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Uma-Sharma-780x505.jpgNew Delhi, 2017.08.16 (Somrita Ghosh, IANS): If dance is about inspiration, then for renowned Kathak dancer Uma Sharma it has always been Lord Krishna who continues to motivate her. For the past 30 years, Sharma has been presenting the “raas leela” of Vrindavan through dance.

“Kathak is ‘katha kahe so kathak kehlawa’; the dance form itself speaks of the stories associated with Lord Krishna. It’s a narration of a story, through gestures, and suddenly one starts using footwork movements to express the happiness,” the 74-year-old dancer told IANS in an interview.

In 1973, Sharma became the youngest dancer to have been honoured with the Padma Shri. In 2001, she was conferred the Padma Bhushan for her contribution towards enriching classical dance.

She was also bestowed with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and also the Sahitya Kala Parishad Award. Sharma has also been honoured with the “Srijan Manishi” title by the Akhil Bhartiya Vikram Parishad for her great contribution to Kathak.

Calling herself a traditional dancer, Sharma recollected how her inclination towards Lord Krishna grew.

“I once saw M.S. Subbulakshmi playing Meera and was fascinated the way the character was in love with the lord. I wanted to be a similar kind of devotee. When I took Kathak as my profession, I was automatically inclined towards themes, songs and poses associated with Krishna,” the dancer remembered.

It was during the early days, when Sharma started reading poems of Surdas, Raidas and other poets belonging to the 15th and 16th centuries who wrote on Lord Krishna, that she found a sense of belonging. Her discovery of love for Krishna took a prominent shape when she chose Kathak as her profession.

Born in Dholpur, Rajasthan, in a strict Brahmin family, Sharma believes that her family atmosphere has also been largely responsible for encouraging her devotion towards Lord Krishna.

“My family has been an avid worshiper of Krishna. Janmashtami is a big festival for us. Ever since my childhood I have grown up (in an environment) where loving Lord Krishna has been encouraged,” noted Sharma, who belongs to the Jaipur gharana.

Her devotion and love became stronger with time as she often used to visit Vrindavan for her research on the “raas leela” theme.

“Krishna came nearer to me as the days passed by. And every year I merge raas leela with Kathak. I would bring up new aspects and perform on Krishna as the theme,” she said.

Even though there have been many changes in the presentation of the Kathak dance, Sharma believes that she has been successful in creating her own genre in the dance form and doesn’t feel the need to bring about much change.

“I don’t feel any sort of challenge; rather I am very much satisfied the way I represent Kathak. What I keep looking for is different aspects in the Krishna theme like going deep into Mahabharata and narrating the unheard stories through movements… I have worked so much on the Krishna theme that I am in it; Krishna is now within me and I am in Krishna,” the dancer stated.

Sharma however feels that the only challenge that lies ahead of her is teaching the younger generation the older form of traditional dances.

“Today’s youth are not aware of the stories associated with mythology, sagas or Lord Krishna. In my dance school I teach young students how to bring out the emotions of love, relationship between Krishna and Radha or his raas leela with gopis. It is my attempt to carry forward those stories through my dance form,” she said.

She might be a devotee of Krishna but that does not stop her from incorporating other themes in her performances.

“I am choreographing a number of ballets. I brought other poets into Kathak, whether it’s Ghalib or Kaifi Azmi in Urdu, Tagore and Nazrul in Bengali, or other languages. I am already bringing in sonnets of other languages to perform,” she concluded.

 

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Screenshot-2017-08-17-18.28.04.pngVrindavan, 2017.08.17 (VT): Mathura’s Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) has reported that approximately 3.4 million devotees visited the Shri Krishna Janmasthan temple for Janmashtmi. The count includes all visitors from August 13 to August 16, 2017.

While this is the reported number of devotees for a single temple in Mathura, the total number of visitors to Braj on Janmashtami is unknown.

In comparion, the Hajj, often called the “world’s largest pilgrimage”, drew about 3.2 million pilgrims to Mecca in 2012, which was the highest number of Hajj pilgrims since 1920.

Devotees from all over India and the world came in droves to witness the birthday festival of Braj’s darling Shri Krishna. In Particular, large numbers of pilgrims came from Delhi, Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Punjab and other parts of Uttar Pradesh.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.08.16 (VT): In Braj, devotees traditionally play-fight with diluted yoghurt on Nandotsav (the day after Shri Krishna’s birthday).

In the Gutika, Siddha Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj presents the “yoghurt fight” (called dadhi-kada or dahi keech) as part of Shri Krishna’s lila on Janmashtami. However, because in the modern day this celebration is performed Nandotsav, we present this lila to you today.

The Yoghurt Fight
(Dadhi-kada Mahotsav in Nand Bhavan)

All the arrangements have been made for the dadhikada mahotsav. Outside the house in a beautiful jewelled pavillion Nand Maharaj, Vrishabhanu Maharaj, their brothers and the other elders have begun the dadhi-kada (dahi keech) festival.

In another pavillion, Shri Krishna, Balram and the sakhas are blissfully playing the same game, whilst in a hall within the palace Yashoda Maiya, Kirtida Rani and all the leading gopis, along with their sakhis, dance, sing and play musical insturments as they also play the game. Granny Mukhara and the other old ladies hold sticks in their hands, and start dancing right in the center of the action.

Everyone sprinkles each other with ghee, yogurt and milk (like playing Holi). As they play, they become so ecstatic that everyone forgets all formalities. No one is thinking about who is elder and who is younger at this moment. They just smear yoghurt on whomever they can get their hands on.

The little ducts on the sides of the room are filling with so much yoghurt and milk! They look like the holy Ganga and Yamuna rivers rushing along in their course. As large clumps of butter mixed with saffron begin to clog the ducts, the room begins to look like Ksheer Sagar filled with blossoming white, yellow and red lotuses (white lotuses in the form of clumps of cheese, yellow lotuses in the form of butter balls mixed with turmeric, and red lotuses in the form of yoghurt clumps mixed with saffron and kumkum).

The gods of heaven halt in their course and chant “glory, glory!” as they sprinkle flowers upon the Brajwasis. They are overwhelmed with bliss to see this beautiful scene. Some of them take the form of swans or other birds and fly down from the heavens to munch on the delectable clumps of butter and curd. Musicians take up their instruments and play, as male and female dancers begin to dance in bliss. Considering themselves greatly blessed, the panegyrists praise the cowherd dynasty and sing the glories of the cowherd prince, Shri Krishna.

Bathing in Pavan Sarovar

When the dadhi-kada mahotsav is finished, everyone goes to Pavan Sarovar to bathe and play in the water.

The ghats of Pavan Sarovar are beautifully designed and inlaid with precious gems. On the Northern ghat, Nand Baba and his brothers bathe along with Vrishabhanu Baba. On the Eastern ghat, Shri Krishna, Balram and the sakhas bathe, and on the Southern ghat Yashoda Maiya bathes with Kirtida Mata, Mukhara Nani and the other older women.

Shri Radharani and other leading gopis like Chandravali and Shyamala bathe and play, each with her own sakhis, at Pavan Sarovar’s Western ghat. When they have finished playing, they come and sit on the ghat’s steps.

The manjaris serve their own swaminis by applying massage oil on their bodies and shampooing their curly hair with special homemade herbal paste (avle ke kalk). The gopis then bathe again. After coming out of the water the manjaris dry their bodies with soft towels and dress them in fresh clothes.

When everyone has finished getting ready with the help of their assistants, they all return to Nand Bhavan.

Upon reaching Nand Bhavan, Shri Nand Baba presents the men with gifts of jewellery and clothes according to their age and stature. Yashoda Maiya does the same for the ladies. Thereafter with the help of their assistants, everyone tries on their new jewellery and clothes.

The Evening Meal

Nand Baba seats the Brahmins in a large hall, where he offers them a sumptuous meal of sweets, fried foods and various delicious vegetable dishes. Afterwards, the Brahmins are given charity in the form of cash and gifts. Once the Brahmins have been served, Yashoda Maiya asks Madhumangal to call everyone to take their evening meal.

Shri Nand Baba and Shri Vrishabhanu Baba sit down to eat along with their brothers, friends and sons (including Krishna and Balram). Everyone is overjoyed as they eat the many delicious dishes. After performing achaman, they place delectable tambul (paan) in their mouths and chew happily as they head off to bed.

Yashoda Maiya asks Kirtida Mata, Shri Radha and the sakhis to be seated, and she joyfully serves them their dinner. Then everyone takes taambul and retires to their bedrooms. Shri Nand and Yashoda then seat the singers, dancers and other performers. After feeding them sumptuously, they give them new clothes and money as gifts and warmly send them off to their own homes.

Finally they invite the poor, the beggars and others to dine, and at last bid them goodnight. Once everyone has eaten, they too go off to sleep.

The lila of Shri Radha and Krishna then continues as on every night. Shri Radha, her family and the other guests will remain at Nand Baba’s house till the afternoon of the navami day.

 

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IMG_2081-780x520.jpgFrom Nandgaon to Mathura, every town and village of the holy land was decorated in festive colors. Devotees from all over India and abroad flocked to Vrindavan to immerse themselves in the sea of devotion. The temples of Shri Banke Bihari, Shri Radha-Shyamsundar, Shri Radha-Damodar, Shri Radhavallabh and many others celebrated Shri Krishna’s birth each in their own way, with unique songs and traditions dating back centuries.

The Shri Radharaman Temple in Vrindavan celebrated Janmashtami in the morning with a grand abhishek ceremony. Devotees watched with unblinking eyes as the Goswamis lovingly bathed Radharamanji with panchamrit. Gazing upon his beauty, devotees prayed that their darling may remain happy throughout the coming year, playing in the winding lanes and pasturelands of Vrindavan. After the abhishek, Shri Radharaman Lal’s charanamrit was distributed to the devotees as prasad.

