Simhachalam, a devotee farming community in lower-east Germany, was Kadamba Kanana Swami’s next destination after Radhadesh. Upon arrival at the farm on Thursday afternoon (30 April), Maharaj was greeted at the gate by many devotees who were waiting for him, with Gour Mohan leading a jubilant kirtan. Later that evening, the raising of the flag of Garuda, parikrama around the temple and elaborate yajna signalled the start of the Nrshima Caturdasi festival 2015!
The temple was crowded on Thursday already however, in preparation for the masses who were due on Friday, every bit of living space was converted into ‘ashram’, including dining-hall, yoga studio and barn! Apart from filling up all these areas, some devotees stayed in neighbouring guesthouses while others camped in the fields and there were also those who slept in their cars. Such is the attraction to this festival that some minor inconvenience, such as rising at 1am in order to join the queue for the bathroom, is no deterrent at all. However, lacking the European spirit of endurance, I also chose to stay at a nearby guesthouse which allowed me to have a more enjoyable festival as having missed the stress of the morning rush, I was rested and therefore able to participate in more of the activities which ran from mangal aarti until late at night!
Krsna Ksetra Swami, Bhakti Vaibhava Swami, Prithu Prabhu, Dina Sarana Mataji and Devaki Mataji were some of the other esteemed guests in attendance and over the course of the four day festival, they led kirtan and gave some fantastic seminars. Kadamba Kanana Swami had a jam-packed schedule with multiple kirtan and seminar slots on all of the days. On day one (Friday), in his seminar, Maharaj spoke on the glories of Jayananda Prabhu as it was the anniversary of his disappearance. On the other days, the seminars focussed on the meaningful and potent prayers of Prahlad.
Saturday, the main day of the festival, the day we were all looking forward to, had arrived and mangal aarti was a sea of expectant faces eagerly awaiting the first darshan of Lord Nrsimhadev! Guruvastakam was led by Krsna Ksetra Swami. The feeling of celebration was tangible but we could barely move our feet as we stood shoulder-to-shoulder in an overcrowded temple room just to see the Lord in all His majesty! Thereafter, a sweet and ecstatic Tulasi Puja was led by Kadamba Kanana Swami. After a short japa period, at 6am the curtain reopened and our majestic Lordship was publically bathed in scented oil.
If one is visiting Simhachalam for the first time, greetings can be shocker. In most temples, we are accustomed to, “Govindam adi purusham…” but at this temple, after the blowing of the conch at 7.15am, the sound of cracking thunder is bellowed throughout the temple room as a recording of the deity greeting song begins and many mantras dedicated to Lord Nrshimadev are recited (watch an old video here). Guru Puja, which had Kadamba Kanana Swami in action again, had a room full of dancing devotees.
Thereafter, everyone assembled in the upper level of the barn where a two hour morning class, shared by the three Swamis, took place. This change in venue was to accommodate the large number of devotees present as the temple room was too small. Various sweet pastimes of Lord Nrshimadev, Prahlad and Hiranyakashipu were shared. A particularly nice dramatic reading, entitled Hiranyakashipu meets his Maker, was done by Krsna Ksetra Swami and is worth listening to.
After a full morning of meditation on Nrshimadev including the oil bathing, beautiful darshan at greetings and two hour class, one felt quite satisfied already, however the indisputable highlight of the day had not even unfolded yet. At 11am, the MAHA ABHISEK began…
Litres and litres of milk, yogurt, honey and ghee bathed Nrshimadev. Thereafter, fragrant fresh fruit juices cascaded over the Lord’s beautiful body which was followed by Him being covered in layers of bananas! Fresh and dry fruit garlands decorated His body. Finally, Nrsimhadev was dusted with coloured powders! Bhakti Vaibhava Swami and Kadamba Kanana Swami led melodious kirtan while devotees were riveted to their seats as the three hour ceremony was indeed a site to behold! Seminars and more wild kirtans took us to dusk and the end of fasting.
On Sunday, greetings was scheduled almost an hour late as Lord Nrshimadev was being adorned in a special outfit! To accentuate His sweetness, the Lord was covered in a colourful outfit made of just sandesh (milk sweet)! Later that day, an initiation ceremony was held were Bhaktin Sandra from Bratislava was renamed Padma Locani. Simhachalam is known for its wild kirtans and wildest of all happened on Sunday at Gaura aarti! It was the perfect finale to a fulfilling weekend!
Kadamba Kanana Swami has previously described the glories of being part of this festival:
So, I think that Nrsimha Caturdasi in this temple is unique. In the whole world, we have three Nrsimha deities – Mayapur, New Vrindavan and Simhachalam. But nowhere else is like here. Where else do they have black chamaras? Where else do they have Nrsimha pictures on the dark brown walls? Even the surrounding forest is kind of like Nrsimha. There are all these cats around the temple and they kind of look ferocious, not like your sweet little home cats. Lord Nrsimhadev is not just here in this little temple but Lord Nrsimhadev’s influence is spreading everywhere. And the devotees from Czech, they feel like there is somebody over the border here. Devotees from everywhere 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 Nrsimhadev 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 Nrsimhadev. We are dealing with Nrsimha Caitanya – none other. Within this form of Lord Nrsimhadev, Lord Caitanya is manifesting and Lord Caitanya is driving out all the demon-like desires of the population of the world.
Visit flickr to see all the pictures.
Full Morning Lecture given by three Swamis – Download here.