ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry / Mayapur Academy Newsletter
Welcome to a condensed version of the latest edition of the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry / Mayapur Academy Newsletter
As the festival season approaches temples are gearing up for a busy time. This month sees Gundica marjana and Ratha yatra. In the following two months there are Jhulana yatra, Balarama’s appearance, Janmastami, Srila Prabhupada’s appearance and Radhastami to name a few.
A few days before a major festival I often get letters from devotees eager to know how to serve the deities on these days. Our website www.deityworship.com will eventually carry all this information. For now Jananivasa prabhu, Mayapur head pujari, has agreed to post a monthly article about little known details of how to observe these festivals. This month we include details of the netromilanam procedure which is a ceremony to open the Lord’s eyes after He has had them repainted.
Thanks to all those devotees who provided feedback on the last newsletter. Very encouraging. Looking forward to hearing from you all soon.
My wife and I are still in Europe. To date we have visited Karuna Bhavan, Scotland, Dublin, Inish Rath and Belfast in Ireland, and Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Bhaktivedanta Manor, London, Swansea, Manchester and Newcastle temples. I am now writing from Hungary. We were at New Vraja Dhama for five days and are now in Budapest for five days and on the 14th fly to Cologne, Germany.
I am happy to report that work is progressing on Arcana Journal issue 4. The articles have been edited by Anuradha Keshavi devi dasi and Yaksa dasa and now all articles are on the desktop of Jahnu Dvipa prabhu, who is still recovering from a very recent horrific road accident he and his wife were involved in.
We have enough articles for this issue, however if you would like to contribute an article for the next issue, or if you have any photographs you would like to see in the magazines please contact me for details of requirements.
This column is dedicated to the service of ISKCON pujaris.
This month our featured pujari is Murli Manohara prabhu, the head pujari at the Radha
Krishna Temple, Soho St. London.
Murli Manohara Das first came in contact with Prabhupada’s books around 1988 and joined the temple some time in 1990. His first service was cleaning the stairs and taking part in the daily Harinam. It was not long before he was on book distribution and eventually joined the travelling sankirtan party. For the next six years Murli spent most of the time living in the back of a van and travelling the south coast of England.
“In 1996 our sankirtan party was based at Bhaktivedanta Manor for a few months. It was there that my spiritual master H.H Sivarama Maharaja requested that I go to see him,” Murli Manohara Das says. “Excited, and very curious, I came before him.” Sivarama Maharaja told Murli he should go to the Soho Street temple, in London, the very next day and report to the head pujari. “So more or less the next day I was a full time pujari.”
“Before that I had never really considered being a pujari,” Murli says, “although looking back it was exactly what I needed and I was very happy. It was like another exciting aspect of Krishna consciousness was being revealed. So from 1996 I have been engaged full time as a pujari for their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara.”
“Many things inspire me in my service but perhaps mostly Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara themselves. Srila Prabhupada spoke of them as being his favourite deities, and they were also the first large deities to be installed in ISKCON. So to have the opportunity to serve them personally is a very great privilege,” Murli says.
The greatest challenge for Murli is keeping pace with the demanding schedule of service to their Lordships. “Anything can happen at any time,” he says. “A train strike, sickness, a death in the family or simply a miscommunication. You can’t say to the deities ‘Sorry there is a train strike and your raja bhoga cook can’t come today, so no lunch.’” Service to the Deities at Soho Street temple involves up to 55 devotees a week. As a team they carry out an aggregate of 45 hours of service each day.
Help make “Pujari Profile” a regular feature. Write about a pujari in your temple? Please send photographs along with your article.
Srila Prabhupada on Deity Worship
One of the busiest times of the day for pujaris is from 4 am until darsana time. It is also the best time of day for spiritual activities such as hearing and chanting. In this month’s quote Srila Prabhupada is warning us not to minimize the importance of hearing and chanting. This warning is particularly relevant for pujaris.
Hearing and chanting are the very things that give us the qualification to worship the deities. Hearing and chanting must be the life and soul of every devotee.
"Why they are going? They are busy in some other work? Eh? Ugra-karma. Without hearing, what he will do, nonsense? Sravanam kirtanam, this is our main business. Sravanam. If you don’t hear, what you will do? You will do simply sense gratification. That’s all.
