By Kisori devi dasi
Gadadhara Pandit was a childhood friend of Nimai and both were students in the same school.
The Gaura-ganodesa-dipika states: “The pleasure potency of Sri Krishna formerly known as Vrindavaneshvari Srimati Radharani is now personified in the form of Sri Gadadhara Pandit in the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.”
From his early childhood, Gadadhara was serene, patient and calm, fond of solitude and renounced.
Lord Chaitanya during the time of His precocious youth would ask his fellow students meaningless, fallacious questions in logic. Gadadhara, however, was not especially fond of this pastime, and therefore he sometimes used to remain at some distance from Him.
Once while Gadadhara was plucking flowers at the home of Srivasa Pandit, Srivas came up to Gadadhara with a basket for the flowers, beaming with joy. Gadadhara asked “What makes you so happy?” Srivasa replied, “Nimai has returned from Gaya just yesterday. It is unbelievable that the cheeky and arrogant boy has changed so completely. He has turned into a compassionate, humble and meek person. Continuously shedding tears, he writhes in agony and cries piteously, ‘Krishna, Krishna …’ “
From childhood Gadadhara had followed behind Nimai as if he were his shadow. Gadadhara’s only object of attachment was Nimai. Nimai told Gadadhara, “My dear Gadadhara, since your early childhood you have always been devoted to Lord Krishna. But I have simply wasted My time in false pursuits and achieved nothing.
“At one time I too was close to Sri Krishna, but due to My own fault I have now lost this invaluable treasure. Please tell Me, how can I find Him again?”
After some time, seeing Gadadhara alone, Nimai asked him again, “Where is My Lord Krishna? Please tell me.” Gadadhara answered, “Your Krishna is hidden within Your heart.” At this, Nimai started digging into His chest with His nails. Gadadhara leapt forward and held Nimai’s hands tightly.
On an auspicious day, Sri Gadadhara Pandit received the divine mantra from Pundarika Vidyanidhi as formal initiation.
After Lord Chaitanya had been living in Puri for some time, Gadadhara accompanied some devotees from Navadwip to visit Mahaprabhu in Puri. He stayed on in Puri, not returning to Navadwip. Gadadhara started living in Jameshwar’s Tota (garden). Everyday, Gadadhara would read out aloud from the Srimad-Bhagavatam for the pleasure of Mahaprabhu.
Once while sitting on the beach, discussing some topics on Krishna, Nimai decided to bestow His special grace on Gadadhara. He told Gadadhara to dig in a particular spot. After digging for sometime, Gadadhara discovered the beautiful Deity of Shri Gopinatha. The Deity was established in a temple in the garden and came to be known as Tota Gopinatha.
(Gadadhara Pandit’s Disappearance Day is on 13 July.)
Srila Prabhupada Uvaca
So this Bhaktivinoda Thakura was [a] grihastha, [a] very responsible officer, a magistrate. And he was so exalted that he would come from his office generally at five o’clock, then take his supper and immediately go to bed … Say at seven o’clock in the evening he goes to bed, and he wakes up at twelve o’clock … it is sufficient sleep, five hours. One should not sleep more than five to six hours.
The Goswamis used to sleep not more than one and a half hours, or two hours. Sleeping is not a very important thing. Even big politicians, they used to sleep for two hours. So especially in spiritual line, they should minimise as far as possible eating, sleeping, mating, defending. Gradually it comes to nil. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, he was eating only a little piece of butter every alternate days.
So this Bhaktivinoda Thakura … regularly he was coming from his he used to write books. … He left behind him about 100 books.
And he excavated the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, organised how to develop that birthsite, Mayapur. He had so many business. He used to go to preach about Chaitanya’s philosophy. He used to sell books to foreign countries. In 1896 he attempted to sell Life and Precepts of Lord Caitanya in the MacGill University in Montreal. So he was busy – acharya. One has to adjust things. Not that “Because I am grihastha, householder, I cannot become a preacher.”
Lecture – London, 3 September, 1971
(Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Disappearance Day is on 13 July. )
By Dhriti Gopi devi dasi
At New Govardhana, the Ratha-yatra festival has been going on annually since the early 2000s. Initially Their Lordships were carried by the devotees in Their palanquins from the temple, around the grihastha circuit, where the devotees would bring out offerings from their homes, around the lake and down to what is now the Krishna Village Gardens, where there would be a kirtana and class. The Deities would then return to the temple for the feast.
