Nathdwara is a town that lives around its Deity. It’s a small town. You’d find it hard to say what the actual population is. When you ask people they give you different ideas, but I would guess around twenty thousand, though there must be an equal or greater number of visitors. Many of the people who live here are priests, temple workers, and merchants who sell flowers, fruit, and vegetables to offer to the Deity.
Then there are those who sell prasädam and pictures of the Deity, others who sell tape cassettes with devotional songs, and others who cater to the needs of pilgrims by providing hostels and hotels, buses, auto-rikshas, and so on. Nathdwara has every-thing a good-sized town should have, but somehow or other nearly everything is connected with the Deity.
The standard greeting here is “Jaya Sri Krsna!” (“All glories to Lord Krsna!”) All about, you’ll see written the words “Jaya Sri Krsna!” Sometimes you’ll also see the mantra of the Vallabha Sampradäya, SrikrsnaSaranam mama (“Lord SriKrsna is my shelter”). In Nathdwara the Hare Krsna movement is well known, so often people greet us by saying “Hare Krsna!”The Rajasthani villagers in Nathdwara stand out brightly. They’re a lively, robust people, with their own language, their own food, and their own traditional dress. And they’re deeply devoted to Lord Srinäthaji.
Early in the morning, a Rajasthani milk seller calls out in a deep, gutsy voice, “Jaya SriKrsna. Jaya VaàSidhäri.” The high-powered devotion of the Rajasthanis and the gentle devotion of the Gujaratis makes an interesting contrast.
At quarter after five in the morning, a shenai band playing over loudspeakers calls everyone to the temple for mangala-ärati, the early-morning greeting of the Lord. The band itself sits on the arch above the main entrance to the temple, playing musical instruments and chanting. The sound creates a spiritual atmosphere as you walk in.
Until some years ago, foreigners were not allowed into the temple, but now they are. In any case, members of the Hare Krsna movement have always been welcome.