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A108-AI

When they hear Sri Radhika playing her Kacchapī vīṇā and Sri Krishna playing his beautiful Muralikā flute, the deer become ecstatic and the bunches of grass fall half from their mouths before they remain stunned. May these charming best of deer, who then surround Śrī-Sri Radha and Mādhava in a mood of friendship, delight me.

yeṣaṁ kacchapikā-lasan-muralika-nādena harṣotkaraiḥ
srastārddhas tṛṇa-guccha eṣa nitarāṁ vaktreṣu saṁstambhate
sakhyenāpi tayoḥ paraṁ parivṛta-rādhā-bakadveṣiṇos
te hṛdyā mṛga-yuthapāḥ prati dinaṁ māṁ toṣayantu sphuṭam

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, deer like the Krishnasaras are praised. Even the deer in Vraja, the loving playground of Śrī-Sri Radha and Krishna, are most blessed and praiseworthy. How can there by any doubt about this when even Lord Brahmā and Uddhava are among those great souls who yearn to take birth here, desiring to become even immobile entities like the grass and bushes?

In Śrīmad Bhāgavatam we can find the fortune of Vrindavan’s deer and does being praised by the pūrva-rāgavatī Vrajasundarīs, the gopīs who had just fallen in love with Krishna:

dhanyāḥ sma mūḍha-matayo.api hariṇya etā
yā nandanandanam upātta-vicitra-veṣam
ākarṇya veṇu-raṇitaṁ saha kṛṣṇa-sārāḥ
pūjāṁ dadhur viracitāṁ praṇayāvalokaiḥ

The purport of this verse is that one Vrajasundarī once spoke to the other Vraja-devīs: “Ohe Sakhīs! Blessed are the does of Vrindavan! There is no comparison to their love! They are born as dumb animals and they have no intelligence whatsoever. They cannot distinguish right from wrong, but their hearts are filled with love. They love this beautiful Śyāma-form even more than their life airs! As soon as he enters into the woods they come running. What to speak of when he starts playing his flute! When they hear his flute, they flock to him even from afar and surround him on all sides, taking their husbands, the black bucks, along with them.

In this way both husband and wife are blessed by seeing Krishna. Just as a guest is heartily welcomed and lovingly given entry into the house when he comes to the door of a gṛhastha, similarly when the beloved guest Sri Govinda comes to the gate of the does’ abode they heartily welcome him and offer him love-arghya or water to wash the hands with their restless eyes. They cannot speak, but their heart’s love is expressed through the eyes.

Blessed are the lives of these deer! They know very well how to worship the god of love (Krishna). And blessed are their husbands too, for they do not obstruct their service to Krishna, but act in a favorable way. They are justly called Krishna-sāra, for the essence of their lives is Krishna! We are unfortunate girls, for although we attained gopī bodies in Vrindavan, we have not been able to worship Gopīnātha. It would have been better if we had taken birth as does!” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.21.11)

Raghunath Das Goswami is Sri Radharani’s maidservant, so he knows how fortunate the does of Vrindavan are. Once he was absorbed in the taste of bhajan on the bank of Radha Kund when he suddenly perceived a honey sweet pastime of Sri Sri Radha-Mādhava.

Sri Sri Radha Giridhārī are seated on a jeweled platform under a wish-yielding tree, illuminating the bank of the kuṇḍa with their golden and bluish splendor. There are no sakhīs around, but Das Goswami, as an antaraṅgā sevādhikāriṇī kiṅkarī, a maidservant who is eligible to render intimate services, is fanning the Divine Pair, who are absorbed in various rasika conversations. Suddenly Krishna lifts his enchanting flute to his lips and starts to play, while Sri Radharani picks up her Kacchapī vīṇā and begins plucking at its strings.

The mobile and immobile beings are enchanted by the charming melody. The sweetness that Srimati’s vīṇā playing reveals stifles even the sweetness of Sri Krishna’s flute. Seeing this, the grazing deer and does, their mouths full of bunches of grass,  come to surround Śyāma and Svāminī as if they are bewitched by a mantra. The grass falls half from their mouths, but remain stuck there. What sweet feelings are revealed in their eyes! They are just like the Divine Pair’s dearmost girlfriends, the priya-narma-sakhīs. Their hearts are filled with the sweetness of the flute and the vīṇā. With their eyes they offer flowers of love to the lotus feet of the Divine Couple, to whose sweetness they are so attracted.

Remembering his vision of that day and taking that remembrance in his heart Das Goswami says: “May those charming best of deer always delight me!” In other words, “May I relish the enchanting sweetness of Śyāma and Svāminī and attain their service together with them, this is my prayer!”

rādhā-kare śobhe yini, se kacchapī vīṇā dhvani,
āra kṛṣṇa muralīra tāne.
śravaṇete kṛṣṇa sāra, mantra mugdha bhāva yāra,
preme stabdha hoy toto-kṣaṇe

When the Krishnasāra-deer hear the sound of the Kacchapī vīṇā, that looks so beautiful in Radha’s hands, and the sound of Krishna’s muralī-flute, they become stunned of ecstatic love as if they are bewitched by a mantra.”

arddha guccha tṛṇa mukhe, eka diṭhe ceye thāke,
avicala dāḍāye royeche
rādhā-kṛṣṇe sakhya-bhāve, antarera anurāge,
citravat yeno virājiche

“Half-chewed bunches of grass hang in their mouths and they stand there staring, motionless like pictures, their hearts filled with passionate fraternal love for Radha and Krishna.

kṛṣṇa anurāgī yoto, sei mṛgapati yūtha,
ei bhikṣā māge akiñcane
tāhādera bhāva-rāji, kṛpāya arpiyā āji,
santuṣṭa koruna anukṣaṇe

“I humbly beg this alm from these best of deer, that are so deeply in love with Krishna: May they give me the treasure of their ecstatic love today and thus delight me at every moment.”

A108-AI

Vrindavan, 05.21.2017 (Kusha Devi Dasi): It is with our whole heart that we humbly invite all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to Sri Vrindavan Dham, in honor of the solemn and auspicious occasion of the 40th Anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s Tirobhava on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of October 2017.

In these three days, our sole focus will be to embrace every opportunity to extol Srila Prabhupada’s glories and to express our profound gratitude for his teachings, his books, and his extensive accomplishments. In this way, we hope to deepen our realizations of his immense transformative influence within our lives, both personally and collectively.

A committee is being formed to organize the festival, and we would love to receive input from you with ideas on how you think we can best honor our beloved Srila Prabhupada.

This is the 40th Anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s glorious departure. With deep honor and affection, we beseech you to consider reuniting with your Godbrothers and Godsisters in this most holy of places, to bask in Srila Prabhupada’s endless glories.

We look forward to receiving news of your arrival. Please feel free to write with any questions regarding the occasion, along with any input you can offer regarding organization.

Forty years have passed since Srila Prabhupada graced us with his physical presence, yet in accordance with his all-merciful nature, his impact upon our lives endures. Srila Prabhupada’s sainthood and domain of blessed inspiration continues to grow and expand over the decades, his glories glowing as brightly as ever!

On behalf of our GBC, His Holiness Gopal Krishna Maharaj, our Vrindavan Executive Board, our Temple President, His Grace Pancagauda, our Vrindavan Management Committee and the 40th Anniversary Planning Committee,

Kusha devi dasi.

A108-AI

Radha Baba (1913-1992) was a devotee of Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna who lived in Gorakhpur. Born in a Vaishnav Brahmin family in Gaya, he became an Advaitin sannyasi, but later took the path of Braj devotion. Shri Hanuman Prasad Poddar, the founder of Gita Press, was his inseparable spiritual companion.  It is said that Radha Baba spent fourteen years performing a very strict maun vrat, during which he kept complete silence, without even using gestures to communicate. During this period he was completely absorbed in Braj Lila. Several beautiful books were written by him, including Keli Kunj, Satsang Sudha and Mahabhaga Brajdeviyan. The following excerpt is taken from his book Easy Steps to Eternal Vrindavan, translated into English by Lakhpat Rai, M.A. It appears to be out of print, but the original Hindi edition, Prem Satsang Sudha Mala, is still available from Gita Press, as are his other works.


The only source of all the lilas of the Lord is Shri Radhikaji alone. She is the enrapturing energy of Shri Krishna. She is His very Self. Assuming unlimited forms, She sees to the propriety of Shri Krishna’s lilas. The prem lila of Shri Radhaji is so exalted that, really speaking, he alone can see it, to whom She wishes to show it through Her Grace; there is no other way at all.

She exists even today and whatever you desire, She can fulfill at that very moment and in that very manner. What Shri Krishna is, the same is Shri Radha. Between them there is not the very least difference of any kind whatsoever.

I will tell you a true incident that happened in Braj.

Three high-souled men were roaming about. While doing so, one of them, who was somewhat advanced in age, got tired and said, ‘Dear brothers, you may proceed; I shall, however, rest here only.’ All the three of them had taken no food at all throughout the day. So one of them stayed behind and the other two proceeded on.

Barsana was approaching. Both of them were full of faith. After consulting each other, both of them decided that they should be the guests of Shriji (Shri Radhaji) for the day. As the above conversation had taken place in a humorous mood, they never thought of it again.

Later they thought to themselves – night has now fallen, where shall we go to beg for food? After partaking of whatever prasad (food offered to the Deity) we may get in the temple tonight, let us drink our fill of water.

That day there was a festival in the temple and they absorbed themselves in it. When the festival was over, the crowd of devotees dispersed. At about 11 o’clock in the night, the temple priest began to call aloud repeatedly. ‘Where are the two guests of Shriji?’

The two men heard this, and remembered their humorous conversation.

Soon they became submerged in love and they answered, ‘Perhaps it is us?’ After that, the preist took them along with him and, with great affection, fed them to their fill with the most delicious prasad. Filled with love, they partook of the prasad with great delight and feeling fully satisfied, they left the temple and took rest in a pavillion nearby.

After they had gone to sleep, both of them had a similar dream at the same time.

Both of them saw that an extremely lovely young girl had come and was asking, “I hope you had a full meal. You are my guests, is it not?”

They replied, in the dream itself, “Oh yes! We had a very hearty meal!”

The girl said, “But in the prasad tonight there were very nice betel leaves (paan). The priest forgot to give them to you. I have come with those very betel leaves.” Saying so, she placed a pair of betel leaves seasoned with lime and catechu, etc., near each one of them.

Just then the two of them woke up and, getting up, they saw that there were actually two betel leaves near each of their heads. Both of them started shedding tears and became agnonized with love. Placing the betel leaves in their mouths, they became beside themselves with love.

Each of them related his dream to the other. Both of them had one and the same dream at the same time.

This is a true incident, and the individuals who had this experience are perhaps still alive. [Editor’s note: I have heard in Vrindavan that this incident refers to Radha Baba himself, and his spiritual companion Shri Hanumanprasad Poddar] Shri Radha Rani and Shri Krishna looked to their faith alone, and then giving them food to their fill, They accepted them in the form of guests. Similarly, They can offer Their hospitality to a person, making him Their guest, who wishes to have Their blessed sight with a real faith, and who wishes to be blessed by seeing Their lila.

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Radha Baba and Hanumanprasad Poddar

To Them, all are equal and there is no partiality towards anybody. Therefore, if you pray to Shri Krishna and Shri Radha Rani with an exclusive and impatient mind, ‘May I constantly think of You. May I be able to listen to Your lilas all the time – that is all,’ take it as true that there will be no delay in it. They will surely listen to this prayer, but only when the prayer is sincere.

So long as your prayer is not sincere, till then go on repeating it even with an insincere mind. They can convert even an insincere prayer into a real one in due course.

Your desire that you should be able to have a constant remembrance of Shri Krishna and to listen to the lilas is an excellent one. This is the very best desire. Just go on desiring, be it sincere or insincere, go on desiring alone.

If the desire persists, eventually it will become real too, and some day or the other, full grace will surely manifest.

A108-AI

Vrindavan, 2017.05.14 (Shri Binod Bihari Das Babaji Maharaj): There are two ways in front of the jeevatma (soul): one towards samsaar and another towards God. This is why the jeev is called tatastha-shakti, meaning the power situated in between two ways – on the shoreline.