Many other temples also offered abhishek in the morning, whilst others like Vrindavan’s Shri Radha-Govind Dev Temple offered it at night. It was around midnight when the Shri Radha-Venugopal Mandir in Loi Bazaar held a beautiful abhishek ceremony as the temple bells echoed throughout seva kunj.

At Shri Krishna Janmasthan in Mathura, the day’s festivities were inaugurated at 10:30 a.m. with a pushpanjali offered by Karshni Guru Sharananand Maharaj and Mahant Nrityagopal Das, and continued until about 1:30 at night. Abhishek was held at midnight. Shri Krishna was bathed with hundreds of litres of milk, poured from special receptacle shaped like a cow, made out of silver and gold. At the Dwarkadheesh Mandir, Shri Dwarkadheesh Bhagwan gave a special darshan at 10:45 pm in honor of his birthday.

In every home, the Brajwasis also made beautiful arrangements to celebrate the Lord’s birth. Whether they have ancient deities at home or very simple home altars, everyone poured all their love into making the festival enjoyable for Shri Krishna. New dresses were given, delightful foods offered, and special bhajans were sung, celebrating the divine child’s birth.

Despite heightened concerns over security due to the overlap of Janmashtami and Independence Day this year, no unusual incidents were reported. Security forces were deployed in great numbers, especially in sensitive areas such as the Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura, and the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan.

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Janmastami celebration at Shri Radha Venu Gopal temple (P.C. Haridas Sharan)

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Shri Shyamsundar Lal’s Abhishek, Shri Radha-Shyamsundar Temple (Seva Kunj, Vrindavan)

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Vrindavan, 2017.08.14 (VT): Siddha Krishna Das Baba of Govardhan was one of the four famous siddha babas of 19th century Braj. He spent most of his life by the banks of the Manasi Ganga, at Chakleshwar, where his samadhi is now. After receiving a direct vision of Shri Lalita Sakhi and Sanatan Goswami, by their infinite mercy the deep meanings of the scriptures manifested within his heart.

Siddha Krishna Das Baba helped many to dive deep in the ocean of Shri Radha and Krishna’s lilas, and he wrote many books about them. His most famous book is simply called Gutika (The Pill). The Gutika contains detailed descriptions of Shri Radha and Krishna’s daily lilas in the Gaudiya Vaishnav mood. It also describes the yearly festivals and other rare information about the eternal lila.

Siddha Krishna Das Baba’s full biography can be read here.

Shri Radha Comes to Stay at Nand Bhavan

In a previous section of the Gutika, Siddha Krishna Das Baba explained that in Eternal Vrindavan, preparations for Janmashtami have been going on since the day after the full moon. Nand Baba’s palace has been decorated sumptuously. Banana trees and other auspicious items frame every doorway.

In fact, every house in Nandgaon has been decorated so gorgeously, that an outsider would have a hard time guessing which house the birthday boy lives in!

Servants were sent from Shri Krishna’s house to invite Shri Radha’s family to the celebration. On shashti, Radha and her family came from Barsana to Nandgaon, and they will stay in Krishna’s house until navami. Radha’s sakhis and other gopis have also been invited to stay in Nand Baba’s home throughout the festival.

[The Nabadwip Lila, which is an integral part of Siddha Baba’s Gutika, has been omitted for this publication. May the readers kindly excuse us.]

Shri Krishna Janmastami Maha Mahotsav
The Great Festival of Shri Krishna’s Birthday
(On the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Bhadra – Bhadra Krishna Ashtami)

Shri Radha and Krishna Awake and Get Ready

On Janmashtami morning in Nandgaon, Shri Radha and her sakhis bathe, dress and adorn themselves. As soon as they are ready, Kundalata comes and says, “O Radhe! Please come and have darshan of Shri Krishna’s abhishek!”

Radha then proceeds to the place where the abhishek is being held, along with all her sakhis and manjaris. All the residents of Nandgaon, along with Shri Nand and Yashoda’s dear guests who have been invited from other villages, are gathered around to watch their beloved Krishna’s abhishek. 

Earlier this morning, Krishna’s servants helped him complete his morning routine. After bathing him in the normal way, they dressed him in an extremely soft and thin white cloth with elegant ornaments. His nose bears a delicate pearl. He has a golden necklace on his neck, armlets on his arms, bracelets on his wrists, a fine chain of tiny bells around his waist and jingling anklets on his feet.

Fully dressed and ornamented, he comes to the ornate jeweled bathing platform and sits on a low seat made of gold inlaid with precious gems, under a lovely canopy with bejewelled borders.

The Abhishek Begins

Musicians are playing on an array of different instruments. The Brahmins begin to chant the Vedas while the womenfolk praise Krishna, and panegyrists sing the glories of his ancestors.

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Janmashtami at Radharaman Temple, 2016

Shri Bhaguri Rishi chants the abhishek mantras as his servants begin his ritual bath. First he is bathed with mahaushadhi jal (water with antiseptic, rejuvenating, and revitalising Ayurvedic herbs); arghya (water with yellow mustard seed, rice, black sesame seed, durva grass, kusha grass, fragrant flowers, tulsi, sandalwood paste offered from a conch shell), followed by panchagavya (cow ghee, cow’s milk, cow yoghurt, cow urine and cow dung), then panchamrit (ghee, milk, yoghurt, honey and sweetened water).

Then he is bathed with phalodak (green coconut water), pushpodak (rose water and other flower waters), gandhodak (water infused with fine fragrant substances like agarwood, sandalwood, saffron and so forth – each offered separately), teerthodak (holy water from Yamuna, Radhakund, and so forth), with shatghat jal (six pots), then by a sahasradhara (an apparatus that creates a shower-like effect), and finally with plain water from a conch shell.

When the abhishek is over, Krishna’s servants gently dry his body and wrap him in a fresh yellow dhoti (peetambar). He sits upon his jewel-studded shringar vedi and his servants lovingly dress and decorate him to their heart’s content as the supremely ravishing king of all dancers. (natavar naagar)

After the servants comb and dress Krishna’s curly locks, they stylishly place a golden crown on his head, decorated with pearls and a peacock feather. On his forehead they draw tilak with fine gorochana (a very rare, bright yellow substance that comes from a cow’s digestive system) and a leaf-motif is painted on his lovely cheeks.

A delicate pearl is hung from his nose and dragon-shaped earrings grace his ears. They place a jeweled necklace over his heart, armlets on his strong arms, fine bracelets on his wrists, a belt of bells on his hips, and two layers of anklets on his lotus feet (payjeb and nupur).

The Giving of Gifts

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Shri Radharaman Lal, Janmashtami 2016

Taking a bunch of durva grass in his hand, Bhaguri Rishi encircles Krishna’s body with it seven times, and all the Brahmins give him their blessings.

Radharani’s father Shri Vrishabhanu Maharaj then comes with a golden plate heaping with gifts like new clothes and jewellery, and gives it to Krishna along with his deepest blessings. Then Radharani’s mother Kirtida and other elder women come to shower their gifts and blessings on him.

At last Shri Radha herself comes with her gifts for her Beloved, lovingly arranged on a golden plate. With her own lotus hands she places a garland of precious gems around his neck.

At this time, Bhaguri Muni is given daan in the form of an extremely beautiful and rare cow called a padma gaay. Having just recently given birth, the padma gaay is overflowing with milk, and she is accompanied by her adorable young calf. Draped in fine yellow cloth and decorated with jewelled ornaments, the cow’s horns are adorned with gold and her hooves are covered with silver.

Shri Krishna Honors His Elders

After the gift-giving is over, Krishna comes down from his shringar vedi. He bows to Paurnamasi Devi and offers her money and gifts in charity. Then he bows to his mother and father, to Radharani’s parents Shri Vrishabhanu Baba and Kirtida Mata, and to all the parents assembled there.

Radha Cooks for Krishna

Then Mother Yashoda calls Krishna to come and eat. He goes with his friends to the dining room where they enjoy a light snack. When they have finished eating, Shri Radharani and the other Yutheshwaris like Chandravali and others, sit each with their own sakhis to eat.

Then Mother Yashoda takes only Radha and her sakhis aside, and asks them to begin cooking the main meal. Simultaneously other dishes are being prepared by Brahmins. When the cooking is complete, Yashoda Maiya inspects all the preparations. She is very pleased by what she sees, and instructs Madhumangal to offer the bhog to Shriman Narayan Dev (Shri Krishna’s family deity).

Madhumangal places a bit of each dish in little golden bowls and arranges them on a golden plate. Then he offers the bhog to Shriman Narayan Dev and, when the offering is finished, he performs aarti and puts the Lord to sleep.

In the next section, Siddha Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj describes a special game reminiscent of Holi, during which Shri Krishna and his family and friends throw yoghurt and other milk products at each other in celebration. Although Siddha Baba includes this game in his description of the Janmashtami pastimes, in modern-day Braj this game is usually played on Nandotsav (the day after Janmashtami). Therefore we shall endeavor to bring you this lila tomorrow.

 

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KGS_0125-780x552.jpgVrindavan, 2017.08.12 (VT): On the evening of August 10th, Venu Naad Kalaa Kendra presented its 22nd annual dance festival at the Swami Vivekananda Auditorium at Ramkrishna Mission Sevashram. The audience was spellbound by the expertise of the artists as they presented scenes from the life of Shri Krishna through the medium of Odissi dance.

