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  2. Shri Krishna decorates Shri Radha Vrindavan, 2017.11.20 (VT): We continue our Vrindavan Parikrama by taking darshan of the beautiful Shringar Vat. When the Raas Lila began, Shri Krishna played his flute and all the gopis came running. He danced with every gopi, giving equal attention to each one. But the glory of the Raas Lila could not reach its supreme state unless Shri Krishna enjoyed fully with Shri Radha. So Radha left the Raas, and Krishna followed her. Now alone, Shri Radha and Krishna played with each other freely. Shri Radha’s clothes and jewellery were disturbed during their play. Shringar Vat is the place where Shri Krishna arranged his Beloved’s clothes, tenderly placing her jewellery back in the right places, gently combing her curly locks and decorating her with flowers. Shringar Vat is the place where Nityananda Prabhu chose to sit and meditate when he came to Vrindavan. There once was a large banyan tree to mark the place. Now only a stump remains, and a new younger tree offers its shade to the holy spot. In the 18th Century, a descendent of Nityananda Prabhu, Shri Nandakishor Goswami, came to live at Shringar Vat. He established the deities of Nitai-Gaur there. The boy who herded cows with Shri Krishna Shringar Sthali, where Shri Krishna decorated his Beloved. A young Brajwasi boy used to take care of Nandakishor Goswami’s cows. People called him “Bhondu” (simple-minded) because he was very naive, but also very pure at heart. Born and raised in Vrindavan, the boy had a natural love for Shri Krishna and longed to meet him. Bhondu knew that Shri Krishna herded cows in Vrindavan’s pastures like he himself did. He was ecstatic that one day, he would probably meet him. And so it happened that one day, Bhondu met Shri Krishna in the pasture. The two became close friends. Shri Krishna and his friends used to share their lunches, which were packed by their mothers and brought from home. But Bhondu didn’t have a packed lunch to share. So he started bringing food from the temple kitchen when he went out for cowherding. Nandkishor Goswami noticed the missing food and started keeping a closer eye on the kitchen. One morning, Goswami Ji noticed Bhondu on his way to the pasture with the cows, carrying a huge bundle of groceries on his head. Nandakishor Goswami said, “Child, where are you going with all that food?” Bhondu smiled and said, “We are going to makde dal-bati-churma today.” “Who is ‘we’?” asked Nandakishor Goswami. “Me, Krishna, Balaram, Subal, Shridama…” Bhondu rattled off the names of Krishna’s cowherd boy friends from the nitya lila. “Krishna and Balaram…?” “Yeah! You know Krishna! That boy who wears a peacock feather and yellow clothes. He’s really nice. We’re friends now.” Remnant of the banyan tree where Nityananda Prabhu meditated on the Lila Goswami Ji didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t wrap his mind around what he was hearing. But Bhondu was not a liar either. “Why don’t you invite your buddy Krishna and his friends here for lunch instead? Tomorrow is Gopashtami, so it’s the perfect day to invite them.” “Oh yes! That’s a wonderful idea! I will! Thank you Goswami Ji!” Bhondu bowed to Goswami Ji and headed out for the pasture. That day, Bhondu invited Shri Krishna to Shringar Vat for Gopashtami lunch, but Shri Krishna said, “No, I won’t go.” “But I promised Goswami Ji you would come!” said Bhondu. “What do I care what you said to Goswami Ji?” said Krishna. Bhondu felt insulted and started to walk away. “Goswami Ji is like my Guru. If you are going to insult my Guru then I’m not going to play with you any more!” Bhondu separated his cows from Shri Krishna’s cows and started off in a huff. Shri Krishna was shocked and started to cry. He blocked Bhondu’s way and said, “Wait! Don’t go! Listen to me!” Bhondu didn’t want to listen, but he stopped for moment and looked at Krishna. The Ghat at Shringar Vat – Yamuna once flowed nearby “Listen, I couldn’t say this in front of Balaram and the other cowherd boys. Shringar Vat is a place where I go to meet Radharani. It’s our secret place. I can’t take the boys there. Please understand, brother!” Bhondu smiled, “Oh, is that it! Well, if Goswami Ji comes here and