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Shri Vraja Dhama

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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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A108-AI

Vrindavan: The highest paradise

VrindavanThe following is taken from a chapter of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies (ed. J.S. Hawley). OBL Kapoor wrote several important books documenting Vaishnavism in Vrindavan and is best known for his work The Saints of Braj.

Even though each dhama is infinite and all-pervading, the dhamas are said to be situated one above another. Situated above the mundane sphere, which is graded into fourteen worlds – the seven Lokas and seven Patalas – and beyond the River Viraja, is the Brahmaloka, or Siddhaloka, which is the redisence of all the freed (mukta) souls (Chaitanya caritamrta, Madhya 19.153).

Above the Brahmaloka is the para-vyoma,  where the infinite avataras, or partial manifestations of Krishna reside, and which is the support of infinite spiritual regions called Vaikunthas (Chaitanya caritamrta, Adi 15.5).

Above all these dhamas is Krishna loka (Krishna’s abode), which, according to the differences in Krishna’s pastimes (lilas) and associates (parikaras) appears in three different forms – as Dwarka, Mathura and Gokula (Chaitanya caritamrta, Adi 5.13). Goloka, the highest of the three, is also called Vrindavana because Vrindavana is the entral portion of Goloka.

The situation of the dhamas above or below each other should not, however, be taken in its literal sense. It actually implies their gradation according to their excellence (mahima). The excellence of a dhama depends on the degree to which it manifests the highest dhama, Vrindavana. Thus the excellence of Siddhaloka is greater than the excellence of the phenomenal world; the excellence of paravyomo is greater then the excellence of Siddhaloka; the eccellence of Krishnaloka is greater than the excellence of Goloka is greater then the excellence of all of the rest of Krishnaloka. The excellence of Vrindavana is the greatest of all.

In the Rg Veda (1.154.6) Vrindavan is described as the highest dhama (param padam) of Vishnu. The Bhagavatam also describes it as the highest dhama. In the Gita Krishna Himself describes it as “My highest dhama”. (BG, 8.21). It is also so described because it surpasses all other dhamas in grandeur (aisvarya) and sweetness (madhurya). But its peculiarity is that its sweetness completely its grandeur, so that everything here assumes a form sweet beyond expression.

Krishna does not appear here as God or even as a king, but as a cowherd boy with the crest of a peacock feather on His crown and a flute in His hand, eternally engaged in amorous pastimes with His with His consorts on the bank of the River Yamuna underneath the Kadamba trees and in the green groves – groves that are laden with sweet-smelling flowers, all of which breathe an atmosphere of freedom and sweetness most congenial to Him and His consorts.

It is therefore not possible to think of Krishna’s presence anywhere else. Krishna in Mathura and Dvaraka is not really the Krishna of Vindavan but His partial manifestation called Vasudeva. When Krishna is said to go out of Vrindavan, as for example, when He goes to Mathura at the invitation of Kamsa, it is really His partial manifestation Vasudeva who goes there, not Krishna Himself, who remains unmanifest during that period in His manifest pastimes (prakata lila) in Vrindavana.

The celestial Dvarka, Mathura and Gokula (Vrindavan) have their replicas on earth in the forms of the geographical Dvaraka, Mathura and Vrindavana, which are known as their prakata-prakasas, or manifest forms.

These appear as parts of the phenomenal world to our clouded vision, but are in essence identical to their celestial counter-parts. Here also Krishna is eternally present with Nanda, Yashoda and His other associates and performs His pastimes with them as in the celestial Dvaraka, Mathura and Vrindavana.

b2535680642cf97abf5b2e647fa5c02a-254x300If we could see them with spiritual eyes, they would without a doubt appear in their true form (Chaitanya caritamrta, Adi 5.20-21). Devotees who attain accomplishment in devotion (siddhavastha) are even today, in their present bodies, blessed with the vision of the divine pastimes of Krishna with His associates; such devotees need not be transported to any other abode or level of existence.

When, however, Krishna descends to these dhamas at the time of his manifest lila at the time of His manifest lila (prakata-prakasa), even those who are not devoted to Him can see Him and His pastimes. Such is the effect of the divine touch of Krishna with these dhamas, which otherwise appear phenomenal.

Besides the manifest forms of Krishnaloka, there is also an unmanifest form of it on earth that has the peculiar power of always remaining invisible; it remains on earth without touching it. Thus, there are two aprakata-prakasas unmanifest forms) of Krishnaloka. One is the Krishnaloka situated abouve the paravyoma, which is called by various names: Goloka, Gokula, Svetadvipa, Vrajaloka or Vrindavana. The other is the invisible Krishnaloka situated on earth, which is different from the prapancika, the phenomenal Krishnaloka visible to our material eyes and actually touching the earth. It is also called Goloka or Vraja.

Rupa Gosvami states in Laghu-bhagavatamrita (1.277.78) that Goloka is a majestic manifestation (vaibhava-prakasa) of Gokula, which is essentially sweet in appearance and therefore greater in excellence. As an instance of the majesty (vaibhava) of Goloka, he cites the Varah Purana, which says the Kadamba trees of Goloka are spread out majestically with their hundreds of branches, which is just in keeping with its aisvarya (opulence), while the Kadamba trees of Gokula are medium-sized, which is in keeping with its madhurya (sweetness).

A special reason why Gokula excels Goloka  in sweetness is that in Goloka Krishna is present eternally without birth, on account of which His pastimes in Goloka differ in certain respects from the sweet human aspect in which they reveal themselves in the phenomenal Gokula. Brahma-samhita describes the pastimes of Vrindavana as nara-lila (manlike pastimes) and those of Goloka as deva-lila (Godlike pastimes). This theory is supported by the rasa dance in Goloka, which Krishna in the Brhad-bhagavatamrta to have performed on the head of Kaliya Naga, the thousand headed cobra, although there is no mention of this in the Bhagavatam.

According to Jiva Gosvami also (Gopala-campu, Purva-khanda, 19), Goloka is the majestic manifestation of Vrindavana. He describes Vrindavana as the inner side (antar-mandala) of Goloka, and Goloka as the outer side (bahir-mandala) of Vrindavan. But they are not the outer and inner side of each other in the physical sense, for it is possible to see Goloka in Vrindavana (because Goloka is the majestic manifestation of Vrindavana) but not possible to see Vrindavan in Goloka (Krishna-sandarbha, 116).

According to Rupa and Jiva, (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Tika 1.4), Goloka can be attained by vaidhi (ritualistic) bhakt, but Vrindavana can be attained only by raganuga bhakti or bhakti flowing spontaneously like a current, disregarding the rules and regulations of ritualistic bhakti. This is a further indication of the difference between the two abodes.

Sanatana seems to differ from Rupa and Jiva in regard to both the relation between Goloka and Vrindavana and the meanso of their realization. According to him, Goloka (or rather the part of Goloka called Gokula) and the phenomenal Gokula or Vrindavana are identical (Brhad-bhagavatamrta 2.5.168).

In the Brhad-bhagavatamrta, Gopa Kumara sometimes stays in Goloka and sometimes in Vrindavana, without being able to make out any difference between them. According to him, both abodes can be attained only by spontaneous devotion and not by any other means.

Thus we may conclude that there is essentially no difference between Goloka and Gokula (Vrindavana). Goloka is a particular manifestation of Vrindavana in which sweetness predominates, but not to the extent to which it predominates in Vrindavan (Gokula).

Goloka is therefore called the majestic manifestation of Vrindavana. Vrindavana proper is attained by spontaneous devotion, whereas Goloka is attained by ritualistic methods. The greater the dominance of spontaneity, the fuller the realization of Goloka’s sweetness.

But when spontaneous devotion is pure, Goloka is realized in its highest aspect which displays sweetness fully and is called the inner side (antar-mandal) of Goloka.In this aspect, Goloka is identical with the phenomenal Vrindavan, and the sweetness displayed here is the same as that in the phenomenal Vrindavan, except for the difference caused by Sri Krishna’s always being present in Goloka as a young boy of ender age (nitya kishora), while in the phenomenal Vrindavan He takes birth and gradually attains boyhood.

The veracity of the claim that the phenomenal Vrindavan, which looks like any other part of the material world to our material eyes, is itself the spiritual Vrindavana, the highest abode, surpassing even Goloka in its excellence, may be questioned. But Sri Chaitanya and His followers are ever so emphatic in their statements about its transcendental character.

Sri Rupa Gosvami says that devotees who have ardent love for Krishna are even today blessed with a vision of His divine pastimes in this very Vrindavan.

Sanatana Goswami says that Vrindavan is here on earth and Krishna’s unmanifest pastimes are going on in it even now, but none except those to whom He and His devotees can see it. Prabodananda Sarsasvati describes how he actually sees this Vrindavana in its real form with all its transcendental beauty and excellence.

Oho sarvaparyati vimla-vistirna-madhurya-sphurac-candra-prayam sphurati mama vrindavanam idam

“Oh, this Vrindavana of mine, stationed above every other abode! How it shines near me like a big moon in all its resplendent beauty!” (Vrindavana mahimamrta 4.83)

No ground is left for any doubt that this very Vrindavan is the highest paradise, where Krishna eternally revels in His spiritual pastimes. Residing here, therefore, is considered one of the most important aspects of devotional service.

Prabodhananda says that if one takes shelter of Vrindavana with faith and devotion, he will be blessed with a vision of the rasa dance of Krishna with His consorts even if he does not perform any other regulative worship.

He concisely states his entire philosophy of Vrindavana in another verse, which says that to reside in Vrindavana is to perform the highest worship, to attain Vrindavana is to attain the highest end, and to realize Vrindavana is to realize the highest truth and the highest bliss. (Vrindavana mahamrta 17.33)

A108-AI

VARTA 4

Padmanabhdasji, a Brahman from Kannauja.

*****PART 1 *****

Padmanabhdasji used to sit on an elevated seat in his own home and read the scriptures for an income. He didn't need to go out to read, people came to him to listen.

Once, Shri Acharyaji came to Kannauj and Padmanabhdasji went to see him. Shri Acharyaji was giving a discourse on the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Padmanabhdasji had the realization that Shri Mahaprabhuji was indeed the Lord himself.

He took shelter in Shri Acharyaji and was given the first [name] initiation, and thereafter the second initiation through which he surrendered body, wealth, heart and soul to the Lord.

One day at the start of the afternoon and evening services [Uthapan] Shri Acharyaji was at Damodardasji Sambhalvare's house and he was reading his Tatvartha Nibandha, his commentary on the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Padmanabhdasji came there, bowed low to his Guru and sat down to listen. This is the sloka that they studied:

prayatnena saṘvahetuvivaṘjitaṀ
vṚthyaṘthaṀ naiva yunjīta prāṆaiḤ kaṆṬagatairapi
tadbhāve yathaiva syāta
tatha niṘvāhamacaret
trayāṆāṀ yena kenāpi
bhajana kṚṢṆamavāpnuyāt.

[The essential purport of this verse is that one should never use the Shrimad Bhagavatam and its reading as a way of earning wealth]

Padmanabhdasji took water in his hands and swore that he would never recite any scripture for money ever again. He took this vow in Shri Acharyaji's presence.

Hearing the oath, Shri Acharyaji asked him just how he  intended to support himself and his family, since he was a Brahmin. He suggested that he read the Mahabharat or other similar books. Padmnabhdasji interjected that he had taken a vow not to speak and so he would not, rather he would beg at the houses of his religious clients. He started to do this and they all respected him but then it came to his mind that, even after dedicating his life to being a Vaishnava, he had now stooped to begging.

‘This is not right', he thought. ‘I wear the sacred thread of a Brahmin and the kunti malas of  Vaishnava, so, this way of life is not appropriate for me'.

He vowed not to do this either. Shri Acharyaji again asked him, “What will you do now to earn a living?” Padmanabhdasji announced that he would trade in wood and bundles of sticks which he would collect himself. He continued this till the end of his life.

***Bhavaprakasha***

[In this lila, Padmanabhdasji is Shri Svaminiji's Sakhi Campakalata.]

When Shri Acharyaji saw Padmanabhdasji's enthusiasm to beg for a living he was very pleased and said that all Vaishnavas should be as determined as him. Some time later, all of Padmanabhdasji's family got initiated. Padmanabhdas then asked Shri Acharyaji what he should do, and the reply was, “Do service for the Lord. However, Padmanabhdasji told him” I have read the puranas, the Mahabharat and many other scriptures, but I still find them really hard to relate to and have full faith in the Form of Shri Krishna.

Maybe if I could actually see Him then my faith would become firm. Faith is a fine reward, it's what I seek.” Shri Acharyaji then invited him to go to Vraja with him, telling him that there he would show him Shri Krishna's Form. He took him to a place near Mahavan where Lord Krishna performs His playful pastimes.

Shri Acharyaji sat down on the other side of the bank of the river Yamunaji in a place named Karnaval. It was morning time when a large part of Shri Yamunajis banks collapsed and a huge Form of Shri Krishna as tall as a palm tree emerged and told Shri Acharyaji to perform His service. Shri Acharyaji addressed Him thus, “nowadays there is not a Vaishnava on earth who would be capable of serving You in this massive Form. If you really desire to be served then please make Your size into one which will fit into a persons lap. Shri Krishna's Form then became small enough that the top of His head came up to Shri Acharyajis chin when He was sitting in his lap.

On that Svarupa were visible the symbols of Shri Yamunaji, Shri Giriraji, the cowherd boys and maidens, cows, forest bowers and all of the places in the land of Vraja.

Shri Acharyaji gave Him the name Shri Mathuranathji. Then he asked Padmnabhdasji if all his wishes had come true. Padmanabhdasji was ecstatic and replied that everything had been made possible through Shri Mahaprabhuji's Grace alone. Shri Mahaprabhuji remarked that he should be totally satisfied with whatever he received and forthwith serve the Lord.

With his permission Padmanabhdasji took Shri Mathuranathji back with him to Kannauj where he served His Lord most lovingly. Padmanabhhasji thought to himself, “I used to beg, but then, having become  a Vaishnava, that seemed most inappropriate. Shri Acharyaji advised me to always be satisfied with whatever I am granted. The best state is not to have to do any gainful work but simply to worship Krishna.” So he kept to this way and served the Lord.

*****PART 2********

Once Shri Acharyaji was in Prayag and Padmanabhdasji was with him. A little way into the night he asked Padmanabhdasji to bring his wife to him from the other side of the river. He got up straight away and got ready to go.

Some other Vaishnavas who were sleeping there remarked that he must be mad to go out at that time of night, since all the boats were already tied up and boatmen all asleep in their homes. Padmanabhdasji was solely intent on fulfilling Shri Acharyaji's commands and knew that it would never be impossible to fulfill them.

Padmanabhdas ji got to the side of the river and looked around. Then a young boy appeared with a small boat. He asked Padmanabhdasji if he needed to go to the other side. “Yes” he replied! And the boy rowed him to the far bank. When they reached there the boy asked Padmanabhdasji if he would be needing to return and when he said yes, the boy said he would wait for him for some time but that he should try to be quick.

Padmanabhdasji collected Shri Akkaji and brought her back in that boat. When they had been dropped off at the river bank, Padmanabhdasji turned around but could no longer see the boy or the boat.

Shri Acharyaji told Padmanabhdasji to take rest. He went to the place where all the other Vaishnavas were sleeping. Some of them awoke and asked him where he had been and what he had been doing. When he told them about his journey to bring Shri Akkaji they reprimanded him that he had given a lot of trouble to the Lord. They even went to Shri Acharyaji and said the same thing but he set them straight by telling them that Padmanabhdasji had been acting on his orders alone and that they should not say anything to him.

