Sriman conch shell heralds mangala arotik
At the precise moment prior to mangala arotik, Makhana Taskara dasa appears in front of the doors and purses his lips to a white conch shell, held high in his hand, he draws his lungs full of air and trumpets the conch, which blazons loudly over the drone of japa, heralding the glorious and imminent appearance of Their Majestic Lordships.
All devotees take their respective positions in a line leading to the left doors that are soon to open. They prompt Jayananda to take the lead position in the front of the line. Upon the third conch trumpet of Lord Krishna’s glories, the deity doors swing open wide as the devotees sing in unison, “Jaya Jagannatha, Jaya Jagannatha,” loudly, again and again. Some exclaim, “Jaya Gour Nitai!” and some cry, “Jaya Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda!” upon seeing Their Lordships. They proceed to bow down to the temple floor like sticks falling in the dust, for prostration and total surrender to the Lord.
Jayananda marvels at the beauty of Lord Jagannatha, thinking about the upcoming festival and Lord Jagannatha riding on His cart.
Lord Jagannatha is an ocean of mercy and He is beautiful like a row of blackish rain clouds. He is the storehouse of bliss for Laksmi and Sarasvati, and His face is like a spotless full-blown lotus. He is worshiped by the best of demigods and sages, and His glories are sung by the Upanisads. May that Jagannatha Svami be the object of my vision. – Jagannathastaka verse 4
Jayananda fondly remembers that Lord Jagannatha was the first deity to appear in the western world. Malati found a colorful figure with round eyes, and a big smile, in a barrel at Pier One store, in the Fisherman’s Wharf district. She purchased the figure and brought Him to Srila Prabhupada, who bowed down before the figure, and the devotees were amazed to witness Srila Prabhupada do this. Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Jagannatha had chosen to appear in America in this way.
All devotees fall flat in dandavats to receive the grand appearance of Lord Krishna, and His eternal consort Srimati Radharani, Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda. Sri Sri Gour Nitai’s golden forms stand regally upon a golden lotus altar, dressed in beautiful white and purple night outfits, Their beautiful arms extended to the heavens in rapturous kirtan rasa.
Mangal arotik promptly begins with, “samsara-davanala lidha-loka,” the Sri Gurvastaka prayers, led by Bhakta dasa, who deftly strikes a gong, which sets a rhythmic beat, and the congregated devotees respond in sweet melodic unison, with angelic voices and sweet mrdanga, and kartalas resounding.
The final verse resonates in their gladdened ears, “yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado, yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi….”
Jayananda always meditates on the meaning of this final verse, “by the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krishna; without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement…” The import of this verse is Jayananda’s life and soul, his formula for spiritual success; he takes these words very seriously and acts in that spirit with every minute of his day.
After completion of the Sri Gurvastaka prayers, the jubilant mellows of Hare Krishna maha mantra begin to gracefully pore out from the devotees’ lotus mouths into their earholes like cascades of nectar, and the devotees are beaming with bliss. Chanting Hare Krishna and exchanging smiles of deep contentment, the devotees are feeling great joy from being the eternal servants of their dear master and father and guide, Srila Prabhupada.
Chanting Krishna’s sweet names purifies the heart; sanctifies and steadies the mind; destroys the six enemies [lust, anger, greed, envy, illusion, madness]; stops birth and death; dissolves sins; scorches samskaras; annihilates attachment; induces detachment; uproots desires;
empowers one; makes one fearless; removes illusion; bestows supreme peace; delivers prema; reveals the Lord and His dhama; shows one’s svarupa; showers bhakti-rasa; and engages one in his nitya-seva for the pleasure of Radha-Syama. – from The Art of Chanting Hare Krishna
I remember the first time I was there in the San Francisco temple, and that when the deity doors first opened up I was standing right in front of Lord Jagannatha. Actually, the first deities I saw that year were in Portland, the golden forms of Sri Sri Gour-Nitai. Also, I bought one of my first books in Portland; it was “Lord Caitanya in Five Features” which is the 7th chapter of Caitanya-caritamrta, and I read it with great interest.
