Dear friends and devotees,
Please accept my best wishes on the auspicious occasion of Sri Krishna Janmastami. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and to Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna.
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ’rjuna
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”
Krishna Janmastami is a special opportunity for us to hear about, meditate on, and appreciate the transcendental nature of Lord Krishna’s appearance and activities.
Two days before Janmastami in 1976, at Hare Krishna Land Juhu, Bombay, the devotees were preparing a performance of a drama: The Appearance of Lord Krishna. We had made a stage in the area of the darsana mandapa in the new temple and set out rows of chairs amid the construction work and scaffolding. Srila Prabhupada had heard that the devotees were rehearsing, and he wanted to see the play before departing for Hyderabad. Jagat Purusa was the organizer and was playing Kamsa; Ananga-manjari was playing Devaki; Bhaya Hari was playing Vasudeva; and Achyutananda, plucking the strings of a tambura (representing a vina), was playing Narada Muni. The first act ended with King Kamsa rolling on the floor in madness at the impending appearance of the Lord.
Prabhupada enjoyed the performance and applauded enthusiastically, and as was common at the end of ISKCON dramas, the performance concluded with the devotees and the audience chanting Hare Krishna together in kirtan. At that point Prabhupada left for the airport. Seeing him go, devotees jumped down from the stage and began to chase after him.
Although Prabhupada’s car had left first, some devotees managed to arrive at the airport before him. When he stepped out onto the curb, he found Ananga-manjari and Aditya dasi there, shouting “Jaya Prabhupada! Jaya Prabhupada!” Ananga-manjari was still in costume as Devaki, in an ornate wedding sari, her makeup now smeared by tears shed at the thought that this might be the last time she would see Prabhupada. Prabhupada smiled broadly as the women offered their obeisances, and, as they jumped up and down in bliss, he proceeded into the airport.
“Prabhupada stood there for the longest time,” Ananga Manjari later recalled, “leaning on his cane and smiling at me, practically laughing. When he had moved on, Aditya said, ‘Did you see how he looked at you and smiled at you?’ And I thought, ‘This is the perfection of my life: I entertained him!’ ”
Two days later, in Hyderabad, Prabhupada asked Saurabha, “What news from Bombay?”
“The festival was a great success.” Saurabha replied. “For the last two days, approximately twenty thousand people must have come. The place was packed. People were everywhere. They were sitting everywhere, even on the balconies and in the scaffolding. It was so crowded.”
“The press and the television people came?” Gopal Krishna asked. “Every year the television comes. They televised this?”
“The film news,” Saurabha answered, “for the abhiseka ceremony, which lasted about an hour, up till one o’clock. And everyone remained. There were thousands of people. They were just everywhere.”
Ten days thereafter, I was with Prabhupada for a morning walk in Delhi, and I informed him that there was a lot of enthusiasm for Krishna consciousness in Bombay. “Just due to this Janmastami,” I said, “we made about fifteen or twenty life patron members. They just keep coming, saying, ‘I visited your festival.’ Then they arrange other programs for us and become patron members. And newspaper people also are starting . . .”
“Giving some coverage,” Prabhupada said.
“Good coverage,” I confirmed. “The Free Press Journal wants to make a two-page feature with pictures all about our activities.”
So Krishna Janmastami is an occasion for us not only to deepen our own appreciation of Krishna consciousness but also to share the benefits of Krishna consciousness with others—by Srila Prabhupada and Lord Sri Krishna’s grace.
We wish you all success.
Your aspiring servant,