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Sheela_Mata_Temple_Agroha.jpgBraj (Devanagari: ब्रज), also known as Brij or Brijbhoomi, is a region in Uttar Pradesh of India, around Mathura-Vrindavan. Brij, though never a clearly defined political region in India, is very well demarcated culturally. The area stretches from Mathura, Jalesar, Agra, Hathras and Aligarh right up to Etah, Auraiya and Farrukhabad districts. It is believed to be the land of Krishna and is derived from the Sanskrit word vraja. The main cities in the region are Mathura, Jalesar, Bharatpur, Agra, Hathras, Dholpur, Aligarh, Etawah, Auraiya, Mainpuri, Etah, Kasganj and Firozabad. The term "Braj" means "Pasture", and a settlement of herders and cattle breeders or Abode of Yadavs/Aheers or yaduvanshsthali. The residents or natives of Braj are called Brijwasi. Braj bhasha or Brij bhasha, closely related to spoken Hindi with a soft accent, is spoken throughout the region.

Брадж или Вра́джа (хинди ब्रज), также Бра́джбуми, Враджабху́ми — исторический регион в индийских штатах Уттар-Прадеш, Раджастхан и Харьяна. Является священным местом паломничества для вайшнавов, так как согласно Пуранам и другим текстам индуизма, в этом месте родился и провёл свою юность Кришна. Самые крупные города на территории Враджа — это Матхура, Агра, Алигарх и Майнпури. Географически и культурно Врадж расположен в самом центре доаба Ганги-Ямуны, который с древности являлся центром развития индийской культуры. Врадж занимает территорию в 3800 км² и располагается в "золотом треугольнике" Дели-Джайпур-Агра. Врадж можно разделить на два региона — восточную часть, в которой расположены такие места, как Гокула, Махаван, Балдео, Мат и Баджна; и западную часть, где находится округ Матхура с такими местами паломничества, как Вриндаван, Говардхан, Кусум-саровара, Варшана и Нандаграм. Врадж расположен на территории современных округов Матхура (Уттар-Прадеш), Бхаратпур (Раджастхан) и Палвал (Харьяна). Регион Враджа простирается от местечка Котбан в 95 км от Дели до Рунакты в районе Агры — места, получившего известность в связи с великим поэтом Сурдасом. Жителей региона называют "бриджбаси" или "враджабаси". Население Враджа разговаривает на диалекте хинди браджбхаша.

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Imlitala Temple view with Yamuna in background

A Siddhapīṭha is a holy place of perfection or siddhi. Usually people know Yogapīṭha – the holy place where Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa meet – such as the Yogapīṭha at the Rādhā-Govinda temple in Vṛndāvana. But despite its unique significance, most people know little about Imlitalā Siddhapīṭha. Normally, Siddhapīṭha refers to a place where sādhakas attain perfection, but in Imlitalā, it refers to a place where Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself attained a most sublime perfection!

“Imli” means “tamarind tree” and “tala” means “at the base of”. Because Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu performed many amazing līlās under this imli tree, this holy place has come to be known as “Imlitalā.” Imlitalā is counted among Vṛndāvana’s Prācīna-devālayas or most prominent ancient places of worship.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu arrived in Vṛndāvana on the day of Rāsa pūrṇimā in Kārtika in 1515. Every morning He sat in solitude under this tamarind tree, gazing at the Yamunā and relishing the divine beauty of Vṛndāvana. He also performed harināma and spread the message of devotion to Śrī Hari to qualified people at this holy place. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī wrote:

prāte vṛndāvane kailā ‘cīra-ghāṭe’ snāna
teṅtulī-talāte āsi’ karilā viśrāma
kṛṣṇa-līlā-kālera sei vṛkṣa purātana

“In the morning, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu used to take His bath at Cīra-ghāṭa in Vṛndāvana. He then went to Imlitalā, where He sat down. The tamarind tree was very old, having been there since the time of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.18.75.

In his Śrī-Śrī Premadhāma-Deva-Stotram, Verse 42, Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja wrote:

tintiḍī-talastha-yāmunormmi-bhāvanāplutaṁ
nirjanaika-rādhikātma-bhāva-vaibhavāvṛtam
śyāma-rādhikāpta-gaura-tattva-bhittikākaraṁ
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram

“When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was sitting in solitude under the imli tree and seeing the dancing waves of the Yamunā, He remembered His water-sporting pastimes with the gopīs during His previous Avatāra as Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Embracing the sweetness of Rādhikā’s love in the core of His heart, He entered into rādhikātma-bhāva or empathic union with Her. He thus fulfilled His three internal desires and His heart was completely captured by Rādhārāṇī. Imlitalā is the place of origin of gaura-tattva, for it was here where in Dvāpara-yuga, Śyāmasundara became fully absorbed in the devotional mood of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and thus became Gaurasundara. I offer my obeisance to that Lord Gaurasundara, who eternally resides in Imlitalā, and who is the abode of prema.”

323212-411x705-1.jpg← Deity of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu under Tarmarind tree

Over 5000 years ago in Dvāpara-yuga, in Imlitalā, Śrīmati Rādhārani’s supreme victory was celebrated with Her coronation as Vṛndāvaneśvari, the Queen of Vṛndāvana. In Vṛndāvana, the mood of worship is very sweet, because Rādhārani becomes the Supreme Goddess and Kṛṣṇa accepts a role subordinate to Her.