We did this for two years until the idea came to use the big cart. Initially we were unsure if the devotees would be able to pull the 6.5 ton cart up the hill, so a tractor drove behind to push if necessary, but it wasn’t needed.
“The devotees were pulling with such enthusiasm I had to apply the brakes a little to stop the cart from lunging forward,” says Ajita dasa.
“My favourite Ratha-yatra was in 2016 to coincide with ISKCON’s 50th Anniversary. Under the direction of Mukunda Maharaja, we held an Open Day and Ratha-yatra together. We hired a large outdoor stage and a huge screen to showcase New Govardhana’s finest actors, dancers and musicians. There was also a great market area.”
Ratha-yatra is one of New Govardhana’s largest festivals. Devotees love to come from all over to pull the Lord up to the temple. We have three areas along the way where the chariot stops and devotees can bring bhoga offerings to Their Lordships. Ratha-yatra is the only procession where everyone can cook for Lord Jagannatha and offer their preparations to Him on His return to the temple.
We have three areas along the way where the chariot stops and devotees can bring bhoga offerings to Their Lordships. Ratha-yatra is the only procession where everyone can cook for Lord Jagannatha and offer their preparations to Him on His return to the temple. Everyone is encouraged to cook something at home (however small) and bring it to Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra on Sunday. These simple offerings are full of immense benefits for you and your family.
This year the festival will begin with all the devotees assembling at the bridge at 2pm for a 2.30pm start, where once again they can enthusiastically pull the Lords up to the temple, where we will have an afternoon of entertainment and feasting, including jumping castles for the kids.
See you there!
Appreciation of Venugopal Prabhu
From National Council Australia
In May this year, at the annual general meeting for ISKCON Australia’s National Council, Venugopal dasa’s passing was formally acknowledged. This was recorded in the Minutes:
“At the annual general meeting of ISKCON Australia held in May, we the members of the Zonal Council would like to acknowledge the passing of our dear friend, Godbrother and colleague His Grace Venugopal Prabhu.
A senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada, Venugopal Prabhu has been instrumental in pioneering the Hare Krishna Movement in Australia since the early 1970s.”
It is with great sadness that we now miss his transcendental association, but sincerely thank, appreciate and admire him for all the amazing service he rendered in so many ways over the years. “All of the members [of the National Council] remember him with love and affection and are aware that he is indeed a very special dear son of the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Our condolences and deep sympathy go to Venugopal’s wife, Her Grace Nikunja Seva Devi Dasi, and the family. Hare Krishna!”
By Mandakini devi dasi
Rupa Raghunatha dasa first started hosting home programs in his apartment in Sydney 12 years ago. His present home in Murwillumbah is an ideal venue to invite guest speakers and kirtana leaders.
The relaxed and informal atmosphere provides a good spiritual space, especially if devotees are unable to get to the temple regularly. The house is child-friendly, with swings, a trampoline and cubby house as well as a swimming pool.
Having devotee guests Rupa Raghunatha feels, “Purifies the home and ultimately pleases our presiding Deities, Malola Nrsimha and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. We also enjoy cooking nice palatable preparations and serving the devotees, especially using produce from our organic garden.”
Recently he organised a sanga program that meets on alternate Wednesdays from 5pm until 8pm. The speaker for the evening reads and comments on a book of their choosing. Questions and answers are uplifting, followed by kirtana and sometimes harinama processions into the garden!
Everyone is cordially invited to attend the programs. However, please check with Rupa Raghunatha on 0423 121 589 to clarify dates in case of any changes.
To date, Rupa Raghunatha and his wife, Jyestha devi dasi, also host the weekly Thursday Nursery group and the Vaishnava Care Committee once a month on Saturdays.
By Ambika devi dasi
Late May, a second Devotee Care meeting was held with 15 community members in attendance. An additional 94 devotees watched it livestreaming over the internet.
At the first meeting in November, senior Srila Prabhupada disciple Gurudas had urged us to select office bearers. Accordingly, the following office bearers were unanimously chosen: Vasusrestha dasa as Chairman; Mandapa dasa as Treasurer; and Ambika devi dasi as Secretary.
Since good health is required to prevent illness, the suggestion to encourage devotees to take care of their diet and general health was supported by attendees, and some fun fitness activities will be looked into by Mandakini devi dasi and Sadhana devi dasi.
