Swagatam Krishna!

Welcome, Krishna!

by Subhasree Thottungal, UK

“6th Sept 2023 is Krishna Janmashtami – the birthday of Lord Krishna! And Mohanji will be with us at the MCB (Mohanji Centre of Benevolence) in Scotland then. Wow! What an opportunity to have our Mohana with us on the birthday of Krishna!” I was pretty excited with this thought when we were planning Mohanji’s visit to the MCB, Scotland, in the first two weeks of September. What can we do? How can we celebrate that day here in MCB? I didn’t have all the answers. I mentioned this day to Mohanji, and he said, yes, sure, we must celebrate Krishna Janmashtami. 

I knew we must carry some items for Janmashtami from London before we go to Scotland. I requested our dear Jyostna Ben and Pravin Bhai to help me get these items. Jyotsna Ben bought a beautiful baby Krishna (Bal Gopal) idol, a swing, some cute, tiny ornaments, baby Krishna’s outfits, a peacock feather, etc. As we were finalising the day-by-day programme schedule, I had that day as ‘Krishna Janmashtami celebration in the night,’ but I still didn’t have the details of how to celebrate. As days passed by, in my mind, I was getting a bit worried as I still didn’t have the whole plan!

Mohanji arrived on 31st Aug, participants started coming on 1st Sept, the retreat started soon, and I still hadn’t finalised the Janmashtami celebration plan yet! 

This day also had another significance. On Janmashtami day in 2000, Mohanji’s daughter Ammu left her body at a young age. Every year, on this day (Hindu Tithi), Mohanji performs the shraadh (ritual) for Ammu, mainly on the banks of Ganga. This year, Mohanji was in Scotland. Hence, he requested us to organise everything for him to observe this ritual. This was to be a private ritual, a father making offerings to the soul of his beloved daughter, and it needed to be facilitated well with all the proper rituals.

So, as the day was approaching, I focused on organising Ammu’s shraadh. I realised how important this is for Mohanji as a father, and I didn’t want anything lacking in the arrangement of this ritual. Thankfully, a very experienced and respected priest from London came up to the MCB for this ritual and arrived the previous night. He brought all the essential items with him, too. All I had to ensure was to clean the room where the ritual was supposed to happen and keep it ready for the priest. The priest also asked me to prepare a complete meal in the morning to be offered as prasadam during the ritual. 

On the 6th morning, when I took the morning arati to Mohanji, I noticed a deep silence and calmness on his face. I felt Mohanji, as a father, must be missing and remembering his daughter on this day, even after 23 years! 

Mohanji went to the puja room, where the priest was ready to start the ritual. I was rushing to finish cooking the full meal for prasadam. 

At that moment, Kristina told me that Mohanji was asking me to go inside the puja room and assist the priest and Mohanji if they needed anything. This was a private ritual between a father and daughter, and just being there as an assistant with the priest was indeed a great privilege. I quickly took the prasadam with me, went to the room and sat there to offer assistance when required. 

The ritual happened elaborately and continued very smoothly. Mohanji was fully merged into the ritual, following every instruction as requested by the priest and was saying and performing every part with total surrender, concentration, full sincerity and feelings (bhaav). During that ritual, I felt the presence of Ammu, and I could feel her joy, peace and assurance. Ammu was indeed receiving every offering her father offered with so much love. 

When the ritual finished, Mohanji said he was pleased with the way it was organised and how well the ritual was completed. He even complimented me about the prasadam and how quickly I could make all these items! I didn’t know either! However, it was not a surprise for me, as I knew who was doing it all! I surrendered the praise that Mohanji gave me at his feet, as I am not the doer; he is! 

I was still very overwhelmed and in a heightened state of energy, being present in the ritual. I thought Ammu & I might have been connected in the past! Well, I was certainly grateful to Mohanji for giving me this opportunity. I was also very happy and was relieved that this very important function for Mohanji was successfully completed and that he was happy.

Then I again focussed on the Janmashtami celebrations and discussed with Swami Govinda (who was with us during this period from Skanda Vale). He suggested that we carry the Krishna idols and do a procession, going around the entire MCB that evening. I mentioned to Mohanji about this plan. Mohanji suggested that, as Krishna was born at midnight, we should do the celebration in the night starting before midnight with bhajans for Lord Vishnu & Lord Ram (the prior incarnation of Krishna). And at midnight, celebrating Krishna’s birth by doing his arati, singing Krishna bhajans and distributing sweets to everyone with the joy that Krishna has come! 

He guided us with all the finer details, too. His main guidance was to welcome Krishna with joy and happiness, singing, dancing, etc. Then he said that we should take baby Krishna and all our other idols and do the procession the next morning. He even said he would join us for the procession (Nagar Parikrama), too. Wow! As Mohanji gave us all the instructions, my heart was beating faster with joy because this was what I had been waiting for all these days! Now we had the details! Mohanji smilingly said, “Let it all be a great drama!” “Yes, indeed, we will have a great show,” I thought.