The Venunaad Arts Center is one of the foremost institutes of music and dance in Braj, providing instruction in Odissi dance, singing and instrumental music in the lineage of Srimati Kunjalata Misra. It was established by Guru Pratap Narayan in conjunction with Vishnupriya Devi and Shri Balkrishna Pandey with the mission to preserve and spread this ancient art form to the world.The sansthan performs throughout India including major festivals like the Taj Mahotsav, Brajraj Mahotsav, Konark Mahotsav, Puri Beach Mahotsav, Jhansi Mahotsav, Udaipur Mahotsav and Antarashtriya Odissi Nritya Utsav. They have also presented Odissi dance internationally in countries such as the USA, Poland, Russia, Australia, Croatia, the Phillipines, Chile, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Italy and others.KGS_0127-564x381.jpg

Dharma Raksha Sangh adhyaksh Shri Saurabh Gaur welcomed the audience with an invocation. Chief guest Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami and special guest Shri Govindananda Tirtha Maharaj lit lamps and offered worship to Lord Jagannath Dev and Guru Pratap Narayan and Vishwabandhu Sharma honored the guests with prasadi garlands. Dr. Chandraprakash Sharma introduced the sansthan and gave an overview of the evening’s program.

Thereafter the artists took the stage and presented Ganesh Vandana – “namami vighnaraajatam”, followed by guruvandana and sthayi nritya; “lalita lavanga lata parishilana” and “dasavatar” from Shri Jayadev Kavi’s Gita Govindam; Raas in three parts – “radhe dekho ban ki baat, ritubasant mukulit, kusum aru pal paat”, “sundar pulin subhag sukh daayak, nav nav dhan anuraag paraspar khelat kuvar naagari naayak”, “aaju gopaal raas ras khelat, pulin kalpataru teer ri sajani”; and Mahaaraas – “khelat raas rasik braj mandal, juvatin ans diye bhuj dandan, sarad vimal nabha candra virajai, madhur madhu murali kali baajai”, ending with a stirring Vande Mataram.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.08.11 (VT): One evening the Gaudiya Vaishnav saint Sri Radhararaman Charan Das Babaji called upon his disciples and asked them to stop the first vehicle that passed their residence the next morning. He asked them to to let it wait until he returned, for he was going out in solitude for the night.

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Sri Radharaman Charan Das Babaji Maharaj

In the morning, the first vehicle that passed by the house of the disciples was a stretcher, which held the dead body of a young lady. True to their Guru’s wishes, the “vehicle” was stopped along with the funeral procession, and at that time Babaji returned.

After having them untie the body from the stretcher, Babaji asked his disciples to start kirtan. As he lightly touched the girl’s feet and pronounced the Name of the Lord, she got up, and she too began repeating the Holy Name. This continued for ten minutes, and when the song ceased the girl again fell down dead.

Shocked, the girl’s family requested the saint to revive her again. Sri Radharaman Charan Das Babaji said:

“It was the Lord’s will that she should hear the Holy Name. He has allowed her to recite it for ten minutes, to bless her soul. Now he desires that she should move on to her next destination. She will not wake up again.”

On another occasion, Babaji and his followers came to the town of Dignagar, West Bengal, where the Muslim community wished to cut off some branches from an enormous banyan tree. The tree was sacred to the Hindus who also lived in the village.

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Dignagar village, West Bengal

Babaji met the head of the Muslim community and gave a blessing, which sent him into a trance of bliss. Then the kirtan party proceeded to sing and circle around the tree. The swayed its branches as if it were dancing, and continued to do so until the moment the kirtan party departed.

The next day again the kirtan party came, and again the day after. Though there was no movement of wind, each time the huge tree rocked and swayed as before. It became very difficult for even the most skeptical among them not to believe the tree was dancing under the divine influence of the Holy Name.

Babaji said:

“The Name of the Lord is omnipotent. Trees may dance, and the dead come to life by the power of the name. But this is a very small and insignificant thing. 

“The Name can grant you the highest goal of human life – sacred love (prem) for Radha and Krishna – if you so desire.”

 

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O king of all kadamb trees, may you delight my eyes! For your beautiful flowers are used by Shri Krishna to decorate his beloved Nikunjeshwari Radha, whose stolen glances blossom his heart with bliss and bring him completely under her control.

VERSE 73:

puṣpair yasya mudā svayaṁ giridharaḥ svairaṁ nikuñjeśvarīṁ
phullāṁ phullataraiḥ amaṇḍayad alaṁ phullaḥ nikuñjeśvaraḥ
īṣat netra vighūrṇanena kalita svādhīna ūccaiḥ tayā
śrīmān sa prathayatvaho mama dṛśoḥ saukhyaṁ kadambeśvaraḥ

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā:  In this verse, a large kadamb tree of Vrindavan, known here as “kadambeshwar”, the king of kadamb trees, is being praised. From the obvious sweetness of this verse we can understand that it was spoken with a particular lila in mind.

The memory of a bygone pastime awakens here. How pure are the inconceivable feelings of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami! His heart and mind are always immersed in the transcendental flavours of these pastimes.

Generally, no one ever reveals their experiences in bhajan, but the acharyas have been so merciful as to record their experiences in their books. Out of mercy upon the souls of this world, who are scorched by the miseries of material life and who are bewildered by māyā, the Goswamis have revealed the message of the the joyful spiritual world. Thus they have blessed the conditioned souls by making them discover this abode of love and bliss.

Once Raghunath Das Goswami had the following transcendental vision: In his gopi form as a maidservant of Shri Radha named Tulsi Manjari, he (she) escorts Srimati Radha on her love-journey, helping her to meet Shyamsundar in a secluded forest hideaway.

Radha and Krishna both become overwhelmed by ecstasy when they meet each other. Tulsi Manjari closes the door of the nikuñj and peeps in through the holes in the foliage to relish the sweetness of their loving interactions… later the Divine Pair take rest Their bed of flowers, embracing each other so closely as if they were each other’s pillows.

Shri Krishna is beside himself in ecstasy when he gazes at Radha’s lotus face. līlā ante sukhe ihāra ye aṅga mādhurī; tāhā dekhi sukhe āmi āpanā pāsari (Chaitanya-charitāmṛta) Shyam drinks in the beauty of her face and the sweetness of her form through the cups of his eyes. It is as if streams of sweetness gush from Svāminī’s limbs! Shyam is beside himself from drinking this nectar, like a thirsty chakor bird.

Srimati Radha then takes the mood called svādhīna bhartṛkā. svāyattāsana dayitā bhavet svādhīna bhartṛkā (Ujjwal Neelmani) “A svādhīna bhartṛkā is a lady who has her lover always by her side, under her control.” Casting a slight sidelong glance full of feeling at Shri Krishna’s face, Radha says: “O Shyam! My dress and ornaments are all in disarray! Arrange them as they were before! If my sakhīs see me like this they will laugh at me!”

racaya kucayoḥ patraṁ citraṁ kuruṣva kapalayor ghaṭaya jaghane kāñcīmaṁca srajā kavarī-bharam
kalaya balaya-śreṇīṁ pāṇau pade kuru nūpurāv iti nigaditaḥ prītaḥ pītāmbaro’pi tathākarot
(Gita Govindam)

“O dearest One! Paint my breast with pictures of dolphins and make designs on my cheeks. Hang my sash of bells around my waist, place a garland in my braid, bangles on my wrists and anklebells on my feet!”

Shri Krishna follows Shri Radha’s orders and becomes absorbed in decorating her. How wonderful are the ecstatic symptoms that overwhelm Shri Krishna’s body as he dresses his beloved! He who casually lifted the Govardhana hill for seven days can no longer control himself now. He shivers, gets goosebumps and perspires. Shri Radha also perspires and blossoms with ecstasy when she is touched by her Beloved’s hands.

Tulsi Manjari dries the Divine Couple’s perspiration by sweetly fanning Them. How expertly Shri Krishna dresses his Beloved! Their maidservant is completely beside herself when she sees it.

In his meditation, a practising devotee should attain the sweet relishment of this divine joy. The blissful taste of this meditation is very sweet. With the help of these meditations the rasika devotee will arrive in the transcendental kingdom of ras and relish the sweetness of these pastimes as if perceiving them directly.

Shri Krishna picks some flowers to dress and ornament his Beloved. He brings kadamb flowers from a huge tree that hums with blissful bees. With these special flowers he makes a garland to decorate her hair. Another garland he makes to hang upon her heart. How sweet Srimati is! She is just like the Queen of the nikuñj! Is a Queen not to be worshipped? With tear-filled eyes, prem pujari Shri Krishna offers everything at her lotus feet – his body, mind and soul – through these kadamb flowers.

Tulsi Manjari beside herself with ecstasy as she witnesses this pastimes of the Divine Pair. Seeing her darling Radha worshipped with so much love, her heart has gone to the kingdom of unknown bliss.

Holding the memory of this honey-sweet pastime in his heart, Raghunath Das Goswami praises this king of kadamb trees in this verse.

viśāla kadamba ḍāle, praphulla kadamba phule,
yāra śobhā kohone nā yāy
kuñjeśvara giridhare, puṣpa heri harṣa bhare
sānande cayana kori tāya

“Blissfully, Giridhari picks indescribably beautiful kadamb flowers from the large tree branches.”

kuñjeśvarī śrī rādhikā, rūpa guṇe sarvādhikā,
praphullita nā dhare ānanda
kadambera phula rāje, nija hāte rasa rāje,
sājāiche raciyā prabandha

“The romantic lad makes floral wreaths from these regal kadamb flowers with his own hands. The bliss of that supreme beauty Sri Radha, the queen of the nikuñj, knows no bounds.”

svādhīna bhartṛkā rādhā, pūrāiche mana sādhā,
ye kadambera pari phula hāra.
se śrīmān kadambeśvara, yāra tale vilāsa ghara,
netrotsava koruna āmāra

“He fulfils all the desires of his ladylove by making a garland of kadamb flowers for her. May the beautiful king of the kadamb trees, at whose base the love-bower lies, create a festival for my eyes!”

 

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20663853_1108978165868367_2563130192343657799_n-780x585.jpgVrindavan, 2017.08.09 (VT): Every year Shri Radha and Krishna enjoy their swing festival (jhulan yatra) from Hariyali Teej to Shravan Purnima. On the day after the swing festival ends, the Divine Couple give special darshans in the ancient Gaudiya Vaishnava temples of Vrindavan.