cooks for you, will you eat?” “Sure I will!” Said Krishna. “But tell him not to bring anyone else with him!” Bhondu told Goswami Ji what had happened. He could hardly believe what was happeneing, yet somehow, his hope was greater than his hesitation. The next morning he excitedly got all the provisions ready to make dal-bati-churma for Shri Krishna. Smiling like a child, Goswami Ji brought all the cooking implements from the kitchen across the Yamuna and out into the fields at Bhandirvan. Nandakishor Goswami’s Nitai-Gaur He was blissful beyond words when he saw that Shri Krishna was actually there waiting for him surrounded by all his cowherd friends. Goswami Ji cooked for them and fed them to his heart’s content. But as soon as the feast was over, they all disappeared. Goswami Ji fainted out of shock and separation. In a half-conscious state, Goswami Ji heard Krishna saying, “Don’t worry. I am always with you. Go home and write about my lila.” According to Shri Krishna’s instructions, Nandakishor Goswami wrote two books called Shri Shri Rasakalika and Shri Vrindavan Lilamrit.
  3. Last week
  4. Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja A darsana in Houston Houston, Texas: June 28, 2005 Devotee: I want to know if it is necessary to discern, as one is reading through the scriptures, what is actually Krsna's desire for us and what is man-made rules and regulations. The reason I ask this question is that there seems to be a lot of negative connotations towards women, and I know that you do not agree with that. Since you don't agree with those statements, I was wondering if maybe there were other things in the scriptures that were more of man-made ancient tradition, that are not applicable today. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:Nothing like this has been written in the scriptures. We are neither male nor female. We are not this body – we are soul. According to the way in which we want to serve Krsna, or the way in which Krsna wants us to serve Him, He gives us our forms. You know that Lord Rama loves His wife, Sita. You know how He loves Sabari, a very low-born lady. He even ate Sabari's food remnants. You know that Krsna took His flute and peacock feather and placed them at Srimati Radhika's lotus feet, saying, "I will not be able to repay you, even if I live for millions of years." Devotee: Yes. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then how can you think like this? You should not think in this way. Are you initiated by anyone? Devotee: By you. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Then why are you thinking like this? Have I told anything like this? Has this been written in the Bhagavad-gita or in Srimad Bhagavatam? Devotee: In the Gita it says that women are not intelligent and… Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: No, you have not understood the meaning. Yaha bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane – "If you want to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam," Svarupa Damodara Gosvami said, "you must approach a self-realized Vaisnava and hear from him." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 5.131) If you want to read anything, don't read on your own. Your mind is not controlled, and it is not pure. You should therefore go to any realized person and serve that tattva-vetta purusa (a self-realized soul, who is a knower of all truths). And then hear from him. "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." (Bhagavad-gita 4.34) You should go to a person who has realized all spiritual truths. Serve him, and after that you may ask a question. With folded hands you may ask him, "If I am qualified to hear, then please explain such and such." Then he will speak, and then there will be no doubt. On the other hand, if you will read by yourself, so many doubts will come. If you will read Mahabharata, you may say, "Oh, Krsna has left His body and died." If you will read Ramayana, you may think that Rama died, Laksmana died and all the monkeys died. This doubt may come; and if it comes, you will be ruined. Your bhakti will disappear. *See endnote *Endnote 1: "So if you read different scriptures, you will be bewildered…But there is adjustment. If you go to the authorized person, he can adjust. But you cannot see. You see, you'll see contradiction. So srutayo vibhinnah. Therefore they are considered different, but actually, they are not different. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.7 lecture, San Francisco, March 1, 1967) "So Caitanya Mahaprabhu says the medium is sastra, and direction is the guru. Sastra also we cannot understand any book, what to speak of the scripture. Sometimes we find contradiction in the scripture. That is not contradiction; that is my poor fund of knowledge. I cannot understand; therefore assistance of guru, a spiritual master, is required." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 20.353-354 Lecture, New York, December 26, 1966) "Because the spiritual master is the representative of the Supreme Lord, his direction is directly the direction of the Supreme Lord. The spiritual master, saintly persons and scriptures direct in the same way. There is no contradiction in these three sources. All actions done under such direction are free from the reactions of pious and impious activities of this material world." (Bhagavad-gita 10.3, purport) "One should taste the meaning of Srimad-Bhagavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.131)
  5. Question: Dear Tarun Ji, sharing about “spiritual” things is wonderful, but what about sharing about material obstacles that block or hinder my path through bhakti. I am very afraid to share these things because I think many will say that this is just maya [illusion]. Answer: In regards to „material“ issues or problems a sadhaka … Continue reading Chant and be happy? Yes…but… View the full article
  6. Vrindavan, 2017.11.17 (VT): Today is the disappearance day of Shri Ramdas Babaji. Shri Ramdas Babaji Maharaj was born on April 4, 1877AD in Kumarpur, in what is now Bangladesh. His parents named him Radhika Ranjan (a name of Shri Krishna), but everyone called him “Radhika.” “Radhika” loved music and had a photographic memory. Growing up, he could remember everything he ever read, and sing every song he had ever heard. Studies therefore came easy for him, and he was always the first in his class. His voice was extremely beautiful and everyone loved to hear him sing. “Radhika’s” shiksha Guru, Shri Jagadbandhu Maharaj “Radhika” was a very compassionate child. While playing in the neighborhood, he used to let parrots out of their cages. He could not stand to see anyone in pain. As a young man, he took it upon himself to nurse a local sweeper who had smallpox. His family were Shaktas who offered animal sacrifices to the Mother Goddess. But Radhika’s tears brought an end to that family tradition. When Radhika was about eight years old, he met the famous saint Jagadbandhu, who was then only 13. The two became inseparable. Although they were close friends, Radhika considered Jagadbandhu his shiksha guru. The two of them performed kirtan together day and night. “Radhika” learned the path to Eternal Vrindavan from his “Bandhu”. Jagadbandhu would faint in bliss whenever someone said the name “Radhika”. So he called him “Sarika” (mynah bird) instead. And sometimes he called him “Ram”. In 1892 a British Magistrate wanted to force a group of tribal people to convert to Christianity. Jagadbandhu and “Radhika” gathered the tribes, “untouchables” and other marginalized groups for a kirtan procession, which grew to 1.5 miles in length. The loving association of Jagadbandhu and “Radhika” made these marginalized groups feel accepted and they took full shelter of Vaishnavism. “Radhika” goes to Vrindavan Shri Ramdas Babaji at a young age Under Jagadbandhu’s guidance, “Radhika” visited Nabadwip where he stayed at the famous Harisabha. There he met many of the great saints of his time. He then proceeded to Vrindavan. In Vrindavan, “Radhika” performed intense spiritual practice and at the age of 17, he had darshan of Shri Radha and Krishna at Radhakund’s sangam ghat. When “Radhika” returned to Bengal in May of 1885AD, Jagadbandhu told his companions: “I am bringing a young tree of Harinaam to Calcutta. It was nourished by the sweet air and water of Vrindavan. Now it has become strong, and can persevere through the harshest storms.” “Radhika” received Harinaam from Shri Bhairav Chandra Goswami of the Nityananda Vamsha, and