Vrindavan, 06.01.2017 (VT): This Friday marks the beginning of Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami Maharaj’s seva at the Shri Radharaman Temple in Vrindavan. Maharajji is a senior Acharya of Radharaman Temple and the founding trustee of Vrindavan Today.
The Goswami families of Radharaman all descend from a single ancestor, Shri Damodar Das Goswami. Over the centuries, the seva calendar of Radharamanji has been divided amongst Damodar Das Goswami’s descendants. Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami’s family seva turn comes once every two years, he says, and this year his seva is from June 2nd to July 5th; just over a month. This year is an extraordinary year, for it marks the 475th Anniversary of Shri Radharamanji’s appearance.
What is extraordinary for us, Maharajji explains, is ordinary for the Lord. The scripture Govinda Lilamrita describes how Shri Krishna enjoys 157 different dishes every day during breakfast. But if we were to eat 157 dishes for breakfast, it would kill us.
Similarly, 475 years is inconsequential for the One who is beyond time. But for human beings like us, who have an average life span of only 100 years, 475 years means sixteen to seventeen generations. And that is extraordinary.
The grand festival of Shri Radharamanji’s appearance day began on May 10th, and will continue until his next appearance day. Thus the thirty-five days of Shrivatsa Goswami’s seva will be dedicated to celebrating His appearance.
Each morning throughout the seva, a complete reading of the Shrimad Bhagavatam will be performed by 40 scholars. Ten Bengali Vaishnavs will read the Chaitanya Bhagavat.
Maharajji explained why these two scriptures in particular were chosen: Radharamanji is Shri Krishna Himself, and Krishna is nondifferent from the Bhagavatam. But at the same time, Radharamanji is Shri Gauranga, and the Chaitanya Bhagavat is a form of Him. In celebrating these two scriptures, we celebrate Him, and in addition, the auspicious prayers Gopal Sahasranam and Narayan Kavach will be chanted.
Each jhanki or darshan of Shri Radharamanji will be accompanied by the appropriate music and songs describing Radharamanji’s lila at that moment. The daily Raag Seva will be brought to life by the master vocalist Shri Tarun Krishna Das and pakhawaj virtuoso Shri Krishna Gopal Sharma. Each morning and evening will feature a special guest artist, who will present an offering of song or dance for Radharamanji.
A ceremony called Rajopachar Seva will be offered twice a day, during Shringar Aarti and Sandhya Aarti, during which the devotees will hold flags and other sacred symbols.
Throughout the seva period, Radharamanji will wear new gorgeous outfits (poshak) specially handcrafted by the ladies of Shrivatsa Goswami’s household, and new jewellery will be offered to Him. New tapestries – including the backdrop, curtains and so forth – have been special-ordered from the royal printer of Jaipur. Only pure cotton and vegetable-based dyes are used; no plastic or synthetic cloth of any kind is allowed during Shrivatsa Goswami’s seva.
Each day, Radharamanji will be offered a new Kunj (a beautiful forest hideaway). This type of decoration is, in common parlance, known as a phool-bangla (flower palace).
According to Govinda Lilamrita there are eight kunj in Eternal Vrindavan, and each of those eight kunj in turn have eight sub-kunj, making a total of 64. Since there are only half that number of days in the seva, Maharajji’s family will attempt to invoke 32 of those 64 kunjas mentioned in the scriptures.
Several holidays fall within the period of Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami’s seva. Some notable dates are:
June 2 – Shrivatsa Goswami’s Seva Turn Begins
June 4 – Ganga Dusshera
June 5 – Nirjala Ekadashi
June 9 – Jal Yatra
June 25 – Ratha Yatra
July 2 – Special Chappan Bhog Darshan
July 5 – Shrivatsa Goswami’s Seva Turn Ends
Please stay tuned for updates as the seva continues.
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