Finally, after months of praying to Krishna for guidance– and many long hours of blending paper mache, pressing molds, drying them, and having Vrishni assemble and sand Them–then painting Them, and also having Kusha, Jayasri, and Shakti Mati design and create clothing and jewelry for Them–the Gour Nitai Deities were complete. It was a long process, and like all forms of devotional service, one that required many prayers for the Lord’s mercy. And the constant remembrance that we are not the doers or the creators; we are merely instruments in the Lotus Hands of Lord Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada had originally told me that the Gour Nitai Deities must have crowns, so we ordered two crowns from India. They finally arrived, miraculously. And Shakti Mati, our expert jeweler, designed and created beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and anklets from jewelry pieces ordered from Los Angeles.
Since Srila Prabhupada said They should be dressed like “Bengali Gentlemen,” with dhoti, kurta, and chadder (shawl), we designed such outfits using very fancy cloth. We also designed one outfit of soft white Indian cotton, with our own hand embroidered trim, which was always my favorite. Kusha, Jayasri, and Shakti Mati were the best of seamstresses, since all of them were experienced even before joining our temple.
So now our McKinley Street Temple was a beehive of creative activity, with some devotees sewing Deity outfits, some devotees stringing pearls and setting rhinestones, some devotees blending paper mache and pressing molds, and some devotees sanding and shaping the finished Deities. One of Balabhadra’s friends even donated real fresh water pearls for Their jewelry! I did the painting since I was most experienced at that, using a watercolor sponge to create soft color in Their hands and cheeks.
Simultaneously, our daily Hare Nama Sankirtan parties continued to go out to Fort Street Mall and Waikiki, so many devotees were engaged in that way, and new people were coming all the time.
During a recent trip to Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada had instructed me to paint a large picture of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda, in “dancing mood,” and place that painting on the main altar in our temple.
Prior to that, we had Kartamashayi on our main altar, but Srila Prabhupada clearly wanted Sri Sri Gour Nitai to be worshipped as our main Deities. So my large painting of Gour Nitai was now being worshipped on our main altar, and Kartamashayi was now situated on a separate altar in the temple room. In anticipation of the new Gour Nitai Deities, devotees were already developing a loving reciprocation with Sri Sri Gour Nitai by daily arotiks and worship.
When the Sri Sri Gour Nitai Deities were finally complete, and Their jewelry was beautifully crafted, and They had seven sets of clothes, we took Lord Nityananda down to our tiny Temple garden. There, beneath Lord Chaitanya’s Mango tree (the one that regularly offered incredibly delicious mangos to Srila Prabhupada), we did a photo shoot. Shakti Mati knelt down nearby, and I knelt down next to Lord Nityananda’s Lotus Feet, just touching the lotus base. Then we sent the photos to Srila Prabhupada. We were eager to have him come to Hawaii to install our new Gour Nitai Deities!
Srila Prabhupada was very happy with the pictures. However, his response came as a great surprise!
He told us, “Oh, very nice. So now you have done Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda so nicely. So now you should also do Pancha Tattva!”
He then described how each of the Others should look: He said Sri Advaita should have white hair and a white beard, Sri Gadadhar should look very much like Lord Chaitanya but without a crown, and Sri Vas should have a shaven head and knotted sikha, since he was a brahmachary.
He told us that only Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda should wear crowns, not any of the Others. And, he said, “They should all be dressed like Bengali Gentlemen, wearing the Sankirtan clothes as in the house of Sri Vas–dhoti, kurta, and chadder. They should look like Sankirtan dancers, as Lord Chaitanya’s main message was propulgating this Hare Nama Sankirtan movement.”
Srila Prabhupada also told us that the Lord’s opulence is hidden in this Incarnation, so They should appear just like Lord Chaitanya’s Sankirtan Party–singing and dancing in the home of Sri Vas. He also said Lord Chaitanya should always be worshipped as a householder, never as a sanyasin. To see Lord Chaitanya as a sanyasin, Srila Prabhupada said, “is very painful to the devotees. They cannot bear the thought of the Lord taking so much trouble. So he is worshipped always as a householder, with his Sankirtan Party and His Close Associates, the Pancha Tattva.”
After recovering from the shock of the new instructions, we immediately began to try to figure out how to do as he asked. Our expert sculptor/moldmaker, Vrishni das, who now lived at our temple as a full time devotee, had no difficulty modifying the mold. He figured out a way that we could make new forms of Sri Advaita and Sri Vas, with folded palms, as described by Srila Prabhupada. Our main problem now was finding matching cloth for the other sets of clothes, but somehow this also was done. And so we set about making the Forms of Sri Advaita, Sri Gadadhar, and Sri Vas.
More blending paper mache, pressing molds, drying, sanding and painting soon followed. Such was the magic of our beloved Srila Prabhupada. He not only gave us instructions; he also sent others to help us fulfill his instructions. In this way, it was “good for us, and good for those who helped us.”