***Bhavaprakasha***

This story shows us that a Vaishnava is not to be blamed if they trouble the Lord on behalf of the Guru. All is well if the Guru is pleased. That night was the appropriate time for Shri Gusainji to enter Si Akkajis womb. Shri Acharyaji had therefore ordered Padmanabhdasji to ferry her over and Shri Thakurji provided the boat. All of this was for the sake of Shri Gusainji's appearance which was of utmost importance.

This tale also shows Padmanabhdasji's unshakeable faith in his Guru and his determination to fulfill his teachers every last wish.

*******PART 3********

Once Shri Acharyaji was traveling from Gokul to Adel. A man of Kshtriya caste who was a trader accompanied him, bringing some goods with him. Shri Acharyaji arrived at Kannauj but the trader had fallen behind and thieves stole all his merchandise. Shri Acharyaji had already finished the preparations and offered them to Shri Thakurji when the merchant arrived there in tears. He asked Padmanabhdasji what Shri Acharyaji was doing. Padmanabhdasji replied that he would by now be taking his prasad. The merchant told him about his stuff being stolen.

Padmanabhdasji did not want to have Shri Aharyaji's Prasad interrupted, so he pulled the man outside and asked the full amount of his loss. Then Padmanabhdasji pulled into a shop where the owner knew him very well and asked him to give the exact amount of money to the trader to cover his losses. The shopkeeper did not demand it but Padmanabhdasji insisted on writing him an I.O.U. and on top of that promised to give the shopkeeper his very Dharma if he could not repay the loan. The merchant took the money and went home.

Shri Acharyaji asked Padmanabhdasji where he had been and he just said he had been busy for a little while. But Shri Acharyaji knew what had happened. He asked him whether he thought they that had some obligation to repay the merchant, and added that it had not been necessary to put himself into debt for that merchants sake. Padmanabhdasji replied that he would pay off the debt very soon but that if he had not done what he did then Shri Acharyaji's mealtime would have been seriously delayed, which would have destroyed his life's purpose!

Shri Acharyaji further quizzed him, “But you also put your dharma on the line!” Padmanabhdasji replied, “Some guarantee had to be given.”

Shri Acharyaji returned to Adel and Padmanabhdasji  went to a local king and fulfilled his wish to hear some religious discourses. Padmanabhdasji refused to recite the Shrimad Bhagavatam but agreed to recount the stories of the Mahabharat.

The king agreed and the reading took place. He told the stories of the war so vividly that the listeners actually started fighting amongst themselves with swords and then with sticks. When the reading was over, after a few days, the King was prepared to make a huge payment.

Padmanabhdsasji however refused to accept such a large amount of money and only took as much as he owed and soon paid back the lender. That is how great Padmanabhdasji was.

***Bhavaprakasha***

The merchant thought that whilst he had lost all his goods why was Shri Acharyaji having Prasad? After all, a compassionate person would sort out another's grief before eating. And Shri Mahaprabhuji questioned why Padmanabhdasji had taken a loan in order to help the merchant who had after all fallen behind on the journey and thus been vulnerable to attack. It is not good to take loans, he would say, because there is no relying on the body, and it would not be good to die with a loan hanging over ones head.

Padmanabhdasji replied that if Shri Acharyaji had heard the merchant crying he would have had to delay his taking by Prasad by at least two hours. This would constitute the wasting of Padmanabhdasji's whole lifes purpose, for, as he reasoned, the Guru should never have to suffer any kind of trouble whilst a good servant is around. His reckoning was that his whole personal path of righteousness [his dharma] would have been thus ruined. The debt was nothing compared to this situation as he would soon pay it off. And, he said, what power can Time have over Shri Acharyaji's divine power of Grace? The debt could not trouble him. Such was his faith.

He was also willing to put his Dharma down as guarantee to the loan because that was not important in comparison to the fact that he had surrendered everything to Shri Acharyaji. His worldly dharma could only bring him the meager temporary fruits of heaven whereas he had now embraced the Grace-filled path of Devotion.

He was willing to give up everything for Shri Acharyaji. His righteous Path was  nothing to him compared to Shri Acharyaji's happiness. Also, he was very happy to have given the money to the merchant because the latter would now happily praise Shri Mahaprabhuji and his entourage instead of bad-mouthing them all over the place and comparing Shri Acharyaji's behaviour to that of a worldly king. Padmanabhdasji considered that the whole incident was a test of his own steadfast faith.

Padmnabhdasji did not accept the excess money that the king was willing to give him because he had embraced the way of life of not earning money through work. He knew that it was not proper to accept money in return for telling the Lord's stories. Whatever he did was only for Shri Acharyji's satisfaction. He had signed away his dharma but he got it all back. Then he came back home again.

******PART 4*****

Padmanabhdasji had two daughters. The eldest had been married but her husband died very soon after the marriage. For the younger one, he was hoping to find a Vaishnava Boy. He asked around and very soon found an initiated Vaishnava boy who was, however, from a different caste. Padmanabhdasji wasn't worried about worldly ways and when another Vaishnava told him the boy was a nice devotee he immediately went to the boy's home and anointed his forehead with red powder as a sign that he had given his daughter to him. He told the boy he was ready to perform the marriage on any day that he chose.

With the wedding fixed, he happily returned home. There the elder daughter named Tulsan, who had never even seen her worldly husbands face, and was always engaged in serving the family deity Shri Mathuranathji, met him and he told her about the arrangements he had made for the marriage. Her father said that all had been said and done, but she wanted him to cancel the arrangement.

Padmanabhdasji asked her to bring a knife with which he would cut off the thumb with which he had anointed the boys forehead.”How could I possibly do that?”, she said. “Well,how can I cancel the marriage? said Padmnabhdasji. It is arranged with a disciple of Shri Acharyaji. That is what is important, that is my faith.”

***Bhavaprakasha***

When Padmanabhdasji told his daughter that the most predominant factor here was the boy and his family's Vaishnava Dharma then she understood the importance of the Path. Her love for the Vaishnavas developed, as did her seva and Shri Thakurji began to communicate with her.

The marriage was performed very nicely and the caste issues were thus ignored. The reason is that, for a Vaishnava, it is love for the Lord that counts. Worldly and Scriptural considerations take a back seat. Firm faith in the Lord obliterates all anxiety, and other factors lose their sway. Padmanabhdasji was this type of strong and dedicated Vaishnava.

******PART 5 *********

There was a Kshatriya lady who came daily to Padmanabhdasji's home. One day, Tulsan asked her why she came so frequently. She replied that she regarded Padmanbhdasji as a great soul and a qualified Vaishnava and her problem she was hoping to solve was that she could not conceive. She asked Tulsan to convey her plea to her father.

When  she told him about this matter he asked his daughter to bring some water. In heartfelt meditation he washed his Shri Achryaji's feet with it, touched it to his own feet, and then gave it to that Kshatrani saying “Now go, you will certainly have a son. Call him Mathuradas.” That is exactly what happened!

***Bhavaprakasha***

Why did Padmanbhdasji give her water that had touched his own feet? After all a Vaishnava never sings their own praises. Normally a Vaishnava would give Shri Thakurji's Foot-water. But Padmanabhdas ji reasoned that she had come to him with the specific desire for a son, and really and truly he should not use Shri thakurji's prasadi water for such a purpose. Why would he bother Shri Thakurji in this way? So he gave his own. However, he was always lost in contemplation on Shri Acharyaji and he gave it with this mindset.

He had no expectation of praise. However it is true to say that if someone takes shelter of an accomplished Vaishnava their wishes com true. To grant a son is no big deal. That is what she wanted and this act did not become an obstacle in his devotion because he did not egotistically consider himself to have done it – the motivation for the appropriate action came into his head and he did it knowing it to be the Lords wish, not his own doing.

Shri Gusainji has written “buddhi preraka kṚṢṆasya pādapadmaṀ prasīdatu” [‘may my every action be pleasing to the Lord Shri Krishnas Lotus- Feet, for He is the inspiration for all my actions.] Anyone who thinks otherwise is floundering in the ocean of worldly existence. Padmanabhdasji's pure feeling was that it was all the wish of his Beloved Lord.

******PART 6*******

One day Ramdasji, another disciple of Shri Mahaprabhuji, left his Shri Thakurji with Padmanabhdasji whilst he went to Jatipura to have darshan of Shri Nathaji. Shri Acharyaji engaged him in the inner service of Shri Nathaji. Padmanabhdasji served his Shri Thakurji whilst he was away. Some time afterwards, some Muslims invaded the town and stole Ramdasji's Thakurji.

Padmanabhdasji went to the  Mughal Leaders home and sat outside without eating or drinking. The Leaders wife noticed this and told her husband that a Brahmin was fasting there and that if he died the murder would be upon his hands. She told him to give him back his Lord. The Mughal returned Ramdasji's Shri Thakurji to Padmanabhsasji. He took Him home, bathed and then bathed Him in the Five Nectars. He dressed and adorned Him, cooked and offered Him some nice foodstuffs. When the Lord finished partaking of the offerings, he fed the Prasad to some Vaishnavas. Only then did he eat.

Ramdasji became aware of these happenings and, for seven days he also did not eat, although he was able to nicely fulfill his seva to Shri Nathaji. Padmanabhdasji came to intuitively know that Ramdasji had suffered because of these events. He decided to go to Jatipur to have Darshan of Shri Nathaji and also to meet Ramdasji.

First he went to see Shri Nathaji and then he met Ramdasji. Padmanabhdaji said to  him, “Through all of this, it was only fair that I should have suffered some disturbance, but you had left your Shri Thakurji with me, so why did you need to fast for seven days too?” Ramdasji replied, “True that may be, but I have been serving my Shri Thakurji for many years so it is only natural that I feel so much connection.”

Padmanabhdasji stayed for some days before returning to Kannauj.

***Bhavaprakasha***

If a Vaishnava's Shri Thakurji comes to your home you should serve Them as if They were your own. Ramdasji did not have any anxiety about leaving his Shri Thakurji with a Vaishnava in this way, but he still felt grief at Shri Thakurji's disturbed situation when He was abducted. He also felt joy when the Lord was comfortable and happy.

********PART 7*********

One day, Padmanabhdasji decided to travel to Adel to see his Guru together with his whole family and his Shri Thakurji. He wanted to see his Guru and listen to the nectar of his discourses.

They all came there and spent some time, but they were financially compromised and so for the offerings to their Shri Thakurji they soaked chickpeas and the next day offered them with the sentiment that they were all different types of varied tasty preparations like rice, sweet rice cooked in milk and all kinds of vegetable dishes.

Shri Thakurji accepted all the preparations in the mood in which they were offered.This was their daily ritual.

One day a Vaishnava noticed this and told Shri Acharyaji about it. He came to Padmanabhdasji's place of Seva at the time of the offerings and asked why the chickpeas were arranged in separate little piles.

Padmanabhdasji explained what kind of preparation each of the piles was. Shri Acharyaji then understood that Padmanabhdasji did not have enough money but that even then he focused on the Seva and not on the acquisition of wealth, showing his immense patience. Shri Thakurji was very pleased with Padmanabhdasji.

Shri Acharyaji went home and whilst he was taking Prasad he told his wife about the situation. Later on she cooked many preparations and sent them with a Vaishnava to Padmanabhdasji for offering to his Shri Thakurji. When Tulsan told her father that such a package had arrived he told her to put it aside and remarked that this was a call for them to leave that place.

She put the package aside. The very same thing happened the next day and so Padmanabhdasji told her to again put the package aside and announced that they would be leaving the next morning. That morning he quickly finished his Seva and made the food offerings. He said to his Shri Thakurji, “If you would like to stay here with Shri Acharyaji then You will be able to enjoy many types of preparations. If You  come with me I will only be able to offer You whatever is available to me at that time.” Shri Mathuranthji spoke to him and told him that he liked his ways and would accept whatever he was able to offer.

Padmanabhdasji finished the Seva and hired a boat. He told Tulsan to return back all the food that Shri Akkaji had sent to them. He packed all their belongings and Shri Mathuranathji in the boat and then went to Shri Acharyaji to take leave of him.

Shri Acharyaji asked him where his Shri Thakurji was. Padmanabhdasji told him that Shri Thakurji was already sitting in the boat. Shri Acharyaji sent them off and whilst returning home he pondered as to why he had left in such a hurry. Shri Akkaji then told him that she had sent foodstuffs to them on both days but that they had returned them. Shri Acharyaji realized that this was why they had left. Padmanabhdasji reached home and carried on serving his Lord.

***Bhavaprakasha***

This story shows that the Guru's wealth holds even more importance than Shri Thakurjis wealth. It is stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam [11th canto, chapter 17,verse 28] that even if one earns through begging, that money should be offered to the Guru and one should only eat when the Guru says it is ok, otherwise one should remain hungry. If that be the case, how, here, would Padmanabhdasji ever accept wealth from the Guru? Shri Acharyaji has for this very reason written in his Vivekadhairyasraya treatise [Wisdom, Perserverance and Refuge] that tolerance of the three types of suffering constitutes Patience.

Padmanabhdasji could have taken revenge on the Muslims who took Ramdasji's Shri Thakurji away. But he was patient and instead, fasted for seven days and said nothing. In this way he tolerated grief related to the Lord. He married his daughter to a boy of a different caste and in this way had to suffer worldly condemnation. He had to suffer the difficulties of not having enough to eat. But he never renounced his Dharma [his chosen Path of Grace] That is why Shri Gokulnathji wrote in hs commentary on Shri Vitthalnathji's Sarvottam Stotra that Padmanabhdasji was a one in a million Vaishnava who had truly understood and lived according to Shri Acharyaji's teachings.

Shri Acharyaji was always pleased with Padmanabhdasji. There is truly no end to his story.

A108-AI

The painful truth about Radha Kund

imageproxy.jpgRadha Kund, 20.11.2018

Radha Kund’s beauty is astounding and, beyond our sight, it is yet million times more beautiful. However, from a worldly perspective, the sad reality is that it is highly polluted with sewage seeping in from the leaking sewage systems of the houses and ashrams surrounding the kund. You can view a university report & more info here: https://radha.webs.com/

On Bahulashtami, we joined the thousands of pilgrims gathered at Radha kund. As we approached, my friend asked me where that sewage smell is coming from. It pained me to tell him the truth. It was only because I had a very strong inspiration, that I took snan (bath).

Radhakund water.JPGMany devotees still sip the water here for the purpose of performing acamana and the water is still used for worship all over the world. But, when we started asking around, we discovered, that, unfortunately, the locals react to any suggestion of proper sewage management with aggression because they fear it is just a ruse to drive them away from land that has a questionable title. Since the locals are in the majority and include prominent people, it is a tough issue for the government. But, as they say, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and…. it is a good thing that some people like a challenge.

Often devotees feel ashamed and disgusted and feel that our lack of attention to material cleanliness is disrespectful to the area with the highest concentration of prema in the whole of Braj.

Several groups have tried to gather support for a filter to clean the water, but, to date, none have been successful in implementing such a project. In any case, it seems that filtering dirty water after it has entered the kund can only ever be part of the solution. More important is to fix the leakages and ensure that every house has a proper septic tank that is emptied regularly.

It wouldn’t take rocket science to keep sewerage out of Radha Kund and the failure to do this says something about the level of consciousness of those who claim to love Radha Kund. True spiritual activities have effect in both the material and spiritual world. In truth, it is a test by Radha Rani to see if we are ready to make some extra efforts for Her.

A108-AI

Gopashtami: The Cowherds’ day

imageproxy.jpgVrindavan, 15.11.015

Gopashtami falls on 16th November this year. It is the celebration of the first time that the lad Krishna is allowed to take the cows out to graze instead of just the calves.  His Mother bathes and dresses Him and makes all sorts of auspicious arrangements so that His big day will be a success.  She decorates and cleans the floor of the house and waves lights around the boy to protect Him.  She makes sure His big brother and the other boys will be with Him and all the mothers concerned pack up delicious lunches for them to take to the forest.