On one side there is the infinite Ocean, and on the other side is the land. If you want to keep on taking births one after the other, as insects, birds, animals and humans, then follow the path of samsaar. If you want to become free from this vicious endless cycle, then take the path to God.

If you go towards samsaar, you will receive only sadness, because that’s all that there is in samsaar. There is no shanti here, no peace here. No one here is experiencing shanti, has ever experienced shanti, nor will they ever experience shanti here. This is because shanti is related to the soul alone. But we have forgotten that and accepted that there is shanti in this chaotic samsaar, in this body and things related to the body – in shabd (sound), sparsh (touch), roop (appearance), ras (flavor) and gandh (smell) – and we are running behind these?

Run as much as you want! There is infinite time to run! The Time Cycle (kaal chakra) does not rotate beyond this universe. Here, when sun rises we say it is day, and when  the sun sets we say it’s night. When we go beyond this universe, the Time Cycle is stationary there; there is no day and no night. Run as much as you want, but shanti is not here in samsaar! Here there is only infinite sadness is search of shanti.

And where there is shanti, it passes away unnoticed from us; we don't even try to accept that there is shanti only in God.

Our relationship with god has always been there, is still there and will always be there. There is no doubt about that! What new relationship you will establish with God? He was never a stranger! You have to correct your mistake, and the mistake is that you have forgotten your relationship with God. Correcting this mistake itself is sadhana (spiritual practice). You must offer yourself at the feet of God.

What sadhana will you do? You don't have much capacity to do sadhana so that you can reach God by your own strength. God has not given such power to the jeev.

In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says, “Arjun! God resides in every creature, and through Maya, He makes every creature dance like a puppet.”

So what should we do?

The Bhagwad Gita says, just become samarpit (surrendered). Take His shelter. Then with his kripa you will receive the supreme shanti. But what is samarpan (surrender)?

Suppose you have sold your cow to someone. Now you cannot direct that person on how he must look after the cow. You cannot tell him, you don't give the cow water and food at the right time. This is very wrong. You must do like this and like that. No, you cannot say that because you have sold your cow and now you have no right over her.

Similarly, when we offer ourselves at the feet of God, our desires and thoughts have no place there. We have to destroy all our desires even become a drashta (a mere observer) and watch what He wants to do – what is His desire. Whatever is happening is happening by His desire.

What shall we do? We must only see if we have any independent desire that indicates we still make way for new karma. We have to stop being doers and make god the doer. We are servants of god. Whatever is happening, we are acting as You want us to act. We don't want anything back as its result. We are Your slaves and we want nothing back. Now your karmas have finished! Any karma. How will we understand if our karmas have finished?

There are symptoms indicating that.

‘Yadicchalaabhsantushtodwandhatitvimatsara’

As you receive, as is happening, be happy in that. ‘Dwandhateet’ means being unaffected by happiness and sadness, honor and dishonor, cold and warm, profit and loss. These are laws of samsaar. They will keep happening and have occurred in everyone’s life. If there is happiness, then there is unhappiness also. If there is profit, then there is loss also. If there is cold, then there is warmth also. If there is honor, along comes dishonor too. We must not be affected by these. We must weigh them as equal.

Dukheshusnudwignamanah sukheshuvigataspriha,
veetraagbhayakrodh sthitadhiramuniruchyate’ (Bhagwad Gita)

When unhappiness comes, don’t be disappointed or worried, and when happiness comes, don’t become elated by that either. Because that happiness will not remain for long. Tt is very short-lived. Worldly happiness is in fact an illusion. We think we will receive happiness just now… just now… but no-one has ever really received happiness in samsaar.

Suppose you think you have received happiness. Don’t become engrossed in it, because it is a fraud. There’s no telling when it will throw you in the ocean of unhappiness.

Veetraagbhayakrodha’ – ‘Veetraag’ means unattached to samsaar, ‘bhay’ means the fear of losing materialistic things and ‘krodh’ means when we face an obstacle in achieving something we desire, anger arises. These three things when destroyed in a person, such a person is called ‘sthir buddhi’, one whose mind is unmoved. Only then there can be samarpan. Then Radha Rani will automatically start looking after you.

Just like a mother always looks after her child, the child need not say, “Mother please look after me. Mother, please give me some food,” because the child is dear to the mother. The child doesn’t know anything other than her; she is dependent on her mother. Similarly, when we become samarpit, Radha Rani thinks that this child knows nothing other than Me. So she looks after the sadhak every second of his life.

‘Kaunteyapratijanihina me bhaktahpranashyati’
(Bhagwad Gita)

God promises that his bhakta is never destroyed. He promises himself! This is samarpan. Accept whatever is happening as the desire of God. Be unaffected in all situations. If an unfavorable situation comes, accept that too because who knows how God is showering kripa (mercy) on you?

There are two types of kripa. One is anukul kripa and the other is pratikul kripa. Anukul kripa means mercy which can be easily recognized as mercy. For example, when we encounter no obstacles in doing bhajan, our mind gets absorbed in bhajan, we feel bliss when meditating on the Lord, and so forth. These are favorable, or anukul kripa.

The other kind of mercy, pratikul kripa, is mercy that does not seem to be mercy but afterwards, we realize that it was mercy alone.

Suppose there is great restlessness; chaos, war within your heart. Then it is impossible to stay as you are. Then you become afraid of samsaar as a place of unhappiness. Then  you try your best to become free from samsaar and offer yourself at God’s feet, saying, “Now I’m in Your shelter, please protect me.” This thought of offering yourself to God came due to all the unkind events you experienced. If you had experienced good fortune at that time, you wouldn’t have decided to take his shelter, Because the jeev is habituated to like this samsaar and be fooled by Maya. It is a habit from time unknown.

For a little materialistic pleasure, the jeev forgets all about God. If your son, daughter, wife, husband, and so on, all behave well with you and love you, you wouldn’t be able to do bhajan really. You will chant ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna’ only for name’s sake. Your mind will roam only in materialistic thoughts. And as they start behaving unfavorably with you, you will try becoming free from all them as soon as you can.

Who is your son, daughter, wife, husband, etc. here? All are Maya, an illusion. Leave them from your heart. So ‘Pratikul Kripa’ causes vairagya (renunciation) and makes you anxious to reach God. The sadhak becomes samarpit fast and whenever Maya attacks he or she becomes careful, thinking this is unpleasing samsaar. I have already experienced that. It is very unpleasing. This is pratikul kripa. Only afterwards we come to know, oh! It was actually kripa! If all this had not happened, I would not have become samarpit. Oh Lord, you are so kind! You shower so muc kripa!

I was not a sadhu from childhood. In childhood, I was so badly hurt by samsaar. When I was 7 years old, my father died. When I was 10 years old, my mother died. Then my brother went away and everyone else left me. At the age of 10!

Life became full of unhappiness. Whenever I went I was only hurt. Nobody to look after me. Nobody to guide me in proper direction. I was roaming on the roads, no guarantee of getting the next meal, no place to sleep at night. Everyone thought of me as a great problem. If I lived at their house, they would have to take care of me, give me place to sleep. Wherever I went, I was only hurt!

Today, I have not really become a sadhu, but whatever I have is due to Radharani’s pratikul kripa at that time. Now no samsaaric love can be fool me into its trap. It is the fruit of the tree that was planted at that time. Now see how much peace there is.

The world is short-lived, prone to be destroyed. No one belongs to me here. Let’s do bhajan. It’s all a fraud and we have nothing to do with it.

‘Na Lena, Na Dena, Magan Rehna’

“We have nothing to do here, except being constantly connected to God.”

 

A108-AI

Vrindavan, 2017.05.14 (VT) Almost 5,000 years ago, Shri Krishna performed the Raas Lila with Shri Radha and the gopis. In the midst of that festival of bliss, he disappeared and took Radha away alone. But even in that secret exchange of love, Krishna disappeared yet again, leaving Radha weeping in separation.

And then, 475 years ago, in the exact same spot where Krishna disappeared from Radha’s sight, he returned in the form of Radharaman.

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Shri Radharaman Lal

May 10th was the 475th anniversary of the day when Shri Radharaman Lal appeared to the great rasik saint Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami, a disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The answer to his intense loving prayers, Radharaman self-manifested from a Damodar shaligram shila, which Gopal Bhatt worshipped.

The three ancient deities of Vrindavan – Govind, Gopinath and Madanmohan – were made by Krishna’s grandson Vajranabh. Govind Dev’s beautiful, rounded lotus face is known as the perfect representation of Shri Krishna’s face. Gopinath’s wide and handsome chest is just like Shri Krishna’s chest, and Madanmohan’s soft and graceful feet are just like His lotus feet.

But Radharamanji has the lotus face of Govind, the chest of Gopinath and the lotus feet of Madanmohan. In other words he is the exact Form of Shri Krishna. Devotees consider their darshan of Shri Krishna complete if they see Govind, Gopinath and Madanmohan in one day. But when devotees receive darshan of Radharamanji, they feel completely soothed and satsified.

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Lotus face of Shri Radharaman – P.C. Suvarnamanjari

The festival of Radharamanji’s 475th Appearance Day was celebrated as if it were the 500th, with many special events that lasted throughout the week, including a 24-hour kirtan, a shobha yatra (procession), and a live lila performance on the ancient Raas Mandal in front of the temple gate.

The main event, however was a grand maha-abhishek which lasted from about 8am till the early afternoon. The temple was filled beyond capacity, with the crowd spilling out both doors. Devotees braved the extreme heat just to catch a glimpse of their Beloved.

After the abhishek the highly-prized charanamrit was distributed to the devotees. Many gathered charanamrit in bottles to take home to their loved ones. Small strips of the precious cloth that Radharamanji wore during abhishek were also distributed amongst the eager devotees.

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Charanamrit and Prasadi Cloth Distribution

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Goswami Vrind at the Shobha Yatra – P.C. Joy Goswami

A108-AI

Vrindavan, 2017.05.13 (VT): On May 9, UP Cabinet Minister Shrikant Sharma announced that the merger of Mathura and Vrindavan will take place. This comes as a shock to many in Vrindavan who feel the merger undermines Vrindavan’s unique heritage and importance.

According to various reports, the state government is taking this step in order to increase government revenue and provide more services for pilgrims. They assert that the development of Mathura and Vrindavan will run more smoothly if the two cities are treated as one.

Opponents of the merger say that if the two cities are merged, Vrindavan will become a mere suburb of Mathura. Alcohol, meat and eggs – currently illegal in Vrindavan – will quickly start being sold there with government permission. Development disasters, like deforestation and the approval of construction on the Yamuna floodplain by the MVDA, will merely increase. They fear the unique culture of the town will be lost. Even the name of the town – Vrindavan – will officially cease to be when the two towns are joined and renamed “Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam”.

We will bring you more news on the Mathura-Vrindavan merger as the story develops.

 

A108-AI

I always worship all the rivers and lakes of Vraja, in whose waters Krishna plays with his charming friends in the summertime, eager to defeat these friends, that also all desire victory, and with whom he was blissfully herding the cows, by lovingly splashing them with water.


