Vishnupriya Devi, Vipralambha Personified
Vishnupriya Devi was the second wife of Lord Chaitanya. In the town of Navadwip, Their marriage was celebrated with much fanfare, extravagant rituals and kirtana, as described in Sri Caitanya Bhagavat.
Lord Chaitanya’s first wife, Lakshmipriya Devi, dramatically died, leaving Him a widower. Vishnupriya Devi herself essentially became a widow when the Lord took sannyasa when she was just 16 years old and childless.
For Vishnupriya, the Lord’s departure preceded a lifetime of austerity and glorious love in separation. Worshipping Dhamesvara, a Deity form of the Lord, and eating only as many grains of rice as she chanted rounds, Shri Vishnupriya Devi is the ultimate example of how to live in this world while suffering from vipralambha, love in separation.
Noted by Srila Prabhupada as being non-different from the Goddess of Fortune (Srila Prabhupada letter to Govinda dasi, 1969), Vishnupriya Devi glorifies the Lord through her dedicated love for Him.
Indeed, Srila Prabhupada writes that “when her husband became sannyasi she also became greater than sannyasa”. (Srila Prabhupada letter to Govinda dasi, 1974.)
So, we can take shelter of Vishnupriya’s example, a lifetime of devotion to her beloved Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and especially remember her loving perseverance in times of difficulty.
Srila Prabhupada Uvaca
Daksa sraddadhanah: faithful. Faithful to whom? To the spiritual master. Whatever he says, the brahmachary should take it: “Yes, it is my life and soul.”
Visvanatha Cakravarti Ṭhakura has taught very, very nicely about guru. Therefore he has written in Gurvastaka, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. He is a practical example of guru-bhakti.
He accepted his guru, Narottama dasa Ṭhakura. So he said that, “I am not interested for my salvation or going back to Godhead. I am not interested.”
Interested means “It may come; it may not come … But I am interested only with the words of my guru.”
Visvanatha Cakravarti said, “Whether I will be successful or not successful, it doesn’t matter. I must take the words of my Guru Maharaja as my life and soul.”
(Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s Disappearance Day is celebrated on 30 January.)
Reference: From Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.12.6 lecture
These classes will feature subtitles.
Darshan arati 7:00am
Due to the lack of rain and increasing heat the drought has been getting worse all around the country! The farm has not been this badly affected by drought in anyone’s memory.
The cows seemed to be getting by, but then we noticed they had started to lose weight, so we sprang into action. Some of the cows have access only to extremely poor grass so huge bales of hay are being delivered to the farm on a weekly basis so every cow gets adequate feed every day.
A ute is driven around each morning by the cowherd team with help from the volunteers to reach every cow on every inch of the farm. The cows are so happy to be getting the feed and so hungry that they come running to the ute as soon as they hear the engine.
The cows don’t appear to be losing weight any more, which is definitely a great sign! They had started to cry because they wanted food so much, now we love to watch them while they silently feast on their delicious hay.
Please continue to pray for rain!
In Full Bloom
Despite the drought, by using the wash off or slurry water from the dairy, the garland makers are embracing the abundance of flowers brought this summer by our new flower gardener, Danielle Holmes. She arrived in July for the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) programme, but coming from a background of growing flowers commercially, she couldn’t help but picture New Govardhana in full bloom.
Ajita dasa, the temple director, and Thiago, our syntropic gardening expert, liked her vision and, in this hot and dry summer, Danielle with the help of volunteers managed to bring to the Deities hardy flowers, such as zinnias, marigolds and carnations to name just a few.
Her own experience with gardening started from using permaculture principles to grow food for her family, which turned into working on an organic market garden. She then teamed up with her friend to supply local florists, markets and events with cut flowers.
Danielle hopes to grow such flowers as poppies, freesias and anemones late summer, as well as continue to grow her spiritual practice in New Govardhana.
In Focus: Ratipriya devi dasi
This month, The Conch interviews Ratipriya devi dasi, who has had a connection with both the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and New Govardhana since the 1980s.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself.
RP: I met the devotees in 1980 in Brisbane. In 1983 I took initiation as Rati Srestha devi dasi. I then moved to the farm with my two sons, Sunanda and Jai, and served in the gurukula.
In 1984, I received brahmana initiation, and thus had the great fortune to begin Deity worship in addition to my gurukula service. In 1990, I married Prabhu dasa and moved to North Sydney, worshipping Shri Shri Radha Gokulananda (who, until March 1991, were presiding over North Sydney temple). In late 1991, we moved to Auckland.
There, in New Varshana, I also served in the gurukula and the Deity department until we returned to New Govardhana in 1994, where
I resumed my previous services.