Once, during the performance of Rāsalīlā, Rādhārani was not given Her deserved special attention by Kṛṣṇa. She thus became sulky, left the Rāsa dance and crossed the Yamunā with Her sakhis. In a secluded spot, She sat down and wept. Absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, Her empathy with Him reached such an intensity that Her entire body turned blue like Kṛṣṇa. Thus before Kṛṣṇa entered Rādhā’s mood and turned golden, Rādhikā entered into empathy with Him and assumed His dark blue effulgence. Tears cascaded from Her eyes and soon formed a beautiful lake, wich was named Māna sarovar – the lake formed of Rādhā’s tears of māna or sulkiness.

Meanwhile, Kṛṣṇa didn’t feel the usual bliss and realized that His most beloved Rādhārani is missing from the Rāsalīlā. He quickly left the Rāsa dance and began desperately looking for Her everywhere. Unable to find Her, He remembered how She was once crowned the Queen of Vṛndāvana under the tamarind tree in Imlitalā. He thus took shelter of that tree and started crying out, “Rādheee! Rādheee! Please save my life by giving me your darśana!

Rādhārani’s holy name is non-different from Her mood and golden colour. Thus, while chanting Rādhā’s name, Kṛṣṇa soon became immersed into Her mood of service and also attained Her golden effulgence, assuming the golden form of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu! Imlitalā is the holy place where Mahāprabhu’s beautiful form manifested for the very first time. Being immersed in empathy with Rādhārani, Kṛṣṇa got a taste of the glory of Her unparallelled love for Him, of His own sweetness that only She can relish fully and of Her unsurpassed ecstacy when She serves Him. He had thus gotten a taste of fulfilling His three internal desires mentioned by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī (Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.1.6.).

These would later be fulfilled in Purī (dvādaśa vatsara śeṣa rahilā nīlācale (…) āsvādiyā pūrṇa kaila āpana vāñchitaCaitanya-caritāmṛta 1.13.39-43). But even just getting a taste of their fulfillment, Kṛṣṇa entered into a deep state of samādhi and attained a unique siddhi or perfection. This is why Imlitalā is called Siddhapīṭha – holy place of perfection. It is from this seed form of empathic samādhi that Kṛṣṇa’s gaura-līlā exploded infinitely and showered its fruits of gaura-prema on one and all.

Much later, in Kali-yuga, Nityānanda Prabhu came to Imlitalā. He foresaw Mahāprabhu’s arrival and prepared His āsana here. When Mahāprabhu came to Vraja, He spent most of His time on this āsana under this imli tree, chanting Kṛṣṇa-nāma in seclusion. While chanting Kṛṣṇa’s names, due to the seeing the uddīpakas or stimulants of vraja-līlā in Vṛndāvana, for a short time He again turned blackish like Kṛṣṇa and lost the treasure of rādhā-bhāva. To make sure He won’t lose rādhā-bhāva again, He decided to return to Purī, although He had only spent a few months in Vṛndāvana. This is the confidential reason why Mahāprabhu performed His concluding pastime in Purī.

1599833_209528959248199_1397848217_o-102Deities at Imlitala Mahaprabhu Mandir

Sevakuñja is accepted as the heart of Vṛndāvana because here Kṛṣṇa attains the treasure of His heart – the service of Rādhārani’s lotus feet. However, nobody can serve without the proper mood of service – especially not Kṛṣṇa, who is used to being ādi-puruṣaṁ, the supreme enjoyer. He has to first attain seva-bhāva, the mood of service. And for that He first comes to Imlitalā before He enters Sevakuñja. In the same mood, according to local tradition, pilgrims first have darśana of Imlitalā before entering Sevakuñja.

There is a little known book in Bengali called Imlitalā Mahātmya by the Founder Ācārya of the Śrī Gauḍīya Saṅgha and Sevait of Imlitalā, Śrīla Bhakti Saraṅga Goswami Mahārāja. We are happy to announce that it has now been translated into English and that it will soon be published. Also, a book called Yoga of Empathy that will dwelve deeper into the topic of empathic union is in the making. Both publications will be announced on www.nectarpot.com.

Radhamadhav Das is a researcher, author, environmentalist and vraja-upāsaka living in Vrindavan.

By Radhamadhav Das

 

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(Vikas Verma): Yamuna Chhath or 'Yamuna Jayanti' is a Hindu festival which is devoted to Goddess Yamuna. The festival is observed with great pomp and fervor in the town of Mathura and Vrindavan. The festival of Yamuna Chhath commemorates the descent of Goddess Yamuna on Earth. Hence, it is also celebrated as the birth anniversary of Goddess Yamuna. It is observed on the 'Sixth day of the Shukla Paksha during the month of 'Chaitra.'

03-Yamunotri-3.jpgIn the scriptures, Goddess Yamuna is the consort of Lord Krishna. Hence, she is highly revered in Braj. Hence, Yamuna Chhath is celebrated with immense fervor and enthusiasm in Vrindavan and Mathura. River Yamuna is considered to be a sacred river along with Ganga, Godavari, Brahmaputra and Saraswati. As per Scriptures, it is believed that Yamuna Ji descended on the Earth on the Sixth day of the Chaitra month. Since then this day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Yamuna Ji. Goddess Yamuna is the consort of Lord Krishna and daughter of Surya Dev (Sun). Hence, Goddess Yamuna is highly revered by the people of Braj and Mathura and is celebrated with immense enthusiasm by the people of Vrindavan and Mathura.

On the auspicious day of Yamuna Chhath, devotees get up before dawn and take bath in the Yamuna River. It is believed that taking a dip in the Yamuna River can purify the soul and one can also attain eternal joy and love.

Special puja is offered to Goddess Yamuna on auspicious 'muhurat' according to the Vedic Panchang. As Goddess Yamuna is known to be the companion of Lord Krishna, the devotees also worship Lord Krishna. Special food offerings are prepared for the Goddess Yamuna. After the puja, food is donated to the Brahmins, and the Prasad is distributed among friends and relatives. Devotees observe a strict fast on Yamuna Chhath. Devotees refrain from drinking or eating anything for the period of 24-hours. The fast is broken on the next day after the morning puja rituals.