diksha and Babaji vesh from Shri Radharaman Charan Das Babaji Maharaj (Boro Baba). It was around this time he became known as Ramdas Babaji. Around this time, Jagadbandhu’s preaching took a different path than the one Ramdas was to follow. Although they no longer were together physically, internally their special connection remained. Jagadbandhu had revealed Braj ras to Ramdas, but now Shri Radharaman Charan Das Babaji revealed the ras of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila to him. Under the shelter of Shri Radharaman Charan Das Babaji, Ramdas became like an endless raincloud of Sankirtan, flooding the world in the downpour of Harinaam. Ramdas Babaji’s wondrous kirtan Ramdas Babaji traveled with his Guru, performing kirtan in all the places where Mahaprabhu had lived. On the day when Mahaprabhu did any particular lila, Ramdas and his Guru would go to that place and sing about that same lila. The people who heard him sing felt transported back in time. It was as if, through his voice, Ramdas Babaji painted a living picture of Shri Chaitanya’s Lila on the canvas of their hearts. His kirtans were not pre-planned, even though they lasted for many hours. The words sprang from within him as if from a divine Source. Ramdas Babaji was the image of ecstasy when he sang: his body would shake and tears flowed down his cheeks like rivers, soaking his clothes and muddying the ground where he sat. He sang with his eyes closed and was completely lost in the lila. Thousands of devotees came like hungry bees to drink the nectar of Ramdas Babaji’s sankirtan and many took initiation from him. Do not build new temples; renovate old ones Sri Radharaman Charan Das Babaji Maharaj Ramdas Babaji’s Guru instructed him not to build any new temples. His philosophy was – when so many old and historic temples are crumbling, new ones should not be built. Instead, Ramdas used his influence to preserve dozens of ancient temples, including Shri Pathbari Ashram in Calcutta – where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu danced for nine hours to the recitation of Gopi Geet by Srila Raghunath Bhagwatacharya. He also saved Shri Haridas Thakur Math, which contains Haridas Thakur’s tomb (samadhi), which was about to be auctioned off to the Christians to be made into a church. Other places renovated by Ramdas Babaji include: Madhaitala (sadhan sthali of Jagai and Madhai); Atisar Gram (Sripat of Anant Acharya); Shri Radhakanta Math aka Jhanjapita Matha (Puri); Shri Radharaman Bagh aka Samajbari (Nabadwip); Nitai-Gauranga Matha (Cuttack); Shri Krishna Chaitanya Sanatan Shiksha Sangha (Varanasi); Jatan Bar (Varanasi); Govinda Kund Ashram (Vrindavan); Aitota Math (Puri); Old Jagannath Math (Chandannagore); Akaihat Mandir and Nupur Kund; Vishramtali Math and Rajutali Math (Birbhum); Shripat of Chandidas at Kirnahar; Nityananda Ashram (Bankura); Nitai-Gaur Ashram (Chandrakona, Midnapur) and Nrsingha Mandir (Nabadwip). The heart-rending disappearance of Ramdas Babaji In 1946, Ramdas Babaji’s elder godsister Shrimati Lalita Sakhi Dasi left this world. She was a great saint in her own right. She was also very close to his Guru and was like a shiksha guru and elder sister to him. Her loss was difficult for him to bear. After her departure he sang the following lines during her suchak kirtan. “Since you held my hand in the form of Sri Guru, I have nothing more to wish for. Tie me up in your bonds of love. I have come to be tied by you. There is no difference between the Name, the Named (God) and the Giver of the Name (Guru)” In 1953 on the anniversary of Shrimati Lalita Sakhi Dasi’s disappearance, Ramdas Babaji ended the day like every day, and went to take rest. At about 2:30 A.M. he woke up and sat on his bed and called his personal attendant. Shrimati Lalita Sakhi Dasi He said, “The time has run out. Didi dakche (Big sister is calling me). I have to go. Call everyone here and bring my Thakurji.” Babaji Maharaj then took a bath and performed his morning rituals. Sitting on his chair, he said, “It is over now. All of you chant the Holy Name.” As Kirtan began, he called out “Jagadbandhu! Radharaman!” Then he sat on the floor and began to sing the holy name. Tears were flowing endlessly from his eyes. All the residents of the ashram sang with him. His beloved pictures of Nitai-Gaur and Gurudev, which were worshipped on the temple altar, were brought and placed before him. Babaji Maharaj gazed tenderly at the Darlings of his heart. He was chanting, but slowly his eyes began to close and he became motionless, and entered into the eternal Abode. From that moment on, the kirtan has continued day and night at Babaji Maharaj’s samadhi at Shri Pathbari Ashram. (V) Shri Ramdas Babaji Maharaj