Of course, for her, His actual leaving with the cows is very painful for she can not bear to let Him out of her sight even for a moment.  When He returns she attends to all His comforts and listens to all the tales of His adventures, asking every detail .Then she hugs Him and gently puts  to sleep Her boy who says that His feet hurt and that He is so hungry that He can not eat~ yet He is anxious to go off again the next morning.

These padas of the Ashta Chaap poets express the great beauty of the love of Krishna’s Mother Yashoda and of the sweet youthful reciprocation of the same - as well as the deepness of the separation she feels when He is away all day.

Raga Devagandhara

prathama gocharana ko dina aja
pratahkala utha jasoda maiyya kino kai saba gaja
gavata gita manohara bani taja gurujana ki laja
larika sakala sanga sankarsana venu bajaya rasala
age dhenu cale govinda prabhu nama dharyo gopala

Translation: Today is the first occasion on which Gopal will take the cows to graze.  Getting up early in the morning, mother Yashoda starts to make all the preparations. Many kinds of musical instruments are playing, proclaiming the occasion, while the cowherds begin to sing in sweet voices forgetting their shyness of their elders. Then, together with all the boys and His brother Balaram, leading the cows, Govindadas’s Lord begins to play a sweet melody on His flute and is known from this day on as Gopal, protector of the cows.

O, Our Sri Krishna Who lives by the Sri Govardhan Peak: we cannot live without You […chorus] Beloved young prince of Vraja. Please show us Your beautiful Face with Your sweet grin, for our eyes are squirming like a fish without water and a single second passes as slowly as an aeon. [1]

The Vraja Lad plays His flute in a scale of seven notes. He ties those lovely notes in with tones of loving mood and the song is very very sweet. [2]

This Sri Krishna, Who appreciates the fine mood of Pure Love, climbs up on the Sri Giriraji Peak and calls out loudly to the cows with a very sweet voice full of affection.. "Come Gaanga,come here Dhumari!" [3]

"O, my Lord, since the day I first saw You nothing else interests me. I cannot sleep at night and I have forgotten all about eating and drinking." [4]

"O, Sweet Lad! my eyes burn for a chance to see You and my ears long to hear Yur voice. My heart craves to meet You, for You are my very life and breath." [5]

"My sweet Love, when I see Your Full-Moon– like Face my heart and soul are pulled towards it just as the lily and the chakora bird respectfully wait to taste the Nectar of Your Form. [6]"

"O, Dear Krishna, my mind wishes to keep You within my eyes. I wish to continuously and without any interruption behold Your Gorgeous Form as the Supreme Dancer." [7]

"Dear Lad,I have given up caring about how the world or my family will judge me. My love for You grows as a lotus bud in the sun." [8]

"Millions of Cupids surrender to Your cheeky way of walking! And Your large Lotus-eyes have captured the heart of the young Ladies of Vraja." [9]

"O, enchanting Krishna, Protector of the cows and Ocean of Joy! You play in the forest bowers. I am  the sweet fragrant Malati flower in Sri Vrindavan and You are the King Bee looking for enjoyment!." [10]

"Darling Boy, I sing this over and over again like the calling of the Chataka bird or the peacock. Please, You are the Son of Nanda, like a fresh new cloud, please shower me with the rain of Your love!." [11]

"Please let me enjoy this joyous residence near You on the Sri Govardhan Mountain for ever and ever." The poet Chaturabhjadas bows down in surrender to the Beautiful Sri Krishna, Upholder of the Sri Giriraji Mountain. [12]    ||82||

 

Raga Purvi

age gaya pachem gaya ita gaya uta gaya
govinda ko gayana maim vasavoi bhavai
gayan ke sanga dhave gayana mem sacuvave
gayana ki khura renu anga lapatavai

gayana som vrajachavo vaikunthahu visarayo
gayana ke heta kara giri le uthavai
chita svami giradhari vitthalesa vapudhari
gvariya ko bhekha dharem gayana mem avai

There are cows in front of Him, cows behind Him and cows here and there. Sri Krishna the Protector of the cows loves to be surrounded by them. He runs with them and gains great pleasure thereby; He even rubs the dust of their hooves on His body. He has filled His Land of Vraja with so many cows that even Vaikuntha is forgotten. It was for the sake of the cows that He held up the Sri Giriraji Mountain. The poet Chitasavami, believing Sri Krishna the Upholder of the Govardhan Hill and Sri Vitthaleshji to be one, says "Look at the Lord; He is dressed as a cowherd boy and is returning to Vraja with the cows." ||83||

A108-AI

imageproxy.jpgShri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj left his body today in sacred Vraja Dham in the holy month of Karttik. He was 91.

Born in 1927 in Bengal’s westernmost district of Puruliya, he came to Shri Radha Kund in the 1960s and received dīkṣā from Shri Kunjabihari Das Babaji who asked him to serve the Vaishnavas with pāṭh; devotional lectures on rāgānugā bhakti and rādhā-dāsya.

His relationship with his Guru Kunja Bihari dasji was intense. Kunjabihari dasji needed not be informed of his disciple’s arrival in Radhakund in advance – he got such a strong intuitive feeling that he walked to the bus stop of Radha Kund to wait for him. Ananta dasji indeed stepped out of the bus and Kunja Bihari dasji embraced him.

The following anthology of quotes from and about Babaji are from my Indian diaries from 1982 onwards:

I regard it as a great honor to have translated nearly all of his – originally Bengali – books into English, his books and pāṭhs were perfect. A great rasik ācārya departed.

In the 1990s Shri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj wrote me many letters to help me translate and answer other questions on rāgānugā bhakti and rādhā-dāsya as well.
Around the early 1970’s, Shri Ananta dās Panditji had begun to give pāṭha (devotional lectures) in Radha Kund’s Govindajī Mandir, and the Vaishnavas wanted to hear Vilāpa-kusumāñjali from him. Krishna dās Madrasi Bābā told Panditji that a Goswami in Vrindavan had the notes of my Gurudeva’s father, Shrila Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī’s lectures on Vilāpa-kusumāñjali.

A śrutidhara (Nivāran Bābu) had noted it down, but he passed away and now it was in the hands of the Gosvāmī. Panditji went to Vṛndāvana and told the Gosvāmī that he was serving the Vaishnavas at Radha Kund (with pāṭh) and hence he wanted to have the notes. Gosvāmījī declined, afraid it would be broadcast, but since he came from Radha Kund and was a Vaishnava he could look at it and read it.

Panditji said: “I don’t have the memory of the ṛṣi yuga (previous age when all could be learned from a single hearing or reading)”, so he read it but could not remember all of it. When he returned to Radha Kund, Krishna dāsa Madrasi Bābā asked him what happened and Panditji said: “He will not give it.” Krishna dāsa Bābā laughed and said: “You see, it is with me—if you like I can read it to you, but it is written in Malayalam script.” The script is Malayalam, but the language is Bengali, so there was no problem for Panditji to understand it when Krishna dās Bābā read it to him.

Ananta dās Panditji used to give pāṭha at that time in Govindajī Mandira from 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. Then he would take a little rest and at 4 he would come to Krishna dās Bābā and write down what he dictated. The final page was torn out by a monkey but was somehow rewritten.

Krishna Das Madrasi Baba himself said of it (in a letter to me dated May 18, 1997): “Our Mahant (Ananta Das Babaji) Maharaj heard these notes at Shri Vrindavan, but could not get them, so with a broken heart he returned here (to Shri Radha Kund), where this humble self informed him that the same notes are here. When they were given to him there was a complete change in his hari kathā. Then he wrote commentaries first on Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi and then on Shri Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, Shri Stavāvalī and Stavamālā.”

Some anecdotes from my diary –
October, 1982, first meeting – Jagadananda takes me to Jai Singh Ghera for lectures of Ananta Dās Pandit—”In this way you can both learn Bengali and hear the great pāṭhas of this great Vaishnava.” Ananta Das Panditji has clearly the status of a leading Vaishnava, although he lectures in a simple hall on a simple Vyasasan. He is corpulent and wears glasses, and has clear leadership charisma. When we walk from Jai Singh Ghera to Keshi Ghat, he happens to walk in front of us. I see that he is also a Babaji. He wears a bahirvāsa. He has an elegant step like a swan, a real sādhu. I am impressed by him.

September, 1983
Ananta Dasji gives pāṭha in Jaisingh Ghera. He lectures on Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, the dressing-sevā, verses 18-44. Panditji depicts the Rāsa līlā: ek dike kalāvati o ār dike kalānidhi. “On one side the artistic Rādhikā and on the other the ocean (or jewel) of arts Shri Krishna.”

October 18, 1983
When I arrive in Radha Kund for my first extensive stay for Karttik, Ananta Das Panditji is just giving pāṭha about Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi in the kirtan hall east of the Kund [this was much smaller in 1983 than it is now]. It is so beautiful and real! With great difficulty I find a place near the entry. I see Jagadananda sitting in the back. After pāṭha Jagadananda blissfully exclaims: “He (Ananta Das Panditji) is an avatāra!” I totally agree with him.

Ananta Dasji also gave Dāma-bandhana (chapter 9 of the 10th Canto of the Bhāgavata, the story of Dāmodara Krishna bound by the love of His mother Yaśodā) pāṭha in the Radha Raman Mandir that Karttik month, which I also attended.

August 24, 1984 — After Ekadashi I go again to Radha Kund and yes, this time Krishna Das Baba says I can start translating and living with him! Now the time is ripe to live at Radha Kund. After my arrival there is no time for idle chatter, though. Ananta Das Panditji gives pāṭha in the Gopinath Mandir, right opposite Krishna Das Baba’s place. Krishna Das Baba drags me over there just as I arrive, without asking me anything. A great beginning. Krishna Das Baba sits in front, between the senior Vaishnavas of Radha Kund, and places his cassette recorder before Panditji to record the lecture. Afterwards he says: “Even if you don’t know Bengali you must still come and listen, just to get purified by the sound of the class and the presence of the Vaishnavas.”

In September 1984 Ananta dāsji asks me to translate his book “Rasa Darśana (the philosophy of taste)” into English. I give it up after a few pages, it’s too complicated for me.

October 6 1984— Niyama Sevā begins. One month non-stop at Radha Kund. Ananta Das Panditji gives pāṭha three times a day. At midday in the Gopinath Mandir [no longer in the small building on the east bank of Radha Kund, which had became too small], in the evening dāma bandhana līlā in Krishna Das Baba’s Radha Raman mandir and late in the evening Shrila Narottam Das Ṭhakur Mahashay’s ‘Prema-bhakti-candrikā’ in the Dharmshala.

May 1985 – One day, Madrasi Baba and I go to Ananta Das Panditji in Vrajananda Ghera, as we do more often, to consult him on Caitanya Bhāgavata. I make some remark about certain devotees being so offensive towards Babajis and Goswamis, but Ananta Das Panditji says nothing. He does not join in such critique and I feel embarrassed by the short and painful silence that follows.

December, 1985 – In the afternoon I go with Dharmavīr and Rohiṇi Bābu to Ananta Das Panditji’s pāṭha on the Bhramar Gīta – song of the bee – in honour of the first anniversary of the expiry of Nṛsiṁha Ballabh Gosvāmi in his house in Taṭīya Sthāna. During the pāṭha a prominent mahātmā enters, offering flowers to Nṛsiṁha Ballabh Gosvāmī’s samādhi and talking through the pāṭha, not realising because of his old age that he disturbs. Panditji continues undisturbed.

August 27, 1986 — Shri Krishna Janmashtami. Ananta Das Panditji now really closes off his lecture series with a special Janmashtami pāṭha. Though Janmashtami is not the most rasika festival, Panditji still makes it rasika by reading the first verses of the birth story from the Bhāgavata (Canto 10, chapter 3), how the lotus flowers blossomed, the bees buzzed and the birds sang, and how the breeze over the Yamuna carried a sweet scent. He can get rasa out of anything.

September, 1986, Barsana. Gopiballabh tells me that the Rādhā Ramaṇa Banyātrā has arrived, headed by Ananta Das Panditji and Purushottama Goswami. We check them out just outside of Barsana, near the College. They have a big encampment and tent where Panditji sits on a Vyasasan. He speaks in Hindi about the meaning of the different līlā-sthalis. He names the eight līlā-sthalis of Dauji Mahārāja as Dauji, Rāla, Chaṭīkarā, Bhadravan, Āḍiṅ, and Narī Semarī. Deha Kund is a small lake where Panditji holds a short speech. I am spacing out somewhat and when I turn around I face Panditji close up; smilingly he tells me in Hindi: “If you bathe here you get a gopī-deha!”

February 10, 1991 — I go to see Panditjī Ananta Das in Gokulānanda Gherā. Panditji sits writing behind his desk as we bow down to him. I hand him a copy of my English translation of Vilāpa-kusumāñjali. He leafs through it attentively (although to my knowledge he doesn’t know English) and then returns it to me with a smile, saying: “এই কাজ আপনারই উপকার হইবে !” You will be the one who has most benefit from this!” You can interpret that in two ways: “The translation work is so intense that no one but the translator can go so deep into the text”, or: “Nobody in your countries will be interested in this topic except you.”

February 16, 1991 — Keshi Ghat, Vrindavan. Ananta Das Panditji gives pāṭha on Vilāpa-kusumāñjali verse 12. He explains that Radharani is the icchā-śakti and hence the origin of creation, and thus the hlādinī-śakti is the foundation of the world.

February 20, 2000 –
I returned to India after a 9-year absence. In the evening we go for darśana of Ananta Das Panditji. He sits on a chair in front of a small corona of Western disciples and greets me very heartily. We speak in Bengali; a wonderful exchange of praises starts. Panditji is surprised to hear me speaking Bengali so fluently (much better actually than in the ’80s), and asks me আপনার দেশে কত বাঙ্গালী লোক আছে? (“How many Bengali people are living in your country?”) কেহ নাই (“Nobody”), I reply. I then return the compliment by saying that Jagadananda told me that I should learn Bengali by going to the lectures of one Ananta Das Panditji. To this Ananta Das Panditji says: “There are two foreigners who know Bengali — Jagadananda and Advaita. Jagadananda used to attend my pāṭhas with a khātā (notebook).”

Ananta Das Panditji asks me what changes I noticed in these nine years. I say this and that and then I say: আগে থেকে অনেক বেশি বিদেশী লোক আছে , দ্বিগুণ বা ত্রিগুণ (“There are twice or thrice as many foreigners here than before”) He then says: “That is because of you.” He then compares rāgānugā bhakti with the stream of the Ganges, and I say that he has brought this stream down to earth — I am only carrying it. He then replies by saying: “Bhagirathi told Shiva that only he was able to carry the Ganga stream on his head. That is why you wear the jaṭās.”

He then requests me to translate Mādhurya-kādambinī. I object: ভাষা ত কঠিন The language is difficult. He assures me: “Radharani will help you.”

February 22, 2000 — Ananta Das Panditji starts 7 days of pāṭha about the single verse 26 of Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi. The first item of the verse deals with the phenomenon of lāvaṇya. Everything that is touched by black also becomes black; there is only one exception and that is the complexion of Rādhā, which remains golden, even if Krishna, with His black complexion, assumes it. During Rādhā-Krishna’s kuṇḍa milana (at midday, as is described in Govinda Līlāmṛta, chapter 8), They do not recognize Each other, out of extreme navatā, the feeling of novelty which arises from anurāga. It is the limit of anurāga.