VERSE 66:

sphīte yatra sarit-sarovara-kule gāḥ pālayan nirvṛto
grīṣme vāri-vihāra-keli-nivahair gopendra-divyātmajaḥ
prītyā siñcati mugdha-mitra-nikarān harṣeṇa mugdhaḥ svayaṁ
kāṅkṣan svīya-jayaṁ jayārthina imān nityaṁ tad etad bhaje


Stavāmṛta-kaṇā Vyākhyā: Now Raghunath Das Goswami praises the lakes and rivers of Vraja, like the Yamuna and Mānasa Gaṅgā, on whose banks Śrī Krishna performs his sweet cowherding pastimes with his friends.

nija sama sakhā saṅge, gogaṇa cāraṇa raṅge,
vṛndāvane svacchanda vihāra.
yāra veṇu-dhvani śuni, sthāvara jaṅgama prāṇī,
pulaka kampa aśru bohe dhāra

“Krishna freely plays in Vrindavan with his equal friends, with whom he enjoys herding the cows. When they hear his flutesong, the mobile and immobile beings shed streams of tears, shiver and get goosepimples of ecstasy.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhye 21.108)

Although it is eternally spring in Sri Krishna’s playground Vrindavan, where there is no influence of material time, still the seasons like summer and the monsoon appear to nourish the humors of his divine pastimes. In the hot season Krishna herds the cows, taking them to drink the water of the many rivers and lakes in Braj, and freely playing himself in these water bodies with his friends.

itas tataḥ sañcaratīr gavālīḥ sva veṇu-nādair atha saṅkalayya
jagāma tāḥ pāyayituṁ vayasyaiḥ sañcālayan mānasa jāhnavīṁ saḥ
pāyayitvā jalaṁ gās tāḥ śītaṁ svādu sunirmalam
svayaṁ gopāḥ papuḥ sasnur vijahraḥ salile ciram

Krishna gathered his cows, that were wandering here and there, with the sound of his flute and brought them to the Mānasa Gaṅgā-lake with the cowherdboys to make them drink. Then he made all the cows and cowherdboys drink nice cool and clear water. He himself also drank and spent a lot of time bathing and playing in the water.” (Govinda-līlāmṛta 6.36-37)

In his Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta Sripad Sanatan Goswami gives a delightful description of how Śrī Krishna and his cowherd boyfriends desire to defeat each other during their watersports in the Yamuna:

As Krishna and his friends were splashing each other with water Krishna sometimes defeated his friends and sometimes the boys defeated Vinoda-kovida, Krishna, who is expert in having fun, by splashing him with water to his delight.

Sometimes Śrī Krishna and his friends played sweet music on the water, sometimes they swam along with the stream of the Yamuna and sometimes they swam against the stream. Sometimes Krishna played a joke on the boys by concealing his Śyāma-body in the blue Yamuna water and hiding his face in a cluster of blue lotus flowers, so that nobody could distinguish him anymore.

The boys then began to search for him whose darshan is their very lives, and when they could not find him they began to weep loudly in great anguish. Hearing their weeping, Śrī Krishna, the Joker, laughed and came out of the lotus cluster. Seeing him back, the dearmost friends began to run and jump around in front of him.

After this Śrī Krishna enjoyed different water games with them. He strung wonderful garlands of lotuses on strings of lotus stems and decorated his friends with them, and his friends reciprocated by decorating him likewise. Finally they all came out of the water onto the shore. (Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.7.46-51)

Śrī Hari plays such competitive watersports with his friends in Radhakuṇḍa, Śyāmakuṇḍa, Pāvana Sarovara, Kusuma Sarovara and other large lakes. In this way Śrīpāda Dāsa Goswami reveals these endlessly sweet transcendental pastimes, calling Śrī Krishna gopendra divyātmaja, the divine son of the cowherd king. Das Goswami says: “I always worship all these lakes and rivers!”

sarit sarasī kūle, nitya gocāraṇa kāle,
rādhākuṇḍa kālindīra jale
se gopendra-divyātmaja, mūrtimanta manasija,
jala keli kore grīṣma-kāle

“The divine son of the cowherdking, who is Cupid in very own person, always sports in the waters of Radhakuṇḍa and Yamuna when he herds his cows there in the summer.”

krīḍā-rase preme matta, nija priya sakhā-yūtha,
nitya yārā jalakeli kore.
govinda kautuka bhore, jayākāṅkṣī antare,
jala siñce tādera upore

“Govinda eternally plays in the water with his dearmost friends, intoxicated by the flavours of loving games he plays with them. Desiring victory in these sports, Govinda sprinkles them with water.”

jayārthī vayasya-gaṇa, siñce jala anukṣaṇa,
sadā se sarit sarovare.
bhajana koribo āmi, hoiyā tāra anugāmī,
e vāsanā jāgaye antare

“His friends, who also desire victory, constantly splash him with water. I will worship these lakes and rivers and will become their follower; this desire has awoken in my heart.”

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.05.08 (VT): Preparations for Narsingh Jayanti (The Appearance Day of Narsingh Dev) are in full swing in all the Narsingh temples in Vrindavan.

Masks of the Holy Face of Lord Narsingh Dev are being prepared, along with costumes and props for the performance of Narsingh lila. A traditional bathing ritual or abhishek is being organized in all the temples. Devotees are giving their all in prepartion for the festival.

Central to the tradition is the ancient Narsingh Mandir located in the Athkhambha area of the town. Temple sevayat Shri Dinesh Chandra Sharma said that their festival tradition is centuries old. In addition to lila performance and abhishek, the celebration will include chappan bhog and devotional songs.

Maha abhishek will be held at about 12:30 in the afternoon. In the evening, the lila of Narsingh Dev will be enacted at Athkhambha Chauraha. The event will also feature an exhibition organized by the Braj Culture Research Institute on the Narsingh Lila tradition, which will be held on Wednesday, the day after Narsingh Jayanti.

Brajwasis will be seen performing Narsingh Lila through the streets of Vrindavan in masks and full costumes on the evening of chaturdashi and throughout the following day (Vaishakh Purnima).

The post Vrindavan Prepares for Narsingh Jayanti appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

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gallery_1_4_1787.jpgVrindavan, 2017.05.08 (VT): Four hundred and seventy five years ago, Shri Radharaman manifested from a shaligram shila by the love and prayers of the great saint Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami. This most special occasion will be marked by a grand festival at the Shri Radharaman Temple.

May 10th is the main day of the festival. A grand bathing ritual or maha-abhishek will be offered to Shri Radharaman Lal. The abhishek and related ceremonies will start around 8am and last till after noon. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s wooden seat and prasadi cloth will also be brought out for darshan on this day.

Devotees of Radharamanji from all over India and around the world will fill the temple to witness the divine event. But those who cannot come to Vrindavan are still looking forward to enjoying the festival remotely; Radharamanji has a vast social media following, with well over half a million people following his darshans on Facebook alone.

Celebrations began on May 6th and will last till the 17th. The special festivities include a daily flower-palace (phool bangla) and chappan bhog, congratulatory hymns (badhaai-gaan), 64-mahantas bhog aradhana (13th May), and a boat festival or nauka vihar (15 May).

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Vrindavan, 2017.05.08 (VT) The Appearance Day of Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu, the founder of the Radhavallabh Sampraday, was celebrated on Saturday.

Shri Hit Harivansh’s family was from Deoband in Northeast Uttar Pradesh. His father, Shri Vyas Mishra, was a Gaur Brahmin who, according to the Tarikh-i-Deoband, was employed by the Mughal Emperor Humayun.

One summer, as he was travelling West with the royal caravan from Agra, they crossed the land of Braj. It was ekadashi when Shri Vyas Mishra’s wife gave birth in Braj’s Baad village, and thus Shri Hit Harivansh appeared in this world. The year of his birth is disputed, but it is somewhere around the year 1500 A.D.

Despite having been born a Brajwasi, Shri Hit Harivansh ji spent his childhood with his family in Deoband. It was there that, according to Shri Radhavallabh Sampraday, he received mantra from Shri Radha in a dream, thus becoming Her disciple. In another story, the Gaudiya Sampraday says that Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami gave initiation to Shri Hit Harivansh on his way to Nepal, although the Radhavallabh Sampraday does not accept this account.

In the year 1534, Shri Hit Harivansh returned home to Braj. Thereafter, he lived in Vrindavan permanently. There he established the Shri Radhavallabh Temple and promoted the worship of Shri Radharani as the Supreme Power. His beautiful songs, full of love for the Divine Couple Shri Radha and Krishna, still resound through the narrow pathways of Vrindavan.

Shri Hit Harivansh’s Appearance Day was celebrated with great joy at the Shri Radhavallabh Temple in Vrindavan and related ashrams. Devotees offered worship to Shri Hit Harivansh at the Bade Raasmandal. On Saturday morning, abhishek was offered to Radhavallabhji amidst the singing of Shri Harivansh’s divine pads. After that, the Shri Radhavallabh Lal gave His darshan sitting in a flower-palace.

Devotees sang kirtan in procession through the streets of Vrindavan, finally reaching the Bade Raasmandal. There Samaj Gayan (a type of traditional singing) was was offered to Shri Radharani. Some rasik saints put on sakhi vesh and danced with great feeling, inspiring all the devotees. Soon they all began to dance. The blissful festival lasted late into the night.

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Shri Radhavallabh Lal

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Vrindavan, 2017.05.07 (VT): With the impending merger of Mathura and Vrindavan into a single entity called “Mathura-Vrindavan”, I have been thinking a lot about how misunderstood Vrindavan has become. Vrindavan has always had a very separate identity from Mathura. Not just in the sense of having a separate border that was recognized even by the Mughals and the British Raj. It’s a separation that goes back to Lord Krishna’s time.

The following commentary by Radhakund Mahant Shri Anant Das Pandit explains the spiritual difference between Mathura, Dwarka and Vrindavan very well. It is based on a verse from Swa Niyam Dashakam by Braj’s great rasik saint Shri Raghunath Das Goswami. Raghunath Das Goswami is one of the founding fathers of the Gaudiya Sampraday, but all the Sampradays who have Radha and Krishna as their main object of worship agree on the absolutely unique nature of Vrindavan.

 

Swa Niyam Dashakam – Verse 3

Even if the great, opulent Lord of the Yadus (Krishna in Dwarka) were to personally invite me to come and see Him in Dwarka, I will not leave Braj, the eternal and unique playground of Radha and Krishna. No, I will not go there for even a moment, even if I have suffered intense separation from Krishna for ages!

sadā rādhā kṛṣṇocchalad atula khelā sthala yujaṃ
vrajaṃ saṃtyajyaitad yuga virahato’pi truṭim api
punar dvārāvatyāṃ yadupatim api prauḍha vibhavaiḥ
sphurantaṃ tad vācāpi hi nahi calāmīkṣitum api

Stavamrita Kanika Vyakhya: In the previous verse, Shri Raghunath Das Goswami vowed that even if he could have the association of great saints and see beautiful deities of Shri Krishna in other holy places, he does not want to leave Braj (Vrindavan). He would rather spend his time here in Braj chitchatting with the villagers!

Now one may ask: ‘If Shri Krishna were to call for Raghunath Das to come to Dwarka, to take away his pain of separation, would he go then?” To dispel these doubts, Shri Raghunath writes this verse, in which he confirms his loyalty to Braj.

Shri Raghunath says: “What to speak of a short time, even if I suffer in separation from Shri Krishna for ages, I will not go to Dwarka, even if the supremely majestic Yadupati (Krishna of Dwarka) extends his personal invitation.

In His manifest pastimes, when Krishna left Braj to go to Mathura, his father Nand and the other cowherd men did not want to go there to see Him, no matter how much they missed Him, and even though Mathura was only a very short distance away (just seven miles).

The reason is that the love of the Brajwasis is completely sweet. They can only be happy by loving Krishna in their rural, highly personal way. They always feel, ‘He is my son’, ‘He is my friend’, or ‘He is my beloved’. They won’t be able to see Him in that way in Mathura. Seeing them engaged in royal duties as a King would offend their love.

There is not a drop of selfishness in the Brajwasis’ love. Their minds and hearts are totally absorbed in giving happiness to Krishna. Krishna would feel embarrassed to meet His Brajwasis in Mathura, because in this majestic abode (aishwarya dham) He could never place his father’s shoes on His head, rub His head and other limbs with mother Yashoda’s footdust, be defeated by His friends in play, or bow at the feet of His proud Beloved, Radha.

No, he would not be satisfied to meet his Brajwasis outside of Braj. Therefore the Brajwasis, who only care about His happiness, do not desire to go and see Krishna in Mathura or Dwarka. If they ever meet Him elsewhere they feel great anguish and say:

tomar je anya vesh, anya sang anya desh
braja jane kabhu naahi bhaay
braja bhoomi chadite naare, tomaa naa dekhile more
braja janer ki hobe upaay
(CC)

“This different dress of yours… these different associates and foreign land… we Brajwasis cannot be happy with this.
We can never leave Braj, yet if we don’t see You, we will die. What can be done for us now?”

