From: Giri Maharaja
To: Sriman Mahananda dasa B.R.
Dear Mahananda Prabhu,
I was looking for the Math Calendar. As usual I was probably looking in all the wrong places. Is it available for download somewhere? I’ve been using the ISKCON calendar which is calculated for our local time but of course it is not as complete in other respects as our own Math calendar.
Perhaps you could also fill me in on the practices for different festival days as they are followed at the Math there in Navadwipa. For example, I am accustomed to fasting till noon on the appearance day of my direct gurus such as Srila Sridhara Maharaj. I do likewise for Srila Bahktisiddhanta and Srils Bhaktivinoda Thakur. How far do we carry this out? Is it also done for Srila Gaurakishora, Srila Jaganath das Babaji. What about Narotama das Thakur and so forth. What is the standard for determining this?
The next question regards the Lord’s expansions and incarnations. How should Their appearance days be observed? What is the rule here. I know the practice for Janmastami, Gaurapurnima and Radhastami. Others I only know if they are mentioned in the calendar such as Lord Varaha.
Another question just occurred to me. I was told by an Indian man visiting ISKCON that they celebrate the marriage of Tulasi and Krishna. There is an event on the ISKCON calendar listed as Beginning of Salagrama and Tulasi Jala Dana is this connected? Sometimes on our math calendar also, some events are listed like this, which I, who have little knowledge of Sanskrit or Bengali, cannot understand. Like this Jala Dana. Is it possible you could clarify such things in English when making the calendars?
Finally, I know that Tulasi devi is always with Sri Shaligram, Who is Narayan. I have a vague remembrance of the story of Narayan and Tulasi. It seems that Tulasi’s husband was a demon and somehow she was saved by Narayan. I don’t recall that Tulasi married Narayan. Did they marry? Also, how did this story come about that Tulasi and Krishna were married?
Your helpless servant,
From: Sriman Mahananda dasa B.R.
To: Swami Giri
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
Dandavats to Your Holiness,
The Math’s calendar is posted on our website at: http://www.scsmath.com/events/calendar There are also links to it from the foot of most of our individual pages found there. Hope this will be suitable and helpful for you. I don’t have immediate access to the web here in Nabadwip, but I know that the Californian site has (or used to have) our calendar but calculated for California. [for USA/East Coast: Click on “Calendar”]
Regarding fasting, etc. for individual festivals. Yes, the standard is as you are accustomed, but it is somewhat arbitary as to how far along the parampara you go, and who else is included, as regards the half-day fast.*
It certainly used to cover many more days than presently, evidence of the flexibility of current obeservance.
The next question regards the Lord’s expansions and incarnations. How should Their appearance days be observed? What is the rule here. I know the practice for Janmastami, Gaurapurnima and Radhastami. Others I only know if they are mentioned in the calendar, such as Lord Varaha.
Right. That’s what we follow here. Srila Govinda Maharaj likes that topics of the particular incarnations and Vaisnavas be discussed on their specific days. Fasting, though, is not as universal, and is still within that
Sometimes on our math calendar also, some events are listed like this, which I, who have little knowledge of Sanskrit or Bengali, cannot understand. Like this Jala Dana. Is it possible you could clarify such things in English when making the calendars?
Yes, have tried to make it clear for ‘us’, though there’s always room for improvement. If you see the Math’s ‘traditional’ calendars from some years ago, you’ll see various formality days listed (including fasting on full-moon, which none of our Math ever did). Please let me know the specific days you would still like to see clarified.
The Tulasi and Saligram story? I’m checking it with Srila Govinda Maharaj. I do, however, remember Srila Sridhar Maharaj specifically comment about the various _different_ stories recited about Their relationship: different versions are given in different types of the Puranas, etc. according to the receptivity of the audience to whom the story is being directed…. So, I have at least a slight feeling we may not get such a ‘cut-and-dried’ answer from His Divine Grace on this one. Let’s see.
Always good hearing from you and having your good assocaition.
Ever fallen and at your service,
Mahananda das B.R.
16 April 2000
*Editors Note: Srila Govinda Maharaja later made a point to tell me that his preference was to follow the custom of Srila Saraswati Thakura who distributed prasadam by eight AM on the appearance day of his guru, Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakura—bkg
From: Sriman Mahananda B.R.
Subject: Tulasi story – You draw nectar
Date: April 28, 2000
To: Giri Maharaj
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
Dear Spd Giri Maharaj,
Please accept my humble obeisances.
This time, on hearing your enquiry, Srila Govinda Maharaj very happily discussed with us the story of Srimati Tulasi devi:
It was not actually a marriage of Tulasi and Krishna, but it was a ‘cheating’ marriage. The story is that Radharani cursed Subal to come to the material world as a big demon, Sankachuda, and Tulasidevi to also suffer in the material world, and that they would be husband and wife.
Sankachuda was very powerful and he was taking over heaven. At that time the Devas went to Vishnu for His help. However the Lord knew that Sankachuda was so powerful due to the great chastity of his wife to him. He knew that none could kill Sankachuda unless his wife’s chastity could be broken. So Krishna took the form of Sankachuda and polluted Tulasidevi, and soon afterwards Siva killed her demon husband. Later she understood what had happened and then she cursed Krishna that because He is so stone hearted He would become a stone. Krishna happily accepted that curse, and added: “Yes but you will always be with Me. I shall be with you as your close associate. You will be my base, and I shall sleep upon your chest.”
And in regard to your question of Salagrama and Tulasi Jala Dana; Srila Maharaj explained this is a time when traditional Hindus put water to Salagram and Tulasi and they will get much benefit. This usually takes place in the month Vaisak.
In this way we heard the story today from Srila Govinda Maharaj, and are so pleased to share in this reciprocation between you both.
Humbly, with repeated obeisances,
-Mahananda das B.R.
Dum Dum Park Temple, Calcutta
27 April 2000