Shri Gopinath Lal Dev Goswami of the Shri Radha-Gopinath Temple says that previously, the Deities of Vrindavan used to stay in their respective bagichas (gardens) throughout Jhulan Yatra. Thus at the end of Jhulan, it was very difficult for them to transition back to their normal surroundings and schedule inside the temple. And so the sevayats of the temple found a new way of celebration in the form of these special darshans.

Some of the special darshans on this day include: Sri Radha-Govind Dev’s Subal Vesh Lila, Shri Radha-Gopinath’s Van Vihar, Shri Radha-Madanmohan’s Rai Raja Lila, Shri Radha-Shyamsundar’s Nauka Vilas, Shri Gokulananda’s Raval Raja Lila, Shri Radha-Damodar’s Shyama Sakhi Lila, Shri Amiya Nimai Mahaprabhu’s Nagari Bhav Darshan and Shri Shadbhuj Mahaprabhu’s Nagar Bhav Darshan. On this day, the congregational singing leading up to Janmastami begins at the Shri Radharaman Temple.

The Story Behind Each Darshan

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Shri Radha-Govind, Vijay Vigrah, Old Temple (P.C. Anjali Syal)

Shri Radha-Govind Dev Temple: Subal Vesh

Subal Sakha is one of Shri Krishna’s very close cowherd boy friends who looks very much like Shri Radharani. One day Shri Radha’s mother-in-law stopped Radharani from leaving the house to meet Krishna. So Krishna sent Subal to her house under the pretext of looking for a lost calf. Subal then exchanged clothes with Radharani, and Radharani left the house wearing Subal vesh (the clothes of Subal), holding a calf in her arms to conceal her figure. Thus she was able to meet Krishna. This lila is depicted at the Shri Radha-Govind Dev temple on this day every year. It is also the only day when devotees are able to have Radharani’s charan darshan – the holy sight of her lotus feet.

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Shri Radha-Gopinath (P.C. Anjali Syal)

Shri Radha-Gopinath Temple: Van Vihar

From Hariyali Teej to Shravan Purnima, Shri Radha-Gopinathju enjoyed their swing festival. Now the sakhis feel it is time for Shri Radha and Krishna to return to their normal schedule and bring the swing festival to a close. So they dress Radharani as Shri Krishna and ask him to play his flute. Shri Krishna in turn puts on Radharani’s clothes and they enjoy playing together in these reversed roles. Shri Radha’s younger sister Shri Anang Manjari and all her sakhis dress as cowherd boys. This lila is called Van Vihar or playing in the forest of Vrindavan. It is a celebration of nature, the explosion of greenery that fills the forest of Vrindavan during this monsoon season. Devotees can have the darshan of Shri Radharani’s lotus feet on this day.

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Shri Radha-Madanmohan (P.C. Anjali Syal)

Shri Radha-Madanmohan Temple: Rai Raja

In the Shri Radha-Madanmohan Temple, Shri Radharani dresses as a handsome young King, complete with a fine silver sword. As she takes her seat on the high throne, Shri Madanmohan Lal becomes her bodyguard or kotwal, holding a sword and shield in his hand. Devotees can have the darshan of Shri Radharani’s lotus feet on this day.

Shri Radha-Shyamsundar Temple: Nauka Vilas

The jagmohan of Shri-Radha Shyamsundar’s temple is filled with water, which is decorated with flowers and greenery and filled with real fish! Shri Radha-Shyamsundar’s altar is converted to a boat. Shri Ladli-Lalju invite hundreds of green parrots (symbolised by toy parrots) to sit on the boat with them as they enjoy their sweet and blissful lilas on the Yamuna River.

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Shri Radha-Vijay Govinda, Gokulananda Temple (P.C. Anjali Syal)

Shri Gokulananda Temple: Raval Raja Lila

At the Shri Gokulananda temple, Shri Radharani is dressed as the King of Raval village, her birthplace. Shri Vijay Govinda, the darling Lord of Shri Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur, becomes her guard. Devotees can have the darshan of Shri Radharani’s lotus feet on this day.

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Shri Radha-Damodar (P.C. Anjali Syal)

Shri Radha-Damodar Temple: Shyama Sakhi Lila

To meet secretly with Radharani, Shri Krishna often wears different disguises. On this day in the Shri Radha-Damodar Temple, Shri Krishna dresses as a female musician named “Shyama Sakhi” in order to get close to her without the knowledge of her family members and her sakhis.

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Shri Amiya Nimai (P.C. Anjali Syal)

Shri Amiya Nimai Temple: Nagari Bhav

Once in a year, Shri Amiya Nimai Mahaprabhu dresses as Radharani. Shri Mahaprabhu is known as “Radha-Krishna milit tanu”, the combined form of Shri Radha and Krishna. The vesh on this day is an external expression of his inner Radha bhav.

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Shri Radharaman Lal

Shri Radharaman Temple: Janmastami congregational singing begins

Shri Radharaman Lal’s darshan is always infinitely special; there is no other “special darshan” on this day. Congregational singing for Janmastami begins on this day and continues until ashtami, which is on August 15, 2017.

 

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New-Indian-Express.jpgVrindavan, 2017.08.09 (VT): Mathura is on high alert against terrorist activities in the days leading up to Janmastami. Security is being beefed up in preparation for the day of Shri Krishna’s birth, which draws massive crowds to Mathura and Vrindavan.

This week two men were found with over 30,000 counterfeit currency notes. The suspects have been arrested and are currently being interrogated by police. Area residents suspect Pakistan’s ISI as being the source these fake notes. The two suspects are believed to be involved in a terrorist sleeper cell.

Fake currency notes are often used by terrorist organizations to purchase weapons and conduct business in general. Terrorists can also wreak havoc by proliferating the fake notes into the local economy, or throwing them into the crowds to cause a stampede.

Local businesses and residents are asked to be extra careful in checking the validity of currency over the next couple of weeks.

 

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IMG_0075.jpgVrindavan, 2017.08.08 (VT): Shri Radha and Krishna’s annual swing festival ended yesterday on the full moon day (purnima). The swing festival, also known as Hindol Utsav or Jhulan Yatra, started on Hariyali Teej and is one of the most beloved celebrations on Vrindavan’s festival calendar. Dressed in seasonal green, devotees thronged Vrindavan to get a last glimpse of their Beloveds on the swing.

Shri Krishna was offered rakhis in many of the temples, as this day is also the Raksha Bandhan festival. Shri Banke Bihari Lal was offered rakhis made of gold, silver and cloth decorated with zari (fine Persian embroidery). 

Shri Radharaman Lal wore a special crown called Kuleh Chandrika which he only wears on Raksha Bandhan and Deepawali.

Due to a lunar eclipse (chandra grahan) most of the temples closed in the early afternoon and did not open again in the evening, thus cutting short the festivities of swing festival’s last day. A few temples remained open however, so the crowds of devotees satisfied their longing for darshan there.

Eclipses are considered both inauspicious and powerful time for spiritual practice. Many devotees took full advantage of the eclipse by fasting, singing kirtan, chanting jap and bathing in the holy Yamuna river.

The congregational singing for Janmashtami begins today in the Shri Radharaman Temple, and will continue every evening until ashtami.

This evening, special darshans will be presented in the ancient temples of Vrindavan. Deities will be dressed as follows: Shri Govind Dev (Subal Vesh), Gopinath (Vanvihar), Madanmohan (Rai Raja), Radha-Damodar (Shyamsakhi), Shyamsundar (Nauka Vilas), Gokulanand (Raval Raja), Amiya Nimai Mahaprabhu (Naagari Bhav) and Shadbhuj Mahaprabhu (Naagar Bhav).

 

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20708296_347744078988501_5451911503685618297_n-780x439.jpgVrindavan, 2017.08.07 (VT): Ascetics rejoice as Yamuna flows again on its favorite Keshi Ghat. Thousands of devout Hindus led by the priests of Shri Dham Vrindavan plunged in Yamuna on Monday in a ritual they believe can wash away their sins. The ceremony in Vrindavan took place during the Shravani Purnima.

A sea of humanity assembled on the river bank as people waited patiently for their turn to step into the water. Men in underpants, women in saris and children – naked and clothed, chanted Hindu scriptures, while walking into the water. The bathing process was initiated by the priests or the Teertha Purohits. Devotees participated in Yamuna Aarati too.

Adi Varah Purana confirms that a bath in Keshi Ghat is worth 1000 dips in the Ganga. The results of bathing in all holy places await those who bath here.
Despite the conspiracy of destroying the iconic Keshi Ghat with the so called developmental projects by the government and forcing the river away from it, the Yamuna has again touched its favorite abode and is flowing on Keshi Ghat. The state government had proposed to reclaim the land beyond the last step of Keshi Ghat to build new ghats with concrete, after laying the giant sewer pipes in front of it. The government has even the completed the sheet piling activity in front of the ghat in order to make the foundation of the expanded ghats. Thanks to the Vrindavan activists who have challenged the project in different courts of India.

Keshi Ghat in Vrindavan is the most important Yamuna Ghat of Vrindavan and centre of various types of activities. It is surrounded by majestic palaces, Yamuna River and the Yugal Kishor Mandir. Sunrise at this ghat gives a different landscape in background of various religious activities on ghats. People who visit Vrindavan should never lose opportunity to bathe and perform rituals at this ghat.

 

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Screenshot-2017-08-06-01.58.33-780x409.pngVrindavan, 2017.08.06 (VT): Today after a long time I went to Bhagwat Niwas. Usually there is Harikatha at the time I went. But when I arrived, the ashram was silent. The sounds of kirtan did not waft from the temple building, and no devotees could be seen hovering like hungry bees around the katha hall.

Everything was empty. I poked around for a while trying to understand why. Just as I was about to leave, an elderly Babaji with a long white beard called me over and said to me in Bengali, “You know the stocky, dark Baba with glasses… he left his body this morning.”

“You mean Karunakar Baba? He’s my Gurubhai!”