Hence Shri Raghunath says: “Even if I suffer separation from Sri Krishna for ages I will never go to see the vastly opulent Krishna of Dwarka, even if He Himself calls for me!”

Shri Raghunath Das Goswami is actually Sri Radha’s beloved maidservant. That is why he (she) never desires to leave Sri Radha and Krishna’s blissful and rasik pastime-places in Braj Dham.

Shri Krishna is called Lila Purushottam, the Supreme Lord of Joyful Play. The delightful taste of His pastimes can never be fully relished in places like Dwarka and Mathura, because the devotees’ love is hampered by all the majesty there. In Braj the special quality of Krishna’s pastimes is their extreme sweetness.

krishner jatek khelaa, sarvottam nar-lila
nar-vapu taahaar swaroop
gop-vesh, venu-kar, nav kishor, natavar
nar-lilar hoy anuroop 
(CC)

“Of all of Krishna’s pastimes, the greatest ones are His human-like pastimes, where He is just like a human being. In this lila He dresses like a cowherd boy, holds a flute in His hand, and is a wonderful dancer. These lilas are similar to human life.” […]

When Vrindavan gives its mercy to a devotee, that devotee can see the amazingly sweet pastimes of Shri Radha and Krishna which still take place there. Shri Bilvamangal Thakur and others were blessed in this way. The lilas of Radha and Krishna began to appear before their eyes.

For this reason, Shri Raghunath Das Goswami vows never to leave Braj and go to Dwarka for even a moment, even if he is being called there by Krishna Himself. His vow of living in Braj stands firm.

yugal vilaas khelaa, yathaa nitya nava lelaa,
sukhamaya sri vrindavan
braj dhaam tyaag kare, jete dwaravati pure
agya kore madan mohan
praudha vibhava-shali, jadupati jaare boli
sei prabhu korite darshan
lava nimeshardha tare, jaibo naa braja chede
e sankalpa korechi grahan

“Even if Shri Krishna orders me to leave blissful Vrindavan and go to Dwarka, I will not leave this place for even a split second. This is my firm vow.”

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.05.06 (VT): A massive deity of Shri Sankarshan Bhagwan (a form of Dauji Maharaj) is being installed today at Sankarshan Kund in Govardhan.

The beautiful black deity was sculpted in Tirupati, in South India. A team of 22 artisans worked for over a year, sculpting the deity from a single block of black stone. It is 28 feet long and weighs 25 tons.

The deity of Sankarshan Bhagwan has made a highly-publicized eight-day journey by land from Tirupati to Govardhan via Hyderabad, Adilabad, Nagpur, Bhopal, Guna, Shivpuri, Gwalior, Agra and Mathura. Saints of Braj and Senior Officials of the UP Government are welcoming him at Sankarshan Kund today, where he will be installed in the kund atop a 12-foot high podium made in Jaipur.

Sankarshan Kund is one of the most important kunds (holy lakes) in the Govardhan area. It is named after Sankarshan, a form of Lord Krishna’s elder brother Balram, and the kund is named after him.

For the last fifty years, the kund was in a state of complete disrepair and was being used as a garbage dump for the local municipality. But recently, the Kund was rennovated by the Braj Foundation. The installation of Sankarshan Bhagwan is part of this project.

Sankarshan Kund is of special importance to the Sri Sampradaya. Many Sri Vaishnava saints of Braj did their spiritual practice here. The inauguration of the Sankarshan Kund rennovation project was presided over by the honorable Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami of the Sri Sampradaya, and 350 devotees came with Maharaj from Hyderabad to attend the function.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.05.03 (VT): Siddha Gauranga Das Babaji Maharaj had a special relationship with the trees of Vrindavan. He talked to them and read to them from scriptures like Radha Ras Sudha Nidhi and Vrindavan Mahimamrit.

When he first came to Vrindavan, Baba lived amongst the trees and creepers deep in the forest. His only posessions were the clothes on his back, a water pot and jap mala. To keep himself alive, he accepted alms from the Brajwasis.

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Sri Gauranga Das Babaji Maharaj

One evening Baba returned late from madhukari (gathering alms), so he could not read to the trees like he usually did. As Baba lay down to sleep under one very large tree, he heard the tree speaking.

“Baba! Won’t you read to us today?”

Baba replied sorrowfully, “Maharaj! I am have nothing. I don’t even have a lamp. How can I read to you in the dark?”

Softly and lovingly the tree said, “Just look inside my heart and take my gift for you.”

Baba saw a hole in the tree and peered inside. There he found a big candle and a box of matches. When Baba sat down to read, the big tree and all his neighbors were very happy.

(Unfortunately, that very tree was thoughtlessly cut down in 2009 and an ATM was built in its place. Judging by its rings and the width of its trunk, the tree was more than 200 years old. Baba’s disciples and grand-disciples were heartbroken by its loss).

Later in life, Baba lived in an ashram called Radharaman Nivas, in the Raman Reti neighborhood of Vrindavan. Even today the ashram is filled with beautiful neem trees.

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The tree tied by Manohar Das

Baba never allowed anyone to pick the trees’ leaves and twigs, because he knew they were conscious beings. In fact, they are saints in the form of trees.

Once Baba asked his disciple Manohar Das to tie up a low-hanging branch of a big neem tree. The branch blocked the devotees’ view during Baba’s daily pravachan (spiritual discource). But when Manohar Das began to tie up the branch, Baba experienced severe chest pains as if he was having a heart attack. Only when the branch was cut free, the pain subsided.

The next day, a young Brajwasi boy came to Baba looking very sad. His body seemed to radiate a divine energy. Baba felt the boy looked familiar. Suddenly the boy started crying.

The boy said said, ¨O Baba! How could you tie me up? You have not come here to bind souls, but to set them free.” Baba then realised the boy was the tree personified. He bowed and begged forgiveness for his actions.

In his book The Saints of Bengal, Baba’s disciple Dr. OBL Kapoor writes,

Gesturing towards the neem trees of his ashram, Baba said, ‘If there is anything that afflicts you, do not worry. Go and tell your tale to a kalpataru (wish-giving tree) over there. Every tree in Vrindavan is a kalpataru. If you embrace them and speak your heart to them, they listen and help. There is nothing the trees of Vrindavan cannot help you with. They can even grant you the most cherished treasures your heart – Radha and Krishna – if you so desire.’

Baba continued: ‘Listen and I will give you an example. A young boy, aspiring for the darshan of Krishna, renounced the world and came to Vrindavan. Although he was from a high-class family and was brought up in the lap of luxury, he became a Babaji and lived in utter seclusion in the forests and practised bhajan thoughout the day. Only once in the evening he would go out into a nearby village for madhukari. He roamed half-naked, wearing only a loin cloth made of gunny.

‘One winter morning when the weather was drizzly, he began to shiver with cold. Since there was no other shelter in the forest, he sat inside the hollow of an old tree and began to meditate on Krishna, shedding tears in his remembrance.

‘After some time passed, he heard a voice coming from another tree in front of him.

‘That tree said to the tree in which Baba was hiding, “Look, a mahatma has taken shelter of you. Grant him your mercy.”

Why don’t you grant him your mercy?’ replied the other tree.

Then from the tree in front, a peacock flew down and stood before Baba with its tail unfurled. Then another peacock flew down, and another, till a semi-circle of peacocks was formed around Baba. And the next moment he saw standing before him, in the midst of all the peacocks, Sri Krishna Himself, with a peacock feather in his crown, smiling a bewitching smile, his lips kissing his beloved flute.’

Gauraṅga Das Babaji did not name the young Baba who was thus blessed with the vision of Sri Krishna by the mercy of the trees of Vrindavan. But as I came to know later, the story was about himself.

 

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I worship the best of mountains, the mountains of Braj like Govardhan. Their colorful mineral pigments adorn Shri Krishna and his affectionate friends. By the sides of those mountains Krishna herds the cows, and play hide-and-seek with his friends, and in their secret caves he plays with Radha.

VERSE 65:

yeṣāṁ kvāpi ca mādhavo viharate snigdhair vayasyotkarais
tad dhātu-drava puñja citritatarais tais taiḥ svayaṁ citritaḥ
khelābhiḥ kila pālanair api gavāṁ kutrāpi narmotsavaiḥ
śrī rādhā sahito guhāsu ramate tān śaila varyān bhaje

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Das Goswami praises Braj’s wonderful mountains, like Govardhan. In the previous verse he has praised Mansi Ganga, and as he does so he perceives the service Haridas Varya (the best of Krishna’s servants) Sri Giriraj offers to Sri Krishna, his friends and his beloved.

In this mood, he praises Sri Giriraj and other mountains of Braj. Sri Giriraj is the land where Sri Krishna freely plays with his friends.

paripūrṇatamaḥ sākṣāt śrī kṛṣṇo bhagavān svayam;
asaṅkhya brahmāṇḍa-patir golakeśaḥ parātparaḥ
asmin sthitaḥ sadā krīḍām arbhakaiḥ saha maithila;
karoti tasya māhātmyaṁ vaktuṁ nālaṁ caturmukhaḥ

(Garga Saṁhitā)

Sri Narad said: “O Lord of Mithila! Sri Krishna, who is the original Lord, the maintainer of infinite universes, and the Lord of Golok, resides on this Govardhana hill and always plays different games with the cowherd-boys there. Even the four-faced Lord Brahmā is unable to describe his glories!”

Before Sri Krishna comes to the base of the mountain to herd his cows with his friends, they first decorate their bodies with Giriraj’s colorful mineral pigments.

Srimad Roop Goswami has written: śaśvad viśvālaṅkaraṇālaṅkṛtimedhyaiḥ premṇā dhautair dhātubhir uddīpita-sāno (Stavamālā) “Sri Krishna, the jewel of the world, is himself decorated by the mineral pigments that beautify the slopes of Govardhan Hill and that are sprinkled with love for him.”

When the time for cowherding comes, Sri Krishna and his friends love to wear these colorful pigments, and clothes and ornaments made of leaves and flowers, more than ornaments of jewels and pearls. phala prabāla stavaka sumanaḥ piccha dhātubhiḥ, kāca muktā maṇi svarṇa-bhūṣitā apyabhūṣayan (Bhāg. 10.12.4) “Although the cowherd boys were already decorated by their mothers with ornaments of made of jewels, pearls and gold, they still decorated their bodies with different kinds of fruits, leaves, bunches of flowers, peacock feathers and colorful mineral pigments when they came into the forest.”

In this way, the cowherd boys also decorated Sri Krishna as they liked with sylvan clothing and colorful mineral pigments, let the cows graze in the large meadows on the slopes of Girirāj, and freely played games like hide-and-seek with Sri Krishna.

Although Sri Krishna enjoys playing different games with his friends in this way, his mind remains fixed on Sri Radha. In Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita it is seen: rātri-dina kuñja krīḍā kore rādhā saṅge; kaiśora boyos saphala koilo krīḍā-raṅge “Day and night he sports in the groves with Radha; in this way he made his adolescence a success.”

One may ask here: “If he plays with Sri Radha day and night, then when will he find the time to play in the meadows with his friends and to exchange love with his parents?”

Actually Sri Krishna always thinks of Sri Radha as he performs these other pastimes. Sri Radha, who is endowed with the mahābhāva known as mādana, pervades Sri Krishna’s entire awareness. From the first time he ever saw her in the beginning of pūrva-rāga, Sri Krishna has always been thinking of her.

nayāna putalī rādhā mora; mana mājhe rādhikā ujora
kṣiti-tale dekhi rādhāmaya; gaganeho rādhikā udoy
rādhāmaya bhelo tribhuvana; tabe āmi koribo kemon
kothā sei rādhikā sundarī; nā dekhi’ dhairaja hoite nāri
e yadunandana mane jāge; ki nā kore nava anurāge

(Pada Kalpataru)

“Radha is the apple of my eyes, and Radhika is shining within my mind. The surface of the earth is filled with Radha and in the sky Radhika also rises. The three worlds have become filled with Radha, so what shall I do? Where is that Radhika Sundari? I cannot remain calm if I don’t see her. Thus Yadunandana ponders: ‘What will he not do out of fresh passion?’”

