Mohini Ekadashi was on 10th May 2014. We were in Shridham Kaundinyapur, the appearance place of Rukmini maiya. .Every year there is a celebration of this auspicious day in the association of HH Lokanath Swami Maharaja. Various events are arranged for the pleasure of Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkanath and Srila Prabhupada.. This time there was a Kirtan Mela festival and a Boat festival of the festival Deities, Rukmini Dwarkanathji.
Rukmini, the daughter of King Bhishmak, ruler of the province known as Vidharbha, is the first wife of Lord Krsna. Just as Vasudev is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Rukmini is the Supreme Goddess of Fortune, Maha-Laksmi. According to Caitanya Caritamrita, the expansion of Krsna and that of Srimati Radharani are simultaneous. Krsna expands Himself into various Visnu tattva forms and Radharani by Her internal potency, as multiple forms of the Goddess of Fortune.
HH Lokanath Swami Maharaja and HG Sundara Lala Prabhu were invited for the two day celebration. Many devotees from different places such as Nagpur, Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Khamgaon, and Jalgaon also gathered together to eagerly receive Lokanath Swami Maharaji’s darsana and serve with enthusiasm. Maharaja, who is very dear to Srila Prabhupada, is travelling to every town and village to spread Lord Caitanya’s teachings. Maharaja’s Padayatra movement which travels throughout India distributing Lord Krsna’s name, inspires thousands of devotees. .
Mohini Ekadashi commenced with inspiring mangal aarti darsana of the Lord. Thereafter Kirtan Mela began with fervor. There was a pandal arranged for the devotees. All the devotees were eagerly engaged in various devotional services for the Lord like preparation of garlands, decoration of pandals, putting rangoli, cooking, and leading kirtan. The complete atmosphere was extremely pleasing. Everyone was experiencing a spiritual happiness which was everlasting because whenever a Spiritual Master is coming, it means that Krsna Himself is coming to meet His devotees.
The moment for which everyone had risen especially early soon came to be – HH Lokanath Swami Maharaja arrived along with many senior devotees. Guru Maharaja arrived to the sight of devotees dancing with pleasure at his arrival. Lokanath Swami Maharaja mercifully showered his glance on everybody and we were all blessed.
Shortly thereafter it was time for the Boat Festival on the banks of the river. All the devotees were ready to follow Guru Maharaja. HG Ananta Sesa Prabhu and HG Sundara Lala Prabhu were leading the sankirtan party. All the devotees were dancing. Just as the vibrations of the mahamantra resonated through the whole atmosphere, Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkanathji emerged from the temple. The Lord, protected from the heat of the sun god by beautifully decorated umbrellas, occupied His seat on His chariot which was carried by two devotees. Right in front was the sankirtan party and Guru Maharaja followed by Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkanathji, They were followed by the matajis dancing and chanting Hare Krishna. Guru Maharaja was also chanting. In this manner all the devotees reached the banks of the river.
A huge boat was decorated with endless paraphernalia such as flowers, coconuts, beautiful garlands and leaves. Guru Maharaja placed Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkanathji on this beautifully decorated boat. Guru Maharaja and a few devotees offered different auspicious offerings onto the lotus feet of the Lord. Simultaneously all the devotees occupied their places on the different boats. Even the boats were floating on the river as if they were also dancing to the rhythm of the Hare Krishna kirtan. The devotees were chanting simultaneously resembling dancing peacocks and singing together for the pleasure of Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkanathji and Guru Maharaja. Guru Maharaja’s presence elevated the entire experience onto a spiritual platform and all the devotees forgot everything else. It is said that Lord Vitthala showers His mercy in Pandharpur and mother Rukmini gives Her blessing in Kaundinyapur.
Sandhya aarti and kirtan was sung enthusiatically while Guru Maharaja offered aarti, flowers, water and incense sticks to the Lord. Guru Maharaja then showered the mercy on devotees. One mataji caught a prasadi flower directly from Guru Maharaja’s hands and she generously distributed this mercy to all the devotees. The devotees returned to the pandal along with the Lord.
All the time there was nonstop kirtan. Then HH Lokanath Swami Maharaja started kirtan with his full of nectarine and melodious voice. The holy name from Guru Maharaja’s his divine mouth captured the attention of all the devotees who then started dancing once again. Guru Maharaji was so happy and his charming, glowing face resembled that of Lord Caitanya’s presence. Guru Maharaja led kirtan for almost two hours before taking a break. Taking the cue from Guru Maharaja, HG Ananta Sesa Prabhu and his team continued with kirtan which lasted the whole night. Prasada was served simultaneously to all devotees. Many devotees participated in the night long Kirtan Mela.
The next morning marked the auspicious appearance day of Srimati Rukmini maiya in Sridham Kaundinyapur. The day started with auspicious Mangal Aarti and Lokanath Swami Maharaja arrived for the Japa session. After the japa session Guru Maharaja performed Gurupuja and Darsana Aarti, followed by enthusiastic kirtan and dancing. All the devotees made their way to the pandal for Rukmini Katha. Many devotees arrived on this day. In the katha, Guru Maharaja not only shared the pastimes of Rukmini and Dwarkadhish, but the importance of this pastime was also highlighted. Guru Maharaja emphasised that sravanam (hearing) is the most important and basic step of devotional service to the Lord.
Guru Maharaja said that mother Rukmini used to hear about Krsna and in so doing fell in love with the Lord. So we should follow Her example and that of senior acaryas of the disciplic succession. After this wonderful Katha HG Sundara Lala Prabhu led kirtan and all the devotees danced and relished the holy name. Soon thereafter Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkanathji arrived on stage and the Maha Abhisek commenced. The Lord was bathed with milk, honey and different types of fruit juices. Then flowers were showered onto the Lord. Finally water and tulsi leaves were offered to the Lord. The charanamrita was collected in a big bucket for all the devotees.
All the devotees were eager to partake of the charanamrita and Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkanath mahaprasadam. At the prasada pandal Guru Maharaja served the devotees. Seeing Guru Maharaja serving the devotees, all the devotees were inspired to serve with full surrender of heart and soul.
Finally after receiving Guru Maharaja’s blessings, all the devotees started leaving for the celebration at ISKCON Amravati. We hope that after reading this wonderful experience you will accept our personal invitation to join us in Kaundinyapur next year for the celebration of Rukmini Appearance in association of HH Lokanath Swami Maharaja.
By Dhanashree Sonone Mataji
(Member of IGF Amravati)