In2-MeC

newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

Nigadi, Maharashtra
6 February 2003

Madhu Puri Prabhu and I left Kohlapur on 1 February; since then we've not stayed long at any place. Moving from here to there delayed the editing and uploading of the previous two journal entries, which I actually wrote in January; they were sent to In2-MeC only in the last couple of days. Please make sure you haven't missed them. One recounts a darshan with Srila Prabhupada in 1973, and the other is about the Bhagavat Dharma Discourse in New Vrndaban, September 1972.

This entry, the one I am writing now, is the first for February. Let me bring you up to date.

Departure from Kolhapur

Kolhapur finale

At sunset on January 31 I visited the main temple of the city of Kolhapur, which is dedicated to Mahalakshmi. My visit was timed to an auspicious moment, because at sunset on this one day per year the golden-red rays of the sun stream through the entrance of the temple to illuminate the lotus feet of the Lakshmi deity.

small Lakshmi Sesasayi

The history is that each year at this time the demigod Surya carries a message to Lakshmi from Lord Venkateshwara at Tirupati: "Kindly return to My side." The famous Venkateshwara (Vaikuntha Ishvara) Deity and Kolhapur's Mahalakshmi Deity were originally together. But when Brghu Muni trod upon the Lord's chest to test if He is really Bhagavan among the trimurti of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, Lakshmiji became too distressed that Her husband merely tolerated this insult. She left His side to perform austerities at Kolhapur. Therefore each year the Lord invites Her to return to Him.

It was my great fortune that I stood inside the pujari area to witness Surya touch Her lotus feet. (How was that? Because the brahmanas who serve Mahalakshmi--though smartas, not Vaishnavas--are favorable to ISKCON.) The head pujari turned all the lights off as the crucial moment approached. It was really thrilling, in a deep, spiritual sense, to see the beam of sunlight creep towards the lotus toes of the Lord's eternal consort. I was remembering a verse from the Sanat Kumara Samhita:

Sa tu sakshan mahalakshmi
Krsna narayana prabho
Na tayor vidyate bheda
Svalpo 'smi muni sattamah

This means that there is no difference between Sri-Sri Lakshmi-Narayana and Sri-Sri Radha-Krsna. Similar to the pastime between Venkateshvara and Mahalakshmi, sometimes Srimati Radharani becomes so transcendentally angry with Sri Krsna that She won't associate with Him until He comes to worship Her lotus feet.

After we saw the pastime of Surya and Mahalakshmi, Rupa Vilasa Prabhu took me to have darshan of the beautiful Sesasayi Deity who has been worshiped in Kohlapur city for some 110 years. Unfortunately the Deity is housed in a building that looks like a tile-roofed blue brick shed. This stands next to a bus stop on a traffic roundabout in central Kolhapur.

The story of the Deity is that it was unearthed during an excavation outside of Kolhapur. The king ordered that the black stone murti - which is as large as a full-grown man, lying in full repose upon Ananta Sesa-be transported by elephants to a place he had chosen as the site of a temple. The elephants moved the Deity as far as its present location, but could not budge it an inch beyond. So a simple shelter was built around Him. Thus, nowadays you take darshan to the din of passing traffic. I hope ISKCON one day soon becomes influential enough in Kolhapur to be able to arrange for the construction of a proper temple for this very special Deity. As I stood before Lord Sesasayi I felt it was His plan that I was leaving the small Lakshmi-Sesasayi Deities I had been worshiping upon Rupa Vilasa's home altar. Kolhapur is the city of Sesasayi.

Then we went to a devotee's home for my "farewell address" to the Kolhapur ISKCON congregation. The gathering was held upon his spacious rooftop. Over 300 devotees and guests attended.

Farewell address on rooftop

Pune

The next morning at 7:00 AM, after a final short kirtana with the crowd of devotees who turned up at Rupa Vilasa's place to see me off, I boarded a Tata Sumo for Pune (pronounced Poona). With me were Madhu Puri Prabhu and a nice Kolhapur bhakta named Amit, who is staying with me until I depart Maharashtra. Pune is an important center of higher education in India. ISKCON's Sri-Sri Radha-Kunjabihari Temple's main mission is to the large student community of the city. Under the able direction of temple president Radhe Syama Prabhu, the effort has resulted in a congregation of hundreds of young people. On the evening of my arrival I did a program for this group.
Devotees in Kolhapur
The Tata Sumo
The next day I gave Bhagavatam class and then the evening Sunday lecture. After giving Bhagavatam on the morning of Monday, February 2, I, Madhu and Amit went by Sumo to Satara.
Amit

Satara

Sachisuta Prabhu, an enthusiastic and well-spoken grhasta preacher, heads up the ISKCON mission in Satara. Like Kolhapur, it is strictly a congregational effort; there is no temple here. The congregation is smaller than at Kolhapur, but the mood is just as sweet. We stayed at the home of Mr. R.S. Mane, a retired Colonel of the Indian Army. This is my third visit, so he and his wife are my good friends.

The Mane family
Saci Suta and Principal

I did an evening program at the nearby village of Koregaon, an afternoon lecture at a homeopathic medical college, an evening program at the Satara Rukmini-Vitthal temple, and a Bhagavatam class at Mr. Mane's house on the morning of my departure, which was yesterday.

Medical students
Evening at Vitthal temple
Sri Sri Rukmini Vitthal
After Bhagavatam class

Nigadi

Today as I write this (Thursday, February 6) we are at the home of a devotee family in Nigadi, which is an industrial area in the vicinity of Pune. Here ISKCON has met success in cultivating the working people who flock to Nigadi from other towns. They are simple but enthusiastic.

Early tomorrow morning we (myself, Madhu Puri and Amit) board a train for Mumbai. I'll be the weekend there at the Chowpatti ISKCON Mandira. On Monday the 10th, Madhu Puri and I will take the Raj Dhani Express to Delhi.

Lecture in Nigadi

A message from HH Bhakti Vishrama Madhava Maharaja

In2-MeC of January 26 brought in a message from my Godbrother and old friend Bhakti Vishrama Madhava Maharaja. He remembers Sri Ballabha's plundering of the Radha-Damodara maha sweets as happening somewhere up in New York State, not in Miami. That is certainly possible. I know this story because Vishnujana Maharaja and others-including Sri Ballabha himself-told me about it, not because I witnessed it myself. I was out on book distribution at the time.

My recollection is that I first heard the story when the Radha-Damodara bus was wintering in Miami, at the old ISKCON "Compound" temple in Coconut Grove. (The present Miami ISKCON temple is also located in the Grove, but the "Compound" is a different address; it is an old estate on a large piece of land surrounded by a wall. A big banyan tree grows in the center of the yard. ISKCON had the use of this place in the 1970s.) Anyway, having first heard the Sri Ballabha maha-plundering story in Miami, I suppose my memory registered that it actually happened there. Certainly it could have happened up in New York State instead.

Thanks, Maharaja, for the clarification.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

<< Back

© 2003 - 2023 Suhotra Maharaja Archives - Vidyagati das