By Jatayu dasa (SDG)
Happy birthday Lord Nityananda Prabhu.
Wherever I’ve been or whatever temple I have been in, Your appearance day is the one that is most festive. Devotees are so attracted to You that they spontaneously perform some extra service.
And it is not hard to understand why. Your activities are so magnificently wonderful that anyone hearing them immediately wants to be near You. Along with Your divine brother Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the two of You displayed incredibly exciting pastimes. Your pastimes with Your devotees were always unique where Lord Caitanya’s pastimes focused more on Krsna lila. The foremost for me was Your relationship with Advaita Acarya whom You would playfully argued with.
Of course they were beyond my ability to understand them, yet they still remain exciting. And then there was Sivananda Sena whom You chastised. Activities between You and Lord Caitanya are dear to everyone’s heart. It was funny how You misled Him towards the River Ganga instead of the River Yamuna and how You broke His sannyasa danda and threw it in the river. Under Your guidance the chipped rice festival was organized and there were many times that You appeared like a mad avadhuta. There was always a surprise to read about Your activities.
Although Your activities are beyond my ability to understand I still receive great pleasure in simple hearing about them. Many other devotees also have this same experience and I think that is why there is always so much excitement in the temple on this day. Your appearance day always carries with it a special festive mood that is honored with a drama such as the deliverance of Jagai and Matai. Another activity that makes Your appearance day so wonderful is that the devotees hold a cooking contest to see who can prepare for You the best offering.
The excitement of this activity is unlimited. Throughout the day maybe 30 devotees are running back and forth looking for the ingredients they need to make their preparation. Of course selecting the judges is not at all a difficult thing to achieve. And as the day moves forward all the activities are full of fun. The Abhiseka, the readings and special classes and the bhajans all have their special flavor. Aside from the festival I have many unique moments with You as I serve You as pujari. For years I have done this service for You in different temples.
I served either as Your pujari or for Lord Jagannatha. My wife is also very attracted to You having her own deities of Yourself and Lord Caitanya in her home. The first memorable set of deities that I was attracted to was in the Baltimore temple where I joined ISKCON. But I was not the pujari there; it was in Denver that I found the deities of You and Lord Caitanya that I was most in love with. It was also here that I remember the most heart moving experiences serving You. For 1?? years I found myself kneeing before just staring at Your beautiful forms. You appeared in deities made of Neem wood which were very light in weight. Being wood the deities were not bathed with water but wiped down with a damp cloth. It was the dressing though that was the most fun; fun for You that is. Both You and Lord Caitanya would tease without end. Many times during this period the two of You would play tricks on me which planted in my heart a great deal of happiness.
I was just trying to make You happy by dressing You nicely and so only after frustrating me would You then agree to cooperate with me. One day as I was dressing You I hung several strains of necklaces and then the garland as I usually did. Just as I set everything nicely the necklaces would fall out of place; then I would readjust them. Again they would fall and again I would correct. After the third time I just looked at You knowing that it was You who was the cause. At this time they stayed so I put on the hair piece which I always combed out before putting it on. I took great care to see that the hair curled over Your shoulders. I stepped back and looked, You looked so beautiful. Then it happened, the garland fell out of place. I fixed it quickly and then put on the turban. Done, but no, something was wrong.
I had forgotten to put the hair piece back on after fixing the garland.. I made the adjustments and stepped off Your altar and was cleaning the floor. As I looked up Your necklaces fell out of place. I wanted to get mad but could not because it was just Your love for me. So many times You did such things and one time I even chastised You to stop doing these things. I was happy that You didn’t stop. I wanted to get closer to You but did not know how; it was You though that pulled me closer by such interactions. Thank you. Another time You were playing with me by not allowing me to put on Your hair piece. I tried several times but they all failed. Normally this was not a difficult thing to do so I started to wonder what was happening. But I could not figure out that You again was playing with me.
I just thought that I was doing something wrong. Finally the hair piece stayed with the curls wrapping nicely around Your shoulders. But I was still a little worried what might happen next so I cautiously put on Your turban. It stayed and everything looked nice, but no, You did it again, I forgot to put on the garland. This time I got mad and I said to You, ’stop it, I’m just trying to serve You.’ Of course the other pujaris heard me and this was really embarrassing. I actually have some love for You, it is small but it is there and I want it to grow. I regret to this day having left Your service at that temple. How foolish it was for me to leave. I still remember the warm feeling in my heart as I struggled to put on Your garland failing several times. The garland just would not stay no matter what I did. This time I did not get angry with You but actually became peaceful because I knew that You were purifying me. How You did this I will never understand but I thank You from the bottom of my heart for doing so. Lord Nityananda, You have done so much for me and I have done also nothing for You.
Thank you. What am I to do now? I have chosen this horrible material world and even though I want to leave my attachments bind me tightly. You dance eternally in the spiritual world with Your sincere devotees experiencing oceans of happiness while I rot here. I came here today to give You gifts but it seems I will ask a gift from You, that is, to lift me from this material world, placing amongst Your devotees. Grant me the wisdom to approach You and place my head on Your divine feet and say, ‘This is my home.’ Until then, please be patient with me, don’t forget me, don’t get mad at me as I did You, I’m just a little slow, but I’ll get there.