He first performed arati to the Deities of Sri Radha-Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who were regally seated on a large, beautiful chariot that would be pulled by two bulls during the parade. In all the previous years of this celebration, Srila Maharaja would then immediately ascend a horse-pulled chariot or his car, but this year he began walking, with the kirtana and floats in front of him, for about 30 minutes.
Then, the next morning, the morning of Sri Krsna Janmastami, bhajanas for the occasion began around 6am, when Srila Maharaja requested that the following songs be sung: Sri Mangala-gitam, Sri Dasavatara-stotram, Sri Damodarastakam, Sri Nanda-Nandanastakam, Sri Radha-Krpa-Kataksa-Stava-Raja, Krsna Deva Bhavantam, Radhe Jaya Jaya Madhava Dayite, and Yasomati-nandana.
Srila Maharaja then spoke about Sri Krsna’s birth, and he began by saying, “Today is the constellation Rohini. Today is also astami, the eighth lunar day. And what day of the week is it? It is Tuesday. There is a very beautiful constellation in the sky now, and this was the time that Krsna took birth.”
He continued by briefly explaining the history of how Sri Krsna’s sweet pastimes came to manifest in this world in book form. He related how, just before beginning of the universal creation, Lord Visnu spoke the very condensed form of Srimad-Bhagavatam (four verses) to Lord Brahma, which, in a nut-shell, included everything about Krsna’s form, pastimes, and qualities. He then discussed how Brahma elaborated upon that Srimad-Bhagavatam while narrating it to Sri Narada Rsi, and how Narada told Srila Vyasadeva to elaborate upon it further. Narada ordered Vyasadeva to enter a trance of bhakti-yoga and present to the world what he saw in his trance. Srila Maharaja then shared with his audience a narration about Srila Vyasadeva’s vision of all of Krsna’s Vrndavana, Mathura, and Dvaraka pastimes.
In the course of his lecture, Srila Narayana Maharaja talked about the events leading up to Krsna’s birth. He narrated the history of Mother Earth in the form of a cow approaching Brahma to protect her from demons in the forms of kings who were ruling her citizens. Brahma then took her, along with other demigods to the ocean of Milk, where a message was given to Brahma that the Lord would very soon descend.
Srila Narayana Maharaja continued, “Devaki (Krsna’s mother in Mathura) married Maharaja Vasudeva. She was the sister of Kamsa – not the real sister, but still Kamsa honored her very much.* Devaki’s father, King Devaka, donated a dowry of very beautiful gifts like chariots, gold, and thousands of maidservants. He also arranged for his other daughters to marry Vasudeva Maharaja.
“To please his sister, Kamsa sat Devaki and Vasudeva on the chariot, and he personally began to drive it. In the meantime the demigods, who desired that Krsna take birth very soon, spoke in an aerial voice to Kamsa, ‘You foolish rascal! With great love you sit your sister on this chariot and bring her to her palace, but you are unaware that her eighth child will kill you.’
“Why did they say this? There is a secret here. They didn’t say that the eighth son will kill him; they had just said ‘child’ – not a boy or a girl. When Krsna was transferred to Gokula and placed on Yasoda’s bed, her new-born baby daughter was brought from her bed to Mathura.
“Kamsa thought, ‘I thought for sure this would be a boy; but it is a girl!’ He and his ministers thought that this girl was the daughter of Devaki, so he tried to kill her. He performed so many sins, and therefore the Lord was obliged to come and kill him.”
Starting from about 5 pm, many thousands of local devotees and guests visited the Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha (temple) to behold the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Vinoda Bihariji and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on this auspicious day. In order to give an opportunity for everyone to see the Deities, all the visitors entered the temple building through the main gate, continued upstairs to the temple room, and then left through the back exit of the temple.
From about 7 pm, the area next to the temple room started filling up with people who came to attend the traditional Janmastami evening program. At 8 pm Srila Narayana Maharaja entered the temple room and, after first taking darsana of the Deities, sat on the vyasasana to watch the performances of devotional musicians and dancers. Shortly before midnight, he requested Krsnadasa brahmacari to lead kirtana, at which time many people in the audience got up and began dancing in joy.
Srila Maharaja indicated to Sripad Tirtha Maharaja to begin the midnight bathing ceremony (abhiseka) of the Deities. Finally, all the guests and devotees went upstairs to the roof, where a delicious anukalpa prasadam feast (without grains) was served to them.
[*Endnote: Devaki's father Devaka was the brother of Kamsa's father Ugrasena. That would make him the cousin-brother of Devaki. Moreover, when Ugrasena's wife Padmavati was young, she met a demon named Drumila, and, although she was married to Ugrasena, she fell down with Drumila and begot her son Kamsa.]
Editorial Advisors: Pujyapad Madhava Maharaja, Sripad Brajanath dasa, and Sri Prema Prayojana dasa
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