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Sri Vijaya Vittala descends on Melbourne

It was a momentous day for Shree Raghavendra Seva Samithi, Melbourne Inc. (“SRSS”) on Saturday morning 30th March, 2013 when at around 8-30 AM His Holiness Pujyasri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji set foot for the first time in Melbourne with his team of disciples – Sri Nagendra Achar, Sri Vadiraja Achar, Sri Rammohan Achar and Sri Santosh Achar along with the Puthige Matha manager Sri Prassanacharya. What an ideal day it turned out to be – Sri Vadiraja Swamy’s Aradhana day!

SRSS was formed in 2010 by devotees of Sri Raghavendra Swamy with the aim of constructing his holy mruttika brindavana in Melbourne. SRSS having heard of Swamiji’s achievements in USA and Canada was working hard for the past few months to organise Swamiji’s historic maiden trip to Australia.

The committee members - Dr Usha Venkataraman, Sri Gururajan Nagarajan, Sri Ramesh Rao, Sri Dhirendra Naganur, Sri Arvind Joshi and Sri Sudarshan Rao -  were waiting at the airport arrival hall with bated breath as their dream of bringing Srigalu to the Australian continent was about to be realised. They had made elaborate arrangements for this trip and had released community advertisements announcing the visit. But until the previous day there was no assurance that the tour would happen. The Australian visas for Swamiji and team had not been granted but thanks to the help from the offices of Federal Members of Parliament, visas came in the nick of time. That itself was a very good sign of things to come.

At last the big moment arrived and Swamiji came out smiling with his disciples.  The aircraft had in fact landed prematurely and some of the committee members literally came running with garland in hand and with Purna Kumba to welcome Swamiji traditionally.

Swamiji's arrival at Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne, 30th Mar 2013
It was an overwhelming experience for all present who one by one paid their respects and introduced themselves. Srigalu patiently enquired about all in spite of the tiring journey.

The team then split and collected the baggage in different cars and the destination was Sri Gururajan’s residence for Swamiji to have some rest and start the Samasthana Puja. The priests wasted no time to organise themselves and quickly the arrangements for the puja was complete and Srigalu commenced the puja on Sri Vadiraja Swamy’s Aradhana day.

Sri Vijaya Vittala the 750 year old idol handed by our Jagadguru Sri Madhvacharya to his disciple Sri Upendra Theertha which to this day is worshipped by Puthige Matha, Ashta bhuja Lakshmi sameda Srikara, Udupi Krishna, Kalinga marthana Krishna, Bhuvaraha Swamy, Dhanvantri deva, Veda Vyasa deva were all decorated with flowers and garlands and puja performed by Srigalu.

It was a sight to behold with the priests blowing the traditional jhankat and amidst chanting of sukthas and slokas, Sri Vijaya Vittala’’s journey to the Australian continent began in a grand fashion. Swamiji’s Anugraha Sandesha to the devotees was absorbed by the small number of devotees with great awe.

Swamiji began “Today is a historic day for the people of Melbourne. Sri Vijaya Vittala has decided to visit Australia and bless his devotees there”.

Srigalu explained the reasons for decision to leave the shores of India and cross the oceans to reach out to the thousands of Krishna devotees. “Wherever there are Krishna devotees it is the duty of a Guru to be present to guide, inspire and motivate them to the right path of spirituality and salvation”.

Srigalu then spoke about Sri Vadiraja Swamy on his Aradhana day, how the great saint is a Purna Yathi – a complete saint – who brought in social reforms, wrote granthas, treaties, slokas, and bhajanas and was the catalyst for a reformation in social, religious and philosophical spheres.

It was inspiring to listen to Swamiji speak and devotees felt teleported to the holy city of Udupi.

Sri Rammohan Achar had meanwhile silently cooked the prasada which was offered to Sri Vijaya Vittala and then devotees were introduced to the first of many mouth-watering experiences. Served on banana leaves, the devotees cherished the delicacies prepared in true Udupi style and were left wanting for more.

The event on Saturday was only a precursor to the main event planned by SRSS on Sunday, 31st March for the public – Udupi Sri Krishna Mahotsava. The SRSS band of volunteers assembled on Saturday afternoon at Gaelic Park, a popular venue for holding Indian festivals and started the stage decoration and kitchen preparation in right earnestness. Banners were raised, stage was erected, lighting and sound systems were installed. Sri Ashwin Bindu thoughtfully organised a projector and a large screen so that none of the devotees would miss out on the proceedings. The ladies team had taken over the kitchen with cutting of vegetables and assembling of vessels for the next day. After all, 400 devotees were expected for the event at Gaelic Park.

Gaelic Park wore a festive look for Udupi Sri Krishna Mahotsava on Sunday, 31st March also Sri Vyasaraja Swamy Aradhana day which began in glorious sunshine. The SRSS team left no stone unturned to ensure that the public event was a grand success making sure every request from the priests was met.

Udupi Sri Krishna Mahotsava, Melbourne, 30th Mar 2013

Swamiji arrived at Gaelic Park to a traditional Purna Kumbha welcome and was led to the stage where the mandapa was ready for the puja.

Another history making day as the puja of Sri Vijaya Vittala on Sri Vyasaraja Swamy Aradhana was performed in front of a huge gathering of devotees who had come from all parts of Melbourne. The spectacle left them speechless and they thronged the venue to perform sankalpa for the various sevas organised by SRSS.

Srigalu in his address stressed the need to follow dharma at all times and never to deviate from the path of righteousness even for a moment. He remarked “doing dharma is akin to breathing” as one would never stop to breath so should one should not stop following dharma. Srigalu remarked that the day for Melbourne’s own brindavana for Rayaru and temple for Sri Krishna was not far off as SRSS was celebrating Sri Vyasaraja Swamy’s Aradhana who is none other than Sri Guru Rayaru in his previous birth.

Bhajans were rendered by a group of young girls and boys tutored by Smt. Nethra Srinath. Following that, the feast prepared by Sri Rammohan Achar was served on banana leaves for all the devotees by volunteers ably supervised by Sri Prassanacharya.  

The same day evening, Thottil Puja for Sri Vijaya Vittala was performed which was another novel experience for the Melbourne devotees, as lullabies on Sri Krishna were beautifully sung by Sri Vadiraja Achar and Sri Nagendra Achar in their own unique style. It was an evening to remember.

It was the most memorable week-end for the devotees of Melbourne - when Lord Vijaya Vittala descended on Melbourne to bless them.

By Sudarshan Rao

SRSS Melbourne