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Radharamana's Janmastami Abhiseka and Memories of Srila Prabhupada

Radharamana's Janmastami Abhiseka

This is a festival of renewal not unlike abhisekas performed elsewhere throughout Vraja and beyond, whether to images of Krsna or to other deities. What I wish to call attention to here is a sense of totality this performance offers in the process of reaffirming Rādhāramana’s charisma. Along with the totality of sensory experience for both priests and onlooking devotees, there is the totality of “auspicious” substances poured in the abhiseka, all mingled to become a liquid, sweet-tasting, drinkable form of Rādhāramana’s grace. Rādhāramana’s abhiseka serves, if not to “dissolve differences” entirely, to draw multiplicity (of substances, activities, and social distinctions) within a unifying event that enacts in royal style the ultimacy of Krsna’s supremacy while simultaneously affirming bhakti’s efficacy in bringing divinity and devotee together in “sweet” intimacy.

—from the book Attending Krishna’s Image: Chaitanya Vaishnava Murti-seva as Devotional Truth by Krishna Kshetra Swami, 2006.


Memories of Srila Prabhupada

My first direct sight of Śrīla Prabhupāda was at the airport. Some seventy to a hundred devotees converged on the airport, receiving Śrīla Prabhupāda in the arrivals hall with a roaring kīrtana. I still have a copy of a small black-and-white photograph which I think was taken at the moment Śrīla Prabhupāda became visible to us. He is smiling broadly and waving to the devotees, still yet to clear customs.

The feeling of seeing Śrīla Prabhupāda in person after hearing so much about him from devotees, seeing pictures of him, reading his books and distributing his magazines was, of course, most exhilarating. His greatness seemed accented by his small physical stature and soft golden effulgence. I noted that he was even shorter than me, inspiring a particular affection perhaps blended with protectiveness. One of my first thoughts on seeing him was, “Yes, here is my eternal father!”

We all threw ourselves on the floor in daṇḍavats, making two lines with an aisle for Śrīla Prabhupāda to walk through (toward a reception lounge for a press conference, I believe). As Śrīla Prabhupāda walked by me, his right lotus foot slightly touched my thumb: As far as I remember it was my right thumb, though I’m not completely sure of that. Naturally, I felt especially blessed by the unsolicited inadvertent touch of Śrīla Prabhupāda.

On getting up, someone told me to come help retrieve Śrīla Prabhupāda’s luggage from the luggage claim area. Two or three of us dashed gleefully to the luggage claim place with Śrīla Prabhupāda’s servant, happy to be able to do a small, practical service to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s tadīya. We knew that in his luggage Śrīla Prabhupāda carried his books and translation work. Indeed, the one large suitcase was very heavy. Another huskier devotee carried that while I carried one of the smaller cases.

—from the book In Praise of My Preceptor by Krishna Kshetra Swami, 2013.