It is said in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 7.20-22 that the Characteristics of Krishna are understood to be a storehouse of transcendental love. “Although that storehouse of love certainly came with Krishna when He was present, it was sealed. But when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came with His associates of the Pancha-tattva, they broke the seal and plundered the storehouse to taste transcendental love of Krishna. The more they tasted it, the more their thirst for it grew. Sri Pancha-tattva themselves danced again and again and thus made it easier to drink nectarean love of Godhead. They danced, cried, laughed and chanted like madmen, and in this way they distributed love of Godhead.”
Since Sri Sri Pancha-tattva were installed in the Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir in 2004, every 5 years They have been worshipped by an elaborate and ecstatic Maha Abhishek. This year, 2019, was the 15th installation anniversary of Sri Sri Pancha-tattva and the largest Maha Abhishek yet.
Devotees from around the globe began pouring into Sridham Mayapur in the days leading up to Pancha-tattva’s Maha Abhishek on the 1st of March. Taxis, buses, trains, boats, and even helicopters delivered devotees to Mayapur as thousands flooded the holy dhama of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, eager to see His most auspicious Maha Abhishek.
Preparations for this Maha Abhishek were extensive, and all devotees received the opportunity to participate. 8000 liters of Ganges water were needed for the abhishek, and the water was transported day by day, devotee by devotee, pot by pot, by approximately 2,500 devotees over the course of one week. Devotees were so eager to bring Ganges water for the Lord’s bath that even after the large water drums where the water was stored were filled and overflowing, devotees continued to bring water.
The organizers of the festival spent weeks, if not months, planning and preparing for the event. Their task was not only to arrange for the Lord’s abhishek, but to facilitate thousands of devotees and pilgrims to witness the abhishek. One step the organizers took to allow a greater number of devotees to view the abhishek was the removal of a portion of the back wall of the Pancha-tattva temple hall. This allowed devotees to directly view the abhishek from the courtyard outside the temple.
The morning of abhishek saw devotees crowding eagerly to the temple even before mangal-arati began, eager to see the Lord and to wait for Maha Abhishek. Devotees waited outside the Pancha-tattva temple hall for hours, eagerly awaiting the start of Maha Abhishek at 8:00 a.m. When the auspicious time arrived, the altar curtains finally parted, and the devotees saw the forms of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita Acharya, Sri Gadadhara Pandit, and Sri Srivas Thakura shining golden in Their simple white abhishek attire, there was a roar that seemed to shake the foundations of the building.
Approximately 12,000 liters of liquid were used to bathe Sri Sri Pancha-tattva. Devotees watched in rapture as the Lords were bathed in approximately 8,000 liters of water, 800 liters of milk, 300 liters of yogurt, 500 liters of sugar syrup, 250 liters of honey, 300 liters of ghee, 600 liters of various fresh fruit juices, 350 liters of flower water, 100 liters of coconut water, and 250 liters of water scented with flower essences. The colorful liquids colored the Lords’ forms with various hues as they streamed down Their forms and onto the altar, where a group of young gurukula students continually guided the charanamrita off of the altar and into pipes constructed for its collection.
Each of the Deities was served by four pujaris and four assistants, with the additional help of many of the senior devotees who were present. In addition to bathing the Deities with the many different liquid substances, the pujaris covered the Lords’ forms with approximately ten kilos of sandalwood paste, 20-30 kilos of sesame paste, and 15 kilos of various auspicious and herbal powders which beautifully filled the air and settled onto the Lords’ forms.
For the grand finale of the abhishek, the Lords were showered in what seemed a never-ending amount of fragrant flower petals. The pujaris blissfully showered the Deities with colorful petals from approximately 30,000 roses, 15,000 marigolds, 5,000 dahlias, and 50,000 rajani (tuberoses). A veritable mountain of flower petals rose around the Deities feet, reaching towards Their thighs.
More than one devotees commented that the experience of Maha Abhishek led them to reflect on the fact that Lord Chaitanya’s pastimes are indeed ongoing, and devotees serving in His sankirtana movement are directly involved in His lila. Maha Abhishek was not something of this world, but a transcendental lila of the Lord’s that allowed His devotees to witness and in some way experience the profound ecstasy of Mahaprabhu’s lila. Throughout the three and a half hour event, devotees were led in ecstatic kirtan by devotees such as Bhakti Charu Swami, Lokanath Swami, and Bhakti Vaibhava Swami.
“In distributing love of Godhead, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pancha-tattva distributed love of Godhead.
Although the members of the Pancha-tattva plundered the storehouse of love of Godhead and ate and distributed its contents, there was no scarcity, for this wonderful storehouse is so complete that as the love is distributed, the supply increases hundreds of times.”
– Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 7.23-24, Translation