Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Indian celebrations at BAPS, California

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Radha Dev, Wisdom Quarterly; BAPSchinohills.org (donate)
Enchanting Krishna, Radha, sacred cow and other beings (enlightened-spirituality.org)

The final touches are still being put on the massive complex to promote the "eternal truth" or sanatan dharma of the Indus River Valley Civilization and modern India (BAPS).
CHINO HILLS - The most splendid and massive Hindu mandir (temple shrine) is being completed in California. In faraway San Bernardino county, just east of Los Angeles, a marvlous Indian shrine is having the final touches put on it.
Bringing India to America (BAPS)
BAPS Chino Hills, a religious complex dedicated to Sri Swami Narayan, is expansive. Its main shrine is a marvel along the 71 freeway with its automated-fountain lotus flower reflecting pool. But the interior is nevertheless wholly unexpected -- carved marble (or white soapstone) full of figurines in the Hindu pantheon form an overwhelming cathedral (pictured below). The entire circular ceiling is covered in devas (light beings) and gods, avatars and demigods, heroes and goddesses. There is a second lesser ceiling (pictured above bathed in blue light) rising above intricately carved pillars. If one arrives midweek, one can see imported artisans from India laboring in the sun to carve out each image on the exterior. There is even a rare image of Great Brahma, the supremo, and incarnations of Vishnu and Shiva, and more goddesses than one ever sees nowadays.

The stunning figures in the main shrine
Krishna (Kṛṣṇa) and Radha (Shakti), the all-attractive Christ-figure in modern Hinduism and his beloved consort, are the center of upcoming celebrations known as Krishna Janmashtami (कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी) this weekend.
Incarnations in US: Govindas and Radha
It is an annual commemoration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar (earthly incarnation) of Vishnu. The Buddha is also said to be an avatar of Vishnu, the part of the Vedic trinity responsible for preserving the world, where Brahma is perceived as its creator and Shiva its destroyer.
The festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight, inasmuch as krish denotes dark or black, giving rise to his depiction as a blue visitor from space/heaven) of the month of Bhadrapada (August-September) on the Hindu calendar.
Kirtan: Govindas and Radha return to mother India (BYS)
Rasa lila, dramatic plays or enactments of the life of Krishna, are a special feature in various regions of India, re-creating the flirtatious aspects of Krishna's youthful days as a cowherd or gopi alongside the cow maids.

If one never visits India, a trip to Chino Hills is well advised (BAPS)
The Dahi Handi celebrate this god's playful and mischievous side, as teams of young men form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it. This tradition is a major event in Tamil Nadu, southernmost India. This god, by extension, is conceived as part and parcel of God, who takes on many manifestations. Hinduism is not really polytheistic -- in spite of all evidence to the contrary -- because it is really only this one "God" playing a game (lila) of ignorant and illusion in an eternity of safety and security. The ultimate divinity, however, is impersonal Brahman (GOD or godhead), the endless play of energy behind all illusory manifestations.

The unbelievably beautiful mandir ceiling-pantheon (BAPS)

Is all well? Is there no need for actual liberation (nirvana) because we are, as Hindus and Mahayanists insist, already free and clear of disappointment/suffering (dukkha)? The historical Buddha would certainly not say so, but he does not get much say. He was long ago replaced by an infinite number of other more cooperative buddhas, gods, bodhisattvas, avatars, and mahasattvas. Like Issa (Jesus Christ) who came much later, the Buddha was a rebel. And Brahminical Indian culture and its priestly caste could no more tolerate him than the Jews, Philistines, and Pharisees could the upstart from Nazareth returning from India to begin his ministry.
  • Janmashtami Festival, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013
  • 15100 Fairfield Ranch, Chino Hills, CA 91709
  • FREE all day (909) 614-5000

1 comment:

Summer Jones said...

Wow! Is that what the inside looks like?! I wish I knew about the festival, but I drive by this all the time, as its local to me. I sure hope I get to check it out one day soon.