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August 12, 1999
Janmashtami Events In Cattle Country
A P Kamath in Austin
One of the biggest Janmashtami celebrations in North America is being held every year at the Barsana Dham and Shree Rajeshwari Radhi Rani Temple, the first Hindu temple in Texas, the cattle country. And this year too, the temple is getting ready for a grand celebration on September 4, starting at 6 pm and ending at midnight. Apart from Nam Sankirtan, Krishna Leela plays and bhajans, there will be a discourse by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati.
Swami Saraswati will also present a discourse on September 18 during the Radha Ashtami celebrations that will start at 7.30 pm and will go on for two more hours.
The temple, which also offers Hindi and Yoga classes, is the venue of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America's second Dharma Sansad on August 28 and 29. The Sansad will be attended by Dharma Gurus (spiritual leaders). The first Sansad, held last year at the Ashram of Swami Dayanand Saraswati in Pennsylvania, was attended by 28 Dharma Gurus. (For details contact, VHP of America, Inc, PO Box 441505, Houston, Texas 77244).
Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, 70, born in Ayodhya, took sanyas when he was 21. In 1952, he was offered to be the successor of Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Joshimath but he says he refused the offer since he was committed to the services of Radha Rani and could not live in Allahabad for most part.
He lived in the Himalayas, the forests of Amarkantak, near the Narmada River, Allahabad and Kashi for about four years. Later on he went to Vrindavan and then to Barsana where he spent over 18 years in loving devotion to Radha Krishna in the deep woodlands of Braj.
He says he heard the call to rejuvenate and spread the path of Raganuga Bhakti (divine-love-consciousness) which brought him to America.
Established in 1990, Barsana Dham is the main US Center of the International Society of Divine Love, which was founded 25 years ago. It provides an opportunity to experience the devotional environment that prevails in the Indian ashrams.
The beautiful 230-acre property is converted to represent the land of Braj in India where Shree Radha Rani and Shree Krishna appeared 5,000 years ago.
Areas of Barsana Dham have been developed to be places for devotional inspiration and meditation. All the important places of Braj like Govardhan, Radha Kund, Prem Sarovar, Shyam Kutir, Man Mandir and Mor Kutir are represented in Barsana Dham where the natural stream named Kalindi represents the Yamuna river of Vrindavan.
The holy places and the devotional spots in Barsana Dham have been manifested in such a way that they accommodate all the descriptions of the Bhagwatam relating the stories of Krishna and his playful acts, the temple organizers say.
Barsana Dham is located Southwest of Austin, Texas; approximately 30 minutes from the airport and downtown area.
Directions: From I-35 South, take the Slaughter Lane exit and go right (west). After 8 miles, Slaughter Lane will end in a 'T' intersection at FM 1826 (also called Camp Ben McCulloch Rd.). Turn left (south) on FM 1826. After 6 miles you will see a large sign for Barsana Dham. The main entrance is 1/4 mile further ahead. Turn left through the gates and follow signs to the Temple.
For information about Yoga classes held every Saturday, contact Sanjay Suneja, (512) 288-8833.
Write to the International Society of Divine Love, Barsana Dham, 400 Barsana Road, Austin, TX 78737; (512) 288-7180.
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