Deity Stories: Kirtanananda Swami Returns To New Vrindaban

In May 1972, Kirtanananda Swami received a message to meet Prabhupada in Los Angeles, wherein Prabhupada ordered him to return to New Vrindaban and take over the management. Prabhupada had heard disturbing reports that the farm was not faring well and there was some talk of closing it down. Up to that time, the community had been organized by householders such as Hayagriva and Paramananda.

When Kirtanananda Swami returned to the community he recognized a problem instantly: Radha-Vrindaban Chandra were being neglected. Immediately he implemented a plan to unite the community. The first thing he did was to bring the deities from the original Old Vrindaban farm to the newly-purchased Bahulaban farm, which had, in the meantime, become the center of the community. Deity worship became the number one business and the community flourished.

Prabhupada wrote to Kirtanananda, “I am very glad to hear that you are giving your full attention to the worship of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna there at New Vrindaban, and it shall be your task to make certain that they will never be so much neglected in the future. Your proposal is very nice to make the atmosphere of the Deities very, very opulent, and the temple must be kept always very nice. That will be the attractive feature and people will come to see for that reason. So far as your road show is concerned, we are not meant for giving performances, we are simple kirtan men. There must always be kirtan going on wherever we travel, and nothing else.” (111)

Kuladri expressed his appreciation of Kirtanananda Swami’s devotion to the deities, “Just like the Goswamis, you serve the deity of your heart, Shri Shri Radha-Vrindaban Chandra. You would come right on the altar, bringing more jewelry than the rest of the deities in ISKCON combined.” (112)

Hladini Dasi praised Kirtanananda Swami’s devotion to Shri Shri Radha-Vrindaban Chandra: (113)

“Just as Lord Chaitanya sent Rupa and Sanatan Goswamis to reestablish Vrindaban which was just a field, Shrila Prabhupada sent you to establish New Vrindaban which was simply a farm. Before you came, Radha-Vrindaban Chandra had nothing opulent. They had only two meager dresses and a couple strands of dime store jewelry. They ate off stainless steel plates and rarely were They offered nice preparations cooked in ghee.

“Then Prabhupada sent you back here to stay. Within hours of your arrival, the place was buzzing. You escorted Their Lordships to Bahulaban and built Them an altar. You decorated Them with big garlands and whatever jewelry They had. Then you ran into the kitchen and spent hours preparing the most incredible feast They’d ever had. Not only was there an immense ghee feast, but ghee lamps were burning all over the altar. It just so happened that you had a whole silver set in your van from the road show to offer the feast on. The whole atmosphere became surcharged with your enthusiasm.

“Within a few more days, you went to New York and came back with pujaris, cooks and seamstresses. Radha-Vrindaban Chandra were repainted and Their features revealed Their new contentment. They looked so beautiful and happy. It was the first time ever that I had seen Shrimati Radharani smile. You brought back a topaz on a gold chain for Radharani and ran from room to room with a huge smile, showing it to all the devotees. Everyone was drowned in your enthusiasm even though we couldn’t understand what was going on.”

End Notes

111. Prabhupada, letter to Kirtanananda Swami dated June 25, 1972 .

112. Kuladri Das, “Vyasa-puja Homage” ( Shri Vyasa-puja: September 4, 1978), 6.

113. Hladini Dasi, “Vyasa-puja Homage” ( Shri Vyasa-puja: September 4, 1978), 43.

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