It seemed strange. Last time I met Karunakar Baba, he was absolutely fine. I couldn’t understand how he could be here one day and gone the next. The elderly Babaji then explained that Karunakar Baba had been bitten by a snake on his finger. They took him to the hospital in the middle of the night, but it seemed the hospital didn’t have antivenom in stock. They took him to another hospital, and to some folk medicine specialist in Pani Gaon. At last they returned to the ashram, where he passed away amidst the sacred melody of Harinam sankirtan.

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Karunakar Baba performing abhishek of his Guru – Baya Baba’s murti

Karunakar Baba was a homeopathic doctor in Orissa before he left household life to become a Babaji. He received diksha from the famous Orissan saint Sri Baya Baba (Sri Sachinandan Das Babaji Maharaj), and bhek (Babaji vesh) from Baya Baba’s younger godbrother Sri Kaliya Baba (Sri Hridayananda Das Babaji). His shiksha guru was Sri Sant Das Babaji, from whom he learned ashta-kaliya lila smaran according to the Gutika of Siddha Krishnadas Babaji of Govardhan.

Karunakar Baba was always very friendly and kind. He continued to serve the Vaishnav community as a homeopathic doctor for some time after coming to Braj, thus earning himself the nickname “Doctor Baba.” I still fondly remember going with him in a small group to Barsana and Govardhan and seeing the beautiful garden where he used to stay at Puchari, sitting in his room at Radharaman Bhajanashram in Radhakund on occasion, and talking about his memories of Gurudev and his experiences in Braj.

For the last years of his life he lived in Bhagwat Niwas in Vrindavan, passing his days in intense jap and lila smaran. 

Karunakar Baba always wanted to die in Vrindavan, and said so several times over the ten years that I knew him. His health was not very good – he suffered from diabetes and heart problems – and he said he was ready to go anytime. “That’s what I came here for,” he would say. This morning, Radharani fulfilled his desire.

The following is a story told by Karunakar Baba to our gurubhai, the late Sakhicharan Das.

Throw Yourself in the Fire

An Orissan bhakta named Kshetravasi had searched earnestly for a guru for over twelve years. In that time he sought out many sadhus, but he felt that none of them was his true guru. He was feeling completely hopeless and distraught and felt that he had no power to go on. But then he remembered something that Sri Aurobindo had said, “throw yourself in the fire and God will be there.”

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Sri Baya Baba

He had heard that if one commits suicide at Puri by throwing oneself under the wheels of Jagannath’s cart, that the person’s desire is fulfilled in the next life. So, he resolved to end his life on Ratha Yatra day with Jagannath Dev as a witness.

On that day, he went to the temple road to wait for the cart. First Baldev’s cart sped by, and then Subhadra Devi’s. Last came Jagannath’s cart. As the cart approached, Kshetravasi ran towards the cart and flung himself on the ground.

At that moment, Jagannath’s cart stopped. Kshetravasi fainted senseless on the ground. When he regained consciousness that evening, he found that some sadhus had brought him to an ashram near Narendra Sarovar. They told him stories about their Guru, Sri Baya Baba. He was impressed by their mood and their way of speaking, and desired to have his darshan. He was told that Baya Baba was now in Cuttack and that perhaps he could meet him there.

Kshetravasi now felt some hope and prayed, “If you are really my Guru, I will be able to see you there in Cuttack.”

When Kshetravasi arrived, there was kirtan going on outside of Baya Baba’s room, and a crowd waiting to bid him farewell. A car was packed and waiting for over half an hour to take Baba to Kendrapara, but Baba just continued to wait in his room and no one knew why. Kshetravasi arrived and went in to make his obeisance to Baba, but before he could speak, Baba rose up and said, “So you’ve come! Then, Baya is going. You come along with me to Kendrapara.”

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Sri Baya Baba with disciples

Kshetravasi had never met Baba before, but without anyone informing him, Baba waited over half an hour for his arrival. How did he know? Perhaps Jagannath Dev had informed him in meditation? Or, as Kshetravasi (now our dear gurubhai known as Karunakar Das Babaji) puts it, “Such a siddha baba is all-knowing. In both the prakat and aprakat (manifest and unmanifest) time, he performs such lilas with his disciples.”

Kshetravasi’s long time desire was now fulfilled. He received diksha a couple of days later and he recounts some of the details…” I was asked to sit cross-legged on the floor and face to face directly in front of Baya Baba who was seated in the same fashion. He held my hands and closed his eyes for a while, then he placed my hands on his thighs and tilted my head towards him and breathed the mantras in my ears. Baya Baba’s body trembled and I could feel his tears dripping on my thighs as he infused me with his bhav-shakti.”

 

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manohar-das-babaji-copy.jpg← Siddha Manohar Das Babaji

Vrindavan, 2017.08.05 (Sakhicharan Das): Today is the disappearance day (tirobhav tithi) of Sri Sri 108 Siddha Manohar Das Babaji Maharaj of Govind Kund. His life was a remarkable celebration of intense vairagya coupled with jap and lila-smaran. The famous Siddha Mahatma Sri Sri 108 Kishori-Kishorananda Das Babaji (Tinkudi Baba) took shelter of him and was taught the process of bhajan by him. Both of them were great jewels in the Vaishnav Samaj of Vrindavan illuminating the path of pure raganuga bhajan by demonstrating it themselves in their thoughts, words, and deeds. I have put together a brief history of the life of Siddha Manohar Baba for the pleasure of the Vaisnavas while praying for his kripa so I can meet with success in my bhajan.

Siddha Manohar Das Babaji was born in Madhavpur in the district of Nadia in 1847 and was named Mahendra. His father was Sri Bholanath Adhikari and mother was Pyari Sundari. His mother died when he was six years old and his father died when he was thirteen.

When he was six years old he had a dream that a saint came and took him to a forest, then set the forest on fire on all sides. This dream awakened in him a distaste for material life. After the death of his father he took diksha from Sri Nandkishor Goswami, a decendent of Advaitacharya, and went to Nabadwip to study Sanskrit grammar, alankar, and nyay.

He took bhek (Babaji vesh) from Sri Swaroop Das Babaji of Nabadwip and was given the name Manohar Das. While in Nabadwip he had the good fortune of enjoying the association of Siddha Chaitanya Das Babaji of Nabadwip and Siddha Bhagavan Das Babaji of Kalna.

In 1881, Manohar Das Babaji went to Vrindavan and for five years he studied bhakti scriptures under Prabhupad Sri Gopilal Goswami, the sevait of Sri Radharaman Temple. At that time he enjoyed the association of great siddha mahatmas like Balaram Das Babaji of Jharu Mandal, Jagdish Das Babaji of Kalidah, and Nityananda Das Babaji of Madanmohan Thaur.

Afterwards he practiced bhajan in solitude at Kusum Sarovar, Kamyavan, and Nandagaon. Once he went to do Braj Mandal parikrama with Siddha Ramakrishna Das Pandit Baba and some other mahatmas. Though he eventually selected a secluded spot for his place of bhajan, he was forced to leave the place out of fear of Muslim troublemakers. In 1893, after receiving an instruction in a dream, he went to Govind Kund to settle for good and live at the base of Giriraj. Siddha Ramakrishna Pandit lived in nearby Pucchari at the time, so often they would get together for Hari-katha. During this time, many Vaishnavs came to sit at his feet to learn Srimad Bhagavatam.

In 1915 Manohar Baba built a cave in Govind Kund in which he lived and performed his bhajan. He came out only in the evening for madhukari. He slept for only one or two hours per day. The rest of the time he spent doing jap and lila-smaran. It is said that he did no less than seven lakhs of jap daily (over 400 rounds of mahamantra jap per day). He avoided the company of people and spoke very little. He was very humble and bowed to all and never allowed anyone to touch his feet. He was so absorbed in his bhajan that he was mostly unaware of his body at all. Sadhus would sometimes suggest that he use a mosquito net at night, but he said, “mosquitoes don’t do any harm to us. They help us in bhajan by keeping away sleep.”

Once it became extremely cold at night in Braj with the temperatures nearing the freezing point. Baba used to wear only rags to cover his body. His body began to shiver and shake which created an obstacle to his bhajan. Getting angry with his body, he removed his clothing and jumped in the icy-cold waters of Govind Kund. A sadhu living nearby checked on Baba to find out what all the commotion was about. Baba replied, “The body was asking for more clothes. It’s always demanding something, it needed to be disciplined.” The sadhu told Baba that the cold is very severe and that he needed to use a blanket, but Baba said, “Vairagis who have renounced the world have no business using blankets.”

Manohar Das Babaji’s wholehearted and determined application to bhajan and his complete indifference to worldly affairs was profound and proverbial. Demonstrating intense vairagya and deep absorption in jap and lila-smaran he set an example, particularly for renounced sadhaks, of how bhajan is to be performed.

“Manohar Das Baba used to say that bhajan is not possible without the complete surrender at the feet of the Lord and total dependence upon Him. It is only in the state of utter dependence on Him that one enjoys the calmness of mind which is necessary for bhajan: A mind that is disturbed by various kinds of worldly anxiety is not fit for bhajan.”

He defined bhajan as: “A state in which the mind is constantly absorbed in meditation of the Lord and revolts at the thought of everything else as poison”.

He also said: “One must be firm in bhajan. To a man who practises bhajan steadfastly and with all his heart and soul, staking for it his life and everything else, obstacles begin to appear as illusory as the ‘horns of a hare.’ The Lord Himself makes the path of bhajan smooth for him. But this does not happen in a day; both perseverence and patience are necessary.”

He wrote two books. One pertaining to Krishna-lila titled vaidagdhi-vilaas, and a book about Harinam titled, naam ratna-mala.

In 1947 , on the 13th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Shravan (July-August), Siddha Manohar Das Babaji entered nitya-lila.

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Yesterday was the disappearance day of Srila Roop Goswami.

