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A108-AI

2017.03.21 (Michael Safi and agencies, The Guardian) Indian court cites the Whanganui in New Zealand as example for according status to two rivers considered sacred.

The Ganges river, considered sacred by more than 1 billion Indians, has become the first non-human entity in India to be granted the same legal rights as people.

A court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand ordered on Monday that the Ganges and its main tributary, the Yamuna, be accorded the status of living human entities.

The decision, which was welcomed by environmentalists, means that polluting or damaging the rivers will be legally equivalent to harming a person.

The judges cited the example of the Whanganui river, revered by the indigenous Māori people, which was declared a living entity with full legal rights by the New Zealand government last week.

Judges Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh said the Ganges and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries would be “legal and living entities having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities”.

The court in the Himalayan resort town of Nainital appointed three officials to act as legal custodians responsible for conserving and protecting the rivers and their tributaries. It ordered that a management board be established within three months.

The case arose after officials complained that the state governments of Uttarakhand and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh were not cooperating with federal government efforts to set up a panel to protect the Ganges.

Himanshu Thakkar, an engineer who coordinates the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, said the practical implications of the decision were not clear.

“There are already 1.5bn litres of untreated sewage entering the river each day, and 500m litres of industrial waste,” he said.

“All of this will become illegal with immediate effect, but you can’t stop the discharge immediately. So how this decision pans out in terms of practical reality is very unclear.”

Indian courts have been critical of three decades of government efforts to clean up the Ganges, a 2,500km waterway named after the Hindu goddess Ganga. The latest cleanup initiative has set 2018 as its deadline, one that water ministry officials have reportedly conceded is unlikely to be met.

Thakkar said Monday’s decision could be an effort by courts to broaden their scope for intervention in the river’s management. “[The] government has been trying to clean up the river by spending a lot of money, putting in a lot of infrastructure and technology, but they aren’t looking at the governance of the river,” he said.

He gave the example of the Yamuna, which is monitored by 22 sewage treatment plants in Delhi. “But none of them are functioning according to their design in terms of quantity and quality, and we don’t know the reason,” he said.

“You need a simple management system for each of the plants and give independent people the mandate to inspect them, question the officials and have them write daily and quarterly reports so that lessons are actually learned.”

Environmental activists say many rivers in India have become dirtier as the economy has developed, with city sewage, farming pesticides and industrial effluents freely flowing into waterways despite laws against polluting.

The Yamuna is the main tributary of the Ganges that officials say is tainted with sewage and industrial pollution. In some places, the river has stagnated to the point that it no longer supports life. Water from the Yamuna is treated chemically before being supplied to Delhi’s nearly 19 million residents as drinking water.

In New Zealand, the local Māori iwi, or tribe, of Whanganui in the North Island had fought for the recognition of their river – the third largest in New Zealand – as an ancestor for 140 years.

Last Wednesday, hundreds of tribal representatives wept with joy when their attempt to have their kin awarded legal status as a living entity was passed into law.

“We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that, from our perspective, treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as an indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management,” said Gerrard Albert, the lead negotiator for the iwi.

 

A108-AI

All I have belongs to You

This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the twelfth vartaSee previous.

Varta 12

The story of Manikchand Kshatriya, who lived in Agra

*bhaav-prakash*

Manikchand is a devotee with a tamasi disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Ragini. She manifests from Champakalata and is a form of her divine loving sentiment. Ragini has a Sakhi named Anuragini and she became his wife.

In a part of Agra named Gopalpura there were two Kshatriya families living nearby. These two were born into these two houses. The two families were very friendly to each other and therefore decided to get their son and daughter married together. They did this when the two had grown up a bit. Manikchand’s father worked in the King’s palace and amassed a lot of wealth. When his father died Manikchand also worked for the king.

*Part 1*

One day Sri Gusainji set off for Adel from Sri Nathdwara [Jatipura]. In Agra a family of Vaishnavas lived in a house behind that of Manikchand. Sri Gusainji stopped off there.

It was the hot season and so Sri Gusainji was sitting up on the roof where the window looked out onto the market. Directly opposite this was Manikchand’s house. Manikchand’s wife had gone up onto her roof. From there she caught sight of Sri Gusainji who appeared to her as the most blissful manifestation of the Lord Himself with His Face, hands and Feet etc. Simply through the effect of having his sight she began to feel tired and then lost all consciousness of her body.

When Manikchand came home from work he asked the maid where his wife was. She replied that she was sitting up on the roof. He also went up there, but she was not aware of his arrival. Her vision was totally fixed on Sri Gusainji’s form.

She then spoke to her husband, “Look! The Supreme Lord is sitting over there.” Hearing these words of his wife, Manikchand also felt weak as he also stared at Sri Gusainji’s form.

Sri Gusainji stayed there for a few hours into the night and then he went to take rest. The two of them stayed standing there and kept looking at Sri Gusainji. Then Manikchand came round and said to his wife, come on, let’s get on now.

She said, “Now where else is there to go?”

They stayed sitting there the whole night. When morning came they performed their daily ablutions, bathed and went over to Sri Gusainji, bowed to him and entreated him, “O, Maharaj! Please fulfill us!”

Sri Gusainji blessed them by giving them the Name initiation and the Brahma Sambandha. At that very moment, Manikchand sang this celebratory poem to Sri Gusainji.

*Raag Dev Gandhaar*

In all the four Ages You uphold the promises of the Vedas.
Whenever the righteous Way dwindles,
You Yourself manifest.
In the Satya Age You came as the divine boar
and split the demon Hiranyaksha’s chest.
In the Treta Age You were Ram in Dasarathas home
and wiped out Ravan’s race.
In the Dwapar Age you saved the Land of Braj from drowning,
and Indra fell at Your Feet
You killed Kamsa and all his demon entourage and thus
relieved the burden of the world.
Now You have manifested in Sri Vallabh’s line
and defeated the impersonalist philosphers.
Manikchand the poet now says,
“I have seen Your divine Form in Sri Gusainji.”

Manikchand then sang many such poems before Sri Gusainji. In them he describes how he sees the Supreme Lord within Sri Gusainji.

Manikchanand was firmly fixed on this vision of Sri Gusainji. Seeing this, Sri Gusainji was very pleased with him. Manikchand requested Sri Gusainji to grace his home. He did, and stayed there for three days.

Afterwards when Sri Gusainji was about to set off to return to Adel, the couple stood outside their house dressed in very simple clothes. Manikchand said to Champabhai, “Please take away whatever there is in this house. It all belongs to Sri Gusainji.” When his horse had gone to the stable and the goods were all tied on to the camels he made the offering to Sri Gusainji. He gave everything he owned.

Sri Gusainji then invited the couple to partake of Prasad there. Sri Gusainji stayed there an extra three days. On the fourth day he set off for Adel.

Manikchand gave one camel’s rope to his wife and held one rope himself and they walked together with the party. Quite a lot of stuff remained in Manikchand’s home. They sold it all for 76000 rupees.

The two of them accompanied Sri Gusainji for some distance outside the village. The camels were up front. Sri Gusainji took some time to say goodbye to all the Vaishnavas present. Then his palanquin caught up with the camels. Sri Gusainji then asked his personal servant who the lady was who was walking with the camel. He answered that she was Manikchand’s wife. Sri Gusainji stopped the camel and his palanquin in that very place and then asked the man again where Manikchand was. He answered that Manikchand was walking behind.

Sri Gusainji called him to his side and told him to turn round and go home. Manikchand kept quiet.

But his wife spoke up and said, “O, Maharaj, just where should we go? We have no other shelter than your lotus feet.” He tried to make her understand in so many ways and told her again to turn home.

She said, “O, My master. Please give me some service in your home for me to do. I will even collect cowdung and make patties out of it. But we have no other place to go. If you don’t want me to come with you then please just sell me and take my price with you. To whomsoever you sell me, I shall serve them well, but I no other shelter than yourself.”

Sri Gusainji tried to persuade her but she would not listen. Sri Gusainji then said, “I need to ask something from you” She replied, “But I have nothing left, what can I give you? I only have his body left and that already belongs to you. Do whatever you wish to me, but I have nothing else to give.” Sri Gusainji then spoke to Manikchand, “Please listen to what I have to say.” In this way Sri Gusainji conveyed the message to his wife that she should go home and make Seva there. He instructed Manikchand to do some type of business.

Manikchands wife then said, “But I do not know how to make Seva.” Manikchand asked what kind of business he should conduct. “I have no funds”, he said. Sri Gusainji’s store manager was standing next to him. Sri Gusainji asked him whether Manikchands donations had reached the store yet. The store manager replied that a donation of 76,000 rupees had been deposited from Manikchand. “They also kept absolutely nothing at home” he revealed.

Sri Gusainji asked Manikchand how much he would need to start up a business and he replied that he could start with ten thousand rupees. Sri Gusainji instructed the store manager to give Manikchand 10,000 rupees. Manikchand objected, “But, O, Maharaj, how can I take your wealth?” Sri Guainji told him, “Take this money and use it to earn more. Then you can send this money back!”

Manikchand again asked, “But, O, Maharaj! If I take this money from you I will have a loan hanging over my head. Should I then make business with that money? The body is impermanent. If I die without paying that money back then I will have that loan on my head. Therefore I do not feel that I should use your money for business.”

Sri Gusainji said, “Please do earn money from this loan. It will never be considered as a debt hanging over you.” After this, Sri Gusainji instructed Manikchand’s wife, “Please accept whatever I give you. I am very happy with you. I promise you that, where I usually stay in Sri Nathdwara for five months every year, now I will spend four months there and one month, when I am traveling to and from there, I will reside in your house.”

Having received these orders, Manikchand came home. Sri Gusainji gave Manikchand one Deity of Child Krishna for them to serve. Sri Gusainji showed Manikchand’s wife how to make the Seva for some days and then, whilst he was making the Seva, both husband and wife would stand and observe.

Sri Gusainji thus taught Manikchand everything he needed to know about Seva. They both began to serve most lovingly. Manikchand began to earn money using the funds he had been given. They lived off a quarter of the earnings and put three quarters away as savings. They soon earned back the loaned amount. When Sri Gusainji came to their home they placed the ten thousand rupees in a money pouch before Sri Gusainji.

Manikchand requested him to accept it so that he was now free of debt. “I now have, through your blessings, enough funds with which to make business. I wish to no longer keep the loaned money.” Sri Gusainji was very pleased with Manikchand and said, “King Bali also made an offering but Manikchand’s offering is different.”

*bhaav-prakash*

A doubt may arise here – King Bali also made an offering to the Lord and he took nothing back. Manikchand took money out of his offering to make business with and in this way paid off the loan. How could this be called an offering? Because King Bali made his offerings according to the ways of the Path of Lawful Limitations. The Lord accepted and took the offerings. Things that are thus offered can never be taken back. In the case of Manikchand he made the offerings according to the ways of the Path of Grace, with love only. It was done in the same way that, in the world, a master and his servant should interact.

Sri Acharyaji has written in his ‘Siddhant Rahasya Treatise’,

“Therefore, at the start of any undertaking, everything should be offered up. The teachings that ‘that which has been given all belongs to the Lord and cannot ever be accepted as His Prasad’ belongs to another Path. The higher realization is perfected just as in the world a servant perfects his relationship with his master.”

Therefore Manikchand borrowed money as if it were a worldly transaction. And that too under Sri Gusainji’s instruction. His dedication was thus perfected. This is the way to look at this.

*Part 2*

[This story is taken from Krishna Bhatt’s book]

Once it was the wedding of Manikchand’s son. Manikchand wrote an invitation to Sri Gusainji and then welcomed him into his home. Sri Gusainji came to Agra from Gokul. After some days it was Sri Gokulnathaji’s birthdy. Sri Gusainji wrote and sent a letter to Sri Giridharji in Gokul saying, “Please make the arrangement for the celebration of Vallabh’s [Sri Gokulnathaji’s] birthday. I will return after this wedding.” When the wedding was over, Sri Gusainji took his leave of Manikchand and went back to Gokul. So great was Sri Gusainji’s grace upon Manikchand.

Thus concludes Varta 12, the story of Manikchand and his wife who were great recipients of Sri Gusainji’s grace and accomplished Vaishnavas. In truth there is no end to their story.

 

A108-AI

Seeing that his son, the Lord of Braj Sri Nanda Maharaj, had no son of his own, grandfather Parjanya Gopa engaged in worship of Sri Nārāyaṇa by ardently fasting, so that he could get a grandson (Sri Krishna) who would be the abode af all great qualities, who could destroy the demons and lift the Govardhana hill. This world-famous pool named Kṣuṇṇāhāra Taḍāga is my shelter.

VERSE 60:

parjanyena pitāmahena nitarām ārādhya nārāyaṇaṁ
tyaktvāhāram abhūd aputraka iha svīyātmaje goṣṭhape
yatrāvāpi surāri-hā giridharaḥ pautro guṇaikākaraḥ
kṣuṇṇāhāratayā prasiddham avanau tan me taḍāgaṁ gatiḥ

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā:  In this verse Kṣuṇṇāhāra Taḍāga is praised. Seeing that Sri Nanda had no son Sri Parjanya Gopa, the grandfather of Sri Krishna and the father of Sri Nanda, performed penances in the form of fasting to please Lord Nārāyaṇa. He prayed to Sri Nārāyaṇa’s lotus feet: “May Sri Nanda obtain a son, who is the abode of all attributes and who can destroy the demons and thus delight the world!”

Krishna cannot be obtained through penance. Sri Nanda and Yashoda are Sri Krishna’s eternally perfect parents and Sri Krishna is also eternally Sri Nanda’s son. In the prakaṭa-līlā Sri Krishna advented as Nanda and Yashoda’s son, but that was merely caused by their eternally perfect parental love for him. In the worldly custom, though, everyone thinks that Sri Nanda-nandan is the result of Nanda’s father Parjanya Gopa’s harsh austerities of fasting on the bank of the Kṣuṇṇāhāra Taḍāga.

This is the sweetness of the worldly or human-like pastimes. All the Brajwasis know that, and Sri Nanda Maharaj also thinks that this bhuvana sundara (the world’s most beautiful) child Sri Krishna, who is the reservoir of all great attributes and who is able to kill the demons and lift mountains, is the benefit of father Parjanya’s worship of Lord Nārāyaṇa. What’s more, when Sri Krishna is playing at Kṣuṇṇāhāra Sarovara and he hears from the people that his grandfather had performed penances there by fasting for a long time to get him as a grandson, and that it was therefore called Kṣuṇṇāhāra Sarovara, his heart is humbled by great devotion and respect for his grandfather and he considers himself greatly honoured.

Blessed is the love of Braj and the Lord’s complete subjugation to this love! That Original Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, as a result of worshipping whom all the people of the world are blessed by attaining the fulfillment of all their desires, that Lord, who embodies all the Vedic scriptures, sees himself as the result of the penances of his grandfather Parjanya and is proud of it. Only in Braj the Lord can be subdued by love in this way, nowhere else. Not only is he subdued by their love, the relish of this pure love, which is free from even a whiff of awe and reverence, is the treasure he always longs for.

aiśvarya jñānete sab jagata miśrita; aiśvarya śithila preme nāhi mora prīta
āmāre īśvara māne – āpanāke hīna; preme vaśa āmi tāra nā hoi adhīna
āmāke to ye ye bhakta bhaje yei bhāve; tāre se se bhāve bhaji e mora svabhāve
mora putra mora sakhā mora prāṇa-pati; ei bhāve kore yei more śuddha bhakti
āpanāke boḍo māne – āmāre sama hīna; sarva bhāve āmi hoi – tāhāra adhīna

(Caitanya-caritämåta Ādi Ch. 4)

“The whole world is mixed with knowledge of my majesty, but love which is slackened by knowledge of my majesty does not please me. Those who see me as the Lord and themselves as inferior can not subdue me with their love. In whatever mood my devotee worships me, in that same mood I will worship him – that is my nature. I am subdued in all respects by a person who is purely devoted to me, thinking: “He is my son, he is my friend”, or “He is the Lord of my life”, who considers himself superior and me equal or inferior to him.”

Forgetting all of his prowess, the Lord is subdued by the love of the people of Braj in all moods, according to the amount of their love for him. The love of the people of Braj covers all of Sri Krishna’s own awareness of his prowess and, he allows himself to be moulded according to their love. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartīpād has written: yathā saṁsāra-bandhe nipātya duḥkam evānubhāvayituṁ māyāvṛttir avidyā jīvānāṁ jñānam āvṛṇoti yathā ca mahā madhura śrī kṛṣṇa-līlā sukham anubhāvayituṁ guṇātītānāṁ śrī kṛṣṇa parivārāṇāṁ vrajeśvaryādīnāṁ jñānaṁ cicchakti-vṛttir yogamāyaivāvṛṇoti tathaiva śrī kṛṣṇam ānanda svarūpam apyānandātiśayam anubhāvayituṁ cicchaktir āvṛttiḥ premaiva tasya jñānam āvṛṇoti. premnas tu tat svarūpa-śaktitvāt tena tasya vyāpter na dosaḥ “It is the essence of Krishna’s cit-shakti, or knowledge-potency, named prema, or love of God, that covers him over, making him forget his actual identity, although he is ecstasy personified, for the sake of increasing his own ecstasy, just as avidyā, or the ignorance-potency of māyā keeps all the living beings bound up in the material world, making them experience only suffering, and the transcendental energy of yogamāyā covers over the God-knowledge of Krishna’s transcendental associates in Vraja like mother Yashoda, making them experience his all-sweet humanlike pastimes. There can be no fault in prema covering over Krishna’s knowledge of his svarūpa (true identity), rather it is most relishable.” Śrīpāda Dāsa Goswamicaraṇ says: “May that world-famous Kṣuṇṇāhāra Taḍāga be my shelter”, or: “May it be the greatest support for my practice of prema!”

parjanya śrī nanda pītā, adbhuta tāhāra kathā,
kṣuṇṇāhāra sarovara tīre
vrata kori anaśane, pūjā kori nārāyaṇe
pautra rūpe pāilā kṛṣṇere
śrī kṛṣṇera pitāmahe, pade yeno mati rahe,
kṛpā hoile sarva labhya hoy.
ei more nivedana, janme janme hoy yeno,
kṣuṇṇāhāra taḍāga samāśraya

“The story of Sri Nanda’s father Parjanya is amazing! On the bank of the Kṣuṇṇāhāra-pool he began to fast and worship Lord Nārāyaṇa. Thus he obtained Krishna as a grandson! May my mind dwell in the feet of Sri Krishna’s grandfather, for by his grace everything desirable is attained. May I have the shelter of Kṣuṇṇāhāra Taḍāga, birth after birth! This is my prayer!”

