Mixing Murti Puja & Asta-kaliya-lila

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

With the right mood and desire, one can “link” one’s daily murti or Deity puja with the loving flow of Radha Govinda’s eternal daily pastimes in Gokula Vrindavana, the spiritual sky. By remembering the entries below a pujari will be able to link his/her Thakuraji seva with Krishna’s nitya lila. Basically, the pujari will transit between presence and transcendence by linking his body and mind with lila.

1) Pastimes at Night’s End (nishanta-lila) 3.36-6 am

Thakuraji (your murti, Deity) awakens much before sunrise on the pretext of inviting his pujari servants to awaken Him, which They do with the sweetest of songs and the tinkling of bells [mangala-aroti]. In Goloka, Radha-Krishna are resting in the secret bower-house after a night of exotic fun in the forest groves along with Their sakhis. When the pujari offers Thakuraji a pre-dawn snack of sweets and water [balya-bhoga], the sakhis are offering Radha-Madhava a tasty light snack as They lounge lazily upon Their flower bed. The pujari closes curtain after Thakuraji’s arati ceremony so that Radha Govinda Yugala can sneak back to Their respective homes, slide into Their beds and pretend to be sleeping right where Their parents had left them.

2) Morning pastimes (pratah-lila) 6-8.30 am

In Yavat and Nandishvara, Radha and Krishna are awakened by Their respective superiors. Radha-Krishna perform Their morning duties i.e. brush Their teeth, massage, bathe and dress. Then the Playful Pair are greeted by Their eternal associates, who make much celebration of the morning darsana. Similarly, during this time the pujari will bathe, dress, and feed Thakuraji who will then be greeted by the assembled devotees with arati, singing, chanting and dancing [srnghar-arati].

3) Forenoon pastimes (purvahna-lila) 8.36-10.48 am

Krishna Govinda meets His gopa friends and takes the cows out to graze in the Vrindavana pasturelands. Although Thakuraji stays [apparently] in the temple, actually Thakuraji is out frolicking in the meadows of Vraja. Radha watches Her Praneshvara depart for the pastures, and feels very sad in Krishna’s absence. Returning home, Radha plans how to later meet Shyama in the forest. Similarly, the devotees take Thakuraji’s morning darshana and leave for their duties. Though saddened in Thakuraji’s absence, the devotees are planning when they can return for another blissful darshana of Thakuraji Radha Ramana Giridhari.

4) Midday pastimes (madhyahna-lila) 10.46 am—3.36 pm

At noon, out in the forest, Krishna and the boys enjoy a big meal, raja-bhoga, sent to Him by Yashoda Maa. Krishna’s many friends and servants enjoy His remnants, maha-prasada. Thakuraji in the temple is served in the same way. Although Thakuraji eats in private, afterwards He meets the devotees and gives them His remnants.

While Krishna’s friends rest under a shady tree, He slips away to the kunja for a midday tryst and a little nap with Radhaji and the sakhis. Since no one should see this, the pujari closes the curtain so Thakuraji can rest and enjoy His lilas within His private chamber i.e. Deity room.

5) Afternoon pastimes (aparahna-lila) 3.36-6 pm

Before long Krishna wakes up and rejoins His cowherd boyfriends. Collecting the cows, the boys sing and dance while walking back to Vraja. Nanda Baba watches from the goshalla and Yashoda stands anxiously at the door ready with a snack for her Lala. Similarly, the pujari wakes Thakuraji, offers Him fruit and sweets, and opens the Deity door so all the devotees can see their beloved once again.

6) Dusk pastimes (sayana-lila) 6-8.36 pm

In Goloka, Krishna is pampered by Yasoda and attended by His male servants, who prepare Him for His evening pastimes at home. Krishna thoroughly enjoys the evening meal with much joking and laughter, sharing boundless love with the assembled family members who participate.

Similarly, the pujaris excuse Thakuraji once again from the devotee darshana by closing the curtain. Then they personally attend to Thakuraji by washing off the dust of the day, offering fresh comfortable clothes, and letting Him relax for His evening meal.

7) Evening pastimes (pradosh-lila) 8.36-10.48 pm

As Krishna is enjoying majestic shows of talent and skill in the royal theater in Nandishvara, the temple devotees are singing and dancing for Thakuraji’s pleasure. Before Thakuraji takes rest, the priests bring him His evening repast and warm milk just as His mother Yashoda faithfully does in Gokula. For Maa’s happiness, Krishna drifts off to sleep. Similarly, in the mandir, Thakuraji is soothed by the affectionate lullabies his faithful devotees. And just before His eyelids drop, the pujaris close the curtain to take Thakuraji to his resting quarters.

8) Night pastimes (nisha-lila) 10.48 pm—3.36 am

Thakuraji’s temple is closed, the pujari goes home…and unseen by all…Thakuraji i.e. Rasaraja Shyama sneaks out again to join the cowherd girls for a night of rasa dancing, forest rambling and a sweet slumber. As Yashoda, who believes Lalaji is sleeping behind in His room, is completely unaware of what Krishna is really doing all night, Thakuraji’s devotees cannot even imagine what fun and bliss their worshipable Isatdeva is enjoying through the long night “behind closed doors.”

Thus the devotees take rest praying to dream of being with and serving Thakuraji throughout the blissful night until the auspicious time of mangala arati. In this way, one can combine Thakuraji puja with Radha-Krishna’s asta-kaliya-lila in the sweet land of eternal loving play, Gokula Vrindavana.

Radha-Krishna lila ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

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