February 23, 2000 — We are invited for prasad by Ananta Das Panditji. He tells us we should stay at Radha Kund, because my guru vaṁśa was totally dedicated to Radharani. আনন্দ গোপাল গোস্বামী রাধারাণী ছাড়া কিছু জানিতেন না তাহার পুত্রও তেমনই (“Ānanda Gopāla Gosvāmī did not know anyone else but Radharani. The same goes for his sons.”)

In his pāṭha he says “The word kudeha (in Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi 60) means ‘bodily consciousness’, and nirmalaḥ means manjarī svarūpāveśa. He also tells that Krishna bathes in the Yamuna further (downstream) than Radharani, so that he can be touched by the waves that she makes.

February 25, 2000 — Ananta Das Panditji says that Anaṅga Manjarī is a sakhī, not a manjarī. She is only a manjarī by name, due to her tender age. She is after all situated in the middle of Radha Kund.

March 4, 2000 – I ask Ananta Das Panditji if it is not an aparādha that my books are being copied, since they are so intimate, and he says: “No, that is not your fault”, but he reminds me that he told me (in 1996) that I should not translate such intimate books. He finds it better if I translate Mādhurya-kādambinī.
Panditji says that his Gurudeva said that everyone must pay for the books, otherwise they will throw them away or disrespect them. If I suggest that unqualified people will read these books he says: “Why should they be unqualified? They come from so far, spend so much money to come here and tolerate all these hardships here, fasting and so on.”

November 5, 2000 — I consult Anantadas Panditji on Mādhurya-kādambinī. Anurādhā tells me that Anantadas Panditji also humbly offered his obeisances when I bowed down to him. Anantadas Panditji says that the three kinds of faith, sattva-raja-tama, are all laukika śraddhā. smaraṇa, dhyāna and dhāraṇā take place in sādhana bhakti stara, dhruvānusmṛtiin bhāva bhakti stara and samādhi in prema bhakti stara.

When bhāva stara is attained, ruci also increases. rati bhajana means those who worship in nāyikā bhāva, embraced and kissed by the Lord. Mahāprabhu gave due regards to Nṛsiṁha, as He did to all deities in Their temples when He wandered in South India. All Viṣṇu-mūrtis are respectable for us, but They are not our dhyāna dhāraṇā upāsyas.

February 22, 2001 — Ananta Das Panditji had a bad accident; one of his eyes is stitched after he fell onto his own spectacles. I tell him I wonder who will read Mādhurya-kādambinī, but he says it will be read by those who are seriously investigating.

March 1, 2001 — Dinahari tells me he asked his Guru Ananta Das Panditji if the exiled deities in Rājasthān are the originals and the ones in Vraja pratibhūs. Ananta Das Panditji replied: “No, the ones here are the originals.’

March 12, 2001 — I ask Ananta Das Panditji about Shrila Ānanda Gopāla Gosvāmī’s statement in Vilāpa-kusumāñjali purport of verse 75 “আমি রাধাদাসী” ইহা চিন্তা করিয়া আনিতে হয় না | আমাদের চিন্তা করিয়া “রাধাদাসী” এইভাবে আনিতে হয় | Panditji explains that the awareness of ‘I am Radha’s maidservant’ is natural to the jāta-rati bhaktas; they need not deliberately think like that. But the ajāta-rati sādhakas must train their minds in thinking like this.

November 4, 2001 — Like Mathura Prasad last year, Ananta Das Panditji says, according to Acyutānanda, that a midnight bath is not necessary on Bahulāṣṭamī. One who is born at 1 a.m. does not celebrate his birthday at that time but in the daytime. The śloka also does not mention midnight. kārtike bahulāṣṭamyāṁ tatra snatvā hareḥ priyaḥ.

November 14, 2001 — Dīpāvalī. Ananta Das Panditji lights dīpas for a boat to be floated on the kuṇḍa and lights some fireworks like the ālāt cakra (firebrand).

November 28, 2001 — I ask Ananta Das Panditjiji whether the three adhikārīs described in C.C. Madhya 22.64-67 are vaidhi or rāgānugā bhakti adhikārīs, since Rūpa Gosvāmī says that rāgānuga bhakti is not prompted by śāstra and yukti. He says they are both, because although rāgānugā bhakti is not prompted by śāstra, it is also based on it.

The madhyama adhikārī understands the philosophy himself but cannot explain it, the uttama adhikārī can explain it. When I ask him about the following 4 verses, 68-71, what is the difference between them and the other three adhikārīs, since now the division is considered according to rati and prema, Panditji says that the first three are classified according to faith and the other three (Ś.B. 11.2.45-47) according to advancement in bhakti – rati and prema.

Even the madhyama adhikārī has rati, but not the prākṛta bhakta. mati for Kṛsṇa is also called ratyaṅkura. The uttama bhakta has prema.” Then I ask him about the difference between mātsarya and vidveṣa in the guru (Bhakti Sandarbha 238). He says: ‘mātsarya means being unable to tolerate another bhakta’s superiority. nirmatsarānāṁ satāṁ. He commits aparādha but also has bhakti. There will be a delay in prema.”

February 25, 2002 — Nityānanda Trayodaśī. Ananta dāsji tells me that these short trips and all the trouble are just there to increase my eagerness and save me from aparādha.

February 26, 2002 — On Kunja Bihārī Dasji’s maps is written that Radharani takes 24 minutes to walk between Nandīśvara, Vṛṣabhānupura, Radha Kund and Vrindavan. Ananta Das Panditji says it takes Candrāvalī longer – in this way she never reaches Krishna in time.

October 31, 2002 – Ananta Das Panditji’s classes are still increasing in popularity – in 1984 the Bhagavat Bhavan on the shore of the Kunda became too small, so he moved to the Gopīnātha Mandir, then in 1995 this was again too small, so he had his own pāṭha-bāṛi built, and now, in 2002, this is again too small! If you come too late there is simply no more space to sit. More than 1,000 persons attend. People sit on the staircases!

October 31, 2004 – Ananta Das Panditji says in his Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi pāṭha that sa no dharmī (Govinda Līlāmṛta 8.112) means that śṛngāra rasa is a dharma, but Krishna Himself is the dharmī or source or embodiment of that rasa, and he quotes Gīta Govinda’s śṛṅgāra-rasa-mūrtimān as evidence.

By Advaita Das

A108-AI

Commentary of Shri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Shri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar of Stavāvalī)

Whether he be beginningless or with a beginning, very expert or very tender, overflowing with compassione or devoid of even the slightest campassion, more opulent and powerful than the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha or just an ordinary human being in this world, this son of the Vraja’s king is my worshipable Lord, forever, birth after birth!

anādiḥ sādir vā paṭur atimṛdur vā pratipadaṁ
pramīlat-kāruṇyaḥ praguṇa-karuṇā-hīna iti vā
mahā vaikuṇṭheśādhika iha naro vā vrajapater
ayaṁ sūnur goṣṭhe prati-jani mamāstāṁ prabhu-varaḥ

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In his sādhakāveśa, the most earnest Shri Raghunath Das describes his loyalty to his worshipable deity Krishna, the embodiment of sweetness. here in Radha Kund. In the Śruti scriptures Krishna is said to be the Original Personality of Godhead and the fountainhead of all Viṣṇu-avatāras like Nārāyaṇa, but the people of Vraja, who are fixed in their sweet conception of him, don’t love him just because of seeing any such glory in him. Their love for Krishna is natural; it is not created by seeing some virtue or opulence in him, it does not diminish by seeing some fault in him and it does not increase by seeing more prominent qualities in him.

stotraṁ yatra taṭasthatāṁ prakaṭayac cittasya dhatte vyathāṁ
nindāpi pramadaṁ prayacchati parīhāsa-śriyaṁ bibhratī
doṣeṇa kṣayitāṁ guṇena gurutāṁ kenāpy anātanvatī
premnaḥ svārasikasya kasyacid iyaṁ vikrīḍati prakriyā

    (Paurnamasi to Madhumangala) What you are seeing is the workings of some spontaneous kind of love, where praise is seen as a sign of indifference and causes pain to the loved one, where insults only make the beloved laugh, causing hilarity. In this love, no fault can cause it to diminish, and no virtue can cause it to increase. (Vidagdha-mādhava 5.4)

Such is the nature of the love of Vraja. Shri Raghunath Das is Shri Radha’s eternally perfect maidservant, therefore his love is also eternally perfect. Those who worship in the Vraja-mood are similarly fixed in Krishna in this way.

The beginningless perfect scripture Brahma-saṁhitā opens with Lord Brahmā declaring Krishna to be the fountainhead of all avatāras and the cause of all causes:

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac cid ānanda vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva kāraṇa kāraṇam

    "Krishna is the supreme controller. Govinda’s body is transcendental, he has no origin, but he himself is the origin and the cause of all causes."

In the Bhagavad Gītā Krishna himself says:

mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya

    "O Arjuna! There’s no higher truth than Me!" (Gita 7.7)

In the quintessence of the Vedānta, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Mahāmuni Vedavyāsa firmly establishes Krishna as the fountainhead of all avatāras like Lord Nārāyaṇa of Vaikuṇṭha by saying ete cāṁśa kalāḥ puṁsaḥkṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: "All the aforementioned descents are fractions or expansions of the original Lord, but Krishna is that Original Person Himself." (1.3.28)

In this single verse Mahāmuni Vedavyāsa establishes the basic truth of the whole Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Such basic truths are sometimes only uttered once in a scripture and thereafter no more. Hence the words kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam appears only once in the entire Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Therefore this verse is completely independent from whatever other truths Śrīmad Bhāgavatam may promulgate. Just as a king proudly places his victory-flag above everyone’s head to show his supremacy, this verse proudly flutters above all the other verses of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. It ascertains that the all-powerful supreme truth Krishna is not a fraction, but the whole; he is not a phase of the moon, but the full moon itself; he is not a puruṣa (a mere man), but the puruṣottama (supreme person) and he is not the Lord, but he is the Original Lord. He is the original abode of all of the forms of Godhead and Their potencies like majesty and sweetness. Because of all this he is naturally also the most merciful Bhagavan.

rasika śekhara kṛṣṇa parama karuṇa

"Krishna is the king of relishers and he is most compassionate" (CC 1.4.15).

Although all the forms of God are endowed with the quality of compassion, Krishna is most merciful because he bestows sweet Vraja-prema upon the people. Although Krishna, who is the supreme brahman appearing in a human form, is endowed with all opulence, prowess and attributes, the people of Vraja don’t love him because they see all these virtues in him. Their hearts naturally float in an ocean of love for Krishna simply by coveting his sweetness.

Therefore Shri Raghunath Das firmly vows to worship Krishna without bothering about all his qualities, saying: "he may be beginningless or with a beginning, very expert or clumsy, most compassionate or merciless, more opulent and powerful than the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha or just an ordinary human being – the son of the Lord of Vraja is always my worshipable Lord, birth after birth!"

anādira ādi yini, vṛndāvana līlābhūmi,
avatārī svayaṁ bhagavān
ādira sahita vartamāna,prati kṣaṇe prakāśamāna
kāruṇya-śālī guṇavān

    "The beginingless and primeval fountainhead of all avatāras, the most compassionate and qualified Lord, is always manifest in his playground Vrindavan, where his pastimes have a beginning".

sarvatra sunipuṇa, bhūṣita vividha guṇa,
kiṁvā tiṅho kāruṇya vihīna
paravyoma adhipati, nārāyaṇa hoite khyāti,
kiṁvānara mātrai haun

    "He may be most expert and adorned with all attributes or he may be bereft of all mercy. He may be more glorious than the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, Lord Viṣṇu, or he may be just an ordinary human being."

nanda suta boli yāra,sakalei gāna kore,
sei kṛṣṇa vrajendra-nandana
janme janme vṛndāvane, e lālasā mora mane,
śrī govinda prabhu-vara haun

    "May Shri Govinda, who is glorified by everyone as the son of Vraja’s king Nanda, always be my only Lord in Vrindavan, birth after birth. This is the desire on my mind."

A108-AI

imageproxy.jpg84 Vaishnavon ki Varta #3

Shri Damodardasji sambhalvare, a kshatriya from kannauja

              
Bhavaprakasha

Even as a child, Damodardasji S. was attached to the Lord and pondered upon how he could meet Him. On one occasion, he went to Prayag to bathe in the Sacred waters of the Triveni Sangam on the Makara Sankaranti [Spring Euinox] day.

There he met Krishnadasji Meghan who told him that Shri Vallabhacharyaji was now present on the earth, but that he was in the south of India at the court of King Krishnadeva where he had defeated the impersonalist Brahmins in open discussion.

Krishnadas told Damodardasji S that Shri Acharyaji could bless him to have the direct sight of the Lord. He told Damodardasji S about his journey, i.e. that because of his misdirected affection for his previous Guru, he had not, at first, been worthy of receiving the Divine Reward! But, he said, now he would follow Shri Acharyaj to the ends of the earth and, taking his leave, proceeded to the south.

After Krishnadas Meghan left to see Shri Acharyaji, Damodardasji S suffered intense pangs of separation. All the time he pondered upon how he would be able to meet Shri Acharyaji.

It was in this state of mind that he was, in the month of Magha, taking his bath at Prayag. Whilst he was bathing, a message inscribed on copper came into his hand at the confluence of the Shri Gangaji and the Shri Yamuna rivers. He took the letter back to his home.

That night, as he lay asleep, he had a dream wherein he was instructed to take as his Guru whomsoever was able to decipher the inscription.

Many great Pandits of advanced learning had come to Prayag for the sake of the Holy Bath and Damodardasji S asked all of them to read the inscription, but, none of them was able to do so.

Shortly after, Damodardasji went to Varanasi to visit Seth Purusottamdaji on business. He took the message with him and showed it to Purusottamdaji who told him, “Shri Acharyaji will be able to decipher this. No-one else will have the ability.”

Damodardasji S told the Sethji about how Krishnadasji Meghan had said the same and had told him that he could only attain full surrender to the Lord through Shri Acharyaji. Hearing all of this, Seth Purusottamdaji became very excited and began to crave the sight of Shri Acharyaji.

This story has been recounted in his own Varta.

Damodardasji S stayed for 15 days in Varanasi. No one was able to read the inscription. He returned home to Kannauj. He suffered severe pangs of separation until Shri Acharyaji himself came there some months later.

Mahaprabhuji camped in a garden some distance from the town.


PART 1

Shri Acharyaji arrived in Kannauj and set up camp in a garden a short distance from the town. He sent Krishnadasji into town to bring supplies but asked him not to announce his arrival.

 
Bhavaprakasha

Shri Achryaji knew that if Krishnadasji met Damodardasji S he would tell him where to visit Shri Acharyaji. Damodardasji S was a monied man. Shri Acharyaji did not want Krishnadasji to even think that he had invited him because of his wealth. This is why he asked him not to publicise his arrival – those who were inspired with pure love would arrive of their own accord.

Another reason for not announcing his arrival was that Shri Thakurji had told Shri Acharyaji to go to Kannauja to purify and accept the embodied souls of divine orientation who were living there. Shri Acharyaji knew that since this was the Will of the Lord, those souls would naturally gravitate towards him and so it was not necessary to spread the news of his encampment there.

Krishnadasji went into the village to purchase the necessary supplies. On his way back he met Damodardasji S who was coming from the king’s palace. Recognising Krishnadasji he got off his horse, bowed to him and enquired from him if Shri Mahaprabhuji had arrived.

Upholding Shri Acharyaji’s wish, Krishnadasji said nothing and walked on. Damodardasji S concluded that Krishnadasji would not be there if Shri Acharyaji had not come and so, having sent his horse home, he followed Krishnadasji. Shri Acharyaji saw them both approaching the camp.

