Travel Journal#5.9b: Simhachalam
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 9b
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2009, part one, section b)
Nrsimha Caturdasi Festival, Simhachalam, Germany
(Sent from Paris, France, on 5/24/09)
The Nrsimha Caturdasi Festival at Simachalam
The Nrsimha festival at Simhachalam, our farm in southeastern Germany, was attended by several senior devotees, the most prominent being Sacinandana and Kadamba Kanana Swamis, and many of them shared valuable realizations with us, which I will pass on to you in the course of this issue.
Another high point was a truly beautiful abhiseka of the awesome Prahlada-Nrsimhadeva Deity there.
Outside they had an abhiseka of a small Nrisimha Deity for kids.
There was so much kirtana (chanting) and katha (telling of pastimes and philosophy), all well attended, that it was truly inspiring.
Another interesting event was the swinging of a small Deity of Nrsimhadeva, something I had never seen before.
One evening, the pujari (priest) brought the small Nrsimhadeva Deity out to circumambulate the temple. He ran at such a quick pace, I could hardly keep up. Each night of the four-day festival, some devotees stayed up till mangala-arati doing bhajana in the temple. Many friends I knew from Germany, Czech, the Poland festivals, and the Mayapur Bhakti-sastri were there, and it was nice to have their association again. Even Vijaya Prabhu came from America. While there I planned a series of harinamas for Vienna, got invited back to a nama-hatta program in Slovakia for later in the summer, and got both an invitation and a ride to Zurich. All and all it was a wonderful event, and I recommend the all devotees spend at least one Nrsimha Caturdasi at Simhachalam in their life. Who knows, they may become addicted to it, like many of the devotees there.
There are hundreds of wonderful pictures of the festival shared by Gauranga Das at http://picasaweb.google.de/gaurangaji/NarasimhaCaturdasi2009 and http://picasaweb.google.de/gaurangaji/NarasimhaCaturdasi2009II .
Inspiration from Lectures
Bhakti Bhusana Swami:
Whatever Krishna does, He carries to the extreme. He is the sweetest son, the dearest lover, the most ecstatic devotee with unparalleled loving ecstasies, and so as Lord Nrsimhadeva, He is the most ferocious lionlike personality.
Prahlada Maharaja accepted the throne only as a facility for benefiting the conditioned souls. At the end of Srila Prabhupada’s life, his Godbrothers encouraged Srila Prabhupada to give up management and think of Radha-Krishna, but he did not agree, as he was in the mood of Prahlada Maharaja, wanting only to benefit the conditioned souls until the end of his life.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu especially relished hearing the Dhruva pastime and the Nrsimha pastime from Gadadhara Pandit at Tota-gopinatha. Whenever Gadadhara Pandit would finish reading either of them, the Lord would eagerly appeal to him to recite it again.
If we want to attain Krishna, we can never give up in the face of obstacles. This attitude is there in both the beginning devotees and the most exalted pure devotees, the gopis.
Lord Nrsimha’s laugh is so fierce that Hiranyakasipu had to close his eyes.
Once in a city in Germany, a man emerged from a bar, opened up his shirt, assumed a fighting stance, and rushed toward the harinama party, intending to finish them off. We changed the song to “namas te narasimhaya.” Then one strongly built Turkish gentlemen attacked that man before he reached the party, punishing him so severely, we had to appeal to the Turkish gentleman, “Please stop, after all, he did not actually hurt us, he just made us change our melody.”
There are external obstacles and internal obstacles. How often does someone try to attack us? Is it not more often that we are attacked by lust, greed, and anger? Thus our internal enemies are more of a problem. Thus we appeal to Lord Nrsimha to appear in our heart and vanquish our internal enemies. Once such prayer is Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.8:
“I offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Nrsimhadeva who is the source of all power. Oh my Lord, who possesses nails and teeth, which are just like thunderbolts. Kindly vanquish our demonlike desires for fruitive activities in this material world.”
Many devotees who have recited this prayer for months report that in fact the Lord did free them from such impurities. Bhaktivinoda Thakura recommends begging Lord Nrsimha for the benediction of being able to worship Radha and Krishna in Navadvipa. Lord Nrsimha, who has vatsalya bhava for those who take shelter of him, will affectionately grant His blessings in that way. ‘Vatsa’ means ‘calf.’ ‘Vatsalya’ means having affection for a dependent like a cow does for its calf.
