Lord Balarama's Mysterious Appearance In Perth
Posted August 18, 2006
The following is what Sri Radha Raman Prabhu (who was serving as temple president at the time)remembers of the incident:
"It was Balarama Purnima Day 1989. I remeber that because it was before we purchased the Bayswater Temple, so the Temple was still in central Perth City upstairs from our restaurant on Barrack St. It was my first year serving as Temple President, so at that time of year it was my first experience organising the "festival season".
"We had finished our morning program for Balaram Purnima down in the city and we were also due to hold a festival program that evening. We were renting a brahmacari ashram in North Perth. I went out to check the mail at our Post Office box, which was also a North Perth address at that time. Along with other mail, there was a rather large brown cardboard box addressed to ISKCON Perth. I had been expecting some books from the BBT, so I didn't think much of it and put the box in the van and drove back to the brahmacari ashram.
"However when I went to open the box, I soon realised it wasn't books from the BBT because the first thing I pulled out was a Telephone directory! I thought that was unusual, especially when I noticed it was a directory for somewhere in Hawaii!
"But then I reached back in the box and brought out something wrapped up in a gamcha. It was quite heavy, and it dawned on me at that point that the telephone directory was just packaging to fill space in the box. So I unwrapped the gamcha and found a beautiful silver deity! I was quite amazed and confused! Naturally I was trying to think of why someone might have been sending deities to our Temple address, maybe one of the other devotees had ordered them for someone in the congregation or something... I was very puzzled. Then I reached back in the box and brought another item of similar proportions also wrapped in a gamcha. It was another deity form, this time somewhat golden in colour! When I looked closely I saw that his left shoulder was raised as if he was leaning on something... or some one.... and so I put the two deities together and was amazed as it dawned on me that here was Sri Sri Krsna and Balaram!!
"I called out for another devotee Indrabhatta Prabhu to come and see, and he was equally amazed! It was really rather remarkable that Sri Sri Krsna and Balaram were unexpectedly right there before us on Balaram Purnima Day!
"Indrabhatta Prabhu got into the spirit of things and decided that he was going straight down to the Temple with Sri Si Krsna Balaram to bathe Them and put Them on the altar for Balaram Purnima! So off he went! Back down to our city Temple with Sri Sri Krsna Balaram!
"Now I was a young devotee having newly taken up responsibility for the Temple, so at this point I started worrying about the consequences of what Indrabhatta was about to do, and I dutifully picked up the phone and called my Regional Secretary, Balaram Prabhu, the Temple President in Melbourne.
"Balaram Prabhu was a very busy manager of a big Temple with alot of devotees under his care at the time. So when I tried to explain the whole thing to him he was having a hard time getting his head around the whole thing... "What do you mean Sri Sri Krsna Balaram have come in the mail? ... Who sent them?... What do you mean somebody's gone off to put them on the altar?...Just run this whole thing by me one more time...."
"So I'm not sure if Balaram Prabhu really knew what to make of it all, but he settled on a cautious managerial approach and instructed me that devotees can't just put deities on an ISKCON Temple altar without proper authority, so I should put a stop to that.
"So off I went down to the City, but by the time I got down there, Sri Sri Krsna Balaram were already bathed and positioned on the altar next to our Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. Now these deities had arrived without any dress or paraphenalia whatsoever, so what Indrabhatta had done was to borrow a set of dhotis from our small Sri Sri Gaura Nitai! But Sri Sri Krsna Balaram are somewhat smaller in proportion than our Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, so the dhotis didn't exactly fit, but still They looked so charming!!
"Anyway, I thought I had to follow my instructions and spoil the party and insist that the deities couldn't stay on the altar. So much to Indrabhatta's disappointment, he took the deities back to the brahmacari ashram, still colourfully dressed in Sri Sri Gaura Nitai's dhotis!. Actually I now deeply regret that They didn't stay on the altar that day for the Balaram Purnima celebrations, but as a young devotee I really didn't have much understanding at that time as to what is to be done and what is not to be done, so I tried to follow instructions from my authority.
"I tried to trace the source of those deities. I found a return address on the box They came in- a Post Office box address in Hawaii. I sent a polite letter requesting some information as to how and why They had been sent to us. But a few weeks later my letter came back unopened and marked return to sender. I can only assume that someone wanted the deities cared for, maybe they held Australian Temples and devotees in high regard, and maybe randomly selected our Temple address from BTG??? I don't know, I guess it was ultimately the independent desire of the deities.
"It was a couple of years later that we began looking after Sri Sri Krsna Balaram and worshiping Them at our Balaram Purnima festivals. It was when Radha Caran Prabhu came to serve in Perth in 1991, and he explained to us the concept of utsava vigraha, the deity form Who accepts service on festival days. So Sri Sri Krsna Balaram have been looked after by various devotees in our community ever since, and They haven't missed a Balaram Purnima celebration for the past 15 years!"