Damodardasji S bowed down to Shri Acharyaji then Shri Acharyji asked Krishnadasji why he had told him of his prescence. Krisnadasji denied that he had told. Damodardasji S told Shri Acharyaji that he had not been told but that he had followed Krishnadasji. Shri Acharyaji asked him to give him the message engraved on copper. Damodardasji S asked him why he wanted it.

Shri Acharyaji recounted, “you have already been told that the one who can decipher the writing thereon will be your Guru. Therefore give it to me”. Damodardasji S had the letter brought there.

 
Bhavaprakasha

Shri Acharyaji asked Krishnadasji why he had told Damodardasji S of his arrival when he had been told not to. When Damodardasji S interjected that Krishnadasji had not told him anything but that he had followed him, his humility was perfected.

Thereafter, Damodarsdasji S asked why it was necessary to bring the letter. From this it is understood that Damodardasji S had already recognized Shri Acharyaji  to be non-different from the Lord. Shri Acharyaji told him to obey the command of the Lord and bring it over there.

When the letter arrived, Mahaprabhuji read the inscription. He told Damodardasji S what it meant and then gave him the first stage initiation. Damodardaji S invited Shri Acharyaji to his house.There Shri Acharyaji initiated Damodardasji S and his wife along with a third person, the house maid who lived with them, for she was a divinely oriented soul.

Damodardasji then asked Shri Acharyaji how he should live from now on. Shri Acharyaji ordered him to find a Krishna Deity and to serve Him.

Damodardasji found one at the house of a tailor, paid for it and brought it home. He and his wife changed all the cloth and pots in the house and Mahaprabhuji established that Deity in Seva at their house by bathing him in the Vedic manner with five substances [ghee,honey.water,milk and yoghourt] and named Him Shri Dvarakanathji.

 
Bhavaprakasha

Shri Acharyaji called this Svarupa [deity form] Shri Dvarakanathji because, when he gave this Seva to Damodardasji S, it was the first time he had established the Service of Shri Dvarakanathji Who is the glorious kingly Form of Shri Krishna.

They set Shri Dvarakanathji up on a fine altar. Shri Acharyaji prepared the food offerings and then accepted the foodstuffs back as Prasad and followed them with an offering of the fragrant paan leaf. However, the leaf was not ripe.
 
Shri Acharyaji admonished Damodardasji S by telling him to only ever offer the very best and perfect things for the Lord best enjoys the best offerings. Husband and wife began to serve the Lord very carefully and enthusiastacally.

Mahaprabhuji taught them that it is not appropriate to offer the Lord anything that has already been used for a personal purpose for example cloth from a roll from which something has already been made. The first part of anything must be offered to the Lord. No part of anything purchased for offering should be used for any other purpose before making that offering.

For example, their offerings of mango juice were made in a bowl of gold. The bowl and the, juice matched so well it was almost impossible to know that there was anything at all in that bowl.


Bhavaprakasha

Then Shri Acharyaji taught them about the principles of offering, for example, the cloth – anything already used should not be presented to the Lord. Anything that has been offered to Him is known as ‘prasadi’ [already offered and accepted back as His Grace]

The first part of everything and anything must go to Him. These are the ways of the Path of Grace.

The yellow mango juice offering matched the golden bowl. So it was secret and part of the intimate play of Shri Svaminiji and Shri Krishna: Gold is always regarded as Shri Svaminiji’s Form and silver as Shri Chandravaliji.

Soon afterwards, Shri Acharyaji again set out on his circumnambulation of India.

Damodardasji S used to fetch all the well water for his seva by himself. One day, his father-in-law came there and said that from the point of view of family prestige, it seems shameful for him to do so, andtold him to get their maidservant to bring the water. But Damodardasji S remembered the words of the great poet Suradasji who wrote. “in this age of Kali do your service without fear of worldly opinion” and again, “Don’t concern yourself with societal law. Surrender exclusively to the Lord’s service”.

He then asked his wife to join him in fetching the water. She was an accomplished Vaishnava and agreed. The next day they both went. He carried one pot and she the other and they passed by the father-in-law’s shop on the way and on the way back.

The father-in-law again came to Damodardasji and this time held his feet and apologized to him for asking him not to carry water but also implored him to go by himself and not take his wife along, after which he would no longer interfere.

Damodardasji S continued to fetch water by himself. The Lord began to communicate with Damodardasji S who pleased the Lord through his service and the Lord began to ask him for whatever He wanted and speak to him directly.

Shri Acharyaji was very happy with the way Damodardasji S served His Thakurji. He  commented that Damodardasji S’s seva was as good as that of the great King Ambarish, but added that Ambarish’s seva was done with attention to lawful limitations whilst that of Damodardasji was done totally according to the ways of the Path of Grace and was therefore far superior.

 
Bhavaprakasha

When Damodardasji S was fetching water from the well, his heart’s sentiment was that he was bringing water from the Shri Yamunaji river. That is why Shri Acharyaji compared this Seva to the great King Ambarish’s which was also nicely elaborate but within the Path of lawful Limitations.

Damodardasji S’s Seva was superior within the Pushti Realm, the Grace–filled Path and Way and therefore Shri Acharyaji docked it as far superior and to which Ambarish’s could not even compare. Just as it is a failed comparison to say that the Lord’s Lotus-Face is like the moon. Pushti Margiya seva ways are millions of times superior.

At first, when Damodardasji S’s father-in-law asked him not to allow his wife to fetch water he agreed but then afterwards reasoned to himself that he had already asked his wife to participate in the service of fetching water and if he were to stop her now that would mean that the father-in-law’s  defective reasoning would fall upon his shoulders. So, he thought that he would ask her not to go but then if she was happy to be doing this seva then she herself would not want to stop.

He thought, “if she can do it, she can do it a hundred times. The village people are already used to it, so why should I stop her from doing this service? If she is doing it out of affection for the lord then she will continue. It’s not that I am forcing her and, anyway, if she was not doing it out of love for the Lord then He would not accept that service. But, I will tell her just once not to go.”

He told her he would just go by himself in the future in order not to upset the father-in-law. The wife agreed but this meant that the father-in-law’s instructions of wrong intention affected her and later on she lost her pure faith. Damodardasji S on the other hand reasoned that if he were to stop fetching that water for his Lord then it would constitute a devotional obstruction for both of them. Thus he continued with the water service.

 
PART 2

One day, in the very hottest part of the year, Damodardasji put his Shri Thakurji to bed and then went up to sleep in the open on the roof. Shri Dvarakanathji requested the maid to open the door to the temple room because he was feeling so hot.

She opened the door and then He requested her to fan Him, which she did. After a while, He let her go back to sleep and she left the door of the temple room open. When Damodardasji S saw that the door was open when he went there in the morning he asked who had opened the door.

The maid recounted how the Lord had asked her to do so. Damodardasji S was puzzled as to why the Lord had not asked him to open the door but reasoned that it was the Lord’s wish to bless the maid in this way and that in Shri Acharyaji’s Path of Grace all are equal. The rules of high or lowly status no longer apply, for the Lord only requires Love from His devotees.

Later on the Lord personally informed Damodardasji S that He had told the maid to open the door and that he had no right or reason to be annoyed about that. Apart from that He said, “You go up to the open air on the roof to sleep but you keep me locked in this room.

Damodardasji S immediately took a vow not to eat until he had completed a much better arrangement for his Seva. His wife asked him why he took such a vow because the work could take quite a long time to finish. He agreed to fast from grains but to only eat some fruits till that time.

Damodardasji S upheld this vow until the changes had been completed. He moved His Lord’s seva into the new place on an auspicious day and celebrated by making nice offerings and inviting Vaishnavas to take prasad.Only then did he break his fast.

 
Bhavaprakasha

The Lord blessed the maid with the service of fanning him, not Damordasji S’s wife. This is because she had, because of her fathers opinion, given up the fetching of water seva just like that, and was not even concerned about this in her heart. Therefore He chose the maid to open the door and to fan Him.

Here we find Shri Acharyaji’s instructions that one must nurture full love for the Lord in the heart and do for Him in exactly the same way as one would for their own comfort, as, for example, in the consideration of how to serve appropriately for the seasons.

Damodardasji S slept on the roof but there was no way for cool air to come into the temple room. The Lord called the maid to open the door and thereby established the correct ways for the Lords personal quarters.

The maid had the Lord’s service firmly established in her heart and she always considered His comfort. 24 hours a day she was thinking of the Lord. She had reached the perfection of heartfelt service but never exposed this publicly. Therefore the Lord was most pleased with her.

Damodardasji S had been angry with the maid about her opening the door at first. The Lord was annoyed that he was treating someone so dear to Him quite inconsiderately. However, He did not want Damodardasji S either to be guilty of the offence of anger so He said that it was His personal request to the maid to open the door, and that Damodardasji S should be kind to her, not angry, recognising her true spiritual form. He reprimanded Damodardasji S for shutting Him in an airless room whilst he slept in the open on the roof whilst failing to remember his true original identity as the Sakhi named Citra who was in charge of the temple room arrangements.

Damodardasji S subsequently realized his identity and his relationship to the Lord. In the mood of Citra sakhiji he swore to eat only after making the necessary changes to the room. He called the workmen but then his wife objected saying that it might take a long time to complete the work and how would he manage on a full fast? He agreed to have some fruit. The construction of a suitable place went on and was completed including carvings, windows, the main Seat for Shri Thakurji to be enthroned, the Veranda, the courtyard, small and large curtains [for dividing and concealing] etc. just as in Shri Thakurji’s original home [in Vraja].

In fact, the new temple was made according to those ancient concepts and designs. He chose an auspicious time to present it and celebrated the occasion by feeding all the Vaishnavas and making offerings to Shri Acharyaji.

 
PART 3

One day, after the Rajbhoga lunch period, Damodardasji went into Shri Thakurji’s sleeping chamber to tidy up the bed etc and noticed that a cat had been there and messed the floor. Damodardasji S said “Thakurji can’t even look after His own bedroom”. Shri Dvarakanathji then threw a tray down onto his head and hit him with a stick.”Are you the servant or am I?” He asked. “Should a servant speak in this way?” He was very upset.

Damodardasji S tried to pacify Him with nice food offerings and Shri Thakurji accepted them, however, He did not speak to Damodardasji S for over two months. And it was only after a lot of imploring that He even began to speak to him again at all.
 

Bhavapakasha

Shri Thakurji partook of the food offerings after he had had to hit Damodardasji with the stick. Shri Acharyaji had given Damodardasji S the right to serve Him in the mood of a servant but not in the mood of one of His friends, such as when he laughed at Shri Thakurji. He had gone beyond the right to serve that Shri Acharyaji had granted him.

A Vaishnava should always understand the difference between these service moods and modes and behave accordingly.

 
PART 4

One day, Damodardasji Harsani came as a guest to Damodardasji S’ home and stayed there for about a week. Damodardasji S looked after his every need until he left to go to Adel.

Shri Acharyaji then asked him where he had been staying and where he had been taking Prasad. He told him about his stay with Damodardasji S, mentioning that he had not partaken of grains cooked in water [sakadi]. Shri Acharyaji bcame displeased with Damodardasji S saying that he should have offered sakadi Prasad to him.

Damodardasji S got ruse of this and, telling his wife to take very good care of Shri Thakurji’s service, decided to go to Adel too.

Reaching there, he met Shri Acharyaji and bowed down to him, but Shri Acharyaji turned his back on him. Very upset by this, Damodardasji S asked him how he had offended him with the plea that embodied souls are prone to making mistakes and that it is always good to learn about such offences. Shri Acharyaji then asked him why he had fed Damodardas Harsani with anasakadi Prasad but not with sakadi.

Damodardasji S asked Shri Acharyaji to ask Damodardasji Harsani the reason for this. Shri Acharyaji did so and Damodardasji replied that he had taken the morning Prasad from the Balbhog Seva and therefore was not hungry when it was time for the sakadi Prasad at lunchtime.

Shri Acharyaji said, “You purposely did not partake. I am very displeased about this. The Lord always brings about such situations in order to expose the state of the devotees hearts.”

Damodardasji S was at home in Kannauj but he knew what was going on in Shri Acharyaji’s heart. And Shri Acharyaji is always situated inside his devotees’ hearts so why would the devotees not know his heart too? However, the Lord often tests love in the devotees’ hearts through creating various situations.

Shri Acharyaji was very kind to Damodardasji S and then sent him home to Kannauj where he and his wife continued to serve their Lord very nicely.

 
Bhavaprakasha

It was really just to grace him that Damodardas Harsani went to Damodardasji S’ home to take Prasad. Damodardasji S had an opulent service arrangement and used his body and wealth generously therein. He used to invite all and any Vaishnava who passed through to take Prasad and then if they were going onwards to meet Shri Acharyaji he would send all sorts of offerings to Shri Acharyaji through their hands.

He was very generous to those Vaishnavas as well. He would secretly put money for their expenses into their travelling bags. They were always singing his praises to Shri Acharyaji. But Shri Acharyaji wanted to make sure that his heart and consciousness were entirely pure too and that there was no hint of his misplaced loyalty. Knowing all this, Damodardasji Harsani came to his home to take Prasad;really it was only to grace him. He saw that Damodardasji S’ heart was completely pure but because of his wife’s adherence to her father’s rule rather than to the Graceful Path he did not honour the prasad of grains cooked in water at their house.

He stayed their for five days but did not reveal any of the inner secrets of devotion to him. When he came back to Shri Acharyaji he told him where he had been but that he had not eaten the sakadi prasada there. He had however honoured the Prasad of grains cooked in ghee. This indicated that he trusted the heart of Damodardasji S but not that of his wife. Shri Acharyaji was perturbed that even though Damodardasji S had had the chance during Damodardas Harsanis visit he had still not set his wife upon the proper path through this great devotees auspices, and that this type of opportunity would not always arise. Damodardasji S was able to perceive this in his Gurus heart but his wife did not have that perception.

 
PART 5

When Vaishnavas from Simhananda went to see Shri Acharyaji they always passed through Kannauj and stayed with Damodardasji S. He fed them all. He also gave them all a coin and a coconut to take to Shri Acharyaji so that none of them went there empty handed when they conveyed his respects. That was the kind of great Vaishnava that Damodardasji S was.


PART 6
 
Damodardasji S’ father in law was wealthy. He employed a hundred maidservants for his daughter’s service so she wouldn’t have to do any lowly work. But his daughter still did her own work because it was related to her Divine Service. That was her devotional greatness.
 

PART 7

Once Shri Acaryaji was taking rest at Damodardasji S’ home. Damodardasji S was pressing his feet. Shri Acharyaji asked him if he wanted anything. Damodardasji S replied that, besides his Grace, he required nothing.

Shri Acharyaji then told him to ask the same question of his wife. When he asked her if there anything that she had her heart set on she told him that she really wanted to have a son. Damodardasji S told Shri Acharyaji who replied that she would certainly have one.

After this Shri Acharyaji traveled onto Jatipura [here also named as Shri Nathijidvara].

A short while afterwards she fell pregnant. Some time after this, a fortune teller arrived in the town. All the ladies began to ask about their future and they persuaded Damodardasji S’s wife to ask whether she would give birth to a son or a daughter. A girl went and asked him and he replied that she would bear a son.

Some time passed and Shri Acharyaji again came to Kannauj. Damodardasji S went to touch his Gurus feet but Si Acharyaji forbade him from doing so, saying that he was guilty of disloyalty. Damoardasji S implored that he could not understand this accusation.

Shri Acharyaji suggested that he ask his wife. He did so and she told him all about the fortune teller and his prediction.

Damodardasji S went back to Shri Acharyaji who then said that yes, a son would be born to her but that he would be a person of bad habits and faithless behaviour. Shri Acharyaji then returned to Adel.

