Glimpses of Brahmotsava 2009 at ISKCON Bangalore
BY: AISHWARYA KUMAR
May 18, BANGALORE, INDIA (SUN) This year at ISKCON Bangalore, Brahmotsava was celebrated on a very grand scale. Brahmotsava means a great festival or the main festival of the temple. Every evening the Utsava Murtis of Sri Sri Radha Krishna-chandra were adorned in various alankaras and were carried on vahanas around the temple complex at Hare Krishna Hill. Thousands of devotees participated in the festival.
Every evening Their Lordships also witnessed many dance programs by various famous troupes. Their Lordships also were gently swung on flowers bedecked swings. On the 11th day, all the Deities received grand Churna Abhisheka.
A Description of Brahmotsava Alankaras
ISKCON, Sri Radha Krishna Mandir
The anniversary of the Lord’s merciful manifestation in His Deity form in different temples is celebrated throughout South India as the Brahmotsava festival. At the world famous temple of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirupati, Lord Brahma himself inaugurated this festival and so it has come to be called Brahma Utsava or Brahmotsava.
The festival begins with the Vedic ceremony of dvaja arohana, the hoisting of the temple flag bearing the insignia of Garuda, the eagle carrier of Lord Vishnu. Since the celebration of the Appearance anniversary of the Lord is of universal significance, the guest list includes the demigods of highest standing in the universe, all the chief administrators of universal affairs. Thus the dvaja arohana ceremony includes rituals inviting the demigods in charge of the eight directions to join in the celebrations. Each of them is welcomed with the rendering of their favourite melodies (ragas in Sanskrit) and an offering of Sri Krishna prasadam. This is followed by the decoration of the flag pole (dvaja sthambha) with auspicious items like paddy, mango leaves, kusha grass and coconut palm flowers and the hoisting of the temple flag, announcing the commencement of the festival.
Every evening of the festival includes a Vahana Utsava, when the utsava vigraha (festival Deity who accepts the worship during special occasions) of the Lord is adorned in various alankara or transcendental forms of His different avataras. He rides on decorated carriers relevant to His alankaras. For instance, He rides the Hanumad Vahana as Rama, the Ananta Sesha Vahana as Garbhodakshayi Vishnu, the Ashva Vahana (horse) as Kalki, etc.
1. Ananta Shayana Alankara (pictured above)
This alankara portrays Sri Garbhodakashayi Vishnu lying on His serpent bed (AnantaSesha) on the Garbhodaka ocean with Lakshmi Devi in attendance.
"The Lord of the creative energy is called Ananta-sayana. The material energy is impregnated by the glance of this feature of the Lord and is then able to give birth to all organic and inorganic matter. Ananta-sayana sleeps on the bed of Sesha Naga, who has a form like a serpent but is identical with the Lord. Because He sleeps on a serpent bed, the Lord is also known as Naga-sayana. By His spiritual energy, Sesha Naga sustains all the planetary globes upon His invisible hoods."
(Mukunda Mala Stotra, Verse 1)
2. Kalki Alankara
The Lord rides the Ashva Vahana as Kalki, who appears to destroy the sinful people at the end of Kali Yuga.
"So the human society is becoming so degraded that they are trying to forget God. That is their advancement of civilization. The more you deny existence of God and become a so-called rascal scientist, then you are advanced. This is the position. So this position will degrade so much after, say, 400,000’s of years, gradually degrading, that at time, Krishna will come in His incarnation as Kalki. At that time the Kalki’s business will be simply to kill. That’s all. No more. No more preaching of Krishna consciousness. Simply kill them. That is Kalki avatära. That Kalki avatära is given the father’s name. This is called çästra. This is called scripture. Four hundred thousand’s after, 400,000’s of years after, Kalki will come."
(Srila Prabhupada lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.25, Los Angeles, September 30, 1972)
3. Navaneeta Nartana Alankara
The Lord who steals butter dances in Vrindavana with His dear most associates. Venugopala Alankara - the Lord captures the hearts of His beloved cows in Vrindavan by playing His flute. Vrindavana Krishna Vishesha Alankara - the all attractive Lord of Vrindavan with His eternal consort Srimati Radharani. Radha Krishna-chandra Venulola Alankara.