  7. Anandamurti Ma’s four day lecture series began yesterday with a rathayatra from Prem Mandir to Fogla Ashram. Thousands of devotees, from around India are attending the Vrindavan program, which provides the perfect excuse for many to make a trip to the Holy Dham. Anandamurti Ma’s lectures focus on methods of purifying the heart. Her ashrams around the world incorporate yoga, pranayam and sadhana bhakti. Anandamurti Ma’s home ashram is in Sonepat, Haryana, but she also travels the world giving lectures in both Hindi and English. Speaking in English during a lecture in the US, Anandamurti Ma said that “the aim of life is not to believe in God, but to realize God”. God is not a theoretical concept that we can believe in; God is within us, always guiding and teaching, waiting for us to listen. Anandamurti Ma’s potential as a mystic and preacher was recognized from a young age by both her family and school when she stood up during a lecture by a Christian preacher to ask him whether he was talking about his personal experience of God or what he had read in scriptures. Well versed in Hindu scriptures, Anandamurti Ma intersperses discussion of every day experiences with Bhagavatam slokas creating a harmonious balance between timeless wisdom and personal experience. Anandamurti Ma’s current lecture series is being held at Fogla Ashram, Bhaktivedanta Marg, Vrindavan, from 10-12am from 16th to 19th November. About Anandamurti Guruma: Anand Murti Guruma was born on April 8, 1966, in Amritsar. She is the second of four siblings — one son and three daughters — of an affluent family which migrated from Gujranwala on Partition and set up a lucrative transport business. Her original name was Gurpreet Kaur Grover. She went to a convent and then to Government College for Women, from where she took a degree in arts. Right from the age of 15, she was more interested in religion than in other subjects. She attended discourses given by different religious teachers till she met Sant Delawar Singh, who gave her diksha and her new name, Anand Murti Guruma. Anandamurti Bhajan: Vrindavan manji muraliya bajava murari.
  8. Vrindavan, 2017.11.16 (VT): The internationally-acclaimed religious speaker Shri Morari Bapu is currently in Braj giving katha. Devotees from faraway places, particularly Gujarat, have made the journey to Vrindavan just to hear him speak. A number of people are even camping out in the open for the chance to attend his discources. Shri Morari Bapu is most famous for his nine-day lecture series on the life of Lord Ram, and has delievered over 800 of such kathas in countries the world over. He also speaks on the Gopi Geet from time to time. While speaking on the Ramayan in Braj this week, Morari Bapu also took the opportunity to praise Shri Krishna’s beloved Gopis. The Gopis, he says, are the original kathakars or sacred storytellers, because they revealed the true nature of Sri Krishna to Uddhav. Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering respects during Morari Bapu’s katha (Gandhinagar, 2011) Devotees the world over are inspired by Morari Bapu’s kathas, making his visit to Vrindavan a major event on the spiritual scene. Sunil Patel, a software engineer from Atlanta, says, “When I lived in London from 1994 to 1995, my commute to work each way took two and half hours. My mum suggested that I listen to Morari Bapu katha, which till today I am so thankful for. “The narration of katha by Morari Bapu was extremely powerful. To explain the meaning of the slokas, Bapu set the stage with the scenes so vivid, decorated with words, that I felt as if I were part of the Ramayana. The multitude of examples and jokes, mixed with emotions to drive the point, were powerful enough to be ingrained in my heart. My commute felt like five minutes.”
