Sri Ramanavami

Lord Ramachandra – the worshipable Deity of millions, the ideal son, husband, brother, master, king, administrator and above everything, the direct incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared on the ninth day (Navami) of the waxing moon (Shukla Paksha) of Chaitra masa in Treta yuga. The appearance day of Lord Rama, Sri Rama Navami will be celebrated in many parts of the world as SRI RAMA NAVAMI

The Srimad Bhagavatam and the Ramayana give us vivid portrayals of the state of affairs during Lord Rama’s reign that they can make us hanker for such a situation just by hearing those narrations. The following description of the rule of Lord Rama from the Srimad Bhagavatam can fill anyone with wonder and delight.

“jugopa pitrvad ramo
menire pitaram ca tam”

“After accepting the throne of the state, Lord Rämachandra cared for the citizens exactly like a loving father, and the citizens, being fully satisfied and pleased, accepted Him as their father. When Lord Ramachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was the King of this world, all bodily and mental suffering, disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear and fatigue were completely absent. There was even no death for those who did not want it. During the reign of Lord Ramachandra the forests, the rivers, the hills and mountains, the states, the seven islands and the seven seas were all favorable in supplying the necessities of life for all living beings.” (Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 9 chapter 10)

The main significance behind the celebration of this festival is that the character of Lord Rama signifies someone who follow the right path against all odds in life. He was also the true embodiment of humanity. So celebration of Ram Navami is a special way to remember all the noble deeds performed by Lord Rama.

At ISKCON, Mysuru on the occasion of Sri Rama Navami, the Deities of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama are decorated as Rama and Lakshmana. The evening program begins from 6 pm onwards with Sri Rama Taraka Homa, followed by a special Video presentation on the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra. A special song which narrates the entire Ramayana “NAMA RAMAYANA” is also sung. The program ends with the chanting of Sri Rama ashtottara shata namavali, arati with sankirtan and prasadam.

Gita Jayanthi

Srimad Bhagavad Gita – the very name arouses in the hearts of millions an intense feeling of awe, reverence, and devotion. Unparalleled in its depth of content, Bhagavad Gita gives testimony as a standing monument to the greatest civilization and culture of the past. Bhagavad Gita is considered the most important philosophical treatise on the mysteries of the Absolute Truth holding a key to solve all the ills and problems of mankind. Although the classic dialogue between the Supreme Lord and His devotee friend Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra took place just before the onset of the Mahabharata war 5,000 years ago, the Gita is applicable and potent at all times, for all people under all circumstances.

The great discourse was spoken by Lord Krishna on the day known as Mokshada Ekadashi. Every year, this day is celebrated in many parts of India as the Gita Jayanthi utsava.

At ISKCON, Mysuru on this auspicious day, hundreds of devotees gather together to recite all the 700 verses from the 18 Chapters of the Bhagavad Gita in a lead and follow manner.

Govardhana Puja

Govardhan Puja is celebrated in commemoration of the fascinating pastime of Lord Krishna’s lifting the Govardhana hill to protect the residents of Vrindavana. This wonderful episode is described in pages of Srimad Bhagavatam.

Once all the residents of Vrindavana headed by Nanda Maharaja made elaborate arrangements to worship Indra, the king of the heavenly planets, who is the deputed agent of Krishna controlling the supply of rain. When Krishna observed that all the residents of Vrindavana were so engaged, He decided to instruct them in particular and to everyone for posterity that worship of the Supreme Lord Krishna is sufficient and there is no need to worship demigods. Krishna directed all the residents of Vrindavana to utilize all the paraphernalia gathered for Indra’s worship to be used for worship of the cows and the Govardhana hill which were their means of subsistence. Thus the residents of Vrindavana organized a grand worship of Govardhana hill instead of worshipping the demigod Indra. This infuriated Indra who had become puffed up with the false prestige of being the ruler of the heavenly kingdom. In order to teach a lesson to the residents of Vrindavana for stopping his worship, Indra sent powerful rain bearing clouds to drown the pasturing fields of Vrindavana. Accordingly, these clouds proceeded to Vrindavana and began to pour torrents of rain accompanied by lightning, thunder and hailstones as big as huge boulders.

Tormented by the heavy onslaught, the residents of Vrindavana took shelter of Krishna for protection. Krishna, the eternal protector of His unalloyed devotees, thought of a means to deliver the residents of Vrindavana from the grave danger and also to teach a lesson to the proud Indra. Krishna lifted the Govardhana hill and held it like an umbrella on the small finger of His left hand. He called all the residents of Vrindavana to come under the shelter of the Govardhana hill along with the cows. In this way, Krishna held the Govardhana hill for seven days as Indra continued to send heavy rainfall. Finally Indra came to his senses and realized the great mistake he had committed by defying his Supreme Master Krishna. He immediately withdrew the clouds and after some time approached Krishna in a solitary place in Vrindavana and begged pardon for his offenses. Krishna forgave the repentant Indra and bestowed His causeless mercy upon him.

