Royal Bathing at Kumbha Mela
Posted April 11, 2004
Tomorrow, 5th April will be the first of three Royal Bath dates. There will be a great procession of the different Akharas to the bathing ghat. Akharas are in three different sects being Saivites, Vaisnavas and Udasins. An Akhara is the ksatriya force that protects the Sampradaya, ISKCON comes under the Vallabhadra Akhara, which is a sub group of the Niravani Akhara.
Each Akhara will be led by their Nishans, which are the symbols and flags of the Akhara, followed by a band. Then come the Naga Babas, carrying axes spears and other things, they will be shouting slogans and running wild. The Akhara Mahant, or leader, who will sit on a high seat, with an umbrella above him, on a vehicle, will follow the Naga Babas. Originally they would sit on elephants but now generally they will be on a tractor.
There will be some fifty to sixty Mahants in the procession, the order being governed by the seniority of the Mahant, the procession route will be surrounded by the followers of the Akharas, all shouting slogans for their Akhara. Each Akhara is allocated thirty minutes for taking bath, with no gap between Akharas, so there will be a great rush for everyone to take bath. ISKCON will be taking bath with the Niravani Akhara between 9.00 and 9.30am.
Presently ISKCON does not have its own Mahant, who should obviously be Srila Prabhupada. So ISKCON is not recognised under the Sadhu Samaj (Sadhu Society), therefore during this Kumbha Mela we will try to establish Srila Prabhupada as a Mahant and then ISKCON will effectively have it's own Akhara, then under the Mahant we can have ten Khalsas who can be senior devotees within ISKCON, and then a number of Nagas which are like a disciplinary force, not necessarily naked babas. This will help ISKCON at future Kumbha Melas by being recognised by the Sadhu Samaj, thereby raising the profile of ISKCON, and will also include the provision of free land, electricity and other facilities and benefits. There will be a fairly large cost to this process, as we will have to provide prasadam, a chaddar and dakshina to over five hundred sadhus in order to gain their approval. If you would like to donate towards this process or generally for the ISKCON Kumbha Mela camp please contact me on PAMHO or at KumhaMela2004@hotmail.com
The remaining Royal bathing dates are the 22nd April and 4th May. If you
would like to come then please contact us to let us know when you will be
arriving so we can make arrangements to collect you from the station, or
help you in any other way.