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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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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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Radha through Krishna’s eyes

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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4FEhy0YXl5Y.jpgTo celebrate Shri Krishna’s Janmotsava every year, King Vrishabhanu, Rani Kirtida, Radharani and their whole family stay four days in Nanda Baba’s palace (Bhadra Krishna 7-10th).

Two weeks later, Nanda Maharaj, Yashoda Maa, Krishna and family come to Barsana and stay three days in King Vrishabhanu’s palace to celebrate Srimati Radhika’s birthday. From the first to the 8th day of the bright half of Bhadra month, King Vrishabhanu elaborately decorates all the homes and streets in Barsana in preparation for Radha’s appearance. Musicians and drummers purify the atmosphere with a continuous flow of auspicious songs and ragas.

Two days before Radhashtami, Vrishabhanu Maharaj sends Shridham to invite Nanda Baba and family to come honor Shri Radha’s birthday. On the 7th morning, Nanda Baba, Shri Krishna and Their family come to Barsana in bullock carts, palanquins and by walking. Kirtidarani and Vrishabhanu Maharaj warmly greet them, arrange their rooms and feed them nicely.

Shri Radha, Lalita-sakhi, Vishakha-sakhi and other gopi yutheshvaris cook rice, puris, sabjis and kheer, which is offered to Bhagavan Narayana and then served out to all the guests.  Shri Radhika and the gopis lovingly quarrel over serving first. Yashoda pacifies everyone by making different lines with a different sakhi serving each one. After eating, everyone rests in their guestrooms.

As per the usual asta-kaliya lila schedule, Shri Radha cooks something for Krishna. Then carrying these items, Srimati and all go to Radha-kunda, meet Krishna, and enjoy Their midday pastimes.

Radhashtami

In the morning of Radhashtami, everyone watches Radhika’s grand abhishek performed by Gargi, daughter of the kula-guru Garga Rishi. Musicians play vinas, dolaks, mrdangas, dundubhis and pakhowajas. Paurnamasi blesses Radha with different mantras. After bathing Radha with herbal water, panchamrit and gavya, a hundred pots of water, and a huge conch showering water through the 1,000 jal patra, Shri Radha is anointed with fragrant oils, musk, sandal and camphor and dressed.

The manjaris offer a beautiful arati to Radharani. Yashoda Maa offers blessings and wonderful gifts of costly clothes and ornaments to both Shri Radha and Her yutheshvaris. Vrishabhanu Maharaj and Radharani donate ornamented cows and calves. Then Radhika and Her sakhis take some prasada and then start cooking a feast.

In jest, Yashoda Maa says to Kirtida, “Sakhi, you are so hard hearted that you make tender Radha cook so much!” Kirtida replies, “Because our Radhika got a unique boon to cook nectar-filled health foods, my Prabhu Vrishabhanu wants you and Nanda Maharaja to savor Radha’s delicious preparations today. After Radha and the sakhis finish cooking, Yashodarani blesses them all and has some manjaris fan Radha to remove Her fatigue.

The Yogurt Game

Later everyone proceeds to the bank of Bhanukhor, King Vrishabhanu’s bathing tank on the east side of Barsana hill. Then, like on Janmashtami, everyone starts playing Dadhikada, a game of throwing yogurt, butter and milk on each other. Afterwards, according to age and gender, everyone bathes in different corners of Bhanukhor, eats and takes rest.

Later, Shri Radha goes to Radha-kunda and enjoys all Her usual pastimes with Krishna. The only exception to Their daily asta-kaliya lila flow is that, for these three days, Shri Krishna is staying with Radha in Her own palace in Barsana!

Naumi Lilas

The next morning in Barsana, Radha-Krishna and the gopis bathe, eat and go out to perform Their usual morning pastimes. At noontime, Radha-Krishna and the gopis go to Mor Kutir in Barsana and Krishna entertains the gopikas by dancing like a peacock. Then Radha and Krishna throw laddus to all the sakhis. Later, at midday, Radha and Krishna dance the Rasa in a secret place in Gehvara, Radha’s personal garden/forest just near Her father’s palace.