When Damodardasji S’s wife heard this she stopped touching the Lords food preparations and water saying that if she had such a demonic being in her belly she should not touch the Lord’s things.

When she was about to give birth she told her mother to take the child away as soon as it was born because she didn’t even want to see its face. The mother did exactly that and removed the child as soon as it was born. The boy was brought up by a maidservant.


Bhavaprakasha

When Shri Acharyaji had come to Kannauja and asked Damodardasji S if he had any heartfelt desire it was all a test because he knew that the latter’s wife was fostering some inappropriate feelings which would  keep her away from attaining the true fruit of the Path of Grace.

Shri Acharyaji did not want Damodardasji S to become tainted by her shortfalls. Damodardasji S’s faith was full and pure. He only wanted to be able to serve his Guru’s feet.

Shri Acharyaji did not speak to the wife directly – her plea and his answer were made through Damodardasji S himself. She had desires other than pure service. She had not requested a son who would be dedicated to and help in the service of the Lord, but only a son and so it was evident to Shri Mahaprabhuji that she was not fully surrendered to the Path. She was serving but holding other desires in her heart and mind.

The poet Mukundadasji has written, whilst describing the Prahladji story from the 7th canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, “Asking your guru to fulfill any selfish desire is tainted devotion”. Expecting one’s Guru to grant worldly or scriptural wishes does not lead to the state of pure devotion. Shri Acharyaji granted the wife’s wish for a son and then moved on to Shri Giriraji to be close to Shri Govardhannathaji.

When she committed the offence of taking shelter elsewhere, Shri Acharyaji traveled on to Kannauj. There he did not allow Damodardasji S to touch his feet because he had been partaking of Prasad prepared by her. In was in this way that he instructed Damodardasji S.

No  other fault is as bad as disloyalty, like in a marriage if either partner dishonours the other by going with someone else. A striving Vaishnava should never rely on or take refuge in anyone other than their Lord and their Guru because this will destroy their entire Vaishnava Dharma [Way of Devotional life].

When  Damodardasji S’s wife realized this she stopped touching the Lord’s food offerings. Her disloyalty exited from her being through the boys birth. It is stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam that a devotee’s possessiveness should be directed uniquely at the Lord, otherwise the Lord will remove the other objects of affection from that devotee. Then knowledge and renunciation develop and total loyalty ensues.

A person without a devotional character will lose that object of affection but still be disloyal. Shri Acharyaji allowed the situation with the son to be played out because he regarded the wife as one of his own.

The wife understood this lesson and blindfolded herself at the time of the birth so as not to even espy her sons face. The mother took the son home. When he was about 10 years old, he developed into a very demonic being. Damodardasji S and his wife continued to serve their Lord very nicely.

 
PART 8
 
Following this, Damodardasji S left his body. His wife hid his corpse in the house. She asked some Vaishnavas to hire a boat to go to Adel. When the boat came she packed it with absolutely everything that was in the house along with Shri Dvarakanathji and asked those Vaishnavas to take it and all the stuff in it to Adel and give everything to Shri Acharyaji.

The Vaishnavas did as requested. When the boat had traveled about sixty miles only then did she tell of her husband’s death. Vaishnavas came and performed the last rites. When the son heard of his father’s death, he rushed over there to look for what he could get but saw that nothing remained in the house.
 
There was a pot full of water which he threw down. Then Damodardasji S’s father-in-law arrived and asked her where everything was and how she would eat. She said “Well, I will eat what you give me” since it was the custom in their family for a widow to be fed by her relatives.

However, Damodardasji S’s wife neither ate nor drank and she too soon left her body.

Both of them were cremated together. It was a few days after this that a Vaishnava told Shri Acharyji the whole story and he commented that this was a fitting end. Both husband and wife were worthy recipients of the Grace of Shri Acharyaji whom they served
 
Thus concludes varta 3 the story of damodardasji sambhalvare although it truly has no end.


Bhavaprakasha
 
Damodardasji S left his body. His wife reasoned that since their son was of a demonic nature he would probably try to get all the worldy goods for himself and so she hid the body, packed all the stuff in a boat and sent it to Shri Acharyaji. She let the boat get at least sixty miles away before announcing her husband’s death.

Her relatives performed the usual rituals for the body. When the  son arrived, all he could find was the pot of water. He tried to reach the boat but could not. He beat his head – it is not possible for a worldly person to attain transcendental goods, however hard they try.
 
The wife’s father asked how she would survive. His meaning was worldly and her answer was “I will eat whatever you give me”. It was the Kshatriya [warrior caste] way for a widow but her meaning was that without Shri Thakurji’s service, how would she be able to eat  anything anyway?
 
She regarded her life without Shri Thakurji’s service to be totally worldy, so she said she would take the worldly food. But of course she didn’t and she also left her body very soon. She was cremated along with her husband.

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imagep1roxy.pngVrindavan, 09.11.2018

Residents were once again reminded of Kaliya Naag after hundreds of dead fish were found at Keshi Ghat. Devotees who came to take a morning bath were shocked and horrified and many went away disappointed after deciding not to take snan (bath).

Local boatmen said that, from time to time, fish are found dead after a chemical has been released into the Yamuna. Siddhart Patnayak who came from Odisha to perform Kartik Niyam seva said that the government is to blame because untreated water is entering the Yamuna which is causing the fish to die.

Boatman Navik Bhagwan Das said he has seen mass fish deaths several times.

While some are becoming accustomed to seeing dead fish on the banks of the Yamuna others are expressing their outrage on social media. In a video shot on 2nd November, when the largest numbers of dead fish were found, Purushottam Sharma expressed his anger at the injustice being done in Vrindavan dham, as the water that people are taking to their homes for pooja is more polluted than when Kaliya naag was in the Yamuna.

While children raced to pick up the fish floundering on the banks and put them back into the water, Sharma urged the government to release clean water into the Yamuna so that the fish can live. He said that residents are surprised that the Yogi Government does not feel ashamed at the poor condition of the Yamuna.

Sharma expressed his outrage that, instead of doing something about the situation in Vrindavan, the government is busy organizing a big Diwali party in Ayodhya. He said that it is a disgrace that people are coming to Vrindavan for Kartik Vrata and finding such a situation here.

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Purushottam Sharma

 

 

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imageproxy.jpgMathura, 08.11.2018

Popular bhajan singer Vinod Agarwal died in a  hospital around 4 am on Tuesday. He died due to multiple organ failure, news agency ANI reported. He was 63.

Vinod Agarwal was admitted in a critical condition to a private medical facility in Mathura after he complained of chest pain on Sunday. The 63-year-old was put on ventilator after some of his vital organs stopped working, a doctor said. His family members rushed from Mumbai to be by his side at the Nayati Hospital.

Born in New Delhi in 1955, Vinod Agarwal‘s imitable style of bhajan singing has been popular for decades. He settled down in Vrindavan dur his love for Lord Krishna. As per his wish, his final rites were performed in Vrindavan.

On Wednesday, the public rushed to his last viewing at his home in Vrindavan’s Pushpanjali Vaikuntha residency. After this, at 3pm, the funeral procession departed and his final rights were performed on the banks of the Yamuna.

The legendary singer has performed in over 1,500 live programs across the country and has held shows in Singapore, Italy, Britain, Switzerland, France, Germany, Canada, Ireland and Dubai.

Speaking about his decision to relocate to Vrindavan, the singer said, "I left aside Mumbai, the city of dreams, and made Vrindavan, the city of bhakti, my home. For my entire life I sang Kanaiya’s bhajans and now, in this last phase of my life, I want to stay in Kanaiya’s home and to go to my eternal rest there. When my life leaves my body, it will leave it in Vrindavan.

Singing hymns of Kanha all over the world, this is the only wish that at the last stop of life, that I can sleep in the city of Kanhaiya only. Whenever my life goes out, I will go to Vrindavan."

No one knew that the desire of the maestro, Vinod Agarwal, will be fulfilled this fast so soon after the interview given to Amar Ujala. But it was decided by destiny. In an interview, Vinod had an expression of utmost satisfaction on his face. Describing his musical journey to Vrindavan, Vinod said that he has been singing since 1978. He said that he never even learnt music formally, but was able to sing because he received the grace of Kanhaiya.

Bhajan singer Vinod Agarwal said that, previously, he was in the clothing business. The business flourished with shops in Mumbai, but he was unable to concentrate on business and came to Vrindavan to settle with his wife. His son is managing the business. At this time, Vinod said that he is not a social reformer, a preacher or a speaker. He is just an ordinary person, who is immersed in the devotion. Explaining his attraction to Vrindavan, he said, "I always thought that I should spend a quarter of my life in Vrindavan".

He further said that music is like a vast ocean. Western music is about increasing excitement. Nowadays there is noise in the name of music. The intensity of words is important in music but these days, words are not being used properly. Singers should pay attention to the meaningfulness of the words in songs.

About the tears that can be seen in his eyes when he sings he said that when the love of Krishna cannot be contained in the heart, it comes out in the eyes. He explained,"there is a deep affection for Krishna in my heart and bhajan is the means of expressing this affection". He said that many of Vrindavan’s sants compose superb bhajans but they are not interested in performing.

He further said that the music is like a vast ocean. Change is the rule of creation. Western music fills the excitement. The intensity of words is also important in music. Nowadays there is noise in the name of music. Words are not being used properly. New singers should come to use words correctly.

Bhajan singer Vinod Agarwal said that previously, he was in the clothing business. The business flourished with shops in Mumbai, but he was unable to concentrate on business and came to Vrindavan to settle with his wife. Now his son is managing the business.

Vinod had said that he is not a social reformer, a preacher or a speaker. He just an ordinary person, who is immersed in the devotion. Explaining his attraction to Vrindavan, he said, "I always thought that I should spend a quarter of my life in Vrindavan". He said, I want to spend the last days of my life on the angan (courtyard) of Kanaya. At the end of my life, the name of the eternal flute player should be on my lips.

Vinod Agarwal used to perform kirtan every Sunday at his business place in Mumbai. He was joined by a friend Baldev Krishna who used to work in private company in Delhi. From 1993 the two started singing bhajans together. Both of them performed more than three thousand programs around the country and abroad and released over 200 albums.

Vinod was performing on stage even a few months ago. On October 7th, he performed at Sri Krishna Bhakti Ashram Mandal, Chandigarh, Sector-29. Rakesh Pal Modgil said, "Our organization called Bhajan Singer Vinod Agarwal many times to perform here. We are very sad to hear the news of his death. May his soul rest in peace".

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imageproxy.jpgBraj, 04.11.2018
Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Swami

On the day after Dipavali, Nanda Baba arranges for Jatipura Brahmanas to do a pancha-amrta (five nectar) abhishek of Giriraj Govardhan. Cooks prepare many kinds of sweets, rice, rotis and sabjis. Then then they arrange everything on leaf places to offer to Govardhana Hill.

In one form Krishna sits next to Nanda Baba. And in another, huge form, Krishna sits atop Giriraja gobbling up all the offered foodstuffs at once with one very long arm! Observing this, small Gopala says, “Baba! Just see how Giriraja is eating everything!” Nanda and the cowherders happily gaze upon Giriraja in great amazement as Giriraja Baba concludes His bhoga and munches on some paan.

Then the Vrajavasis offer Giriraj Dharan lots of flower garlands and sandalwood paste. Local brahmanas offer Giriraja a huge ghee lamp held on a long pole. At the end, the gopas offer dandavats to Giriraja-Krishna and ask Him, “O Giriraja Dharani! What is the best way to please You?”

Giriraja resoundingly replies, “I am most pleased by anyone who performs My Parikrama!” So that’s exactly what Nanda Baba and all the gopas do. Leading the Parikrama are the cows, then the Brahmanas, the older gopas and gopis, the young gopis, Sri Krishna, His chums, and lastly Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda Maiya. After  Govardhana Parikrama, Nanda Baba feeds all the Vrajavasi Brahmanas and gives lavish charity of cows, gold, silver and cloth.

Nanda and his family then take prasadam and rest afterwards. The Playful Pair, Priya-Priyatama, slip away for some confidential exchanges in a secluded Giriraj nikunja. Later, the Divine Couple return to the camp and meet again at midday at Radha Kunda for Their usual fun loving pastimes.

(Gaur Govinda Gutika, adapted)

Radha-Govinda’s Giriraja Annakuta Utsava ki jai!

Giriraja Dharan ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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Vrindavan, 04.09.2018 

Hatari is celebrated on the same day as Diwali – the last day of the first half of Kartik month. It is a  lovely misa lila (accidently-on-purpose meeting) where the gopis come out of their homes bearing their little lamps so that they will be able to catch a glimpse of His astounding beauty face-to-face when ‘purchasing' some of His goodies with their currency of love and devotion.

The gopis approach His little hut in line, creating an enchanting “Dīpāvalī, with their line of lights. During this festival, in many Vaishnavas' homes you can see a tiny set of scales and weights next to Bal Gopal.

HATARI – Shri Thakurji's Shop

As the season gets colder and darker so the festivals of Vraja impart warmth and light for the Lord's comfort. Krishna wears warmer, brighter clothes and tiny oil lamps dispel the darkness.

Since loving exchange is the central theme of all the Vraja festivals (Utsav), new and seasonably suitable arrangements are always being made. The Hatari is a little hut arranged like a shop.

These are a few of the musical descriptions of the pastime:

Raga Kanharo

dipadana de hatari baithe nanda baba ke satha
nana vidha ke meva ana bantata apne hatha
vividha singara pahare pata bhusana
aura candana diya matha
nandadasa prabhu sagarina age
giri govardhana natha

Translation:

Krishna lights all the little lamps and sits in the Hatari with His father Nanda Baba. He distributes with His own hands many kinds of sweets and dried fruits.  He is wearing many kinds of beautiful garments and jewels and His head is adorned with sandalwood paste. Nandadas' Lord is above all the Lord of Mount Govardhan, which nourishes the cows.

Raga Kanharo

hatari baithe srigopala
ratna jatita ki hatari banai
hira motina parama visala
dala dallaiyya aura kulaiya
bhara bhara dhare pakavana rasala
pana phula sondhe sahita saba
bantata de de nanda ke lala
ramavali premavali lalita
candravali brija mangala bala
calo sakhi jaham paintha lagi hai
becata hain janam gokula pala
saba sundari grha grhate aim
nirakhata naina visala
govinda prabhu priya cita coryo hai
bandhi prema ki pala

Gopal is sitting in the Hatari studded with diamonds and huge pearls. Inside are small and large baskets full of tasty foodstuffs. Nanda's boy distributes them all together with betal leaves, flowers and perfume oil. Rama-vali, Premävali, Lalitä and Chandra-vali; the lovely auspicious young girls of Vraja, say to each other, “Come on friend, lets go to the store where the Lord, the protector of Gokul, is a shopkeeper!” The beauties come from their homes, just to look at His lovely large eyes. Govindadas says, his Lord has stolen the minds of His darling and caught Her in the net of his love.

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Radha Kund, 02.11.2018 (Raseshwari Dasi)

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at Radha Kunda to receive the blessings of Kundeshwari Shri Radhe, on the auspicious day of the appearance of Her precious lake.

Pilgrims from all parts of India and many foreign visitors gathered to wait for midnight and immerse themselves in the most exalted pilgrimage place.

In comparison with previous years, this time there were more security measures in order to avoid serious inconveniences and risks of drowning. There were two boats on the lake that continuously watched the bathers and prevented people from going far beyond the established barriers.

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Vinod Bihari Baba and Murari Baba

We were able to contemplate this fabulous confluence of Vaishnavas from all over the world from the Tinkori Goswami Ashram. There, we waited for the arrival of two great sadhus of Vraja — Shri Vinod Bihari Das Babaji and Shri Murari Das Babaji.