The part I remember most was how Lord Caitanya sat down in the hallway and became as effulgent as “millions of suns.” The picture of this lila stuck in my head as the wonderful pastime of Lord Gauranga.
After sitting on the ground, Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His mystic power by manifesting effulgence as brilliant as the illumination of millions of suns. – Cc Adi 7.60
Remembering those mangala arotiks, set within a dimly lit temple room, and Bhakta dasa striking his gong, and the beauty and spiritual ambience of the flowing, lightly dancing devotees, and the beautiful ritual of peacock and yak tail fans, and ghee lamp offerings to the Lord, and the song to our master, Srila Prabhupada, and the rich scent of exotic incense offered to the Lord … it all remains fresh to this day. I respectfully offer my full dandavats to the Vaisnavas, who eternally worship Sri Sri Radha Krishna with beautiful arotiks, as a regular daily function, in both the material and spiritual worlds. May such beautiful memories always remain within, especially the sacred images of our dear Jayananda dancing and singing joyfully in those arotiks.
I remember one day we were at the Ratha cart construction site, and Jayananda was telling me about this bar across the street, and he was observing how some men and women were dancing in intoxication and feeling lusty, and some small children were trying to join in with the adults. But, they shooed the kids away in disgust and continued their lusty dance which strongly suggested sexual intentions. Jayananda felt compassion for their ignorance and perverted desire of trying to get some pathetic pleasure from this dance and song. He commented how nice Krishna consciousness was, that even small children can join in with joyful singing and dancing along with the adults.
Humanity throughout the ages has always invented all kinds of music and dance styles, in order to aquire some so-called pleasure. They dance their dance, and play their music, in an effort to reach some state of ecstasy, which is actually the perpetual desire of all souls to procure the original esctasy found in the arotiks in Vaikuntha. But of course, their song and dance always falls short of the real esctasy, which everyone is hankering for, life after life. This is because their material music is only temporary and illusory, motivated by selfish and lusty desires, and not aimed at pleasing the supreme, Lord Sri Krishna. Therefore, it is never satisfying to the soul. When a person is fortunate enough to find a bona-fide spiritual master, only then can he cultivate the real song and dance that will unite him with Lord Sri Krishna and the spiritual world. Jayananda worked tirelessly to help people connect to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and thus find the perfection of music and dance, and obtain everlasting happiness and pleasure in the blissful service to the supreme.
Where every tree is a transcendental purpose tree, where the soil is made of purpose gems, where the water is nectar, where every word is a song and every step a dance, where the flute is the favorite attendant. – Sri Brahma-Samhita
* * *
“And that year I was doing something…Prabhupada came, it was before the Ratha-yatra, and I was standing out in front of the Valencia Street temple on the north side of the front door, right in the front, and Jayananda was walking northbound from the south side of the door. It was the middle of the afternoon, and all of a sudden Prabhupada walked out the front door. I don’t know what he was doing or where he was going, maybe it was to preach to someone. But as soon as Prabhupada saw Jayananda, a huge smile came on Prabhupada’s face, a bigger smile than I ever saw, it was like a smile from ear to ear. And then recently after that I read in the Nectar of Devotion where it says, “When the spiritual master sees that a disciple is making very nice advancement, he smiles very nicely,” and I knew that’s what that was about.”
“It is important for us to know the reality of the spiritual world of the saints, beyond just a theoretical conception. The spiritual world, which is full of spiritual variety and countless saintly personalities, which is beyond our material eyes … that world is more real than this temporary and illusory world we are temporarily stuck in. When we read the beautiful transcendental literatures describing Lord Krishna’s pastimes, and the pastimes of the Vaisnava saints, we are vividly reminded of the supreme nature of the spiritual world, and the power of the saints. And we know from Srila Prabhupada, that the “whole process” is to pray to and connect with these saints and acharyas, such as Srila Prabhupada and Saint Jayananda, and the superior acharyas.” From “A Day in the Life of Jayananda Thakur”
Original post is accessible on Vishoka's blog: