Written by Rukmini devi dasi
The soft-hearted Simha
The Bhagavatam describes how the mane of Lord Nrsimhadeva scattered the clouds. His glaring eyes stole the effulgence of the luminaries in the sky. His breathing agitated the oceans. At the sound of his roar, all the elephants in the world began to cry. However, when Lord Nrsimhadeva saw little Prahlada bowing down at his lotus feet, he became most ecstatic in affection. Raising Prahlada, the Lord placed his lotus hand upon the boy’s head because his hand is always ready to create fearlessness in all his devotees.
It is this ecstatic form of the Lord, affectionately embracing dear Prahlada that attracts devotees from all over Europe again and again. Each year, they seek the shelter of Sri Sri Prahlada Nrsimhadeva at his abode in Simhachalam (Germany), for the four day celebration of Nrsimhadeva Caturdasi. And when the Lord wants to party, he knows how to do it in style!
Besides Kadamba Kanana Swami, the guest list included Kavicandra Swami, Bhakti Vaibhava Swami, Ravindra Swarup, Prithu Prabhu, Vedavyasa Prabhu, Narayani Mataji, Dina Sharana Mataji and Devaki Mataji. Also present were three film crews. Two representatives from a national television station (ARD), dressed in dhoti and adorned with tilak, spent seven days at Simachalam living the life of a devotee.
At the outset of the festival, Kanana Kanana Maharaja mentioned, ‘This is an extraordinary temple; a temple meant to particularly remind us how the Lord protects his devotees. Temples are never ordinary places. Temples are full of spiritual potency, greatly blessings take place. We can understand that just by the presence of this deity, Europe would have not been the same if it were without it. So we are fortunate to come to this place… we are actually receiving special mercy from the Lord.’
With the rise of the flag of Garuda, the festivities began. An elaborate yajna was performed to invoke auspicious. Spontaneous kirtan decorated the nightly hours. By mangal arati, hundreds of expectant faces eagerly awaited the first darshan of Lord Nrsimhadeva. The kirtan, led by Prithu Prabhu, was sweet ecstasy. Just to inspire the japa of the devotees, Nrsimhadeva was publically bathed in scented oil at 6 am. At greetings, the Lord was adorned in gorgeous red velvet. Kadamba Kanana Maharaja led an hour-long gurupuja kirtan to fire up the festival spirit. The rest of the morning was spent absorbed in the pastimes of Lord Nrsimhadeva recited by the lips of many saintly souls.
Maharaja quoted Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur who said that Prahlada could see the Supreme Lord where ever he looked. Hiranyakasipu could not see the Lord no matter where he looked. We are somewhere in between Hiranyakasipu and Prahlada. In this way, the Bhagavatam becomes a mirror that reflects our own nature in different personalities.
Before we knew it, it was time for the royal abhiseka, the undeniable highlight of the day. Litres of milk and yogurt cascaded over the lords black granite form. Liquid ghee and honey left a glittering sheen. Nrsimhadeva was bathed in fresh fruit juices so fragrant you could smell their natural richness even in the crowd. The pujaris went totally bananas – literally. Nrshimhadeva was covered in layers of them! An avalanche of fresh and dry fruit garlands, topped with a necklace of strawberries, gave the Lord a real Hawaiian flavour. As per tradition, the maha-prasadam garlands went flying around the temple room. For the final touch, Nrsimhadeva was dusted with orange and red powders and offered a garland of doughnuts! During the course of the two-hour ceremony, Bhakti Vaibhava Maharaja and Kadamba Kanana Maharaja led ecstatic kirtan.
Shortly after the abhiseka Maharaja spontaneously continued the kirtan with a smaller group of devotees while the pujaris cleaned and dressed Lord Nsimhadeva behind the scenes. The collective kirtan led right up to the 4 o’clock darshan where the Lord sported his third new outfit made of multi-coloured rose petals. When the kirtan stopped, the Nrsimha katha continued leaving no moment spare. We were bedazzled with many current day stories of how the Lord protects His devotees.
After Gaura arathi (and a fourth new outfit – royal blue and silver), the utsava Nrsimhadeva deity was placed on a palanquin and taken out on procession around the farm. The famous harinam team of Vishnujana and gang ensured that nobody’s feet were still. In the evening, there was a baratanatyam dance that exuded culture, class and a distinct devotional spirit. Bhakti Vaibhava Maharaja led more bhajan leading to the final arati at sunset. The finale was a rap performance of the Nrsimhadeva lila by Gurudas Prabhu (KKS). Being both sastric and entertaining, it left everyone smiling, clapping and chanting along.
Saturday was dedicated to variety of seminars by different speakers. Maharaja focussed on how life experience becomes our teacher and sastra provides the purports for what we deal with in the world. He alluded to a theme that he is planning to work on this summer called, “The Monk and his Mantra.” He said that we need to be careful that our Krsna consciousness not to become “laghu” or too light. One should always ensure that we are heavy with transcendental adsorption. The theme of adsorption was the crux of his presentation.
On Sunday morning, Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared completely covered in sandesh – just in case any one wasn’t completely convinced of his sweet, soft heartedness!
“So, I think that Nrsimha Caturdasi in this temple is unique. In the whole world, we have three Nrsimha deities, Mayapur, New Vrindavan and here. But nowhere else is like here. Where do they have black chamaras? Where? Where else do they have Nrsimha pictures on the dark brown walls? Even the forest is kind of like Nrsimha. There are all these cats around the temple and they kind of look like these ferocious cats not like your sweet little home cats. Lord Nrsimhadeva is not just here in this little temple but Lord Nrsimhadeva’s influence is spreading everywhere. And the devotees from Czech, they feel like there is somebody over the border here. Devotees from everywhere! So many of us have become addicted to being here for this festival… I’m also addicted. I hope that all of you will also become addicted and then bring people like yourself. Come back again and again. Because this deity, he is just too powerful for this little corner of the Bavarian forest. There is a good reason why he is the deity for Europe. Just as Prabhupada named Sri Sri London Isvara and Paris Isvara, another name for Lord Nrsimhadeva is Sri Sri Europe Isvara. He is part of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement. Therefore, we know who we are dealing with when we look at Lord Nrsimhadeva. We are dealing with Nrsimha Caitanya – non other. Within this form of Lord Nrsimhadeva, Lord Caitanya is manifesting and Lord Caitanya is diving out all the demon-like desires of the population of the world. “
Sri Sri Caitanya Nrsimhadeva ki Jai
Sri Sri Prahlada Nrsimhadeva ki Jai
If you cannot view the slide-show then please visit flickr