By Deena Bandhu dasa
Last week we were honored by the visit of Jnana Dasa, President of the All India Akhara Association, to Sri Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir. This is the association that governs all the sadhus in India as well as the Kumbha Melas. Two years ago in Ujjain, he approved His Holiness Lokanatha Swami to become Mahant, thus giving us our own ISKCON Akhara and our place in the Royal Procession at the Kumbha Melas. He’s a Vaisnava from Ramananda Sampradaya and is presently head of both the Associations for the Shivaite as well as Vaisnava akharas.
He was visiting Vrindavan on a tour of all Holy Tirthas to discuss with religious leaders how to defeat the proposal of the Uttar Pradesh Government to try to take control of all Temples and Religious Institutions in the state. The previous day a procession was taken out in the main bazaars of Vrindavan and Jnana Das insisted that the ISKCON Kirtan Party do kirtan in front of his float as he appreciates the enthusiasm of our devotees. At Ujjain Kumbha Mela he had mentioned that our devotees may not know all the small rules of etiquette in the society of sadhus, but in the ISKCON camp there is very nice discipline, no smoking, tea drinking, ect. Plus he said there is a very regular program of sadhana in our camps that is appreciated by all the sadhus.
Despite his busy schedule he insisted on taking darshan in Sri Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir. In the photo you can see him taking darshan of Their beautiful Lordships. On his right side is our Vrindavan Naga, Sri Hari Shankar, who worked tirelessly in Kumbha Mela to make Lokanatha Swami a Mahant. At one point before Lokanatha Swami arrived at Kumbha Mela, someone started a rumor that he was a foreigner, to which Jnana Dasa quipped, “You bring me 10 foreign sannyasis tommorow and I will make them all Sri Mahants!” Sri Hari Shankar has been very helpful to us in solving some of our local disputes and has a close relation with myself and Jankinatha Dasa of the Prison Preaching.
Later we entertained him in a room in our Guesthouse with milk from our Gaushala and Mahaprasad Sweets. You can see in the picture myself presenting him with a Harer Nama chadar and a lamination of Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar. Actually he said he wanted to stay with us, but already people know that he is staying at Char Sampradaya Ashram and big lines are coming to visit him. It would be inconvenient for the visitors for him to switch now, but next time he will stay with us.
Along with these photos,the newspaper also published this photo of Aindra Das with the caption, “World famous kirtan leader Aindra Dasa relishing Kirtan Rasa.”
Part of the reason we were able to have Lokanatha Swami become Mahant was that for three years, the previous management was having a wonderful feast for all the sadhus and leading brahmanas of Vrindavan at Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Festival. Seeing us taking afirmative action and trying to develop a relation with the locals had very much impressed them. Last year somehow this tradition wasn’t carried out, and every time I see Hari Shankra or any other sadhu, they always mention it to us. So if anyone is anxious to sponsor Prasadam for all the Sadhus of Vrindavan at Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance festival this year, you may please contact us.
In service of Srimati Vrinda Devi, Deena Bandhu dasa