In the late afternoon everyone returns to the palace. At that time, Shri Krishna, Nanda Baba and his family take leave from King Vrishabhanu and return home to Nandagram in the topmost bliss.

Shri Radha’s three day janmotsava ki jai!

Jai Jai Shri Radhe!

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swing-darshan-768x506.jpgQuestion to Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji: In Bhakti Rāsāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.24, Śri Rupa Gosvāmipāda quotes SB 3.25.26 about Śri Kṛṣṇa’s beauty, and how a bhakta can never desire any sort of mukti after realizing Śri Kṛṣṇa‘s sweetness.
This makes perfect sense to me. I do have a doubt about the experiences of jñāna-mārga saints, especially those from Maharashtra who had darśana of Śri Kṛṣṇa but remained jñānis. Here are a few examples:

1. Nāmadeva Mahārāja, born in the 13th century, is said to have had darshan of Lord Viṭṭhala and Rukmiṇi Devi whenever he desired. The popular story is that Lord Viṭṭhala told him that he (Nāmadeva) did not really understand Him, and that he should surrender to jñāna-mārga guru, Śri Visoba Khechar, to realize nirguṇa-nirākāra Brahman. (I personally have zero faith in this story. It is suggested that writings from this period have been lost or corrupted).

2. G.K. Pradhan talks about meeting Shankar Maharaj, a realized avadhuta from the Dattatreya sampradaya, and asking him, “Did Bhagavad Gītā really happen?” In reply, Shankar Maharaj put his hand on his head, and G. K. Pradhan suddenly found himself in the middle of a huge battlefield, seeing Śri Kṛṣṇa speaking Gītā to Arjuna. G.K. Pradhan remained a jñāni aspiring for brahma-jñāna.

3. Mama Deshpande, a saintly person in the Dattatreya sampradaya, is said to have had darśana of rāsa līlā and then fainted. But he did not become Vaiṣṇava.

One may argue that great jñāna-yogīs and brahma-jñānis had darśana of Śri Hari and remained in jñāna-mārga, thus realizing that nirguṇa-nirākāra-Brahman is higher than realization of the personal form of Śri Kṛṣṇa.

Such arguments have no support in Bhagavad Gītā; the Bhāgavata, right from the very beginning (ātmā-rāmas ca munayo), refutes them. But how am I to understand the examples cited by the jñānis about realized yogīs having darśana of Śri Kṛṣṇa and still aspiring for brahma-sāyujya? Why would Śri Kṛṣṇa manifest Himself before them? Are these lies or some form of ābhāsa? Or is the form seen an illusory form of Śri Kṛṣṇa (like the asura who created an illusion of killing Śri Kṛṣṇa’s father Vāsudeva while fighting Śri Kṛṣṇa)?

Having read Tattva Sandarbha, I am not very disturbed by this doubt, The Bhāgavata is the pramāṇa and anecdotal evidence cannot be accepted as a valid source of spiritual knowledge. But it would be helpful to resolve/reconcile these stories.

Answer: The answer lies in the verse itself: in BRS 1.2.24, Śri Rupa Goswamipāda quotes SB 3.25.26 about Śri Kṛṣṇa’s beauty and how a bhakta can never desire any sort of mukti after realizing Śri Kṛṣṇa‘s sweetness.

“Realizing Śri Kṛṣṇa‘s sweetness” is the important part of this verse. These people whom you have mentioned saw Kṛṣṇa but did not realize His sweetness. They only saw Him according to their concept in jñāna-mārga but not as love personified. Kaṁsa also saw Kṛṣṇa but he saw Him as death personified, mṛtyur bhojapateḥ (SB 10.43.17)

Many people had darśana of Kṛṣṇa but saw him as per their bhāva. The bhāva of the Maharastrian saints was that Kṛṣṇa is the personified Brahman. So they saw Him as such. Therefore, they did not give up their concept of jñāna-mārga. Rather, their bhāva was confirmed. Kṛṣṇa says—ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham: “I reciprocate according to the bhāva of persons who approach Me.”

