22nd June 2019 Garlands remind us of pastimes of Radha and Krsna Hare Krsna everybody! Happy to see Padmavati from Holland who has been regularly chanting with us. Holland is about three and half hours behind us, she managed to get up early. I am really happy to see Padmavati chanting with us. Hari Hari! Today is the birthday of Harimurari prabhu . He is a very regular chanter on this conference. He does not chant alone. He is joined by his good wife Padmaradha and their two children Ankit and Prerna. Harimurari is a very responsible grihasta, to have his entire family chanting so early in the morning, every single day. To such a chanter we wish him a very happy birthday. So, I have been thinking of talking about something but when I received this beautiful garland, I changed the topic to talk about garlands and flowers, and the relationship between Radha and Krsna in Vrindavan. There is a prayer of Rupa Goswami that I at times recite during mangala caran. kada draksyami nandasya balakam nipa malakam palakam sarva sattvanam lasat tilaka bhalakam When will I see Nanda’s son? He is the protector of the devotees. He is garlanded with kadamba flowers, I would prefer to see Krsna garlanded with Kadamba flowers and His forehead is decorated with glistening tilaka. Why kadamba flowers? If you have a close look at these flowers, they are very beautiful and have a golden complexion, a golden hue. Krsna loves the garland of kadamba because the colour of this flower reminds Him of His beloved Radharani. He holds the garland close to His chest thinking that it is Radharani. He holds it close to His heart. Also as you know, Krsna is known as “pitambar”. He wears the clothes of a golden complexion because it is the complexion of Radharani, and He feels closer to Radha as He wears clothes that have a golden hue. Radharani likes to be reminded of Krsna and She wears sari of the same complexion as Krsna, which is bluish. Her sari is bluish –so She is known as Nilambari because of Her “nila”, the bluish colour. And Krsna is known as Pitambar. The flowers and garlands play a significant role in Radha Krsna’s pastimes. Generally, the gopis go to Kusum Sarovar (kusum meaning flower), and make varieties of garlands including vyjayanthi mala. They go to Radhakund around noon time (one of the pastimes), both Radharani and the gopis. There pastimes of Radha Krsna take place there. They offer garlands to Radha Krsna. Kusuma-sarovara is located on the holy Govardhan hill between Govardhan and Radha Kunda in the district of Uttar Pradesh. It is on the right of the parikrama path, about one-and-a-half miles south-west of Radha-Kunda. Here one would find a forest of flowers (kusuma) and a full of varieties of trees, creepers and flowers like bell, cameli, juhi, yuthi, mallika and campaka. Radharani would come here on the pretext of picking flowers with her sakhis, but Her real intent was to meet Krsna, with whom She would have love-quarrels and sarcastic exchanges full of rasa. One morning, Radharani and Her sakhis came to the bank of some sarovara to pick beli, cameli, juhi, kanera, campaka and other flowers that bloomed here. Krsna was sitting on a tree branch and by doing so the branch swung very low. Radharani saw a tree with a branch full of flowers. Knowing that she was coming to Kusuma-sarovara to pick flowers, Krsna had playfully climbed that very tree. Using all His weight, He pushed the branch down and remained hidden in the foliage so that Sri Radhika could not see Him. Radhika pulled down that branch with one hand, and was absorbed in picking its flowers with the other hand when suddenly Krsna jumped onto another branch. The branch sprung up, lifting Radharani up. She cried out for help. Sri Krsna leapt out from the tree and caught the hanging Radharani in His arms. The sakhis began clapping and laughing loudly, but Radharani released Herself from Sri Krsna's embrace and scolded Him. They had a good time as Krsna performed this act. He was laughing and enjoying the scene. Jai Radhe jai Krsna! Rupa Goswami, who is a Rupa Manjari knows a lot about Krsna. He explains how Krsna wears garlands. He sees Krsna all the time. He says that sometimes Krsna would wear it like how I am wearing it- straight down. That is one way in which His garland is worn. vaijayantim ca malam Vaijayanti mala is made up of five different flowers. It is so long that it reaches His knees. The second way is, when He puts the garland on one of His shoulder so that He can easily play His flute. The third way in which he wears His garland is on His head like a crown or as part of a decoration. These are the three ways and you can visualise Krsna wearing the garland in three different ways while chanting. There could a lot more to talk about the flowers and garland of Krsna but unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time. The temple is scheduled for gurupuja and kirtana and I will be giving a Srimad Bhagavatam class. Just to wind up this topic a couple of things are still lingering in my mind. It is recommended, its part of commentary of Siksastakam the third verse. trinad api sunicena taror api sahishnuna amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harihi It is said that one should wear a garland made up of this verse, put that around your neck and the chest that is where the heart is. Very close to your heart meaning, you should remember this verse while chanting and at other times. One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly. Something that you wear around your neck is considered very, very dear to you because it is close to your heart. Wear this garland feeling lower than a straw on the street and more tolerant than a tree and offering respectful obeisances to all vaisnavas – we should chant with such a state of mind. There was another garland that I was reminded of once when Srila Prabhupada was visiting America. At that time Tamal Krsna Maharaj was managing the Damodar sankirtan travelling party. He was thinking of offering a garland to Srila Prabhupada. On that particular visit, Srila Prabhupada was to join Tamal Krsna Maharaj who was known for making newer and newer devotees through the sankirtana process. He planned to make a garland of 108 devotees – his target for this garland was to enrol 108 brand new devotees. When Srila Prabhupada joined the travelling party, Tamal Krsna Maharaj offered the 108 souls at Srila Prabhupada’s feet as we offer flowers. He offered a garland of 108 souls. That was the best ever garland Srila Prabhupada had ever received, and Srila Prabhupada was most pleased with the garland. Gauranga! See you on another day or at the temple. Hari Hari!