Narration by Rukmini dd; Photos courtesy of Venu Gopal Das and Bhaktin Melissa
The Phoenix Ratha Yatra boasted a phenomenal guest list featuring Bhakti Caitanya Swami, Indradyumna Swami, Bhakti Brnga Govinda Swami, Bhakti Brhad Bhagavata Swami and of course Kadamba Kanana Swami. The line-up of kirtaniyas was equally impressive including Akincana Krsna Das, Amala Harinama Das, Kirtan Premi Das and Nadia Mani dd. Sprawled out over the long weekend (15-17 December), as Monday was a public holiday here, Lord Jagannatha’s famous festival was a feast of the holy name.
Kadamba Kanana Swami focused his energy on the Questions and Answers booth. He unwrapped each classical topic and brought the essence home to the ordinary spectator with sheer expertise. As far flung as the question may have been, Maharaja could route it to the current subject with gymnastic ease and a trademark personal touch.
On Saturday night, Maharaja focused on the theme of how generosity in devotional service can help us rise above lust and envy, and attract the mercy of Krsna. On Sunday, Maharaja even squeezed in a skype call to the Cape Town temple during their love feast to inspire the devotees for their own upcoming Ratha Yatra. Thereafter in his Q&A slot at the festival, he shifted to the theme of commitment as the essential element in helping us “put more weight on the foot that’s on the spiritual side” in reference to a favourite analogy of his. He also gave a fiery impetus to increase our own commitment:
[quote]There was one boy, he would come every day and we would chat and joke and (we) developed a friendship but then he didn’t go any further in spiritual life. He stopped being serious… he just wanted to be friends. Then I told him one day, “Look, you know, you have to understand, I am fire and if you are with me then you’ll have to burn and if you’re not going to burn then I’m going to burn something else.”
Just friendship without making spiritual advancement (has) no meaning, (it is) useless! I have no interest… I couldn’t care less. Sorry about that. Drop you like a stone. Boom!
If Krsna is not part of it somehow or other, if there is no spiritual progress. If there is any scope, a millimetre of advancement a year then I won’t give up. But if there is not even a millimetre of advancement a year then you know, “Okay, Mr Snail, half a millimetre? Could we negotiate? Could we possibly move forward a little bit towards Krsna? If not a millimetre then half a millimetre? Quarter?”
Some increase in commitment has to be there. I am fire. That’s why I have these fiery colours. Being around this fire you have to burn, sooner or later. Burn, burn for Krsna. Burn with love for Krsna. Burn with enthusiasm. Burn with service attitude… that is what is needed. Progress![/quote]
Monday brought with it the theme of humility and its core element, honesty, as being the practical goal for the Kali Yuga devotional aspirant. The weekend was spotted with sweet but short stints of kirtan on the main stage by Maharaja with beautiful topical interludes.
Yet throughout his time in Durban, Maharaja has been dutifully nurturing his health with diet and lots of ayurvedic medication. The recent addition to the schedule was 4 km walks on the beach in the afternoon. All the while, he didn’t lose site of the brewing book marathon, having distributed a total of 265 small books, 30 medium books and 50 big books! This Saturday, he will leave Durban for Cape Town to celebrate Lord Jagannatha’s Snana Yatra on 23 December and then Ratha Yatra on 29 December. He continues to follows the trail of Lord Jagannatha’s cart as it makes its mark across the world.
Recordings of the various lectures and kirtans are given below.
If you cannot view the slide-show, please click here to visit flickr.