Yamuna Ji, also known as Kalindi, along with the Ganga is the most holy and famous river of India. She begins her course high up in the Himalayas at Yamunotri and flows down the plains, specifically, to come to Vrindavan. It is often said that rivers are the lifelines of any civilization. This situation is a perverted reflection arising from Yamuna being the lifeline of Lord Shri Krishna's pastimes in the land of Braj.

We see that in all the pastimes of Lord Krishna, Yamuna ji is always there enhancing the mood and sweetness of the pastime. Krishna would take His cows for grazing the sweet juicy grasses that grew along the banks of the Yamuna. Yamuna would supply water to Krishna's calves and cows. Yamuna's water was sweeter than the sweetest of all nectar, always at perfect temperature.Within these waters of Yamuna, He would have swimming and splashing and all different kinds of sportive games with the Gopas in Sakhya Rasa (mellow of friendly relationships).

Yamuna Ji also served as the playground for Nauka Vihar (playful boating pastimes of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna) and many other Madhurya Rasa (mellow of conjugal love) pastimes for Krishna and the Gopis in the enchanting moonlit nights of Vrindavan, when Krishna requested Shri Radhika to descend with Him to Earth, She replied, “I do not feel happiness anywhere where river Yamuna, the forests of Vrindavan and Goverdhan are not there. So, I won't come down there without them.” So Yamuna is descending from the spiritual world, and she is coming to this world through Yamunotri and flowing to meet mother Ganga at Prayag.

Yamuna Ji is actually an expansion of Vishakha Ji:

vizaakhorasi yaa vishnor yasyaam vishnur-jalaatamani
nityam nimajjati prItyaataam shaureem yamunaam stumaha

150789935_1895689573905138_9198610984447556370_n-498x1024.jpgLord Vishnu daily immerses Himself and plays with great pleasure and affection in the water of the Yamuna, the liquid form of Vishakhadevi. I offer prayers to Yamunadevi, the daughter of the sun god Surya.

Commentary of Shri Baladeva Vidyabhushan:

vishakha yamuna-vapur iti vichaarena
yamuna-stutyaa tat stutir iti vidybhushanah

Shri Vishakha is considered as the vapu (embodiment) of Yamuna. Therefore, by offering prayers to Yamuna one is also offering prayers to Vishakha dev

In fact, Vishaka Devi is an expansion of Shri Radhika Herself. To enhance the pleasure of Krishna's pastimes, Shri Radhika thus expands Herself as river Yamuna. Yamunaji appeared in this world as the daughter of Surya, and the sister of Yamaraja. And Yamaraja being very affectionate to his sister does not disturb any person who is blessed by Yamuna Devi as stated by Rupa Goswami in Yamunashtakam.

Jiva Goswami quotes from the Shastras that how Ganges is the charanamrit of the Lord. But if we multiply the power of purification of bathing in the Ganges by hundred times, that is the effect of bathing in Yamuna. The Yamuna is eternally participating in the Lord's lila. The Yamuna is the eternal charanamrit of Shri Shri Radha Krishna, the Gopas and the Gopis. And when we bathe in Yamuna, we are bathing in that nectar. And most of all it is Yamuna Ji's love in the form of that water. Therefore, bathing in Yamuna is one of the most important aspects of worshiping the holy land of Vrindavan.

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imageproxy.jpgThe land scattered on both sides of the river Yamuna in Vrindavan, is being encroached rapidly by the land mafia to build illegal colonies on them. The government agencies responsible to protect these lands have completely failed to prevent the encroachments.

Vrindavan is expanding its area; the new colonies have come up in the outskirts of the old Vrindavan town. Once the land used for agriculture, forestry, pasture and ashram, are being used to develop the colonies. It is an alarming situation particularly on the banks of River Yamuna, where concrete structures are coming up very fast. Literally, Yamuna is choking due to the apathy on the part of those who are entrusted to prevent any sort of construction on the bank of the rivers.  The encroachments have affected the uninterrupted flow of River Yamuna. Misadventures, on government’s part has also affected the Yamuna very badly. The ill conceived developmental plan of the government has also contributed to the destruction of Yamuna’s pristine form.

The floodplains have been encroached with concrete and permanent structures that are bound to cause ecological havoc in the form of floods.  Besides it upsets the natural hydrological havoc in the form of floods situated close to the river.

It is apparent that the mafias have encroached the floodplains, in connivance with the government agencies responsible to protect them. Several illegal colonies and commercial centers have come up on the flood plains of Yamuna. The authorities have completely failed in restraining them. The colonies and commercial set ups are set to discharge a huge amount of garbage, sewage and toxic waste into the already highly polluted rivers.

Even after the interventions of the High court and NGT, the land sharks are still actively engage in selling off the floodplain areas of River Yamuna. The registration and mutation of plots in flood plain is being actively carried out by the registry department. The land mafia and realtors sell plots to build the houses in absolute violation of the land use norms, without any environmental clearances from the governments at the Center or State.

In a recent incident, Ramesh Pujari, an activist from Vrindavan, has made a complaint to the District Magistrate about the illegal selling of 31 bigha government land near the Panigaon Chouraha. The District Magistrate has ordered a joint inspection of the Municipal Corporation and the survey department to check the land record by measuring the said government land, being illegally sold by the land sharks.

Interestingly, in another case at Nagla Sankraya village near Vrindavan, the survey of the land record couldn’t be completed in 30 years. The survey was initiated in 1991.