In 1999, we relocated to Melbourne, and I served Shri Shri Radha Ballabha in a variety of capacities, mainly sewing and puja, but I also helped set up their new commercial kitchen. In 2001, His Holiness Indradyumna Swami initiated me with the name Ratipriya devi dasi. Prabhu and I have three children, Prithu, Ramai and Amrita Keli.
Q: What is your main service here at New Govardhana?
RP: I serve as personal assistant and secretary to the gurukula principal. My husband encouraged me to apply for the advertised role and the rest is history. I like assisting Vinod Bihari prabhu and all the dedicated teachers.
Q: As a long-term devotee, what has kept you dedicated to Krishna consciousness?
RP: My desire to know true love and how to attain it has sustained me. My service to guru, Gauranga and all the wonderful devotees I have met and maintained relationships with over the years have given me the foundation to begin understanding this.
Q: Do you have a favourite personality?
RP: I am particularly attached to Krishna Balarama. Here at New Govardhana, I dressed Them for many years. In Vrindavana during the 2017 Kartika, my personal Deities of Krishna Balarama blessed me and came home with me. My guru maharaja kindly named them ‘Kanai Balai’, personal names the brajabhasis call Them.
Q: What inspires you?
RP: My Deities, spiritual master and sadhu-sanga.
Q: Can you tell us what the Australian yatra was like in the past?
RP: In the 1980s there was a very dynamic mood; all the devotees were engaged in full-time service to Srila Prabhupada. I was a teacher at the time. In 1980, Sabhapati dasa told me to quit my job and move into the temple, assuring me that Krishna would take care of all my needs. I didn’t do that!
However, when I did move onto the farm, the mood was very vibrant. When the spiritual master for Australia at the time left a few years later, the yatra struggled. Devotees managed to rally together and things improved and became the community it is today.
Q: Lastly, what is your favourite quote?
RP: Once Indradyumna Swami told of a devotee asking Srila Prabhupada, “What does it mean when you chant Hare Krsna?”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “You are calling out to Krishna, ‘My friend, my friend’.”
I try to remember this during kirtana and my japa time.
Ladies’ Ashrama Update
The women’s ashrama at New Govardhana has been full of activity of late, with new devotees Bhadra Yamuna (from the US), Bhaktine Cameron (from UK) and Bhaktine Jin Lou (from Hong Kong) arriving, inspired to serve Shri Shri Radha Govardhanadhari.
Ellie, who is from Germany and who has already been serving at the temple for some time, has moved into the ladies’ ashrama from the ‘Krishna Pad’. Krishna Pad is a stepping-stone between the Krishna Village and either the brahmachary or ladies’ ashrama.
Mandali-Kishori dasi continues as ashrama co-ordinator and keeps all the residents happily engaged. During Kartika, with many devotees away in India, Mandali-Kishori did a service marathon where she covered many services in addition to her regular cow and bullock seva.
Ashrama residents are spoiled each week with the senior association of Srila Prabhupada disciples, Ambika devi dasi and Krishnarupa devi dasi, who give kirtana sessions and Prabhupada Lilamrta readings, respectively.
Residents are also delighted to have Sitala devi dasi residing in the ashrama for a couple of months, whose devotional presence always enthuses. So there are no shortages of happenings in the ladies’ ashrama at the moment.
“The ladies’ ashrama at New Govardhana is one of the best in the world, with its beautiful outlook, tranquil gardens and very comfortable accommodation.” says Sitala.
News from the Brahmachary Ashrama
It’s been a productive year in the brahmachary ashrama at New Govardhana in 2019. The ashrama is headed up by Krishna Gana dasa, who has not only been travelling around Australia catering but also took Govindas catering over to France to help the New Mayapur team begin their catering venture.
Garuda dasa has been up to his old tricks pushing Srila Prabhupada’s Movement forward through his never-ending preaching, hari-namas, amazing feasts and transcendental lectures.
Jiv Jago has played a big role here at New Govardhana this year, doing all kinds of services including some big catering events, plenty of Sunday feasts and ecstatic kirtanas.
Bhakta Jack, the fresh face of the ashrama, has been doing some wonderful things – from milking and looking after the cows, paraphernalia cleaning, care for the many banana trees and many other services.
It’s also been nice having Sudama Clark visit from Mayapur. He’s been working hard on some great building projects around the farm and has been instrumental with the festival setups and decorations.
New Govardhana celebrated Gopastami late last year in a wonderful festival of Krishna’s coming of age to care for the cows.
It was a beautiful community organised festival. Devotees commented on the relaxed atmosphere and inclusiveness of
Krishna Kirtana dasa, Markendeya dasa and Mandali-Kisori dasi took three young bullocks up for the festival where guests and devotees showered them with love.