Ekadasi devi dasi and Dhanistha devi devi dasi are enquiring into support available for the sick/dying through the health care system and local societies such as Tweed Palliative Care. (Malati devi dasi, who teaches and works in this area, will address us at a future meeting on this issue.)
Devotees are encouraged to prepare a signed Advanced Care Plan to ensure their wishes are followed should they meet with an accident or severe illness and be unconscious. These are available on the Internet.
A letter was tabled from Simon Baldry, wherein he generously offered his services, along with his son, Brihaspati, for practical assistance such as shopping, cleaning and maintenance for those who are sick or disabled.
Fundraising for a future facility for dying devotees on New Govardhana will be discussed at the next meeting, and meanwhile Karunamayi dasi will contact a favourable architect who may be able to assist in planning such a facility.
If devotees are in need of assistance, they can send out information to community members. Next meeting, the best medium for this will be discussed – Whatsapp, Messenger…
Kind volunteers agreed to be listed as available for the following services:
- Kirtana/reading for those who are sick or dying
- Visiting the sick at home or in hospital
- Transporting devotees to appointments
- Cooking meals for sick devotees
- Handyman services for those who are sick or disabled.
Anyone who would like to add their names to any of these lists would be very welcome to do so. By serving Vaishnavas, the Lord Himself is pleased.
Please contact me on 0434 214 186 if you’d like to help out.
In Focus: Sita devi dasi
The Conch interviews Sita devi dasi.
Q: How did you first come into contact with Krishna consciousness? How old were you?
SD: I first came into contact with Krishna consciousness when I was four years old. I still remember the first temple we attended, its fragrance and atmosphere.
In 1991 the first gurukula in Russia (Moscow) opened. I think I was five when I started attending. Despite some difficulties, the next 12 years were filled with fun, the mercy of different sannyasis visiting and festivals.
As students we participated in Srila Prabhupada’s marathon (we called it that in those days) – a month of sankirtana before the New Year. In sub-zero temperatures, I would go door to door with my gurukuli friends, distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. It was a lot of fun.
In 1996, which was Srila Prabhupada’s Centennial year, I achieved first place for sankirtana in gurukula. I received a medal and other wonderful gifts. It was very special to me.
We also sang bhajanas and later we recorded a couple of CDs. My mother would always take any opportunity to engage me in devotional activities.
I also remember my guru maharaja [Mukunda Goswami] coming to stay in our house in Moscow when I was six or seven years old. Around that time I began to aspire to be his disciple.
Q: What brought you to Australia?
SD: After I finished gurukula, I felt a bit lost coming into adult life, taking responsibility for my own decisions and choices. So I guess I had a little dance with maya for some time.
My Dad always found a way to connect Krishna conscious philosophy in our everyday life, so that it wasn’t just theoretical. Eventually I realised that I wanted to commit to bhakti-yoga. At that time my spiritual master stopped travelling and settled in Australia. So I started saving for my ticket to visit him.
In 2010 I came for the first time to Australia and received initiation. During the same trip I met my husband Syama McRae, and in 2011 I moved to Brisbane.
Q: Was making the big move difficult for you, in terms of language and culture?
SD: Sometimes it can be challenging in terms of the different language and culture, but because I have family and friends here now, I feel Australia is more my home than Russia. It feels like we are living in a small town full of devotees. We have everything we need here. It is simply wonderful! Since I moved here, my focus has been to serve my spiritual master, with great support from my family. We would drive every Sunday from Brisbane to cook lunch for him and my kids literally grew up in his house, crawling under his dining table.
Q: Why did you begin your home programs?
SD: As my two children grew older, I had some spare time. I started to wonder what else I could do. My spiritual master instructed me to start home programs. At first I was terrified and kept postponing. But then I realised I should give it a go. Just because my spiritual master wants it, it must be a wonderful thing. So far we have been conducting the home programs for a year. It’s not easy, but slowly I’m developing some taste for doing it.
Welcome to New Govardhana
By Kisori devi dasi
Recently Charumukhi devi dasi and her husband, Ananta Vrindavan dasa, both disciples of Devamrita Swami, along with their daughter Gauri, moved to Murwillumbah to join the New Govardhana community. They had lived in Brisbane for 22 years before moving to the area.