Even though he may be intoxicated by playing with his friends around Govardhan Hill, Shyam is afflicted by the heartache of separation from Sri Radha. meanwhile one of Srimati’s girlfriends or maidservants keeps eager abhisārikā Sri Radhika in some cave of Govardhan Hill and comes to search for Shyam.

Seeing Shyam engaged in playing with his friends, they give him a hint in an unnoticed way that Sri Radha has come to meet him. Shyamsundar then leaves his friends on the pretext of admiring the natural beauty of the mountain and goes along with the sakhis to meet Sri Radha in a solitary cave of Giriraj.

Das Goswami says: “I worship these kings of mountains, like Govardhan, which are the abodes of Shri Radha and Krishna’s pastimes.” In other words, “I worship Sri Sri Giriraj and other mountains so that I can witness such romantic lilas of the Divine Couple there and be blessed by rendering services to the playful pair serving them with scented water and paan, and by fanning them.”

yāra dhātu drava puñje, vicitrita hoiyā aṅge,
snigdha yoto kṛṣṇa sakhā-gaṇe
yāra gairika drava guṇe, nija sama sakhā-gaṇe
sājāyeche madana mohana
vicitrita kalevare, sakhā saṅge khelā kore,
gocāraṇa korite korite
bhaji sei śaila śreṣṭha, yāra guhāya kṛṣṇa preṣṭha
vihariche śrī rādhā sahite

“I worship the best of Braj’s mountains, in whose caves Krishna enjoys with his beloved Radha and whose colorful mineral pigments are used by Krishna’s affectionate friends to decorate their own bodies and with which these friends, who consider themselves on an equal level with him, also decorate Madan Mohan beautifully before they all leave to take the cows to pasture.”

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.05.02 (VT): The world-famous widows of Vrindavan took to the streets on Monday to protest the proposed merger of Mathura and Vrindavan. Other elderly women and sadhvis also joined the demonstration, which paraded through the grand road in front of Shri Rangji Temple.

Bela Devi from Assam said, “Vrindavan is where Krishna played with Radha. But Krishna left Vrindavan and went to Mathura. He never came back, and his family and friends almost died from sadness. How can Vrindavan become a part of Mathura? We can never accept this. It is wrong on every level.”

The widows passionately discussed their objections to merging the two cities. For example: meat and alcohol are legally sold in Mathura, while they are banned in Vrindavan. Even the British banned hunting all around Vrindavan, out of respect for the strong religious sentiments of the local people. But if Mathura and Vrindavan are merged, the centuries-old prohibition will likely be destroyed.

“I did not leave my village in Bengal to live in a concrete jungle where meat and alcohol are sold in the streets,” commented Kanchana Devi. “If that was what I wanted from life, I could have just moved to Calcutta.”

“When I first came here,” she continued, “the forest was so beautiful that people would cry at the sight of it. We used to drink the water of the Yamuna river to sustain our lives. Now even the water pumps have started giving sewage instead of water. When I go for parikrama, I fear for my life. I have to dodge speeding cars and busses all the way. Now they want to make Vrindavan a real city. I would rather die than see that day.”

The people of Vrindavan certainly want development, but with a sane approach. The town is overflowing with historic sites, most of which are lying in a state of disrepair. But instead of being preserved, the wooded areas and ancient landmarks are being destroyed wholesale, and concrete buildings are built on top of them with government permission.

This is not development but destruction, pure and simple. Locals say that the Mathura-Vrindavan merger is yet another case of greedy people in the government looking for new ways to make money; nothing more than that.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.05.01 (AU, VT): A merger of the Vrindavan Municipality with Mathura seems imminent. But all over Vrindavan, Brajwasis are protesting against the merger.

On Sunday a major meeting was held at Sheelwali Kunj under the auspices of Mahant Vidyanand Ji Maharaj. A number of prominent sants and Brajwasis attended to denounce the municipal merger with a united voice.

Swami Chitt Prakashanand said, “Our own government wants to destroy our identity and culture. Vrindavan is absolutely unique and cannot be compared with any other place, including Mathura. The two cities can never be combined, just like oil cannot mix with water.

Another attendee, Saint Haribol Maharaj commented that, “No one has the power to take away Vrindavan’s identity. The Brajwasis are ready to go to any extent to protect Vrindavan.”

It was added that despite the holy nature of Mathura, it is not the same as Vrindavan even in Shri Krishna’s eyes, and combining the two towns is completely unacceptable from a spiritual and religious point of view. The government should consult the holy men of Vrindavan and understand their feelings before making such a monumental decision.

Acharya Mridulkant Shastri, Dr. Adityanand, Acharya Vishnukant Shastri, Sant Govindanand, Mahamandaleshwar Navalgiri, Gita Sharma, Govind Sharma, Bihari Pathak, Bantu Bhaiya, Sumit Gautam, Shivam Gautam, Hemant Bharti, Vishnu Sharma, Naveen Tentiwala and others were present at the meeting.

At the Shakkhar Sindhi Dharamshala, Nandkumar Pathak presided over a rally of Brajwasi Pandas against the combining of the two cities. The padadhikari of the sabha, Shri Ramnarayan Brajwasi, and Murarilal Thokdar said that if the government turns a blind eye to the Brajwasis’ request, then the Pandas of Braj are ready to take to the streets in protest. Another participant warned that the government is playing with the sentiments of the people of Vrindavan, and that if the two cities are merged without their consent, there will be an uprising.

Shri Giridhari Brajwasi, Yogendra Brajwasi, Govind Pachauri, Sureshchandra Sharma, Mahesh Bharadwaj, Mohan Lal Sharma, Sureshchandra Shukla, Kanhaiya Thokdar, Krishnamurari Sharma, Kaushal Kishor, Bihari Lal, Govardhan Brajwasi, Deepak Ghaatwala, Shekhar Mukhiya, Pappu Thokdar, and Shyambihari Ji were amongst those present.

 

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18193894_10212621765963510_1107006285202574288_n.jpg Vrindavan, 2017.05.01 (VT): The 1,000-year anniversary of Sri Ramanujacharya’s birth is being celebrated throughout India today. At the Sri Rangji Temple in Vrindavan, the occasion is being marked by a beautiful ten-day festival in the South Indian tradition.

Sri Ramanujacharya was born in 1017 A.D. in the village of Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. By the grace of Lord Parthasarathy, Ramanujacharya became one of the foremost theologians in history, and one of the great leaders of the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. His philosophy of Vishishtadwaita or “qualified non-dualism” helped shape the bhakti movement and indeed, Hindu religion as we know it.

Every morning throughout the festival, the abhishek of Ramanujacharya’s murti was performed by Sri Vaishnava Acharyas amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras in South Indian style. At four p.m., spiritual discources by Sri Jagannath Swamy and Sri Dharacharya Swamy Maharaj began, on the subject of the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya’s “Vishisht Adwaita” philosophy. Upon completion of the discources, Sri Ramanujacharya’s image was taken out on procession.

A large entourage of Acharyas and Pundits followed the procession whilst chanting divine stotras and hymns from the Vedas. Shridharacharya Swami explained that in Treta Yug, when Sriman Narayana came in his avatar as Sri Ram, his eternal sevak Anant Shesh came as his younger brother Lakshman. In Dwarpar Yug, when the Lord came as Sri Krishna, Lakshman followed as Balram. And in Kaliyug, the Lord is here with us in the form of Sri Ranganatha Swamy, and he who came as Baalram and Lakshman has taken birth in Sriperumbudur as Ramanujacharya.

 

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Vrindavan, April 30, 2017 (VT): Vrindavan filled with visitors from far and wide yesterday on the occasion of Akshay Tritya. Throughout India, Akshay Tritiya is celebrated as a day of new beginnings. But in Vrindavan, the festival has a unique significance. It is a festival of relief from the summer’s heat for Vrindavan’s beloved Shri Radha and Krishna.

Preparations began weeks in advance with the grinding of sandalwood on stone slabs to create huge amounts of sandalwood paste. On Akshay Tritiya morning, the Lord’s servants cover his entire body with sandalwood paste from head to toe. Because this type of shringar or dressing takes time, the chandan darshan generally occurs in the afternoon.

The heat at this time of year is exteme, and sandalwood has cooling properties. Devotees often mix camphor with the sandalwood to make it even more soothing. Sweet-smelling jasmine garlands add to the cooling effect, and Shri Radha and Krishna are offered sheetal bhog or cooling foods like cucumber, watermelon, mung bean sprouts, and sweets made with sattu (a fine powder made of roasted grain). These types of cooling foods will continue to be offered until the jal-yatra or water festival next month.

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Shri Radharamanji’s Chandan Shringar

At the Shri Radharaman Temple, Radharaman Lal appeared in a dress made entirely from chandan. A huge crowd patiently awaited his first darshan in his chandan dress, which occurred around one thirty in the afternoon. Aagain, around six p.m., Radharamanji gave a very close-up darshan from his jagmohan (the outer part of the altar) in a phool bangla (flower palace). He was wearing the same chandan dress, but the effect was completely new as he was wearing a different array of jewelery. In the night time, after the chandan dress was removed, Radharamranji looked dazzling in a beautiful black skirt accented with flowers, and an intricately folded chandan-coloured turban.

Chandan yatra is celebrated in all the main temples in Vrindavan such as Shri Radha-Gokulananda, Radha-Shyamsundar, Radha-Damodar, Radha Vallabh and Krishna-Balaram Temple. Banke Bihari also gives a special darshan of his lotus feet on this day.

Devotees who went for darshan could be seen with Shri Radha and Krishna’s prasadi chandan on their foreheads. Sometimes the chandan was smeared on their cheeks as well, and sometimes it even looked as if the devotees had played Holi, with chandan splattered all over their clothes, faces, and hair.

 

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The Meaning of Life

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 sixteenth vartaSee previous.

Varta 16

The story of Madhusudan Das, a Gaudiya Brahmin who lived in Vrindavan.

*bhav-prakash*

Madhusudan Das is a devotee with a tamasi (divinely feisty) disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Bandini (a gopi). Bandini manifests from Indulekha and is thus a form of her divine loving mood.

Madhusudan Das was born to a Brahmin in Gauda Desh. His father was a disciple of  Shri Roop-Sanatan. [Because the brothers shared such a close spiritual connection, the Brajwasis of the time used to refer to Shri Roop Goswami and Shri Sanatan Goswami by the single name “Shri Roop-Sanatan”. It is not clear whether one or the other is referred to here, or whether the author is talking about both Goswamis. -Ed.]

Madhusudan Das’ father would travel to Vrindavan every year to see his Guru. He would serve his Guru for some days and, after receiving instructions from him, he would then return home.

When Madhusudan Das reached the age of 20, his father took him with him on his trip to Vrindavan. He had Madhusudan Das initiated by his Guru. Madhusudandas stayed on in Vrindavan with his father. He became very attached to the beauty of Vrindavan.

When his father wanted to set off for home, Madhusudan Das told him that he did not want to leave Vrindavan to go home with him, that he liked Vrindavan and wished to remain there forever. His father said, “My son, you are still a child. You are not yet married. I am old now, so you should come home with me. You can do whatever you like after I am dead.”

Madhusudan Das was not persuaded. Defeated by his son’s resolve, his father went home.

As he was leaving, Madhusudan Das’ father requested his Guru to look after his son and said that he was giving the boy into his care. Shri Roop-Sanatan told him not to worry, that he should go happily and that he would take care of his son. The father left some money for the expenses for his son and set off. Madhusudan Das began to fearlessly wander around Vrindavan.

*Part 1*

Once Madhusudan Das came to Sri Gusainji (Sri Vitthalnathji) in Gokul. Although Madhusudan Das had been initiated by a different Guru in his youth, after having the sight of Sri Gusainji in Gokul, he felt a great desire to become his disciple.

At that very moment he implored Sri Gusainji to bless him with initiation. Sri Gusainji recognised his intense longing and so told him to go and bathe, and thereafter he initiated him with the Lord’s Name and Brahma Sambandha. He then went inside to take Prasad.