"So this is difficulty, that we are not very much interested in hearing. And that is the main business. Our bhakti begins: sravanam kirtanam visnoh. We have to hear and we have to speak. But if we are not interested in hearing and speak, then it will be the same thakura-bari, simply formula. That’s all. And gradually it will be stopped. Unless there is life of sravanam kirtanam, these big, big buildings, temples, will become burden. So if we are, if we want to create burden for future, then we may give up this hearing and chanting and sleep very nicely. It will be burden. Galagraha. Not sri-vigraha, but galagraha. Galagraha. Sri-vigraha means worshipable Deity. So if we give up this sravanam kirtanam visnoh, then it will be thought that “Our Guru Maharaja has given a burden in the neck, galagraha.” This is the danger. So we must be very much alert in sravanam kirtanam. Otherwise all this labor will be futile. This building will be only the nest, nest for the doves and the pigeons. That is the danger. That is being done. Nobody is interested. Such, such things..."
SB lecture 1.8.19 -- Mayapur, Sep. 29, 1974
The same point is also stressed by Srila Prabhupada in Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.8 -- New Vrindaban, September 6, 1972 in the last 15 minutes of the lecture.
Jananivasa Prabhu Writes...
As we are heading towards Lord Jaganntha’s Snana yatra and the Rathayatra festivals it is a nice time to meditate on and prepare for the Lord’s service arrangements.
After the Lord receives a transcendental flu induced from the bathing at Snana Yatra he then goes into seclusion for his recovery. At this time, as Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Subhadra Devi are convalescing; the Lord’s servants (pujaris) take the opportunity to repaint the Lords form.
The next day marked the performance of the festival of Netrotsava. This great festival was the life and soul of the devotees.
After the bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannatha, during the fortnight before the Ratha-yatra ceremony, the body of Lord Jagannatha, having been washed, needs repainting. This is known as anga-raga. The Netrotsava festival, performed gorgeously in the early morning of the Nava-yauvana day, constitutes the life and soul of the devotees.
After the Lords makeovers are complete a special seva is offered known as netronmilanam. This observance is carried out the day before Rathayatra. As the Lords eyes have been repainted this seva (netronmilanam) opens the Lords eyes. Ointments are applied to the Lords eyes with a golden wand (or a tulasi stick) as mantras are chanted.
The ointment application involves touching the deities’ right eye with the stick dipped in honey whilst chanting:
om citram devanam udagad anikam
caksur mitrasya varunasya gneh /
a pra dyav aprthivi antariksagm
surya atma jagatas tasthusas ca svaha //
Then touching the deities left eye with the stick dipped in ghee whilst chanting:
om tac caksur devahitam purastac chukram uccarate/
pasyema saradah satam / jivema saradah satagm /
srnuyama saradah satam / prabravama saradah satam //
adinah syama saradah satam / bhuyas ca saradah satate //
Then applying the kajal on the edge of the lower eyelids of both eyes while chanting:
om hiranya garbhah samavartatagre
bhutasya jatah patir eka asite /
sa dadhara prthivim dyam utemam
kasmai devaya havisa vidhema //
For full details of this process one should consult the Pratistha Vidhi which is available from The Bhaktivedanta Academy, Mayapur.
After performing netronmilanam the Lords appetite is restored with their return to health and they are offered a full Raj bhoga offering (the first one since Snäna Yatra). Then the Lord is revealed in the following aroti and the devotees who have not seen the Lord in two weeks finally receive his darshan. This darshan is known as Netra Utsava (Festival for the eyes) as the devotees feast through their eyes on the fresh forms of the Lords.
The next day the Lords head off for their wonderful rathayatra festival.
Mayapur Academy News
There is a lot of interest in the next Diploma semester. Many devotees have already submitted applications. We are well on the way to reaching our goal of 40 students this year.
During the Summer, Bengali language courses are conducted at the Mayapur Academy. The following courses run from July 3 to October 1:
Temple worship - Jananivasa prabhu & Shyamsundara Ananda prabhu.
Samskaras - Shyamsundar Ananda Prabhu (with guest teachers from the Bhaktivedanta Academy).