  9. I can say from my own experience that a mind too critical, and in my case, too judgmental, is like a curse. I honestly have to say that as the time now went by, I observed many things within Gaudiya Vaishnavism that shocked and disgusted me, and I always was very quick to judge and … Continue reading Thoughts about a balanced life here in this world View the full article
  10. In the words of Neem Karoli Baba, “To see God, you must have special eyes. Otherwise you cannot bear the shock.” Brajwasis have special eyes, and so do some monkeys. As Hanuman Chalisa tells us, Hanumanji, Shri Ram’s highest servant in a monkey form, is “ati chatur” (of the highest intelligence). This is not good news for people who would like to think of themselves as more intelligent than others. But, for those who enjoy becoming more and more humble every day, becoming a servant of Hanuman gives the satisfaction of knowing oneself to be the servant of God, whilst also avoiding the danger of becoming arrogant or prideful. It is perhaps no accident that one of the most popular bhajans heard in programs around Vrindavan, and across India, is Hanuman Chalisa. It is said that Tulsidasji penned the bhajan while in ‘samadhi’ (a trance-like state). Written in the Awadhi language, Hanuman Chalisa has an amazing simplicity and directness, which allows even children to easily grasp its meaning. Neem Karoli Baba P.C. Trevor Hall Neem Karoli Baba made a name for himself in the West when he took an intoxicating substance (acid) and said he was not affected by it. While some may refuse to believe that this is possible, those who understand the complete absorption of the mind when deeply involved in singing kirtan can understand how circumstances in the material world can suddenly lose their ability to disturb the mind. John Baldwin, who came to Vrindavan to visit Neem Karoli Baba’s ashram, said, “we dont know much about philosophy. Our connection to the Supreme is through kirtan.” John’s wife, Jessica, said, “Once I counted and there are over 30 Hanuman deities visible from the Parikrama Marg. When we do Parikrama, Hanuman is always with us.” While Tulsidas was writing Ramcharitmanas, Hanumanji appeared to him on a daily basis. Hanumanji was Tulsidas’ marg darshak guru. Hanumanji told Tulsdasji how to get darshan of Sri Ram; we can only pray that he will tell us too. Jai Jai Jai Hanuman Gosaai Kripa karahu Gurudev ki naai Victory, victory, victory to you, oh Lord Hanuman, Please show me your mercy, just like a teacher (guru) does. Jo sat bar path kar koi Chutahi bandhi maha sukh hoi Whosoever recites this prayer a hundred times, Is freed of all shackles and is blessed with great happiness. -Hanuman Chalisa
  11. Vrindavan, 2017.11.16 (VT): Spiritual leader and founder of The Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visited Vrindavan earlier this week. He was on the way to visit Ayodhya via Lucknow. During his visit, the Art of Living founder attended a private ceremony at Lata Ashram on Parikrama Marg. There he announced his plans to meet with Yogi Adityanath about the Ayodhya Dispute. Speaking to the media about his efforts to mediate in the long-standing conflict, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that his efforts are just beginning. However, there are already some signs of hope. There are 13 appeals pending against the high court’s verdict in the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid case, and the supreme court will hear opening statements early next month. Sri Sri Ravishankar also spoke about the environmental situation in Braj. He said that through his disciples, he has made some efforts on Vrindavan’s environmental front over the past two years. Sri Sri Ravishankar is an Indian spiritual leader who founded an international organization called The Art of Living in 1983. He has also received a number of awards for his social work from various countries around the world, including India’s second-highest civil award, the Padma Vibhushan.
