More than 50 schools with 1000s of students visit ISKCON Punjabi Bagh as their educational tour during the time of Janmastami. The students are briefed about Vedic culture and value along with singing and dancing of Krishna’s holy name which they really enjoy. Occasionally , animated movie on Krishna’s pastimes are also shown.
The Rath Yatra held on 6th August 2017 was a spectacle to say the least. The wide and huge rath, decorated with a plethora of flowers and garlands with the majestic forms of Sri Jagannath, Sri Baladev and Subhadra Maharani captivated the attention of many. The March of merriment started with joyous devotees singing and dancing from Jwalaheri market and culminated at Janmashtami park with delicious Prasadam for all.
The dances, the songs and the bhajans swept the onlookers until they became a part of the Krsna brigade and started chanting the holy names too.
Prabhupada is a wordmade up from the words ‘prabhu’ and ‘pada’, where the word prabhu literally means master or lord, and the word pada literally means feet or leg, root.
Whenever we visit any of the ISKCON centers, along with deities of Lord Krsna & His associates we have seen a beautiful samadhi of the Founder of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Regular visitors to the temple must have observed that devotees pay obessiances first to Srila Prabhupada & then to Lord Krsna. The order also makes sense according to hindu scriptures where one worships guru before Lord.
In this article let’s find about this spiritual master who is the heart & soul of the devotees.
Born as Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, in Calcutta, he was deeply influenced by spiritual leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, who asked Abhay to take the teachings of Krishna to the English-speaking world. Abhay became his disciple and dedicated himself to carrying out his mentor’s request. But it wasn’t until 1965, at the age of seventy, that he would set off on his mission to the West.
He got a free ticket to travel to New York in a cargo ship named Jaladuta. He had nothing with him but a suitcase, an umbrella, a supply of dry cereal, about seven dollars’ worth of Indian currency (approximately Rupees Forty) and several boxes of books.He began his mission by giving classes on the Bhagavad-gita in New York. He personally served prasadam to the people who came to him & took utmost care of them. His love & warmth spread & he became increasingly popular especially among the youth & hippie community. He taught the teachings of Bhagwad Gita and served each & everyone who came along. His love & care were infectious, soon people joined the movement and step by step it has reached to its current status.
Each & every person who met him got impressed by his humility & desire to serve his master’s wish. They realised that he was not trying to accumulate worldly goods. In fact he taught by being an example of how to live with compassion towards all creatures, sharing, loving, and living joyfully.
Below are a few statements by eminent personalities about Srila Prabhupada.
This life of Srila Prabhupada is pointed proof that one can be a transmitter of truth and still be a vital and singular person. -Harvey Cox, Professor of Divinity, Harvard University The main thing, above and beyond all our differences, was an aroma of sweetness that he had, a personal, selfless sweetness like total devotion. And that was what always conquered me” –Allen Ginsberg He would sit up all night translating Sanskrit into English, putting in glossaries to make sure everyone understands it, and yet he never came off as someone above you.” – George Harrison
Srila Prabhupada lived with the spirit of the Lord’s compassion shining through his heart. Through his example he showed how to live as a true well wisher and friend of every living being. The genuine essence of all spiritual teachings can be understood by observing his qualities, hearing his words and reading his books.” – Radhanath Swami
Months of extensive preparation, sincere efforts of several devotees, detailed planning, continuous distribution of tasks,collection of resources including funds, materials and manpower, the Janamashtami festival at ISKCON Punjabi Bagh is a well-managed, profoundly though-out and intricately executed event filled with devotional mood. The excitement spreads like fire in a jungle months before the grand day. And it consumes all the devotees, sparing no one and lighting the spark of devotion in all visitors too. Such vigour is bound to encompass one and all because it is not just anyone’s birthday, but the most awaited day of the year. The birth of Krishna, the cynosure of entire existence, is a splendid event.
Punjabi Bagh is a prime location in terms of market, residence, education and entertainment. Amidst all the thrill, the temple holds a very strong and pious position, harmonising the material and the spiritual, and in that manner creating a beautiful society. The manifestation of the deities at Punjabi Bagh in the year 2005 has been a massive boon for not just the residents but devotees flocking from distant places, giving them an opportunity to serve the Lordships and receive Their unbounded love in multiple ways. Janamashtami being the most important and engaging festival, invites hundreds of volunteers to contribute in spreading Krishna’s love and benefitting from His infinite mercy.