On the ashram roof there were many devotees and Vinod Bihari Baba gave his affectionate gaze to each of his bhaktas, expressing himself through his gaze and gestures, as he could not speak due to the mauna-vrata (vow of silence) he undertakes throughout the month of Kartik. His sweetness and affection captivated everyone.

When Vinod Baba and Murari Baba went to bathe, all their followers went after them producing a great tumult and pleasant atmosphere. Everyone felt blessed to share that moment with these two exalted suddha-bhaktas, whose presence made the atmosphere more spiritually festive.

The Bahulashtami celebrations were extended throughout the next day and many more devotees continued to arrive at Radha Kund to immerse themselves in the auspicious waters.

Bahulashtami is also called Ahoi Asthami. On the eighth day of the waning phase of the Damodar month, the Ahoi Ashtami is celebrated. Traditionally, mothers observe a fast on this day for their sons as it is said that mother Yashoda used to observe this fast for the well-being of her son Krishna. On this day, some take snan while praying for the welfare of their children, others pray to conceive, and others simply pray for Shri Radha Rani’s mercy.

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Vrindavan, 01.11.2018

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Preparations are underway and the special silver throne of Shri Radha Vallabh is being cleaned in preparation for special Darshans starting from Dhanteras on 5th November.

A beautiful ornate silver throne is being now cleaned and prepared for Shri Shri Radha Vallabh ji. Thakurji will sit on the silver throne over the Diwali period, until Bhai Dhoj. Shining the silver throne is no easy task and a team of staff and devotees from the Radha Vallabh Vaishnav Committee are working together to clean and polish it.

Radheshlal Goswami said that along with the darshan of Radha Vallabh Lal sitting on the silver throne, temple management is arranging deep daan. On Deepawali, there will be Darshan of Thakurji playing Chaucer board game.

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Deep daan in Radha Vallabh temple

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imageproxy.pngMathura, 31.10.2018

While most houses around India will be lit up on 7th November for Diwali, another festival of lights will be held on Mathura’s ghats on 23rd November, on the occasion of Kartik Purnima. Preparations are already underway for decorative lighting and fireworks from Ganga Ghat to Dhruv Ghat.

A draft of the plans for the festival was given to ADM Ravindra Kumar and Municipal Magistrate Manoj Singh who has demanded that administration to provide assistance with cleaning, traffic control, security, fireworks etc.

Kartik Purnima is sometimes called Dev Deepawali. The gods are said to be sleeping throughout the four months of Chaturmas, which includes Deepawali, and awaken only on Devotthan Ekadashi. Thus they celebrate the festival of lights on Kartik Purnima instead.

Kartik Purnima is also the birthday of Matsya, god Vishnu’s fish-incarnation. It is also the birthday of Vrinda, the personification of the Tulsi plant and of Kartikeya, the god of war and son of Shiva. This day also is considered special for Radha as is believed that Krishna and Radha danced in rasa and Krishna worshiped Radha on this day.

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main-qimg-244675a40ec207bb779f909e9139150d-c.jpg.a5a937bc29b5d140ec48b56e091a1ccb.jpgMahanidhi Madan Gopal Swami: All the months of the lunar calendar are named after different forms of Narayana like Madhava, Govinda, Keshava and so on as in Vaisnava tilaka. Similarly, the month of Kartik is called "Damodara" which also refers to form of Vishnu. This fact is confirmed in Sanatana-siksha (Cc. 2.20.201), wherein Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says:

asvine padmanabha, kartike damodara, radhadamodara anya vrajendra-kumara

"In the month of Äçvina, the predominating Deity is Padmanabha, and in Karttika it is Damodara. This Damodara [which the month is named after] is different from RadhaDamodara, the son of Nanda Maharaja in Våndavana

Nevertheless, most Vaishnavas understand that the "Damodara month" refers to that naughty boy, Krishna, who Mother Yashoda bound around the waist with a rope, which took place on Dipavali day in Kartik. During this Damodara month, if one manages to capture Krishna with the ropes of pure devotion, he will be released from the bondage of repeated birth and death.

Gaudiya Vaishnavas consider Radharani to be the presiding Deity for the month because Sri Srila Rupa Goswamipada (Utkalika-vallari) refers to Radharani as Kartik-devi, the goddess of Kartik. Unlike others who call it the "Damodara" month, Gaudiyas, using the following scriptural evidence, refer to Kartik as the "Radha-Damodara" month.

"One day in Kartik, Shyama arrived late for His rendezvous with Priyaji in Her kunja. In loving anger, Manini Radha glanced at Shyama with frowning eyebrows. Using some golden vines, Kunjeshvari then tied a rope around Shyama’s belly to punish Him for not showing up as promised. Madhava pleaded that He was late because Ma Yashoda had kept Him home for a festival. Seeing Her mistake, Radha quickly untied Her beloved Damodara." (Bhaviñya Purana, Uttara-khanòa) Radharané’s desire to bind Krishna with Her love is fulfilled in this pastime. Thus Vrajavasis adore this Damodara, bound by Devi’s love.

The Garga-samhita tells another wonderful lila of Radha-Damodara: "One day as children Radha and Gopala were walking together in Bhandiravana along the shimmering blue waters of Kalindi. The lovely couple rested for a time under the cooling shade of a Banyan tree. In an instant, Yogamaya manifested their robust, youthful forms. Suddenly from nowhere, Lord Brahma arrived. Then acting as the officiating priest, Brahmaji performed a mock marriage with all the demigods in attendance. During the wedding ceremony the sari and dhoti of Radha and Krishna were tied together as is the custom in Vedic weddings. After the ceremony the guests left, and Radha-Govinda again assumed their childhood forms and walked home."Since the Divine Couple were tied together at this time, some Vaishnavas consider this pastime a lila of Radha-Damodara.

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Vrindavan, 28.10.2018

The streets of Vrindavan are thronged with visitors during this most auspicious Damodar month. People from around the globe have booked their rooms in the hotels and guesthouses of Vrindavan, Mathura and other pilgrimage towns of Vraja and locals and visitors alike are enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Damodar month began from Ekadasi, the day after the Vijaya Dashami and will end on Akshaya Navami. Radhakund, despite, being a small town, is completely booked out with every room rented out for this auspicious month of Kartik, which celebrates Shri Krishna’s Damodar lila.

Every year, large number of devotees visit Braj and Vrindavan during the auspicious month of Kartik. Most stay for the entire month, but, even those who can’t stay here for the whole month, consider themselves lucky to spend a few days under the Divine Shelter of the Lord and Lady of Braj Bhoomi. Devotees visit Vrindavan in groups led by their Gurus or the senior Sanyasi from the ashram or Mutt they follow.

Aesthetics follow the strict rules mentioned in the religious texts and follow a satvik (mode of goodness) lifestyle during month long auspicious month. The strict followers take an early bath; preferably in Yamuna or any kund, eat only the food that they have cooked and offered, walk barefooted in the Dham; increase their chanting of the Mahamantra; read Shrimad Bhagvatam, the Gita and other religious text describing the pastime of the Lord.

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Deities and Govardhan Shila at Radha Damodar temple

Radha Damodar temple is the special attraction in this month, as it is named after Damodar and many people refer to this month as Damodar Maas. Devotees offer lamps to the deities in the Damodar temple and other temples of Braj. The four-round parikrama of Damodar temple has equal significance to one round of Girraj Parikrama. Therefore, devotees don’t miss the chance to perform four rounds of Damodar Parikrama every day during Damodar Maas.

It is said that the observance of the Kartik vow or Niyam Seva is simultaneously a direct and an indirect cause of the attainment of the desired feelings. The indirect cause is the aspect of austerity in maintaining strict restrictions on eating etc., and the direct cause is the part of observing a certain quota of hearing and chanting.

In the month of Kartik, more attention is given to the regulative principles of hearing and chanting and worship of Shri Damodar than in other months of the year, because, if one performs even a little bhajan in this time, Shri Damodar will accept it as a great offering.

These days, crowds begin to gather in the temples as early as 3.30 am for Mangala Arati and people race from one temple to the other in the morning to attend the most auspicious Aarati of the day. The first Mangala Arati is performed at 3.30 am in Shri Shyam Sundar Temple, followed by Shri Damodar at 4.15 am, Shri Govinda Dev 4.30 am, Imlitala Mahaprabhu Mandir 4.45 am; Shri Radha Raman, Shri Gopinath , Shri Gokulananda, Shri Madan Mohan at 5.00 am.

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Mangala Darshan at Radha Damodar

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Mangala Aarti at Radha Damodar

The waking up Lila or the Kunjabhanga bhajans sung in the temples fill the moods of the visitors with devotion. Devotees sing bhajans glorifying Lord Damodar of Gokul throughout this month and devotedly worship the mischievous and beautiful form of Lord Krishna.

After the Mangala darshan, devotees participate in the Nagar Sankirtan performed by the various groups, chanting the holy name, dancing and roaming in the streets of Vrindavan. Some devotees perform the Vrindavan Parikrama straight after the morning arati.

Devotees offer ghee lamps in the temple mostly at the dusk. The lila Kirtans are sung during the eight watches of the day during Kartik. Special darshan of the deities are organized all in the Sapta Devalaya temples.

This is a very important month for those who perform the Braja Parikrama, visiting each of the main places of Krishna’s pastimes. Several important festivals including Sharad Purnima, Karva Chauth, Ahoi or Bahulashtami, Diwali, Bhatri Dwitia, Govardhan Puja, Gopashtami and Akshaya Navami fall within the 35 days period of this auspicious month, which each festival having special significance for aesthetics and devotees.

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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Swami: Why do Gaudiya Vaisnavas observe Kartik Vrata? Gaudiyas especially observe Kartik Vrata for the purpose of worshiping and pleasing Shrimati Radharani. Because Radha is most famous as Karunamayi Radha, we very strictly follow all the rules and regulations of the Kartika Vrata, NIYAMA SEVA, so that Shrimati showers us with Her divine compassion.

The goal of this month, our lives and every moment is simply to gain a glance of mercy and favor from our beloved Swamini Radha.

May Shri Radha, all Her merciful sakhis and manjaris, Shri Krishna, Nitai-Gauranga, and all the Gurus in our parampara bless us with gopi-bhava and Shrimati Radhika’s eternal loving service in the groves of Shridhama Vrndavana.

For Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Kartik Vrat is more important than any other vrata in the year. Other vratas observed for the satisfaction of Syamasundara and His expansions last for one day at most, but Shri Radha’s pleasure vow of Kartik LASTS FOR ONE MONTH.

In Stavamala, Shri Rupa Gosvamipada describes Shri Radha in one verse as Kartiki-devi Shrimati Radharani. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, he describes Kartik Vrata as the Urja-vrata. Urja means power, strength and empowerment. And who is the source of this urja, power and spiritual strength? Urjeshvari Radha and only Radha. Kishori Radha is the Goddess or the Queen and one and only worshipable Deity of the month of Kartik.

Kartikidevi Shrimati Radharani ki jai! Urjeshvari Radhika ki jai!

All Vaisnavas, including Gaudiyas, observe many other vows, vratas, and fasting days to honor Bhagavan or His various expansions on days such as Janmastami, Ramnavami, Nrsimha Chaturdashi, Vamana Mahadvadasi etc.

It is interesting to note that these shaktiman Purusha Bhagavan Vratas only extend for one day or half a day at most. But in case of the shakti, sarva-sakti-mayi powerhouse source, Radharani, the vrata extends for one month. It is not one day long or fasting till midnight like Janmastami or fasting half a day. It is one entire month called niyama seva month.

And yes, like other Vaisnavas, we will sing about and full-heartedly glorify Lord Damodara of Gokula throughout this month and devotedly worship Bhagavan Shri Krishna in this most mischievous and beautiful form. But this most auspicious and wonderful month of Kartik, we Gaudiya Vaisnavas especially focus on worshiping and performing special observances for the pleasure of our most worshipful Aradhya-devi Shrimati Radharani.

Niyama means doing extra and special sevas simply to please Radharani; more Nama-japa and kirtana, extra prayers, extra puja, extra reading, extra preaching, extra Hari, Guru, Vaisnava seva and more—all for happiness of Shrimati Radharani. This is the goal of our sadhana.

Our prayojana is Radharani’s pleasure! We observe Kartik Vrata only for the purpose of bringing more joy to Radhika. And if Swamini so desires, She will be compassionate to us, purify us, and make us eligible to attain Her eternal divine service in the groves of Vrindavana.

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gatonmādai rādhā sphurati hariṇāśliṣṭa-hṛdayā
sphuṭaṁ dvārāvatyām iti yadi śṛṇomi śruti-taṭe
tadāhaṁ tatraivoddhata-mati patāmi vraja-purāt
samuḍḍīya svāntādhika-gati-khagendrād api javāt

But if I hear it said even with faintly that out of loving madness Radha has gone to Dwarka, where she is clearly manifest and where Hari is holding her to his heart, then with a jubilant spirit I will immediately fly from Vraja, faster than even Garuḍa, the king of birds who flies with the speed of mind, and blissfully land in Dwarka!

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In the previous verse Shri Raghunath Das, who suffers the pangs of separation from the Divine Couple, vowed that he would not leave Vraja Dham, the matchless erotic playground of Radha Madhava, for even a moment, even if Krishna would personally call him to come to Dwarka. “Alright then,” one may ask, “now what if Shri Radharani went to Dwarka and Shri Raghunath Das would be blessed there with the sweetness of the Yugala Kishor, then would he go there or not?”

As an answer to this question Shri Raghunath begins this verse by saying that Shri Radharani is naturally not inclined ever to leave Vraja to go to Dwarka. This he has reasonably explained in the previous verse. But then again, maybe she would become so maddened out of separation from Krishna that she would lose her senses and go to Dwarka anyway!

In Shrimad Bhāgavatam it is described that Shri Radharani went to Kurukshetra on the occasion of a solar eclipse, and in Lalita-mādhava Nāṭakam Shrila Rupa Goswami describes how she became completely mad out of separation from Krishna and committed suicide by jumping into the Yamunā at Khela Tirtha, from where she entered into the sun globe, finally ending up in the Nava Vrindavan garden in Dwarka. But, according to the scriptures and the ācāryas, these two forms of Radharani are only expansions of the fountainhead, Shri Vrishabhanu-nandinī. This fountainhead Vrishabhanu-nandinī never leaves Vrindavan.

This daughter of Vrishabhanu has two manifestations – 1) Saṁyoginī and 2) Viyoginī. The former was manifest in Kurukshetra and the latter went to Dwarka’s Nava-Vrindavan garden in transit through the sun globe. Shrila Gopal Guru Goswami quotes the following verses from the Sanat Kumāra Samhitā in the Paddhati-traya:

“In Vraja there are three Radhas – Saṁyoginī or Kāmā, Viyoginī or Vāmā and Kīrtidā-putrī, the daughter of Kirtida and Vrishabhanu. Kāmā and Vāma are two expansions of Kīrtidā-putrī. Kīrtidā Putrī knows that her Prāṇa Ballabha never leaves Vraja. When Krishna leaves for Mathura, he goes there in his Vāsudeva-prakāśa; at that time Shri Nanda-nandana appears to have left Vraja and Kīrtidā-putrī then relishes the rasa called pravāsa (foreign sojourn of the beloved). The Munis call this loss of association pravāsa. Thinking “The Lord of my life has left me to go to Māthurā!” Vāmā Radha became totally overwhelmed by anguish and jumped into the Yamunā to go to another manifestation of Gokula, named Goloka, where she could relish the taste of union with her Lord once more. The other manifestation of Shri Radha, named Kāmā, suffered so much of separation after Krishna went to Mathura that she went on pilgrimage to Kurukṣetra, yearning to see him.”