  12. Baby thief caught red handed

    A woman almost lost her baby forever after leaving her for a few minutes to go to the bathroom. In the few minutes that she left the newborn, a thief snatched her baby and walked out of the hospital. At 12pm, Mamta gave birth to a baby girl at Mathura Women’s Hospital. At 3.30 pm, Mamta’s mother-in-law, Bunno Devi, helped her to walk to the bathroom. As they were returning, they saw that the bed was empty. Bunno Devi ran to the gate and saw a woman rushing towards the main gate with what looked like a baby under her sari. After a struggle, Bunno Devi managed to retrieve the infant. A crowd gathered and this stopped the thief from escaping. When the police arrived, the accused gave her name as Manju, resident of Buteshwar. Manju said that she was at the hospital to visit her brother’s wife, Usha, however, hospital staff, said that there was no one admitted under the name of Usha. P.C. Jagran When asked what she was doing with the newborn, Manju said that she was taking the baby to feed her. Police took her to the station for further questioning. The incident has raised questions about hospital security, as there was no guard at the main gate at the time of the incident. Hospital staff said that they had been requesting that a guard be posted at the gate, but none had been provided as the contract for the security company had not been renewed. Even after this incident, authorities did not move quickly to put guards at the gate – the day after the incident, Jagran journalists revisited the hospital and reported that there was still no guard at the gate. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. In February last year, a baby was recovered at Mathura Naya Bus Stand.
  13. The night Bihariji got hungry

    Vrindavan is abound with tales of Lord Krishna descending into physical form to give darshan to his most beloved devotees. One such incident is as follows: Before this incident happened, the tradition was to offer 6 meals per day to Shri Banke Bihariji Maharaj. Everyone thought this would be enough. No one ever asked, what would happen if Bihariji got hungry in the night? Bihariji’s bhog offerings include: -Drinks, fruits and snacks at the time of awakening -At the end of morning rituals, and just before the opening of darshan, a sumptuous meal called balbhog is offered, consisting of makhan-mishri, a variety of sweets and namkeens. -Rajbhog: Roti, a variety of dals and vegetables, curd, raita, karhi, and three types of rice: plain, sweet and namkeen. Also, kheer, doodhbhat, adhota milk, papad, chutney, pickles, sweets, etc. -After rajbhog aarti, before putting Him to rest for the afternoon, some snacks are offered. -Similarly, in the evening, snacks, fruits and seasonal drinks are offered at the time of awakening and balbhog is offered before opening for darshan. -The menu of the main evening meal, shayanbhog, consists of puris, stuffed puris, kachoris, seasonal vegetables, curd, raita, assorted sweets and namkeens, doodhbhat, papad, chutney, etc. -After the shayan aarti, and before retiring for the day, warm milk is also offered. This was considered to be enough and nobody had even imagined that something may be required during the long night also, that a child may feel hungry over an interval of 9-10 hours. After all, incidents of infants and children getting up during dead of night and asking for food are not uncommon. Now listen to the miraculous incident that happened on the night when Bihariji felt hungry. We are presenting the first person account of the incident from the shopkeeper from whom Bihariji requested sweets. The Incident: I own a sweet shop in the street leading to the famous Shri Banke Bihari Mandir in Vrindavan. I am talking of a time when the city was not so well developed and crowded [1920s]. There were no concrete structures. There were a few two storied houses, but most of the houses were single storied. Most places in the market were lit up using kerosene lamps, few had electricity. There were not so many tirth yatris (religious tourists), and those who came generally stayed in Vrindavan for 4 to 5 days, unlike today’s touch-and-go tourists. The markets of Vrindavan were timed with the darshan timings of Bihariji, i.e. markets opened in the morning at the time of the opening of darshan and closed in the late evening, at the time of shayan aarti. Within a few minutes of shayan aarti, all the shops would be closed and the only living beings seen on the streets were stray dogs and the night watchman. Locals preferred to go to bed early and would not come out of their houses unless it was very urgent. People, locals as well as tourists would get up early in the morning, go for snan in Yamuna and go for Vrindavan Parikrama (circumambulation) or simply go around the temples that open early in the morning for mangla arti. Bihariji has always been a late riser, as Mangla Arti is not performed here, so the shopkeepers had enough time to complete their morning rounds and open up their shops on time. One