He told Madhusudan Das that he should have his Prasad there that day, and he did so.

The next day, Madhusudan Das was cooking when Sri Gusainji was heading inside to have his meal. Sri Gusainji caught sight of Madhusudan Das and asked him, “Do you have any money to live on?”

Madhusudan Das replied that he had enough for a few expenses tied up in his bundle. Sri Gusainji told him to have his Prasad there that day, but then to go home the next day.

Madhusudan Das supplicated, “O Maharaj! As long as I have these few savings, I can cook and take Prasad. After that I can beg and survive like that. I do not wish to leave your lotus feet.”

For the next two days, Sri Gusainji fed Madhusudan Das. On the third day he did his own cooking, and when his money ran out he began to beg.

When he had been doing this for about four days, Sri Gusainji asked him how he was getting on. Madhusudandas told him everything.

“O Maharaj! I had enough for two days. On those days I cooked, made the offerings, and accepted the Prasad. Nowadays I go to beg in the day. In the evenings I get all the ingredients ready and in the morning I cook and make the offerings. When the Prasad comes back, I cover it and come to have the Lord’s Holy Sight. After that I partake of the Prasad, and then go out again to beg.”

Sri Gusainji again asked him, “From whose houses do you beg?”

Madhusudan Das revealed, “From the houses of Vashnavas, from Bhatt families, from the homes of the temple’s inner servants, and from Brajwasis. I also get alms from traders in the market.”

Sri Gusainji then instructed him, “You can accept alms from all of these people, but never from the Bhatts or the temple servants. You must never accept even a bean from them.”

*bhav-prakash*

The reason for this is that the Bhatts and temple servants live on wealth donated to Sri Gusainji and his lineage, and so to take from this source is an obstacle for Vaishnavas. This has already been explained in the Varta of Vishnudas Chipa.

*Part 1 Continued*

Madhusudan Das then acted according to these instructions. Some days later, Sri Gusainji gave Madhusudan Das the Seva of preparing Srinathji’s paan leaf offerings. He did this Seva very well.

On summer days when it was very hot, Madhusudan Das would operate Shrinathji’s fan for the whole night by pulling the rope. He did this for many days.

One day, Sri Gusainji came to the room where the Paan was prepared. He saw that Madhusudan Das was falling asleep. His eyes were full of sleep, but he was still holding the rope and swinging the fan. Sri Gusainji felt very happy to see his dedicated service.

Madhusudan Das had no idea that Sri Gusainji had seen him. He continued making this Seva until the very end of his life.

*bhav-prakash*

This story teaches us that Vaishnavas should be totally addicted to their Seva. Then the Lord will be pleased. Being addicted to Seva means that the embodied soul’s life is fulfilled.

In his treatise called Bhaktivardhini (How to increase Devotion) Sri Acharyaji has written, “The purpose of an embodied soul’s existence is fulfilled when they become addicted to Seva.”

Madhusudan Das’ addiction to Seva was perfect.

Thus concludes Varta 16, the story of Madhusudan Das on whom Sri Gusainji showered his grace and with whom he was always pleased. He was a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s grace and an accomplished Vaishnava. There is truly no end to his story.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.04.13 (VT): Mathura MP Hema Malini conducted a surprise inspection of Vrindavan and Mathura recently. She was profoundly disappointed to see the amount of garbage still littering the streets of the holy cities.

It is an embarassment, said the MP, to have pilgrims and tourists come from all over the world, only to find the holy land filled with garbage. The responsibility, she added, lies squarely on the municipal heads of both cities.

When Hema Malini first became MP, she was enthusiastic to reverse the previous so-called development work, which had been substandard at best and outright damaging at worst. She was optimistic about bringing back the Vrindavan of her dreams, which was the reality just a couple decades ago.

But getting it done was another matter, as the officers in charge of overseeing the work failed to be straighforward with the MP. Further, the departments failed to collaborate, sometimes even blocking each other’s work.

“If I make an appeal, I can get thousands of trash bins installed in Vrindavan,” Hemaji said, “but who will maintain them?” Although she has brought up the matter many times with the municipality, there has been no tangible result.

With a convoy of representitives from the District Administration, the Mathura Vrindavan Development Authority (MVDA) and the Public Works Department or Lok Nirman Vibhag (LNV), the MP first visited the 100-bedded hospital in Vrindavan, and the Utility Center, which is currently under construction. Next they began their inspection of the parikrama marg where it crosses Atalla Chungi.

There, the MP questioned officers about the encroachment of shantys and tea stalls on the dirt path, which is supposed to be reserved for pilgrims walking on parikrama. She also interrogated them as to why there was still so much garbage, and why the iron railings alongside the parikrama path were broken down. While none of the officers was ready to take responsibility for the parikrama marg’s state, everyone was ready to lay the blame on other departments.

The MVDA said the development of the parikrama marg was the LNV’s responsibility, while the LNV insisted it was the MVDA’s problem. Ten years ago under BSP rule, the LNV undertook Vrindavan’s beautification and the MVDA was the nodal agency for the project.

Unable to give the MP the answers she wanted, they all assured her that the beautifucation of the Govardhan parikrama marg was going on very well. Upon reaching Keshi Ghat, the officers briefed the MP on the Yamuna riverfront development project. At this point, the MP addressed journalists, first pouring her ire on the hoardings (signboards) that obstruct pedestrian space on top of being an eyesore.

She continued to say that despite the incomplete state of development in the two holy cities, apparantly nobody cared enough to do something about it. The sad fact is that once people enter politics, they tend to pay far more attention to how they can advance their position and gain finacially, than to actually doing their job. This is the one and only reason why Vrindavan is in the state it’s in.

Now, with the new BJP state government, the MP has hope that the actual development of Vrindavan will finally start to happen. Soon, she said, there will be a joint meeting with officers from all the departments involved in development. They will have to cooperate and begin their work in earnest.

The MP added that the Muktakashiya Rang Manch in Mathura will soon be developed as a grand theatre where Braj artists will have an opportunity to showcase their work.

 

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May Mānasa Gaṅgā, who enjoys the great sweetness of Śrī-Sri Radha and Krishna’s boating pastimes and whose waves of ecstasy splash against Govardhana hill’s brilliant boulders, protect me.

VERSE 64:

gāndharvikā mura-vimardana nau vihāra
līlā vinoda; rasa-nirbhara bhoginīyam
govardhanojjvala śilā-kulam unnayantī
vīcī-bharair avatu mānasa jāhnavī mām

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā:  In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami praises Mānasa Gaṅgā, one of Govardhana hill’s holy waters. yatra vai mānasī gaṅgā mahā-pāpaugha-nāśinī (Garga Saṁhitā) “On Govardhana hill is Mānasī Gaṅga, which destroys all great sins.” This Mānasa Gaṅgā is Sri Sri Girirāja’s eye. netre vai mānasī gaṅgā (ibid.) Mānasa Gaṅgā is the abode where Krishna plays watersports with his boyfriends and where Śrī-Sri Radha-Mādhava play different watersports with Their girlfriends. Raghunath Das Goswami is Sri Radha’s maidservant, hence he mentions the most rasik boating-pastimes of Śrī-Sri Radha-Mādhava when he praises Mānasa Gaṅgā.

In this verse, Mānasa Gaṅgā is praised in connection with the revelation of a sweet pastime. Das Goswami was absorbed in bhajan on the bank of Sri Radhakuṇḍ when he suddenly got a divine vision in which he saw Sri Radharani, Lalitā, Viśākhā and other sakhīs taking jugs with ghee and yoghurt to Govinda Kuṇḍ, a lake at the base of Govardhana hill. Under the guidance of Paurṇamāsī they set out from Radhakuṇḍ to Govardhan on the pretext of donating ghee to a fire sacrifice there, but with the actual desire to meet Shyam nearby. In his kiṅkarī-rūpa Das Goswami follows his/her Īśvarī.

The woods are illuminated by the golden bodily splendour of Srimati and her girlfriends. With restless eyes, Īśvarī looks all around: “Where is the Lord of my life?!” Waves of mahābhāva-desires to see her loving Sri Krishna rise on the ocean of her heart. When Shyam gets a message that Srimati Radharani and her girlfriends are approaching Govardhan Hill with ghee and yoghurt, Shyam dresses himself like an amazing boatman and sits in a boat on the Mānasa Jāhnavī.

Mānasa Gaṅgā’s bosom is illuminated by the bluish lustre of this boatman who enchants the three worlds. Seeing this young boatman, Srimati and her girlfriends put down their pots of yoghurt and stand on the shore. Then Srimati Radharani tells Paurṇamāsī:

boḍāi! ai ki ghāṭera neye
kothā hoite āsi, dilo daraśana, vinoda taraṇī beye
rajata kāñcane, nā-khāni jaḍita, bājiche kiṅkiṇī jāla
aparūpa tā’te, śobhā rāṅgā hāte, maṇi-bāṅdhā kerowāla
hāsite hāsite, gīta ālāpiche, ḍhulāiche rāṅgā āṅkhi
cāpāiyā nāya, ke jāne ki cāya, cañcala nayana dekhi
ratanera phāli, śire jhalamali, kadamba kusuma kāne
jaṭhara añcale, vāṁśiṭi guṅjeche, śobhe nānā ābharaṇe
āmarā kohibo, kaṁsera yogāni, buke nā heliho kehu
jagannātha kohe, śaśī ṣola kalā, pele ki chāḍibe rāhu?

(Pada Kalpataru)

“O holy mother! Who is that there near the Ghat? Where has he come from, showing himself to us, steering his blissful boat that is studded with gold and silver? His waistbells jingle and on his reddish hands are beautiful bangles! He smiles and laughs and sings a song while his reddish eyes are flitting this way and that. He wants me to board the boat. Who knows what he wants when you look at his naughty, restless eyes? A jeweled turban shimmers on his head and he wears Kadamba-flowers on his ears. He keeps his flute tucked in the scarf around his waist and is beautified by different other ornaments. We will say: King Kaṁsa will punish you!” But, Jagannātha dāsa says: “Will Rāhu (the eclipse) give up the full moon when he has caught it?”

The sakhīs call out: “Boatman! Boatman!” Hearing their call the enchanting boatman slowly brings his boat to the shore. With slow gait Srimati and her friends board the boat, casting ecstatic glances here and there. Suddenly the boatman Krishna stops Srimati from boarding the boat and says:

kohiche cikaṇa kālā
vāsa parihari, boisoho kiśorī, kori ei belā
nīla vasana, kaṭite paraho, dekhiye kāmpiche gā
navīna nīrada, bharame pavana, tvarāya ḍubābe lā
kānura vacana, śuniye tokhona, kapaṭe kohice dhani
tomāra aṅgera, cikaṇa varaṇa, kemone lukābe tumi
śuniyā e kothā, kohoye lalitā, keho nā koriho gola
kāliyā varaṇa, chāpābo ekhona, ḍhāli diyā ghana ghola
śuniyā nāgara, hoiyā phāṁphara, madhura madhura hāse
kohe guru dāsa, hṛdaye ullāsa, sukhera sāyare bhāse

Chikana Kālā (glossy-complexioned Krishna) said: “Give up Your veil and sit down, o Kiśori (adolescent girl). Now I will help You to cross the river. If You wear this blue sārī on Your waist, though, the wind will tremble quickly sink our ship, thinking it to be a monsoon cloud.” Hearing Kānu’s words Dhani (fortunate Radhika) falsely said: “Your body has this glossy black-bluish complexion; how will You hide that?” Hearing this, Lalitā said: “Let nobody cause any confusion! I will cover his black complexion now by pouring yoghurt over him!” Hearing this, Nāgara (amorous hero Krishna) became puzzled and began to smile sweetly.” Guru dāsa says: “My heart floats in an ocean of bliss!”

Joking in this way, Srimati and her girlfriends eagerly boarded the boat, while waves of deep love played in her heart. The young boatman brought the boat to the middle of the Jāhnavī, whose bosom became illuminated by the sweet and wonderful forms of the Divine Pair. Jāhnavī could not control the upsurge of ecstasy now that she got her most beloved pair on her bosom, and became agitated by high waves that smashed up against the large and brilliant boulders of Govardhana hill.