Deity dressing - Kurma Caitanya prabhu.
Cooking for the Deities - a range of teachers including Baliraja prabhu, Radha Madhava’s raja bhoga cook, and Prema Manjari mataji.
Last year about 70 devotees from Mayapur attended and completed the course.
This year there are 82 devotees are attending the Bengali language courses at the Mayapur Academy. These devotees are mainly from Mayapur with a few devotees from Kolkata and Bangladesa.
Mayapur Academy Library
Part of the Mayapur Academy is a library/reading room. This library is open to all devotees visit Sridhama Mayapur.
We have Srila Prabhupada’s books in over 50 languages and a growing number of books by various Vaisnava acarayas as well as a growing Vedic library.
All the books in the library have been donated. Bhanu Swami recently donated a full set of all the books he has translated.
In the March newsletter it was announced that Dulal Candra prabhu from the USA had donated laksmi for four full sets of Srila Prabhupada’s books in English. We just received 4 sets of Srimad Bhagavatam, 4 sets of Caitanya-caritamrta, 20 Nectar of Devotions and are waiting to receive 20 Bhagavad-gitas. Thank you once again to Dulal Candra prabhu for his generous donation to the library.
We are also need all kinds of books on arts and crafts that will be useful for deity worship. Also vegetarian cookbooks, books on dressmaking and design, how to make jewellery etc. We are also looking for spiritual books. It does not matter what language the books are in as we are interested to facilitate the needs of all devotees visiting Mayapur.
Anyone else wishing to assist in the development of the Mayapur Academy library either by donating books or funds may contact either myself at
Syamesvari dd at firstname.lastname@example.org
Temple of the Month
Each month we will feature an ISKCON temple and the deities of that temple. The temple for this month is ISKCON London.
This month we highlight ISKCON London, better known as ‘Radha Krishna Temple’ London.
Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara were installed in December 1969, at Bury Place in London, a short distance from the present temple located at 10 Soho Street. They are ISKCON’s first full-size Radha-Krishna deities. When asked who his favourite deities were, on more than one occasion Srila Prabhupada replied that Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara were the most beautiful.
In volume 4, chapter 30, of the book Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami details the opening of the Bury Place temple and the installation of the deities, which was filmed by the BBC.
In the book, Yamuna devi dasi shares her recollection: “Prabhupada was looking at the deities with complete devotion. He loved those Deities. He had commented about their exquisite beauty and how they complemented each other. How sometimes Radharani looked more beautiful but how Krishna’s moon-like face and eyes were shining.”
Prabhupada saw Yamuna watching and told her, “If you practice what I have taught you and follow the instructions I have taught you for worshipping the deities, and if you read the books we have printed, it is sufficient for you to go back to Godhead. You need not learn anything new. Simply practice what I have taught you, and your life will be perfect.”
Srila Prabhupada himself supervised the installation of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara. It was the culmination of many months of effort, preceded by years of planning. One hundred years before, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, a great saint in a long historical line of spiritual teachers, had hoped for the day that Krishna consciousness would come to England. This had also been the desire of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Through the installation of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara, Srila Prabhupada fulfilled a long-standing wish of the previous acaryas (spiritual masters). They are one of the most prominent sets of deities in the entire western world. Also residing in the temple, on the second altar, are their Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra.
Radha Krishna Temple, London, is also an ashram for the brahmacaris and brahmacarinis. These are the devotees who manage the temple, look after the deities, prepare offerings for the Lord and perform numerous other services throughout the day. On the street level is Govinda’s restaurant and on the second floor is the temple’s community shop which sells a wide variety of goods.
2009 is a very special year for the Radha Krishna Temple as the devotees celebrate 40 years of the Hare Krishnas in London. There will be events throughout the year culminating with the official celebration on November 22nd.
Visit the web site at www.iskcon-london.org where you can read more about temple activities and view photos of the daily darsan. You can also take an on-line 3D tour and view temple programs on the live camera.
If you would like your temple featured in this newsletter please tell us about your temple. Send your article (2-400 words), along with photos to email@example.com.
If you would like to receive the full newsletter please send your email address and request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nrsimha Kavaca Dasa
ISKCON Deity Worship Minister