About a dozen illegal colonies are being built in Vrindavan without following any norms. None of the colonies have taken the approval of the Mathura Vrindavan Development Authority to carry on the construction work by getting the map of the respective colonies approved.

The post Yamuna in Vrindavan is choking from illegal encroachments appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

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737dd274d9f8c27167a0e7c28044a99c.jpgThe village of Gantholi lies 3 km. west of the town of Govardhan. Here Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw the deity of Gopala

sei grāme giyā kaila gopāla-daraśana

premāveśe prabhu kare kīrtana-nartana (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 18.36)

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then went to the village of Gāṅṭhuli-grāma and saw the Lord Gopāla Deity.Overwhelmed by ecstatic love, He began to chant and dance.

aiche parikramd kori govardhana diya; gelena ganthuli grdme ullasita hoiya
raghava pandita Shrinivasa prati koy; kohiye gathuli grama nama yaiche hoy
etha holi kheli dohhe boise simhdsane; sakhi duhun vastre ganthi dila sahgopane
simhdsana hoite dohhe uthila yokhon; dekhaye bosoye ganthi hdse sakhi-gana
hoilo kautuka ati dohhe lajja paila; phaguya loiya keho ganthi khuli dila
e hetu gathuli – e gulal kundajale; ebe phagu dekhe loka vasantera kale 

[Bhakti Ratanakara]

“They blissfully proceeded on the parikrama of Govardhan Hill until they reached the village of Ganthuli. Here Raghava Pandita explained to Shrinivasa why the village was named Gantholi. He said: “During the Holi pastimes, Radha and Krishna sat down on Their throne here and the sakhis secretly went up to Them from behind to tie up Their clothes. Then they sat down and laughed when the Divine Couple wanted to get up and dance,but were unable to separate because of the knot. Radha and Krishna became very shy then and one of the sakhis loosened the knot and threw some colored powder at Them. That is why this village is named Ganthuli (the word is derived from the Sanskrit word grantha, which means knot). Even now every spring season people can see that the lake near this village, named Gulal kund ( gulal is a colored substance used for celebrating Holi) is filled with color.”

This village, Gantholi, is one mile from Gulal-kund. In the month of Falgun, February-March, at the time of Holi, all the gopis were present here, playing Holi with Shri Krishna and the gopas. This is where Holi took place. Shri Krishna and His friends were in one party and Shrimati Radha Rani and Her sakhis were in the opposite party, and there were more gopis than there were gopas. Both the gopas and gopis held syringes (Pichkari) which shot out many colors, and these colors were not easily removable. All places and creatures became reddish because of the throwing of the great quantities of red powder – the sky, trees, cows, and all beings, and especially this kunda, named Gulala Kund after this pastime, became reddish. Everything in Braj became reddish at that time.

In the meantime Shrimati Radha Rani and Krishna sat down together. Seeing this, Lalitaji took Krishna’s pitambara (yellow cloth) and Shrimati Radharani’s veil and tied them together in the back, so that no one would be able to see the knot. Krishna and Radha Rani were also not aware of this fact. Visakha then began to sing a marriage song and all the gopis sang with her. Shrimati Radharani and Krsna became ashamed and wanted to run away from there, but They couldn’t do so because Their clothes were tied together. All the gopis then began to clap. The word ganthuli means “knot” or “to tie together,” and this place is thus known as Gantholi.

After playing Holi Krishna and the gopis took bath in Gulala-kund, and a stream of the kund became reddish . Even now, at the time of Purnima, the birth of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a stream within the kund becomes reddish and it can be seen by all.Even the Braj Raj (Holy Dust) at the banks of the kund is rediish. Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Shrila Rupa Gosvami and Shrila Sanatana Gosvami visited this place.

According to Shri Krishna Murari Cheif Priest of Mahaprabhu Baithak in Gulal Kunda , Shrimati Radha Rani never played Holi of Colours in Barsana because Barsana is Parental Home of Shrimati Radha Rani and daughters never plays Holi in their Parental Home.So both Krishna and Shrimati Radha Rani came
to this place and played Holi of colors Gulal.

This is lesser known place but still many piligrims from Gujrat ,maharashtra etc visit this place, local people act in Krishna-Lila drama and re-enact the scenes of Holi for the pilgrims.

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imageproxy.jpgBhuteshvar Mahadeva in Mathura

Four ancient deities of Lord Shiva residing at Mathura are known as dik-palas, “protectors of the directions.” They stay in Mathura to protect the dhama. Bhuteshvar Mahadeva protects from the western side.

The tradition amongst the vaishnavas is that when coming to Braj one must first go to Mathura to take permission from him to enter the dhama. The reasons for this are described by Shrila Rupa Gosvami in his Mathura-Mahatmya (texts 234-238), wherein he has quoted the following verses from the Adi-varaha Purana recounting Krishna’s words about Bhuteshvar Mahadeva

“O deva! You will be the protector of Mathura. O greatest of the gods! Whoever sees you will attain My abode. By seeing Bhuteshvara Mahadeva, all sins are destroyed. O Vasudha, one who sees him, achieves the land of Mathura. In Mathura is the deity of Lord Bhuteshvara, who grants liberation even to the sinful. This Bhuteshvara deity is very dear to Me.How is it possible for a sinful person who tries to worship Me but will not worship Bhutesvara shiva, to attain devotion to Me? Those who are bewildered by My maya, who are the lowest of men, will not meditate on, bow down before, or offer prayers to Lord Bhuteshvara.”

Also, Shri Caitanya Caritamrta (Madhya 17.191) by Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami describes how Lord Caitanya visited Bhuteshvara Mahadeva in the following way

svayambhu, viśrāma, dīrgha-viṣṇu, bhūteśvara
mahāvidyā, gokarṇādi dekhilā vistara

“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu visited all the holy places on the banks of the Yamunā, including Svayambhu, Viśrāma-ghāṭa, Dīrgha Viṣṇu, Bhūteśvara, Mahāvidyā and Gokarṇa.”

