Chakra Announcements

Krishna Balarama Deities Installed in Queens, New York

by Mithuna das and Bhakta Nicholas Jinkhoo

Posted September 21, 2006


August 13 at the archa vigraha installation of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama at the SKC Mandir, Queens, New York, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama took Their places on a beautiful vedic-styled altar.

The atmosphere at the temple was joyful as devotees and well-wishers completed preparations right up to the actual ceremony. By 6:00 p.m., nearly 100 devotees in kirtan led by Keshava Acarya das from the 26 Second Avenue temple, filled the temple hall. At the same time, 75 persons stood outside the temple; anxious mothers could be seen pacing back and forth, pacifying babies. Not being able to find accommodation in the relatively small temple hall, perhaps 50 of the arriving guests actually left before the program got underway.

At 6:30 p.m., Maheshvara das from Pennsylvania added final touches to the sacrificial fire. As he started the ceremony, GBC member and officiating purohit Ravindra Svarupa prabhu praised the kirtan; he mentioned that Srila Prabhupada had said that the deities are really installed by kirtan, and not by the actual rituals. In tilak and vaisnava attire, devotees echoed the Vedic mantras chanted by the purohit, invoking memories of the great sages who once assembled at Naimisaranya. As the agnihotra ended and the screen was removed from the Deities, a moment of silence was swiftly shattered by the consummate beauty of the black, iron-like Krishna and His radiantly white brother Balarama. Devotees immediately paid obeisances amidst loud cries of: "Sri Sri Krishna Balarama ki jaya; Srila Prabhupada ki jaya; Haribol!"

As a part of the Mahaabhishek ceremony, Their Lordships were bathed with panchamrta and other sacred substances. After Their baths, the two Lords were again screened off and attended to by the officiating purohit, his assistant and the resident brahmanas. Waiting upon Their Lordships with ecstatic kirtan, the devotees from Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir (Brooklyn), Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mandir (Queens) and Bhaktivedanta Ashram (26 second Avenue, Manhattan) bonded in wondrous camaraderie. They danced as if there was no tomorrow, externally reminiscent of Vakreshwar Pandit's 72 hours of non-stop dancing during Chaitanya-Lila. Apart from the officiating purohit and his assistant, other disciples of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada present were HH Chandrasekhar Maharaja, Maheshvara das from New York, Bushara das and Saudamani dasi prabhus.

In the midst of the roaring kirtan, Ravindra Svarupa das emerged from behind the screen. Formally introducing Krishna and Balarama, he said: "They are Krishna and Balarama, but here in Queens Their names will be Sri Sri Hari Haladhari." In immediate response and in unison, the crowd of devotees cried out: "Haribol, Haribol." The purohit continued: "Hari means one who takes away everything inauspicious, and Haladhari means He who holds the plough; one function of the plough is to uproot the weeds of devotional service." As the transcendental conch echoed the length and breadth of the temple hall, there in all Their Majesty stood the astoundingly beautiful Sri Sri Hari Haladhari. Again, the devotees paid obeisances, crying out: "Sri Sri Hari Haladhari ki jaya!"

Bedecked in peacock feather, glittering jewels and fine garments, Lord Hari glanced upon the devotees. The equally attractive and beautifully dressed Lord Haladhari stood cross legged, resting His transcendental arm on the right shoulder of His younger brother; in His other hand, He held a golden plough. With gorgeous lotus eyes He, too, mercifully glanced upon the assembled devotees. The dressing of Their Lordships for Their first public darshan was the commendable service of Ghandarvika dasi prabhu. Special recognition also goes to Sunanda das and Trishakti dasi prabhus for bringing Sri Sri Hari Haladhari to Queens, New York. Temple president Sunanda das offered the first arati to Their Lordships as the devotees danced about. Lights flashed almost continuously from digital cameras as photographers tried to capture the joyful moments.

At 10:30 p.m., a sumptuous prasadam feast was distributed to the nearly 300 persons present. At 11:30 p.m., some 70 devotees were still in front of the temple premises discussing the wonderful program and other topics about Krishna. Few of them seem to be interested in going home.

During His discourse, Ravindra Svarupa prabhu had mentioned that in the conditioned state, we cannot see spirit, therefore the Lord mercifully descends in a concrete and apparently helpless form. This Deity form offers us the opportunity to bathe, clothe, maintain and feed the Lord, to offer articles and prayers, to have darshan, to sing and dance for the Lord, as well as to encourage the community to do the same. In this way our senses become purified, and we are able to enter into a deeper relationship with the Holy Name. This Holy Name is non-different from Krishna, and when we acquire the suitable adhikar, The Lord will reveal that Rupa, Guna and Lila are non-different from this Sri Nama.

Now that Sri Sri Hari Haladari is here in Queens, They will be worshipped according to the standard of Deity worship indicated in the Pancaratra Pradipa. All devotees are invited to visit our temple and take the darshan of Sri Sri Hari Haladhari. ISKCON preachers who schedule in advance with the temple president can give lectures at our Sunday feasts (5:30 p.m.) and other programs. The Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mandir is 25 minutes from La Guardia Airport and and 15 minutes from John F. Kennedy Airports. The address is 111-14 101 Avenue, South Richmond Hill, New York 11419. You may contact our temple at (718) 848-9010 or (917) 604-1085, by email at: sunandanadas@hotmail.com or by visiting our website at www.skcmnyc.org