Kadamba Kanana Swami:
The people of India have a great taste for performing austerities, with hopes of attaining the Lord’s mercy, purification, and blessings. In that spirit, I come here to this remote temple [Simacalam] every year.
We have to accept the arrangements that the Lord makes for our benefit, although they are very hard to surrender to. After I had recovered from being shot in 1995, when I first came before Lord Nrsimha, I was a little fearful. We pray to be free from our material desires, but the means the Lord uses to accomplish this may not simply waving a wand; it may be a very heavy experience. I am still even now learning many lessons from that experience in 1995.
In one sense, there is no difference between Lord Caitanya and Lord Nrsimha. One name of Nrsimha is Nrsimha Caitanya. This entire age is touched by Lord Caitanya. By Lord Caitanya’s smile, people are developing an interest in spiritual life. This interest is not coming from themselves. All avatars are also touched by Lord Caitanya. There is one last thing that only Caitanya can remove from our heart. It is for the benediction of the removal of that final obstacle, I am praying to Lord Nrsimha-Caitanya both for myself and for all of you.
Mother Dina-sarana, GBC of Germany:
The Lord shows His mercy by giving us a really hard time. In this way, we develop our devotional character more so than if He just waved his hand and freed us of impurities. The Lord is interested in removing those little things that we think are insignificant compared to our Krishna consciousness and our preaching, those things that we are always trying to hide. If we are determined to go back to Godhead, Krishna is determined to make sure that no defect remains within us.
Prahlada’s affection for the Lord was so great that even in the face of His most fiercesome incarnation ripping apart Prahlada’s demonic father’s body, he was still situated in his eternal affection for the Lord.
I like to talk about surrender to Krishna. I like to associate with people who have surrendered to Krishna. I like to distribute books about surrender to Krishna. I like to dress as someone surrendered to Krishna. But I don’t like to surrender to Krishna. That is my problem.
Two years ago my doctor told me I had cancer, and it made me look at my lack of surrender much more seriously.
Srila Prabhupada says the Sixth Canto, Part One, is one of the three most important Bhagavatam volumes as it teaches, “By calling out to the Lord in complete desperation to be saved, you can get a second chance and perfect your life.
Why does Krishna come so many times? Because we need to be reminded so many times.
Sridhara Swami, the original Bhagavatam commentator, had a personal Deity of Lord Nrsimha. Prabhupada’s sister also had a Deity of Nrsimha.
When Mr. Nair expired, Srila Prabhupada said, “In Kali-yuga, Lord Nrsimha is still dispensing with demons in the form of the heart attack.”
We must become complete absorbed in the Lord’s pastimes, and then we can forget our previous life in this world.
Once Srila Prabhupada was so absorbed in the pastime of Nrsimha that his disciples were performing, that when Lord Nrsimha leapt out of pillar he showed genuine surprise, although intimately familiar with the story.
Sanda and Amarka asked Prahlada how he was unaffected by their attempts to kill him. He replied innocently. How is it that poison who my mother’s [Laksmi’s] sister [as they were both born from the milk ocean] would hurt me? How is it that falling on my mother’s [Bhumi’s, the wife of my Lord Vahara’s] lap could harm me? How is it possible my father’s tongue [the sacrifical fire is considered to be the tongue of Lord Vishnu] could harm me?
There is a temple in your heart. It is dusty due to neglect. Cry out to attain the Lord of the heart. That is what we can learn from Prahlada-Nrsimha lila. First we see the Lord in the heart, and then we see Him outside.
Mother Rasajna Prabhu:
One of the things Srila Prabhupada liked most was to see performances. After seeing the “Krishna Kidnaps Rukmini” play, Srila Prabhupada made these comments which his servant related to the players: “Finally my disciples are taking this seriously. This is better than reading in my books because it sticks in the mind.”
Mother Laksmimani Prabhu:
Prabhupada had a Nrsimhadeva side to him, anger for the protection of his devotees.
Srila Prabhupada had complete faith that our hearts would change and the world would change by the power of the holy name.
Sometimes we forget the Prabhupada and Nrsimhadeva are protecting us.