Gopeshwar Mahadeva at Vrindavan

Shrila Narahari Chakravarti has described Lord Gopeshwar Mahadeva in his Bhakti-ratnakara (5.3736-3740):

ki apūrva śobhā ei vanera-bhitara guṇātīta liṅga-rūpa nāma gopīśvara

How wonderfully beautiful is this place in the forest! Here Lord Gopishwar Shiva is manifest as a liṅga beyond the touch of material nature’s modes.

ei sadāśiva vṛndā-vipina pālaya iṅhāke pūjile sarva-kārya siddha haya

This deity of Lord Sadashiva protects the Vrindavan forest. By worshiping this deity, one attains perfection in all one does.

gopī-gaṇa sadā kṛṣṇa-saṅgera lāgiyā nirantara pūje yatne nānā dravya diyā

To attain Lord Krishna’s company, the gopīs always worship this deity. Carefully they place many offerings before Him.

kahite ki pāri ye mahimā gurutara gopikā-pūjita teñi nāma gopīśvara

How can I have the power to describe all the great glories of this deity? Because the gopīs worship Him, this deity is called Gopishwar, master of the gopīs.

Gopeshwar Mahadeva is one of the most prominent deities in the Gaudiya-sampradaya and is mentioned in many Gaudiya literatures, being a very ancient protector of Shri Vrindavan Dhama. It is said that one cannot enter Vrindavan without his permission. His glories are sung throughout the Gosvami literatures

Shrimad gopishwaram vande sankaram karunaa-mayam
sarva-klesha haram devam vrindaaranya-rati-pradam

I offer my respectful obeisances to Shri Gopishvara, who is merciful Lord shiva himself. He removes  troubles and grants spiritual love in Vrindavana. (Shri Bhakti Ratnakar 5.3741)

In the song Vraja-dhama-mahimamrta, the following line is sung:

“jaya jaya gopīśwara vṛndāvana-mājh “

“All glories, all glories to Gopishvara shiva, who resides in the holy dhama of Vrindavana.”

Kameshvar Mahadeva at Kamyavan

Kama means “desire”. It is said that Kameshvara Mahadeva is the fulfiller of one’s desires.

Shrila Narahari Cakravarti has described Kameshvar Mahadeva in his Bhakti-ratnakara (5.841): See here the most powerful Shiva as Kameshvar.

Kameshvar Mahadeva resides in Kamyavan in the western part of Braj-mandala. According to the tradition in Braj, Vrishabhanu Maharaja worshipped Kameshvar to get a daughter. He already had a son, Shridama but now, he wanted a daughter. Kameshvar granted his desire and he obtained Shrimati Radharani as is daughter.

Chakaleshvar Mahadeva at Govardhan Hill

On the northern bank of Manasi Ganga, by Govardhan hill is a group of five Shiva-lingas that are famous by the name Chakaleshvar Mahadeva. These five Shiva-lingas are considered to be Lord Shiva’s five faces. They protect the area of Govardhan. This part of Manasi Ganga is known as Chakra-tirtha and because he stays at this place, this shiva-linga was originally known as Chakareshvara, but now he is known as Chakaleshvara. It is said that this place is called Chakra-tirtha because when Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill, He requested the Sudarshana Chakra to appear above the mountain to dry up all the rain coming down on Govardhana, so that the Vrajavasis standing underneath would not drown. After Indra withdrew the Samvartaka clouds that he had sent to destroy Vraja, and the danger was over, Sudarshana requested Krishna to give him a place to rest. Krishna gave him this place on the northern bank of Manasi Ganga.

The present temple of Chakaleshvara Mahadeva is recent; the original one was destroyed by the Muslims. However, the deities here are very old and are said to have been installed by Krishna’s great-grandson Vajranabha.

Nandeshvar Mahadeva at Nandagaon

The palace of Nanda Maharaja is situated atop Nandeshvar hill in Nandagaon. This hill is a form of Lord Shiva, who performed tapasya for several thousands of years to enter into the Lord Krishna’s pastimes in Vraja. When the Lord was pleased with him Shiva asked for a boon of getting a chance to witness the Vraja pastimes of Lord Krishna by becoming a hill or a stone. Reciprocating with this desire, Lord Krishna granted him this form in Nandagaon.

Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura writes in Vraja-riti-cintamani (1.15):

The devotees declare that Nandisvara hill, the form of Lord Shiva now shining as Nanda Maharaja’s capital, is an endlessly beautiful crown decorating Vrindavan. Lord Shiva has stayed at Nandagaon in the form of Nandeshvara Mahadeva and even today, the carnamrta and maha-prasada of Lord Krishna is first offered to him.

The post Lord Shiva serving Braj Bhumi in different ways appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

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darsan-shri-banke-bihari-ji-vrindavan.jpgVrindavan, 01 December 2019

Bihar Panchami, the appearance day of Shri Banke Bihari was celebrated in Vrindavan today. It was on this day, the 'panchami tithi of Margashirsha Maas' in (VS) 1563 that the incarnation of Lalita Sakhi, Swami Haridas, made the divine couple to manifest in Nidhivan as a result of his intense devotion.

Swami Haridas, often known as 'Sangeet Samrat', was the guru of the famous court poet Tansen. He is credited with a large body of devotional compositions, especially in the Dhrupad style.

It is said that whenever he began his 'raag seva' on the 'Tanpura', his closest disciple Vitthalvipul would hear the jingling of anklets in the groves. Puzzled by the strange sound, he asked Swamiji about its origins. The sweet incarnation of Lalita Sakhi told him to wait for the auspicious time when the secret will be revealed.