ISKCON Mysuru celebrates every year Govardhan Puja in a grand manner. The festival celebrations start at 6pm onwards with Tulasi puja followed by Go puja (worship of the cows), Govardhana Puja (worship of Govardhana hill). The highlight of the festival is a magnificent replica of the Govardhana Hill made with 170 Kgs. of delicious Cake and various kinds of food items which includes rice preparations, sweets & savories are offered to Lord Krishna on this auspicious day. While the arati is performed for Govardhan, devotees sing Sri Govardhanashtakam – eight verses glorifying the Govardhana Hill. The program ends with Deepotsava and singing of Damodarshataka.

Kartika Damodhar Deepotsava

Kathika Damodhara Deepotsava is celebrated in commemoration of an enchanting childhood pastime of Lord Krishna in Gokula. The Srimad Bhagavatam describes that once naughty little Krishna stole butter & also broke the pots containing butter and yogurt. Mother Yashoda then decided to bind Krishna to a wooden grinding mortar to restrain his naughty activities. She took some ropes & tried to bind the unlimited Supreme Lord, being unaware of His exalted position. But the rope was short by a measurement of two fingers. Yashoda gathered all the ropes from the household & joined them to bind Krishna. In spite of exhausting all the ropes, it was still short by two fingers. Observing the exhaustion of Mother Yashoda, Krishna finally agreed to be bound although the Supreme Lord is by nature boundless & infinite. This pastime made Krishna famous by the name ‘Damodara’. ‘Dama’ means rope & ‘udara’ means belly. Hence, Damodara is the special form of Krishna, as a baby tied with rope around his belly to a wooden grinding mortar.

There are many wonderful descriptions in the scriptures glorifying this pastime. The acharyas explain that actually the Supreme Lord Krishna can never be bound by anyone or anything. Yet out of His boundless love & compassion for his pure devotees like Mother Yashoda, he agrees to become subservient to them. Hence, Mother Yashoda did not bind Krishna with an ordinary rope but with her pure love and devotion.

Devotees celebrate this sweet pastime throughout the month of kartika by offering special prayers and lamps to Lord Damodara.

At ISKCON Mysuru, Damodara Deepotsava is celebrated by observing a month long festival of lights in the month of Kartika. Every day in the evening at 7:30 pm, the entire temple is decorated with lamps and a special flower rangoli is offered in front of the altar. All the devotees sing Damodarashtaka song and offer a lamp to Krishna. There will be special Pallaki Utsava and fire crackers on the first day, Bali Padyami day and the last day.

Sri Vamana Jayanthi

The Supreme Lord appeared as the son of Kashyapa and Aditi in the form of a dwarf Brahmana (Vamana) to deliver Bali Maharaja, a great devotee born in the family of demons.

Sri Jayadeva Gosvami sings:

chalayasi vikramane balim adbhuta-vamana
pada-nakha-nira-janita-jana-pavana
kesava dhrta-vamana-rupa jaya jagadisa hare

O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a dwarf-brahmana! All glories to You! O wonderful dwarf, by Your massive steps You deceive King Bali, and by the Ganges water that has emanated from the nails of Your lotus feet; You deliver all living beings within this world.

At ISKCON, Mysore on Vamana Jayanthi the Utsava Deity of Lord Sri Krishna is decorated as Vamanadeva wearing a deer skin and holding a staff, an umbrella and a water pot (kamandalu). As the Lord goes to seek alms from Bali Maharaj on this day, devotees bring a lot of alms in the form of rice, dhal, jaggery, dry fruits etc… and offer it to Lord Vamanadev on this auspicious day.

Balarama Jayanthi

Balarama is the first bodily expansion of Krishna, and He assists in Lord Krishna’s transcendental pastimes. He is the source of the entire spiritual world and is the adi-guru, the original spiritual master.

Whenever Krishna appears in the material world, He is accompanied by His associates and paraphernalia. Five thousand years ago when Krishna descended into the material world, He was first preceded by Baladeva. Only after Baladeva give His mercy did Krishna descend, such is the intimate relationship between Krishna and Baladeva.

The splendor of Lord Balarama’s form eclipses many millions of glistening rising moons, and the slightest scent of His boundless strength is sufficient to destroy many armies of demons. Lord Balarama exemplifies the service attitude to Krishna. His only mission is to please Krishna by rendering service to Him, whether it is in the creation of the material worlds, maintaining the spiritual world or as His personal paraphernalia.

