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 Chaturdashi

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.

Sri Gaura Purnima

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Person, Krishna Himself, appearing as His own devotee, to teach us that we can gain full enlightenment simply by chanting the holy names of the Lord. Gaura Purnima means “golden full moon,” signifying that Lord Chaitanya was “born” during a full moon, and the Lord blesses everyone with the soothing, moonlike rays of His sublime teachings.

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advocated a universal religion for everyone, a scientific process of spiritual awakening and gave an opportunity for spiritual emancipation to all regardless of religion, caste, creed or colour. He inaugurated the Sankirtana movement – the congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna in the form of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra –

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Five hundred years ago, He predicted that the chanting of Lord Krishna’s Holy Names would spread throughout the world. This prophecy was fulfilled by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON and the eleventh in the disciplic succession (parampara) of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

At ISKCON, Mysuru on day of Gaura Purnima, to commemorate the festival, devotees go for a Nagar Sankirtan, chanting holy names of Lord Krishna, in the early morning hours. The evening festival starts from 6 pm onwards with Tulasi Puja followed by an elaborate a grand 108 Kalasha abhishekam to the Deities of GauraNitai (Lord Chaitanya and His associate Nityananda) along with Arati & Sankirtan. The special feature of the evening celebrations is a special play on the Life and teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu performed by students of FOLK group.

ISKCON Dasara

In the Treta Yuga, the Supreme Lord appeared as Lord Rama, the son of Dasaratha. He was exiled, and His wife Sita (the daughter of King Janaka) and brother Lakshmana accompanied Him. Valmiki’s Ramayana chronicles the life of Lord Rama when He was in exile for 14 years. His wife Sita was abducted by Ravana, the ten-headed demon.

Hanuman, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, also known as Pavan-Suta (son of the wind-god) helped Rama in locating Sita. He set Lanka on fire, and killed many of Ravana’s warriors including his son Aksha.Hanuman instructed Ravana to release Sita; but, Ravana’s refusal to do so led to the mighty war between Rama and Ravana, in which Ravana was killed.

To commemorate this victory of Rama, an effigy of Ravana is burnt on the day of Vijaya Dashami. This signifies the triumph of good over evil.

Taking the opportunity to blend the unique cultural and spiritual elements of God consciousness into the festivities, ISKCON Mysuru organizes annual ISKCON Dasara festival on its premises every year on Vijaya Dashami Day. Renowned artists from reputed dance troupes perform dance drama’s depicting the pastime of Lord Rama’s victory over ravana. Followed by this is the eye captivating vista of Their Lordships Sri Krishna & Balarama adorned as Sri Rama & Laksman going on a joyous ride on the “Gaja Vahana” while the devotees enjoy pulling the chariot singing Hare Krishna Mantra.

The burning of 60 ft. high effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Meghanadh mark the victory of Lord Rama over Rakshasa Ravana and also to indicate the victory of truth over evil . There were grand fireworks in the background as the effigies are burnt down.

Vyasa Puja

According to the Vedic system, the birthday of the spiritual master is celebrated as Vyasa-puja. Srila Vyasadeva has very wonderfully compiled all the Vedic literatures and thus he is the original spiritual master for anyone following the Vedic way of spiritual realization. The spiritual master carries the message of Vyasadeva throughout the world and is thus known as the representative of Vyasadeva. Thus the spiritual master’s auspicious appearance day is celebrated as Vyasa-Puja.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda, at the advanced age of seventy, suffering two major heart attacks, traveled under great hardship from India to America and established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1966 at New York. In twelve short years, he circled the world fourteen times; started temples, ashramas, schools, and farms on six continents; wrote more than seventy books; and literally introduced millions of people to the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.

Today, in every country round the globe we can see devotees chanting the maha-mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare – Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare and following the rules and regulations of devotional service as directed by its founder Srila Prabhupada, as lovingly called by his disciples.

In appreciation of his divine work, his disciples, followers and admirers fill their hearts with gratitude by glorifying his humanly impossible achievements and reinforce & reaffirm their faith on their bonafide spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, on his auspicious appearance day.

Srila Prabhupada on why devotees celebrate Vyasa Puja

“Actually there is no difference between hearing directly from Krishna and hearing directly from Krishna via a bona fide spiritual master like Vyasa. The spiritual master is the representative of Vyasadeva also. Therefore, according to the Vedic system, on the birthday of the spiritual master the disciples conduct the ceremony called Vyasa-puja.”(Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 18.75, purport)

A bona fide spiritual master coming in this line of succession descending from Vyasadeva is considered a representative of Vyasa deva. Srila Prabhupada is the 32nd acharya in this disciplic succession and his disciples observe his appearance day as Vyasa Puja. For the devotees of ISKCON this is the most important festival of the year. Devotees fast till noon. Various items are cooked for offering to the spiritual master, who in turn offers it to Krishna. Devotees read homage offerings written by them to glorify Srila Prabhupada. A grand abhisheka is performed and prasadam is distributed.