Ananta Vrindavan is a well-known photographer and travels extensively with Indradyumna Swami, pictorially documenting his travels and activities. His excellent photographs and videos are highly sought after by devotees worldwide.
Charumukhi, a qualified kinesiologist and energy healer, is busily occupied with motherly duties for now. The family is looking forward to Gauri attending the gurukula soon.
Never too late
By Shanti Parayana dasa
Last month a group of senior citizens from the Gold Coast ‘Active60+’ came to visit New Govardhana farm. I was prepared for a regular guided tour of the vegetable gardens, cows and temple until the lively bunch revealed their deeper interest in all aspects of our community, including the school for children, ashramas for our residents and retreat facilities for themselves.
From the oldest at 94 years old, and from the sprightly to the walker-frame assisted – all became visibly enlivened. Half the group entered the temple and buzzed around, getting the Deities and Srila Prabhupada’s darshana, watched garland making and praised the lead-light windows.
The other half struggled to remove their shoes and settled comfortably on the benches outside the temple.
After some time I addressed the whole excited group. During the ensuing Q&A session 40 people hung off every word. We discussed definitions of yoga and Brahman, vegetarian diets, sustainable gardening and introduced our worshipable Deities as the spiritual focus. I asked if they wanted to try mantra meditation and to unanimous agreement I taught them our method of chanting Hare Krishna. Within two repetitions they jubilantly chimed in together, sweetly singing the mahamantra.
Finally delicious prasadam was served to everybody’s satisfaction. One lady said, “That is the most adventurous meal I’ve ever had”. Some purchased cookbooks and one fascinated lady bought tilaka and learnt how to apply it.
It’s satisfying that we have such a place where people from all walks of life can come to garner solid experiences of spiritual culture. Let’s wish them all return visits and progress on their spiritual journey.
Powerhouse: Dhriti Gopi
By Vaisnavi devi dasi
As an adult, Bhisma Durr remembers and tells Dhriti Gopi mataji that one of his fondest childhood memories was playing on the jumping castle on her wedding day [19 years ago]. Years later, he brings his own son, Ishaya, to the jumping castle, which is part of the kids’ engagement over major festivals at New Govardhana. Dhriti Gopi devi dasi works hard behind the scenes, making each festival more special each year.
How long have you been doing the kids activities over the festivals?
Dhriti Gopi: Lord Balarama’s Appearance Day mother-nature themed ‘scavenger’ [treasure] hunt has been going for about six years now. The other day, Rama Vijaya [Mcrae] was asking me, “which is the festival when we find the stuff?” To me it’s a real highlight of the festival seeing the kids so happy and engaged.
For the past two Sacred Sounds Kirtan Retreats, we have a purpose-built area, Krishna-ised crafts and activities for kids. It’s great to arrange activities so children have something that’s theirs.
What are some of your other engagements?
Temple decorations: I have been dressing the Deities at New Govardhana regularly since moving here 19 years ago from Brisbane Temple. I started with decorating the temple room when my daughter, Kalindi, was in a pram. I remember when Kalindi was in Grade K-2 class, we made the Deities a yellow and white set. Every Thursday afternoon for 10 weeks I’d go to the gurukula, and Kalindi and her classmates would help decorate the set. This has resulted in an ongoing involvement for Kalindi [now in Year 11) and her classmates. All children are welcome – they make jewellery and decorations for the Deities and look for them on the altar. They develop their love for Krishna by being involved in activities like this.
Festivals: We like each festival to have its own unique flavour. We would love to engage devotees in the community more, too. For example, Liliko (from Japan) made origami decorations for Lord Nityananda’s Appearance Day. We have annual service opportunities, such as the Panihati pot [painting/artwork] festival and this year we will be celebrating the 39th Anniversary of Radha Govardhanadhari with 39 cakes that I will be co-ordinating.
Govindas Sweets: I make all of the desserts for Govindas, such as cheesecakes, tiramisus, raw sweets … I do this six days a week, six–eight hours a day.
Where do you get your ideas/inspirations from for festivals?
Dhriti Gopi: Everywhere I go and everywhere I look, I’m thinking of ideas. When Kalindi was six, we went to France, and I looked into the Dior window in Paris. I took photos and filed them away. Five years later, Guru Prasad devi dasi and I were buying flowers in Sydney where I saw decorations at a newsagent that I was inspired to buy. Turns out, a year or so later, that [Paris inspiration] was the theme of the Radhastami decorations … Krishna in the heart!
