Today I am going to work on getting my upstairs kitchen in working order. And part of that means putting up some inspirational devotional pictures. This morning I dug out this picture of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai from Towaco Temple. I took it 11 years ago on Balarama’s Appearance Day.
Sri Sri Gaura Nitai are from Jaipur and have totally dreamy eyes and lips. Lord Nityananda is kind of looking upwards, like he is lost in thought of Lord Caitanya (or at least that’s how I always took the expression). Sashi Bhushan was Their pujari at the time and although I am not quite sure what he is doing these days, then he was completely dedicated to offering Gaura Nitai his heart and soul.
Sashi did every service imaginable for Them, including sewing Their outfits and dressing Them. Gaura Nitai sometimes wore dhotis, but mostly They were dressed in the fullest dancing skirts and most flowing chaddars I have ever seen on Gaura Nitai deities. Often Gaura Nitai are dressed in a sort of static, frozen mood–their skirts arranged in what I call the pressed pata tradition–looking like They are wearing dried leaves. But Sri Sri Gaura Nitai in Towaco were always full of movement and life, embodying the bliss of the sankirtan movement.
For Balarama’s Appearance Day, Sashi took an old outfit and altered it to make Them look more like Krishna and Balarama. My favorite detail was the topknots. Gaura Nitai without Their crowns or turbans is definitely a special darsan.
These were the first Deities I did service for, in the way of menial kitchen labor. Pot washing, floor mopping and vegetable cutting were my tasks. And Sashi’s seva was the first and boldest example I had witnessed of a devotee exceeding normal human capacity to serve the Lord. Hopefully looking at this picture will keep me focused and inspired on all those late night pot washing sessions I have ahead of me.