Back home, Vitthalvipul's father, Govind was growing anxious about his son's whereabouts. Just as he made up his mind to go in search of him, he was stopped by his father Ashudheer who sent Govind's brother Jagannath to Vrindavan instead.

On reaching Vrindavan, Jagannath saw Swami Haridas and Vitthalvipul lost in trance while remembering the sweet Lord. As soon as Swamiji came back to the material realm, he questioned him, "when are you coming to reside permanently in Vrindavan". Jagannath fell at the guru's feet and pleaded, "please do not ask me to go back." Swamiji smiled and said that he wanted eternal 'Vrindavan Vaas' for everyone so that they be freed from the cycle of birth and death.

Meanwhile Vitthalvipul was becoming more and more curious to know the source of the mysterious anklet sounds. Sometimes he would peep inside the 'nikunj' sitting at the entrance to which Swamiji used to sing for Shyama-Shyam. On one occasion he ventured inside the grove, only to be dejected by the darkness he encountered there. He would often ask his uncle about the mystery.  Jagannath instructed him to wait patiently for Swamiji to reveal his 

Then one day Swami Haridas called Vitthalvipul and asked him, "do you know whose birthday is it today?" Seeing him confused he added, "it's good to not know. It is your birthday, and I want to gift you something today." Vitthalvipul humbly replied that his only wish was to know the secret of Swamiji's nikunj lila and have a glimpse of his beloved Shyama Kunjbihariji. Haridasji smiled and said, "This is exactly what I want to give you." Vitthalvipul became ecstatic listening to his guru's sweet words.

Lifting the 'Taanpura', Swamiji closed his eyes. As soon as he started singing, the grove filled with mystical blue-golden light in which appeared the smiling divine couple of Shyama Kunjbihari. Startled, Swamiji halted his singing. When Shyamaji exclaimed "Lalite", he replied, "Forgive me Kishori ji, I was enraptured by your brilliance." Bihari ji chimed in, "Now we will stay here in this form."

Overwhelmed with emotions, Swamiji asked him in a choked voice, "…but how will you be worshipped outside the grove." "You just have to worship me with love," replied Shri Nikunjbihari.

Understanding his will, Swamiji requested him thus, "Oh Lord, the radiance of this form of yours is too intense and wondrous for our eyes that are conditioned by material existence to bear. Please have mercy on us and merge into each other like the raincloud and lightning are one." Granting his wish, the divine forms united, appearing as Shri Banke Bihari, and entire Nidhivan began resounding with chants of 'Banke Bihari lal ki Jai'.

Swami Haridas continued his seva for the 'unmanifest' forms of Shyama-Shyam in the 'nikunj' and also that of the manifested deity of Shri Banke Bihari. Whatever seva he offered for one, was simultaneously realised for the other as well. After sometime Swamiji entrusted the seva of Shri Banke Bihari Lal to Jagannath and his sons. He laid down the rules which included three 'Aartis'. Sitting besides the deity's seat (Gaddi), he would sing the ragas during the seva.

According to the order of service decided by Swami Haridas, 'Shrigaar' for Shyamaji's Gaddi was done before that of Bihariji. One day when Jagannath was fully engrossed in the seva, She appeared and draped Her 'chunri' (stole) on his head. Jagannath became anxious and thought, "Oh what an offence I have committed", but the golden goddess told him to stay like that. Jagnnath never took the 'chunri' off his head after being graced by Shri Radha thus.

Of Jagannath's three sons, Gopinath was in charge of  Shrigaar Seva, Meghshyam of Rajbhog Seva and Muraridas of Shayan Bhog Seva. Megshyam's second son (out of four) Biharidas was fortunate to be graced with the close association of Swami Haridas. Towards the end of his mortal play, Swamiji shared many secrets related to the lilas of 'Priyalal' with him. Entrusting the seva of his 'unmanifest' nikunj Shyama-Shyam to Biharidas, He finally entered 'nitya lila'.

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krishna-and-radha-playing-pachisi-1024x682.jpgVrindavan, 26 October 2019

Of the many festivals that are celebrated during the holy month of Kartik, Deepawali is considered most special. Although there are various Puranic legends and folklores associated with it, Diwali in Braj has its own distinct flavour that can be experienced in the many fascinating rituals and traditions that are observed in the devalayas of Shri Dham.

One such interesting ritual associated with the occasion is the Game of Dice or ‘Choupar’ that is played between Radharani and Shri Krishna. It is the main attraction for devotees and visitors to Braj on Diwali evening.

The divine couple looks every bit royal seated in specially made silver mansions that are embellished with precious gems. A ‘choupad’ is spread out in front of them with two temple goswamis/sevayats playing the game on behalf of Thakur ji and Shri Radha. The dice is rolled and the game commences. While individual parlays are won and lost, the final victory, as a rule, goes to Radharani!

The ‘padas’ (verses) related to Diwali and ‘chopar’ are a part of Braj’s oral and written history/literature found in the works of Mahakavi Surdas and other rasik saints such as Hariram Vyas, Nagaridas, Dhruvdas, and Chacha Hit Vrindavan Das.

Describing the alluring pastimes of the Lord playing the game of dice, Shri Govindswamiji writes…

Hatri baithe Shri Gopal
Ratan jadit ki hatri bani hai
Motin jhalari param rasaal

Verses such as the above have inspired many miniature paintings in Kishangarh, Jaipur, Bundi and Guler style. In some of these paintings Shri Radha-Krishna are depicted lighting lamps and enjoying fireworks along with the sakhis.