 

A108-AI

Narad Kund and Narad Bhakti Sutra, Part 2

Radha Kund, 2017.03.19 (Vishakha Dasi for VT): In part one of this series, Sage Narad journeyed to Eternal Vrindavan to experience the love of Shri Radha and Krishna. He also learned the secrets of worship from Lord Shiv and Vrinda Devi.

Sage Narad wanted to share the bliss he had found in Vrindavan with the world, and so he wrote the Narad Bhakti Sutra.

Narad Bhakti Sutra is comprised of 84 aphorisms on the sacred love of Braj. An aphorism is a short statement which has many layers of meaning. Commentaries help to unlock the meanings and make the core message more accessible.

The following is the commentary of Sutras 54 and 55 of the Narad Bhakti Sutra by Vaisnavacharya Chandan Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple in Vrindavan. By the blessings of Shri Giridhari, the commentary was published in the form of a book called Way to Love in 2013. Maharaj has written a touching article about how this book came into being; you can read it here.

I chose this particular excerpt because I feel that it captures the essence of the entire book.

Sutra 54      

गुणरहितं कामनारहितं प्रतिक्षण वर्धमानं अविछिन्नं सूक्ष्मतरमनुभवरूपम्

guṇarahitaṁ kāmanārahitaṁ pratikṣaṇa vardhamānaṁ avichhinnaṁ sūkṣmataram-anubhavarūpam

This sacred love is devoid of qualities, it is desireless and it increases with each moment. It is unbroken, is subtler than the subtlest and it is the form of innermost experience.

The Lord is described by the six main attributes He possesses: wealth, fame, strength, knowledge, beauty and detachment. Sacred love is a form of the Lord, and here, Sage Narad defines the six attributes of sacred love:

1. Devoid of Qualities 

The following incident was published in a Spanish newspaper. A beautiful woman, with long silky hair and beautiful teeth, used to visit a bar regularly. One night at the bar, a man, who found her very attractive, approached her and started to compliment her splendour by telling her how luscious her hair was, how beautiful her teeth were and how stunning she looked. Whenever she would go to the bar, the same man would approach her and praise her beauty again and again.

One evening, she asked him, “Do you really admire my beauty?”

“I have never known anyone as beautiful as you. You are the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen,” he replied.

She said, “Come home with me.”

They went to her house and they sat down, and she asked him, “Can you please tell me again how beautiful I am?”

“I never saw such long and silky hair. It seems like God created you with His own hands,” he replied.

The woman took off her wig and said, “Seeing as you love my hair, let me give it to you and as you are very fond of my teeth as well, here, have them.”

She pulled out her false teeth and gave them to him. Seeing her without teeth and hair, the man was stunned and speechless and he left the house silently. In this situation, the love was dependent on the qualities possessed by the woman and not the woman herself.

People tend to love because they are either attracted towards the beauty, power, money, intelligence, humility or any other kind of quality which they find attractive in the person they desire. But they love only as long as these qualities exist in them. Many relationships end because what one perceives as love is actually a love of the qualities which exist in one’s partner and if those qualities fade or change with time or circumstances, the connection deteriorates. Sage Narad very clearly says that sacred love is devoid of qualities. One who pursues desires connected with the senses does so for self-satisfaction. Sacred love is not connected to the senses because without even seeing one’s Beloved, without hearing about the Beloved, without touching the Beloved, the love still blossoms in one’s heart.

Once, some friends asked Radha, “Why do You love Krishn even though He’s a thief?”

Radha replied, “I know His heart. He does not want that we should be defamed, so He tries to act like a naughty child. He steals butter from various houses so His elders will feel that He is not mature enough to do any chores. By being mischievous, He gets ample free time and gets the chance to meet Me.”

Radha loves Krishn regardless of his good or bad qualities. She loves Him for the sake of love and this is the first point of this aphorism.

2. Desireless

There is a slight difference between love and desire. A particular desire can be quenched, for example by buying an object one craves. The urge leaves once the object is bought, but when one feels love, the feeling intensifies with each moment and there is no definitive end to the experience. There is a story which illustrates the nature of desire. A street performer wanted to impress a king, in order to acquire the king’s horse as a reward. So he sat in meditation and went into a deep trance. The king was really impressed and gave an order to his ministers to put him in a room. Time passed and the king died. Thereafter, a few generations passed, yet the street performer did not come out of his trance. One day, he emerged from his meditation and the first thing he said was, “Oh King! Are you impressed by my meditation? Will you reward me your horse?” Even after spending hundreds of years in meditation, his desire to own that horse was not satisfied.

Desire yearns to satisfy oneself, whereas love wants to satisfy one’s beloved. There are two types of devotees: one who is desirous and one who loves. If both of these devotees offer food to their Deities, the one who desires will offer what he really wants to eat that day, according to his taste and wants his Lord to be pleased with his choice. Yet the loving one will try to find signs, try to feel and understand what Krishn Himself wants to eat that day. Loving someone with desire is love offered on the basis of conditions; it is one where the motive is of mutual pleasure, not exclusive pleasure for the Lord. In this case, the feeling of dissatisfaction remains within, whether one’s desire is fulfilled or not. But love in its purest form loves the Beloved for His sake.

3. Sacred love increases with each moment

In India, the river Ganga starts from Gomukh. The Ganga emerges as a stream at the origin, and the more she flows, the more she increases in width. At the end, where she meets the sea, she is known as Ganga Sagar. Here, she is very wide. People say that the breadth of the Ganga River at Ganga Sagar is more than 40 kilometres. The nature of love is also like this; it expands with time.

A lover always feels that his love is inadequate, and this inspires a deep yearning in him to use every effort to increase the level of his affection towards his Beloved. This sentiment develops sacred love in him. From one day to the next, this pristine love grows rapidly.

prem sadā baṛhibau karai jyo sasikalā subeṣh
pai punau yāme nahῑ, tāte kabahu na seṣh

“Sacred Love grows eternally like the waxing moon,
but this moon is never full and its waxing never ends.”
(Vrajwasi Poetry)

4. It is an unbroken inner experience

Sacred love is never broken. There are people who show intense love, but as a result of jealousy or heartache, triggered by an action from their beloved, they end the relationship. Or they show anger and start to behave negatively and walk away. This is not the nature of sacred love. Sacred love is never broken, even if a lover hears something bad about his Lord. Once one starts to love Lord Krishn, it becomes difficult for even the Lord Himself to break that connection. For example, in the Srimad Bhagwatam, the gopis came to Krishn to take part in the Raas Mandal, and He asked them to go back to their houses, but they refused. By this instruction, Lord Krishn was testing how eager the gopis were to be with Him, and when they melted His heart with their unflinching devotion to Him, He accepted them into the Raas Mandal. He did not break the devotional connection that the gopis had started.

Many canals originate from a river. In the beginning these canals are very broad, but they trail off before reaching the ocean. The same can be said about people who show intense love in the beginning but whose love fades with time and without reaching the ocean of sacred love. In the devotional world, there is one type of devotee who is like a river; his love always increases and is never broken. Equally, there is another type of devotee whose love can be compared to a flowing canal. He shows so much love in the beginning but when he finds that his desires are not fulfilled by the Lord or when he does not find his desired connection with the Lord, he feels like he is wasting his time in the relationship. Sacred love is not like this. It is an unbroken chain which connects one to the Lord with the mood of complete devotion and without any preconceptions or expectations.

5. Subtler than the subtlest

Once the gopis asked Brahma, “Please transform us into divine dust of Vraj so that a potter may collect it and make a clay cup for Krishn, and maybe Krishn will fill the cup with water or milk and kiss it with His beautiful lips. We know that it is hard for us to be with Him but by becoming subtle like Vraj dust we can be with Him always.” A lover tries to be in his Beloved’s service in every way. He does not try to present his offering as a gesture to impress his Lord. The lover just tries to be at his Lord’s service and endeavours to make Him happy.

6. Form of innermost experience

There is a difference between knowledge and love. In love, even if the beloved is physically far away, the lover experiences that his beloved is present with him. The nature of this relationship is such that even if the couple have disagreements or see flaws in each other, it does not impact the love they feel for each other or their experience of that love. The love transforms the beloved’s imperfection into perfection. This affection even keeps the beloved alive when he or she is physically deceased. But when one is drawn to the path of knowledge, one feels the actual reality. If someone is physically far, he is far. If someone is not beautiful, he is not beautiful and if someone is dead, he is dead. The nature of love has the power to make a stranger into one’s dearest. The particle bhav in the word anubhav means that which changes constantly. The anu particle transforms the meaning of bhav into: that which never changes. And love is anubhav, that innermost experience. Everything changes over the course of one’s life such as one’s body, religion, relationships, and so forth, but what remains unchanged is anubhav: one’s innermost experience with the Lord.

Once, one of the closest associates of Radha, Lalita, asked Her, “What is the nature of Your relationship with Krishn?”

Radha replied, “Whatever you feel defines Our relationship, give it that name.” Her response showed that a relationship is not bound by a name. All relationships are dependent on love, but love is not dependent on relationships.

Lalita replied, “You are His Beloved and He is Your Beloved.”

Radha replied, “O friend! You do not know anything. You only know the surface of love.”

nā so ramaṇ nā hām ramaṇῑ,
duňhu mana manobhav peṣhala jāni

“He is not the Lover, nor I the Beloved. Both of Our hearts are One.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrit 2.8.194)

For this reason, this love is the innermost experience. If a devotee experiences his Beloved, then his Lord is the Enjoyer and the devotee is the one being enjoyed, and the pleasure experienced by his Lover is the innermost experience for the devotee: in other words, the internal bliss felt by the devotee when his service fills his Lord with joy. In his poetry, the great devotee Rasakhan reflects the essence of this aphorism:

binu jovan gun rūp dhan, binu svārath hit jāni
suddh kāmanā te rahit, prem sakal rasakhāni
ati sūćham komal atihi, ati pataro ati dūr
prem kaṭhin sab te sadā nit ikras bharpūr
rasamay svābhāvik vinā svārath achal mahān
sadā ekras baṛat nit suddh prem rasakhān

“That love which cares not for looks, money or age, which is pure and beyond the touch of selfish wanting, is a treasure-trove of pure sweetness. It is exceedingly subtle and tender, very delicate and very distant. It is also the most difficult of all, overflowing with eternal and unchanging ecstasy. That sacred love is naturally delectable, selfless, unwavering, always rapturous and ever-increasing – so says the poet Rasakhan.”

Sutra 55

तत्प्राप्य तदेवावलोकयति तदेव शृणोति तदेव भाषयति तदेव चिन्तयति

tat prāpya tadevāvalokayati tadeva śrṇoti tadeva bhāṣayati tadeva cintayati

After the attainment of sacred love, the devotee sees nothing but love, hears only about love, speaks only of love and thinks only of love. 

Here, Sage Narad describes how the nature of a devotee blossoms when he is in a loving relationship with the Lord. As a lover, he sees his Beloved everywhere and in everything. He thinks about and only sees His Love. Even with the external worldly distractions, his mind is constantly meditating on his Lord and relentlessly remembering Him. The devotee fails to see and enjoy objects disconnected from his Beloved.

A gopi once said:

jit dekhauň tit syāmamaῑ hai
syām kuñj ban jamunā syāmā, syām gagan ghan ghaṭā ćhaῑ hai
sab raṅganmeň syām bharo hai, log kahat yaha bāt naῑ hai
maiň baurῑ kῑ loganhῑkῑ syām putariyā badal gaῑ hai
chandrasār ravisār syām hai mṛgamad syām kām bijaῑ hai
nῑlkanṭhko kanṭh syām hai mano syāmatā bel baῑ hai
śrutiko acćhar syām dekhiyat dῑpsikhāpar syāmataῑ hai
nar devankῑ kaun kathā hai alakh brahm ćhabi syāmamaῑ hai

“Everything I see is saturated with Shyam. The bower is shyam,[1] the cloudy sky is shyam, the Yamuna River is shyam. All the colours are imbued with shyam. People are telling me this is something strange! Have I gone insane, or have the pupils in everyone’s eyes become shyam? The sun and moon are shyam, all the musk is permeated with shyam. Lord Shiv’s throat is shyam [from swallowing the poison after the churning of the milk ocean]. The vine of love growing in my heart is shyam. The letters of the scriptures are definitely shyam and the wick of the candle is also shyam. What to speak of men and gods, even the formless Absolute looks like shyam to me!” (Brajwasi Poetry)

The poet Thakur captures the very essence of a devotee in this state:

kānan dūsro nām sunai nahi ekahi raňg rańgo yaha ḍoro
dhokhehu dūsro nām kaṛhai rasanā mukh bāńdhi halāhal boro
ṭhākur chittakῑ vṛtti yahai ham kaisehu ṭek tajaiň nahi bhoro
bāvarῑ ve ańkhiyāń jari jāyń jo sāvaro ćhaańḍi nihārati goro

“Our ears refuse to hear any name but His, for the thread of our fate is dyed in Shyam’s colour alone. If we were to say any other name, it would be like pouring poison on our tongues and binding our mouths shut. The poet Thakur says, ‘Our hearts and our entire minds, even the subconscious mind, are so overtaken by Him, we can never, even unconsciously, act otherwise. If our crazy eyes try to give up Shyam to behold any other colour, burn them and let us go blind.’”

In this state of being, every sound that permeates the lover’s ear is nothing but the sweetest melody of his Beloved’s love-song. He never tires of praising Him because in every word that he speaks, he enjoys the incomparable flavour of the nectar of sacred love. All the limbs of his body feel only the presence of his Beloved. The lover’s heart is unable and unwilling to expand for anyone else. His love transforms into the reflection of his Beloved.

Drowning in the ocean of love is an indescribable feeling, and it is the highest state of infinite bliss. Hence, the Chandogya Upanishad (7.24.1) mentions, “The state of the Infinite is the state in which nothing else is seen, nor heard, nor thought of. That which is Infinite is immortal and that which is finite is mortal.” This is sacred love. It is whole and it intensifies with each passing moment. The flow is unbroken, subtler than the subtlest, and therefore, it cannot be defined.

[1] This poem is a play on words. The word shyam can mean dark or more specifically, lovely and black with a bluish tinge. Shyam is also one of Krishn’s most prominent Names.

 

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Narad Kund and Narad Bhakti Sutra, Part 1

Radha Kund, 2017.03.18 (Vishakha Dasi for Vrindavan Today) Growing up I often found myself questioning what love really is. I used to annoy my mother with judgemental comments during television programs and films.

“You call that love?” I would scoff. “This is not love. He’s just being selfish. Obviously!

My sweet mother would tell me to stop thinking so much and just enjoy the movie, swearing never to watch anything with me again.

One example of a song that I found upsetting is Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” in which a man basically tells a girl he would allow his body to be exploded into a million pieces for her, even though she “would not do the same” for him. Does he live in a war zone, I thought, that catching a grenade for her is something she really needs? Or more likely, is he just being a manipulative kook?

What passes for love in pop culture, I felt, was a sorry excuse. Sadly, the love we find in everyday life (and in ourselves) can be equally disappointing at times. But of course, that didn’t stop me from looking for it!

It was only years later – long, in fact, after entering the Gaudiya Vaishnav path and moving to Vrindavan – that I started learning what love really is through the Narad Bhakti Sutra.

Vaisnavacharya Chandan Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple has written a beautiful commentary on the Narad Bhakti Sutra called Way to Love. When, in his infinite kindness, he blessed me to help a little with its publication, the unanswerable questions in my heart started to receive answers.

But before sharing some of the nectar from this beautiful and revolutionary text, I want to share how Sage Narad, the son of Brahma and wandering kirtaniya of the heavens, received the direct experience of that ultimate love of Braj. And his story revolves around the beautiful Narad Kund.

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Narad Kund

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Gateway to Narad Kund

Across the parikrama marg from Govardhan’s Kusum Sarovar, through a sandstone gate and down an earthen path, lies the beautiful Narad Kund. The wooded area around the Kund is very peaceful, far enough from the parikrama marg to be totally free of blaring horns and passers-by. Each time I’ve been to Narad Kund, only a couple of Brajwasis could be seen in the beautiful ashram, including one elderly Babaji chanting Radhe Krishna Krishna Krishna Radhe Radhe, Radhe Shyam Radhe Shyam, Shyam Shyam Radhe Radhe – to the soft beats of the dholak.

The ashram is clean and intelligently developed; still close to nature and full of many large, old trees. The new temple hall is very large and well-constructed, yet it blends in with its surroundings almost to the point of being unnoticeable. There are also a few simple rooms for the monks, and a small gaushala.

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Paaras Peepal

The kund (lake) itself is teeming with life! Sitting on the bank for a few minutes, you can see chubby black ducks and various other chirpy, happy water birds, kingfishers and turtles, lots of green parrots, and even water snakes! There is also a special tree here called the Paaras Peepal, said to be the fifty-first grandson of a tree that lived here during Sage Narad’s time, and which grows four different types of flowers on its branches.

Sage Narad himself resided at this very spot, and he is said to live here still, in an unseen, spiritual form.

Several important incidents from Sage Narad’s life took place at Narad Kund. It was here that Dhruv Maharaj received diksha from him, and it was here that Prahlad and his mother took his shelter. In fact, according to the ashram’s pamphlet, Prahlad was born at Narad Kund.

Sage Narad’s Journey to Eternal Vrindavan

According to the Vaishnav traditions of Braj, the highest form of love is found in the hearts of Shri Krishna’s lovers – the gopis – in His eternal Abode, Vrindavan. Wishing to experience that ultimate state of love, Sage Narad approached his guru and father, Lord Brahma, for help.

Several scriptures describe Sage Narad’s journey to Eternal Vrindavan. The Padma Puran, Patal Khand, tells how Brahma took Narad to Govardhan. There, Brahma made Narad bathe in a lake called Amrit, which is understood to be Kusum Sarovar.

As soon as Sage Narad bathed in that lake, he was transformed into a beautiful woman. Suddenly, many other divinely beautiful young women surrounded him, and began asking him questions.

“Who are you?” They asked. “Where are you from, and how have you come here?”

Narad did not know what to say. How had he gotten there? How had he become a woman? It all felt like a dream!  Lalita Sakhi told him that he had reached Vrindavan. Then she and the other sakhis took Narad to meet Shri Radha and Krishna.

In the form of a gopi, Narad remained with the Divine Couple for an entire year, immersed in the ecstasy of their love. Then Shri Radha took Narad back to the same lake, and asked him to bathe in it again. The sage was transformed back into his previous form as Narad.

