June 5th, 1973 (PART 1)

by motherrupa

It all really began on June 2. From June 2 to June 4, New Vrindavan was having the biggest festival series since fall of the year before, when

Srila Prabhupada had come for Janmastami and his Vyasa Puja celebrations. During that festival Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Chandra had moved down from Their original installation site at the Old Vrindavan Farm, to the ‘new’ temple on the main dirt road at Bahulavan.

Now 7 months later Radha Krishna were again appearing in Prabhupada’s New Vrindavan. Hayagriva Prabhu had been spending some time in Vrindavan India with Srila Prabhupada, and while there, he acquired small Radha Krishna and Gour Nitai Deities for the three temples already in New Vrindavana in anticipation of at least four more temples to come.

At the Brahmacarini ashrama in the Old Vrindavan Farm, we had been helping sew bead bags, and altar handkerchiefs to sell to help reimburse Hayagriva Prabhu when he returned with Radha and Krishna.

Indeed, there was to be a full on three day festival of Diety installations, the cornerstone setting for what would become Prabhupada’s Palace, initiations and a fire yajna wedding: a record five fire sacrifices in three days.

In those days, fire yajnas were fairly new to us all, and were always very exceptional: as they are still today. The ever increasing build up of the transcendental preparations, sound vibration, and the appearance of Lord Visnu in the fire were extraordinarily potent, purifying, and compelling leading to an endless impact.

There was to be a transcendental competition between the farms; Bahulavan, Madhuvan, and Vrindavan, to see who could put on the best feast after the ceremonies held at each temple.

At the Vrindavan Farm our rolling pin was pretty ragged, so to roll quantities of puris for the feast we used glass mason jars to roll out the dough. Actually, mason jars were one of the indispensable tools ‘up top’. We would also use them to churn cream into butter. There was only one cow up top, so there wasn’t the volumes of cream there that needed to be dealt at Bahulavan. But we’d take what there was put about a cup at a time in a mason jar, and then while we were dancing and jumping at arotike, we’d shake the jar and by the end of arotike—butter for Krishna!

Anyway, before Radha Vrindavanath came to the Vrindavan Farm, there was only the small Lord Jagannatha Deities Who belonged to Cintamani, and a large murti of Lord Kartamaji on the altar beside the usual altar pictures.

Sudakari, the original seamstress for Radha Vrindavan Chandra, and Isani Their Lordships’ jeweler par excellance both held ‘shop’ on the second floor of the temple.

Beside the usual temple duties for maintainence and Deity worship, we also sawed and split our own firewood, and dug stool holes on the hillside a suitable distance from the temple. But we would all spend any time we could upstairs in Sudakari’s sewing room trying to help with sewing projects for Radha Vrindavan Chandra, or prepare new outfits for the arrival and installation of Sri Sri Radha Vrindavanatha, or working on the projects to raise the laksmi needed to reimburse Hayagriva.

We had tapes playing always, and we would sometimes play games among ourselves like trying to go through the alphabet and remember as many Names for Krishna as we could for each letter. Whoever would remember one more than the person who was having their turn, could go to the next letter and try to name as many Names as they could and so on. And we would learn verses and whatever we could of the Vaishnava songs while we worked, helping each other to memorize the words and tunes we knew then. We held mini Krishna Bowls discussing the stories of Krishna’s pastimes from Krshina Book. Our days were full of and for Krishna and each other. We were young and eager.

Monday morning, June 5th, Cirantana came riding up on one of the draft horses from Bahulavan. The horse was lathered and sweating and Cirantana was in a panic driven state. He met Gadadhar out front on the brick walkway.

Gadadhar came somberly into the temple room. We were all still there as the Deity Greeting had just barely ended. It was only the second morning for us to have the darshan of Radha Vrindavanatha and we were keenly aware of Their beauty and merciful Presence.

Gadadhar had terrible news. Cirantana had said demons had attacked Bahulavan and had taken Kirtanananda away to kill him. He said Radha Vrindavan Chandra had been hurt and it was expected the attackers were trying to wipe out the community…

(to be continued)

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