A variety of beautiful dances, poetry and bhajanas were performed for the pleasure of their Lordships Shri Shri Radha Govardhanadhari. The incredible feast cooked by Govardhanadhari dasa and his team was described by many as one of the best feasts they’ve ever had.
Madhurangi devi dasi and her talented team of decorators beautifully invoked the mood of Vrindavana dhama. All aspects of the festival were brought together by young Gopal, an amazing MC at such a young age.
Such a sweet day with something for everyone!
A Spiritual Trek to the Heart of the Himalayas
One of New Govardhana’s main pujaris Dhanistha devi dasi recently embarked on a spiritual pilgrimmage to the Himalayas. Along with friends, Bhuvana Mohini devi dasi and Madhu, Dhanistha braved dangerous slopes and high altitudes to eventually arrive at Gangotri, the origin of Mother Ganga.
Their journey began with a day drive from Rishikesh to Janaki Chattion, a very windy, frightening road complete with treacherous mudslides. Next, the team hiked six kilometres to Yamunotri, a very steep, but beautiful climb 3,291 metres above sea level. Despite being exhausted due to altitude sickness, the team continued on, only relenting to ride a pony for the last kilometre.
“I was particularly amazed at the inspiring local devotees, some of them quite elderly, who regularly make the climb. They smiled at our team and urged us onwards,” says Dhanistha.
From Yamunotri, the ladies followed on to Gangotri, driving two days to get there. Gangotri is nestled in the Garthwal Himalayas. The temple there attracts many pilgrims who also bathe in the icy cold pious waters of Mother Ganga.
Dhanistha’s pilgrimmage into the Himalayas is inspiring to say the least!
North American Farm Conference
Late last year, Ajita dasa, Director of New Govardhana, and myself, as General Manager of Krishna Village, were invited by Kalakantha dasa on behalf of the GBC Ministry of Agriculture and Cow Protection and EcoV* to participate in the third Annual North American Farm Conference. The conference was held against the beautiful backdrop of ISKCON New Vrindaban (West Virginia, USA).
As representatives of New Govardhana, we were asked to describe the basic steps for developing a thriving community, focusing especially on our successful Krishna Village project.
“A community is like a pyramid,” Ajita explained, “and if we don’t put the right amount of energy in promoting and developing the base it won’t be stable. In the past 50 years, ISKCON has been focusing on building the brahminical head of the society; now it’s time to solidify the foundations.”
“That’s why it is not only important but necessary that every ISKCON community, especially rural ones, include in their management plans the development of projects aimed to attract a wider variety of people that can benefit from the association of devotees in a spiritual environment.”
In my presentation, I explained to the enthusiastic crowd the key points for a sustainable and successful community project. Special emphasis was put on assessing what people in general want and expect. We need to use intelligence along with creativity to meet their needs while offering spiritual support, a friendly and inclusive environment and, most important, an example of practical devotional life.
The managers of New Vrindaban were so impressed by the presentation that we had to repeat it the next day for the New Vrindaban community.
We came back with some fresh ideas and the encouraging validation that the ‘New Govardhana way’ we presented was greeted with enthusiasm.
For more visit the following for the full description of the farm conference:
Kadamba Kanana Swami Visits
Late last year, His Holiness Kadamba Kanana Swami visited New Govardhana and as always gave engaging classes at the temple and down at Krishna Village. He led a lively hari-nama at Surfers Paradise and gave initiations at Brisbane temple as well.
Maharaja’s humour, energy for service, and personable presence was inspirational for the New Govardhana community.
Max, one of the volunteers, says about the kirtana Maharaja held at Krishna Village, “It was amazing, I felt like I left myself beyond body and mind – like I was in Krishna consciousness – my real self.”
He was a big fan of the hari-nama as well.
“It was my first experience of chanting in the street, and I loved it! I felt like there was a light around me. It was interesting to see people’s reactions. My body became tired but my soul was awake.”
We look forward to the next visit from Kadamba Kanana Swami.
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|8||Wed||Dvadasi break fast 4.57 – 8:50am
(Daylight saving not considered)
|15||Wed||Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja — Disappearance
Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami — Appearance
|16||Thu||Sri Jayadeva Gosvami — Disappearance|
|17||Fri||Sri Locana Dasa Thakura — Disappearance|
|22||Wed||Dvadasi break fast 05:09 – 06:21am
(Daylight saving not considered)
|30||Thu||Srimati Visnupriya Devi — Appearance
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura — Disappearance
Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi — Appearance
Sri Raghunandana Thakura — Appearance
Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami — Appearance