Tirupati Grand Opening – Part 2

February 3, 2007 at 8:18 am Leave a comment

BY DEENA BANDHU DAS (ACBSP)

Feb 1, TIRUPATI, INDIA (SUN) — Today is Nityananda Trayodasi and Jayapataka Swami was giving a nice class on Lord Nityananda in the enormous pandal on a land adjoining the eastern side of the temple that the Tirupati municipality has let the temple use. That was interrupted by an announcement that the auspicious muhurta was finishing soon, so we should come for the final yajna. So we tried to make our way back to the temple, but they had only opened a small way between the properties that two people at a time could fit through. Then you have to make your way through the Raja Gopuram, which was also quite narrow considering the crowds. Before you entered the Raja Gopuram gate, there was a small canal of water running where your feet were washed before entering.

Making our way to the yajna shala, we saw that the head Tirumala priest, Sri Padajiyar had again graced the occasion with his presence along with many assistants. The final offerings were done, while the South Indian music ensemble played on. Then the different sections of brahmanas chanted hymns from the different Vedas, again the Sama Veda hymns being the most notable. From there we made a procession into the temple that was now decorated outside with concentric loops of garlands of orange marigolds, red roses, white mums, folded green mango leaves, and yellow marigolds. The crowds were overwhelming, they say that over 7,500 registered devotees were there, what to speak of the public!

What I had forgotten to tell yesterday was that, by the time we did the abhisheka of the utsava Deities, Sri Sri Radha Govinda and Astha Sakhis were already placed on the altar. Without and decorations or hair and with a single piece of white cloth tied around them, it appeared that Radha Govinda were surrounded by many young rishis with their little top nots and prominent ears. With great difficulty we made our way through the crowds to the altar.

The inside green gold embroidered curtains were pulled shut and only a select few along with all the brahmanas entered behind. It took such a long time, as they had to pray for the different personalities to be present in their vigrahas, that we finally all sat down on the platform before the altar. The only thing that saved us was the ecstatic kirtans being led by Lokanatha Swami. The crowd was growing wild with ecstacy and anticipation.

After what seemed like an interminable length of time, the curtains were drawn open to the enthusiastic roar of the crowd. Sri Sri Radha Govinda and Astha Sakhis were all dressed in white cloth tied around them for the bathing with beautiful purple mum garlands. A large Giriraja Sila with big lotus eyes and mouth was resting beside Govinda’s lotus feet. By now all the South Indian Brahamanas had left and the abhisheka of the large Deities was being excecuted by our own devotees. It was announced that the senior devotees would come in batches to do the abhisheka and the first batch took their positions behind the big Deities. Hundreds of large colored clay pots were covering the platform in front of the altar and were being quickly and methodically passed behind the altar. As the abhisheka finally commenced the kirtan went wild with ecstasy, this was the moment we were all waiting for!

I cannot even begin to enumerate the different types of juices, and other substances offered along with the pancamrita and pancagavya. What to speak of the red watermelon juice, green melon juice, orange papaya juice, brown chikoo juice, I even saw ground cashew juice among others. Primitive arrangements of dough had been stretched along the different steps of the altar and all the pancamrita was channeled into galvanized trough and to a green plastic pipe to the basement. The devotees were pushing it along with pieces of curved bannana bark. As Lokanatha Maharaja was finally called to the altar to take a turn, the crowds enthusiasm increased even further with the wonderful kirtans of Radhanatha Swami.

This Maha Abhisheka went on ecstatically for more than four hours! By this time the Tirupati head pujari, Balaji, returned to take part. He was lovingly pouring the contents of the silver and gold kalashes of the donors over the utsava Deities with his wonderful sweet smile. Thousands of gallons of pancamrita were collected in large tanks to be served to the tens of thousands of devotees and guests. After all the auspicious liquids were exhausted, the devotees lovingly smeared large quantities of pure chandan paste on Their Lordships. Then came gallons of warm water, with the devotees devotedly rubbing the limbs of the Sri Vigrahas. After some time perforated pans were passed out and showers of water, some plain, some with herbs, some green or red, were sprinkled over all the Deities.

But that was not the end. While the sahasra dhara abhisheka was going on dozens of large deep baskets of flowers were being brought onto the platfrom in front of the altar. As soon as the Deities were lovingly dried by the devotees with soft towels, then the baskets were distributed behind the altars. There were white jasmine flowers, yellow and orange marigold petals, yellow and white mum petals, red rose petals, and many more. By now it had gone on too long. The pushabhisheka must have been over in five minutes with all the Deities covered in mountains of flowers. Revati Ramana was frantically searching for the utsava murtis that were complete lost in the deluge of flowers.

Then I took a huge bunch of flower petals between my two hands from the lotus feet Sri Sri Radha Govinda and made my way from behind the altar. Everyone was looking at me curiously, and some even tried to snatch flowers from my hands, but avoiding everyone, I made my way to the front railing of the altar. Then I tossed the entire bunch of petals over the crowd and all pandemonioum broke loose as everyone got the idea. Flower petals were raining everywhere. Some of us were even just tossing them straight up in the air as we’ve learned from being in Vrindavan creating a fountain of flower petal effect in front of the Deities. The ocean of love of Krishna innundated the entire temple room. The Tirupati devotees on the altar hoisted Revati Ramana Prabhu lying across their shoulders and danced in ecstacy with him. This was probably the most ecstatic moment in his life, and he deserved the honor being showered upon him for his sincere service to Srila Prabhupada.

Finally it was announced that everyone should go for prasadam as no one had eaten the whole day and it was now almost 4 PM. We were told to return at 5:30 for the darshan and first aratika. An incredible feast of South Indian delicasies had been prepared and it was impossible to eat everything. Everyone who passed by me asking what else I desired, was greeted with the answer, “Another stomach!”

Of course 5:30 came and went with no sign of the curtains opening soon. Round about 7 PM the sound of conchshells called everyone to the temple room. Suddenly the sweet strains of Govinda Prayers echoed through the enormous temple room. As the curtains finally rose, everyone gasped in amazement to see extraordinarily beautiful Lordships and Their Astha Sakhis bedecked in colorful outfits that seemed to complement the colors of the temple room. Then Gaura Aratika commenced with everyone sitting, but the ecstacy was too much, before long everyone was dancing in ecstacy, and anyway the Deities are high enough that all could see.

Prabhupada had desired to establish the worship of Radha Krishna in South India and now Revati Ramana and his dedicated crew of devotees had fulfilled that desire in a most wonderful way. And most of the collection was done with Sankirtan, distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Sri Sri Radha Govinda ki jaya!
Astha Sakhi Vrinda ki jaya!
Bolo! Sri Giraja Maharaja ki jaya!
Tirupathi Caitanya Candra ki jaya!
Laksmi Narasimha Swami ki jaya!
His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

In service of Srimati Vrinda Devi,
Deena Bandhu dasa

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Parishad: Sri Narottama das Thakur The Asta-sakhis at ISKCON Tirupati

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