From that day forward, Sage Narad remained absorbed in Vrindavan, and constantly sang about the great secret he had experienced.

Lord Shiv Teaches Narad the Path of Love

The Padma Puran goes on to tell how Sage Narad approached Lord Shiv to learn about the path of love for Radha and Krishna. Mahadev then revealed the mantra by which Shri Krishna is worshipped. He also told Narad the meditation for this mantra. 

Mahadev said:

You should remember Shri Krishna seated next to his Beloved, on a throne in the forest of Vrindavan. The form of Krishna you should meditate upon has two arms. His raincloud-dark body is wrapped in an elegant yellow garment. His chest is embraced by a garland of forest flowers, and his head is adorned by a peacock feather crown. His face is lovelier than millions of moons, and his eyes are rolling with the intoxication of love. He wears  a single karnikar flower in his ear, and a bindi on his forehead, which is anointed with fine sandalwood paste. His earrings shine like the morning sun, and His cheeks glitter with drops of perspiration. His eyes are riveted to His Beloved’s lotus face as He looks at Her from the corner of His eye and raises a single eyebrow. His handsome nose has a pearl nosering, and his lips are like ripe bimba cherries shining in the moonlight of his teeth. His arms shimmer with beautiful arm-bands, bracelets and rings inlaid with precious gems, and in his left hand he holds the flute and a lotus. His waist is encircled by an attractive scarf and a string of flowers, and His feet shimmer with beautiful anklets. He is very agile and eager to please His Beloved with an offering of romance. Meditate in this way on Shri Krishna, who is laughing with his beloved and is repeatedly making her laugh.

Then you should remember Shri Radhika, who is seated at his left side. She wears a blue dress upon her lovely body, which is bright as heated gold. Her face is like a lotus blossoming with a great smile, and it is half-covered by the edge of her garment. Her eyes are transfixed on the face of her Lover, as the chakori bird beholds the moon. With her thumb and forefinger she gently feeds her Lover a betel-leaf wrap (paan). Her lovely, large breasts shimmer with the pearls of her necklace, and below her slender waist, her wide hips are adorned by a chain of tiny bells. She wears beautiful earrings, armlets, rings and bangles set with precious jewels, with tinkling anklets on her delicate feet. The essence of beauty, her body, is bewitching; captivating in every limb, she drowns in the ocean of joy. She has just crossed the threshold of youth, and she is easily pleased. Oh best of Brahmins, Shri Radhika is surrounded by her wonderful friends (sakhis) who are similar to her in age and qualities. They always serve her with fans and yak-tail whisks.

Mahadev continued:

The chaatak bird drinks only rain that falls directly from the raincloud. It rejects all other water [even though the rain is its source]. Abandoning the lake, the river and the sea, the chaatak either dies or makes its impassioned appeal to the clouds. In the same way, you should always pray to your Beloveds, saying, “Please be my shelter!” You should always seek your Beloveds’ happiness, and the happiness of those who are their own, especially the Guru. Likewise, avoid displeasing them. I, who have sought their refuge, will explain how they are pleased. Thinking, “the Divine Couple will surely deliver me,” you should have firm faith in them. You should pray, “Oh my Beloveds, you destroy the fear of those who take your shelter. You are the saviors of your devotees from this worldly existence, and from the illusion of friends, children, home and family. Whoever I am, whatever I have in this world and the next – all that I have dedicated today at your lotus feet. I, a sinful person, I have given up all means to save myself. There is no other way for me; only you are my shelter. Oh Lover of Radhika, in thought, word and deed I am yours. Oh Beloved of Shri Krishna, I belong to you alone. You both are my refuge. Oh jewel-mines of compassion, I seek your shelter. Please bless lowly me with the chance to serve you.” Thus muttering quietly this prayer of five verses, with a desire to serve Them, remain immersed in Shri Radha and Krishna’s remembrance.

[…]

O Narad, if you do this, they will certainly accept you as their maidservant […] I have no doubt that Shri Krishna will grant His service to one who has but once sought his refuge, and who has prayed to Him saying, ‘I am yours.’

Knowing Sage Narad to be a worthy vessel of his mercy, Lord Shiv gave him further instructions:

You should look upon yourself as one amongst them [the sakhis] who is charming, who is endowed with beauty and youth, who is a beautiful young woman, who knows many crafts and arts, who is fit for Shri Krishna’s enjoyment but who is averse to enjoyment though solicited by Krishna, who is the follower of Radhika, who loves Radhika and who is devoted to serving her, who loves Radhika even more than Krishna, and who, through love, day by day brings about the union of the Divine Couple, and who is extremely happy due to the pleasure and joy of serving them. In this way one should, beginning with the early part of the day till late night, offer service to them in Vrindavan.

Narad asked Mahadev, “I wish to hear about the lilas which Shri Krishna performs throughout the day. How can I serve Him through meditation without knowing about this?”

Mahadev replied, “O Narad! I do not fully know those lilas. Go to Vrinda Devi. She will reveal them to you. She, the servant of Govinda, surrounded by her group of friends, lives near Kesi-teerth, not far from here.”

Delighted, Narad circumambulated Mahadev and bowed to him again and again. Then he proceeded to Vrindavan.

Vrinda Devi Reveals the Eternal Lila to Narad

When Vrinda Devi saw Sage Narad, she offered her obeisance to him and asked why he had come.

Narad replied, “Oh auspicious Lady! I wish to hear from you about the daily life of Shri Krishna. If you consider me fit, then please tell it to me from the beginning.”

Vrinda Devi replied, “Oh Narad! I shall tell you this greatest of secrets, since you are a devotee of Shri Krishna. You should not reveal this great secret.”

In supremely charming Vrindavan, which is adorned with many beautiful kunjas (forest havens) is a house adorned with divine gems, in an arbour of desire-yielding trees. There the Divine Couple lie sleeping in each other’s arms. Later by my orders, the birds awaken them. Their deep embrace brings them great joy, and they are frightened of losing this closeness. They have no desire at all to arise from the bed. But they are forced to do so by the repeated entreaties of the parrots and the mynah birds.

Vrinda Devi went on to reveal in detail the entire ashta-kalin-lila (lilas throughout the day) of Eternal Vrindavan.

“Oh goddess!” said Narad, “I am blessed! There is no doubt you are pleased with me, for today you have disclosed to me the delightful lila of Shri Krishna.”

Having received the teachings of Lord Shiv and Vrinda Devi, and having tasted the love of Eternal Vrindavan himself, Sage Narad resided at Narad Kund, immersed in the bliss of his Beloveds’ lilas. 

Although he was relishing the supreme love of Vrindavan for himself, Sage Narad wished to share that bliss with the souls of this world. And so he wrote his treatise on love, the Narad Bhakti Sutra.

What was Sage Narad’s message to the world? In part two of this series, we will begin to explore Sage Narad’s book of love.

to be continued…

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gallery_1_31_153165.jpg“RADHE RADHE!” came the loud chanting of the Brajwasis (locals of Vrindavan) who had just entered Bankey Bihari temple – one of the most famous Krishna temples in India, as it opened its doors for darshan.

The sound stopped me short, as I was about to put a bite of halwa puri in my mouth. “Radhe Radhe!” the men and women dressed in traditional attire continued, as they clapped their hands together rhythmically.

I stared at them a little bewildered. Scanning their faces, I turned to my mother who was sitting on the temple floor beside me, receiving prasad and talking to the pandits.

“Why are they calling me, Mummy?” I asked with confusion.  I turned to the crowd and yelled, “Yes, I am here! Why are you calling me?”

My mum looked down at her 5-year-old daughter and laughed hysterically. With Radha as my name and Radhe as my nickname, I naturally assumed the call was for me. I once read about a princess from Rajasthan who came to this temple and had such a strong connection, that Krishna followed her and was found missing at his temple home. That day, I think he followed me too.

Bearing a name permanently conjoined with one of Hinduisms most loved Gods often made me wonder what role Krishna as a character played in my own life. I have always been besotted with Krishna, and I know it’s not only because my name is Radha, though this has undeniably contributed to the realisation of an incomparable bond.

I admit there have been times where I didn’t feel thrilled about my name. For example, when it was constantly butchered growing up around foreigners, being called ‘Radical’. Or when random guys in an attempt to flirt will say, “Your name is Radha? Then I am Krishna!” Seriously how could they believe I have never heard that one before?

Maybe because of my (borderline) obsession, I’m often asked if I would like to end up with a man with the personality type of Krishna. Honestly, which girl doesn’t dig the attractive/flirt/bad boy/prankster? But in truth, my love for Krishna is much deeper than romantic love.

Familiar with the ritual of prayer from a young age, a realisation came to me in my teen years. After school one day I was sitting with my best friend, Krishna Lila Sims, an American girl whose family are Hare Krishna devotees. (It’s not surprising that Radha was drawn to Krishna yet again). She was discussing a quote from The Mahabharata that she loved, spoken by one of its characters, Queen Kunti.

Kunti prayed to lord Krishna and stated that people only seem to remember God during times of suffering. So if that is what it took for her to remember him more often, to please give her more suffering. This really boggled my mind. I had always been taught to pray for the things I wanted most, and in prayer to ask God to ease my suffering. So why would someone desire suffering in order to pray?

She explained, “See that’s what Krishna is all about, That’s how His worship differs. He is the love Deity. You pray to him, just for the love of Him. No reason, no request, just simply for the love of Him.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.03.08 (VT): After Nandgaon and Barsana, it was the turn of Vrindavan to begin the celebration of Holi on the Rangbharni Ekadashi. On Wednesday, the celebrations began with the offering of gulal in the temples and performing the Panchakosi Parikrama. The colors of love and devotion were flung from the temples. The priests were throwing the flower petals and gulal from the temple.

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While the maximum hordes of devotees were attracted to the Banke Bihari Temple, the temples which celebrate the festival in a traditional way attracted the ascetic folks. The tradition came alive in the temples of Radha Raman, Radha Ballabh, Yashonda Nandan, Madan Mohan (Bhattji), Radhika Ballabh, Shriji kunj and Topi Kunj. The regular visitors of Vrindavan made visit to these temples and enjoyed the unique way of celebrations in each temple.
The celebrations began with traditional fervor throughout the town. Holi Samaj Gayan, Holi Kirtan, Raslila performance were organized in different temples and ashrams. The famous Bhramar Shyam Ras Lila of Jai Singh Ghera began on Thursday by the troupe of Swami Fateh Krishna.

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Right from the morning devotees swarmed in the temples to get sprayed with the colors thrown by the priests on behalf of the deities and danced on the tunes of the traditional songs being sung in the temples. They put colors on each other and visiting the temples. The big pichkaris (water guns) made of sliver and brass was used to throw water color on the devotees.

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The organic colors were used in the most of the temples. The preparation for holi began months ago as the flowers of ‘Tesu’ were collected and dried up. The flowers were dried to make the colors and then grind-ed to a fine powder. The powder was then mixed with the water to produce a beautiful saffron and red color.
Large number of the rural folks performed the Panchakosi Parikrama of Shri Dham Vrindavan, and then went to play Holi with their favorite Lordships in the different temples of Vrindavan. The clouds of colors could be seen in the temples as well on the Parikrama Marg, when devotees flung colored powder in the air and thrown on each other. The entire atmosphere was filled with colors as the priests were throwing colors on the devotees from the ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’ of the Lord.

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Several processions from the various temples and ashrams were taken out carrying the palanquins in which the deities were seated. The priests threw colors on the devotees. The festive mood in the town began on the Ekadashi and will prevail till the Purnima. Amid the typical folk songs of holi, the devotees were seen dancing to its music.

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The markets were flooded with the heaps of gulal – they were arranged in pyramids and sold loose. Vendors sit on street corners selling gulal to the passer-by. The powder color is made up of many rich colors like pink, magneta, red, yellow and green.

 

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Radha Kund, 09.03.2017 (Vishakha Dasi for VT): A few days ago I went to Nandgaon (नन्दगाँव) to attend the festivities surrounding Lathmar Holi. I was thrilled, because I knew it was going to be a total immersion experience.

I had a special invitation through a friend of a friend – a Goswami of Nandgaon’s main temple – to stay at his family’s home and enjoy every aspect of the festival along with them.

Our trip was to last three days. The first day would feature Laddu Holi, in which laddus (ball-shaped sweets) would be thrown. That day was also the beginning of holikashtak – the eight main days of Holi. (In Braj, Holi techinically starts on Vasant Panchami and lasts for 40 days!) The second day would be Barsana’s famous Lathmar Holi, and the third day would be Lathmar Holi in Nandgaon. Lathmar Holi is a unique celebration in which the village women dress up in their finest clothes and ceremoniously beat the men from the neighboring town. The festival is a huge draw for Krishna devotees (and photographers) around the world, but neither my friend or I had attended it before.

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I had also never met our host before, and I had no idea what the living situation would be like in Nandgaon, so I packed light and left my laptop at home.

In my mind, the accomodation was going to be extremely austere. Perhaps we would be sleeping on someone’s rooftop or in a courtyard, in the open air with cement bricks for pillows! My friend and I even wondered if we should bring a tent. But just as we were about to leave Radhakund, we got word back from our host that tents and sleeping bags were not necessary – everything we would need was there at home.

And thus the three of us – my friend, her young son and myself – started our journey to the glorious Nandgaon!

I drove my scooty (motor scooter) all the way there for the first time, while my friend caught a ride in someone’s car. The fields on the way were absolutely lush and gorgeous, and I found myself fighting the urge to stop at different places and explore.

There are so many places to see in Braj! I have lived here for almost ten years and explored quite a bit, yet there are so many stones left unturned!

At last we reached our destination – Nandgaon!

Nandgaon is the hometown of Shri Krishna and His brother, Balram. It’s the place where the divine brothers live eternally with their parents Yashoda and Nand – the King and Queen of the cowherd clan.

The central attraction of the village is the temple of Krishna and Balram, situated on a hill, which is called Nandishwar Parvat. Nandishwar Parvat is said to be a form of Lord Shiva. Similarly, the palatial home of Shri Krishna’s Beloved, Shri Radha, is atop the hill called Brahmachal – a form of Lord Brahma. And of course, near Radhakund we have our beloved Govardhan Hill, who is a form of Krishna Himself.

Our host – Krishna Murari Goswami – lives just at the foot of Nandishwar Parvat, not far from Yashoda Kund. We found him standing in the doorway of his home with a big smile as soon as we arrived.

The house was a typical Brajwasi home of cement and bricks, but fairly large in size, with an open courtyard where the women cooked on the chula (clay stove). Soon we were treated to a delicious lunch of handmade chapatis (flatbreads) and pulses that had been farmed organically on the family’s own land. They also very sweetly gave my friend’s son a yellow bagalbandhi to wear, so he would fit in with the other “cowherd boys”. We immediately felt at home.

 

Krishna Murari Goswamiji is only nineteen years old. He is lean and jovial, with good English and excellent manners. As a child he studied at the ISKCON Gurukul in Vrindavan (I noticed several awards for academic and behavioural excellence on the bookshelf) and according to his mother, his home recieves many guests from abroad.

It seems Krishna Murari Goswamiji had invited everyone he knows to attend this festival, but somehow we were amongst the few who were able to come. Still, the house was full with many extended family members, and we ended up cozily sharing a room with five or six of them.

I soon found out that our host has a real love for the stories of Shri Krishna. In fact, he didn’t really speak about anything else the entire time we were there, which was delightful. That first afternoon he was immersed in readying himself for the upcoming festivities, but he made sure to steal away some time to share some translations he is doing, as well as an article he is working for Shri Sachinandan Swamiji.

Here is a short excerpt from that article, which has already been published by Sachinandan Maharaj’s Facebook page. You can read the full article here.

मुकुट वारौ रे मुकुट वारौ तेरी करैगो
हाथ लकुट कंबर की खोई
वे तो सुर ही गाऊन कौ रखवारौ
इन्दर कोप कियौ ब्रज ऊपर
वानै मूसर धारा जल डारयौ
सूर दास प्रभु कुँवर मिलन कूँ
याने बाँयें हाथ गिरवर धार्यौ

mukut vaaro re mukut vaaro, teri karego
haath lakut kambar ki khoi
ve to sur hi gaun kau rakhwaro
indar kaup kiyo braj upar
vaane musar dhara jal daaryo
soordas prabhu kuwar milan ku
yane baaye haath girivar dharyau

On Vasant Pancami, Madhumangala and Sridham are conversing with the gopis in Varsana. The gopis are asking the gopas, “How are you going to enjoy Holi this time? As far as we are concerned, we will color you from head to toe and we will definitely defeat you at Lathmar Holi.

The gopas replied to this sweet challenge with the following song:

O, gopis! Do you know who will color you the most this time? It is the bearer of the peacock feather and the bejeweled crown. He will definitely color you the most.

“He holds a bejeweled flute [and cowherding stick] in His hands and wears a single garment made of a blanket, which engulfs Him from head to toe. He is the only devata who protects the cows. He will color you.

“The king of the gods, Indra, displayed his anger by sending torrents of heavy rainfall all over Vraja. At that time He was the only one who protected the land of Vraja. He who is known as the savior of the whole Vraja will color you.

“Even the great poet Surdas affirms that He, just to have a close meeting with His loved ones, held the greatest of all mountains (Girivar) on His left hand. He will definitely color you this time.

Through this conversation the gopas promised or challenged the gopis in the name of Krishna and even the gopis too well accepted the challenge.

The gopas then informed Krishna and Balaram, and the other cowherd boys about his sweet conversation with the gopis.

Even today this sweet conversation is told to Krishna Balarama in Nandagram at Their shayan arati during the month of phalgun (Holi month). Because it’s bedtime, shayan arati is usually sung softly. But on this occasion big kettledrums are brought into the chamber before the altar and with a lot of joyful noise this song is sung – just to remind Krishna and Balarama that the Nandagram gopas have promised the Barsana gopis that Krishna will color them. So in order not to forget this promise, not even in Their dreams, the Nandagram gopas are reminding Krishna and Balarama even at the time of Their sleeping.

I asked Krishna Murari Goswamiji to tell us a little bit about the first day’s ceremonies, and he obliged with great enthusiasm.

“Today the gopis from Radharani’s side are coming to invite Krishna and Balram for tomorrow’s Holi in Barsana. They have come with a pot of colour [gulal], and they will offer it to Krishna and Balram saying, ‘Oh Krishna and Balram! We have come on behalf of Srimati Radharani. You are invited to play holi in Barsana with all of Your cowherd boys, so come tomorrow! When they see that Krishna and Balram have accepted their invitation, they will return to Barsana and there will be laddu maar holi (throwing of laddus).