Kripa Moya Prabhu:
Guru Dasa once returned from India as Srila Prabhupada’s servant. He said Srila Prabhupada suggested to go on harinama wearing Nrsimhadeva masks. He said that it would catch on, and everyone would want to get the Nrsimha masks and the devotees could sell them.
Kadambda Kanana Swami:
Yasoda would tell Krishna the Nrsimha-lila as a bedtime story. Krishna would smile when Yasoda got to the part where Nrsimhadeva ripped out the intestines of the Hiranyakasipu.
I have seen many Nrsimha temples but none where Lord Nrsimhadeva manifests His presence so fully as here at Simhachalam.
Why not just worship Krishna? After all, so many demons attack Vrndavana, and Krishna protects the residents very nicely.
Laghu-bhagavatamrita states, “Of all the incarnations, Rama and Nrsimha are different, in that they have all six opulences fully.”
The Lord is so softhearted that as Lord Nrsimha he becomes terribly angry when His devotee is cruelly tortured. Thus His ferocious anger is actually a manifestation of his supreme softheartedness toward His innocent devotee.
The evening kirtana was so lively and the devotees so enthusiastic, Kadamba Kanana Swami kept it going to 9:30 p.m., when the feast was finally served. High points of the feast were an excellent well-spiced curd sabji and sweet rice.
Kripa Moya Prabhu:
One day is not enough to pay attention to Lord Nrsimha. At least a week is required. Then we will be inclined to take His protection and our relationship with Him seriously.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura once expressed that he had come to give the love the gopis have for Krishna, but he had to spend all his time cutting down the jungle of Mayavada and sense gratification, so he could not give what he originally intended.
Srimad-Bhagavatam is a different book every time we pick it up, because we see it from a new level of realization.
I deal with congregational preaching in England, and there was one man who was successful chanting, reading Bhagavad-gita, and not eating meat or eggs. Unfortunately fishing was his only contemplative activity, and he was only succeeded in giving it up for six months. One time he went fishing as before, except now he felt very bad about it. Once he sensed he had a catch, and began to reel it in, feeling very guilty. But after reeling it in, he found it was not a fish at all, but a plastic bag with something in it. On closer inspection he found that something was a very waterlogged copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. The man decided that this was a sign from Krishna that he should take his spiritual life more seriously.
We tend to practice Krishna consciousness while avoiding relationships at the same time, often because of bad experiences in material life.
Srila Prabhupada once said that the hardest thing is to give up sense gratification, but even harder is to give up sense gratification and to preach, and even harder than that is to give up sense gratification and to preach in the association of others who are giving up sense gratification and preaching. Thus the hardest thing is to be part of a spiritual movement.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati once said, “Ninety-nine percent of our spiritual advancement comes from bowing down.”
A new devotee once asked Srila Prabhupada, “What do you feel when you chant Hare Krishna?” Srila Prabhupada answered, “I feel no fear.”
There is a point in your spiritual life when you consciously perform your activities desiring only a relationship with Krishna.
One comes to think, “Alas! Why have I served the illusory material energy for so long? Krishna! I am Your servant! Ever since I left the shelter of Your lotus feet, my life has been completely devastated!”
If you offer this prayer, Krishna fortifies your heart and weakens maya’s influence, so you can progress fearlessly.
One carload of devotees came 15 hours by car for the Nrsimha festival here. You really turned toward Lord Nrsimha! Congratulations!
When I am spiritually weak, I criticize everything, but now, after yesterday’s Nrsimha festival, I am appreciating the good qualities of all the devotees.
In Cologne, Kadamba Kanana Swami was asked, “How do I come to another level of my spiritual life?” He answered simply and profoundly, “You have to make a sacrifice for Krishna.” This can be a simple sacrifice. Even just focusing on hearing each word of a single Hare Krishna mantra, one can immediately experience a higher taste.
If we are offended, first we are shocked. Then we meditate on what was said. Then we feel bad that we are thinking about the offense and not thinking about Krishna. Then we act with rage against the culprit. Then we forget about it. But something remains, a kind of resentment, that sometimes lasts one’s whole life, and which keeps us from serving Krishna. Therefore, we should avoid offending others, and seek forgiveness if we have done so, by admitting to them that we were wrong and we are sorry.
