Deity Stories: A New Temple For Radha Vrindaban Candra (Part Two)

by Hrishikesh

Installation of the Deities.

The Brijabasi Spirit reported: (93)

“Radha-Vrindaban Chandra, Gaura-Nitai, and Gopala Nathji were placed on Their altars, which had been drilled with nine small holes. In the holes were placed nine precious jewels of the nine major planets. They were then filled with turmeric. A yantra—a small piece of gold plated copper, inscribed with a six-pointed star, an eight-pointed lotus flower, and the mula and gayatri “mantras of each Deity, was placed under the Deities. . .

“Shyamasundar, one of the priests, had calculated that . . . the most auspicious time would be at 11:32 p.m., Saturday night. . . . Everyone was in a flurry of activity to meet the deadline. . . . Gaura-Nitai and Gopal Nathji were the new Deities to be installed, so Their eyes were covered with beeswax. After installation, the beeswax would be removed, and the Deities would see an offering of auspicious items.

“Then came one of the most meaningful events of the festival. It was time for the spiritual master to invoke the presence of the Deities. . . . The curtains were closed, but a few of us were able to watch Shrila Bhaktipada place his hands over the hearts of Gaura Nitai and Gopal Nathji and ask Them to enter the forms, thus making Them worshipable.

“Finally, at twelve midnight, the curtains opened, revealing the brilliant sight of the Deities on Their silver and gold plated shringasan: Gaura-Nitai, golden and dressed in new clothes, Gopal Nathji, with white lotus eyes, wearing a brilliant costume, and His hand gracefully extended in His pastime of Giridhari, the eternal lifter of Govardhan Hill, and the full moon over Vrindaban, Radha-Vrindaban Chandra. . . .

“On Sunday, the mahabhishek took place. Before the ceremony, Shrila Bhaktipada went on the altar and carefully removed the beeswax from the Deities’ eyes with a special gold tool. Thus the first auspicious sight the Deities beheld was the spiritual master.

“The curtains opened, and in walked the next auspicious item—a cow, Pritha, one of New Vrindaban’s oldest mothers, strolled up before the Deities, turned, and let loose a few flops of pure cow dung. Next, twelve virgin girls arrived, followed by a Tulasi-devi plant. At that time the central aisle had been roped off and lined with thirteen large mounds of rice. After Tulasi-devi, the ropes came down and the devotees leaped into the aisle chanting and wildly throwing rice.

“Meanwhile, the abhishek began, as priests poured gallons of nectar drink over the Deities. They took off the Deities’ donut garlands and threw the donuts into the excited crowd. . . . Feasting and kirtan continued through the night.

“Bhaktipada spoke at the installation ceremony, “The history of New Vrindaban is of course the history of Radha-Vrindaban Chandra. We were here several years before the appearance of Radha-Vrindaban Chandra; still many of us who have been here long understand that whatever has occurred in the community and whatever growth we have experienced has simply been due to Their mercy. Without Radha-Vrindaban Chandra, New Vrindaban has no meaning. . . . We hope that Radha-Vrindaban Chandra go on giving us more and more opportunities to engage in Their service—to build more palaces, parks and temples for His glory. We want everyone to come to appreciate Radha-Vrindaban Chandra.” (94)

The deities were treated royally, and were offered eight daily arotis along with bhoga offerings. The Brijabasi Spirit reported: (95)

” ‘The largest increase in the Deity puja in over ten years,’ was the way Shrila Bhaktipada described it when Radha-Vrindaban Chandra moved into Their new temple last July 4th . . . . From the sewing department to the heavy construction department, the devotees pooled their efforts, and the result was astonishing. . . . Radha-Vrindaban Chandra are the center of our community, and now with Their temple so accessible, They are a sight for the hundreds of guests who visit New Vrindaban.

“It’s truly an astonishing sight when the altar doors open. The Deities stand on a huge shringasan, its winding columns and domes plated brilliant gold with traces of shiny silver interwoven in the intricate designs. Just a few feet behind the Deities are tall smoky tinted mirrors, decorated with gold filigree and gracefully carved flowers. The floor of the Deity room is black and white marble. Large iron gates decorated with the mahamantra protect Their Lordships. . . .

“A large room to one side is the Deity dressing room. Here, long drawers hold the many outfits of the Deities, along with shelves for crowns and jewelry. On the other side of the altar is a room for preparing offerings and the pujari quarters.

“For every major festival, Adhara Dasi and her dedicated team of mothers sew beautiful outfits for Radha-Vrindaban Chandra. Often all the Deities get new outfits. On these joyous Vaishnava holidays, Radha-Vrindaban Chandra are also offered new sets of jewelry made by Mother Ishani. The jewelry that includes crowns, belts, necklaces, and bracelets are all handmade gold plated pieces, often inlaid with delicate, multicolored, enameled peacocks and flowers. A variety of jewels, of different shapes and colors, are set along with the enameling work to make a dazzling effect.

End Notes

89. Gargarishi Das, “Radha-Vrindaban Chandra Festival,” Brijabasi Spirit, vol. X, no. IV (c. August 1983), 16.

90. Gaura Keshava Das, quoted by Gargarishi Das, ibid., 16.

91. Gargarishi Das, ibid., 17.

92. ibid., 17.

93. ibid., 17.

94. Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, “Welcome Address,” Brijabasi Spirit, vol. X, no. IV (c. August 1983), 12.

95. “Deity Worship,” Brijabasi Spirit (March 1984), 35.

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