20604577_1743239015976197_3556835558831889164_n-1.jpgVrindavan, 2017.08.04 (From a lecture by B.V. Narayan Maharaj): Even though there are so many great acharyas, Srila Roop Goswami has been attributed with the honor of being that person who has established the mano-‘bhistam, the innermost heart’s desire, of Sri Krishna in the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

When Sriman Mahaprabhu came to the village of Ramakeli, He met with Srila Roop Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami and told them, “Leave your homes and be with Me.” After a short time they left their homes. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then came from Vrindavan and met with Srila Roop Goswami at Prayag, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told him:

parapara-sunya gabhira bhakti-rasa-sindhu
tomaya cakhaite tara kahi eka bindu

“The ocean of bhaktiras is so vast that no one can estimate its length and breadth. However, just to help you taste it, I am describing one drop. (Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 19.137)”

Sri Chaitanya gave one drop of the ocean of ras to Srila Roop Goswami, and that one drop was sufficient to inundate millions upon millions of universes. Later, He met with Srila Sanatan Goswami in Varanasi.

After some time, Srila Roop Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami came here to Vrindavan and began to perform their bhajan – their hearing, chanting, and remembering about Krishna.

Roop Goswami thought, “In order to fulfill the innermost heart’s desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, I will write a drama. In this drama I will explain the beauty of the union of Srimati Radhika and Sri Krishna in Vrindavan, and also Their separation pastimes, when Lord Krishna leaves Vrindavan and goes to Mathura and Dwarka. I will explain how, by their expansions, Srimati Radhika and all the sakhis somehow or other (by the medium of their expansions) went to Dwarka and became Lord Krishna’s 16,108 queens.”

He intended to write about this, but while he was traveling towards Jagannath Puri he came to the village of Satyabhama-pur. There, Srimati Satyabhama-devi, Lord Krishna’s chief queen, appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Please don’t make only one drama. Please divide it into two parts.”

Then, when Srila Roop Goswami finally arrived at Jagannatha Puri and met with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord confirmed what he had heard from Srimati Satyabhama in his dream. Sriman Mahaprabhu told him, “Don’t take Sri Krishna out of Vrindavan.”

krsno ‘nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ‘sty atah parah
vrndavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati

“The Krishna known as Yadu-kumara is Vasudeva Krishna. He is different from the Krishna who is the son of Nand Maharaj. Yadu-kumara Krishna manifests His pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dwarka, but Krishna the son of Nand Maharaj never at any time leaves Vrindavan.” (Chaitanya-charitamrita Antya 1.67)

“Krishna never leaves Vrindavan. He never even sets one foot outside of Vrindavan.”

Srila Roop Goswami then divided his drama into two parts. The first part is called Vidagdha-madhav, which tells about Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan; and in the second part, called Lalit-madhav, He goes to Dwarka and all the gopis of Vrindavan are reunited with Him in the form of the queens of Dwarka.

Why did Srila Roop Goswami do this? This is a very deep siddhanta, conclusive philosophical truth. Srila Kavi Karnapur, a very great devotee, has composed Sri Anand Vrindavan Champu. In this book he described the pastimes of Lord Krishna from His birth up to raas-lila and the Divine Couple’s swing pastimes, and he stopped there. He didn’t go any further than this. He didn’t describe about Krishna going to Mathura or Dwarka, because this separation mood is very difficult to tolerate for the pure devotees. He was thinking, “My Mistress Radhika cannot tolerate this separation, so I will not write about it.”

Srila Roop Goswami, however, has written about the moods of both meeting and separation – because this separation mood is a very deep transcendental ecstatic feeling. At the time of meeting, though Radharani and Krishna are together, something may be forgotten or lost in the heart. On the other hand, at the time of separation, there is complete meeting in new and fresh ways in the heart; and not only inside, but sometimes externally there are sphurtis, temporary visions in which the loved one is actually present.

Knowing all these very deep transcendental established truths, and wanting to establish the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu within the world, Srila Roop Goswami also glorified the mood of separation. Although this mood is very high and has many transcendental features that will not come at the time of meeting, still, it is not our goal of life.

Gaudiya Vaisnavas do not want Sri Sri Radha and Krishna to be eternally separated. What kind of person would want this? No Brajwasi would want it. However, there is a place for this separation mood, and Srila Roop Goswami has explained this in his book, Ujjvala Nilamani: Na vina vipralambha sambhoga pusti masnute. “Without the mood of separation, the mood of meeting will not be nourished” and come to increasingly higher stages. The pastimes of separation are very important because they play the role of nourishing the sweetness of meeting.”

When Srila Roop Goswami was in Puri with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord was dancing at the Ratha Yatra festival and uttering a verse from a book of mundane poetry called Sahitya Darpana:

yah kaumara-harah sa eva hi varas ta eva caitra-ksapas
te conmilita-malati-surabhayah praudhah kadambanilah
sa caivasmi tathapi tatra surata-vyapara-lila-vidhau
reva-rodhasi vetasi-taru-tale cetah samutkanthat

“That very personality who stole away my heart during my youth is now again my master. These are the same moonlit nights of the month of Chaitra. The same fragrance of malati flowers is there, and the same sweet breezes are blowing from the kadamba forest. In our intimate relationship, I am also the same lover, yet my mind is not happy here. I am eager to go back to that place on the bank of the Reva under the Vetasi tree. That is my desire.”

No one could understand why Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was uttering this verse and in what mood He was absorbed. There was one young boy there, however, named Roop, who later on became that very same Roop Goswami. There and then, upon hearing this verse from Mahaprabhu, another verse appeared in his own heart, and he wrote down that verse:

priyah so ‘yam krsnah saha-cari kuru-ksetra-militas
tathaham sa radha tad idam ubhayoh sangama-sukham
tathapy antah-khelan-madhura-murali-pancama-juse
mano me kalindi-pulina-vipinaya sprhayati

This is a verse spoken by Srimati Radharani: “My dear friend, now I have met My beloved Krishna on this field of Kurukshetra. I am the same Radha, and now we are meeting together. But still I would like to go to the bank of the Yamuna beneath the trees of the forest there. I wish to hear the vibration of His sweet flute playing the fifth note within that forest of Vrindavan.” (Sri Chaitanya-caritamrta Madhya 1.76)

In this verse Srila Roop Goswami has clarified Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s inner meaning and thus he revealed to the world the importance of parakiya ras, the mood of paramour love between Lord Krishna and the gopis. Srila Roop Goswami is that very person who established within this world the innermost heart’s desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

After Sriman Mahaprabhu disappeared from the vision of the world, the discussion of parakiya ras was not prominent. According to scripture, mundane ras, this world’s love between those who are unmarried, is very immoral, illicit and sinful. However, in addition to manifesting the endless varieties and wonder of vipralamba and sambhoga, the meeting and separation pastimes of Radha and Krishna, Srila Roop Goswami also established the superiority of parakiya ras. By using evidence from many different shastras, he proved that Lord Sri Krishna is not an ordinary nayak (lover) and Radhika is not an ordinary nayika (beloved). In other words, when there is meeting between a mundane lover and beloved in the parakiya mood it is very sinful, but Sri Krishna is God Himself, and everything is possible for Him. Therefore, if He is the object of the parakiya-bhava, there is no fault or defect in this. Rather this is the topmost supremely pure manifestation of madhurya-prema, the romantic mood.

Srila Roop Goswami established the fact that Lord Krishna Himself came into this world to taste these mellows, and, as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna Himself experienced the parakiya-bhakti-rasa that is within the heart of Srimati Radhika:

anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
harih purata-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandipitah
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandana

“May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Saci-devi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.” (Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita Adi 1.4)

sri-caitanya-mano’bhistam
sthapitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kada mahyam
dadati sva-padantikam

“I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him. When will Srila Roop Goswami, who has Sri Chaitanya’s heart’s desire within this world, give me shelter under his lotus feet? (prayer by Srila Narottam das Thakur)

These deliberations and philosophical conclusions are extremely deep, and very difficult to understand. It is therefore essential that one come under the guidance of a realized Guru and pure devotees, and give ones full time and energy and enthusiastic work in the service of that Guru and in chanting Harinam, the holy names of Krishna, and performing bhajan. One should also make a great effort to understand and realize the reason for which Srila Roop Goswami appeared in this world and why he wrote so many books like Sri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Sri Ujjwal-nilamani, Sri Vidagdha-madhav and Sri Lalit-madhav.

 

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Screenshot-2017-08-05-13.04.16-780x470.pngVrindavan, 2017.08.05 (VT): On Raksha Bandhan, four widows from Vrindavan will go to Delhi, where they will tie rakhis on the wrists of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ramnath Kovind. During their visit, they will  propose a new law that would prevent children from abandoning their elderly parents.

Thousands of widows live in shelters and on the streets in the holy city of Vrindavan. Some have started calling Vrindavan “The City of Widows” as a result, but most of the widows in Vrindavan are not from Vrindavan, nor even from the same state. Large numbers of women have been abandoned by their families in West Bengal and other states, where being a widow is often considered “bad luck” and a drain on family finances. They come to Vrindavan for shelter, and Vrindavan accepts them with open arms.

The widows of Vrindavan hope that Prime Minister Modi will make abandoning one’s parents in this way a punishable offense.

At a government shelter in Bhoot Gali, widows are busy making rakhis with images of the Prime Minister on them. They have made about two thousand rakhis so far, while another 1,500 are being prepared under the auspices of Sulabh International. These rakhis will be tied on the hands of local people by the widows during a function at Gopinath Mandir on August 6th.

Four widows from Vrindavan will go to Delhi to tie rakhis to the PM and the President on August 7th.

 

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703RKonswing.jpg[Hindol Utsav or Jhulan Yatra starts on Hariyali Teej in Braj and lasts until Raksha Bandhan/Jhulan Purnima. In ISKCON and some Gaudiya Maths, the festival begins today on Pavitra Ekadashi.]

B.V. Narayan Maharaj: In the month of Shravan, the clouds in the sky begin to make a thundering sound and extremely fine mist-like rain drizzles everywhere. The atmosphere is very beautiful and pleasant after the heat of the summer months, for at that time all the forests of Vrindavan begin to blossom. Many types of flowers on both sides of the Yamuna, such as beli, chameli, juhi, and madhavi begin to bloom. The bumblebees look here and there and chant, “Radhe Radhe” and the cuckoos also call out, “Radhe Radhe.”

The peacocks and peahens all call out “Keka keka.” Ke means: “Which male person has the ability to do a very wonderful thing? Srimati Radhika’s maan (Her mood of loving jealous anger), as well as Her shyness and patience, are like a very tall and immovable mountain. Which male person, ‘Ke,’ can crush that mountain into powder so that there is nothing left? This person is Shri Krishna.” Ka means: “Which female person can do a very wonderful thing? There is a powerful mad elephant named Shri Krishna whom no one can control. One person, however, by the goad of Her maan, can catch that elephant, bring Him under Her control, and then bind Him in the shackles of Her prem (love). Who is that? It is Shrimati Radhika.” In this way the peacocks and peahens glorify Srimati Radharani and Lord Krsna.

At the time of Shravan everything becomes green. The summer was dry, but now the rain has come and everything has come to life again. All the young brides are taken at this time from their mother-in-laws’ homes by their brothers, and they return to their fathers’ homes.

Shrimati Radhika was still at Her in-laws’ home in Yavat, however, because Her brother, Shridama, had not come. Much time passed and finally he arrived there on the full moon day, with some new clothing and ornaments to pacify Srimati Radhika’s mother-in-law, Jatila.

Seeing Her brother Shrimati Radhika wept, “O My dear brother, why have you come so late? Only a few days remain of this Shravan month. Why did you come late? Did you forget Me?”

Srimati Radhika then very happily left Yavat and went to Barsana, with Her brother; and there She met together with all of Her sakhis, Her intimate friends, as they had also returned to their maternal homes at that time. It was a very beautiful meeting and reunion in the place of their childhood play.

The sakhis made a jhulan (swing) for Her. They always make the swingon a kadamba tree and not on a tamal tree. The significance of a kadamba tree is that it carries the complexion of Shrimati Radhika and the tamal tree has a complexion of Shri Krsna. The tamal tree is not very strong, but the kadamba tree is very strong and beautiful. This signifies the superiority of Shrimati Radhika – She can control Lord Krishna by Her love.

jhula jhule radha damodar vrndavana me
kaisi cchaayi hariyali ali kunjan me

“Radha-Damodar are swinging on the swing in Vrindavan. O friend, how very green the kunj is!”

We sing this kirtan at the time of swinging Shri Shri Radha and Krsna. It describes how Lord Krishna has come and is waiting at the swing with folded palms for His beloved to come. Shrimati Radhika is in maan, and Her sakhis try to persuade Her to come by saying, “Please give up your sulky mood and come at once to your beloved Krishna. He is waiting for You.”

In this way we are observing Jhulan Yatra and remembering the sweet pastimes of Shri Shri Radha and Krsna.

 

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Screenshot-2017-08-03-12.18.13.pngVrindavan, 2017.08.03 (VT): Today Pavitra Ekadashi is being celebrated. (For astrological reasons this ekadashi is being celebrated on dwadashi this year).

Pavitra Ekadashi is also known as Pavitropan Ekadashi or Shravani Putrada Ekadashi. Some perform a vrat on this day for the attainment of progeny, but in Braj this festival is purely dedicated to Shri Radha and Krishna.

On this day a pavitra (a garland made of thread) is offered to Shri Krishna to ask for his forgiveness for any offences in his worship committed over the past year. Today, shop after shop is filled with colourful readymade pavitras, though some devotees prefer to make pavitras at home.

This festival is especially important in Pushti Marg, because Pavitra Ekadashi is the day when Shrinathji instructed Shri Vallabhacharya to initiate divine souls with the brahma sambandha mantra.

In Pushti Marg, Shrinathji is adorned made from a garland of 360 threads, representing the 360 days of the Indian lunar calendar, and tied with 24 knots representing the 24 ekadashis. The pavitra is dyed and scented with precious substances like saffron, gorochana and camphor. Readymade pavitras are also offered at some temples and homes.

All over Vrindavan this celebration is an important element of the Hindol Utsav or swing festival, also known as Jhulan Yatra.

 

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Bus-780x585.jpgVrindavan, 2017.08.02 (VT): On Tuesday afternoon a German tourist was robbed at the Mathura’s New Bus Stand. Suspects include a woman and four young men.

The small group had been following the tourist for some time when suddenly they pounced upon him. After checking his pockets and taking his ID, credit card and 6,000 rupees in cash, the five piled onto two motorbikes and fled in the direction of the State Bank intersection.

The gentleman called the police immediately after the incident, and he was taken to the station. He had had come via Agra to visit Mathura and Vrindavan.

 

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Vrindavan, 2017.08.02 (VT): The security of Shri Banke Bihari Temple is being called into question after two shootings occurred within one week. The incidents do not appear to be related. The first incident occurred last Tuesday at around 11pm, when Shri Banke Bihari Lal’s sevayat Rohit Goswami was attacked at gunpoint in front of the temple.

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Scene of the crime (P.C. Dainik Jagran)

The most recent incident occurred about 200 meters from the temple in Thakur gali, on the edge of the Dusayat neighborhood. A man named Aman Gautam was sitting at a shop in the area when he was attacked by a group of men, who beat him with sticks. One of the men then pulled out a gun and shot him in the arm.

The hoodlums proceeded to flee fearlessly on motorbikes, waving their weaponds in the air as they went. The sounds of gunshots panicked devotees, which resulted in a stampede in the temple area.

Luckily, the victim was able to identify six of his attackers, and police are searching for them. Security cameras were also installed at an ashram and a shop near the scene of the crime. The footage is currently under review.

 

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Screenshot-2017-08-01-16.59.40-780x526.pngVrindavan, 2017.08.01 (VT): Once a renounced Vaishnav of the Gaudiya Sampraday named Shri Gaur Das Babaji was living in Nandgaon. He resided at Pavan Sarovar in Shri Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan kutir. It was sometime around the year 1893 AD (Bangabda 1300).

Gaur Das Babaji used to bring flowers every day from Gazipur near Prem Sarovar, and make beautiful garlands for Shri Krishna and Balram. It was through this flower seva that he attained Shri Krishna’s grace.

After making garlands every day for five or six years, Baba began to feel sad. “I have served Shri Lalju (Krishna) every day for all these years, but till now we have no relationship to speak of. I don’t even know if he is enjoying my seva or not.”

That day, Krishna and Balram did not wear Baba’s garlands. Later that afternoon, he found the same garlands abandoned in the temple premesis. Some little boys were playing catch with them and blissfully tearing them to pieces.

Seeing this, Baba began to cry. “Just see… Shri Lalju doesn’t enjoy my flowers at all. I should move to Barsana and make garlands for Radharani instead!”

The next day, Baba packed his water pot inside his ragged patchwork blanket and left for Barsana. It was just before sunset when Baba set out across the grasslands on foot. The cowherds were already bringing the cows back in from pasture.

Suddenly he saw the boys from the day before – the same ones who had been playing with his garlands. Feeling hurt, he tried to divert his path, but the boys noticed him. “Hey! Babaji! Where are you going?”

“I’m going to Barsana!” said Baba.

“Oh!” said one of the boys. “When are you coming back?”

“I’m not coming back!” said Baba.

“Don’t say that, Baba! How can you leave?” said another boy, the ringleader of them all.

Pastureland near Barsana (P.C. Unknown)

“Lala, I can’t explain. Just get out of my way and let me pass.”

“No, Baba! Now you listen to me. You’re not going anywhere,” said the little boy sternly, blocking his path with his arms stretched out.

“Get out of my way!” Baba shouted, and he tried to run.

Baba was not very fast, and the boys easily stopped him. No matter which way Baba turned, the boys blocked his way.

Finally Baba got lost all his patience and screamed, “Are you kids or monkeys?! Enough of this nonsense!!”

Twilight had just set in. The boy said softly, “But Baba! If you go, who will make garlands for me?”

Baba turned to look at the boy. “Kid, who are you…?”

But the boy was already gone. All his little friends, the cows and the calves had also disappeared.

Crying with anguish, Shri Gaur Das Babaji rolled on the dust of Braj and lamented, “O Lalju! You are so kind and yet so cruel! I didn’t recognize you… I didn’t understand what you were telling me. Please don’t stop having mercy upon this poor servant of yours!” Baba returned to his hut in Nandgram and wept all night long.

That night Shri Krishna came in the Pujari’s dream and said, “Make sure Gaur Das does not abandon my flower seva.”

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Screenshot-2017-08-01-11.37.32-780x514.pngAn invitation to the 2017 Sri Rupa Goswami Conference on Vaishnavism, Vrindavan’s premier seminar on Vaishnavism for three decades, under the auspices of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaj:

AUGUST 4 · 5 · 6 · 2017

Srila Rupa Goswami is revered in the Gaudiya Vaishnava community as the chief of the Six Goswamis, the direct disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His voluminous writings, dramas and songs have elaborated upon the instructions of Sriman Mahaprabhu and comprise the theology of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

For thirty years, the Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math, under the guidance of Srila B.V. Narayana Maharaja, has held a conference (conducted in Hindi) to discuss the glories of Srila Rupa Goswami. Thirteen years ago, Srila Maharaja began English morning sessions, and they continue at nearby Gopinath Bhavan. The conference is a forum for Vaishnavas and scholars to speak on the glories of Srila Rupa Goswami and various aspects of Vaishnavism in relation to him, as well as to engage in extended discussion on these subjects. It is meant to enliven the Vaishnava community with topics that are relevant to their devotional practice and about which they are eager to hear.