____________________________________________________________________________

After extensively studying Vedic scripture, Shri Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji realized the necessity of establishing a proper facility to protect and spread this ancient knowledge. With the support of his family and guru, Shri Haridas Shastri Maharaj, Babaji founded the Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies, which focuses on translating and teaching rare religious texts. Babaji has been teaching Vedic philosophy to an international audience for several decades. Recently, he was invited to speak at Facebook headquarters.

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Baba-Anand-Gopal-Das.jpgDelhi/Mathura, 27.08.2019

Anandgopal Das has filed an affidavit in the National Green Tribunal relating to concerns for his safety after a video with death threats started circulating on social media.

Anandgopal Das and the Giriraj Sanrakshan Sansthan are active participants in the battle to protect Govardhan, however, now the activist feels that his life is in danger by those who dislike his work of drawing attention to the issue.

The affidavit also mentions the lack of progress on the 17 points that the NGT has drawn up for Govardhan protection and development.

Govardhan faces severe traffic problems, especially on weekends and festival days, making it almost impossible for residents to reach their own homes, however, work on the long awaited ring road is moving at a snail’s pace.

Furthermore, according to Anandgopal Das, police deliberately harass residents by stopping their vehicles on the Parikrama and the anger gets turned against him. According to him, instead of working for the protection of Govardhan, authorities are backpedalling and motivating anti-social elements against him.

The affidavit says that the needs of residents and basic services like sewage are overlooked by the administration, however, authorities are willing to spend on building a guest house in Govardhan, at the cost of Crores of Rupees.

The threatening videos are in contempt of court. The evidence and affidavit will be heard in the tribunal in the next hearing, on 28th August.

 

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In Vrindavan, especially at this time of year when the earth is cleansed by plentiful rain and greenery, we get the opportunity to experience shanaih-punanti-kalena, the process of gradual purification.

devah-kshetrani-tirthani
darshan-sparshan-arcanaih
shanaih-punanti-kalena
tad-apy-arhat-tama-ikshaya

Brajvasismad Bhagavatam (10.86.52).

“Gradually over time, one can become pure and religious by seeing, touching, and worshipping various kshetras, tirthas, (sacred places and water bodies), and Devatas.”

This verse marks the very starting line of Bhakti (devotional life). The starting point is when we realize that we need to be purified. Only then do we get the chance to learn and progress. We can remain oblivious in a world of sense gratification, many chose to, but, the extent we get purified is the extent that we will be able to perceive Divine Will.

Hopefully, the desire to be purified is the reason that people come to Vrindavan or go to the temple anywhere. If we keep the desire to be purified in mind it is sure to happen quicker. And, as the purification takes place, it becomes apparent as our mind becomes open to the intense experience of the Extreme Beauty (Rasa) of Shri Krishna’s Lilas in Vrindavan.

Screenshot-203-207x300.png← Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami Maharaj

As Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami Maharaj said in his introductory speech to the Rasa Lila program at Jai Singh Ghera on Hariyaliteej – the Rasa will begin when Swamiji creates the ‘Swar ka Jhula’ (musical swing). If we are open to it, we can perceive Extreme Beauty in many places – especially in nature, temples, devotional art/music, and the people who have dedicated themselves to preaching, devotional service, music and art.

Extreme Beauty, or Rasa, is abundant, especially in Vrindavan. There is not one grain of dirt on earth that is not spiritual, it is all His energy. And, in Vrindavan even the dirt sparkles, especially after the rain…

The Yamuna gives inspiration by moving steadily in one direction, despite all the pollution and insult, forbearing the slings and arrows of the world, remaining steadily on Her path.

67645059_2124902317809863_50636037056731Radharaman Jhula 2019 →

In many Braj temples, Jhulan Yatra continues for several weeks after Hariyaliteej. The Deities enjoy Their Pastime of swinging and the Brajvasis swing along with them in heart and mind.

We may be on the swing of the ups and downs of material life, happiness and sadness, success and failure…but it will stop swinging so wildly when we perceive Radha and Krishna’s swing.

