for ISKCON News on Jan. 25, 2013
"Kumbha-mela the largest religious gathering issues no written invitation, yet all spiritual seekers come here to meet one another and enjoy the nectar which falls on this day."
On 14th January, 2013, Makar Sankranti (when Sun moves from Southern hemisphere to Northern hemisphere and crosses Capricorn) the Mahakumbha Snana started at 5:15 am. In a rare arrangement of planets Jupiter, Sun, Moon and Saturn, Rahu, Tula after 147 years - the Royal Bathing Procession was a mile long with more than 500 Akharas participating, lead by Naga Sadhus marched with horses, elephants, with bands singing devotional melodies at the confluence of three holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati - called Triveni Sangam at Prayag (Allahabad).
The bathing period lasted for about 11 hours. An estimated 8 to 10 millions of pilgrims took bath on Triveni Sangam.
The temporary tents and canopies were filled on bank of Triveni.
Kumbha-mela the largest religious gathering issues no written invitation, yet all spiritual seekers come here to meet one another and enjoy the nectar which falls on this day. It also marks cleansing of sins besides granting liberation.
The procession of Naga Sadhus is main attraction in Kumbha Mela.
ISKCON devoted started the procession with a unique traditional bullock cart at 7 am. Hundreds of vaisnava sadhus followed the cart of Nitai Gaura Sundar and Srila Prabhupada, and blessed millions of pilgrims and devotees by their melodious kirtan.
This Padyatra bullock cart has been travelling all over India for last 29 years stared at 1984.
The ISKCON Camp at Maha Kumbha Mela is located on Tulasi Marg, sector 5, Mori Gate (under Taragunj Railway bridge), and accommodates nearly 1,000 devotees from all over the world. The dioramas depicting churning Khir Sagar by demigods and demons, the Gajendra-moksha-lila, Ram-Lila with monkeys attract a lot of visitors.
It adds special importance to Prayag (Allahabad) that Srila Prabhupada was initiated by his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in 1933. Later on Srila Prabhupada spent 13 years preparing for preaching mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who instructed Bhakti Rasa Sastra in Prayag for 10 days to Srila Rupa Goswami at Dashashwamedh Ghat.
Srila Prabhupada came twice with his disciples to visit Kumbha Mela for preaching purposes. He emphasized: “The Kumbha Mela is sat-sanga. If you go to Kumbha Mela to find out a man of knowledge, then your Kumbha Mela is right. Otherwise, yad-buddhih salile sa eva go-kharah [SB 10.84.13]. If one thinks that this salila, the water, to take bath in the water, is Kumbha Mela, he is a go-kharah. But the real…, that 'Now there are assembly of so many saintly persons. Let me take advantage of their knowledge.' Then he is intelligent.”
ISKCON is following the important aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s misson in Maha Kumbha Mela 2013 at Prayag.
Besides book distribution and harinama, over 5,000 full plates of lunch prasadam were distributed for pilgrims and sadhus.
ISKCON Delhi has distributed 3,800 of Bhagvad Gitas headed by Raghav pandit Prabhu on Makar Sankranti day.