This article is based on a Facebook Post by Shri Laxmi Narayan Tiwari, Founder Secretary- Braj Culture Research Institute, Goda Vihar, Vrindavan.
 

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635RKDiwali_1.jpg21.10.2019

Devotees take a midnight dip in the sacred waters of Radha Kund on this day to obtain eternal 'Prema-bhakti'.

Bahulashtami (also known as Ahoi Ashtami), which falls on the eighth day of the ‘Krishna Paksha' (dark for fortnight) of the holy month of ‘Kartik' is celebrated in Braj-Vrindavan as the appearance day of Shri Radha Kund. The eternal glories of this divine ‘Kund' situated in the Govardhan foothills draw huge number of pilgrims every year for the festival.

It is believed that during the ‘Pushya Nakshatra' when both Shri Radha and Krishna Kunds appeared at midnight (around 11.45pm) on Bahulastami, the divine couple performs ‘Maharaas' with the ‘Ashtasakhis' in attendance even today. Devotees take bath in the sacred waters of Radha Kund at this hour to obtain eternal ‘Prema-Bhakti' or loving devotional services of Shri Radha-Krishna. Married women who want to be blessed with a son observe a ‘nirjala vrat' through the day and bathe in the ‘Kund' at midnight as part of the rituals associated with the festival.

History and evolving traditions…

Before the appearance of the sacred water bodies, Radha Kund was known as Arith Vana after the demon Arishtasura whose roar was terrifying enough to cause miscarriages in pregnant women. To save Brajwasis from him Shri Krishna carried out the Arishtasura Vadh Lila which culminated with the appearance of Shri Radha and Shyam Kund for the fulfilment of both material and spiritual desires of devotees.

For years Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda were lost and no one knew exactly where they were located. When Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Vrindavana in 1515, he saw two fields under a shallow covering of water near Arith village, which were known as Kali Khet and Gauri Khet (black field and white field). Recognizing them as Krishna's dearest place of pastimes, he bathed there and experienced the ecstasy of divine ‘Prema'.

After Gaudiya Sampradaya's Shri Raghunatha Das Goswami made Radha Kund his ‘Bhajan Sthali', many saints from other Sampradays also built their temples and ‘baithak' here.

The glories of Radha Kund have been described in the works of devotional poets and saints, such as Nagaridas's ‘Teethananda' and Kavi Jagtanandas' Braj Yatra related texts. Many kings including Maharaja Surajmal of Bharatpur and other royal personalities were regular visitors to Radha Kund. Apart from giving charity at this holiest of pilgrimages, they built many temples, ghats and kunjas (sacred groves) around it.

The legend behind appearance of Shri Radha Kund…

The story goes Kamsa sent the demon Arishta whose name means ill-luck, misfortune or disaster to kill Krishna. Arishta came to Govardhan in the form of a bull while Krishna was grazing his cows. Like the many other demons sent by wicked Kamsa, Arishta also met the same fate.

After he had killed Arishta, Krishna came as usual to meet Radha and her sakhis to enjoy his pastimes with them. However, being provoked by Lalita and the others, Radharani said she could have nothing to do with him, as he had become impure from the act of killing a bull. The bull, after all, is the very symbol of dharma. When Krishna asked what he could do to be free of his sin, she said that nothing short of bathing in all the seven sacred rivers would be effective.

Showing off for his beloved, Krishna pushed his heel into the ground and made a large depression. Then he called all sacred rivers that appeared in their personified forms and filled it to make a beautiful bathing pond which came to be known as Shyama Kund after Shri Krishna took his purifying dip in it. After bathing, Krishna began to tease the gopis, “Now that I have bathed in the holy waters of Shyama Kund, I am free from any fault, but I am afraid that because you sided with Arishtasura, you have become too impure for me to touch. You are going to have to do something to counteract your fault.”

With that, the Radha and the gopis became a little arrogant and said, “You have your kund, so we will have ours. Our Radha is no less powerful than you!” Then, marking the huge cavity created by the bull's hooves on the western side of Shyam Kund, they decided to make her Kund there. They broke their bangles to make tools for digging and began to make their own reservoir.

Within 48 minutes, Radha and her friends were done; the pool was ready but there was no water in it. Krishna and his friends watched and laughed at the Gopis' predicament. Nevertheless, Krishna generously offered to fill Radha's kund with water from his tank, but Radha and the Gopis, still proud, refused.

Lalita then said, “Why don't we form a bucket chain to the Manasi Ganga and fill it up with water from there?” And so this is what they did.

Then, on Krishna's order, all the holy tirthas who had come to fill Shyam Kund appeared and offered choice praises and obeisance unto Shri Radhika. Being satisfied with their worship, Radharani gave them permission to enter into her kund. And so Krishna broke the dam that separated the two ponds and their waters merged.

Hearing about the appearance of Radha Kund, Yogamaya Paurnamasi Devi called Vrinda Devi and instructed her to plant various trees and vines on all four banks of the kundas. According to her own wish, Vrinda Devi also constructed jewelled ghats, i.e., steps leading down to the water, in order to facilitate Radha and Krishna's pastimes. She arranged for beautiful kunjas to be laid out with different kinds of trees, vines and flowers. These kunjas were assigned to Shrimati Radharani's eight principal sakhis, the ‘Ashtasakhis'. On both sides of each Ghat she had charming wish-yielding Kalpa Vriksha trees planted. Singing male and female parrots, pigeons, cuckoos and peacocks are always sitting on the branches of these trees, and the kundas are filled with golden, yellow, green, red, blue and white lotus flowers.