By Suvarna Rupa dasi
In May this year, local Murwillumbah devotee Nila Poudal, 19, embarked upon an exciting six-month sankirtana voyage. First stop was Sydney for the Vivid light festival, where he went out in Circular Quay with the Govindas team every evening for two weeks, chanting the holy name among millions of enthusiastic festival goers. Nila brought lots of life and joy to the harinama party by engaging with the public and busting out some dynamic dance moves. All this was in preparation for the next, even more intensive, leg of his devotional tour.
Following Sydney, on 7 June, Nila headed to Europe for the Polish tour with Indradyumna Swami and many devotees. Currently he is serving with the theatre group, representing Australia and New Govardhana in the international arena. He leapt straight into two weeks of vigorous rehearsals as soon as he arrived and is now performing on stage most days for the next two months.
“I’m looking forward to the Polish tour because it’ll be good for my Krishna consciousness. I will be in the association of so many devotees, which is the best way to the practice of devotional service”, said Nila. “People say that it will be super tiring and busy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and I think it’s going to be really fun.”
The final part of Nila’s journey will take him homeward bound – spiritually and geographically – to Vrndavana and then on to Nepal to see some family before heading back to New Govardhana at the end of the year.
By Subhangi devi dasi
For the fifth year running, the ISKCON Bhakti Centre Gold Coast Ratha-yatra cart participated in the popular Cooly Rocks parade at Coolangatta.
The Bhakti Centre Ratha cart was built by Janmejaya dasa eight years ago and participates in many parades all over Australia – Townsville, Cairns, Towoomba, Ipswich, Lismore, Adelaide, Canberra, and Sydney – showering mercy on many souls.
The entire cart and Their Lordships were decorated opulently in fragrant and colourful flowers by Sukla devi dasi and Rasarani devi dasi. His Holiness Mukunda Maharaja graced us with his presence this year for the entire parade.
More than 100 devotees gathered together from the Gold Coast and New Govardhana to escort Their Lordships. Lively kirtanas were lead by Damodara dasa, Govardhanadhari and Ayu. This year an estimated 20,000 people attended the festivities and were blessed to see Lord Jagannatha and hear the maha-mantra.
Crowds lined the streets and many were chanting, dancing and waving as Jagannatha, Subhadra and Baladeva passed by. Srila Prabhupada quotes a verse, rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate – simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement for stopping the repetition of birth and death.”
At the completion of the parade there was sumptuous prasadam supplied by Garuda dasa and gulab jamuns made by Sulakshana devi dasi.
Many thanks to our donors from the Bhakti Centre who made it all possible, and to Madhu and Bhisma from Govindas Surfers Paradise for assembling the cart.
The photograph on page 3 in June issue was incorrectly credited. It was taken by Radha Ickrath.
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Krishnarupa devi dasi (ACBSP), Manjulali devi dasi, Kisori devi dasi, Suvarna Rupa dasi and Jhulan dasi.
LAYOUT AND GRAPHIC DESIGN:
Urvasi devi dasi and Jhulan devi dasi.
DIGITAL CONCH TEAM:
HH Mukunda Goswami, Paul Bailey, Jhulan devi dasi and Visnujana dasa
FOR ENQUIRIES, COMMENTS OR SUGGESTIONS
Please join us each Ekadasi for Srimad-Bhagavatam class given
by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.
These classes will feature subtitles.
Darshan arati 7:00am
July 2018 Calendar
(from Vaishnava calendar www.vaisnavacalendar.com)
|1||Sun||Panihati Cida Dahi Utsava observed today|
|8||Sun||Sri Srivasa Pandita – Disappearance|
|9||Mon||Ekadasi (suitable for fasting) – Fasting for Yogini Ekadasi|
|10||Tue||Dvadasi – Break fast 7.19 – 10.07am|
|13||Fri||Sri Gadadhara Pandit – Disappearance
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura – Disappearance
Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami – Disappearance
|23||Mon||Ekadasi (suitable for fasting) – Fasting for Sayana Ekadasi|
|24||Tue||Dvadasi – Break fast 6.33 – 10.06am|
|27||Fri||Srila Sanatana Gosvami – Disappearance
First month of Caturmasya begins [PURNIMA SYSTEM] (green leafy vegetable fast for one month)