“Then in the evening there will be singing. And through that singing, we will tell everyone that tomorrow we are invited to Barsana to play holi, so everyone should decorate themselves and be prepared for the festival. And in the morning everyone will prepare their shields.”

“What are the shields made from?” I asked.

“They’re made from some type of rubber, and bound with ropes. You’ll see that, and you will also help in decorating them nicely. And once we decorate them, we will go to Krishna and Balram and say that – ‘Okay… You are calling us? We will come to accompany You! Then they [the Goswamis in the spirit of Krishna’s cowherd boys] will sing and dance and show their shields like this [gesturing]… jump it so They know – ‘Ok! Krishna Murari is bringing this! Oh, Haridev is bringing this!

“Then everyone will get some small amount of color and put it here [in a cloth tied around the waist]. I will make a pocket like this, a place where I can put the color and just take the color from there. That is meant for that… that is called phenta. Then everyone will start; they will go to Nandishwar Mahadev because, you know, Lord Shiva is our security guard. He should also be invited with the mood that, ‘We are going to Barsana to play Holi… you should also come. You are living in our house, so how can you not come?’ Then everyone will know that Lord Shiva is also invited. Once everyone is invited then they go to one very old temple where one Baba was living – they go and invite him and his deities.”

image2-e1489088554520.jpgAround eleven in the morning we proceeded to the temple and had darshan of Shri Krishna and Balram with Their parents. We loved watching how the Goswamis, with the mood of Krishna’s sakhas, danced so joyfully to the music along with the sakhi-vesh-dhari devotees who had come from Barsana. Our host himself danced from the moment we arrived until long after my friend and I went home. It was apparent how much these Brijwasis had looked forward to this day.

My friend and I enjoyed in our own way, strolling along the temple’s rooftop, enjoying the spectacular view, and later playing Holi with children on the stairwell of the temple entrance. I personally enjoyed peeking under the rooftop canopy alongside some little boys, just because Brijwasi kids are so much fun to hang out with.

After coming back home for a short rest and lunch of Brijwasi rotis and sabji, we proceeded to Barsana by scooty to attend the Laddu Holi ceremony. It was a really beautiful program where Holi rasiyas were sung under a thick mist of pink powder, and then suddenly the Barsana Goswamis began to throw laddus from the rooftop. In the form of laddus and red color, it was like bliss was raining down on us, celebrating the fact that Shri Krishna had accepted Radharani’s invitation for Holi.

I had a big smile on my face as I thought, “There they are! Laddu Holi’s laddus!” 

There were many more people desiring laddus than there were laddus – and I guess the uncertainty made it all the more satisfying when one actually caught one. I did not catch a laddu but someone who did offered his laddu to me, and I saved it to give to a certain mahatma.

We lingered for some time at Shriji Mandir then proceeded back to Nandgaon, had prasad with our host family and again went to the temple in Nandgaon for Samaj Kirtan. During this kirtan the special gulal from the pot sent by Radharani in the morning was scattered upon the heads of all the present Goswamis, and some of it was taken home by them as Prasad.

Halwah was also distributed, to ensure the boys had sufficient strength to face the Barsana women the next day. I ate some as well, hoping it would help me get to the top of Shriji Mandir in the rush, and take lots of pictures for this article!

The ceremonies of that first day were lovely, but the most precious thing was the association of the local people, the Brajwasis. It would not have been the same without them, for we would not have had the chance to witness a drop of the beauty of their love for Shri Krishna.

Many of the Goswamis I met, like many other Brajwasis, could resemble coconuts at times – a rough exterior, hard to penetrate, but full of sweetness inside. I appreciate and worship them the way they are, but I also felt happy that our host’s mood was different – he just let himself be known with his natural sweetness and enthusiasm. I was really thankful for that because so often, many of us find ourselves stuck on the outside.

And I felt very fortunate just to be there, because for us, these places, Nandgaon and Barsana, are our eternal Home.

image3-e1489088691469.jpg

 

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17141651_10101210294043292_1344098320_n.jpgBarsana, 2017.03.05: The ‘Laddoo Holi’, was celebrated in Barsana on the eve of the ‘Latthamar Holi’ on Sunday. The residents of Barsana, the priests and devotees smeared colored powder (gulal) on each other and the ‘laddoos’ were flung to mark the beginning of the ‘Latthmar Holi’. The flung laddoos were kept with reverence as blessed offering.

Holi, the festival of colors is celebrated across Vraja with great deal of fervor and enthusiasm. The different places related to Krishna’s pastimes in Vraja, have unique ways to celebrate the Holi. On Sunday, it was the rain of ‘Laddoos’ at the Ladli ji Mandir in Varshana. The Laddoos were being flung from every side.

A priest (panda) from the Varsana Temple, who pretended to have come from Nand Bhavan of Nandgaon as a messenger, was welcomed on behalf of Shri Vrishbhanu baba,  father of Radha Rani. The Panda came to convey the message of accepting the challenge of playing Holi at Varsana.

The ‘laddoos’ were offered to the Panda to welcome him in Varsana. Getting the laddoo, the panda started to dance in ecstasy. The devotees also started dancing with him. Brajwasis were singing the song, “Nand gaon ko pando braj barsane aayo”…..

The song, the dance and the mood of the festival mesmerized the devotees. They immersed in the ‘holi mood’ completely splashing colors on each other and tossed the laddoos in the air. Everyone irrespective of any cast and creed caught the laddoos, and ate it with great devotion.

 

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Gusaiji-Gokul.jpgSince the time of Acharya Shri Vitthalnathji (Shri Gusaiji), Raag, Bhog and Shringar took on a new significance in the Pushti Marg sect.  He highlighted the importance of transforming people’s natural addiction to material things to the spiritual.

In an imperial age, when artistic and cultural achievements were reaching new heights, Gusaiji recognized the need to evolve the more austere form of Shri Vallabhacharyaji’s form of worship into something more elaborate.  In order to make God available to the people of his own time, Shri Gusaiji expressed the basis of Pushti Marg in a way that the modern man or woman could understand and follow.

At a time when new modern musical instruments were being introduced (tabla, sitar, etc.), new musical modes and raags were being devised, Shri Gusaiji helped preserve the purest form of ancient Indian music – Dhrupad. He helped resurrect interest in the original Indian music and through his active encouragement, he helped revive popular and imperial interest in Dhrupad.

Tansen, the greatest musician of Akbar’s court, converted to Islam to further his career.  Later, impressed by the divine court of Shri Nathji, and the music it produced, he converted to Pushti Marg and returned to Hinduism.

Shri Gusaiji was a connoisseur of fine things in life -–spiritual and material.  Just as he helped preserve the best of the old world, he also took ideas from the best of the new world.  Many of the bhogs (food items) introduced during his time reflect the culinary delights introduced and invented in the modern India of his time.  For example, the jalebi we all eat with such gusto, and a central feature of the bhog during Gusaiji’s utsav, was a new delicacy at the imperial court in Agra. Many regional, courtly and folk delicacies were introduced at the time.  Soon, the kitchens of Shri Gopal at Gopalpura were cooking fine delicacies that were certainly the envy of all.

Even in dress code, new, modern dresses were added to the wardrobe of the purely south Indian dress of dhoti and uparna.  Ghardar jamma, charvaag and achkan were offered o the Lord on festive occasions. These dresses preserve the haute couture of Medieval India.

It is in Shringar that we see some of the best fusion of these ancient and modern ideals. The age-old paagh was now decorated with expensive strings of pearls, rubies and emeralds, a style very much in vogue at the imperial court.  Aigrettes with plumes of peacock feathers (at court they wore feathers from various exotic birds) were studded with precious stones; chokers worked in gold and precious stones replaced the enamel ornaments of the previous era. Soon, like the royals of his time, Shrinathji also began to be dressed head to toe in a glittering array of jewels. Even his socks and shoes (mojadies) were embroided with real jewels.

In this way, Shri Gusaiji helped save the embattled Hindu sense of self-confidence by introducing a new court at Govardhan: a court that could rival the imperial court of Agra and yet be its best friend, thus embodying the very spirit of the time.

Many of the greatest politicians of the time, rulers and courtiers alike, were drawn to the court of Shrinathji.  Akbar himself came on a number of occasions to converse with Shri Gusaiji and even managed to obtain darshan of the Lord during Sharad Purnima.  During his many visits to Gokul he was even allowed to attend the regular darshans of Shri Navnit Priyaji. Taj Begam, the chief queen of Akbar and mother to the heir, was a deeply religious woman who was a devotee of Shri Gusaiji.  Tansen, Birbal and Raskhan were devotees too. Many Rajput kings prided themselves in being devotees of the sect.

This had a great impact on the fledgling sect at the time.  It absorbed many of the customs (purda for example) and ideas of the these esteemed devotees of the time. Gifts from the royal played a great part in helping to shape the modes of Shringar that were offered to the Lord at the time. Many jewels of that era are still offered to the lord and are worn on special occasions.

One of the most important jewels offered during that period is the diamond that is worn in the “chibuk” (chin) of the Lord. Akbar offered this during his Sharad Purnima darshan and since than, it has come to occupy a very special place in the shringar of Pushti Marg.

It is not known exactly when pichwais were added to the “Shringar” portion of the darshan, but the idea of using soft furnishings to transform a room was well-known at the time of Shri Gusaiji. It is more than possible that coloured and embroided cloth may have been hung in the inner sanctum of Shri Nathji from the earliest time.  Painted pichwais were added later, and later still, more and more of them were commissioned and preserved to commemorate special events.

Over the centuries, this idea of progressive infusion has been carried out by several enlightened Goswami balaks.  New festivals, such as Teej and Ghoomar have been added. New foods and musical instruments (such as sarangi) have been added to further the “raag, bhog and shringar” much espoused by Shri Gusaiji.

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How Gopaldas Became an Ocean

This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the eleventh varta.

Varta 11

The story of Gopaldas, Bhaila Kothari’s son-in-law who lived in Rupapura.

*bhav-prakash*

Gopaldas is a devotee of a sattvik disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Sarangi, [a gopi] who manifests from Champakalata and is therefore a form of her divine loving sentiment. Sarangi also has a very close Sakhi named Gomati who appears here as Gopaldas’ wife.

Gopaldas was born to a merchant in Rupapura. Gomati was born in Asaruva to Bhaila Kothari. Gopaldas was mute from birth. This was because, in his previous birth, he had been Narasi Mehta who was always begging the Lord for something or other and causing Him much trouble. For this offense he was born mute. When he was five years old he was engaged to Bhaila Kothari’s daughter Gomati.

*Part 1*

Gopaldas was Bhaila Kothari’s son-in-law. The first time that Sri Gusainji had graced Bhaila Kothari’s home, Kothari had all his family members initiated with the Lord’s Name and Brahma Sambandha and made them all bow low to Sri Gusainji.

At the moment when it was Gopaldas’ turn, Sri Gusainji asked Bhaila Kothari, “Who is this?” Gopaldas was nine years old at the time. Kothari replied that this boy was his daughter’s chosen husband.

Sri Gusainji laughed and said, “Gomati’s husband is an ocean! He is very innocent. Will this be a suitable match?”

Kothari answered, “O, Maharaj! He will become an ocean through your grace.”

Regarding Gopaldas to thus be Kothari’s son-in-law, Sri Gusainji sat him on his lap and put some of the remnants of his meal into his mouth. As he swallowed it Gopaldas’ intelligence was immediately purified and enlightened. Gopaldas prostrated to Sri Gusainji and began his composition of the “Sri Vallabhakhyan.”

One of the lines read: “I bow to lord Sri Vitthal, beautiful like the rain-filled cloud and the Tamal tree.”

Gopaldas sang the whole of this chapter before Sri Gusainji. Both he and Bhaila Kothari were delighted. Sri Gusainji instructed Gopaldas to continue to sing the praises of Sri Vallabhacharyaji. Gopaldas again bowed to him and sang, “By simply remembering Sri Vallabhji, the son of Sri Lakshman, all ones sins are dissolved.”

One of the lines read: “I bow to lord Sri Vitthal, beautiful like the rain-filled cloud and the tamal tree.”

Gopaldas sang the whole of this chapter before Sri Gusainji. Both he and Bhaila Kothari were delighted. Sri Gusainji instructed Gopaldas to continue to sing the praises of Sri Vallabhacharyaji. Gopaldas again bowed to him and sang,

“By simply remembering Sri Vallabhji, the son of Sri Lakshman, all one’s sins are dissolved.”

When he sang these verses before Sri Gusainji he said, “Now Gomati’s husband is truly an ocean. Such was his blessing upon him. After this, Gopaldas composed seven more chapters.

*bhav-prakash*

In this story we see how Sri Gusainji uplifts his devotees. Bhaila Kothari was sure that Sri Gusainji could transform Gopaldas into an ‘ocean’. His word was immediately fruitful. After this, Gopaldas also sang, “By the grace of the devotees’ foot dust everything can be perfected.”

*Part 2*

Susequently, Gopaldas composed many such poems in Gujarati in Narasi Mehta’s name.

*bhav-prakash*

This is because he realized who he had been in his previous life. Now he knew that he had been Narasi Mehta and had, in that birth, sung to Sri Thakurji according to the ways of the Path of Lawful Limitations. At this juncture he wanted to sing to Him according to the Ways of the Path of Grace, so that his voice would now be related purely to the Path of Pure Devotion.

*Part 2 Continued*

Sri Gusainji transformed Gopaldas into an ‘ocean’ through his grace.

[Here the meaning of ‘ocean’ is an endless source of inspirational words expressing divine sentiments to the Lord. Sri Vallabhacharyaji called Surdasji and Paramanandadasji oceans too.]

Once Sri Gusainji was in Gokul with Chacha Harivamsji. He instructed him to go to Gujarat.

Chachaji asked him, “O, Maharaj! How will I be able to pass my time without your sight?”

Sri Gusainji answered him, “Chachaji! Keep in regular touch with Bhaila Kothari and Gopaldas. I will also regularly let you have my sight.” Then Chachaji took his leave and left for Gujarat.

From the day that he left Gokul, Chachaji was granted the daily sight of Sri Gusainji. He reached his destination and there kept in regular contact with Bhaila Kothari and Gopaldas.

Thus concludes Varta 11, the story of Gopaldas, a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s great grace and an accomplished Vaishnava. There is, in reality, no end to his story.

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Vrindavan, 2017.03. 05IMG-20170301-WA00061.jpg: Indiscriminate dumping of debris in Yamuna river banks threatens the river eco –system in Vrindavan. Yamuna is rapidly changing its course due to the accumulation of debris from large scale construction around Vrindavan and rampant illegal mining on its banks.

The dumping of debris has remained un-checked on the Yamuna bed even after rulings from the National Green Tribunal barring the dumping of debris on the riverbed and its floodplains. The district administration of Mathura hasn’t taken any step to prevent the illegal dumping, even after several complaints made by the river activists. Yamuna flows for a stretch of 5 km in the city starting from Varaha Ghat. Instead of taking the debris at the landfill site, people are dump debris along the river banks. As prolonged dumping of debris encroaches river area, people in the riverside are using this new land mass to develop colonies. The new colonies have come up on the entire stretch near Kaliya daha and Old Madan Mohan Temple.

Such scenario was also observed near Bhramar ghat and Cheer Ghat areas. Hence, the river flowing for a breadth of around 500 meters on an average has shrunk les than 100 meters in several places. During the floods, it will pose serious problem to the city areas.

The locals claimed that it was a regular practice that bullock cart full of debris are dumped at Bhramar Ghat, Chirghat and Yugal Ghat areas on the river bed. Sometimes the debris is brought in tractor-trailers also to fill the Yamuna bank.

The dumping of the debris on the Yamuna bank continued unchecked for more than two decades, burying the spectacular heritage ghats of Vrindavan. Several Ghats have been disappeared under the mounds of debris.

According to the rules to manage construction and demolition waste, the local bodies have to commission construction and demolition waste plants – mainly to recycle them. No such plants do exist in Vrindavan or in the Mathura district.

The law came as the Center was of the opinion that this dumping in river beds, open spaces, drains and forest areas is unscientific and any violation would lead to penal provisions according to the Environment Protection Act of 1986.

The ‘mindless’ filling of the river be to build the Parikrama of Vrindavan, has in fact, helped the land mafias who reclaimed the land of Yamuna to develop the colonies. The modern ‘Parikrama Marg’, which was built after filling the debris on the Yamuna bed, has turned into a busy motor-able road, which has become very dangerous for the devotees who perform Parikrma. It is a life risk for those who perform the ‘Dandavati Parikrama’.  The environmentalists have warned that constant dumping of garbage and rubble is fraught with dangerous consequences. These include implications on the river flow, raising the flood hazard by the city people, causing their displacement, pushing down the groundwater recharging and destroying the environment

Leaving the meandering flow of the river, the remaining river bed area was used for growing vegetable and flowers. But now the flow has been restricted to a narrow channel and people are reclaiming the remaining area for the developing colonies there.

Vrindavan has almost lost its magnificent Yamuna ghats to the greed of the people who buried them to reclaim the Yamuna’s land. If the dumping is not prevented the little area left between Keshi Ghat to Bihar Ghat will also be lost, which could well turned into a heritage corridor.

 

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May Pavan Sarovar Protect Me

May Pāvan Sarovar, which is surrounded by kadamb trees and swarms of buzzing bees, and where the lotus-eyed gopīs repeatedly and lovingly come on the pretext of fetching water to blissfully meet the Prince of cowherds there, protect me.

VERSE 59:

kadambānāṁ vrātair madhupa kula jhaṅkāra lalitaiḥ
parīte yatraiva priya salila līlāhṛti miṣaiḥ
muhur gopendrasyātmajam abhisarantyambuja dṛśo
vinodena prītyā tad idam avatāt pāvana saraḥ

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā:  In this verse, Raghunath Das Goswami praises Pāvan Sarovar.

Pāvan Sarovar is situated in the peerless abode of extraordinary natural beauty, Sri Nandishwar Giri (the hill upon which Nandgaon is situated).

pāvanākhyaṁ saraḥ krīḍā kuñja puñja sphurat taṭam (Radha-Kṛṣṇa-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā) “Sri Krishna’s lake is known as Pāvan. There are many lovely arbours on its banks.”

To give an indication of the beauty of Pāvan Sarovar, Das Goswami says: kadambānāṁ vrātair madhupa kula jhaṅkāra lalitaiḥ parīte – “Pāvan Sarovar is surrounded by kadamb trees and swarms of buzzing bees.”