Radha and Krishna’s swing is the swing of the perception of Extreme Beauty (Rasa); as it becomes too intense, the swing reaches its crescendo then glides down as Radha and Krishna go back to their friends and Their next meeting starts getting planned.

A108-AI

krishna-janm-festival1.jpgMathura, 2019-08-08

The Yogi government has planned a grand three-day Janmashtami celebration in Mathura on August 23, 24 and 25 this year. The decision was taken on Sunday during a meeting chaired by Chaudhary Laxmi Narayan Singh, UP minister for dairy, culture and ‘Dharmarth Karya’.

For the first time in Braj, conch shells and bells will be sounded at midnight (12.05 am) in all temples including Shri Krishna Janmasthan, mathas and homes simultaneously. The culture minister gave special instructions to assemble students of Sanskrit Vidyalayas in large numbers for this particular event.

The meeting was attended by tourism secretary Jitendra Kumar, BTVP vice-chairman Shailja Kant Misra, DM Sarvagya Ram Mishra, senior police inspector Shalabh Mathur, CDO Ram Niwas, MVDA vice-chairman Nagendra Singh, district officer (admin) Satish Kumar, SP (traffic) Brajesh Kumar, SP (security) Gyanendra Kumar, Asst. Director (tourism) Priti Singh, Asst. Director (entertainment tax) Amit Singh, tourism officer DK Sharma and others.

Through this initiative, the government intends to make Braj’s Janmashtami celebrations famous in national and international circuits. Various religious and cultural programs will be held on the 12 acre land adjacent to Vaishno Devi Mandir in Chhatikara, Vrindavan. Prominent among these will be one-hour discourses by renowned religious preachers and ‘Bhajan Sandhyas’ (congregational chanting) every evening for three days.

Temples and surrounding areas (including houses) will be brightly lit by respective temple managements. Important roads and Ghats will also be decorated with lights and massive temporary gates will be constructed at entry points to Mathura by the Vikas Parishad. The Cultural ministry will organise cultural events at popular locations.

 

A108-AI
Vrindavan, 02.08.2019

Question:
 In SB 1.5.15, Nārada Muni, the father of all preachers of Bhāgavata-dharma, is heavily condemning all the works of Vyāsadeva because they encourage people to engage in sense gratification. In SB 11.3.26, one of the Nava-yogendras instructs Nimi Maharaja to have faith in the Bhāgavata and not to criticize other śāstras. 

Can you give an explanation by which we can reconcile both of these statements of the Bhāgavatam?

Answer: When we read a book or hear a person, we need to understand the intention of the author or speaker and not just take their words at face value and misunderstand them. What is important is what the author or speaker is trying to convey and not what you understand from it, disregarding their intention. Keeping this in mind, if you read the fifth chapter of the First Canto, which is a dialogue between Nārada and Śrī Vyāsa, then you can see that Vyāsa himself has asked Nārada to find out the cause of the former’s  dissatisfaction even after writing various scriptures for the welfare of humanity (SB 1.5.2 –1.5.7).

Nārada gives a lengthy response, and the verse you mentioned is one of them. From the context, we understand that Nārada’s intention is not to criticize the scriptures other than Bhāgavata Purāṇa, but to inform Vyāsa of the cause of his dissatisfaction. If Vyāsa had not asked him this question, Nārada would have had no reason to speak in this way. If you read chapters Five and Six of the First Canto, which are mostly the words of Nārada, then you will see that the essence of his talk is in speaking about the essence of pure devotion, not criticizing other scriptures. To stress the importance of pure devotion, he has to point out to Vyāsa that by writing these other books, he has neglected this fact and that is why he is feeling dissatisfied. It is like a doctor who may speak in a negative manner about sweets to a diabetic patient. His intention is not to criticize sweets but to stress to his patients to avoid eating sweets. 

Question: Nārada Muni chastised Vyāsadeva (in 1.5.9) that even though he has described devotional service in his works, Vyāsadeva had only described devotional service as a means to obtain other goals such as sense gratification or mukti. 

