Five hundred years ago Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu spent considerable time at Varanasi staying in the house of Tapan Misra. While there he delivered Prakasananta Saraswati and his followers. He also regularly visited the deity of Bindu Madhava and bathed daily in the sacred Ganges.
February 2, 2019: Meeting With Sadhus At Kumbha Mela
Indradyumna Swami Maharaja’s seva at the Kumbha Mela in Prayag is to meet prominent sadhus and spiritual leaders. Yesterday with the help of Pundrik Goswami from the Radha Raman temple in Vrindavan, Maharaja met with Rajendra Das Ji Maharaja a well known sadhu also from Vrindavan. We discussed ISKCON’s growth around the world. He was amazed to hear that Srila Prabhupada went to Russia in the 1970’s and how there are now many thousands of devotees there as a result. When Indradyumna Swami told him that a google search reveals that Prabhupada’s books now appear in 10 of Russia’s official languages and that eleven million copies of Bhagavad Gita have been distributed he just shook his head in amazement.
Swami Avdheshanand is the leader of one million renunciates called Naga Babas. The Naga Babas are given the privilege of being the first to bath in the Ganges at Kumbha Mela. But before they bath, their guru Swami Avdheshanand bathes. When Indradyumna Swami met him yesterday he said, “Oh yes, I know you. We have met several times before. Your movement is spreading all over the world, creating a genuine spiritual revolution. It is most wonderful what your Prabhupada has done!” It is deeply satisfying to hear so many spiritual leaders speak highly of Srila Prabhupada’s achievements.
Continuing with his meeting of sadhus at Kumbha Mela, Indradyumna Swami and Pundrik Goswami spent several hours with Swami Chidananda of Parmarth Niketan from Rsikesh this morning. Upon hearing the glories of Srila Prabhupada and Vrindavan he spontaneously offered his help in renovating several holy places in the dhama. It was an amazing offer and they will be keeping in close touch. Indradyumna Swami and Chidananda Swami warmly embraced as they parted!
Yesterday Indradyumna Swami went to take bath at the sangam. The confluence of three rivers in Prayag Raj is known as the Triveni Sangam. Tri means “three” and veni refers to a braid. Sangam means “union.” The dark blue and black Yamuna flows swiftly into the white and gray Ganges. The sacred river Sarasvati flows underground.
Bathing in any of these sacred rivers is purifying but the purification is said to increase a hundred times where the rivers meet. The Varaha Purana states: “In Prayag there is the Triveni. By bathing there one goes to heaven and by dying there one gets liberation. It is the king of all tirthas [holy places of pilgrimage] and is dear to Lord Vishnu.”
To get to the sangam one must navigate through a tangled assortment of boats all heading back and forth to the sacred bathing area.
Yesterday evening Indradyumna Swami Maharaja met with Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art Of Living Foundation with centers in 156 countries. Maharaja spoke to him of ISKCON’s success in spreading Krsna consciousness in the United States and mentioned, in particular, the annual Sadhu Sanga Retreat which takes place in Ravi Shankar’s large retreat center in Boone, North Carolina each spring. He was very impressed that over 2,000 devotees come together for 3 days of kirtan and katha during the event. In appreciation, he kindly gave Maharaja a gift of a beautiful silk chaddar. So nice to be sharing our movement’s accomplishments around the world with the spiritual leaders of India. It is all the mercy of Srila Prabhupada.
Today the High Court Judge of Prayagraj came to Kumbha Mela. Indradyumna Swami met him along with Pundrik Goswami. Goswami spent much of the time telling him how our movement is spreading in Russia and China. The High Court judge was very impressed. Goswami concluded by telling him about Krsna’s Village of Peace at the Polish Woodstock. He went so far as to invite him for this summer’s Woodstock Festival on August 2 and 3. Who knows? Perhaps he’ll come. Lord Caitanya’s samkirtan movement is full of so many wonderful surprises.
As America’s Super Bowl plays out and the UK debates Brexit Indradyumna Swami is on his way at this very moment with 64 million people to bathe in the Ganges at the Triveni Sangam on Mauni Amavasya Shahi Snan, the most auspicious day of Kumbha Mela 2019. May the whole world be blessed by this great yajna.
The following photos are an attempt to capture the mood of Kumbha Mela in Prayagraj 2019. With an estimated total of 120 million people in attendance over 7 weeks it’s only a drop in the ocean of the story of one of the largest religious gatherings ever on the planet.