Srila Prabhupada Quotes on the glories of Sankirtan

“Balaräma gives one strength. Balaräma is Nityänanda. Vrajendra-nandana yei, çacé-suta haila sei, balaräma ha-ila nitäi. This bala—Balaräma—comes with Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, and both of Them are so merciful that in this age of Kali one may very easily take shelter of Their lotus feet. If one has no connection with Nitäi, Balaräma, then even though one is a very learned scholar or jïäné or has taken birth in a very respectable family, these assets will not help him. We must therefore conquer the enemies of Kåñëa consciousness with the strength received from Balaräma.” – Purport Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.46

Lord Balarama is the eternal companion of Sri Krishna. He came as Lakshmana with Rama and later as Nityananda Prabhu with Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is the original spiritual master, and any one desiring to make spiritual progress must first get the mercy of Lord Balarama.

At ISKCON, Mysore on this day we decorate both Sri Sri KRISHNA BALARAM with new set of dresses and jewelry. Evening program begins at 6:00 p.m with a grand 64 Kalasha abhishekam to the utsava Deities of Krishna and Balarama. Abhishekam include panchamrita snana (milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey, and sweet water), panchagavya snana, varieties of fruits juices and milk shakes, aushadi snana (herbs) and tender coconut water.

A number of varieties of arati is offered with accompaniment of Sankirtan. While the sanctified water from the 64 Kalasha is offered, Purusha Sukta is chanted. Abhishekam ends with the showering of multitude of flowers.

Harinam Festival

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna Himself, started the Harinam Sankirtan movement, chanting of the holy name of Krishna in congregation. The name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are non-different. Krishna has invested all the powers in His holy name. Congregational Chanting means coming together and chanting the holy name of Lord joyfully. This given the devotees the chance to associate with the devotees and this gives the joy and happiness to all the devotees and Lord Krishna.

Congregational chanting destroys all sinful reactions. It not only benefits the one who is chanting but all those moving as well as non-moving living entities.

Srila Prabhupada Quotes on the glories of Sankirtan

“Whenever there is congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, Gaura Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation as Lord Chaitanya, immediately appears and is worshiped by sankirtana-yajna.” – (Srimad Bhagavatam 4.30.36)
“We are saying that this Hare Krishna maha-mantra can save everyone, and we are therefore distributing it publicly, free of charge… The devotees are preaching without charge, declaring in the streets, parks, and everywhere. “Here! Here is the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Come on, take it!” (POP p. 72)

All the great Acharyas from all the sampradaya have given utmost importance to congregational chanting of the holy name. Following in the footstpes of previous acharyas and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, ISKCON Mysuru organizes the Harinam Festival every year.

Harinam festival is a day-long festival with 12-hour long Sankirtan starting from morning 9 am and ending at night 9 pm. For the festival Utsava Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai are got from the ISKCON Farm at Mahadevapura. The Harinam festival is organized in order to spread this awareness among people and inspire them to take up chanting of holy names of the Lord for their ultimate benefit-both material and spiritual. This is the best welfare activity and also the yuga-dharma of this age.

Panihati Festival

Pannihati is a village located on the banks of River Ganges near Kolkatta. Chida means chipped-rice and Dahi means curds. Pannihati Chida-Dahi Utsava means a festival which was celebrated by one of the six primary disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami on the banks of River Ganges in Pannihati with preparations made out of Chida-Dahi.

Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was a devotee of the highest order. He displayed a spirit of renunciation and detachment from the material world at a very early age. He wanted to leave home and join Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in His mission. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked him not to do so and assured that Krishna would deliver him soon from the clutches of maya. Two years later, Nityananda Prabhu came to Panihati and stayed there.
At Panihati, he saw Nityananda Prabhu sitting on a rock under a banyan tree on the banks of the River Ganges. He was surrounded by many devotees. Raghunatha dasa was hesitant to approach the Lord and paid obeisances from a distance. But some of the devotees noticed him and informed Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu called Raghunatha dasa and said “Raghunatha dasa! You are hiding like a thief. Now I have caught hold of you. Come here. I shall punish you today.’’ Then Lord Nityananda forcibly caught him and put His lotus feet on Raghunatha’s head. He ordered Raghunatha to celebrate a big festival and serve all the devotees – with yogurt and chipped rice.

Raghunatha dasa immediately sent his men to the nearby villages to purchase all kinds of eatables. They brought chipped rice (chida), milk, yogurt, sweetmeats, bananas, sugar and other eatables. The chipped rice was soaked in milk. Half of that was then mixed with yogurt, sugar and bananas. The remaining half was mixed with condensed milk and flavoured with clarified butter and camphor. All the devotees received two earthen pots, one with chipped rice mixed with yogurt and another with chipped rice mixed with condensed milk.

