My dear devotees:
It is my pleasure to send this message today after a week in Sri Jagannath Puri.
We’ve had a beautiful week that we could have never imagined, as we have found loving devotees everywhere. Like today, in Alarnath Temple, we find Vaisnavas of the family of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta.
Vaishnava relationships are very important. They are based on care and kindness. And today we were looked after very well. They offered wonderful prasadam and made us feel at home. This point, my dears, is very important. In India they are truly experts in dealing with visitors, and it is said that the visitor is like God. When you come to a house to visit, the first thing they do is welcome you, invite you to sit down and then you get some sweet words of welcome, and you feel as if they have been waiting forever, saying: "I am very happy that you arrived and you are here with us ", imagine one really become very happy this way.
Then, they invite you to honor prasadam ... but before honoring prasadam, they introduce you to the owner of the house. That owner is the Deity.
Then they take you to the temple, where the Lord is and they present you to Him. After that, they invite you to take prasadam and serve you until you are completely satisfied. It is a very beautiful loving exchange: the hosts offer more and more prasadam to the guests for their pleasure. Thus, when we received a person in our temple or in the home of a Krishna conscious family, we serve them well.
Today we are the temple of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gaudiya Nath ji, deities installed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada Thakur just in front of the temple of Lord Alarnath.
On this day I receive and introduce each of you before their Lordships Gauranga Gaudiya Nath Ji. This is a very sacred place. It is a very beautiful pastime site. Here, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited beautiful pastimes in great ecstasy of separation, so much so that he melted a stone that to this day the marks of His sacred body remain in it. This stone is worshiped today and we are visiting it today and we are asking for the mercy of Mahaprabhu. There is a story connected with Sri Alarnath that is very sweet and beautiful.
The pujari of the deity of Sri Alarnath was a devotee named Mukunda, who always attended Him with great dedication. He never wanted to delegate this service to another person. But one day he had to go out and asked his son to attend the Deity while he was out. Mukunda taught him all the details of the worship to his son so he departed. At the time of the offering of bhoga, the young man took the plate with all the preparations; he recited the appropriate mantras and left the room so the Lord could eat. It was a tremendous surprise to see that the Lord had not eaten since the dish was still full.
The poor boy did not know what to do, he was in such desperation that he began to cry, imploring the Lord to eat. Seeing him so afflicted, the Lord came down from the altar and began to eat the entire offering. So much so that He left an empty plate :). When he came back with the offering, his mother was surprised and very angry to see the empty plate. She told him, “Son, you ate the Lord's offering that is irresponsible. I will tell everything to your father.” When the father returned, his mother told him what had happened and the father was very intrigued, so much that the next day he decided to stay hidden to see what was happening when his son was offering. So, the same thing happened again, the boy brought the offering, left the Lord eating and when he returned the dish was still full. The boy was desperate once again began to cry until the Lord came down and began to eat it all. The father was impressed by the devotion of his son. But when the Deity realized that the father was there,the deity turned quickly into place and a little rice milk remained on His finger and mouth. This deity of Sri Alarnath retains those prasadam marks even today and so we come to beg Him to accept our offerings and help with remembering Mahaprabhu.
Going back to the start, we must turn our temples in places where people feel so good that they identify with it as if they are in their own home. That also means that our temples must be very beautiful in decoration, maintenance, etc...For example in this temple of Brahma Gaudiya Math, which has many beautiful decorations it is also very well maintained, the love placed behind it is apparent. So when we are in a temple, we should be aware that the gardens and all areas are beautiful. And I mean an ecologically beautiful site, no plastic waste should be in a beautiful place,otherwise all this is opaque. The plastic waste has nothing beautiful. Thus, our temples should be beautiful with beautiful smiling devotees from the heart. In Krishna consciousness we are not like American Airlines, which in its policies they are mandated to always smile. A devotee smiles from the heart.
I get very happy to see that in our family we have many of these beautiful devotees who smile from the heart. That is the pride of our sampradaya: Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself took much care for each of his devotees ... He is our role model. I know I say the same things a hundred times. It's nothing new. But just as the Maha Mantra is always the same and the Bhagavad Gita is the same for the last 5000 years, we repeat to remember.
That's why I also always repeat that all the temples should have Ishtagothis whose only meaning is to make everyone completely happy in the community ... just so all the devotees will want to keep in the community. Ishtagosthi is not a dictatorial instance. It is rather a participatory instance to define how each devotee feels and what is the best way they can help.
It is in the ishtagosthi that we can agree on how to best serve our guests and have beautiful temples and happier devotees. My message is that you never get tired of being warm, friendly and make others feeling welcomed to the temple ... because when you stop being this way you also will stop feeling it.
A story that I want to share with you in this conclusion is that I want to thank Arup Govinda prabhu and the sannyasis and devotees of Jagannath Puri, we had a meeting of the WVA which was very successful, and was the foundation to the Puri World Vaishnava Association branch.
They decided they were going to meet every month for joint activities.
That's one of the main goals of the WVA-VVRS: increase solidarity and support between different Vaishnava missions. Now we are returning to the city to continue our work. We will spend two days in Sri Purushottam kshetra and then travel to Allahabad for our preaching work in Kumbha Mela. It will be a great tapasya, but also a great responsibility to preach to the yogis so they can become more environmentally responsible.
With these words I say goodbye, have a nice Sunday festival full of preaching and good reception of guests.
Jaya Om Paramahamsa Vishnupad 108 Parivrajak Acarya Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, ki jay!
Srila Prabhupara, ki jay!
Jaya Om Paramahamsa Vishnupad 108 Parivrajak Acarya Srila Prabhupad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, ki jay!
Your always well wisher,
Swami B. A. Paramadvaiti.My dear devotees: