Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Preaching in Assam and Sundaravana

Preaching in Assam and Sundaravana

On 1 April 1961, upon the repeated and insistent request of the devotees in Assam, Srila Acaryadeva came to preach sanatana-dharma (pure vaisnava-dharma) very strongly for one month in Goloka-ganja Gaudiya Matha, Cadaikhola, Tokre Chada, Didinga, Dhubadi, Santinagara and many other places. A large religious conference took place in the courtyard of the Didinga village Junior High School. Hindus, Muslims and Christians were all present in great numbers at this conference, and everybody praised Srila Acaryadeva’s views, which strongly appealed to the heart.

After returning from Assam, on 16 June, our most worshipful Srila Gurudeva travelled with some sannyasis and brahmacaris to Sundaravana. The party preached suddha-bhakti extensively in Krsnacandra-pura, Kasimgarha, Laksmi Janardana-pura, Aiplata and other places and returned to the Chunchura matha on 24 June.

Ratha-yatra and jhulana-yatra celebrations at Sri Uddharana Gaudiya Matha

On 12 July 1961, a special celebration of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s disappearance day took place at Sri Uddharana Gaudiya Matha in Chunchura. Srila Acaryadeva was the chairman, and there were many lectures on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s transcendental life and on his teaching and practise of vaisnava-dharma. Speakers included Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja, Srimad Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Maharaja, Srimad Visnu-daivata Maharaja and other principal sannyasis, as well as Sri Hari Brahmacari, Sri Bhagavan dasa Brahmacari, Sri Bhagavata dasa Brahmacari, Sri Gajendra-moksana Brahmacari, Sri Vamsi-vadanananda Brahmacari, Sri Cidghanananda Brahmacari, Sri Yaduvara dasa Adhikari (MAVT), Sri Jitakrsna dasa Adhikari and other Vaisnavas. Srila Acaryadeva concluded with very educational instructions on the same subject.
The next day began the ten-day ratha-yatra festival, which was celebrated with great pomp. Srimad Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Maharaja’s great service on this occasion was most laudable.

Later on, in the month of Sravana, a splendid celebration was organized for Sri Sri Radha-Govinda’s jhulana-yatra and Sri Baladeva’s appearance day (Purnima). Our most worshipful Srila Gurudeva disclosed some very deep tattva and secrets regarding the lilas on these occasions.

Parikrama of all the tirthas in India under the guidance of Srila Gurudeva

The parikrama of all the sacred places in India, including three dhamas and seven puris, was successfully completed during Kartika niyama-seva of 1961, under the guidance of parivrajakacarya om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, and in his direct presence. One hundred and eighteen pilgrims joined Srila Gurudeva on this pilgrimage, including sannyasis, brahmacaris, vanaprasthis and grhasthas. On 3 October 1961, the two-month journey began from Howrah station, with devotees travelling in a reserved tourist railway coach.

First of all the pilgrims took darsana of Sri Madana-mohanaji in Visnupura. Once, when Visnupura was attacked by its enemies, Madana-mohanaji chased them out Himself by firing a cannon. The pilgrims also took darsana of the cannon. Under Srila Gurudeva’s guidance, the parikrama party proceeded on to Jagannatha Puri, where they had darsana of Sri Jagannatha-deva, Tota Gopinatha, Srila Prabhupada’s place of appearance and bhajana, Gambhira, Srila Haridasa Thakura’s place of bhajana and his samadhi, Gundica Mandira and other places. On 8 October, they climbed the nine hundred and eighty-seven steps up a hill in Simhacalam, and received the good fortune of having darsana of Jiyada-nrsimhadeva. On 10 October, they had darsana of Pana-nrsimha and the next day they visited the Madras Gaudiya Matha, Partha-sarathi temple and other noteworthy places. In Chennai (Madras) they changed from the Eastern Railway train to a Southern Railway train and the journey continued.

The party reached Paksi-tirtha on 13 October and had darsana of Veda-girisvara Mahadeva and Hara (Siva) and Parvati, who come to this temple in the form of birds. On 14 October, the pilgrims took darsana of Sri Vasudeva and Sri Nataraja in Cidambaram, and of Parvati-devi in the form of a peahen in Mayabharam, reaching Kumbhakonam the same night. Next day they visited Moksa-kunda, Kumbhesvaram, Sri Raja-gopala Cakrapani and other sacred places in Kumbhakonam.