"Krishna is playing with His cowherd boys; Krishna dancing with His girlfriends, gopis; Krishna is stealing butter; Krishna is doing so many-simply happiness, simply happiness. You won’t find Krishna is morose and sitting or crying. (laughter) Even if He is killing some demon, very laughingly, as easy job. You see? So either He is killing or dancing, He is happy. So we are giving this information of happiness, the topmost happiness, without any... Anandamayo ‘bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12). In the Vedanta-sutra it is said that spirit soul, the Supersoul or the individual soul, their nature is to become happy. Anandamaya. Happy. Spiritual life means happiness. There is no distress. But that happiness can be attained in cooperation with the Supreme. We are sparks of fire. So with the fire, if the sparks are “fut-put”... You see sometimes, the sparks; it looks very beautiful. The same spark, as soon as falls down from the fire, extinguished. The fiery quality immediately extinguished. So our material condition is like that. We have given up the company of Krishna, and we wanted to be happy in this material world; therefore we are suffering. So same spark, particle of carbon, if you put again to the fire, it will again become red hot and fire. So this is Krishna consciousness movement, that we are trying the sparks, which by chance has fallen down from the fire, to pick it up again and put it in the fire. That is real happiness."
(Srila Prabhupada lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.23 -- Los Angeles, September 28, 1972)
4. Sita Rama Pattabhisheka Alankara
The Supreme Lord Ramachandra, the perfect example of a king, with His eternal consort, Srimati Sita Devi who is the perfect example of a chaste wife.
"In this material world, we need a leader for a monarchy or good government. Lord Çré Ramacandra, by His practical example, showed how to live for the benefit of all human society. He fought with demons like Ravana, He carried out the orders of His father, and He remained the faithful husband of mother Sita. Thus there is no comparison to Lord Ramacandra's acting as an ideal king. Indeed, people still hanker for rama-rajya, a government conducted like that of Lord Ramacandra."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 8.1.16)
5. Ashtabhuja Narayana Alankara
The Lord appeared in His eight-handed form, riding on His eagle carrier, Garuda.
ashtayudhair anucarair munibhih surendrair
The Lord's face was very beautiful, and His head was decorated with a shining helmet and golden ornaments. The helmet was dazzling and was very beautifully situated on His head. The Lord had eight arms, which each held a particular weapon. The Lord was surrounded by demigods, great sages and other associates. These were all engaged in His service. Garuda, the carrier of the Lord, glorified the Lord with Vedic hymns by flapping his wings. Garuda appeared to be an inhabitant of the planet known as Kinnaraloka.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 4.30.6)
6. Mohini Alankara
The most enchanting feminine form of Sri Krishna, Mohini Murti. Srila Prabhupada explains:
"Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura remarks here that Mohini-murti is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a feminine form and that the goddess of fortune is Her associate. This form assumed by the Personality of Godhead challenged the goddess of fortune. The goddess of fortune is beautiful, but if the Lord accepts the form of a woman, He surpasses the goddess of fortune in beauty. It is not that the goddess of fortune, being female, is the most beautiful. The Lord is so beautiful that He can excel any beautiful goddess of fortune by assuming a female form."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 8.9.18)
7. Raja Rani Alankara and Radha Rajagopala Alankara
Sri Radha and Krishna are the original queen and king of Vrindavana.
"So Radha, so Radha and Krishna. Krishna is the enjoyer and He wants to enjoy. So He’s the Supreme Brahman. He cannot enjoy anything, atmarama, He can enjoy it in Himself. Therefore Radharani is the expansion of His pleasure potency. Krishna hasn’t got to seek external things for His pleasure. No. He is in Himself full, atmarama. So Radharani is expansion of Krishna. Krishna is the energetic, and Radharani is the energy. Just like energy and energetic, you cannot separate. Fire and the heat you cannot separate. Wherever there is fire there is heat, and wherever there is heat there is fire. Similarly, wherever there is Krishna there is Radha. And wherever there is Radha there is Krishna . They are inseparable."
(Radhashtami, Srimati Radharani’s Appearance Day -- Montreal, August 30, 1968)