afternoon, I received a tall order to prepare 40 Kgs of laddoos to be supplied the next morning. The order was urgent as the laddoos were meant to be prasad in a ceremony to be performed the next morning. I accepted the order and immediately put my boys on the job. By evening we were still only half way done. The work could not be completed even by the end of shayan arti, but it seemed to be under control. Considering the fact that boys lived far away, while my house was nearby, I let them go and sat down to finish the remaining work. I was working in the shop with my back to the front. My hands were rolling out laddoos like a machine. My mind was completely immersed in the job. I had only one goal – to finish the job as quickly as possible so that I could go home quickly. At last I was able to complete the work and was about to get up when…… suddenly I heard a sweet voice calling, “Kaka”. I turned around and was surprised to see a beautiful, young boy, around 9-10 years of age, standing in front of my shop. The boy was not local. His face was quite charming. Seeing a young boy, and that too an outsider, in the almost deserted street at that late hour was something unexpected. I was lost in the confusion of wondering who he was and forgot to ask him what he wanted. With a sweet smile the boy said,” Kaka, I am hungry. Can you give me something to eat?” The hypnotic voice was as if coming from a far off place and so convincing and assuring that there was no question of saying no. As if in a trance, I got up, put four Laddoos in a dona (leaf bowl) and handed it to him. The child took a bangle off and stretched out his hand to me saying,”Please take this bangle as the payment for the laddoos.” I was looking at the face of the child and wanted to say, “You please take the sweets, I do not want any payment from you.” But, it was as if I was paralyzed, I could not speak. I do not know when I stretched my hand to the boy and accepted the bangle. The boy smiled at me, took the sweets, turned back and moved away into the dark street. I kept watching until he disappeared. As soon as I could no longer see Him, I came back to my senses, as if awakening from a dream. I looked at my hand – yes the gold bangle was there! So it was not a dream. Now I really started to worry – Who was that child? Where did he get the gold bangle? If it is his own, when his parents notice that it is missing, they will scold him badly. I may also be implicated in a police case for cheating a child. I was repenting that I had the bangle and wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible, but I did not have even slightest clue where to search for him at that hour. Under great tension and worry, I finally decided to keep the bangle in the cash box for the night. I decided that I would look for the rightful owner of it in the morning and hand it over with my apologies. With these thoughts, I closed the shop and went home. I did not talk about the incident to anybody in the house. I was afraid they call me uncaring because I left the boy uncared for at that late hour.Or worse, they might think I was crazy to have taken such an expensive bangle for the price of four laddoos, or for thinking about return the bangle. So I just kept quiet about the incident. The next morning, I got up a little earlier than usual. After completing the morning routine, I headed for the shop to deliver the laddoos, as per the order. On my way to the shop, I went to Bihariji Mandir to pay my pranam, as was my daily routine. When I arrived, it seemed that some confusion was prevailing in the temple. The priests, manager and some other officials on duty were talking in a confused and helpless manner. On inquiring about the matter, I learnt that a bangle was missing from the jewellery box, though it was agreed that the bangle was in the box at the time of the shayan arti the night before. The lock and latch of the room were untouched and a piece of jewellery was lost. Nobody knew what to do. I also had no clue so I moved away, chanting quietly. Whosoever heard about the incident could only say, “It is all His leela.” As I moved a few steps away, I suddenly remembered, “What about the bangle that the unknown boy gave me last night?” I returned back to the group of priests and asked them to come to my shop. They wanted to know what the matter was, I said, “I do not know, but I have a bangle that I want to show you.” Perplexed, as everybody was, they had no choice but to come with me to see and inspect the bangle. Within a few minutes, we reached the shop. I opened the cash box, took out the bangle…. and, everybody was astonished………it was Bihariji’s missing bangle. A New Tradition The Goswamis of the temple realized the need to have an offering before the Lord during the resting hours. It was decided that a box containing four laddoos along with water and beeris (betel leaves) should be kept on a side table during the night as well as in afternoon when the temple is closed.
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