nanda Priya DD, all beloved servitors of His Divine Grace.
Anyhow, thus concluded the programme in honour and remembrance of Srila Guru Maharaj's disappearance day here in Bangkok. A memorable day indeed.
A few more mentions: Sriman Yudhamanyu Prabhu arrived on Wednesday with two Chinese students, to the super-happiness of Srila Gurudev, and Sanatani DD, Srila Gurudev's beloved powerhouse super-servitor from Soquel, also arrived recently. And Sriman Paramananda Prabhu returned from Japan yesterday to the relief of us all. And last but not least, a particular mention for Krishna Priya DD who has managed everything so efficiently for Srila Gurudev and his servitors. Srila Gurudev describes that "her energy and service is equivalent to at least three devotees."
Glory be unto all the Vaisnavas worldwide, who sacrifice so much for the satisfaction of our Divine Master.
With repeated obeisances,
your aspiring servant,
~Manasa Krishna Das