This is simply a slight indication of the actual beauty of the place. Factually, Sri Govinda’s playgrounds are endowed with a wonderful, transcendental beauty that is able to delight even Sri Govinda, who is Himself the embodiment of transcendental bliss. Śrī-Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpād has written:

divyāneka vicitra puṣpa phalavad vallī tarūṇāṁ tatir
divyāneka mayūra kokila śukādyānandam ādyāt kalāḥ
divyāneka saraḥ sarid giri varaḥ pratyagra kuñjāvalīr
divyā kāñcana ratna bhūmir api māṁ vṛndāvane’mohayat
(Vrindavan Mahimāmṛta 2.2)

“Vrindavan’s trees and vines, with their many divine and wonderful fruits and flowers, the many divine peacocks, cuckoos, parrots and other birds that sing in a way that maddens with transcendental bliss, the many divine lakes, rivers and mountains, the beautiful new arbours and the divine golden and jeweled grounds, simply enchant my mind!”

These lakes are filled with clear water that is covered with white, black, red and golden lotus flowers as well as kahlāra flowers, there are many singing waterbirds, like cakravāks, ducks, cranes, kuravas and swans, and there are swarms of sweetly-humming bumblebees, who are attracted to the fragrance of the aforementioned flowers.

Pāvan Sarovar is the most important one of these lakes. The banks of this large lake are covered with large kadamb trees that are filled with swarms of humming bees. In this lake, Sri Krishna eternally bathes and plays water sports. When they see his world-enchanting Form, all the mobile and immobile beings are enchanted. The lotus-eyed beauties of Vraj repeatedly go to Pāvan Sarovar on the pretext of fetching water, knowing that they will meet their hearts’ thief Sri Hari there.

Das Goswami says: “On the pretext of fetching water, the lotus-eyed Vrajasundarīs come again and again to Pāvan Sarovar to meet Krishna”. This love-journey is the inevitable result of passionate love. Wherever there is strong passion, a love-journey is inevitable. A love-journey to Shyam shows a great power of the heart. The heart anxiously comes running to see the desired Beloved. This is called abhisār.

The Mahājans sing: gharamāho rahata rahai nā pāro. ki korobo i sab vighini vithāra “I am staying at home, but I cannot stay there anymore. What can I do? There are so many obstalces!” Nothing – no elders, no family and no moral code – can stop the powerful course of this abhisār. The passionate love of the gopīs, which makes them want to see Krishna, forcibly drags their hearts towards Pāvan Sarovar again and again, where they run on the pretext of fetching water. Sometimes, when there are no elders around, they can enjoy sweet water sports there with Sri Krishna.

Śrīpād says: “May that Pāvan Sarovar protect me”, meaning: “May it bless me by showing me the sweet pastimes of Sri Radha and the Vrajasundarīs!”

madhupa kula jhaṅkāre, mukharita nirantare,
ye kadamba taruvara śreṇī
pāvana sarasī tīre, ghiriyāche cāri dhāre,
śuka pika bhramarera dhvani
jala-bharā chala kori, vraje yoto sukumārī,
yāya tārā sarovara tīre
gopendranandana kṛṣṇa, daraśane yārā tṛṣṇa,
jala pheli yāya bāre bāre
gurujanera agocare, kabhu jalakeli kore,
kṛṣṇa saṅge preme nimagana
duhuka sambhoga keli, sarovare sakhī mili,
kobe mora hobe daraśana

“The bank of Pāvan Sarovar is filled with rows of the most excellent Kadamb trees where swarms of bumblebees are constantly humming and parrots and cuckoos are singing. All the tender girls of Vraj go to the bank of that lake on the pretext of fetching water, being very eager to meet Krishna, the prince of cowherds. They purposely spill their water again and again just so they can keep going back to the lake. Without their elders’ knowledge, they sometimes come and play in the water with Krishna, immersed in ecstatic love. When will I see Krishna’s enjoyment with Shri Radha and Her sakhīs in that divine lake?”

 

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The Lynching of the Gossip

This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the tenth varta, part 3.

*Part 3*

Once Sri Gusainji was residing in Asaruva village. Someone went to the Chief Minister of Gujarat to gossip.

In the district of Dholaka there was one Lachabai and her brother who lived together in one house. That Lachabai was very influential in all Gujarat. The person who went to gossip took with him one well-known eunuch named Baj Bahadur who was part of her entourage.

They said, “There is a Holy man come to Gokul. He is living in Rajnagar cohabiting with Kothari’s sister, although he is reputed to be a Great Soul!”

Lachabai gave her written permission for Baj Bahadur to go to Asaruva and investigate.

Baj Bahadur came to Aaruva and surrounded Sri Gusainji’s residence. Sri Gusainji had already heard about this and had retreated inside. In his baithak Bancha Baghela, Jhaboji, the Rajput Garasiya and Kothari were present with about ten others.

Baj Bahadur came into the baithak and sat down. Sri Gusainji was sitting on his cushions. Baj Bahadur stood up and bowed low to Sri Gusainji. Then he sat down again. Baj Bahadur then said something to Sri Gusainji in his own language. Sri Gusainji replied to him in that same language in a very nice way and explained perfectly to him whatever he had asked.

Baj Bahadur was immensely pleased. In Sri Gusainji’s response he recognized his divinity. He felt that Sri Gusainji was the Lord Himself, and that the others had been crazy and just wanted to lure him into conflict.

On the day that Baj Bahadur came to Sri Gusainji, it was the rainy season. However, there had been no rainfall in that part of the coutry. All the people were perplexed.

Baj Bahadur addressed Si Gusainji, “O, Maharaj! This land is suffering without water.” Sri Gusainji replied that a lot of rain was on the way. Baj Bahadur paid his respects and began to set off.

Sri Gusainji gave him a Prasadi stuffed paan leaf. Baj Bahadur put it on his head and requested Sri Gusainji to give him something that he could keep with him on his head at all times. Sri Gusainji presented him with a betal nut.

He put the betal nut up to his head out of respect and then tucked it into the fold of his turban.

He prostrated to Sri Gusainji one more time and set off to go home. While he was on the way, it suddenly began to rain. It was heavy rain and he had to struggle to get home. Baj Bahadur felt so happy.

After going home he proceeded to tell Lachabai all of this news. She immediately gave the order that the who had told the tales should pay for that misdemeanour with his life so that in future no one would be tempted to do the same.

The mother of the tell-tale heard this order to execute her son. She went to Sri Gusainji taking her son with her and, taking shelter of Sri Gusainji, pleaded with him saying, “The people here want to lynch my son. Therefore I have brought him, my dear son, to you.” Sri Gusainji then sent an instruction to Baj Bahadur not to execute anyone.

Baj Bahadur accepted this plea of Sri Gusainji and forbade his men to act as planned. After some days, Baj Bahadur summoned the offender to Court. He said, “I have saved you because of Sri Gusainji’s request. However, if you ever spread lies and rumours again, I shall personally finish you off on the spot.” He consoled him in this way. Sri Gusainji returned to Gokul after some more days.

*bhav-prakash*

Here the teaching is that a Vaishnava must have compassion for all living beings. However wicked a thief or gossip a person may be they should, as far as possible, be delivered rather than slain.

Thus concludes Varta 10, the story of Bhaila Kothari who was a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s great grace and an accomplished Vaishnava, although, truly, there is no end to his tale.

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Purushottam-Goswami-young.jpgVrindavan, 2017.03.02 (Vishakha Dasi for VT): Shri Purushottam Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple was a soul immersed in the seva of Shri Radharaman Lal. For the sake of that seva he came to this world, and for the sake of that seva he has departed from our midst.

On May 22, 1923, Shri Purushottam Goswami took birth in the dynasty of Shri Damodar Das Goswami, the disciple of one of the Gaudiya Sampradaya’s founding fathers, Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami. This rare birth bestowed upon him the most precious right to touch the lotus feet of Shri Radharamanji – to serve Him. According to his son Shri Shrivatsa Goswami, Shri Purushottam Goswami Maharaj’s service for Shri Radharaman Lal had three main facets.

First and foremost, Maharajji loved the direct service of Shri Radharaman Lal, and he served Him with utmost excellence. Whenever it was his family’s turn to serve in the temple, the temple was transformed with exquisite decor, cleanliness and discipline.

The manner in which he dressed and adorned Shri Radharamanji was of the highest echelon of elegance. Maharajji possessed mastery over all the arts of bhog-raag seva. In the kitchen of Shri Radharamanji he cooked often, and prepared the most amazing dishes for Him.

On several occasions beginning in the 1960s, he offered a special, grand bhog called Nandalay bhog. The Nandalay Bhog is even more elaborate than chhappan bhog, and is prepared according to the descriptions in the holy book Govind Lilamrit, wherein Shri Radharani prepares hundreds of dishes for Shri Krishna’s pleasure. The very same dishes prepared by Shri Radharani are offered to Shri Radharamanji during Nandalay bhog, replicating the ancient recipes from the scripture.

Maharajji designed many amazing and innovative banglas (decorative environments) for Shri Radharamanji’s pleasure. On one occasion the entire altar was transformed into a divine garden, including a lake with real fish and turtles, in the midst of which Shri Radharamanji floated blissfully upon a real boat. And on another occasion Shri Radharamanji was enthroned upon a divine aeroplane. These are just some of the examples of the unique joys that Shri Radharaman got to savor during Maharajji’s seva. Maharajji also loved to sing for Shriji and continued to do so till the end of his life.

Maharajji’s second cherished seva was the service of the scriptures, especially the Shrimad Bhagwatam. His kathas raised the bar of Shrimad Bhagwatam scholarship. In his youth, Maharajji studied under Sarvabhaum Goswami Damodar Lal Shastri with utmost dedication and mastered the art of Bhagwatam recitation.

Although Shri Purushottam Goswami was a householder, he kept a strict schedule of personal worship and study. At times he would vow to read the entire Srimad Bhagwatam in a week for his own private bhajan, which he did amidst his already busy schedule of seva.

His kathas on this holy text were presented in simple language that was easy to understand, and decorated with song and dramatic flavor. His audiences felt all the more connected as he explained how the scriptural stories reflect upon everyday life.

In addition to his service for Shrimad Bhagwatam, almost seventy volumes of the Gaudiya Sampraday’s foundational texts were edited and published by him in the 1940s, in conjunction with Shri Puridasji. These were distributed to libraries and scholars free of cost.

1974.jpg← Shri Purushottam Goswami participating in Raas Lila (1974)

Maharajji’s third beloved seva was Raas Lila. Raas Lila is a kind of sacred theatre where the stories of Shri Radha and Krishna are told through drama and song. Maharajji worked closely with many of the foremost Raas Lila artists to help them perfect their craft. He was the one who worked with Baba Premananda to create the first Chaitanya Lila or Gauranga Lila in Braj Bhasha in the 1940s. He brought the Raas Lila on tour to such diverse locations as Chennai and France, whilst retaining the original language of Braj Bhasha. Language was not a barrier, however; the excellence of the production was sufficient to connect the hearts of audiences with the heart of Braj.

Maharajji also produced ashtayam lila – a special Raas Lila play in which a twenty-four hour day in the life of Shri Radha-Krishna is presented in real-time over the course of about a week. For these presentations, Maharajji would write the script, choose the music and generally oversee the entire production. He also introduced the ashtayam lila of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the same way.

On February 21st, 2017, Shri Purushottam Goswami left this world to continue his eternal offering of seva at Shri Radharamanji’s lotus feet. His sons Shri Shrivatsa Goswami and Shri Venu Gopal Goswami remain with us, upholding their father’s legacy of excellence in service to Shri Radharaman Lal.

Devotees are invited to offer their respects to Shri Purushottam Goswami Maharaj at Jaisingh Ghera on Sunday, the fifth of March at 11am.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.02.03 (V.T): The ten day long ‘Brahmotsavam’ began at Shri Goda Hardev Mandir on Thursday, with hoisting of the Sacred Garuda flag atop the golden Dhwajasthmbam (holy mast) inside the temple. The religious activities of the festival include the daily yajnas and processions for the utsava murti (movable deities) on different vahanas (vehicles) which are made of gold, silver, sandal wood etc.

At the appointed auspicious time, the flag was hoisted to the divine chanting sound of the Vedas accompanied by Nathaswaram music, drums and cymbals. The priests then invited all the sacred rivers, all the gods and goddesses and all the rishis and seers to come and witness and bless the occasion.

After the ceremony was over, the Lord was taken around on the procession. The Lord was beaming graciously upon the multitude of devotees thronging at His feet for darshan. The grandeur marked the procession on the first day of the ten days long annual Brahotsavam of Lord Venkateshwara.


Lord Vaikunthanath mounted on ‘Purna Kothi’ in the morning and the procession passed through different markets of the town where the devotees welcomed the God by offering bhog and performing aarati. The senior priests were walking before the chariot, whereas the Brahmins were walking behind the chariot chanting the Veda mantras.
Devotee made rangolis on the street through which the procession passed. The procession finally reached Gyan Gudri and stationed for an hour at the “Uddhav Gopi Samvad Sthal.’

The lord gave darshan to the devotees and then went back to the temple. In the evening the procession was taken out again, in which the lord mounted on a lion.
Swami Dev Narayan Acharya, the head priest of the temple said, “Bhagwan Venkateshwara will come out twice from the temple for nine days, mounting on different ‘vahans’ to give darshan to His beloved devotees.”


Acharya Naresh Naryan said, “The origin of this celebration began by Brahma, the creator God, who first conducted this festival to Sri Balaji at Tirupati. Brahma worshiped Sri Balaji on the banks of the holy Pushkarini.”

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I always eagerly worship Ariṣṭakuṇd (Shyam Kund), which automatically sprang from Krishna’s lotus feet just as honey naturally trickles from a blooming flower when the wicked Ariṣṭa-demon was killed, which was beautified with staircases by Sri Radha out of great love, and which lovingly embraces Sri Radhakuṇḍ.

VERSE 58:

duṣṭāriṣṭa-vadhe svayam samudabhūt kṛṣṇāṅghri padmād idam
sphīṭam yan makaranda vistritir ivāriṣṭākhyam iṣṭam saraḥ

sopānaiḥ pariraJjitam priyatayā śrI rādhayā kāritaiḥ
premnālingad iva priyā sara idam tan nitya nityam bhaje

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Das Goswami praises Ariṣṭakuṇḍ or Shyam Kund. In the previous verse he desired to worship the early adolescence of Śrī-Śrī Radha-Mādhava, and now he suddenly thinks in great humility: “The worship of the Divine Pair’s early adolescence is very intimate, is it possible for a person like me, whose heart is pierced by lusty desires, to perform such a spotless worship?” While being absorbed in bhajan on the bank of Shyam Kund, Das Goswami meditates upon the kund which destroys all mischief. Hence he praises Sri Shyam Kund in this verse, desiring to destroy all the obstacles to his bhajan.

While the bull-demon Ariṣṭāsur was killed, Shyam Kund became manifest like honey flowing from Sri Krishna’s lotuslike feet. After killing the demon Ariṣṭa, who had appeared in the form of a bull, Sri Krishna desired to purify his body and thus struck the ground with his left heel. This caused the divine Gaṅgā to appear from the Pātāla (subterranean) regions.

Seeing this, Sri Krishna said: “O holy waters! āgaccha! āgaccha! (Come! come!)”, and all the holy waters of the world entered into this cavity. Because Krishna accomplished this by striking the ground with his heel, Raghunath Das Goswami gives the analogy here that it was as if Sri Shyam Kund manifested itself automatically in the form of a stream of honey that emanated from Sri Krishna’s lotus feet.

Sri Shyam Kund is very dear to Sri Radharani, because it is the lake of Sri Śyāmasundara, who is dearer to her than millions of life-airs. When the kuṇḍa advented itself, Srimati said: rādhā’bravid aham api sva sakhībhir etya snāsyāmy ariṣṭa śata mardanam astu tasya; yo’riṣṭa mardana sarasyuru-bhaktiratrasnāyād vasen mama sa eva mahāpriyo’stu Radha replied: “I will also bathe here with my girlfriends! Hundreds of sins of anyone who bathes in this Krishnakuṇḍ with devotion and lives on its banks will be destroyed, and that person will become very dear to me!”

Sri Radharani daily bathes at the Mānasa Pāvana Ghāṭ of her dearmost Sri Shyam Kund with her dearmost girlfriends, and for the sake of bathing, Srimati personally decorated Sri Shyam Kund with a flight of stairs.

Sri Shyam Kund keeps its dear Sri Radhakuṇḍ in a loving embrace. The two kuṇḍs are nondifferent from the dual forms of Śrī-Sri Radha-Mādhava, and just as Sri Krishna embraces his Priyājī with the greatest love, similarly Sri Shyam Kund most lovingly keeps Sri Radhakuṇḍa, which is nondifferent from Srimati, in an embrace.

At the auspicious time of Sri Radha Kund’s appearance, all the holy waters that had assembled in Shyam Kund began to praise Srimati in personified forms, aiming to please her so that they could also dwell in her kuṇḍ. Then, as soon as they got Priyājī’s permission, the holy waters most blissfully broke the wall that existed between the two kuṇḍs and streamed from Shyam Kund into Radha Kund. This place is known as the Saṅgam.

Consequently, the holy waters united the two kuṇḍs under this pretext and now reside in both kuṇḍs. It is at this Saṅgam passage that Sri Shyam Kund lovingly embraces Sri Radha Kund!!