Srila Gurudeva narrated a story about Moksa-kunda, which is a very large, deep pond. The Pandavas came here during their exile, and while they were taking bath in this sacred place, Devarsi Narada arrived there. Narada asked Bhimasena, who was very proud of his strength, “Do you know what sacred place this is and what its glories are?” The very powerful Bhimasena respectfully greeted Devarsi Narada and said, “O Devarsi, we don’t know much about this. Please tell us.” Naradaji said, “First take bath, and then I will tell you.” After they had bathed, Naradaji explained that the pond in which they had taken bath is situated in the skull of Kumbhakarna. Sri Ramacandra killed that great warrior and, throwing Kumbhakarna’s skull to this place with his arrows, created this pond.

Kumbhakarna’s skull became purified by the touch of Sri Ramacandra’s arrows, and anyone who takes bath in this pond attains the dhama of Sri Ramacandra. When Bhimasena heard this from Devarsi Narada, his pride in his strength vanished, and he fell down at Devarsi’s feet. This big city received its name Kumbhakarnam, or Kumbhakonam, from the name of Kumbhakarna.

On 16 October, the pilgrims took darsana of Sri Vrhadesvara Mahadeva in Tanjora in one of the largest temples of India. On the top of this extensive temple is a round, eighty ton stone carved with fine designs. Modern scientists and archaeologists wonder how such a large stone could have been placed at such height before the invention of modern cranes.

There is also another wonder here. Sri Nandiji, Lord Siva’s carrier, has been carved out of a stone weighing twenty-five tons and sits in front of the door of the main temple, facing Siva. The pilgrims were very happy to have darsana of the temple and Sri Nandi. On 18 October, the pilgrims reached Dhanuskoti at the extreme southern point of India, where they took bath. They then visited Sri Ramesvara, where they had darsana of the huge Siva temple that Sri Ramacandra established. Nearby they visited a murti brought by Hanuman.

On 20 October, they visited the temple of Minaksi-devi in Madurai and the next day visited the deity of Kanya-kumari in Kanya-kumari. On 23 October, they took darsana of Sri Ranganathaji in Sri Rangam, where Sriman Mahaprabhu observed caturmasya-vrata. This is considered the largest temple in India, with each wall accommodating a whole city. Sri Yamunacarya and Sri Ramanujacarya lived in this famous temple and from here preached throughout India. Ranganathaji is present there as Sesasayi with Laksmiji. After having darsana of Visnukanci and Sivakanci on 25 October, the party reached Anakonam Junction, where they changed the Southern Railway tourist coach for an Eastern Railway coach. Travelling from here the pilgrims had darsana of Tirupati Balaji, which is the richest temple in South India, situated on the Tirumalai Hills.

On 29 October in Nasika Pancavati, the pilgrims took darsana of the place where Surpanakha’s nose was cut off, the place where Sri Rama, Laksmana and Sita stayed on the bank of the Godavari, and other places. On 31 October, they took darsana of Mumba-devi in Mumbai. On 1 November in Broca, they had darsana of the place where Vamanadeva begged from Bali Maharaja. After that the pilgrims travelled to Prabhasa, Sudamapuri, Venta-dvaraka, Gomati-dvaraka, Dakoraji (Ranachodaji), Ujjayani, Sri Nathadvara, Puskara and Savitri. In Jaipura they took darsana of Sri Radha-Govinda, Sri Radha-Gopinatha, Sri Radha-Damodara, Sri Radha-Madhava and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They visited Galta-gaddi and other places and finally reached Mathura-dhama.

Starting from Mathura on 17 November, they had darsana of Gokula, Vrndavana, Govardhana, Radha-kunda, Varsana, Nandagrama and other places. Then they visited Indraprastha in Delhi, Bhadrakali in Kuruksetra, Haridvara, Rsikesa and Laksmana-jhula, and after that they went to Naimisaranya, Ayodhya, Kasi Visvanatha in Varanasi and Gadadhara Pada-padma in Gaya. The parikrama party returned to Kolkata after the two-month journey.

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