South Africa Vyasa Puja Report – 2016

Hare Krishna dear devotees
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Gurumaharaj.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Herewith report for South Africa Vyasa puja celebrations for 2016.

Gurumaharaj always says that Durban is the 13th forest of Vraj, but it is far away; so it is called dur ban – the distant forest. This city held up to its name. Disciples travelled from other provinces to Durban to celebrate the 67th Vyasa puja celebrations of our revered Gurumaharaj. We even had His Holiness Rama Govinda Swami return to South Africa from Lusaka, Zambia to celebrate with us.
In fact, our festivities started a few months ago, when our guru bhai, HG Krishna Kesava prabhu started networking with the God family. Meetings were held, services offered, responsibilities accepted and roles fulfilled; all building up to the most blessed event in the life of a disciple – Vyasa puja.

The Durban yatra enjoys the benefit of two glorious mandirs. One is in the suburb of Chatsworth, Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple and one in Phoenix, New Jagannatha Puri Temple. Bhoga preparations were done at Sri Radha Radhanath Temple and New Jagannatha Puri Temple hosted the Vyasa puja.

This saw two groups of devotees working simultaneously; bringing everything to a harmonious and glorious unison for the celebrations. It is winter in South Africa and although Durban enjoys pleasant winters, this period is colder than usual.

His Divine Grace, our Founder Acarya was dressed warm and very comfortably. Guests were welcomed by Syama priya and Nikunja Vilasini mataji’s.  After offering obeisances to Srila Prabhupada, devotees took darshan of Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subadhra.

Pranams were then offered to Gurumaharaj.

We had the honour of having Gurumaharaj’s personal secretary, Her Grace, Dinanukampa mataji as Program Director. In true Bharatya style, we did not start on time, but only when everyone arrived and was comfortable.

H H Rama Govinda Swami garlanded Srila Prabhupada and then Gurumaharaj, upon entering the mandir.Maharaj introduced Gurumaharaj. He described Sri Pandharpur dham and the manifestation of Lord Vittala. Maharaj explained that a brick in Marathi is ‘vit’. Because Lord Krishna was told to stand on a brick, He is called Vittala. Maharaj further enunciated Gurumaharaj’s early life and entry into ISKCON. He then read his offering, begging for mercy to go on with his Sankirtan efforts.

Gurumaharaj’s offering to Srila Prabhupada was read by Their Graces Radha prema and Vrinda kunda mataji’s. This was followed by Temple Presidents, His Grace Prabhanu das glorifying Gurumaharaj’s kirtan filling the walls of the Krishna Balaram mandir in Sri Vrindavan dham. And how when Gurumaharaj started Damodarastakam, the devotees could not contain themselves (we know that feeling).
His Grace Vibhu Caitanya das read out Gurumaharaj’s response to his email, and encouraged devotees to distribute books. Prabhu recently started the Monthly Sankirtan festival and Gurumaharaj requested regular feedback on disciple involvement in book distribution.
His Grace Ayodhya vasi Ram prabhu expressed his thanks to Gurumaharaj for visiting him in hospital, after prabhu had triple heart bypass surgery last year. Prabhu said that he is receiving dialysis treatment but could not miss the Vyasa puja.
His Grace Kulasekhara prabhu described an incident in Vrindavan to explain how patient and understanding Gurumaharaj is. He could not find the keys to a vehicle to drive Gurumaharaj to the Krishna Balaram mandir; and how Gurumaharaj said: “That means I will have to run”. Gurumaharaj then literally ran to the mandir but reached late and could not do arati for Krishna Balaram. But Gurumaharaj was not upset in the least. He later asked if the keys were found but it disappeared. They had to get a locksmith to cut a new key for the van.

God family united after some time apart.

We were treated to a video clip of Gurumaharj’s address via Mayapur TV and the accomplishments by Gurumaharaj thus far- the temples built, Padayatra and Vraja Mandala parikrama. The latter was compiled by Her Grace Syama kanta mataji and Kishore prabhu.

After offerings by disciples were read, bhoga was offered while Dwarkadish Krishna prabhu sang Bhajana Lalasa. HH Rama Govinda Maharaj did arati for Gurumaharaj whilst Sri Sri Gurv-astaka was sung by Dwarkadish Krishna prabhu. Although it was cold and late, devotees were seated, rapt with Gurumaharaj’s glorifications, and did not leave.

The Vote of Thanks was done by Her Grace Aradhya murti mataji.
Prasadam was then served in the hall downstairs. Even then, the devotees were reluctant and slow to leave. I only learnt the following day that some finished at midnight, after cleaning the temple room and dining hall.

Gurumaharaj’s glories were sung after the Vyasa puja and the following day, by guests and by the devotees who could not attend.  The tension that was evident on all our faces before and during the celebrations, turned to relief, appreciation and gratitude after the festivities.

All glories to Gurumaharaj.
All glories to the Sankirtan devotees of the Lord.

Your servant,
Krishna Baladeva das
South Africa


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