Sacinandana Swami on Gaura-lila:
Upon seeing Isvara Puri in Gaya, Lord Caitanya exclaimed, “My visit to Gaya is perfect because of seeing you. Compared to the potency of seeing a holy place, the potency of seeing a Vaisnava is hundreds of times greater. All My ancestors are now delivered.”
When Isvara Puri came unexpectedly to Lord Caitanya’s for lunch, Lord Caitanya fed him all that he had cooked for Himself, saying He would cook again if necessary. Unseen by anyone, Laksmi entered the kitchen and cooked another lunch for Lord Caitanya.
The power of blessings is much greater than our own endeavor. The desire to serve the Lord is given by one who is strong in that desire. If we simply accept the words of the guru and act accordingly, we can come to experience the power of blessings. Our difficulty is that we have so much faith in our own activities, that it is difficult to appreciate the power of blessings. To get the blessings one must simply understand that water flows from a higher position to a lower position. Thus we have to get down as low as possible. Narada Muni is a great of example of the power of the blessings of the bhaktivedantas. Let us consider how we can attain blessings in our own life. We attain blessings by pleasing the one who gives the blessings.
This devotee named Kancipurnam would serve his Deity by fanning him everyday. He was so intimate with the Deity, he would talk to Him as a friend. Once a friend of Kancipurnam wished to know whether he would go back to Godhead at the end of this life, and he asked Kancipurnam to inquire from the Deity. The Deity replied, “Yes.” After that Kancipurnam decided he would ask the Deity the same question about himself the next day. The Deity told him he would not go back to Godhead. He was curious why his friend would go and not him, so he asked the Deity. The Deity said that your friend served My devotee, but you only served Me. The very next day, Kancipurnam left his Deity and his village and went to Sri Rangam, and disguised, he faithfully served a great devotee for many months as a menial servant. Finally the Lord arranged a rainstorm drenching his disguise so he had to wear his former attire while it dried, and thus he was detected. He took it as the Lord’s mercy, and returned to his former service. For this story we can learn that service to the devotee is superior to service to the Lord.
Kadamba Kanana Swami:
Prahlada is famous for having attained perfection by remembering or constantly meditating on the pastimes the Lord. Prahlada, whose name means ‘form of complete happiness,’ regularly forgot himself in the overwhelming happiness of his devotional meditation. We call out to Nrsimhadeva for protection, but Prahlada never did that. Instead, he accepted whatever happened as the Lord’s mercy.
So soon as we speak of Krishna as all-attractive, the idea of relationship must be there. In the beginning, it is not clear what is our service in relationship with Krishna, but in the course of time, it becomes clear.
I have a very few disciples in Africa, and so one particular one I was telling that I wanted to be a preacher, and I sent him to Mayapur to study Bhakti-sastri. There he developed a desire to study Sanskrit. What was he going to do? Teach Sanskrit in Africa? After I while, I relented. While studying, he got involved in translating English into his local African language. Then I understood, knowledge of Sanskrit would help in translation work. He was destined to be a translator, and thus, a great asset to the preaching.
We meditate on the Lord, and Lord reciprocates. By committing to a particular service, we increase our meditation, and Krishna increases his reciprocation. Every moment we are experiencing Krishna in some way or other. Second initiation is the beginning of our serious meditation, thinking, “How can I be what the Lord and His devotees desire?”
In Jaiva Dharma, Bhaktivinoda Thakura mentions that Raghunatha Das followed the path of spontaneous revelation, and Gopal Guru followed the path of conscious contemplation, as far as attaining their eternal spiritual identities was concerned, and thus there is support for both paths. Srila Prabhupada taught us our spiritual identity would be revealed by Krishna in an advanced stage.
Real compassion can be there if one has a superior experience, and therefore to be compassionate, we actually have such an experience.
Q: How to determine our particular service for Krishna?
A: It is not all propensity or trying out different things. It comes automatically, but before that, one should cultivate a service attitude, otherwise we will end up cultivating material desires.
Q: How did you accept the position of guru?
A: Jayadvaita Swami thought of the idea that I could initiate disciples on his behalf, and yet take full responsibility for taking care of them. He argued that for pushing on this movement on, I should do it. It was tried in that “rtvik-like” way for six months, and the GBC decided that if one’s guru orders one to accept disciples then, although it is not permitted by etiquette that one initiate in one’s guru’s presence, that it would be acceptable.
