Satsangees of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj in Mangarh and New York
Devotees from all over the world continue to descend on the Bhakti Dham ashram of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj to participate in the riveting Sadhana Shvivir which continues until November 25th 2015. The satsangs, parikramas, festivals and the divinity of Bhakti Dham have become firmly etched in the consciousness of Radha Krishna devotees who attended in the past, and the present, and the crowds continue to swell with each passing year. So much so, that Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj inaugurated the Bhakti Bhavan, a massive dome-shaped temple which accommodates 10,000 devotees at once.
|Devotees of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj in parikrama|
"...Those misty early morning parikramas in Mangarh, where one's body mind and soul fills up and overflows with indescribable divine peace and bliss by singing the Lord's Name. Although massively cold and one can't see what's ten steps ahead, it didn't matter as it just made it more mystically magical"
Diwali will be celebrated at the Bhakti Dham Mangarh ashram of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj on November 11th and Govardhan Pooja on the 12th.
Mangarh and New York: Cities worlds apart; united by the thread of Divine Love, Devotion and Grace
Meanwhile, similar opportunities are available in New York. Radha Govind Dham New York, a recently established temple inspired by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj is for many a microcosm of Bhakti Dham and Prem Mandir in the city. Radha Govind Dham is hosting a number of electrifying devotional programs and festivals these days. They will host a number of festivals over the coming week, including satsang until midnight on Nov 7th, Diwali on Nov 11th and Govardhan Pooja on Nov 12th. Before I get to those, let me summarize some of the amazing recent developments from this temple.
Janmashtami 2015 at Radha Govind Dham New York
Queens New York was rocked by Radha Govind Dham's epic 2nd Janmashtami block party which attracted an unprecedented 3000+ attendees. During the occasion, Nassau County awarded Radha Govind Dham New York and Swami Nikhilanand Ji a citation for selfless commitment to community service. The event attracted the world media, from New York to Gujarat - press clippings available at their website. A few pictures to illustrate what words couldn't:
An International Destination
Perhaps unintentionally, the temple is not only a hub of the New York Indian community. The New York Hindu Temple is becoming an international destination too. During my visit earlier this year, I caught up with Priya who was visiting all the way from Trinidad. Last month, an internationally renowned Irish classical guitarist gave a satsang concert at the temple, in which he sang and played kirtans by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj with classical arrangements, before his blazing performance at Carnegie Hall. In addition, the mandir volunteers had a pilot run of a Global Satsang which live streamed on Youtube. From time to time, there may be similar events - latest details will be posted on their Facebook page or Youtube page.
"Electrifying" satsangs, picnics, house visits
Swami Nikhilanand Ji's satsangs at Radha Govind Dham are becoming the gold standard of satsangs in the city. A recent satsang was described as "an electrifying evening" by one visitor, but that is not unusual (clip below - or see on Facebook if viewing by email).
Lecture series on the Gita, Bhagwatam and important devotional topics by internationally acclaimed preachers such as Swami Maheshvaranand Ji, Sushree Siddheswari Didi, Sushree Diwakari Didi and Swami Nikhilanand Ji have become regular calendar markings by many of New York community. See a clip of Swami Nikhilanand Ji describing the true meaning of Karva Chauth (view on Facebook if unavailable). Pictured above: Lecture by Swami Maheshvaranand Ji, a preacher of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj.
Not to be overlooked is the new dhol which is sure to bring the excitement of festivals like Diwali and Govardhan Pooja to a new level. The dhol made it's debut during Sharat Poornima, just a few weeks ago. Here is a demo by Jas, one of the mandir musicians. (View on Facebook if unavailable)
Along with a host of attractions for the for whole family and those who don't have families, kids take a prominent role many of the events. The mandir's Shiksha school holds classes in many different subjects including: - Classical Dholak - Bengali - Leela Performance - Hindustani Vocal & Harmonium - Tabla - Satsang Dholak - Folk & Semi-Classical Dance - Hindi - Mandir Seva - Kirtan Class - Dance class (Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi). Learn more about Shiksha via their website www.RGDNY.org/ShikshaNY
In addition, kids have the opportunity to put their learnings into practice during the major events held by the mandir, including dance and leela performances during the festivals; singing and playing musical instruments during the satsangs. Watch a clip of "Hare Ram, Hare Krishna" led by one of the mandir kids below (see on Facebook if unavailable):
Radha Govind Dham New York has made membership available. Each new member is greeted by Swami Nikhilanand Ji with a Radhey Shyami shawl and receives many other benefits too. Membership details are available on their website at http://rgdny.org/annual-membership/
The mandir is expanding and many new and exciting features are planned for the future, including a larger builder. I encourage all blog readers to lend their support by getting membership or even joining their Facebook page and promoting all their events. Contact the mandir for any support you can lend, including donations or physical support.
Medical Camps and Community Outreach
There has been wide attention in the media about the mandir's medical camps in which free vaccines and other treatments are provided to the community free of cost. Pictured above: A host of distinguished doctors at the mandir.
Diwali and Govardhan Pooja 2015 in New York
In a stroke of fortune, Swami Nikhilanand Ji, a preacher of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj, will be in residence during the Diwali 2015 celebration. Swami Nikhilanand recently posted about Diwali 2015 via his Facebook page. Guests are invited to bring their own diyas or candles for an sparkling and illuminating event in the moonlight outside the mandir. For Govardhan Pooja on the 12th, guests can bring bhog to offer to Giridhar Maharaj.
Why Do We Celebrate Diwali (Deepavali)? - By Swami Nikhilanand, preacher of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj
If we remember the origin of Diwali, then we will understand the true meaning of this most popular of Hindu festivals, the Festival of Lights.
In treta yug Bhagwan Ram took avatar in the city of Ayodhya. As a youth, He had gone away to the forest for 14 years, but on the occasion of the November New Moon, He was now returning home. The happiness of the residents of Ayodhya knew no bounds as they cleaned every corner of their homes and decorated every building in the entire city with diyas (lights) in anticipation of Ram’s return. They wanted to welcome Him back with all their hearts.
When Shree Ram was entering the city, all the citizens wished to meet Him first. Seeing their desire, He multiplied Himself into as many forms as there were people and met them all simultaneously. Each person felt that Ram had come to them first. This was the scene as Ram returned to Ayodhya, and it is to commemorate this event that we decorate with lights on Diwali. We are meant to feel that we are decorating in anticipation of Ram’s arrival in our home and in our heart.
The use of lights on Diwali carries a deep philosophical meaning. Light (prakash) symbolizes God, goodness and knowledge - whereas darkness (tam) symbolizes evil, ignorance and maya. The more we bring God into our heart, the more His Divine prakash shines within us, relieving us from the effects of the darkness of maya, revealing spiritual knowledge, and filling our life with true joy.
When Radha and Krishna were on the earth planet, They also celebrated Diwali in a special way. They went to Mansi Ganga (a large holy pond near Govardhan hill) and placed floating diyas on the water from opposite sides of the pond. Then They, along with all the Gopis and Gwalbals, created waves with their hands, causing the diyas to converge in the center, and cover the entire pond.