 The venue is on the top floor of Gopinath Bhavan, which is located on the Parikrama Marg next to Imli Tala in the Seva Kunj area. Our Program is listed below.

This year, for the first time, we will be live-streaming the Rupa Goswami Conference. It can be viewed on the following Facebook address: https://www.facebook.com/Rupa-Goswami-Conference-123213948300853/. We will be posting the videos as the conference is in session, but they can also be viewed on the Facebook page at any time.

The Rupa Goswami Conference now has a Youtube address: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiMohk9SKrmm8f-eYG2K8MQ

We are in the process of uploading videos of past conferences.

Your servant,

Manjari dasi

PROGRAM

SRI RUPA GOSWAMI CONFERENCE ON VAISHNAVISM

VRINDAVANA’S PREMIER SEMINAR ON VAISHNAVISM FOR THREE DECADES

under the auspices of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

 

AUGUST 4 · 5 · 6 · 2017

Gopinath Bhavan · Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math · Vrindavan

FRIDAY · AUGUST 4 · Srila Rupa Gosvami Tirobhava Mahotsava

Sunrise Lectures · Rupa Gosvami’s Samadhi

Conference Breakfast   ·   8:15   ·   Doughnuts and Khichari

Morning Session  Gopinath Bhavan  ·  8:45 to 12:30

Bhakti Sangita                    Yan Kali Rupa             Sriman Krsnadasa

Srimad BV Visnudaivata Maharaja     The Glories of the Holy Name, as Taught by Sri Rupa Gosvamipada

Srimati Savitri dasi                                          Sri Rupamrta

Sri Pankaja dasa                                              The Perspective of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti and Srila Narayana Maharaja on Rupa Siksa

Sri Mukunda Datta dasa                                 Ujjvala-nilamani

Srimati Vichitri dasi                                        Sri Rupa Siksa

Sri Panca Gauda dasa                                     Sad Gosvamyastakam

Sri Rohininandana dasa                                  Sadhana Bhakti and Rupanuga Bhakti

Bhakti Sangita                        Sri Rupa Manjari Pada           Sri Rama Sraddha dasa

Evening Session   Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math  ·  5:00 to 8:30

Mangalacharana/ Sabhapati  Srimad Bhaktisarvasva Govinda Maharaja

Chief Guest                              Srimad Bhaktivijnana Bharati Maharaja

Moderator                              Sri Ramacandra dasa

Distinguished Speaker             Srimad Bhaktividagdha Bhagavata Maharaja

Speakers                                  Srimad Priyananda Vana Maharaja, Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narasimha Maharaja, Sri Tamala Krsna Brahmacari, Sri Vamsivadana Brahmacari, Sri Uttama Krsna Brahmacari

SATURDAY · AUGUST 5

Conference Breakfast   ·   8:15   ·   Cinnamon Rolls and Flat Rice with Kadhi

Morning Session  Gopinath Bhavan  ·  8:45 to 12:30

 

Bhakti Sangita                        Sri Rama Sraddha dasa

Srimad Bhagavata Maharaja                           Assorted Poems of Rupa Gosvami

Kumari Savita dasi                                         Rupa Gosvami’s Maha-maha-vadanyayata

Srimati Lola dasi                                             Akhila-rasamrta-murti

Sri Dhira Krsna dasa                                       Harer Nama and the Development of Sadhana Bhakti

Srimati Uma didi                                             Rupa Gosvami’s Visesa Avadana

Srimad BV Vana Maharaja                              The Glories of Rupa Gosvamipada

Bhakti Sangeet                        Srimad Paramananda dasa Babaji Maharaja

Evening Session   Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math  ·  5:00 to 8:30

Sabhapati                                Dr. Achyut Lal Bhatt Goswami

Moderator                              Srimad Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja

Distinguished Speaker             Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vana Maharaja

Speakers                                  Sri Rohininandana dasa, Sri Madhava Priya Brahmacari, Sri Sanjaya Brahmacari, Sri Paramesvari Brahmacari, Sri Dhira Krsna dasa, Sri Radhanatha dasa,

SUNDAY · AUGUST 6

Conference Breakfast   ·   8:15   ·   Doughnuts and Khichari

Morning Session  Gopinath Bhavan  ·  8:45 to 12:30

 

Bhakti Sangeet                        Sri Rama Sraddha dasa

Sri Rama Sraddha dasa                        The Life of Rupa Gosvami

Srimati Vrndavana Vilasini dasi         The Heart of Rupa Gosvami

Srimati Poonam dasi                          The Glories of Rupa Gosvami

Sri Gokulacandra dasa                        Haàsaduta

Srimati Manjari dasi                            Bhakti-tattva-viveka: a distillation of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu

Srimati Bakula dasi                             From Kurupa to Sri Rupa

Dr. Achyut Lal Bhatt Goswami                          Anyabhilasita-sunyam

 

Evening Session   Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Math  ·  5:00 to 8:30

Sabhapati                                Srimad Prem das Babaji Maharaj

Moderator                              Sri Radha Madhava dasa

Distinguished Speaker             Srimad Bhaktisvarupa Govinda Maharaj

Speakers                                  Srimad Bhaktivedanta Sridhara Maharaja, Srimad Bhaktivedanta Visnudaivata Maharaja, Sri Jitendra dasa, Sri Krsna dasa, Sri Sundargopala dasa, Sri Gokulacandra dasa

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Screenshot-2017-07-30-12.21.34-780x597.pngVrindavan, 2017.07.30 (VT referencing HS): Earlier this week the head of the Nimbark Sampraday, Jagadguru Shri Shaymsharan Devacharya “Shriji Maharaj”, stated that those who protect cows are trying to preserve Sanatan Dharma. It is the government’s duty to maintain harmony in society and ensure no violence occurs.

The recent incidents of violence in relation to cow protection are completely henious and blameworthy, yet at the same time, it is inappropriate to label every person who wants to protect cows as a “gunda” (a thug or gangster).

These throughts were expressed by Shri Shriji Maharaj at the Shriji temple located in Retiya Bazar.

Shri Shiji Maharaj condemned those incidents in which people were beaten or harmed in any way in the name of cow protection. However, he continued to say the fact that cows – a sacred animal in Hinduism – are being illegally rounded up and slaughtered, is also completely inacceptable and not enough is being done to stop it. He encouraged the followers of Sanatan Dharma to remain firm and determined in their faith, describing spirituality as a complete commitment to ones sacred beliefs and spiritual culture.

He further said that development should and will continue, but the people must not forget the ancient culture of this land. There is a constant force from various internal and external elements working to weaken our dharma. Sanatan-dharmis need to remain firm to face these elements.

Nimbarkacharya Peethadhishwar Shri Shriji Maharaj is in Vrindavan for his first visit after his enthronement as the head of Nimbark Sampraday.

 

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05.jpgVrindavan, 2017.07.28 (VT): This Hariyali Teej, all traffic was completely stopped at the border of Vrindavan.

Traffic bans are common on large festival days, but this time it seems police were stricter than ever. Even residents of Vrindavan were reportedly banned from driving their cars into town.

Barriers were imposed on all entry routes, and police were stationed at each checkpoint to enforce the ban. Ample parking, both permanent and temporary, was provided to visitors for a fee. Due to the long distance between the parking areas and the temples, devotees faced significant difficulty in moving from the parking area to their destinations. Although auto rickshaws and e-rickshaws were allowed in, some areas of Vrindavan were chained off.

But once they reached the old city, devotees breathed a sigh of relief. The lovers of Radha and Krishna were able to walk from temple to temple in peace, enjoying their darshan without stress. The traffic ban also made it easier for police to manage the massive crowd and make sure everyone was safe.

The lanes near the Shri Banke Bihari Temple were all closed off with chains, so that only pedestrians and motorbikes could pass through. The local people helped police enforce the ban.

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Kaliya-780x772.jpgVrindavan, 2017.07.28 (VT): Brajwasis celebrated Nag Panchami in their own special style on Thursday, Shravan Shukla Panchami. Shri Kaliya Daman – Krishna dancing on the back of the serpent Kaliya – was worshipped in Jaint where the day marks the beginning of the village’s yearly Nag Panchami festival.

Village women used a mixture of black colour and milk to draw folk paintings of snakes on the walls of their homes. The images were then worshipped with milk and different kinds of food offerings.

Meanwhile in Mathura, devotees congregated at a small fair at Nag Tila in Kampu Ghat. The temple was elaborately decorated with flowers and the temple’s image of Nag Devta was worshipped. The ancient Shiv Temples of Mathura and Vrindavan like Gopeshwar Mahadev, Bhuteshwar Mahadev and others, were also very crowded on this day.

Nag Panchami at Garud Govinda

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Shri Garud Govinda, Chhatikara

The Garud Govind temple in Chhatikara, near Vrindavan, is a unique temple featuring Shri Krishna in the guise of Vishnu sitting on Garuda.

Once Shri Krishna was playing with his friend Shridam. Shridam pretended to be the divine bird Garuda, and Krishna pretended to be Vishnu. The temple depicts this pastime of Shri Krishna with his friend.

The temple is located in the village of Chhatikara near Vrindavan, just off of NH-2. Chhatikara is deeply connected with Krishna lila. From the time Krishna was born, the evil king Kamsa (Kans) sent many demons to try to kill the divine child. Eventually his father decided to abandon his village of Gokul, considering it unsafe. He moved with his entire community in a caravan of bullock carts, which stopped for some time at Chhatikara. There the villagers parked their carts in a protective crescent-moon formation. The name Chhatikara comes from the Sanskrit word shashti-kalaa or crescent moon.

Considering Garuda to be the enemy of snakes, devotees seek the blessings of Garud Govinda to ease the effects of “Kala Sarp Dosh” (an astrological disorder). On Naag Panchami “Kala Sarp” poojas were held at the temple on a grand scale.

 

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