But we see that the same Nārada Muni encourages Dhruva Maharāja to perform bhakti to fulfill his material ambition. This is exactly one of the reasons Nārada chastised Vyāsa.

How do we understand this? Why did Nārada chastise Vyāsadeva, for he himself is preaching, “perform bhakti to fulfill one’s material ambition or sense gratification”?.

Answer: You are making the same mistake as in your previous question. First of all, your question itself is wrong.

Nārada did not chastise Vyāsadeva for recommending bhakti as a means to fulfill his material ambition or sense gratification. You yourself have quoted SB 1.5.15, in which Nārada is referring to dharma and not to bhakti. Please read carefully and do not impose your understanding incorrectly unto Nārada. 

Furthermore, assuming you were right, then Nārada still is not wrong when prescribing bhakti to Dhruva Maharaja to fulfill his material ambition. If you read the 8th Chapter of Canto 4, beginning from verse 27, you will understand it is not that Nārada is prescribing bhakti to Dhruva without any reason. He sees that Dhruva was bent upon getting a kingdom superior to his father (SB 4.8.37). Seeing his determination, Nārada explained to Dhruva the greatness of bhakti and said that one can attain anything through bhakti (SB 4.8.41). He knows that Dhruva will engage in bhakti and then by the power of bhakti he will become purified of his material desire. So Nārada’s intention was not to preach to Dhruva to fulfill his material desire but there was no point in preaching to Dhruva about the path of pure devotion. He would not have accepted it because he was too determined to take revenge for the insult he got from his stepmother. An expert teacher knows how to bring his subject to pure devotion and not just be a fanatic, singing the same song to everybody. Like an expert doctor, he knows what medicine and what dose can be helpful for a patient. If you give a heavy dose of medicine to a patient which he cannot assimilate into his system, then instead of helping him, you are bringing more harm. Kṛṣṇa gives a similar advice in the Gītā, na buddhi-bhedaṁjanayed (“One should not unsettle the minds of unaware people,” 3.26)

*

Question: When Śukadeva Gosvāmī spoke Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to Parīkṣit Maharāja, he was just 16 years old according to SB 1.19.26. It is described in SB 1.9.8 that Śukadeva Gosvāmī was present when Bhīṣmadeva was passing away. How can Śukadeva Gosvāmī be present at that time because Pāṇḍavas ruled for 40/50 years after the war and then Parīkṣit Maharāja ruled for even more time. But when Śukadeva Gosvāmī spoke Śrimad Bhāgavatam to Parikṣit, he was described as 16 years old.

Answer: When it is said that he was 16 years old (SB 1.19.26), it means that he appeared like a 16-year old, although he was much senior in age. This has an implied meaning (vyan͂janā-vṛtti) that he was beyond the influence of time and thus beyond the influence of material guṇas, and thus a liberated person. This has a further implied meaning, that having such characteristics he is free from the four human defects of bhrama, pramāda, karaṇā-pāṭava, vipralipsā (illusion, inadvertence, imperfect senses, and deceiving mentality).

This also implies that what Śukadeva Gosvāmī will speak in response to King Parīkṣit’s question is authoritative and should not be doubted. Śāstra teaches not only by direct statement but also through implied meaning. Indeed, implied meaning is the heart of kāvya (poetry). This is what creates rasa. You know that in the very beginning, the Bhāgavata has been indicated as a book of rasa (SB 1.1.3), Kṛṣṇa is also described as nava-yauvana, a boy of fresh youth. This does not mean that he is only 16 years old. We know that He lived on earth for 125 years. 

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Mahant Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji

After extensively studying Vedic scripture, Shri Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji realized the urgent need to establish a proper facility to protect and spread this ancient knowledge. With the support of his family and guru, Shri Haridas Shastri Maharaj, Babaji founded the Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies, which focuses on translating and teaching rare religious texts. Babaji has been teaching Vedic philosophy to an international audience for several decades.  Recently, he was invited to speak at Facebook headquarters.

 

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