Friday, September 05, 2008

Giriraja's Flower Crown

This morning Giriraja received 25 different types of flowers in his worship (Orissa is a good place for puja). Aside from his garland of parijata (called gangasuri in Orissa) and gardenia (called sugandha-raja, "king of good fragrance" here) Giriraja was also offered a small crown made of jui flowers, small fragrant flowers that are dear to Srimati Radharani.

Hari Hari!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Christian Version of Jiva Jago

I recently got a copy of an old rare book called, Hymns of the Early Church. It was published in 1913 and is a compilation translated from various Greek and Latin sources and other early material from the Christian church. The following poem reminded me of Bhaktivinode Thakur's Arunodaya kirtana. (See some excerpts from the English translations at the end of this text):

Wake, awake to duty!

See, the morning light

Falls with radiant beauty

From the arms of night.

Claim the hours before thee

For the tasks of life,

Thousand calls implore thee

From the din of strife.

Listless minds are dreaming,

Idle hands are still;

Evil hearts are scheming

Purposes of ill.

See the hands that beckon,

Hear the call of right;

Thou with God must reckon

Up, and toil and fight!

Through the hours of morning,

At the height of noon,

When the light gives warning

Night approaches soon:

Do the task with gladness

Which the hours present;

Who can tell the sadness

Of a day mis-spent?

Day by day declineth,

Time is getting hoar;

Soon yon sun that shineth

Sets for evermore.

Ah, the City glorious,

Where they need no sun,

Ah, the band victorious,
And the glad "Well done"!

Excerpts from Bhaktivinode's Arunodaya kirtana:

Shri Gauracanda is calling,

“Wake up! Wake up, sleeping souls!

How long will you sleep

in the lap of the witch maya?”

"With every rising and setting of the sun,

a day passes and is lost.

Why do you remain idle and not serve the Lord of the heart?

This temporary life is full of various miseries.

Take shelter of the holy name as your only business.

To penetrate the darkness of ignorance and bless everyone's heart,

the holy name has risen like the shining sun"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Janmastami in Kendrapara

For the second year in a row we observed Janmastami in Kendrapara Orissa at our ISKCON nama-hatta center. It's actually more than a center it is well known in the area as the Sri Sri Radha Nikunjabihari temple. Kendrapara is a rural and traditional Orissan town. It is close to the small village of Choti, the ancestral home of Thakur Bhaktivinode. The Thakur also resided for some time in Kendrapara where he was the first headmaster of the Government High School. Bhaktivinode Thakur's original deities of Sri Sri Radha Madhava have been temporarily residing in Kendrapara for the last few years.

Radha Madhava in their new outfit on Janmastami night

One of our favorite aspects of Janmastami in Kendrapara is the traditional Oriya bhajans. Aside from the ecstatic 24 hour maha-mantra kirtana, there are other bhajans going on simultaneously (in a separate place) most of Janmastami night. Those bhajans are mostly Oriya devotional poetry, songs that due to the language barrier very few Gaudiya Vaishnavas outside of Orissa are aware of. Even though it is very rich in bhakti and rasa, Oriya Gaudiya literature is relatively unknown outside of Orissa, even amongst Bengali and Vrindavan Vaishnavas.

Navaghana Das sang a nice song from the medieval book "Mathura Mangala", by the devotee Bhakta Charan Das.

Click here to listen to the song and translation:

Janmastami bhajans in Kendrapara