Since ISKCON is expanding rapidly to various locations in and around Delhi, everyone is very well aware of the lavish Janamashtami carnival organised every year. What the crowd witnesses is just the tip of the iceberg. Diving deep, one will observe the giant body of acaryas, temple priests, congregation, members of the youth (girls’ and boys’) forum, cooks, security personnel and several others whose efforts might go unnoticed by the public, but not by the Lord, whose CCTV camera is on round the clock without fail.
Organising a festival of such grandeur requires leaders and dedicated followers. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who founded ISKCON, and instilled in several others, leadership qualities for running not one but several shows, for ISKCON is synonymous with festival itself. Devotees gather at the temple and each other’s houses to discuss and share duties, Sewa, for the preparation of Krishna’s welcome. Everyone’s skill set is tapped at its best- painting, writing, cooking, stitching, music, dance, acting, decoration, designing, communication and art in any form is appreciated for Krishna’s pleasure. All energy is directed at making the festival better and more enjoyable than the year before.
The D-day starts with the priests adorning the deities in striking clothes and hand-made flower garlands and beautifying the altar symmetrically with chosen flowers, the count of which pleasantly surprises everyone. Attempting to match the deities’ attire and makeup to a contemporary bride will be a lowly comparison. The unmatched beauty of Sri Sri Radha Radhika Raman and Krishna-Balram attracts numerous mobile phones to capture photos and videos. Early risers visit the temple, fasting till midnight before enjoying a delicious feast, serving during the day in every possible manner. The chants of the Hare Krishna mahamantra attract passers-by throughout the day to stop and pay a visit to seek the Lord’s blessing.
Annually, the fete at night welcomes all with the sweet smell of incense right at the entrance. The devotees that are volunteering line up to offer flowers from the Lord’s feet and smear everyone coming with sandalwood pulp. People excitedly wait in queues to get a glimpse of the deities. The go-seva stall inside the temple sells products that are hundred percent pure. Made with vegetable and cow-derived ingredients, the proceeds go towards cow-protection. The Govindas food shop is a major attraction for all the foodies craving for healthy, vegetarian and lip-smacking food. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust sells gifts, books, calendars, deities, deity clothes and other paraphernalia. Desperation to visit different stalls increases the excitement. Youth forum always has innovative ideas to captivate the younger generation towards the lotus feet of Lord by putting up stalls of devotional selfies, social media engagement etc. There are plenty of things to keep all the senses entertained. Non-stop dance and music accompanies all along. There are stalls selling books, cds, dresses and handicrafts. Live performances of dance and drama by children and adults, games and activities and the maha-abhishek at midnight delight everyone. A delicious feast of vegetarian food is served as prasadam. Females are dressed uniformly in sarees and gopi dresses and males in dhoti-kurta. Children imitate Krishna’s get-up. Lights, colours, balloons and banners fill the entrance passage, foyer, hall and all rooms and corridors, in a way replicating Vrindavan. Celebrities can be spotted who come to take darshans specifically on this big day. The temple unites everyone to present the true Vedic Indian culture.
2017 will be no less. This year, the festival coincides with our Independence Day. The temple has some special features to offer. The recently opened Pizzeria is one highlight. Another is a stall on tattoo-making, ‘Journey of self-discovery’ seminar, Ladoo-gopaljhoola and go-seva stall. Krishna’s abhishek will be open for all at Natha Singh Vatika with pre-registration. Also featuring will be a number of games stalls for children, promoting the launch of the new Sunday school. There will be 1500 volunteers, nearly three lack visitors and sufficient security to look after everyone. The festive mood does not end with the day. Devotees that fast all day enjoy a feast meal after midnight and this time there will be a whopping 501 varieties of bhoga offering. Celebration ofNandotsav and Srila Prabhupad Vyas Puja follow the next day to add to the joy.
With cumulative efforts from everyone, the event becomes a storehouse of fun, frolic, pomp and show every year. Extending gratitude to the guards assisting in the car park, volunteers managing the shoe racks outside the temple, cleaners and everyone who is participating on the scene and behind the scene is like putting a drop in the ocean. Attending the event can provide an opportunity to feel real freedom and witness a life-changing experience. Therefore, ISKCON Punjabi Bagh welcomes everyone to feel the real bliss.