I informed all the participants who were still there with us about the plan for the night. Almost everyone stayed back at the MCB after dinner. Around 10 pm, we started the celebrations. Vighneshwara Anna and Swami Govinda placed the beautifully decorated swing with Baby Krishna in front of Baba inside the temple. Baby Krishna’s altar was in a beautiful covering, indicating that he was yet to be born! Everyone gathered, and we started singing bhajans. As the time drew closer, the spirit of all the devotees went higher and higher with joy; many were dancing, too. 

At midnight, Swami Govinda unveiled Baby Krishna, took the idol in his hand and raised it to show us all! We then did a special arati, as was chosen by Mohanji. Everyone offered arati, gently swung Baby Krishna’s cradle and shared sweets. I was totally soaked! Not just with the sweat from all the singing and dancing, but with unlimited joy! Mohana is here! Krishna is here! Though Mohanji was physically not with us at that time in the temple, I knew he was very much with us. His presence was tangible!

You can watch here the Live video of that celebration.

When I took the arati to Mohanji the following morning, I told him teasingly, “You didn’t come to celebrate with us last night; we had so much fun!” Mohanji spontaneously said, “Of course, I came! I was there.” 

After breakfast, Mohanji instructed us on how to start the next celebration – ‘Nagar Parikrama,’ – the procession of all the Krishna idols around the MCB. He gave specific instructions on how to start, where to stop, and which arati to be done; Swami Govinda and others prepared the lamps, etc. Soon, Mohanji and everyone else gathered inside the shrine room. 

Mohanji carried the Shree Guruvayurappan’s idol, someone else carried another Krishna Idol we had there, and Mohanji walked to the Datta temple. He said we will begin from there. The handmade lamps were lit, and Datta arati was done. With bells and mantra chanting, the procession started, moving to Baba’s temple, where our Bal Gopal was swinging in his cradle. 

After reaching there, Mohanji offered arati (a melodious arati that truly opens up our heart chakra) to Bal Gopal followed by the others. I then took the idol of Bal Gopal in my hands and got ready to start the procession around our entire land. We also had the idols of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Sudarshana. 

Everyone took an idol, and another person walked in front carrying a handmade lamp for each deity. When we exited the temple, Mohanji called me to stand beside him. I held Baby Krishna – Bal Gopal in my hands, keeping him at my chest level.

While walking with Mohanji, holding Bal Gopal, the MCB felt like the land of Vrindavan. The trees, the leaves swaying in the gentle breeze, the warm sunshine on our faces, the birds chirping, the fragrance of the lamps coming from the front, and above all, Mohanji walking on my right side holding Lord Guruvayurappan on his head felt like Krishna Kanhaiya walking with his flute on his lips blowing enchanting music. 

Mohanji asked us to keep chanting “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaaya” while we walked, and he was chanting too. Since I was walking close to him, I could hear him chanting, adding to the divine feeling I was experiencing already. My feet were not on the ground, and I was not walking; I was just floating. I had no feeling of my body at that moment.

Slowly walking, we arrived at the “Parabrahma Vriksha” (a special tree within our land, where Mohanji had spotted the presence of Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva and very intense energy during his very first visit to the MCB in Scotland). 

Mohanji indicated for us to stop there and offer arati to the tree. Someone played the Kunja Bihari arati there, and we all sang it together. Since I was standing close to Mohanji, I could clearly hear him singing this arati, too! Krishna himself sang, which truly intensified the devotion flowing from our hearts. Eyes closed, the vision appeared of Vrindavan, Krishna standing under the special Kadamba Vriksha with Gopas and Gopis around him, playing sweet tunes in his flute. Not just humans but the animals, insects, trees, grass, rivers, mountains, forests – the entire universe came to a stand still. 

The air was filled with the fragrance of Krishna! Even though I didn’t know the full lyrics of the arati song, just repeating the chorus part along with Mohanji was ecstatic, devotion beyond all dimensions. When the arati finished, Mohanji signalled us to continue our walk, again chanting the “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya” mantra. Walking through the grassland, the chant coming from everyone together filled the air, our entire space. The sky was beautiful – clear and bright blue. The Sun was shining, pleasantly warm with a soothing breeze. 

After walking for some time, in the middle of the field, suddenly Mohanji signalled for us to stop and asked to play the arati. While we were standing there before the arati started, suddenly my eyes went up to the sky, slightly towards the right side. And I noticed the bright Moon – crescent-shaped. The silver Moon was shining in the clear blue sky with just a few white fluffy clouds here and there. It felt like the Sun on the left and Moon on the right were standing and offering their prostration to the Lord of the Universe! 