Sacinandana Swami on Gaura-lila:
Raghunatha Dasa Goswami was incredibly grateful to Lord Caitanya for giving him both freedom material life and gift of Krishna.
Raghunatha Dasa Goswami would speak four hours daily on the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. It is my goal that when I am old and can do less other service that I may speak the pastimes of Lord Caitanya for four hours a day and leave my body chanting “Gaura! Gaura!”
We already have a TV in our heart. We do not need to purchase one. It is now broken, but Krishna consciousness is the repair process. When repaired we can see the divine pastimes of the Lord on the TV in our heart.
Lord Caitanya advised Raghunatha Dasa Goswami to always speak of the names and qualities of Krishna.
When our mind is thinking of other things than Krishna, we begin to enter the material world. When we speak of other things, we more deeply enter the material world, and when we do things unrelated to Krishna, we most fully enter the material world. Spiritual life means reverse this process, first engaging the body, then the speech, and finally the mind in devotional service.
Lord Caitanya wanted us to chant at fixed number of rounds. Why? If we want to establish a relationship with someone, we must deal with the person consistently. If you deal with Krishna in such a way that one day you have time for Him and another day you don’t, what will He think? Therefore we must chant a fixed number of rounds to show Krishna that we care about the relationship.
“Nibandha” means to bind together. We bind our thought and lips together. When both are together chanting becomes more powerful. Having affection for your practice helps with this.
Perfection in devotion to Krishna is already within. Bhaktivinoda Thakura used the analogy of a flower first budding, and then blooming.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura recommended japa be chanted only loud enough for you to hear. Srila Prabhupada echoes this in Nectar of Devotion when he says, “uttering the maha-mantra (Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare) very softly, only for one's own hearing, is called japa.”
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says the gift of the garlands to devotees by Lord Caitanya when they were returning to Bengal signifies a gift of the holy names, which are strung on a chain of love.
Q: How can we constantly talk about Krishna?
A: This state is not artificially produced but comes by our spiritual advancement. Still we can find devotees who like to hear about Krishna, and then talk with them about Krishna. Then after that, begin enlightening the people in general about Krishna. At the very least, you will be benefiting yourself. Try to bring the conversation to Krishna in a natural way. If you think of Krishna, it will not be artificial to talk about Him, but if you do not think of Krishna, then such talks will seem artificial.
After hearing this I shared a nice Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura quote on the value of the chanting the holy name with devotees who I thought would appreciate, and it was a very rewarding experience.
Sankirtana means both that the chanting is done in congregation and that it is complete. Complete means that we engage each one of our assets in the Lord’s service.
When you hear about Krishna, Krishna becomes bound to you, but only with a thin thread, when you meditate about Krishna, Krishna becomes bound to you by a rope, but if you engage in Krishna sankirtana, Krishna becomes bound to you with an iron chain which He does not break.” --Brhad-Bhagavatamrita.
Brhad-Bhagavatamrita also talks about lila-kirtana, but superior to that is nama-kirtana.
Through the glorification of Krishna we will naturally become personally interested in Krishna.
Longing for Krishna is very important. One analogy given is “The cataka bird always prays for the cloud, regardless of whether it showers rains or throws a thunderbolt.”
I can see that many of you have appreciated the love and affection of Lord Nrsimha at the festival this year. Please come again next year.
When Sacinandana Swami said that, it echoed my own feelings. I have been able to appreciate Nrsimhadeva and His rather ghastly destruction of Hiranyakasipu in a philosophical way for some time, but at this festival, I was more able to see Lord Nrsimha as the affectionate protector of Prahlada, and indeed, all devotees who chant His glories and bow down before Him. Thus for the first time really, I felt some glimmer of love for Lord Nrsimha, the affectionate protector of His devotees, and one of the Lord’s more extraordinary incarnations.
om namo bhagavate narasimhaya namas tejas-tejase avir-avirbhava vajra-nakha vajra-damstra karmasayan randhaya randhaya tamo grasa grasa om svaha; abhayam abhayam atmani bhuyistha om ksraum
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nrsimhadeva, the source of all power. O my Lord who possesses nails and teeth just like thunderbolts, kindly vanquish our demonlike desires for fruitive activity in this material world. Please appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this material world.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.8)