Balram is Krishna Himself. His appearance is in itself His pursuit of leisure amongst the numerous amusing activities to follow. To release the demigods of Kansa’s atrocities, Balram appeared as Devaki’s seventh child. He was mystically transferred to the womb ofVasudeva’s other wife Rohinito trick Kansa into believing that Devaki had lost her seventh child.
Balram was raised along with Krishna by Rohini and foster parents Yasoda and Nand in Gokul. He always assisted Krishna in His pastimes, creating His own glorious ones alongside.
As a child, Balram killed the ass demon Dhenukasura who had occupied the Talavana forest in Vrindavana.
He outweighed and killed a demon named Pralambawho lifted Him on his shoulders to abduct Him.
When He summoned the river Yamuna in Dwarkato move closer so He could bathe, Yamuna didn’t move.Balramused His plough to dig way for the river to flow in a hundred streams.
He displayed His physical strength by draggingHastinapura into the Ganges, thereby compelling the Kauravas to releaseKrishna’s son Sambaand get him married to Duryodhana’s daughter Lakshmana, whom Samba had kidnapped. Once,Balram used His plough to shrink the tall Revatifrom Satyuga period to His height so she could suit Him for marriage.
The Lord caused Romaharshana, the main disciple of Vyasadeva and leader of a prominent sacrifice, to die, merely by touching him with a blade of grass because he did not stand up in His respect.
These are some of the chief incidents that exalt the Lord. An ideal brother, a constant companion, a true friend and the saviour of religion, Lord Balram’s pastimes are as unlimited as His qualities.
50 years of ISKCON RathYatra
The oldest procession festival of JagannathRathYatrais celebrated for over two thousand years in Puri, Odisha. With the inception ofISKCON, 50 years ago, the festival has now gained bigger proportion and is a common sight outside India too.
The first RathYatra abroad was introduced in USA by founder of ISKCON A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on July 9, 1967 in San Francisco. According to him, the RathYatra is a mass movement for enlightening people about the Krishna consciousness movement and uniting the people of the world.
Today, Iskcon is expanding explosively. Five of the most famous RathYatras around the world are organised at Puri, Mayapur, Venice, San Franciso and Vancouver. ISKCON Boston has been celebrating this festival for three decades now. In Chicago, more than 2000 people attended the festival in 2016. In May 2017, it was the fifth year that the RathaYatra parade marched through Baltimore.
The festival typically features people pulling the chariots, dancing and singing, showering flowers and distributing prasadam. At the spot where the procession ends, devotees address the crowd with words of wisdom from the scriptures, several booths provide information on topics such as Sri Krishna, mantra meditation and yoga; and stalls on handicrafts, Indian dresses, Henna art and vegetarian food keeps the crowd entertained.
For 50 years, ISKCON has successfully replicated the similar experience of Puri in different cities of India and different countries as well. The organisation’s vast growth ensures that not only the next 50 years but many many more years will be equally fascinating.
There is lot of excitement in the air and preparations are under full swing at ISKCON Punjabi Bagh as many colorful, cultural and devotional festivals are approaching. JhulanYatra(3rd -7th Aug), RathYatra (6th Aug), BalaramJayanti (7th Aug), Janamastami (15th Aug), SrilaPrabhupadaVyaspuja (16th Aug) and Radhastami (29th Aug)
There is special “Hare Krishna” Festival on the day of Janamstami at Natha Singh Vatika, Punjabi Bagh, 5pm onwards having various contest and programs.
We cordially invite you to become part of these festivals, To avail various service opportunities and further updates and information log on to www.iskconpunjabibagh.com
A one month camp was organized which saw the participation of future engineers from 5 different colleges which included IIT Roorkee and NIT UK. There were 60 students following a daily schedule starting from 5 AM to 9 PM. The camp focused on imparting spiritual education, culture and devotion to the students so that they can become responsible, Krishna conscious leaders of tomorrow. It concluded with a 10 day retreat to VrindavanaDham and Delhi-NCR ISKCON Temples.
“Hare Krishna” Sunday school has been launched by ISKCON Punjabi Bagh for children of age group 5-12 years at 3 different locations: Rani Bagh, Kirti Nagar &PaschimVihar on 9th July. The school aims to instill moral, ethical and spiritual principles in the lives of students. School runs every Sunday from 10.30am -12:00pm, and the team of teachers have designed curriculum keeping in mind the needs, interest and concerns of students of these different age groups and focus on delivering the subject matter in engaging ways.