Royal Kirtan for the Final Royal Snan
Posted May 20, 2004
Tall gulmohar trees (poinciana) are spreading their red and orange canopies over the parade route for the Shahi Snan (Royal Bathing) at Singhasth Kumbha Mela in Ujjain. It is known as Singhasth since Jupiter, (Brihaspati) has entered into the Singh Rasi (Leo). May 4th was to be the final day and final Snana in this Holy City also known as Avantipura.
Since the last snan day, we had our official position in the bathing procession as Lokanatha Swami had been officially accepted as a Mahant. However, the police concerned about the traffic, were trying to stop the sadhus from going with their decorated jeeps in procession. Finally it was agreed to allow a limited number of jeeps. Our Vaisnava Naga, Sri Hari Shankar, somehow successfully got us permission to take our jeep.
This time with plenty of time, we made nice arrangements for Srila Prabhupada's Vyasa Asana on top of the jeep. Now we had also purchased a beautifully jari embroidered red velvet umbrella to place over the head of His Divine Grace. And the jeep was very gorgeously decorated with yellow flowers. In the previous snan, we had used a small hand held mike system, but now we purchased nice speakers which we attached to the luggage rack on either side of the jeep so we could have a powerful kirtan.
Unfortunately, somehow Lokanatha Maharaja was unable to come, but we had our huge Sarvabhauma sitting in the front seat and he really looks like a Mahant. Of the three Vaisnava groups of sadhus, our group was going last this time. So when we got to where the procession was to begin, the second group was in procession. By now some more devotees had come from Pune, Calcutta, Delhi and other temples so we had a very large kirtana party. As all the Mahants were passing by, they were smiling down and rocking in time with our kirtan sitting high on their silver thrones. Devotees were jumping and spinning and the thousands of pilgrims were being blessed.
Finally our group started and we got our place in the line. The entire route is almost 5 kms. long and the whole way was thronged with thousands of pilgrims. They all bowed their heads and stared in devotion at Srila Prabhupada regally riding by. By the enthusiasm of the devotees, they began first to clap and then join in chanting the Holy Names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!
The police were all smiles as by now they all knew us from our daily Harer Nama Processions with the Padayatra Maharastra bullock cart. Everyone love to see those huge horned Gujerati bulls, but today they couldn't come. Just that morning one of the chief coordinators of our camp, Mahaman Prabhu, had arrived from Vrindavan. He began leading the kirtan and within moments, everyone was jumping and spinning in ecstasy. People were showering flowers from the rooftops as the procession winds right through the middle of town.
As we finally reached the bathing place at Ramaghat, television cameras were zooming in on Srila Prabhupada and then down to the devotees dancing and swirling to the enchanting beat of the mrdangas. The extreme heat gave the mrdangas a very sweet sound.
Then we left all our instruments and dashed to the ghats as they only permit each group of sadhus a few minutes to bathe. I don't know what happenned to anyone else, but as I started down the steps into the water, the crowd joyfully grabbed me and pulled me into the river. Then they began chanting Hare Krishna and pouring water over my head. Then they did the customary dunking under the water three times. Then spontaneously everyone started chanting and rubbing me down and giving me a royal bath.
Later Mahaman told us that when he went for bathing, some TV crew had pulled him aside for a live enterview. Then they took him for darshan of a nearby famous temple.
With difficulty I got free from the crowd to run back and find our jeep which had gone quite aways ahead under the constant whistling of the police in their attemps to keep the procession rolling. We chanted all the way back to our camp and that was the end of Kumbha Mela 2004.
In service of Sri Sri Krishna Balaram,
Deena Bandhu dasa