Ekachakra, India — Wednesday, February 16th
Today is the divine appearance day of Lord Nityananda Prabhu, and here at the newly constructed temple at our Sree Chaitanya Saraswat Krishnanushilana Sangha in Ekachakra dham, under the guidance and direction of Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj, we all participate in the grand festival for the installation of the astonishing Sri Sri Guru Gaura-Nityananda deities.
The day begins early, with the mangala arati (the last one in the old, temporary temple room) and after we circumambulate the temple, led by Srila Acharya Maharaj, we go on a parikrama of the holy dham, beginning with Lord Nityananda Prabhu's birthplace just down the road, and continuing with nagar sankirtan to the nearby kunda and (hidden Yamuna) river to sprinkle some holy water on our heads.
After visiting Srila Prabhupad's Iskcon and some of the other local temples, we return to our Math to begin the installation ceremony with an exuberant kirtan by hundreds of Western and Bengali devotees, distinguished guests and visiting sannyasis all crammed into the huge new nat mandir in front of the giant doors of the new temple.
The temple doors are huge because the true-to-life Gaura-Nityananda deities are huge: Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is 7'6" and Sri Nityananda Prabhu is 7'4" tall!
How do I know? Because all the sannyasis had a sneak preview :)
Late yesterday afternoon, Srila Acharya Maharaj and all the sannyasis (Maharajas Goswami, Janardan, Avadhut, Parvat, Nyasi, Tyagi and Tirtha) were sitting in the huge courtyard of our new Math here in Ekachakra, admiring the magnificent nine domes of the temple and the newly finished and painted living quarters, when somebody asked what time the deity installation would begin the next day.
After giving a brief summary of the program, Srila Acharya Maharaj added: "But now that all these Vaishnava sannyasis are here with me, I consider the deities to already be installed" — reminiscent of Srila Prabhupad who said, when Srila Guru Maharaj went to Mayapur for the deity installation there, that now that Srila Sridhar Maharaj had arrived, he (Srila Prabhupad) considered the deity installation to be complete (even though it had not officially begun).
A little later, accompanied by a large group of devotees, Srila Acharya Maharaj took a walk around the temple and when we came to the altar room, Srila Acharya Maharaj spontaneously called all the sannyasis to his side and led us up the stairs to the deity room, saying, "Come, all sannyasis. If you all see the deities, then the installation is complete!"
Entering the altar room through the side door, we are immediately struck by how huge the deities are: my head is lower than the elbow of Mahaprabhu's upraised arm! The altar room is crowded with Srila Acharya Maharaj and all the sannyasis, so I'm standing about two feet (the closest I've ever been to deities) from these towering, majestic, astonishing deities.
Srila Acharya Maharaj points out some of the Sri Gaura-Nityananda deities' unique and unusual features: one that I remember is that Their eyelashes are real (not painted onto Their faces). Veteran sannyasis use words like "awesome, amazing, unbelievable." After seeing these deities, Sripad Goswami Maharaj predicted: "People from all over the world will come to see these deities" — and I believe him.
And this morning, while Srila Acharya Maharaj leads hundreds of devotees in an ecstatic kirtan in the nat mandir and the temple doors are opened for the first time to reveal the enormous divine forms of Their Lordships, Sri Sri Guru Gaura-Nityananda, everybody is simply astonished by Their beauty...
Nothing I write can even begin to attempt to describe the beauty of these magnificent, glorious deities, so I'm not going to try. Suffice to say that in an email to a friend, I wrote: "These deities are just incredible — They are so lifelike that it even feels wrong, somehow, to call Them deities..."
No photograph can capture Their exquisite beauty, so if you haven't seen (or more appropriately, been seen by) the extraordinarily beautiful Sri Gaura-Nityananda deities yet, you simply must come here to our Math in Ekachakra to get Their darshan at least once before you die. Hare Krishna!
Layout by iMonk — February 21st, 2011.