yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ‘pi
By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krsna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement.
It is solely by the mercy of the Spiritual master that one is blessed with the opportunity to take to the process of Krishna consciousness and perfect this human form of life. He is the one who gives Krishna to us and it is his mercy that is our sole qualification to have received this glorious Krishna conscious life. Similarly, the Krishna Balaram Temple in Sridham Vrindavan is the manifestation of Srila Prabhupad’s causeless mercy upon all his followers. It was on the auspicious occasion of Sri Ram Navami, in the year 1975, when, in order to engage his devotees in the service of Krishna Balaram in their very own abode Sri Vrindavan, he established the deities of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai, the kali yuga avatars of Krishna Balaram, who came to spread Harinaam Sankirtan and deliver the conditioned souls from the clutches of maya; Sri Sri Krishna Balaram, who would graze their cows and jubilantly play with their cowherd boyfriends at this very place 5000 years ago; and Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar along with Lalita and Vishakha, who are the very Lords of our lives and the loving service of whose lotus feet is our only aspiration. Amidst great festivities, Srila Prabhupad performed the inauguration festival of this grand temple, which is one of the two most prominent temples in the International Society for Krishna Conciousness, with the other one being in Sri Mayapur dham.
Today, on the 44th anniversary of the Grand opening, the devotees, being greatly indebted to Srila Prabhupad for having given us this gem of a temple, celebrated the occasion with great pomp and show. After the shobha yatra on the previous day, which marked the beginning of the festivities, the devotees assembled in the temple hall, on this blessed day of the appearance of Lord Ram, for Mangal Arati, to have darshan of the supremely sweet Lords in their new night outfits. After having glorified Prabhupad with the Guruvashtakam prayers and having had darshan of the Lords, the devotees proceed to offer their respects to Srimati Tulasi devi, followed by the chanting of japa in remembrance of the sweet names, forms, qualities and pastimes of the Lord and his eternal associates. Thereafter, the guru puja was performed and the deities then gave darshan in their splendid new attire, bedecked with strands of pearls and innumerable flowers of varied colours. Showering the nectar of their beautiful forms on the thirsty eyes of the devotees, their Lordships bestowed their mercy upon the assembled vaishnavas, who worshiped them with their doe like love laden eyes. Following the darshan, beautiful talks were given by a few of Srila Prabhupad’s disciples, glorifying both, the pastimes of Lord Ram and the pastime of Srila Prabhupad opening the Krishna Balram Temple. After two hours of spiritual discourses, all the utsav murtis from the three altars were brought out to the snan patras decorated with fragrant flower garlands. Accompanied by uproarious kirtan, sung melodiously for the pleasure of the Lord and accompanied by numerous thundering mridangas and kartals, the bathing ceremony of the Lords began with the offering of an arati and various articles of worship followed with the first of the five nectars, namely milk. The blissful bathing of the Lords continued for a quarter of an hour, after which a sumptuous bhoga offering, with various baked, fried, roasted and raw preparations, was awaiting the Lords. An arati preceded the sumptuous feast which was prepared for all the devotees and was relished by them with great pleasure. In the afternoon, the Lords were offered a beautiful flower outfit prepared with great love and affection by the devotees. These festivals are seen by the devotees as glorious opportunities to render extra service for the pleasure of the Lord and therefore they utilize all their energy in making elaborate preparations for the pleasure of the Lords, hoping to please them and receive their merciful glance, so that they may forever remain in their service.