In the scripture named Sri Govinda Līlāmṛta it is written that when Śyāmasundara sees Sri Radha Kund, he vividly remembers his Priyājī, and when he sees the two kuṇḍs meet at the Saṅgam passage many bhāva-citras (love-filled images) of his meeting with Priyājī appear in his mind and heart:

khelac cakra-yugorojaṁ pheṇa muktā-srag ujjvalam
rasormy-uccalitaṁ mene priya vakṣaḥ samaṁ saraḥ
madhura rasa taraṅgā vibhrati paṅkajāsyaṁ
bhramaraka parivītaṁ prollasat khañjanākṣam
pramudita Hariṇoccair haṁsakārāva ramyā
priyatama sarasī sā preyasīva vyaloki
sva preṣṭhāriṣṭa kuṇḍormi cañcat bāhūpagūhitā
sva kokanada pāṇibhyāṁ kṣipta tac calatat karā
samīra cañcad ambhoja calāsyena balād iva
cumbitāli kaṭākṣeṣat tiryag ambuja sanmukhī
bhṛṅgī jhaṅkāra śītkāra vikala svara gadgadā
prodyat kuṭṭamitā tena rādhikeva vyaloki sā

(Govinda Līlāmṛta 7.104-108)

The playing cakravāk ducks on the water reminded Krishna of Priyājī’s breasts, the foam on the water of her pearl necklace, and the water’s waves of her loving mood. All these items reminded him of her chest. This dearmost lake reminded Hari of his dearmost beloved. The sweet waves of water are like the waves of her sweet love, the lotus flowers in the water are like her lotus face, the bees surrounding those lotuses are the curly locks surrounding her lotus face, the restless wagtail birds are like her playful eyes, and the loud and sweet warbling of the swans reminded him of her jingling anklebells. The red lotus flowers that stop the intruding waves of Shyam Kund’s water reminded Krishna of Radhika’s ruddy lotus-like hands that try to stop him from embracing her, and the lotus flowers, moved by the wind from Shyam Kund, that are falling over the lotuses in Radha Kund and which are adorned with bumblebees, remind him of her crooked glances during his efforts to kiss her lotus face. The buzzing of the bees reminded Krishna of Radhika’s faltering screams when she pretends to be angry with him.” Das Goswami says: “I always worship this Ariṣṭakuṇḍ, which is nondifferent from Śyāmasundara!”

ariṣṭa nidhana ante, kṛṣṇa pādapadma ho’te,
yei sarovara samudbhūta
puṣpa pūrṇa vikāśete, yaiche madhu jhare tā’te,
taiche ariṣṭakuṇḍa suvikhyāta
śrī rādhikā priya-jñāne, snāna keli jalapāne,
surañjita korilo sopāne.
govinda preyasī rādhā, ati priya kuṇḍa tathā,
rādhākuṇḍe kore āliṅgane
ati sphīta kalevara, yaiche śyāma manohara,
sadā hoka sei kuṇḍe vāsa.
snāna, pāna, ārādhanā, saṅge vrajavāsī janā,
sadā bhaji ei mora āśa

“I always aspire to worship the very famous Ariṣṭakuṇḍ, the lake that was created from Krishna’s lotus feet after the demon Ariṣṭa was killed just as honey flows from blooming flowers. Sri Radhika, who loves this place because she bathes here and drinks the water, has decorated it with a staircase. This kuṇḍ, which is very dear to Govinda’s beloved Radha, embraces Radhakuṇḍ and has a very large body, just like enchanting Shyam. May I always reside near this kuṇḍ and bathe there, drink its water and worship it along with the people of Vraj!”

 

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Today is the disappearance day of Shri Shri 108 Radharaman Charan Das Babaji Mahashay.

Born in 1853 in Jessore, in what is now Bangladesh, Babaji Mahashay was famous for the many miracles that surrounded him: trees danced and the dead came back to life when he sang the Holy Name in kirtan. But most important was the miracle of love that he brought to thousands of thirsting souls.

Rather than attempt to encapsulate his entire life in a single post today, I would like to share one of the most famous stories from his life – the Festival of Dogs or Kukkurer Mahotsav. Here it is, as told by Dr. OBL Kapoor in his book The Life of Love.

This lila demonstrates the power of faith in Krishna and in the words of the guru. It also shows how all living beings should be respected as the dwelling place of the Lord.

 

from The Life of Love by Dr. OBL Kapoor

One day when Babaji Mahashay was returning from Mahaprabhu’s Temple performing kirtan with his party, a female dog came and joined the procession on the way. The sankirtan party stopped at various places and sang, and then proceeded with redoubled vigor, singing the sankirtan with maddening peals.

Every time the party stopped, the dog would pause till the party passed by and then she would roll and toss on the ground, just as a devotee would do to bless his soul. She went on doing this, and followed the party to their destination, and then she found it in her heart to stay with them at their place.

They called her Bhakti Ma (Mother Devotion), for she was no ordinary dog - she was never found consorting with the rest of her species, as other dogs would, but always keeping company with the devotees and regularly attending sankirtan at home and abroad, wherever it was held.

Days went on, and Bhakti Ma was taken ill. She was wasting away day by day till one day it was felt she was going to shuffle off her mortal coil, and so the sankirtan was held in her hearing to pour down the Lord’s blessings on her de­parting soul. And so she passed away with the Lord’s Name in her ears, and her body was thrown into the sacred stream of the Ganges - a departure to be envied by saints with hopes of salvation in the afterlife.

The Chira Mahotsava was duly performed, as usual after the departure of a devotee, on the fourth day after her demise, and Babaji Mahashay thought of giving an entertainment-service to the Vaishnavas for blessing her soul in the Land of Bliss.

This entertainment was accordingly scheduled for the four­teenth day after her departure.  Babaji Mahashay said that some of her kin must be fed to complete the ceremony in the proper way. His attendants were struck dumb with surprise to hear this strange proposal from the lips of our Barha Babaji. For, whoever heard that dogs could be formally invited to dinner and made to act accordingly?

But there was one - our old friend Navadwip Das Babaji­ who had the nerve to believe in everything that fell from Babaji’s lips. He started up and said, “Well then, please let me know what I must do to see it done?”

Babaji Mahashay said, “Why, it is so simple. You should only prostrate yourself whenever you meet any of the dogs in the street and tell them with folded hands, ‘we humbly solicit the favour of your company along with your friends and relatives at the dinner service, to be held tomorrow in memory of our late lamented Bhakti Ma, at the premises of our gurudeva in the Barhal Ghat quarter of the city,’ and so it shall be done.”

Now, this is the usual form of invitation letters addressed to our human guests on such occasions, and we may readily guess at the incredible impropriety of this address to be deli­vered to dogs for similar purposes, and the heavy responsibility of the man appointed to shoulder this mighty task. Navadwip was only too keenly conscious of the charge laid to his care, and he fell at his Babaji’s feet with tears in his eyes. He felt that it was something which he could never hope to accomplish by himself unaided by the mysterious powers on high, and Babaji Mahashay slapped him on the back and let him go.

Navadwip was surcharged - he staggered - he reeled and tottered from side to side as he walked and one would have taken him for a drunkard or a madcap who met him in the way. But on close scrutiny one might have seen that he was absorbed - the figure of a saint of power to work miracles at his own sweet will. And so he went and took a round in the city, acting up to the biddings of his master, till it was night-fall, when he returned back to his lodging.

Next morning, preparations were going on for the proposed entertainment and Vaishnavas were summoned to join the festi­val, when news arrived that some of the leading Vaishnavas came to think that their prestige would be at stake if they would go and join a festival where dogs were some of the invited guests. Barha Babaji went personally to the Barha Akhrah to settle the affair, but to no purpose. Some of them were inexorable, but the festival was held in spite of their stout resistance, and a thousand others came to witness the strange performance.

Some of these guests had a shrewd suspicion that it would end in a farce after all, for evidently it was something impossible, which could never be brought about. Others had great confidence in the Babaji, and thought he could make the impossible possible when he had a mind to do it.

Then came Radheshyama Baba, and all stood up and prostrated them­selves before this worshipful personage. He was affectionately disposed towards Babaji Mahashay, and he began to take him to task for setting his hands to a task which could not on the face of it be accomplished at all. He also urged that he would be sorely aggrieved if the proposed entertainment of dogs would prove a failure, for he could not brook to hear Babaji Mahashay belittled by anybody, although our Babaji himself might not take it to heart and laugh it away.

Babaji Mahashay argued that God - they all agree to affirm - was omnipresent, present in dogs as well as in men, and so appeals made to God in the dogs must necessarily have the same effect as those made to God inherent in men. He prayed them to remember that God came out of a pillar and manifested Himself as Narasimha, when Prahlad appealed to Him to show Himself to his demon father Hiranyakashipu. So, as it is true that God is in all beings, by the same truth shall the dogs come and take their share in the proceedings of the day. He concluded by saying that it was their want of faith in the Lord that made them suspect the practicability of the whole thing.

The day wore on, and the assembly were just hoping to see their skeptical prophecies fulfilled, when be­hold! The dogs actually began to appear, one by one.

Barha Babaji Mahashay saw this and started to his feet at once. He prostrated himself before his canine guests, and duly received them as he showed them to their seats on the royal road at the Barhal Ghat.

There was great sensation amongst the people, and they gazed on one another in dumb surprise.

The news spread, and a thousand others came to witness the strange performance. Oh wonder! Is it possible that dogs would accept a human invitation and come as guests in response to our human appeals? Maybe they have come only in expectation of the bits and crumbs thrown away on such occasions. But no, not one, two or four of them, for the matter of that - they come in crowds. Some fifty to sixty of them have already appeared on the scene! And what was more wonderful… dogs would quarrel, we know; they would fly at each other’s faces whenever two dogs would meet - but no, these dogs came and sat down quietly side by side, as we men should do in our entertainment halls! 

It was something phenomenal indeed and men stood on both sides of the public road to notice the strange proceedings of the unheard of affair.

Babaji Mahashay was transported beyond measure to find that his God sent His grace to show to the skeptical multitude what true faith could do even at the present age in the teeth of the gigantic disbelief so foolishly entertained in the Spirit and Spiritual truths. His eyes reddened with emo­tion as he threw the end of his clothes round his neck, and humbly beseeched his God in the dogs to issue orders for the dinner to be served.

At this, all the dogs looked up to him at once, and he knew what they said, after which he instructed his men to supply his guests with the plantain-leaves, and serve them with all the items of the entertainment rolled into a mass for their acceptance.

And so it was done, his biddings performed – the dogs were individually served with boluses on their leaf-plates on the royal road. Now, look here, wonder again! Dogs with edible matter before them, and they would not touch, they would not partake of the food supplied to them! All the leaves were served one by one, and they sat upright when Babaji Mahashay spoke in a broken voice and with tears in his eyes, requesting them to begin.

At this time, a black dog came and sniffed at the leaves after which the dogs fell to their leaves. Cries of “Hari! Hari!” and “Ulu! Ulu!” were heard on all sides around and they verily seemed to rend the skies above. It was a scene of scenes enacted before the wondering multi­tude, and their exclamations and roars of applause echoed and re-echoed in all quarters of the city.

The service ended, the dogs turned away from the leaves, and then an earthen pot filled with water was offered to each of them. They drank of the pots and sat still - bits were taken as mahaprasad from their leaves and water in a pot as a wash from off their feet - for they were Vaishnavas indeed, and no ordinary dogs, nay, it was God Himself invoked and in­carnated in them by the power of the mighty faith in the Omnipres­ence of God - and then Babaji Mahashay again folded his hands and prostrated himself before them, asking them if they were satisfied, and requesting them to pardon any shortcom­ings on the part of his attendants and retire to their own places at their own sweet will.

The dog-Vaishnavas then left the scene, one by one as they came, and Babaji Mahashay in a paroxysm of transcendental joy rolled and tossed on the blessed leaves from one side to another again and again. The men scrambled for a morsel of the mahaprasad, and our Radhashyam Baba embraced him heartily as he blessed his darling with tearful eyes before he took leave to repair to his lodgings.

Babaji Mahashay gathered the mahaprasad all in a lump, offered it to the departed spirit of Bhakti Ma and then par­took of it in high glee along with his attendants in the Ashram.

It was about ten o’clock in the night, when it was per­ceived that a plateful of prasad was lying unnoticed, and Babaji Mahashay coming to know this, asked his men to keep it intact, for it struck him one of his guests was yet to come and it was to be set apart for him in case he would turn up in the night.

After a while, Babaji Mahashay was coming out of his bed-chamber when he found a red dog lying at the door of his room. The dog saw him and got up at once, and cast significant glances as it looked up to him.

He called Chaitanya, his mate in charge of the prasad, and asked him to serve prasad to the guest at once. Chaitanya did the same, and Navadwip Das now coming up and looking at the newcomer exclaimed that verily it was the same dog he met first of all, and the same whom he requested to convey the message to each and every one of the kinsfolk and bring them all to the festival. So now, they all saw why this particular guest was late, for he had to go about and send his kin along before he himself could come to take his share of the entertainment.

Now, to whom is the credit due? Whose glory should we sing? Bhakti Ma or Babaji Mahashay? The dog-Vaishnavas or Navadwip Das, whose fervent appeals brought them to the scene? Or God Himself and faith in God, which is at the root of this grand performance?

Yes, of course, it is faith, and faith in God, which is to be cherished above everything else - faith, which would open fresh vistas for human understanding to comprehend the High God and His higher laws, whose operations would pass for miracles in the eyes of men - yes, faith, which is the source of all power and love and joy to which we are all entitled as children of immortal bliss - and faith, which would dispel all ignorance and bring us face to face with God, and Sweetness and Light and the Spirit of Love which is in Him and Him alone.

We would have more instances to show that this faith in our Babaji Mahashay enabled him to cure many diseases, nay to stop great epidemics like the plague in Calcutta and cholera at Puri for the matter of that, and even invested him with the power of bringing men back from the horrid jaws of death to live in this world again.

Such instances were only too frequent in the life-history of this great man. We would not enter here into these details, for the final triumph of faith lies not in these petty miracles to overpower the feeble men­tality of the world-wise busybodies of the work-a-day world, but in the fact that faith alone can bring to us all that we are hankering after in life.

Faith alone can give us our Lord of Love, who is the One Eternal Fountain of Bliss Profound, and we think we have seen enough of our Babaji Mahashay by this time to get at this truth of truths to guide our destinies in the journey of life. May we all cherish this faith in the Lord in our heart of hearts, and may we all bask in the blissful sunshine at the feet of our Lord of Love.

A108-AI

This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the tenth varta, parts 1 and 2. See previous.

Varta 10

The Story of Bhaila Kothari who lived in Rajnagar Asaruva

*bhav-prakash*

Bhaila Kothri’s spiritual form has already been told in the story of his brother Harji. Bhaila Kothari was born into a merchant’s family in a village not far from Rajanagar. He was one of three brothers, Beni, Bhaila and Jaita. Their father lived in Rajnagar in the house of the local ruler. He worked in the state storeroom.

When their father died, the ruler gave his position to the three brothers. They all lived in Asaruva near Rajnagar.

Beni Kothari met Narahari Sanyasi and became Sri Acharyaji’s disciple. This has already been told in Narahari Sanyasi’s varta.

The first time that Sri Gusainji travelled to Dwarka, Bhaila and Jaita Kothari became his disciples in Rajnagar. They requested Sri Gusainji to bless their home in Asaruva with his presence. The whole family was initiated at that time.

Bhaila Kothari then enquired of Sri Gusainji, “What is our duty now?” He replied that they should serve the Lord.

Sri Gusainji brought one of his own Child Krishna deities for Bhaila. However, Bhaila implored him, “O, Maharaj! My heart’s desire is to serve you yourself.” Sri Gusainji gave him his sandals to serve.

Jaita Kothari was also known as Mathura Kothari. His mind was always absorbed in Sri Gusainji’s form. He wrote quite a number of songs about Sri Thakurji, Sri Acharyaji and Sri Gusainji. Sri Gusainji was always pleased with him.

*Part 1*

Bhaila Kothari would write many letters to Sri Gusainji begging him to come to his home, “O, Maharaj! Please come here at least once!” Then one day Sri Gusainji, who was in Gokul, suddenly decided to go to Dwarka to have the Holy Sight of Sri Ranchorlalji, and also to fulfill Bhaila Kothari’s desire.

His first stop was Fatepur Sikri. Sri Gusainji left on this trip without informing Champabhai the manager, nor Sankarbhai the storekeeper. He just suddenly set off for Fatehpur Sikri.

Birbal was in Fatehpur and he heard that Sri Gusainji had arrived there. Birbal came before Sri Guasinji and bowed low to him. He got Sri Gusainji to shift his camp close to his own and set up some resting places for him there. Then Champabhai and Sankarbhai came there and, after prostrating to Sri Gusainji, asked him why he had so suddenly left.

Sri Gusainji replied to them, “I have not seen Bhaila for a long time. So I am going to Gujarat.” Hearing this response Champabhai and Sankarbhai kept quiet.

Later on, Birbal asked Champabhai why Sri Gusainji was in such a hurry. Champabhai felt it was because the store had run into debt. Birbal asked how much the debt was that it had caused Sri Gusainji to leave so quickly. “Please tell me how much it is and I shall settle the debt,” He said. “Then you can stop Sri Gusainji from travelling afar and take him home.”

Sri Gusainji is the inner witness to everyones’ hearts. He knew what they had been discussing and so he left Fatehpur suddenly in the middle of the night without telling anyone and carried on with his journey.

*bhav-prakash*

Why? Sri Gusainji had already stipulated that he would not travel far and wide for the sake of collecting funds. Therefore, he went to Gujarat for the sake of having the Holy Sight of Sri Dwarkapuriji and for the sake of accepting Divine Souls.

Champabhai, now the manager, had a worldly mindset, and therefore answered Birbal as he did.

Birbal, as well, although he was initiated by Si Gusainji, kept negative company and had therefore turned his heart away from the Lord. So he said he would be able to pay off the debt.

Displeased with their attitudes, Sri Gusainji suddenly got up to leave without informing anyone.

Therefore, a Vaishnava should know that they must never judge the Guru’s activities with a worldly mindset. This is an important principle. Even a great Vaishnava like Narayandas got separated because of his worldly thoughts. That story has just been related.

Vaishnavas must be very careful in their attitude, speech and behaviour.

*Part 1 continued*

It was very early morning when Birbal heard about Sri Gusainji setting off for Gujarat. Sri Gusainji traveled quickly to Rajnagar and reached Bhaila Kothari’s house.

Bhaila Kothari thought to himself that he would now be able to serve Sri Gusainji in all the ways he had been thinking of. Sri Gusainji remained in his house for a few days, had the Holy Sight of Sri Ranachodlalji in Dwarka and then returned on the same route and arrived back in Gokul after some more days.

When he reached home he wrote a letter to Birbal. Birbal was very surprised to see the letter.

Bhaila Kothari was thus a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s grace and an accomplished Vaishnava. Sri Gusainji remembered him and came to visit him and grant him his sight.

*Part 2*

At one time Sri Gusainji was residing in Asaruva. Chachaji was with him.

One day Chachaji humbly requested Sri Gusainji, “O, Maharaj! Bhaila Kothari is in a lot of debt.”

He told him the same thing three times. Sri Gusainji said to Chachaji, “The money is not an issue, it will come from somewhere or other, but if Kothari were to come into money his heart would not be the same as it is now.”

Hearing this statement from Sri Gusainji, Chachaji kept quiet.

Afterwards, Bhaila Kothari heard about this from someone. He became very sad and said, “I don’t understand any of this. I just hope that Sri Gusainji did not think that I asked Chachji to make a plea on my behalf.”

Bhaila Kothari then approached Sri Gusainji full of fear and bowed low to him. He supplicated, “O, Maharaj! I really do not wish for anything other than your lotus feet. You said that in the future I will not be the same as I am now. Why is this? Please clarify this to me.”

