A Day of Kartika in Delhi
Posted November 5, 2003
Delhi, the capital of India, is one of the most populated cities in the world. At Agrasena Bhavan, situated in Ashok Vihar (one of the modern localities of Delhi), one can see a group of devotees waking early and reciting prayers and singing devotional songs until late at night.
Devotees recite the Mangalacarana at 4:30 a.m. This is followed by the recitation of Sri Guru Parampara, Gurvastaka, Vaisnava Vandana and Hare Krishna kirtan.
Gaudiya vaisnavas always remember Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. During the month of Kartika, devotees meditate on the different pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. The gradual sequential development of the pastimes of Krishna is narrated in the Siksastaka. The pastimes of the Lord will be manifested by this sequence of bhajan.
In the beginning, the first verse of Siksastaka is to be practised for some days. Thereafter, one becomes eligible for practice of the second verse. Then by careful practice of the first four verses of Siksastaka, one gradually acquires maturity in bhajan.
After that, having achieved one's realized eternal spiritual form by practising the fifth verse, one gets the service of the lotus feet of Radharani. Advancement of bhajan will begin from this and will be further developed.
After becoming competent in realizing transcendental sweet ecstatic feelings through practice of the sixth verse, one's attachment for ulterior reverse desires will be completely removed. Then one will be actually entitled to attain an eternal realized spiritual form. When the eight principal modes of transcendental ecstatic feelings will be revealed, the criterion of one's attainment of the region of safety will have been achieved.
If an aspirant pretends to achieve that realized state without manifestation of these ecstatic feelings, it will be the cause of disaster due to a lack of intrinsic spiritual force from within. An aspirant who wants to attain the realized state should very carefully accept the gradual procedure, strictly following the direction of the pure devotee-sadhu, which is the only way of attaining pure and eternal devotional wisdom.
After becoming eligible for achieving one's eternal realized spiritual form, by sincere bhajan the aspirant can easily attain the transcendental blissful service of eight periods of the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Devotees at the Agrasena Bhavan are making a sincere effort to perform bhajan under the Vaisnava guidance of Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Goswami.
The Holy Name is the most powerful of all devotional practices. The Name is transcendental. Chanting of the Holy Name of Sri Krishna, completely and loudly in the company of devotees and without tenfold offences, can bestow seven attainments: cleansing of the mirror of the mind, extinguishing of the forest fire of birth, death and threefold afflictions, bestowal of eternal soothing benefit like the moonlight, the life of spiritual learning, i.e. awakening of the real self, increasing of the ocean of bliss, bestowing at every step the sweet taste of complete transcendental ambrosia, and holy immersion of body, mind and real self.
May that chanting be supremely glorified. If our heart is clean, the Lord's form will appear. This is also the time of awakening of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
Then follows the mangala-arati of Sri Sri Radha-Syamsundara and Gauranga Mahaprabhu with the arati composition of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, bhale gaura gadhadhare arati nihari, nadia puraba bhage jaon balihari, ending with meditation on that most beautiful composition, the Damodarastakam.
In the next course of action, the second verse of the Siksastaka is explained: the morning bhajan -- comprising the association of devotee-sadhus, taking shelter of a pure devotee, a bona fide guru, performing devotional practice as per the directions of one's guru, and removal of ulterior desires.
"There is no consideration in uttering the Holy Name. The Holy Name can be uttered anywhere and everywhere, whether at an auspicious or inauspicious time. The Holy Name is all-powerful. Amongst all forms of devotional practice, the uttering of harinama is the best."
This is also the time when Lord Krishna gets ready for herding the cows. He is just finishing milking the cows. With His friends, He is taking breakfast, which has been cooked by Srimati Radharani.
Devotees don't want to confine themselves to Agrasena Bhavan. They come out onto the streets, loudly chanting the names of Lord Hari, waking up the sleeping souls, freely distributing the Names and love of God. With many wonderful devotional kirtans, devotees take different routes daily and cover Delhi with the Lord's Name between 7 and 9 a.m.
After morning prasadam, devotees again gather to meditate on the third verse of Siksastaka. The qualification for nama-bhajan and the procedure for doing harinama is ascertained in the third verse of Siksastaka. That aspirant who considers himself to be more abominable than a blade of grass, is more forbearing than a tree, and is completely devoid of desire for respect from others but giving due respect to all is eligible for doing hari-kirtan always.
At this time, Krishna goes to the forest with the calves (or cows) and cowherd boys. Nanda Maharaja, Yasoda Devi and other milkmen and milkwomen of Vraja dhama follow Krishna as long as they can see Him.
The evening discourse starts at 4:30 p.m. Maharaja explains the fourth verse of Sikastaka, "I don't want any material wealth, health, beauty, women, etc. I only want unflinching devotion to Your lotus feet." Srimati Radharani goes to Radha-kunda to meet Sri Krishna. According to the Gaudiya Vaisnava school of thought, the mid-day pastime of Radha and Krishna at Radha-kunda is the highest.
Following that is the daily recitation of and commentary on the Gajendra Moksa-stava (Srimad Bhagavatam, canto 8, chapter 2). Part of the rules of the vrata is to read or hear the Gajendra Moksa-stava. One can see how Gaja (an elephant) tried hard to free himself from the grip of the crocodile but failed. Being hopeless, he completely surrendered to the Supreme Lord, who then rescued him. We can also be rescued from the grip of Maya if we surrender completely to the Supreme Lord.
In the kirtan of the fifth yama, we should cry out from the heart, "O Nandanandana! I am your eternal servant. I have forgotten you. I am falsely enjoying Maya's creation. I am in this cycle of birth & death. You are all-merciful; give me a place in the dust of Your lotus feet." Srimati Radharani returns from Radha-kunda at this time. Sri Krishna is also returning after herding the cows all day long.
At 7 p.m., many people from nearby localities accompany devotees in singing the evening arati of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara. They also take part in the parikrama of Tulasi Maharani.
The night session begins with the beautiful singing of the prayers of Srila Rupa Goswami, krsna deva bhavantam vande.
The sixth verse of the Siksastaka explains the prior stage of prema. At this time, Yasoda Devi bathes Krishna nicely, dresses Him beautifully, and feeds Him many preparations made by Srimati Radharani.
With the kirtan and discourse on the seventh (divine love in separation) and eighth verses (prema bhajan in direct contact) of Siksastaka, the night session ends at around 10:30 p.m.
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