Ram Navami

Shrila Prabhupad and our previous acharyas have mentioned three Purushottams(best amongst the men), namely Lord Ram, who is Maryada Purushottam, Lord Krishna, who is Lila Purushottam, and Lord Gauranga, who is Prem Purushottam. In Gaurnaga lila, after Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya realized the true identity of Mahaprabhu as the supreme personality of godhead Brajendranandan Krishna himself, lord Gaurahari then mercifully revealed to him his Shadbhuj roop(six armed form), with two hands holding a stick and kamandalu, two hands holding a flute and two hands holding a bow and arrow, thus showing the importance of the three Purushottams. Lord Ram being the Maryada Purushottam, played the role of an ordinary human being and displayed through his own pristine character and conduct, how one should follow dharma and lead a life of righteousness.

In ISKCON Vrindavan Ram Navami is not only celebrated as the divine appearance day of Lord Ram but also as the auspicious day on which our Spiritual Master and ever well-wisher Srila Prabhupad established the worship of their lordships, Shri Shri Gaur Nitai, Shri Shri Krishna Balaram and Shri Shri Radha Shyamsundar and Lilita Vishakha, for the benefit all his devotees, so that we may serve them in devotion and make spiritual progress on our path back home to the transcendental realm of Golok Vrindavan. This occasion of the installation of the deities is known as Brahmotsav and is of equal import as Janamashtami, Radhashtami and other appearance days of the Lords, indeed it is a combination of all this festivals, for it was on this day that the Lords themselves manifested in the form of the deities.

The celebrations of this festival start the evening before Ramnavami with a Shobha Yatra in which the Lords are taken on a procession throughout the temple compound, going to the various prominent places on the premises and giving darshan to the onlooking devotees, who feed their bumble bee like eyes on the divine strikingly beautiful forms of the lotus like lords mounted on their palanquins, decorated with flowers of variegated colors, in regal splendor and carried by their loving devotees, from one stop to the next where they are offered an Arati and delicious food items carefully prepared with the best ingredients, and saturated with love and devotion, by devotees hoping to please the lords with their offerings, which are garnished by their sweet sentiments. After visiting various places on the temple grounds with tumultuous kirtan, accompanied by enthusiastic mridanga playing and kartals, the lords proceed to MVT where they are offered Gaura arati and more kirtan is performed transporting the devotees to the spiritual realm.

The next day, with the rising of the sun on the auspicious day of Ramnavami, the hearts of the devotees start overflowing with joy in anticipation of the upcoming festivities. After Mangal arati and Guru puja, the curtains to the altars open and the vaishnavas are drenched in the nectar flowing from the magnificently beautiful lords dressed in a new outfit, bedecked with beautiful jewellery and flower ornaments and with intricate designs painted on their divine forms. Thereafter, all the devotees assemble for the morning class glorifying lord Ram and the opening of the temple by Shrila Prabhupad. Shortly after which the Abhishek of all the Lords starts and with it starts an uproarious kirtan, going deep into everyone’s heart and transforming it with endless waves of spiritual ecstacy. After the Abhishek, their lordships are offered a sumptuous offering comprising of hundreds of varieties of delicacies prepared by numerous devotees with hearts full of love for the lords. But the festival doesn’t end here, in the afternoon the deities give darshan in a flower dress prepared by dedicated vaishnavis, who engage their great artistic skills in the service of the lord, carefully placing each and every petal in the right place to create a beautiful outfit for the lords.

In this way the festival of Ram Navami is celebrated with great enthusiasm in ISKCON vrindavan with all the devotees engaging their various skills and natural tendencies in the service of the lord.