Sri Gusainji then explained to Bhaila Kothari, “I did not say that you will not be the same, but that money is such a thing [that a person changes because of it]!”

Sri Gusainji consoled Kothari, “I know that you would never have moaned to me about the money. I also know that your heart and intelligence are with me and will never stray.”

In this way Sri Gusainji showered his great blessings on Bhaila Kothari who truly deserved them.

*bhav-prakash*

Here we are taught the principle that wealth always corrupts the intelligence. Humility is destroyed. This is why Sri Thakurji keeps his dear ones penniless.

Bhaila Kothari is a close and most dear disciple of Sri Gusainji. His mind would never become corrupted even if he did gain some wealth.

The story here is for the purpose of giving instruction to those whom Sri Gusainji considered his own – if one has a limited capacity [for devotional principle] then they will turn away from the Lord if they become wealthy.

Sri Gusainji used Kothari as an example to teach this lesson. The main intention of the lesson is that if one is financially challenged, then this should be recognized as Sri Thakurji’s special blessing. Only then every single Divine Sentiment will be perfected.

 

A108-AI

When will I worship my most beloved lightning-fair Radha and deep cloud-blue Shyam, whose splendid lustre is reflected on the surface of each other’s hearts, who passionately wear each other in their hearts, whom the creature crafted from the summit of good fortune, and who are the topmost Abode of all the beauty in the three worlds?

VERSE 55:

kāntyā hanta mithaḥ sphuṭaṁ hṛdi-taṭe sambimbitaṁ dyotate
prītyā tan mithunaṁ mudā padakavad rāgeṇa vibhrad yayoḥ
dhātrā bhāgya bhareṇa nirmitatare trailokya lakṣmyāspade
gaura śyāmatame ime priyatame rūpe kadāhaṁ bhaje

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā:  In the previous verse, Das Goswami, who has taken shelter of Sri Radhakuṇḍ, praised the Kuṇḍ by glorifying the great Lalitānandada-kuñj on its shore.

Das Goswami, who was absorbed in bhajan on the bank of the kuṇḍ, then suddenly perceived the divine Form of Sri Sri Radha-Mādhava before him, seated on a jeweled platform within Lalitānandada kuñj.

In this verse, he reveals his memory of the delight of this transcendental vision. In this vision Das Goswami saw the Divine Pair seated on a jeweled platform. The lustre of Shyam’s cloud-blue Form and Sri Radha’s lightning-fair form illuminate the bank of the Kuṇḍ.

It is as if the sweetness of Their lustre comes gushing out of Their transcendental bodies, and the treasure of beauty of all the three worlds is blessed by merging into their every limb.

How much bhāv and ras is revealed from the embodiments of mahābhāv and rasarāj! It is as if the whole world is inundated by the innumerable billowing waves of the ocean of bhāv and the ocean of ras!!

śrī mukha sundara vara, hema nīla kāntidhara,
bhāva bhūṣaṇa koru śobhā
nīla pīta vāsadhara, gaurī śyāma manohara,
antarera bhāve duhuṅ lobhā

“Their most beautiful faces bear a golden and bluish lustre, and are beautified by ornaments of ecstasy. Enchanting Gauri (golden Radhika) and Shyam (dusky Krishna) wear blue and yellow garments respectively, and they are eager for each other’s heart’s feelings.” (Prema-bhakti-candrikā 46)

There is no way to describe the billowing ocean of the great beauty and sweetness of Radha and Krishna’s forms. When there is bhāv (feeling) in the heart it can be relished somewhat, that is for sure, but there is no way to put that relish into words. Words are completely insufficient here.

Still these feelings want to come out through the current of verbal expression, but alas! Words do not have the power to contain the strong urge of bhāv! Words succumb under the pressure of bhāv and become stunned. In this condition the heart can bloom because of anything that supports the bhāv, but words can only express a drop of this and remain helpless, standing before the bhāvuk (the ecstatic lover of God) like a beggar.

This inferior media of words is a very powerful stream of bhāv that is poured into the senses of the bhāvagrāhī bhakta (sensitive devotee) like a waterfall and assists the bhāvuk in awakening his bhāv. The result, nature and dignity of whatever power bhāv can invest into words is unlimited.

At various places in this rasa-kāvya (delicious poetry) Raghunath Das Goswami, who is a direct seer of the sweetness of the Divine Pair, is flowing fast in countless directions on the powerful Yamuna and Jāhnavī streams of the transcendental sweetness of Radha and Krishna, just to cool the hearts of the rasik devotees who are eager to relish that sweetness.

dhātrā bhāgya bhareṇa nirmitatare trailokya lakṣmyāspade gaura śyāmatame “Lord Brahmā created this Radha of golden luster and this Shyam of bluish luster from the summit of good fortune, and thus They are the topmost abode of all the beauty in the three worlds.” When we study this part of Das Goswami’s verse, we can understand how true these words are. The Mahājans have also written: prati aṅga kon vidhi nirmilo kise. dekhite dekhite koto amiyā variṣe “Which Creator has fashioned Their each and every limb? How much nectar is showered upon me when I see this?” Actually the sweetness of the Divine Pair is not fashioned by any Creator. It is an eternal, everlasting and self-manifest thing. But out of great ecstasy and astonishment arising from seeing these extraordinary, supernatural transcendental Forms, these words are used.

Das Goswami sees that kāntyā hanta mithaḥ sphuṭaṁ hṛdi-taṭe sambimbitaṁ dyotate prītyā tan mithunaṁ mudā padakavad rāgeṇa vibhrad yayoḥ – Radha and Mādhava’s splendid lustre is reflected on the surface of Each other’s hearts (because of Their great mutual love) and they passionately wear each other in the heart as medals.” The desire of passion is: To always have the beloved close by.

Sri Radharani said:

hātaka darapaṇa, māthaka phula; nayanaka añjana, mukhaka tāmbūla
hṛdayaka mṛgamada, gīmaka hāra, dehaka saravasa, gehaka sāra
pākhīka pākha, mīnaka pāni, jīvaka jīvana, hām tuhuṅ jāni
tuhuṅ kaise mādhava koho tuhuṅ moya, vidyāpati koho – duhuṅ dohā hoy
(Pada Kalpataru)

“You are the mirror in my hand, the flower in my hair, You are the kohl to my eyes, the betel leaves in my mouth. You are the musk on my breasts, the necklace around my neck, You are the all-in-all for my body and the essence of my house. I know You as the wing of the bird, the water for the fish and the life for the soul. O Mādhav! How can I explain to You what You are to me?” Vidyāpati says: “They are everything to Each other!”

Although out of great love, Sri Sri Radha-Mādhava are always entwined with Each other in the heart, still externally they have difficulty in meeting Each other because of Their extramarital relationship.

kabhu mile kabhu nā mile, daivera ghaṭana
(Caitanya-caritāmṛta)

“Sometimes they meet and sometimes they don’t meet, it is up to Fate.”

It is because they have so much difficulty in meeting Each other that Sri Sri Radha-Mādhava are so passionately attached to Each other and Their very brilliant bluish and golden complexions are reflected on the surface of Each other’s hearts, so that they shine in Each other’s hearts like medals. It is as if Das Goswami’s heart is drowning in the ocean of the Forms of the Divine Pair.

As he gazes at Them they disappear. He cannot see Them anymore. The vision has vanished, and he starts to lament.

As great humility awakens, Das Goswami thinks: “I don’t do any bhajan, so I am unqualified to see Them. They were so kind that they revealed Themselves to me once, but because I don’t do any bhajan I have lost Them again!” Therefore he humbly does not desire to see Them, but he just wants to do bhajan, for he feels that will ultimately make him qualified. Therefore he says: “When will I worship my most beloved dual form of Sri Sri Radha-Mādhav, who are bluish like a cloud and golden like the lightning?”

prīte aṅga kānti dvāre, hṛdi-taṭe paraspare,
pratibimbe koreche ujjvala
vidhātāra bhāgya bhāri, sṛjana kalā bolihārī,
gaḍiyāche dampati yugala
śobhāra āspada rūpa, tribhuvane rasa-kūpa,
abhinava gaura śyāma tame
nitya nava anurāge, bhajibo kiśora yuge
vrajavāsi saṅge anukṣaṇe

“Along with the Vrajavasis I will always worship the Divine Couple, Who are lovingly reflected on the surface of Each other’s hearts through Their brilliant complexions, Who were artistically created by Lord Brahmā from the summit of good fortune, Who are the Abodes of beauty and the Wells of nectar in the three worlds, and who shine with fresh golden and bluish complexions, with ever-fresh loving passion.”

 

A108-AI

This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the entire ninth vartaSee previous.

VARTA 9

The story of Harji Kothari, Bhaila Kothari’s nephew who lived in Rajnagar Asaruva.

*bhav-prakash*

Harji is a devotee with a sattvik disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Surangi (a gopi) who manifests from Chitra and is therefore a form of her divine loving sentiment.

Harji was born into Beni Kothari’s family in Gujarat. Beni Kothari is one of three brothers.

The way in which he came to be one of Sri Acharyaji’s disciples has been told in the story of Narahari Sanyasi. His two other brothers, Bhaila Kothari and Jaita Kothari, became disciples of Sri Gusainji.

Once, Sri Gusainji pilgrimaged to Dwarka. On the way to Rajnagar, he arrived in Beni Kothari’s village. There they set up camp in a garden.

Beni Kothari was not at home, and so Harji’s mother brought him to have the sight of Sri Gusainji. He was six years old at the time.

Harji’s mother requested Sri Gusainji to accept Harji as his disciple.

Knowing Harji to be Beni’s son, he graced him by giving him the Name initiation and then Brahma Sambandha. Afterwards, Sri Gusainji fed his leftovers to Harji with his own hand.

As he ate the Prasad, Harji had the experience of Sri Acharyaji’s birth. His voice manifested beautifully and he immediately began to sing a lovely pada to his mother.

*Raag Dhanashri*

Oh Ma! The Lord Sri Vallabhdev has appeared in the house of Sri Lachman, and congratulatory songs are being sung most pleasingly in this early-morning auspicious time.

Oh Ma! Many ladies of good fortune have gathered to sing songs full of welcome.

Oh Ma! Brahmins are singing the Vedas, thus giving lovely blessings.

Oh Ma! The courtyard has been laid with pearls and bards are singing praises.

Oh Ma! The dundhubi drums are sounding out in every house, and handfuls of flowers are showering down.

Oh Ma! Generous donations are being given to the poor, and men and ladies are being given new clothes.

Oh Ma! Most blessed is his mother Elammagaru, whose every wish has been fulfilled.

Oh Ma! Now every day is filled with the wealth of happiness: thus sings the joyous Poet Harjivan.

Hearing this song, Sri Gusainji was very pleased with Harji. He gave him his chewed paan leaf.

Thereafter, Sri Gusainji left that place and passed through Rajnagar on the way to Dwarka. He stayed there for some days, returned to Rajnagar and from there went to Adel.

*Part 1*

Once, Harji Kothari composed a book listing a thousand names of Sri Gusainji. He presented it to Sri Gusainji and also recited it for him.

Hearing it, Sri Gusainji was most pleased. After this, whenever Sri Gusainji traveled to Rajnagar he would stop off at Bhaila and the other Kothari brothers’ houses. Bhaila Kothari’s house thus became one of Sri Gusainji’s established baithaks [sitting places].

He would cook in Harji’s house and sleep the night at Jaita Kothari’s house. In this way, he fulfilled all three brothers’ wishes.

*bhav-prakash*

Why? In the Eternal Lila all three of them are very close Sakhis to Sri Chandravaliji. Harji manifests from Surangi. Bhaila is Kaumodini who is the form of the rajasi loving mood of Champaklata, a Sakhi of Sri Svaminiji. They are both very attached to Sri Chandravali. Jaita Kothari is Brajabhama who is also a Sakhi very close to Sri Chandravaliji.

*Part 1 continued*

Near their house there was a tree which was a bunch of bamboos tied together. There Sri Gusainji used to wash his feet and sit to perform his daily prayers.

Thus concludes Varta 9, the story of Harji Kothari. He and his brothers were recipients of Sri Gusainji’s great grace and accomplished Vaishnavs, and there is truly no end to their tale.

 

A108-AI

I always worship the brilliant Mahā Kuñj on the bank of Radhakuṇḍ, where, rejecting a broad platform beautifully made of gold, jewels and pearls, Radha and Krishna take shelter. There they make Cupid Their humorous minister and most blissfully discuss the situation in his kingdom.

Verse 54:

sphīte ratna suvarṇa mauktika-bharaiḥ sannirmite maṇḍape
thutkāraṁ vinidhāya yatra rabhasāt tau dampatī nirbharam
tanvāte rati-nātha narma sacivau tad rājya carccāṁ mudā
taṁ rādhā-sarasī taṭojjvala mahā-kuïjaṁ sadāhaṁ bhaje

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā:  As he praises Sri Radhakuṇḍ, Raghunath Das Goswami automatically perceives the sweetness of the kuṇḍ within his heart.

In this verse, he praises the most brilliantly shining Mahā Kuñj on the bank of the kuṇḍ.

This most brilliantly shining Mahā Kuñj must be the kuñj named Lalitānandada or Anaṅga Raṅgāmbuja on the Northern bank of the kuṇḍ, because this particular kuñj is the biggest of all the kuñjs that are situated around Sri Radhakuṇḍ.

Close to the northern Ghāṭ of Sri Radhakuṇḍ is this square Anaṅga Raṅgāmbuja Kuñj, which consists of eight kuñjs like an eight-petalled lotus flower. The most excellent golden banana trees are its filaments, and a platform shaped like a thousand-petalled golden lotus flower is its whorl.

This kuñj may expand or shrink whenever it suits the pastimes that are performed there, and it is greatly effulgent.

Lalitā’s disciple Kalāvalī very diligently maintains this kuñj. All the six seasons and all kinds of pleasure are experienced in this kuñj, which is the very form of different pleasant pastimes.

In this Lalitānandada kuñj is a royal temple which is endowed with the extraordinary wealth of beauty of Śrī-Sri Radha-Mādhava, the king and queen of the kuñj, and Their girlfriends.

The filaments of this lotus-shaped kuñj are made of jewels, the whorl of gold and the many circular rows of lotus petals are all of equal length and made of different colours of jewels.

Outside of the whorl are the filaments and outside of the filaments are the petals that gradually increase in size and number.

Outside of the whorl of this lotuslike kuñj, which delights all five senses with its qualities like coolness, are rows of platforms of respectively gold, lapis lazuli, sapphire, crystal and rubies, that increase its peerless beauty. In the middle of these platforms are various jewel-inlaid images of mating deer, birds, gods, human beings, Gandharvas, Kinnaras and various other living beings. Thus this platform creates incitements for indescribable flavours.

Five colors (white, red, green, yellow and blue) of flowers beautify the filaments and the branches of the trees to form a kind of excellent canopy, and the middle of this platform is a knee-high jeweled platform that is like the lotus flower’s whorl that extends a wonderful beauty.

In the Northwestern corner of Lalitānandada Kuñj is Vasant Sukhada Kuñj, in the Southwest is the Padma Mandir, in the North astern corner is Mādhavānanda-da Kuñj, in the North is Sītāmbuj Kuñj, in the East Asitāmbuj Kuñja, in the South Aruṇāmbuj Kuñj and in the west Hemāmbuj Kuñj.

Raghunath Das Goswami says: “The wealth of beauty of this Lalitānanda-da Mahākuñj is so lovely and enchanting that Śrī-Sri Radha and Krishna reject the beautifully constructed broad jeweled, golden and pearl platforms and leave them to go to Lalitānandada Kuñj, being enchanted by its natural beauty, to most blissfully become Cupid’s ministers there and to discuss the matters of the kingdom of desire.” The purport of this is that in Vraja Sri-Sri Radhakuṇḍ is anyway the greatest abode for Sri-Sri Radha-Shyam to enjoy confidential solitary pastimes, but beyond, that Lalitānandada Kuñj is so much filled with the treasure of beauty that Śrī-Sri Radha-Mādhava and Their girlfriends freely play different romantic pastimes as well as different other kinds of humorous pastimes there.

Das Goswami says: “I constantly worship this effulgent Mahākuñj, which is situated on the bank of Sri Radhakuṇḍ.”

sei rādhākuṇḍ tīre, mahākuñj nāma dhare,
yāra prabhā ati samujjvala.
maṇi muktāya sunirmita, ratna-vedī dhikkṛta,
vihariche navīna yugala
rādhā-kṛṣṇa kautuka bhare, mantrī kori kandarpere,
nimagaṇa hāsya parihāse
kāma rājyera ālocanā, yathā kore duhuṅ janā,
mahā-kuñj bhaji gala-vāse

“I humbly worship the Mahākuñj, the great, brightly shining arbour on the bank of Radhakuṇḍ, where the Youthful Pair Radha and Krishna enjoys, cursing the platforms that are made of jewels and pearls and where they have great fun in joking with Each other, playing King Cupid’s ministers and discussing the situation in the kingdom of desire.”

 

anantadas_thumbThe commentary of Sri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj, is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar of Stavāvalī).

It was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) by Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.

The devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Sheel.

 

A108-AI

This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the entire eighth varta.

Varta 8

The story of Madhodas, a Kshatriya who lived in Kabul.

*bhav-prakash*

Madhodas is a devotee of tamasi disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Makarandini (a gopi). She manifests from Chitra sakhi and thus is a form of her divine loving sentiment. Her body flows with with sweet fragrance and delight. Sri Thakurji becomes a bee in the desire to taste the fragrant nectar of her form and runs behind her.

Madhodas was born to a Kshatriya who lived in Kabul [Afghanistan]. Even when a child, his heart was drawn to listening to religious discourses. He would go to wherever they were being held.

He did this until he was fifteen years old. Then both his parents died.

Madhodas did not get married. His father had been a cloth trader and had a cloth shop. Madhodas took over management of the shop and made a good living from it.

One day Madhodas traveled to Haridwar for some work. Sri Gusainji had also gone there. He was performing his prayers on the banks of the Sri Gangaji River. Madhodas had come there to bathe. As he did, he caught sight of Sri Gusainji and was stunned. Chachaji was with Sri Gusainji at that time.

Madhodas asked him who Sri Gusainji was, what was his name and where did he reside. Chachaji told him that he was the son of Sri Vallabhacaharyaji, that his name was Sri Vitthalnathaji and that he resided in Adel.

He explained how Sri Gusainji had firmly established the Vishnuswami Lineage and taught the essence of that Path, that is Seva – service to the Divine Beloved. He told him that his Path was called the Vallabh Sampradaya.

