B y Pankajanghri Prabhu
The fact that people just love to hear stories is one reason why some of the Vedic codes were gradually transmitted in story form, like the epic histories Mahabharata and Ramayana and the Puranas. When such stories concern the pastimes of the Lord and His devotees, they are called lilas. Being labeled Lord Nrsimhadeva’s pujari in Mayapur, I have been asked to recount some stories in connection with Him, but unlike the sastras (scriptures), these “lilas” (pastimes) have no authority except for the testimony of the devotees who told them. In most cases there were no other witnesses. Although I am generally quite skeptical when it comes to accepting other people’s mystical experiences as truth, just too many things started happening recently, not to sit up and take notice.
For instance, during the last Gaura Purnima festival, I called over a devotee in the crowd and asked her to distribute the Lord’s caranamrta to the ladies, which she did. Later, when she brought the caranamrta pot back, she remarked that Lord Nrsimhadeva was very merciful to reciprocate so quickly.
“I was praying this morning that I might be able to offer some direct service to Him, and now you have given me this service.”
“Yes,” I said, “desires are quickly fulfilled in the dham. Just see, the same day you desire, it happened.”
“No, not the same day–the same moment,” she replied. “The very instant I expressed that desire to serve Him, you called me over.”
“Wow! that is amazing,” I acknowledged. “Did you hear about how one devotee’s eye problem was cured at the same time that Lord Nrsimhadeva’s original eyes were placed back, after one donor had bought Him new eyes?”
“Oh, yes,” she told me. “As a matter of fact, I was staying in the same building when Lord Nrsimhadeva spoke to her.” She added, “You know, there was so much energy around that night that nobody could get any sleep.”
Just a few days later, another devotee revealed how Lord Nrsimhadeva helped him. “I was suffering intensely. I could not even stand without supporting myself on the column in front of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s altar. I prayed, ‘Please help me. Take away this suffering condition so that I may serve You fully.’ I then felt all my pain moving up and flowing out of my body. It just left.”
While I was hearing this, I noticed another devotee who had come for the darshan of the Lord. Earlier in the morning this devotee had asked my advice what to do, for she had been afflicted for about two weeks with a severe problem that contaminated her body, that wouldn’t allow her to paint some Deities in Assam, although she had already been commissioned to do it and had an air ticket to go.
“Mataji,” I exclaimed while walking over to her, “Lord Nrsimhadeva is giving instant benedictions. Why don’t you ask Him to remove your problem?”
The very next morning, when she saw me, she said “Thank you so much for the advice! You know, when I arrived home from the temple yesterday, my problem had completely disappeared.”
Some days later another devotee came to the pujari room and told us about a dream, wherein Lord Nrsimhadeva walked and talked with her just like a father. When she asked how she could serve Him, He told her to offer Him some mangoes. It wasn’t the mango season, but she managed to get some, and we offered them for her. This was the year that His Holiness Gour Govinda Swami left his body in Mayapur.
A few days after this tragedy she came again and said, “Actually, I only told you half of the dream. Lord Nrsimhadeva also said to me, “My pujari is very dear to Me, and I am going to take him back with Me.”
“Oh, don’t do that, please,” I fearfully exclaimed. “We want him to stay here.”
“No, I think I will take him back.”
“And after my pleading with Him for a long time, the Lord firmly announced. ‘All right, then, I will take one of the gurus instead.’”
She concluded by saying, “I told my spiritual master about this dream, and he advised me not to tell anyone. But now, because it has come true, I think I can tell you.”
When I repeated this story to my friend, Visvambhar from Carolina, he said, “This is amazing! My wife also dreamed about Lord Nrsimhadeva and mangoes. You see, yesterday, while she was walking outside the Mayapur campus, she saw a jar of mango pickles in a shop and desired to buy them for Lord Nrsimhadeva. But doubting the purity of the contents, she refrained. However, last night, Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared in her dream and asked, “Where are My mango pickles?”
When Lord Nrsimhadeva first came to Mayapur, all the pujaris were reluctant to worship His awesome form. Bhava Siddhi das was particularly frightened and always very nervous worshiping Him. One night, after putting the Lord to rest, he was leaving the altar, when he heard such a tremendous sound that it made his hairs stand on end. Looking back fearfully, he saw that everything was in place. So he quickly left, locked the door and paid his obeisances, praying for forgiveness for any offense he might inadvertently have committed. At the end of that night he was awakened by the shaking of his bed. Bhava Siddhi was sleeping on the top of a bunk bed. So he thought it must be the pujari below him getting up for mangala-arati (morning worship).
However, when he opened his eyes, he saw Lord Nrsimhadeva sitting on his bed. That fortunate pujari became very fearful, practically to the point of panic. As he tried to get up, Lord Nrsimhadeva place His two hands, which felt like the weight of the universe, on his shoulders. “Be peaceful, be calm,” the Lord consoled him. “I have just come to tell you that when you worship Me in the temple, there is no need to fear Me. Please, give up this fear.”
The Lord then disappeared, but Bhava Siddhi began to run up and down the veranda of the Long Building, where he slept.
“What happened?” asked some concerned devotees. But they received only incoherent replies. They started to think maybe he had gone mad or become haunted by a ghost. Finally Bhava Siddhi ran over the the temple and prostrated himself before the door where Lord Nrsimhadeva is worshiped and offered heartfelt prayers. After some time he became a little pacified, and began walking back to his room. “I wonder why everyone is staring at me,” he thought. When he looked down, the answer was obvious: He had gone to the temple in his night dress.
I saw Bhava Siddhi at last year’s Gaura Purnima festival–he is living in America now–and asked him about that incident. “Yes,” he said. “I still have those two marks from Lord Nrsimhadeva on my shoulders. They are almost gone now, but they are still visible.”
He wasn’t the only one to claim to have seen Lord Nrsimhadeva. Once, a devotee from a nearby Gaudiya Math came to offer worship to Lord Nrsimhadeva and told our head pujari, Jananivas, that on Nrsimha Caturdasi (the Appearance Day of Nrsimhadeva), he had been staying up all night chanting. Then, at the end of the night, Lord Nrsimhadeva manifested Himself in his room. It was the form of Nrsimhadeva from the ISKCON temple, and He appeared to be smiling very sweetly at me. My Guru Maharaj said I was very fortunate and should come here and worship Lord Nrsimhadeva.
Another time the frantic parents of a runaway boy, after searching all over the country, finally heard that their son was at our Mayapur center. They immediately came and spent the whole day looking for him, inquiring at the reception desk and from individual devotees, but they were not at all lucky in tracing him.
At the end of the day, during the sandhya arati (evening worship) of Lord Nrsimhadeva, his mother was praying with folded hands,”My dear Lord, the last time I came here, I happily participated in the chanting and dancing, but now my heart is broken because of my lost son, and I find no pleasure in life anymore. My Lord, if only my son could be returned to me, then I would also raise my hands and chant ‘Haribol, Hare Krishna.’”
As these words left her mouth, a figure passed and stepped before her and Lord Nrsimhadeva: it was her lost son. Both parents have now accepted Vaishnava
initiation, started a nama hatta preaching center, and are enthusiastically preaching the Lord’s glories.
There are other stories–some I would be hesitant to repeat, and others that I can’t, having been told them in confidence. The devotees who told me these stories have had their faith and conviction strengthened, and certainly mine was, too, by hearing them. So if others derive the same benefit from reading them–even though they are not sastra (scripture)–it will be most beneficial. They help us advance in Krishna consciousness.