Happy Janmashtami, everyone! 🙂 I hope everyone had a fabulous Janmashtami like I did.
I went to Sindhi Ceremonial Hall for the Janmashtami program. It was really nice. There were 2 floors dedicated for the Janmashtami celebrations. The 1st floor was where there were kirtans and lectures alternating. It was really nice. The lectures were good. Here is a brief overview of some of the things talked about in the lectures:
- Why did Krishna descend to earth? What is our relationship with Krishna? He did not descend to kill the miscreants. He did not descend to eradicate sin. He did not descend to restore order. He can do all of these things, without descending to earth in a human form. His descent was simply for us. For each and every one of us, so we could learn about him and understand our eternal relationship with him.
- The story of Krishna’s birth was narrated
- The story of how Putana tried to kill Krishna
- The importance of knowing Krishna
The kirtans were ecstatic. My mind was wandering so I was not particularly ‘into’ the kirtan, but I was watching the crowd. There were a few people wiping their eyes. There were people raising their arms and singing their hearts out. There were old people, aged people, radiating so much faith and energy and love. We were sitting down but that didn’t stop people from dancing! It was such a wonderful sight to see. Looking at them, I reflected upon myself and my lack of enthusiasm for chanting the holy names.
“Oh my Lord! You have so kindly made easy approach to you by your holy Names but unfortunate as I am, I have no attraction for them.” – Siksashtakam
I just paled in comparison with these elevated souls, who did not want to stop the kirtan at all. Krishna, I am sure, is very pleased with these people. They just looked so happy. Often I am looking for profound experiences, waiting for miracles to happen. But when these miracles don’t happen, and I am instead focusing on everyone around me, I notice the miracles that I am swimming in. The miracle of the holy name that spreads so much love and happiness to so many people. People avoid chanting because they know that it will have a lasting impression on them. They might begin to cry, they might want to dance. We’re all holding back. We need to let ourselves go. Let the Holy Name take over.
I then went on to the next floor, where they had decorated the hall beautifully and placed the deities. There was a Krishna deity, another Radha Krishna deity, and a Balaram-Krishna deity. They made this little lake with a little waterfall as well. There were lots of Krishna lala’s placed on lotus petals in the lake and a huuuuugeeeee 3 or 4-tier cake with a Radha-Krishna deity sitting on a swing. Ekalavya Prabhu was also there. He was FANTASTIC! He conducted kirtan with his trumpet and it was so awesome. He was really cool. He was so sweet and friendly. He looked so peaceful. Trust me, I’m not kidding. He looked like he was having the time of his life! He looked so happy and peaceful and in-love with the world, simply because he was in love with Krishna. I’m so grateful for getting the chance to see him and listen to his lecture. Here are tidbits from his lecture:
- Ekalavya Prabhu told us a little story: One day, a pujari from Vrindavan went to visit the Pope in Italy. So when he went to visit the Pope, he saw something very fascinating on his desk. “What is this?” he asked. “It’s a golden telephone! You can use it to talk to GOD!” replied the Pope. The pujari became wide-eyed. I can talk to God using this phone? LET ME AT IT! The Pope let him use the phone but he told him not to talk for too long because it might drive up a huge bill. The pujari then picked up the telephone and spoke to God for 20 minutes. The bill came up to $3000! The Pope, however, did not let the pujari pay since he was a guest there. A few years later, the Pope went to visit the Pujari in Vrindavan. And on the Pujari’s desk, the Pope saw something very fascinating. A golden telephone! He wanted to use it and so he spoke to God for an hour! He anticipated the bill to be very high. But the bill was just Rs 7. Surely there must be a mistake? How could it be only Rs 7? The Pujari then said, “Local call!” The crowd burst into laughter. Ekalavya Prabhu then said Goloka Vrindavan is Krishna’s home. And Krishna has said, that wherever there is chanting, wherever there is kirtan, wherever there is talk of Krishna, that is where Krishna is. That is where Vrindavan is. Krishna has given us this benediction. He has made it so easy for us to call him. We know his address, we know his parents’ names, his brother’s name, his uncle’s name, his aunt’s name… We even have his phone number. Ekalavya Prabhu asked us, what Krishna’s phone number is. The crowd roared, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!” Ekalavya Prabhu then said that we were in Vrindavan right now. And if we wanted to call Krishna, we should because right now it would be a local call!
Ekalavya Prabhu’s kirtans were ecstatic. People were begging for more. When he would stop singing, everyone would chant, “Haribol Haribol Haribol” until he would start again. To add to it, the hall was decorated so well. I really felt the excitement when I was entering this hall. It just felt like I was really entering Vrindavan!
In the middle of the program, one of the preachers there announced that someone’s father had expired just a few hours ago. On the auspicious day of Janmashtami. May Krishna bless his soul and his family. Haribol. Then the preacher announced that a Janmashtami miracle had taken place. Govinda’s restaurant was supposed to provide prasadam on the next day (Friday). But by “mistake”, they had delivered it a day earlier, which was the Janmashtami day. The preacher told us all that this was the Lord’s arrangement, since he did not want his janmashtami day to go by without this prasadam. Haribol!
I had also invited one of my friends to come visit us at the Sindhi Ceremonial Hall. She wasn’t sure if she could make it. She called her cousins up on the day of Janmashtami and asked them if they wanted to go to the Sindhi Hall. They said no since they already had other plans. A few minutes later, they called back saying they had decided to go and she could come along if she wanted. If this is not the Lord’s arrangement, I don’t know what is! She is a Sai Baba devotee, and on one of the floors, there was a Sai Baba satsang going on. I think this was planned, don’t you? It’s as if Krishna really wanted her to be there, and he himself called her there!
I went to bed that night, kirtans playing in my head all night long. During kirtan, I was thinking it would be so wonderful if I died in the middle of a kirtan. That would be a good death wish. Then it occurred to me that the only way I can die in a kirtan, is if I am always engaged in kirtan!