The billowing waves of ecstatic Jāhnavī gushed inside the boat, making Srimati afraid. The sakhīs said: “O incompetent boatman! Are You going to kill us by making us drown in the middle of the Gaṅgā today, or what?” The boatman didn’t notice anything; he was simply absorbed in relishing the sweet feelings of restless-eyed Srimati. As the boat sank Srimati became terrified and with eyes startled with fear she tightly clasped Shyam around the neck. In this way the sakhīs and mañjarīs relished the wonderful sweetness of the union of the Divine Pair. Jāhnavī’s desires were fulfilled. Slowly her waves became more peaceful and the boat reached the shore. After feeding Shyamsundar the yoghurt and the butter they were carrying, everyone went back to their own homes.

Holding the memory of this vision in his heart, Raghunath Das Goswami says: “May Mānasa Gaṅgā, who enjoys the great sweetness of Śrī-Sri Radha and Krishna’s boating pastimes and whose ecstatic waves are splashing on Govardhana hill’s brilliant boulders, protect me.” Śrīla Rūpa Goswamicharan also praised Sri Govardhan as such:

kaṁsārātes tari vilasitairātarānaṅga raṅgair
ābhīrīṇāṁ praṇayam abhitaḥ pātram unmīlayantyāḥ
dhauta grāvāvalir amalinair mānasāmartya sindhor
vīci-vrātaiḥ prathayatu sadā śarma govardhano naḥ

(Stavamālā)

“The waves of the Mānasa Gaṅgā-lake, where Sri Krishna becomes a boatman and accepts fees for his boat services from the gopīs, and which increases the love of the gopīs, which subdues Sri Krishna, wash the rocks of Govardhana hill. May that Govardhana hill bestow all auspiciousness on us.”

rādhā-kṛṣṇera nau vihāra, ujjvala rasera sāra,
nitya bhoga koritechen yini
govardhana śilā-kule, abhinava jhalamale,
taraṅgete ūrdhvete cālani
sei to mānasa gaṅgā, bhāgyavatī antaraṅgā,
rakṣā korun pratikūla hoite
yugalera līlā-rasa, hoibe ki saravasa,
e lālasā jāge mora citte

“May that fortunate Mānasa Gaṅgā, who always enjoys the boating pastimes of Radha and Krishna, which is the essence of the romantic mood, whose waves splash upon the newly shimmering boulders of Govardhana hill, and who is very close to the Divine Pair, protect me from all inauspiciousness. May the flavours of the pastimes of the Divine Pair become everything to me. This is the desire that awakens in my heart.”

 

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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 fifteenth vartaSee previous.

Varta 15

The story of Haridas Khavas, a Sanadya Brahmin from Mathura, who used to faint when he heard the Srimad Bhagavatam.

*bhav-prakash*

He is a devotee wih a rajasi disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Sarala (a gopi), who has a very innocent personality. She manifests from Ratikala and is thus a form of her divine loving sentiment.

Haridas was born in Mathura to a family of Sanadya Brahmins. From birth he was an innocent being. He had no involvement in any worldly wranglings.

His parents were very upset about this, wondering how they would ever be able to get him married off. They were always worrying. When he was eight they sent him to a learned man to study. He did study a bit. Then smallpox hit Mathura. Both his parents died. He wondered what he should now do. He was perplexed.

He went to Visram Ghat and sat on the banks of the Sri Yamunaji River. He cried bitterly. At that very time, Sri Gusainji was performing his daily prayers. He caught sight of Haridas and then sent his personal servant to go up to Haridas and call him to come over to where he was.

Haridas came there and Sri Gusainji addressed him, “O, Haridas! why are you crying?”

Haridas replied, “O, Maharaj. I have no-one in this world. I am also ignorant. So, I come to take shelter in you. Please keep me close to youself. I am poor and I am an orphan.”

Sri Gusainji instructed him not to worry, that he should go and have a bath in the Sri Yamunaji River, after which he would make him his disciple and keep him close. Haridas was pleased to take a bath and then Sri Gusainji initiated him with the Lord’s Name and Brahma Sambandha. He then instructed him to work as his personal servant. Haridas did exactly that.

*Part 1*

Haridas began to serve as Sri Gusainji’s personal servant. One day Haridas asked him, “O, Maharaj! I would love to hear you read the Srimad Bhagavatam. Sri Gusainji instructed him to go instead to Ujjain where Krishna Bhatt would read the Srimad Bhagavatam to him. He explained that he would only be able to find a few free hours to read the Srimad Bhagavatam, but not enough to do a complete reading. He also said that if someone was only able to find three hours to read the Srimad Bhagavatam then it would take a whole five years to complete it. Therefore he again told Haridas to go to Krishna Bhatt in Ujjain.

“He will explain everything to you very nicely,” Sri Gusainji said.

Sri Gusainji gave Haridas a letter for Krishna Bhatt from himself. Haridas took his leave and set off for Ujjain. He reached there after a few days. Haridas went to meet Krishna Bhatt and gave him the letter from Sri Gusainji. He was very happy to receive it and put it on his head out of respect. Then he read it and felt great joy.

Haridas explained, “I requested Sri Gusainji to read the Srimad Bhagavatam for me, but he told me to come to Ujjain where you would read it to me. So, here I am! Therefore please read the Srimad Bhagavatam for me.” Krishna Bhatt said that the following day was auspicious and that they would start then.

The next day Krishna Bhatt began to read the ‘Bhramara Gita’ [Ode to a black bee]. He started to tell the story, but Haridas fainted. He stayed unconscious for three hours. He came round after being given some herbs. Krishna Bhatt closed the book.

Then Haridas exclaimed, “O, Bhattji! Please continue with the story.”

Krishna Bhatt said, “But what will I tell Sri Gusainji? Because if I start the next reading, you will not regain consciousness.”

*bhav-prakash*

Why? Because Haridas was still not developed spiritually. Therefore he was not able to grasp nor tolerate the subject matter.

*Part 1 continued*

Then Haridas took leave of Krishna Bhattaji and returned to Sri Gusainji in Gokul. He bowed to him and told him what had happened. Sri Gusainji kept quiet. Haridas began to serve Sri Gusainji as he had before.

*Part 2*

Once, one Vaishnava placed a donation of one rupee before Sri Gusainji. The coin was in front of Sri Guainji’s couch.

Sri Gusainji had gone inside to partake of Prasad. When he re-emerged he asked Haridas, “Where is the coin that was here before?” Haridas replied that he had placed it in the shelf in the wall.

Sri Gusainji instructed him, “From today onwards leave any money you see alone. Do not pick it up.” Haridas took this teaching to heart.

*Part 3*

Another time when Sri Gusainji was taking his meal he asked Haridas to hang his shawl up to dry. Whilst Haridas was adjusting the couch a Brahmani came there and began to speak with Haridas. He got involved in the conversation and forgot to hang up the shawl.

The two of them were still talking when Sri Gusainji returned. He saw that they were chatting away and stood still. When the Brahmani finally got up and left, Sri Gusainji entered the Baithak. He asked Haridas, “Are you not going to dry the shawl today?”

Haridas replied that he had been talking and forgotten his task. Sri Gusainji then forbade him to talk to anyone’s wife like that, and from that day on Haridas followed this teaching.

Thus concludes Varta 15, the story of Haridas Khavas who was graced to receive such teachings. He was the recipient of great grace and, in truth, there is no end to his story.

 

A108-AI

May the Rāsa-sthalī protect me: the place where the Rāsa-dance took place, which is filled with all the wonderful sweetness of the three worlds, where Krishna Murārī dances with the gopīs, who are clever in the arts of Eros, and then abandons them to take Sri Radhika to a lonely place to decorate her with flowers and enjoy with her in great jubilation. 

VERSE 63:

vaidagdhyojjvala valgu ballava vadhū vargeṇa nṛtyannasau
hitvā taṁ murajid rasena rahasi śrī rādhikāṁ maṇḍayan
puṣpālaṅkṛti sañcayena ramate yatra pramodotkarais
trailokyādbhuta mādhurī parivṛtā sā pātu rāsa-sthalī

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Das Goswami praises the most delightful place where the Rāsa-dance takes place.

The Rāsa-līlā is the crownjewel of all of Sri Krishna’s pastimes. Śrīpād Śrīdhar Swāmī explains the word ‘rāsa‘ as follows: rāso nāma bahu nartakī yukta nṛtya viśeṣaḥ “The Rāsa is a kind of dance wherein many girls are dancing.” In the Alaṅkāra-shastras we can find the following statement: naṭair gṛhīta kaṇṭhīnām anyonyātra kara śriyām nartakīnāṁ bhaved rāso maṇḍalībhūya nartanam “When the male dancers and the female dancers stand in a circle, the male dancers embrace the female dancers around the neck and the female dancers hold each other in the arm, then this dance is called a Rāsa.”

Although this is the popular explanation of the word ‘Rāsa’, Śrīmat Jiva Goswamipāda has written: rāsaḥ parama rasa-kadamba-maya iti yaugikārthaḥ “The pastime that contains the greatest amount of rasa is called Rāsa.

Rasa is the main ingredient of the Rāsa, because when the word rasa is inflected in the optimal way, it becomes Rāsa.

Rasa means relish and when it is inflected to Rāsa it means the pastime which contains the most relish. The purport of this is that the Rāsa-līlā is the pastime in which the gopīs can fully and blissfully relish the unrivalled sweetness and beauty of Sri Krishna’s perfect form, flavour, fragrance, sound and touch through their famous mahābhāva-love, and Rasika Śekhara (the king of relishers) Sri Krishna can fully and blissfully relish the perfect forms, flavour, fragrance, sound and touch of the Vrajadevīs, who are anointed with the famous mahābhāva.

The hero of the Rāsa-līlā is Vrajendranandan Rasikendra Mauli Sri Krishna, the heroines are the Queen of the Rāsa-dance Sri Radha herself, who is endowed with mādanākhya mahābhāva, and the Vrajasundarīs, who are endowed with mahābhāva, and the place is the Śrī-Sri Rāsa-sthalī, the most rasika place on the bank of the Yamuna which is endowed with extraordinary natural beauty. This verse praises this Rāsa-sthalī.

Rāseśvarī Sri Radha is the main pillar of the Rāsa-dance. tāhā vinā rāsa-līlā nāhi bhāya cite (Caitanya-caritāmṛta) “Without her, Krishna does not like the Rāsa-līlā.” Hence, Raghunath Das Goswami praises the Rāsa-sthalī by describing the great glories of Rāseśvarī, saying: “This is the place where Krishna Murārī dances with the gopīs, who are clever in the arts of Eros, and then abandons them to take Sri Radhika to a lonely place to decorate her with flowers and jubilantly enjoy with her in different ways.”

In the description of the Mahā Rāsa, it can be seen that on the Rāsa-night, Sri Krishna first attracted the Vrajasundarīs with his enchanting flute playing and then joked with them by speaking words of rejection to them (upekṣā-vāṇī). Their humble prayers then removed his neglectful manner and he met with them, laughing and joking.

During their first pastimes of meeting, the Vrajasundarīs became very proud of their good fortune of getting the greatest attention from Sri Krishna‚ and Sri Radha became jealous that Krishna was enjoying equally with all the gopīs. tāsāṁ tat saubhagamadaṁ vīkṣya mānaṁ ca keśavaḥ praśamāya prasādāya tatraivāntaradhīyata (Bhāg. 10.29.48) “Seeing the gopīs‘ pride of their good fortune and Radha’s jealous pique, Keśava abandoned the Vrajasundarīs and went off alone with Sri Radha. In this way he subdued the pride of the Vrajasundarīs and pacified Sri Radha’s jealousy.”

Actually the Rāsa-līlā had not commenced yet at that time, but it was about to begin and thus, Śrīpād speaks about Krishna leaving the gopīs who were dancing. All the Gopa-sundarīs are endowed with mahābhāva and are expert in the arts of Eros, so the fact that Krishna took Radha away in front of them all and brought her to a lonely place to enjoy pastimes with her there shows her greatness far beyond the glories of all the other gopīs.

