After parting from the sweet Cape on Thursday (Sept 20th), Kadamba Kanana Swami headed north to the coastal city of Durban, to the abode of the exquisite Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha. That evening he was warmly received at the home of HG Shyamlal Prabhu, a stalwart disciple of Srila Prabhupada who is currently being treated for cancer. Born in the holy land of Navadwip, Shyamlal Prabhu was touched by Srila Prabhupada who instructed him to preach in South Africa. Therefore he has invested both life and love into the SA Yatra and is widely known and affectionately appreciated. The program was a combination of mellow kirtan and sweet exchanges punctuated with humorous Prabhupada pastimes. The perfect punch line was definitely “vaiñëavera kriyä mudrä vijïeha nä bujhaya”- a mental speculator cannot understand the mind of a vaisnava.
The morning dose of Bhagavatam was centred on the Mausalya lila, the disappearance of Lord Krsna. Maharaja emphasised the beauty of the Bhagavatam: The modern way of life is stressful and this stress is actually draining us. It is stressful to be bombarded by false information constantly. You have to filter through it and always be alert. It takes energy and therefore when we start reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and purports, you experience such a relief. Here you can drink it in, every word. Every word is a blessing. Every word is sarva mangala-mangalam. Every word is auspicious, even when you don’t like it. Even if you don’t like it then know that part in you is inauspicious. If there is something in Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam that we don’t like then know that part in you is inauspicious. Because there are no faults, it is the amala purana, the spotless purana.
After lunch on Saturday, Maharaja left for New Jagannatha Puri in Phoenix. Lord Jagannatha’s giant smile welcomed us into the newly renovated temple room, complete with a picturesque ceiling depicting the pastimes of Lord Jagannatha and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The occasion was initially meant to be a combined namahatta and memorial program. However, it evolved into a spontaneous Radhastami adivas ceremony… yet nothing could have prepared us the explosion of Radhastami!
Sunday dawned with perfect sunny weather and hundreds of devotees crowded into the temple room, eager to get the first darshan of Srimati Radharani. Before greetings Maharaja set the mood for the day in his first class.
Krsna says that so many of them are praying to me. They are all praying to me and I give them pleasure. But who gives pleasure to me? Who can really give pleasure to me? Unless one is a hundred times more qualified than I am… In this way Krsna is looking at Srimati Radharani as unlimitedly qualified, unlimitedly pure, unlimitedly dedicated. Today we are looking at Srimati Radharani as the emblem of pure devotion. It’s a prayerful time, Radhastami, different from Janmastami. Janmastami is a time of abundance, of celebrating Krsna’s unlimited qualities, just reciprocated with the unlimited nature of Krsna by unlimited glorification. On Radhastami, it is the festival of the devotees who are trying to serve Krsna.
When the curtains finally opened devotees drank in the sunflower themed darshan of Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha. Maharaja led a wild kirtan for over an hour and devotees went mad! Their bliss was interrupted by preparation for the abhisekha of chota Radha Radhanatha. Directly following this, was Maharaja’s second class for the day. He kept the devotees spellbound with many wonderful deep pastimes of Srimati Radharani that flowed freely.
At the sound of the conch for the Raj bhoga arati, the class transformed into another flying kirtan that continued for an hour past the breaking fast time. The holy names effortlessly resounded off all eight sides of the temple room. After a short break for lunch, the festivities continued with a late afternoon boat festival where chota Radha Radhanatha were carried out of the temple room in a flower palanquin and placed a swan-boat in the moat surrounding the temple. Devotees showered the deities with rose petals from above to the sound of sweet kirtan.
Straight after this, HH Partha Sarathi Das Goswami (PSDG) Maharaja arrived to deliver the last lecture for the day which was shared with Kadamba Kanana Maharaja. PSDG Maharaja emphasised how Srimati Radharani will readily give her mercy to the sincere devotee and that worshiping the pure devotee of Krsna is higher than worshiping Krsna himself. Kadamba Kanana Maharaja continued with the same theme, emphasising the position of the devotee. The talks concluded with Gaura Arati and darshan of Radha Radhanatha in their third new outfit for the day. The devotees thronged forward to get glimpse of stunning black and white outfit and deep-red rose garlands. Radharani pertinently displayed silhouettes of Krsna on each panel of her skirt.
More than the darshan, it was the holy names that filled the ears, widened the eyes and opened the heart. Maharaja led one more pulsating kirtan, floating on spiritual energy. The devotees went stark raving mad. More than anyone else it was Maharaja who just couldn’t stop. The kirtan climaxed with a fast paced, up-beat Jaya Radha Madhava and with everyone shouting out with all the energy they could muster. It was a festival of transcendental madness by mercy of Srimati Radharani. The next day, “the day after hiroshimha” was time to rest and recover.
If you cannot view the slide show, please visit flickr!