Then I looked straight, right up to the end of our land with the natural boundary of lined trees that marks the start of the forest. At that point, I froze with what I saw! On top of each tree, I noticed a shape (unrecognised) with a shining silver lining. After my initial shock, as I gazed at all the trees in that row from one end to the other, I noticed similar silver lines around different shapes sitting on top of every tree! I soon realised that these were not just shapes; these were celestial beings watching the procession! 

Then my eyes went slightly up onto the sky, just behind the trees, and there I noticed a formation of white fluffy clouds, arranged in a theatrical pattern as if all the Devi Devtas (the Gods and the deities) were standing in line to watch this procession. We stood for quite a few minutes while singing the arati, but my eyes were glued to watching this divine vision of celestial beings enjoying this show! After some time, I turned my head to look at Mohanji’s face. With eyes closed, his lips moving, singing the arati song, he was merged in that divine space! It seemed as if Krishna was totally engrossed, his eyes closed and playing the divine tune through his flute. 

When I was standing beside Mohanji, he tapped on my head (at the crown) and said, “Hold Krishna there.” He also kept the idol of Guruvayurappan he was holding on top of his head.  As soon as I put the tiny Baby Krishna idol on my crown, something happened to my entire aura. From there on, I wasn’t myself. I was feeling Krishna. Not just on top of my head or in the idols, I was feeling Krishna right next to me! I captured those moments with open eyes; this vision was unbelievable but true!

After the arati finished, we started walking and reached the Datta Temple. Since the beginning of the procession earlier from Datta Temple, Bal Gopal was not there, and Mohanji told me to go inside the Datta temple and show Bal Gopal to Datta. Aww…. how sweet was that! And like a proud mother, I showed my sweet Baby Krishna to Datta and Anagha Lakshmy. If only I could show my joy, my expanded heart chakra! We did arati there, and once again, I enjoyed listening and singing along with Mohanji, the Kunja Bihari arati.

Then we walked back towards the Baba Temple, and after reaching there, I placed Bal Gopal on the altar. All other idols were placed there, too. Mohanji and everyone did Abhishekam (bathing) to all the idols, followed by the arati to Krishna again. These moments were just filling the entire temple room (and the entire space of the MCB) with a heightened state of energy, joy and celebration. The people present for this celebration did not just include the physically present persons, but all the people connected to Mohanji and our Tradition and even all the celestial beings. That was the feeling in the room at that moment! This place was Vrindavan, and the whole universe was attending this celebration. After all, Krishna himself was there! Everyone was singing bhajans; the tabla was being played, and the spirit of joy was expanding all to the fullest.

Then, it was time for Baba’s arati. Mohanji first offered the arati, and then everyone else offered the arati one by one. After my turn, I came back and stood behind Mohanji. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Mohanji singing the entire of Madhyanna arati of Baba – all the songs, word by word! Wow, I thought in my head, when does Mohanji learn all these, and how does he remember, even though these lyrics are not in his language or Sanskrit! 

Something funny happened during this time. During one of the songs, there was a line which meant, “Baba, I am offering you total prostrations”. Mohanji tapped my shoulder and signalled me to do this, so every time this line came, I kept kneeling down and offering prostration on the ground to Baba. And Mohanji was smiling (teasing smile!). After that, one more song came, and there was also a line that meant offering pranams (but not really full prostration on the ground), but Mohanji tapped my shoulder again, and as I was about to kneel down, he smiled and indicated that it was not needed! I realised that Krishna was playing with me! Naughty Krishna! As always. 

Well, we finished the arati, took Baba’s blessings, took our Guru Mohanji’s blessings, and it was time for lunch. While having lunch and afterwards, Mohanji was quite cheerful and joyful, in a relaxed mood, contrary to how he was the previous morning. He was a serious father then and now the joyful Krishna!

I was still in a state with the heart chakra opened fully. Maybe this is exactly how everyone around Krishna in Vrindavan must always feel! Krishna was born – not just in rituals, but in our hearts, filling us with the divine love that is unfathomable, incomprehensible, and immeasurable.

I still can’t believe we had this privilege to experience Krishna, in flesh and blood, LIVE! Well, all I could say at that moment was, “Swagatam! Swagatam Krishna. Welcome to this abode; this body, this mind, this soul, make this your Vrindavan!”

Love you, Krishna; love you, my enchanting Mohana (Mohanji, my eternal Guru).


Edited & Published by – Testimonials Team, 7th October 2023


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1 thought on “Swagatam Krishna!”

  1. Such a grand experience, thank you for reminding me of that precious time .
    I was very fortunate to be there with Mohanji and you, Subhasree. I have been humming that Aarti Kunjabihari Ki ever since repeatedly😇 not only is it catchy, but the whole experience was out of this world and it is imprinted deeply in me. 🙏

    Carrying the idol of Lord Jagganath walking with our Lord of the Universe Mohanji (He is that to many of us) was truly a blessing I can’t really understand the magnitude of.

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