The Chida-dahi Mahotsava is celebrated every year in commemoration of this wonderful pastime. This festival is also known as Danda Mahotsava (the Festival of Punishment).

Every year on the occasion of Pannihati Chida Dahi Utsava, along with the Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai more than 400 devotees from ISKCON, Mysuru go on a pilgrimage to a holy place on banks of sacred rivers like Cauvery, Kapila, Kabini etc…to celebrate the festival. Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai are taken on a boat ride (Theppotsava), followed by a dip in the holy river. The Deities are then given a Grand abhishekam with milk, curds, ghee, honey, jaggery water and fruit juices. Sri Sri Gaura Nita are then bathed with Nava Kalasha’s filled with water from sacred rivers all over India. After the Abhishekam, while the Deities are offered varieties of preparations are made by mixing chipped rice with condensed milk, yogurt, sugar, bananas, mangoes, there is a discourse elucidating the pastimes of Pannihati Chida Dahi Utsava . After honoring feast Chida-Dahi Maha Prasadam, all the devotees visit some more holy temples before returning to Mysuru.

Sri Narasimha Chaturdashi

 

Sri Narasimha Jayanthi

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita:

pariträëäya sädhünäm
vinäçäya ca duñkåtäm
dharma-saàsthäpanärthäya
sambhavämi yuge yuge

“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium”.

Ages ago, Lord Krishna advented in the form of half-lion half-man incarnation Lord Narasimha to protect His devotee Prahlad from his demoniac father Hiranyakashipu. Because of performing severe austerities, Hiranyakashipu had received a special benediction from Lord Brahma that he could not be killed by any human being, demigod or animal or any other entities; he could not be killed by any kind of weapons, neither during day nor night. So, the Lord appeared in half-man half-lion form and killed him with His nails at twilight, thus satisfying all the conditions. Narasimhadeva appeared at dusk on the Shukla Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the bright fortnight) in the month of Vaishakha.

Celebrations at ISKCON, Mysore for Sri Narasimha Jayanthi begin in the evening at 6pm onwards. The programme starts with Narasimah Homa followed by an elaborate abhishekam to the Deities of Sri Sri Lakshmi Narasimha. During the abhisheka, panchagavya, panchamrita, sacred water, herbal water, sandal water, fruit juices, and water mixed with turmeric are poured on the Lord for His pleasure. A Video presentation based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, depicting the pastimes of Lord Narasimha and various holy temples of Lord Narasimha is played. The programme ends with singing of the special song on Lord Narasimha Çré Nåsimha Añöottara Çata Näma Stotram and arati with Sankirtan.

Sri Nityananda Trayodashi

Lord Nityananda is the eternal associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mahaprabhu cannot be approached or understood without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, who is the cardinal guru of all the universes and serves as an intermediary between Mahaprabhu and His devotees. He is the Lord’s active principle in both creation and lila. He is the second body of the Lord, manifesting as Balaram to Sri Krishna, Lakshman to Sri Ram and Nityananda Prabhu to Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Nityananda Prabhu in His role as the original spiritual master was instrumental in spreading the Yuga-Dharma of Sankritana all over the Gaudadesh (Bengal, Orrisa). His mercy knew no bounds, and people fortunate to come in contact with Him were inundated with the love of Godhead. It was by His mercy that Raghunatha dasa, one of the six Goswamis started the famous DandaMahotsava festival of Panihatti, a tradition that continues to this day, and was thus able to serve Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He extended His mercy to even fallen souls like Jagai and Madhai, delivering them from the sinful lives and protecting them from the wrath of even Caitanya Mahaprabhu

Srila Prabhupada on Lord Nityananda

Kavi Karnapura describes in his Sri Gaur Ganodesa Dipika about Lord Nityananda, “Lord Nityananda Avadhuta is actually the Personality of Godhead Lord Balarama. Always staying among the devotees, He shines with the splendor of thousands of suns. Lord Nityananda incarnates as His plenary expansion as Ananta Sesa. As Lord Sesa, He transforms His body to become the garments, bracelets, and other ornaments worn by Lord Visnu and Lord Krishna. Expanding again as the pastime potency, lila-sakti, Lord Sesa is aware of all the details of Lord Krishna’s confidential pastimes.”

At ISKCON, Mysore on the day of Nityananda Trayodashi, devotees fast till noon and pray to Lord Nityananda for spiritual strength. Evening program begins with a grand abhishekam to The Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai with panchamrita (milk, curd, sweetened water, ghee and honey) and panchagavya. The Deities are then bathed with exotic fruit juices and water mixed with herbal extracts. The sarvaushadhi snana is followed by 64 kalasha snana and concludes with pushpa-vrishti After the abhishekam, the Deities are given a special offering of 28 food items. This is followed by Video Presentation depicting the pastimes and life of Nityananda Prabhu.