This Shri Radha Kund is the place where Shri Shri Radha Madhava have their most confidential eternal midday pastimes, as described at great length in the Govinda Lilamrita and other such texts. Besides playing their water sports here, they swing, play at pash khela, drink mead and have their noontime meal, visiting the kunjas of the sakhis which encircle the kund.

 

 

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One day in Goloka Vrindavana, Shyam sat alone under the shade of a beautiful flowering kadamba tree that was filling the entire forest with a sweet fragrance reminiscent of Radharani. Becoming absorbed in vivid memories of His sweet beloved, Krishna spontaneously began glorifying Radha with the choicest words full of love.

Brilliant green parrots gathered in the branches, curious innocent deer collected nearby, and swans floated in the peaceful waters of the Yamuna. All were stunned in bliss and spellbound in amazement to hear what Shyam was saying.

Contemplating within Himself, –vichar –antare 238,

Krishna said:

cin-maya –purna -tattva, radhika –prem –unmatta

"I am full of transcendental consciousness and spiritual truth, but Radhika’s love completely maddens Me." 122

na –jani –radha –prema –bal, kare -sarvada -vihval

"What is that power of Radha’s love by which Radha always overwhelms Me?" 123

Everywhere, everyone says I am the adi-guru, jagat-guru, spiritual master of the universe. But now I know the real truth is this:

radhikara –prem –guru, ami –shishya –nat
ama –nana –nrtye, nachaya -udbhat

"Radhika’s prem is MY GURU. I am Her dancing disciple. Radha’s sweet love makes Me dance in many wonderful ways." 124

radha –prem –vibhu, 

kshane –kshane –baday –sadai

"Although Radha’s love is all-pervading, it increases at every second." 128

While Shyam was praising His beloved Priya, He suddenly remembered Her divine form and how Radhika’s rupa, gandha, shabdha, rasa, sparsha and vritti completely attract and captivate all His senses of seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching and thinking.

Krishna continues speaking: "Ten million Cupids are conquered by My matchless, unsurpassed sweet beauty. But My eyes find the greatest happiness in seeing Radha." 242-3

vamshi –gitakarshay –tri -bhuvan
radha –vacane –hare -shravan

"My flute song attracts the three worlds. But Radha’s voice fully enchants My ears." 244

amara –gandha –jagat –sugandha.
chitta –prana –hara, radha –anga –gandha

"The fragrance of My body fills the universe with sweet aromas. But the naturally sweet scent of Sriji’s limbs fully enthralls My mind and heart." 245

amara –rasa -jagat -sarasa

radhara –adhara –ras –kar –vasha

"Although My rasas fill the world with sweetness, I am totally controlled and subjugated by the sweet taste of Radha’s lips." 246

amara –sparsha –kotindu -shital
radhika –sparsha –amasushital

"Although My touch is cooler than ten million moons, I am completely refreshed by the cooling caress of Kishori" 247

jagat -sukha –hetu, radha – rupa -jivatu

"Although I am the cause of happiness in the world, Radha’s sweet beauty is My life and soul." 248

anya –sanga –yata –sukha –pai, radha -sukha –shata -adhikai

"I get a hundred times more happiness from meeting Radha than from anyone else." 258

Somehow by divine arrangement, that very Queen of Shyam’s heart suddenly appeared at that lonely spot beside the Yamuna. Seizing the opportunity to flatter the cherished treasure of His heart, Gopinatha said:

"O Devi! Your divinely attractive body is the source of all beauty.

O Sulochana, Your radiant cherry-red lips are softer than the sense of immortal sweetness.

O Pranapriya! The effulgent orb of Your perfectly shaped face bears the aroma of a lotus.

O Radha! Your heart-touching, honey sweet words silence the soothing warbling of the cuckoo.

O Sriji! Your shapely golden limbs are cooler than sandalwood.

Actually, O Shyamaa! Each and every one of My senses floods with bliss whenever I am with You, who are the abode of the most attractive and sensational qualities."

Verses numbered above are from "Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta" adi-lila, chapter four.

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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index_1_4582822_835x547-m-750x491.jpgBarsana, 19-09-2019

Venerated Braj saint and Padma Shri Ramesh Baba’s health has been deteriorating since the past one week. Respecting Baba’s vow of not leaving Braj, all facilities required for his treatment have been set up at Barsana’s Maan Mandir where doctors from Bhakti Vedanta Vridavan and Delhi are taking care of him.

84-year-old Ramesh Baba had been keeping unwell since the last 2-3 months, but last week his health condition became serious due to an infection which led to fluid build up in his lungs. Baba was immediately rushed to Mathura’s Nayati Hospital, but he refused to get admitted. Hence all facilities for his treatment were set up within the Maan Mandir premises.

At present, not even his disciples are allowed to meet him. Shri Radhakant Shastri said that he is responding to the treatment, and will hopefully recover soon.

Although Ramesh Baba was born in Prayagraj, he has never been out of Braj since he came here 66 years ago in 1953. He considers all Brajwasis as emanations of Shri Radha-Krishna. Dedicating his life to ‘Dham and Gau Seva’, Baba worked tirelessly for environmental and cow protection in Braj. He was honoured with Padma Shri – one of India’s highest civilian honours –earlier this year.

While other recipients from across the country travelled to Delhi to receive the award from the President in March, Babaji was felicitated by Shri Shailja Kant Misra at a private ceremony held in his ashram on May 17 as he refused to leave Braj.

Often referred to as the ‘saint who uplifts Braj’, he helped rescue many Braj pilgrimage places from dacoits and mining activities. He has also been at the forefront of the movement to save Yamuna. Through Baba’s efforts, the foundation stone for Mataji Goshala was laid in 2007. Today, around forty thousand cows are being served in this Goshala which is also famous for running Asia’s biggest plant generating gas and electricity from cow dung. 

 

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