Das Goswami is Sri Radha’s beloved maidservant, so his favorite part of the various events that took place during the Rāsa-līlā is that Sri Krishna took away Sri Radha alone from millions of other assembled gopīs, decorated her with floral ornaments and enjoyed amorous pastimes with her in solitude. That is why he mentioned this pastime in his description of the Rāsa-sthalī.

When Sri Krishna took Radha away and disappeared with her during the Mahā-Rāsa even Sri Radha’s girlfriends weren’t aware of it. When they did not see Sri Radharani in their midst anymore they understood that Sri Krishna must have taken her off somewhere, and they became simultaneously happy (because of Sri Radha’s greatness) and sad (because they could not see the pastimes of the Divine Pair anymore). But when Sri Krishna took Sri Radha along and disappeared with her, her maidservants, who are nondifferent from her in the heart, were with her and could personally witness the sweet and intimate pastimes of the Divine Pair, and feel very happy and proud about the special glories of their Īśvarī. This can be learned from the descriptions by Sri Rūpa Gosvāmipāda:

rāsārambha vilasati parityajya goṣṭhāmbujākṣī-
vṛndaṁ vṛndāvana bhuvi rahaḥ keśaveṇopanīya
tvāṁ svādhīna priyatama pada prāpaṇenārcitāṅgīṁ
dūre dṛṣṭvā hṛdi kim acirād arpayiṣyāmi darpam

(Utkalikā Vallari – 42)

“When will my heart be filled with pride as I see from afar how Keśava leaves all the lotus-eyed girls of Vraja at the beginning of the Rāsa-dance in Vrindavan and takes you to a lonely place where he, under your command, decorates you with flowers?”

In his description of the Rāsa-līlā, the Rāsa-vaktā (speaker) Śrīpāda Śuka Muni has clearly mentioned that Sri Krishna privately and blissfully enjoyed with Sri Radha in different ways in the Rāsa-night, arranged her hair and adorned her with decorations like flowers:

atra prasūna-vacayaḥ priyārthe preyasā kṛtaḥ
prapadākramane ete paśyatā sakale pade
keśa prasādhanaṁ hyatra kāminyāḥ kāminā kṛtam
tāni cūḍayatā kāntām upaviṣṭam iha dhruvam
reme tayā svātma-rata ātmārāmo’pyakhaṇḍitaḥ

(Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.30.32-34)

“Sri Radha’s rival gopīs told each other: “Here Krishna has picked flowers to decorate his beloved with. Look! Here he stood on his toes to pick flowers from a high branch; that’s why we can see half footprints in the earth here! Look, look! Here Krishna arranged her hair and sat down to make floral ornaments for her head. Although he is Self-satisfied and Self-delighted, he enjoyed romance with this girl in various ways here!”

Raghunath Das Goswami says: “May the Rāsa-sthalī, where Śrī-Sri Radha-Mādhava freely enjoyed such amorous pastimes and that fills the three worlds with the very wonderful sweet flavours of the Rāsa-dance, protect me!”

vidagdhā ujjvalā gopī, yārā kṛṣṇa anurāgī,
sarva śreṣṭha kṛṣṇa kāntā-gaṇa
kori nānā nṛtya raṅge, govinda yādera saṅge,
yāre loiyā koilā antardhāna

sei śrīmatī rādhāre, nānā puṣpa alaṅkāre,
sājāiyā rasika govinda
dampati yugala mili, śṛṅgāra mādhurya keli,
kore yethā pāiyā ānanda 

trailokye adbhuta śreṣṭha, mādhurya maṇḍita preṣṭha,
‘rāsa-sthalī’ kori ārādhanā
sethā vāsa virodha yāte, rakṣā koro tāhā hoite,
nirantara ei se kāmanā

“May the Rāsa-sthali, where Rasika Govinda danced various dances with his greatest lovers, the gopīs, who are expert in the arts of Eros and who are passionately attached to him, and then left them to decorate Srimati Radha with different floral ornaments, where the Divine Couple finds great joy in playing Their sweet romantic pastimes and which is ornamented by the most wonderful kinds of sweetness of all the three worlds, protect me from anything or anyone who is stopping me from residing there. Thus I yearn to worship the place where the Rāsa-dance took place!”

 

A108-AI

Initiation of a goddess

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 fourteenth vartaSee previous.

Varta 14

The story of Ganesh Vyas, a Srimali Brahmin who lived in the West.

*bhav-prakash*

Ganesh Vyas is a devotee of Satvik disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Pramodini (a gopi). She manifests from Ratikala and is thus a form of her Divine loving sentiment.

Ganesh Vyas was born into a family of Srimali Brahmins in the west. His parents died when he was only a few months old. One of his uncles took him into his home. He grew up there, and when he was about twenty he joined a group of people that was traveling to Mathura. They reached there after traveling for a few days.

At that time Sri Gusainji was residing in Mathura. He was performing his prayers on Visram Ghat. It was there that Ganesh Vyas had his sight.

He addressed him, “O, Maharaj! I am an orphan, having no parents. I take shelter in you. Please make me your disciple. Please give me some service.”

Sri Gusainji recognized him to be a Divine Soul and told him to take a bath in the Sri Yamunaji River. He bathed and came to Sri Gusainji. Sri Gusainji initiated him with the Name and Brahma Sambandha. He then employed him as a personal servant. Ganesh Vyas began to serve very lovingly.

*Part 1*

Once Ganesh Vyas was traveling to Dwarka to deliver some supplies to the Lord. One evening he had just left one village and was traveling towards another when it began to rain really hard. He looked around but could not see anywhere to shelter. Then he saw a temple underneath a spire. He ran towards it.

He saw that there was a statue of a goddess inside. There was lots of worship paraphernalia there but nobody to be seen. Ganesh Vyas thought to himself, “There must be a priest in this temple. Perhaps he has gone into the village. He will be returning soon.” Thinking thus, he found some shelter outside, put his luggage there and sat down.

Night fell but no-one came there. That Devi was very powerful: she looked after all her things herself. Offerings came to her on a regular basis from one King. She would eat them and then just sit there. If any Pujari dared to come there she would devour him. Thus she was famous in all the local villages. Worship paraphernalia would be donated but she collected them all and put them to one side.

At that time, one lone man came there to have her sight. He said to Ganesh Vyas, “Do not sleep here. No priest ever sleeps here. No-one can stay here.” Ganesh Vyas asked him the reason for this. He told him, “No-one stays here or sleeps here because if they did, the Goddess would eat them.” That man had the sight of the Goddess, told all of this to Ganesh Vyas and then departed.

Fearlessly, Ganesh Vyas went inside and put all the donated items in one corner. He bathed the Goddess, sounded the Lords name in her ear and put a Prasadi tulsi mala around her neck. He made her into a Vaishnava. He looked around and found all sorts of items lying there. Using them he cleaned the temple. He stayed there that night. He ate whatever Prasad he had with him and he drank water from a nearby well. Then he went to sleep.

That night the Goddess spoke to the king in a dream and told him not to offer her the type of things he had been bringing. She told him that she had become a Vaishnava, and that she would not now eat [meat] as before. She told him to employ a priest there to cook for her, and that she would eat whatever he cooked. The king was very surprised.

The next morning, Ganesh Vyas picked up his supplies and carried on his journey. The king then came to have the sight of the Goddess. He noticed that someone had washed the temple and bathed her. He noticed the tulsi mala tied around her neck. He was very happy to see all this. He then employed a priest to serve her and provided him with supplies for the daily offerings. The priest would cook and make the offerings to her and then he would eat.

*bhav-prakash*

This is the true form of an accomplished Vaishnava: they purify the gods, godesses and pilgrimage spots. This Vaishnava was so kind that he stopped his journey to fulfill that goddess’ purpose.

*Part 2*

Sri Gusainji would often be angry with Ganesh Vyas but he never let it bother him. He was a great Vaishnava. The more Sri Gusainji was angry with him the more pleased he became. He thought to himself, “I hope that Sri Gusainji will always be angry with me. He is only angry because he regards me as his close servant. Otherwise whom would he have to be angry with?”

*bhav-prakash*

This teaches that you should only be angry with those you know to be your own.

*Part 2*

Ganesh Vyas thus felt that Sri Gusainji’s anger was one of his great qualities.

After some more time, Ganesh Vyas left his body. One Vaishnava came to know this and went to relay the news to Sri Gusainji. When he heard those words, that Ganesh Vyas had left his body, his hair stood on end. Seeing this horripillation of Sri Gusainji one Vaishnava asked, “O, Maharaj! You always used to be angry with Ganesh Vyas! So now, hearng this news, why are you getting goose bumps?”

Sri Gusainji replied, “It would be impossible to find another sevak like Ganesh Vyas. There is no-one like him, nor will there ever be. I was angry with him, but he always regarded that as a good lesson. He never felt bad about it. He was very very close to me.” Hearing these words of Sri Gusanji the Vaishnava kept silent.

Thus concludes Varta 14, the story of Ganesh Vyas who was a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s great grace and an accomplished Vaishanva, although his story really has no end.

 

A108-AI

Vrindavan, 2017.04.12 (AU): Hanuman Jayanti was celebrated lovingly on Tuesday,  by the residents of Shri Krishna’s homeland, Vrindavan.

This year marked the forty-fourth anniversary of the Hanuman Jayanti festival organized by the Hanumat Ramayan Samiti at the Om Namah Shivaya Ashram in Vanshivat. Beginning from the ashram, a parade (shobha yatra) was taken out through Gyan Gudri, Gopinath Bazar, Pattharpura and several other major thoroughfares of the town, before returning again to the ashram. Hanumanji rode on a flower-decorated float, and stopped at various places for the faithful to offer worship. Devotees performed aarti and showed flower petals on Hanumanji to express their love for him. On other floats, various lilas of Shri Krishna and Shri Ram were depicted in tableau. Shri Gopal Krishna Shastri, Bihari Lal Vashishth, Banbihari Pathak, Dr. Gopal Prasad Sharma, Swami Narayanacharya, Radharaman Pathak and others were present.

Hanuman Jayanti was celebrated in various ways throughout Vrindavan. Some arranged non-stop readings of the entire Ramayan, and some offered beautiful palaces made of flowers (phool-bangla). In the morning at the Luteriya Hanuman Mandir, there was a recitation of Shri Ramcharit Manas and “Hanuman Chalisa” along with a havan (fire offering). In the evening a phool bangla was offered. Sevayat Mahesh Goswami offered the aarti and distributed prasad to all.

At the Singhapaur Hanuman temple in the morning, Hanumanji Maharaj was offered akhand path, special clothes and ornaments, 56 kinds of food offerings (chhapan bhog), and aarti. Special Hanuman pooja was also organized at Neem Karoli Ashram. At the Uddhav-Gopi milan sthal in Gyan Gudri, a continous reading of the Ramayan was held for Panchmukhi Hanumanji, as he enjoyed a beautiful phool bangla offered to him by his devotees. Prasad was distributed to conclude the program.

At Hanuman Teri, a seminar was organized on “Hanumanji’s devotion in human life.” During the program, Mahant Vrindavan Das and Dashrath Das said that another name for bhakti (devotion) is Hanumanji. By devotion to him, the soul is easily liberated from the worldly sufferings of Kaliyug. Ramsharan Das, Narsingh Ramayani, Krishnadas, Shyamdas and others were present.

In the temple of Shri Radha-Sneh Bihari Ji, the Akhil Bharatvarshiya Brahman Mahasabha organized a pooja of Hanumanji’s chitrapat (picture), praying for peace on earth and blessings upon the nation. Acharya Atulkrishna Goswami, Bihari Lal Vashishth, Balkrishna Gautam, Ramvilas Chaturvedi and others were attended the event.

The Women’s Satsang Mandal lovingly and enthusiastically celebrated Hanumanji’s birthday, which is also the 14th anniversary of their association. Attendees included Rashmi Mishra, Priyanka Sharma, Pushpa Sharma, Chanchal Sharma, and Sudha.

 

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