25th of December, 2004 - 6:31
Meeting Govardhan
24th of December, 2004 - 16:27
Festival of Sri Kunjabihari Das Babaji Maharaja
23rd of December, 2004 - 17:36
22nd of December, 2004 - 20:08
A foggy day at Yamuna
21st of December, 2004 - 20:21
The garden of rasa
20th of December, 2004 - 17:25
Siddha Madhusudan Das Baba's festival at Surya-kunda
19th of December, 2004 - 18:38
The lake of Sri Chaitanya
18th of December, 2004 - 18:44
In Vrindavan
17th of December, 2004 - 16:58
At Radha-Roman's house
16th of December, 2004 - 16:09
Today Delhi going
15th of December, 2004 - 17:30
Inquiries on bhajana
14th of December, 2004 - 20:01
A crash and Radha-Krishna katha
13th of December, 2004 - 18:14
A fairly uneventful day
12th of December, 2004 - 19:31
Publicity in the whole universe
11th of December, 2004 - 18:05
On bad deeds and good character
10th of December, 2004 - 16:50
Disappearances and instructions
9th of December, 2004 - 16:59
8th of December, 2004 - 17:49
Festival of Narahari Sarakara
7th of December, 2004 - 17:54
Back to Radha-kunda
6th of December, 2004 - 21:42
Visiting Vrindavan
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Half-way around Govardhan
5th of December, 2004 - 16:09
Electric outage
5th of December, 2004 - 15:04
Vrindavan Art
4th of December, 2004 - 17:17
Thoughts on our bhajana-marga
3rd of December, 2004 - 17:32
Meeting friends all day long
2nd of December, 2004 - 23:51
The second day in Vraja
2nd of December, 2004 - 17:39
Meeting Baba
2nd of December, 2004 - 0:20
From New Delhi to Vraja
1st of December, 2004 - 19:33
Giridhari's flute busted!
1st of December, 2004 - 7:30

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Festival of Sri Kunjabihari Das Babaji Maharaja
Posted: 23rd of December, 2004 - 17:36
In the morning, Rasaraja, Braja and his family, together with Nilamadhava and Krishnamayi, came over from Vrindavan to join the celebration of Sri Kunjabihari Das Babaji Maharaja's festival. We headed for Brajananda Ghera for Baba's darshan, and met him briefly. Baba had told that he would confirm the date for Rasaraja's and Braja's diksha today. Baba always consults the Panjika and looks for the nearest possible auspicious date for diksha.

The kirtaniyas assembled, singing from the Prarthana of Thakur Mahashaya.
Purnima the 26th was the closest available auspicious day, so that'd be it, then. Ten o'clock in the morning, as it's the cold season now and the mornings are so chilly.

The kirtan was already in progress when we arrived. The kirtaniyas had assembled in the lecture hall and sang various songs from Thakur Mahashaya's Prarthana. Such sweet kirtana! The songs from Prarthana were followed by a Suchaka-kirtana of Sri Kunjabihari Das Babaji Maharaja. Suchaka-kirtanas are songs, generally in Bengali verse, describing the life of the sadhu whose disappearance is being commemorated. To read Babaji Maharaja's biography, click here.

After the kirtan, the painting of our param-guru was mounted on a palanquin and carried around the parikrama-path of Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda, accompanied by kirtan. There must have been close to two hundred devotees participating there.

Parikrama around Radha-kunda.
The Bengali kirtaniyas took turns in leading the chanting, and occasionally one Vrajavasi also lead kirtan in his unique, local style. The parikrama took about an hour, as the procession stopped frequently as various kirtans were sung in different places around the parikrama-path.

Returning to the lecture hall at Brajananda Ghera, the palanquin was set down and the kirtan still continued for a moment. One kirtaniya, who had carried a small cup of yoghurt on top of his head, broke it and the prasadi was distributed among all the assembled Vaishnavas, dots put on everyone's forehead. This is a tradition with such processions. I'm sure we can all think of countless pastimes in which yoghurt pots are broken.

Prasad-seva was next in the sequence of festivities. Prasad was first served for the senior men of the audience, so we headed to some tulasi-wallahs

Kirtan after the parikrama.
to purchase japa-malas for both nama-japa and diksha-mantra-japa, along with kanthi-malas, and pancha-malas to be worn around the neck while remembering one's diksha-mantras. Pancha-mala, Baba told, consists of five malas, namely tulasi, gunja-berries, clay from Radha-kunda, amalaki and rope from Jagannath's cart. We wear it in following Sriman Mahaprabhu's example, who used to wear a mala of gunja-berries around his neck during the time of smaran. smaraNer kAle gale pare guñjA-mAlA. (CC 3.6.290) Later on, Baba explained, other sacred items beneficial for our bhajan were added in, and thus the pancha-mala came about.

Done with the shopping, we returned to the ashram, bumping into Ishan Das who tells that Baba had already been wondering where we were. However, it seems we came in just in time, as the first group of devotees were just about to finish their prasad-seva. We sat right next to the big jala-keli painting at the end of the hall. I got a seat next to Braja's son, Bhaktivinod, who is notorious for his skills in enjoying prasad.

Prasad-seva with various preparations.
In addition to putting it into your mouth and tasting, he has figured, you can do so many interesting things with it! Anyhow, to my great amazement I only got a little bit of rice on my clothes.

Dina Das, to whom we always tell that Malati doesn't need special arrangements and can just take a little bit of whatever she can eat of the feast, had again said that he would prepare something special for her. However, in all the hurry of the festival he had forgotten about it, and came in as we were half-way done with the prasad, relating how he is so embarassed that he had forgotten about this. Malati again told that it isn't necessary. Next thing we see is Dina Das running somewhere with a pot to get some milk, and shortly he comes back with a small plate of steaming hot paneer. So embarassing for her, and so very sweet of him!

After the festival, we accompanied the Vrindavan-vasis to the tempo-stand and arranged for a jeep for them to get a smooth ride back to Raman Reti. You can get a jeep, one of those grayish old ones, for almost the same price as an auto-rickshaw, if only they are available, and the ride goes much faster. Returning to our house, we found that Bul Bul had invited some babajis over for kirtan at his house. They went on for several hours, but I was held back by some work upstairs. As we finally went downstairs to attend the kirtan, we found out that they had just finished. Some sweet kirtan it was, for all we could hear upstairs. We chatted for a moment with Yugal and took rest after a long, fulfilling and exhausting day.
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