Hearing this, Madhodas requested Chachaji to let him become Sri Guainji’s disciple.

“I wish to take shelter in him. Please let me be blessed to become his disciple.” Chachaji relayed all of this to Sri Gusainji.

Sri Gusainji looked towards Madhodas, and at that moment Madhodas had the vision of Sri Gusainji as the Supreme Person, with a beauty exceeding that of a million Cupids.

Madhodas fainted as he beheld this vision. Then Sri Gusainji chanted some Vedic mantras over him and sprinkled him with water and he regained consciousness.

He said to Sri Gusainji, “Why did you bring me round? I was having a very happy experience. Why did you bring me out of that?”

Sri Gusainji laughingly replied, “O, Madhodas!, You still have some time to pass here!”

Madhodas again asked him to bless him and make him his disciple. Sri Gusainji told him to come back after bathing in Sri Gangaji. He did so and then Sri Gusainji initiated him with the Lord’s Name and Brahma Sambandha.

For as long as Sri Gusainji stayed in Haridwar, Madhodas stayed with him in his service. He regularly listened to Sri Gusainji’s divine discourses.

Sri Gusainji then returned to Gokul. Madhodas went there with him and stayed there for some time.

He had the Holy Sight of Sri Navanitpriyaji. Sri Gusainji then took Madhodas to Sri Nathdwara [Jatipura] with him. There they went up on the Sri Giriraji Mountain and had the Holy Sight of Sri Nathji.

As he caught Sight of Sri Nathji, Madhodas lost consciousness.

Respecting Sri Gusainji’s wish, Sri Nathji granted Madhodas His Holy Sight in such a way that his heart would be forever embedded in the Lord.

Madhodas continued to have His Holy Sight in this way for several days. Sri Gusainji then told him to go home, reassuring him that from now on, time and place would not hinder his devotion.

“You can now happily reside in Kabul. Sri Nathji will continue to grant you his Holy Sight even there.”

Madhodas departed, keeping Sri Nathji in his heart.

He reached his home after a few days. There he adhered to the eight periods of Seva in his heart of hearts.

Madhodas would meditate on the Lord and His Lilas just as Sri Gusainji had described to him, for example when the Lord went out to the forest to graze the cows. Through Sri Gusainji’s blessed wish, Sri Nathji gave His Holy Sight to Madhodas there and let him experience all His pastimes.

*Part 1*

Madhodas lived in Kabul. He was the Recipient of Great Grace and an accomplished Vaishnava. With Sri Gusainji’s blessings, Sri Nathji would grace Madhodas with His Holy Sight.

Madhodas experienced the pastimes of the Lord at all the periods of the Daily Seva. Such a great Grace did Sri Nathji shower upon Madhodas.

Madhodas lived in Kabul and so was accustomed to wearing the same type of clothes as the inhabitants of that place. Any Vaishnava who happened to come there could not know that Madhodas was a Vaishnava.

He had a cloth shop. Many days later, sent by the Chief Minister for some work, Roop Murari Das came to Kabul. He went to the market to purchase some supplies.

He looked for a Vaishnava shop, but everyone there looked the same. After that, on the road, Roop Murari Das saw Madhodas standing in his shop twirling the end of his uparna [scarf]. Roop Murari Das stopped and stood there. When Madhodas stopped twirling the uparna Roop Murari Das went into his shop and enquired, “Who are you?” He did not recognize Madhodas to be a Vaishnava.

Madhodas and Rupamuridas told each other their names. Roop Murari Das asked Madhodas whose disciple he was and he replied that he was a disciple of Sri Gusainji.

Rupamurari was delighted. In turn Madhodasasked Roop Murari Das the same question and he said, “I am a Kshatriya and also a disciple of Sri Gusainji.”

Madhodas was also overjoyed, and the two embraced each other.

Having greeted him with “Jay Sri Krishna”, Madhodas invited Roop Murari Das to sit in his shop. There he asked how Sri Gusainji was and Roop Murari Das told him all the news.

Roop Murari Das then asked Madhodas why he had been standing and twirling the end of his scarf.

Madhodas replied that, with Sri Gusainji’s grace, Sri Nathji came there every day and granted him His Holy Sight. Roop Murari Das again asked about the uparna. Madhodas explained that, at that particular moment, it had been the time for the evening lights ceremony (aarti), and he was celebrating this by twirling the end of his scarf.

“When the aarti was over I bowed down to Him and then sat down here.”

Hearing all this Roop Murari Das was astonished. He thought to himself, “This Madhodas is most fortunate. He lives here and Sri Nathji lives a thousand miles away, but He still grants His Holy Sight here itself! If this is true than there is no end to Madhodas’ great good fortune.”

Roop Murari Das, still pleasantly surprised, asked Madhodas, “What was Sri Nathji wearing today?”

Madhodas replied, “Today Sri Nathji’s dress was blue. Sri Balakrishnaji adorned Sri Nathji.”

Madhodas continued to describe all of Sri Nathji’s adornments. Roop Murari Das wrote down the date and the colour and the name of the son of Sri Gusainji who had performed that adornment Seva.

Madhodas then invited Roop Murari Das to grace his home by coming there. Roop Murari Das positioned one of his men to look after Madhodas’ shop and they both went back to Madhodas’ home.

Madhodas requested Roop Murari Das to do his cooking there itself. “I shall bring fresh pots and a fresh earthenware water pot. Roop Murari Das said that Madhodas’ pots and vessels would be perfectly acceptable to him and that Madhodas should not bother to get new ones.

Thereafter, Roop Murari Das bathed and cooked and made the offerings to the Lord. Then he called the other Vaishnava from Madhodas’ shop, accepted the offerings back as Prasad and the two of them enjoyed partaking of that Prasad.

Afterwards, when he returned to his camp, Roop Murari Das wrote a letter to Sri Nathji’s priest Ramdasji, telling him of all the happenings and sent it off with one of his men.

The letter reached Ramdasji. He proceeded to write down the details of that day’s Seva and the name of the son of Sri Gusainji who had performed it and sent it back to Roop Murari Das. The information tallied!

Roop Murari Das began to praise Madhodas saying, “Oh, this Vaishnava is most blessed. He lives in Kabul but his heart is in Vraj. He must be the luckiest man alive! Sri Gusainji has truly blessed him with such divine vision, and by the Grace of the Lord he has the joy of such vision every day.

“This Kabul is such a distant country and such a sinful country, but Sri Nathji still comes here and grants him His Holy Sight. There is no good enough way to describe his great fortune.”

*bhav-prakash*

This story explains the principle that country of residence, time and karma can not impede a Vaishnava’s devotion. Wherever a Vaishnava’s Sri Thakurji resides, that place is the best place for that Vaishnava to reside.

Why? Even in a country full of barbarians the Lord can give His experience to His own people. Therefore, Vaishnavas should take exclusive shelter in their Seva to the Lord.

*Part 1 continued*

Madhodas had taken the Name initiation from Sri Gusainji in Haridwar. Before that, Madhodas had never seen Sri Gokul and Sri Vrindavan. However, after being initiated by Sri Gusainji he was able to have the Sight of all these places. Then he returned to his place in Kabul.

Then it was that Sri Gusainji graced him and Sri Nathji began to grant him His Holy sight. Sri Gusainji used his power to establish all the Lord’s Divine pastimes in his heart. Madhodas began to see everything with this divine vision.

Thus concludes Varta 8, the story of Madhodas who was the recipient of Sri Gusainji’s great grace. There is really no end to his story.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.02.22 (Raseshwari Dasi for VT) “Behaviour with Cows” – From Mahabharata, Anusasana parva 69, 73,74,78,126)

The scriptures give directions on how to behave with cows. It is very important to adhere to these principles while serving cows.

Cows are the mothers of all creatures. They bestow every kind of happiness. The person that desires his or her own prosperity should always make gifts of cows.

1. No one should kick the cows, for one who does this will have to suffer in hell for a hundred lives. Cows are goddesses and the homes of all auspiciousness. For this reason, they always deserve worship. Formerly, the deities, while tilling the earth whereon they performed a sacrifice, used the goad for striking the bullocks yoked to the plough. Hence. In tilling earth for such a purpose, one may, without incurring sin, apply the rod to bullocks.

2. In other acts, however, bullocks should never be struck with the goad or the whip.

3. One should not proceed through the midst of cows.

4. When cows are grazing or lying down, no one should annoy them in any way.

5. When cows are thirsty and they do not get water [because of someone obstructing their access to the pool or tank or river], by merely looking at such a person they can destroy him with all his relatives and friends. What creatures can be more sacred than cows, whose very dung is also purifying?

6. That man who, before eating himself, gives everyday, for a year, only a handful of grass to a cow belonging to another, is regarded as undergoing a vow or observance which bestows the fruition of every wish. Such a person acquires children, fame, wealth and prosperity; and dispels all evils.

7. The cow should never be given away for slaughter (i.e., to one who will kill her)

8. A bull or bullock should be used for ploughing, but never a cow should be used to till the soil.

9. A cow should not be given to an atheist.

10. One should not, mentally or even in thought, injure a cow. One should, in one’s conduct, imitate the cow and show compassion towards her.

11. One should never show any disregard for cows in any way.

12. One should never cast one’s urine, excreta, and other secretions on cowdung.

13. One should never obstruct cows in any way.

14. One should not disrespect cow dung. The circular marks in the cow dung represent Lord Vishnu’s Chakra. It is also above the abode of Lakshmi Devi.

15. He who, without being checked by the restraints of the scriptures, sells a cow, or kills one, or eats the flesh of a cow, or one who for the sake of wealth makes a person to kill cows, rots in hell for as many years as there are hairs on the body of the slain cow.

 

A108-AI

1614623_10100635541511972_5025255706310927997_o.jpgThe delightful forest of Vrindavan, beautiful Govardhan Hill, and the ambrosial arena of the Raas dance ­ what to speak of other places – are not equal to even a single particle of one of the atoms of Sri Radhakund. I take shelter of that divine lake, which is dearer to Mukunda than his own life’s breath.

VERSE 53:

śrī vṛndāvipinaṁ suramyam api tacchrīmān sa govardhanaḥ
sā rāsa-sthalikāpyalaṁ rasamayī kiṁ tāvad anya sthalam
yasyāpyaṁśa lavena nārhati manāk sāmyaṁ mukundasya tat
prāṇebhyo’pyadhika priyeva dayitaṁ tat kuṇḍam evāśraye

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, who has taken shelter of Sri Radhakuṇḍ, describes the glories of Vraja’s crownjewel Śrī-Sri Radhakuṇḍ and reveals his exclusive attachment to the shelter of the kuṇḍ.

yathā rādhā priyā viṣṇos tasyāḥ kuṇḍaṁ priyaṁ tathā. sarva gopīṣu saivaikā viṣṇor atyanta vallabhā (Padma Purāṇ) “Just as Sri Radharani is dear to Krishna, so is her pond, Radhakuṇḍ. Of all the gopīs, she alone is the most dear to Sri Krishna.”

On the day of the kuṇḍ’s advent, Sri Krishna personally said:

proce hariḥ priyatame tava kuṇḍam etat mat kuṇḍato’pi mahimādhikam astu loke
atraiva me salila kelir ihaiva nityaṁ snānaṁ yathā tvam asi tadvad idam saro me

Sri Hari said: “O Dearest One! May your kuṇḍ be even more glorious in this world than mine! Here I will always bathe and play in the water, because this lake is as dear to me as you are!”

sarva gopī hoite rādhā kṛṣṇera preyasī; taiche rādhā-kṛṣṇa priya – priyāra sarasī
yei kuṇḍe nitya kṛṣṇa rādhikāra saṅge; jale jalakeli kore – tīre rāsa raṅge
sei kuṇḍe eka bāra yei kore snāna; tāre rādhā sama prema kṛṣṇa kore dāna
kuṇḍera mādhurī yena rādhāra madhurimā; kuṇḍera mahimā yeno rādhāra mahimā

(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 18)

“Of all the gopīs, Radha is Krishna’s most beloved, and similarly her lake is most dear to him. Anyone who bathes even once in this lake, in which Krishna eternally plays water sports with Radhika, and on whose banks he dances the Raas dance with her, will receive a love for Krishna like that of Radhika’s! The sweetness of the kuṇḍ is like Radha’s sweetness, and the glories of the kuṇḍ are like Radha’s glories.”

 

Sri Radhakund

Although there are thousands and thousands of holy water bodies in Braj, no such glorification can be heard of any other holy water body. For this reason Radhakuṇḍ is the crownjewel of Braj.

Das Goswami says: “Within the 168-mile circumference of Braj, Sri Vrindavan is very charming!”

In the Ādi Purāṇ it is written:

yatra vṛndāvanaṁ nāma vanaṁ kāma dughair drumaiḥ
manorama nikuñjāḍhyaṁ sarvartu sukha saṁyutam
yatra nirmala pānīyā kālindī saritāṁ varā
ratna baddhobhaya taṭā haṁsa padmādi saṅkulā

“There (in Vrajadhāma) is Vrindavan, which is enriched by charming arbours that are filled with wish-yielding trees, and where the six seasons spread delight. Here is the best of rivers, Kālindī (Yamuna), which is filled with clear water and blooming lotus flowers, where swans are swimming and whose banks are studded with jewels.”

In the Padma Purāṇ it is written:

idaṁ vṛndāvanaṁ ramyaṁ mama dhāmaiva kevalam
[…]
pañca yojanam evāsti vanaṁ me deha rūpakam
kālindīyaṁ suṣumnākhyā paramāmṛta vāhinī
tejomayam idaṁ ramyam adṛśyaṁ carma cakṣuṣā

“This charming Vrindavan is my only abode, and with its ten-mile circumference this forest is my body and the Kālindī (Yamuna), which carries the greatest nectar, is also known as the suṣumnā (spine). This charming Vrindavan is very powerful and effulgent, but it is invisible to the physical eyes.”

There is more written in the Padma Purāṇ about the loveliness of Vrindavan:

nitya nūtana puṣpādi rañjitaṁ sukha saṅkulam
svātmānanda sukhotkarṣa śabdādi viṣayātmakam
nānā citra vihaṅgādi dhvanibhiḥ parirañjitam
nānā ratna latāśobhi mattāli dhvani maṇḍitam
cintāmaṇi paricchannaṁ jyotsna jāla samākulam
sarvartu phala puṣpāḍhyaṁ prabālaiḥ śobhitaṁ pari
kālindī jala saṁsargi vāyunā kampitaṁ muhuḥ
vṛndāvanaṁ kusumitaṁ nānā vṛkṣa vihaṅgamaiḥ
saṁsmaret sādhako dhīmān vilāsaika niketanam

“An intelligent and attentive practitioner should remember blossoming Vrindavan, which is the only abode of transcendental pastimes. Vrindavan is coloured by evergreen flowers, is filled with transcendental bliss which is greater than the bliss experienced by those who perceive the Paramātma, and which is revealed through transcendental sounds, sensations, forms, flavours and fragrances. Vrindavan is beautified by the sweet calls of different kinds of birds and decorated by various jeweled vines with humming, intoxicated bees. It is pervaded by a transcendental light which is diffused by chintamani jewels, filled with fruits of all the six seasons and beautified with coral stones. In this flowery Vrindavan, which is adorned with lovely trees and birds, the wind makes soft ripples on the water of the Yamuna. Such are the opulences of Vrindavan.”

And in Vrindavan again, the most beautiful place is the delightful Rāsa-sthalī.  śaśvad rāsa rasonmattaṁ yatra gopī-kadambakam. tat kadamba madhyasthaḥ kiśorākṛtir acyutaḥ  “Here Sri Achyuta always dwells in an adolescent form, surrounded by a circle of gopīs that are intoxicated by the flavours of the Rāsa-dance.”

In this Sri Vrindavan the opulence of Govardhan’s beauty is yet again greater. yatra govardhano nāma sunirjharadarīyutaḥ. ratna dhātumayaḥ śrīmān supakṣi gaṇa saṅkulaḥ (ibid.)

“Here in Vrindavan is Govardhana, which is beautified with the most excellent brooks, caves and sweetly singing jewel-like birds.” Therefore it is by nature even more beautiful than Vrindavan.

Das Goswami says: “What to speak of other places, even the most charming Sri Vrindavan, the most beautiful Govardhana hill and the most delectable place where the Rāsa-dance took place can not equal even a fraction of Sri Radhakuṇḍ, for this lake is as dear to Mukunda as his heart’s beloved, Sri Radharani.”

Śrīmat Rūpa Goswami has also written:

vaikuṇṭhājjanitā varā madhupurī tatrāpi rāsotsavād
vṛndāraṇyam udāra pāṇi ramaṇāt tatrāpi govardhanaḥ
rādhākuṇḍam ihāpi gokulapateḥ premāmṛtāplāvanāt
kuryād asya virājato giritaṭe sevāṁ vivekī na kaḥ

“Greater than Vaikuṇṭha is Mathurā and greater than Mathura is Vrindavan, where the Rāsa-festival took place. Greater still is Govardhana, which was beautified by the charming hand of Giridhārī, but greatest of all is Radhakuṇḍ, which is inundated by the nectarean love of the Lord of Gokul. Which intelligent person will not serve this Radhakuṇḍ, which is situated at the base of Girirāj Govardhan?”

Just as Sri Radharani, who is endowed with mādanākhya mahābhāv, the topmost ecstatic love, is dearer than life to Krishna, who is only subdued by pure love, Sri Radhakuṇḍ, which is connected with her and nondifferent from her, is also most dear to her. Therefore there is no comparison to Sri Radhakuṇḍ’s glories.

Das Goswami says: “I take shelter of that Sri Radhakuṇḍa.”

suramya śrī vṛndāvana, nava nava kuñjavana,
śobhāśālī giri govardhana
sei mahārāsa sthalī, yathā rāsa rasa keli,
yāra mana nahe eka kaṇa
śrī vṛndā vipinera, mahimā yāra,
lava nahe yāhāra tulanā
rādhākuṇḍa rādhā-sama, mukundera priyatama,
āśraya kori e mora vāsanā

“Although Sri Vrindavan is very lovely and endlessly glorious because the Rāsa-dance took place there at the Mahārāsa-sthalī, and although Giri Govardhan is beautiful due to its many fresh kuñj-forests, they are still not comparable to even a fraction of a drop from Sri Radhakuṇḍ. I yearn to take shelter of that Radhakuṇḍ, which is as dear to Mukunda as Radha herself.”

anantadas_thumbThe commentary of Sri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj, is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar of Stavāvalī).

It was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) by Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.

The devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Sheel.

 

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