Although this expansion of Shri Radha went to Kurukṣetra, eager to see Krishna, this meeting with him could not be as relishing as meeting him in Vraja. Weeping and weeping she sang:

anyera hṛdaya ‘mana’,āmāra mana vṛndāvana,
mane vane eka kori jāni
tāhā tomāra padadvaya, korāho yadi udoy,
tabe tomāra pūrṇa kṛpā māni
prāṇanātha! śuno mora satya nivedana
vraja āmāra sadana, tāhā tomāra saṅgama,
nā pāile nā rahe jīvana

“For others the heart is the mind, but my mind is Vrindavan. I know this forest and my mind to be one and the same. If you would make your lotus feet appear there I would consider that to be your full mercy. O Lord of My life! Listen to My earnest prayer: Vraja is My abode, and if I cannot meet you there I cannot remain alive!”

Another expansion of Shri Radha, named Vāmā, jumped into the Yamunā and went to Dwarka via the sun globe, but despite the fact that she lived in the new Vrindavan garden, which was an exact replica of the original, and that Dwarkanath came there dressed as Vrajendra-nandana, she still desired to be with the original Krishna in Vraja. From all these facts it is clearly understood that it is impossible for Kīrtidā-sutā (the original Radharani) to go to Dwarka and meet Dwarkanath there.

“Despite that,” Shri Raghunath says, “I will heed to anyone who argues what would happen if Radhika became so maddened by feelings of separation from Krishna that she would actually leave Vraja go to Dwarka and stay with him there. If I hear such a thing I would fly there even faster than Garuḍa, who flies faster than the mind, I would land in Dwarka and would be blessed there with the sweet relish of the Yugala Kiśora.”

Shri Raghunath Das’s svarūpa is that of Shri Radha’s beloved maidservant, and the sweetness of the Yugala Kiśora is his very life. He is so attached to living in Vraja because that is the place where he can best serve the Divine Couple and relish their sweetness. But he will take shelter with body, mind and words of any place where he can serve them and relish their boundless sweetness – this is the purport. Above all, the kiṅkarīs or maidservants always stick to Shri Radhika like her shadow. They always stay with her when she feels separation from Krishna, to console her and to serve her. They cannot stay without her anywhere, not even for a moment. Therefore wherever Shri Radha is, there is Shri Raghunath’s most coveted shelter – that is the inner meaning of this verse. From this verse it is also learned that Shri Radha possesses mental equipoise and does not leave Vraja to go elsewhere, even though she greatly desires to meet Krishna. This is why Shri Raghunath is so attached to living in Vraja!

virahete unmādinī,vṛṣabhānu rāja nandinī
dvārakāya gamana korile.
śrī kṛṣṇera āliṅgane, sukhe hon ageyāne,
nayanete dekhiche sakale

“If Vṛṣabhānu’s princess goes mad out of separation from Krishna and goes to Dwarka, where everyone can see that she goes beside herself of bliss when he embraces her……”

ei kathā yadi śuni, manodhika drutagāmī,
garuḍa hoite savegete
vraja cheḍe śighra uḍe, yāi dvārāvatī pure,
āṅkhi bhare yugale herite

….”as soon as I hear this I will fly out of Vraja faster than Garuḍa, who is faster even than the mind, and go to Dwarka where I will fill my eyes with the vision of the Yugala Kiśora.”

__________

Commentary of Shri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Shri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar of Stavāvalī), and was pveublished in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) from Shri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.

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 ********VARTA 2********

     SRI KRISHNADAS MEGHAN

       [a Kshatriya from Soron]

      ***Bhavaprakasha***

Krishnadas Meghanji is a manifestation of Shri Svaminiji’s Sakhi Visakha. Visakha Sakhiji is Shri Svaminiji’s shadow, so, just as a shadow is always linked to its source, so Visakhaji is inseparable from Shri Svaminiji and is always with Her. This was the same with Krishnadasji and Shri Acharyaji. Krishnadasji would sometimes embody special powers, as we shall read in the following stories.

            ******PART 1 *******

Shri Vallabhacharyaji circumnambulated the world three times and, each time, Krishnadasji accompanied him. On the first trip they went to Badrinath and found two mountains named Parali and Kirani. A huge rock fell down from the peaks, but Krishnadasji managed to stop it with his bare hands. Shri Acharyaji was pleased and impressed and was willing to grant him the ultimate reward but, in order to test his disciple, asked him, “what reward would you choose?”

Krishnadasji asked for three boons: first, that the devotional principles of Shri Acharyaji’s Path of Grace be perfectly established in his heart. Second, that his speech be always pure and, third, that Shri Acharyaji visit Krishnadasji’s previous Guru and accept him into the Path. Shri Acharyaji was favourable to the first two but not to the third.

            ***Bhavaprakasha***

Krishnadas still regarded his previous Guru as his Guru in his heart. This feeling was revealed by his request for the boon from Shri Acharyaji. That is why Shri Acharyaji withheld the granting of this divine blessing. He granted the first two and not the third. This is because the Guru was not a divinely oriented soul and therefore would not be qualified to enter the Path of Grace. But, Krishnadas still held the previous Guru in his heart which blocked his total experience of the Grace-filled Way. His speech was not purified and he lost some of his previous power.

           ******PART 2******

Then they travelled beyond Badrinath towards the cave where the Great Sage Vedavyasji lived. Unqualified human beings could not enter there so Shri Acharyaji told Krishnadasji to wait outside while he proceeded to go in to meet Vedavyasji. The latter then showed great interest in Shri Acharyaji’s commentary on the Shrimad Bhagavatam and requested Shri Acharyaji to discuss this commentary with him. There was one verse from the “Yugala Gita” that he wanted to discuss. The verse was SB 10,35,2.

vāmabāhukṛta vāmakapolo

valgitabhruradharāṙpitavenuṁ |

komalaṅgulibhirāśritamāṙgam

gopya irayati yatra mukundaḥ||

[Shri Gopijana ke Pancha Prema Gita, VKP 2014]

It took three whole days for Shri Acharyji to explain the full purport of this verse. Vedavyasji then admitted that he did not really understand the meaning of these lines and begged forgiveness for this. Shri Acharyaji instructed him, “You have spent much time and effort revealing scriptures adhering to about impersonal vedic rites and rituals of the path of lawful limitation][māyāvād].” Vedavyasji interjected, “But what should I do? It was my given duty to instruct in this way only”.

There are two ways of regarding the scriptural word. Shri Acharyaji then told Vedavyasji that his commentary fell on the side of personal philosophy [brahmavāda,where everything is known to be the Lord Himself]. When he heard this explanation, Vedavyasji felt great joy.

After this, Shri Acharyaji took his leave of Vedavyasji. He had been there for three days. Nevertheless, when he exited the cave, Krishnadas Meghan was still standing there. Shri Acharyaji was very pleased to see him and asked him why he had not left. Krishnadas Meghanji replied, “Where should I go? I have no other refuge other than your Lotus feet.” This was most pleasing to Shri Acharyaji who offered Krishnadasji a boon. He requested the same 3 boons and, again, Shri Acharyaji granted the first two but not the third [accepting the Guru into the Path of Grace].

        ***Bhavaprakasha***

Krishnadas still held reverence for his old Guru in his heart. Therefore he found some of his previous powers diminished. This is why Shri Acharyaji did not take Krishnadasji Meghan into the cave. He was going to discuss the verse from the Yugalgita which would have been way beyond Krishnadasji Megan’s grasp. Even Vedvyasji was  incapable of grasping its meaning. This is because he is just a partial manifestation of the Lord and so how would he be even vaguely capable of properly hearing the Lords own voice? The Lord of Lords sat in Vedavyasjis mind and told him what to write. He was the Lords tool and had no experience of Divine joy. The hidden meaning of this has been described by Shri Harijivanadasji in this Poem:-

Raga Kedaro

“You can only get to know the Lord when He allows it. Until such time, you will not get to know Him even through reading or hearing the recitation of the Vedas, Puranas or the Smritis. Brahma, the Creator, heard the Shrimad Bhagavatam from Lord Narayana and then related it to Naradji, who then passed it on to Vedavyasji who was not able to understand its inner meaning. Thus,for him, it was just a medicine to allay his anxiety and pain. Vedavyasji then taught it to Shri Sukadevji who then passed it on to Parixit. Even though the latter heard the 10th Canto, he still did not develop the insight that Shri Krishna is everything and so never became actively involved in the Lords service. Shri Vallabhacharyaji churned the nectarean curds of the Shrimad Bhagavatam for he is the most elevated teacher. He lifts the veil from before the devotees eyes and grants them the highest Lord into the palm of their hands. He revealed the many tasteful ways of service to the Lord through music and decoration etc. The poet Harijivandasji says that Shri Acharyaji, through his Grace, lets the divinely oriented devotees taste that nectar.[In this way Shri Vallabhacharyaji grants his devotees great Grace and lets them taste the nectar of personal service.]

          ******PART 3******

On another occasion, Shri Acharyaji traveled to Gangasagara. Once, he was taking rest whilst Krishnadasji was massaging his feet. Shri Acharyaji wanted to offer some puffed rice and he told Krishnadasji Meghan the same, after which Shri Acharyaji fell asleep. Krishnadasji went to banks of the river where, on the other shore, he saw a light twinkling. Using it as a guide, he managed to cross over. There was a village nearby where they had just harvested some rice. He paid them double their asking price and acquired what he wanted. Returning to Shri Acharyaji’s resting place, he pressed his feet until he awoke and presented the rice to him. Shri Acharyaji asked him where he had got hold of it and when Krishnadasji told him he again granted him a boon. Krishnadasji asked for the very same three rewards. Shri Acharyaji stated that the embodied soul has no concept of what is appropriate to ask for. He said that, had he been asked, he would even have granted the direct sight of the Lord!

Then Shri Acharyaji traveled on to Soron. Krishnadasji asked his permission to bring his Guru to him. Shri Acharyaji told him he would only gain grief thereby. So Krishnadasji went to see his Guru by himself. The Guru asked him, “Have you taken another Guru?” Krishnadasji denied that he had,reassuring the Guru that he was his only teacher, but that by his blessings he had met the Lord Himself. The Guru asked him how he knew that Shri Acharyaji was the Lord’s own Form. Krishnadasji picked up coals from the fire that was burning nearby with both hands and declared that if Shri Acharyaji were truly the Lord Himself then his hands would not be burnt. He held the coals for nearly two hours. The guru was astonished and fearful and told him to put them down, even forcing him to throw them down. Krishnadasji was very aggrieved to see his Gurus lack of respect for Shri Acharyaji. [This story has been recounted in detail in Shri Gokulnathji’s commentary on the Shri Vallabhashtakam.]

         *** Bhavaprakasha***

It was on the banks of the Gangasagara in the middle of the night that Shri Acharyaji had the idea to offer some puffed rice. Actually, the Lord Himself had no particular preference for this but the whole incident was just to shower grace on Krishnadasji Meghan. This is always the case in such matters, and so he swam across and acquired the goods. This was all achieved by the Lord’s Grace for it could not happen without His wish. Shri Acharyaji was very happy when Krishnadasji woke him up and gave him the rice. He offered Krishnadasji a boon but he again asked for the same three things. Shri Acharyaji remarked that embodied souls have no clue what to ask for. In this way their asking for anything is an obstacle to service. Paramanandadasji has sung, “If you ask for anything the Supreme Reward is lost.” 

Krishnadasji still held the other Guru to be his teacher which shows his lack of faith in Shri Acharyaji’s teachings. He should not have needed to ask for anything again. This shows how very difficult this Path is to tread. Krishnadasji may have known that Shri Acharyaji wanted the rice, but still, the proper understanding of the Path can only manifest in the heart through great Grace. He knew the concept of impure speech but failed to perceive that the character of the embodied soul is not in its own hands. It can only be purified when He wishes. When there is faith in any other as being the Lord or the Guru then the Path’s proper reward can never be achieved. Krishnadasji felt only grief from his other Guru but then he gave up disloyalty and took shelter of Shri Acharyaji. It was only then that his speech could become pure and his faults dissolve. He never asked such silly boons from Shri Acharyaji again. Taking shelter anywhere else is a big obstacle.

             ******PART 4******

After the Path of Grace had become established in his heart, Krishnadasji discussed some of the hidden principles of the Path with some Vaishnavas. One or two of them complained to Shri Acharyaji that Krishnadasji was revealing some of the more esoteric principles in public. Shri Acharyaji quizzed him about this. Krishnadasji suggested that he go to those Vaishnavas and ask them exactly what he had said. Shri Acharyaji did so but they were unable to recall what had been said. Acharyaji smiled and was silent.

            *** Bhavaprakasha***

So Krishnadas Meghanji had understood the Path in his heart, and his heart was overflowing with love for the Lord. He did talk to the Vaishnavas about some of the things he had experienced. However, just as liquid needs to be contained by a vessel, the Vaishnavas were unable to contain the nectarean stories and so they did not recall what had been said. Krishnadasji was not as qualified as Damodardasji Harsani in as much as he could not stop himself from talking about his experiences. One remained silent, one spoke out; this shows two types of reaction to the experience of Shri Thakurjis bliss.

       **********PART 5************

Once Krishnadasji asked Shri Acharyaji what the Lord likes. He replied that Shri Thakurji likes all lovely things but especially milk. He even loves the sound of the word. His dearest thing is the indescribable adoration of His devotees and He is known to have great affection for them. Next Krishnadasji asked Shri Acharyaji what the Lord dislikes and his reply was, “Shri Thakurji really does not like smoke and anyone who troubles his devotees.”

       ***Bhavaprakasha***

Milk represents the purity of the love that the lord and the devotees share whilst the smoke is conflict. When a loving mood predominates, know Shri Krishna to be present there but know Him to be far far away from places of conflict.

Krishnadasji again asked, “Why did Lord Ramachandra grant everyone in his kingdom residence with him in his own abode whilst only granting his very own father the limited pleasures of heaven?” Shri Acharyaji responded that Shri Ramachandra ji was most generous, for he granted his father, not even worthy of ascent to heaven, that very goal. Simply to prove his own word he had sent his son to the forest.

       ***Bhavaprakasha***

This is a question only someone of limited qualification would ask. Why would one venture to question the Lord’s activities and decisions? This line of enquiry shows that Krishnadasji had not yet achieved the state of innermost heartfelt contemplation and understanding [in which everything becomes clear in the heart due to the Lords Grace]. Shri Acharyaji’s simple response, “Lord Ramachandra ji is very compassionate” was enough to make him understand. Here we see clarification of the principles of the Path of Grace.

Shri Ramachandraji’s father, for the sake of stubbornly sticking to his word, caused much trouble to Shri Ramachandra ji who is actually the Upholder of all Dharma or religious principle. Shri Ramji was most generous and nevertheless granted his father residence in heaven, [which is mistakenly regarded as a desireable reward, because it is only a temporary state and is not comparable to the reward of devotion which is eternal.]          

        ********PART 6]*************

On another occasion, Krishnadasji asked Shri Acharyaji why there are so many devotees who still do not truly realize the Lords pastimes [do not fully experience the bliss of His Form.] Shri Acharyaji explained that they had not properly and fully surrendered themselves to the Lord. In other words, they have not grasped the concept of surrender. For this entails the giving up of ones entire ego sense and the feelings of “I,me and mine”, from which  comprehension ensues the  mindset of being the Lord’s servant, dependent on Him alone and recognizing His words to be the ultimate teachings.

These are, he explained, the disqualifications of such would-be devotees and the problem is that they do not take the time to associate with accomplished devotees who would be able to set them straight. They think they are worthy of meeting the Lord directly and so He is displeased with them. This Path is all about humility and they do not have any. Therefore, they fail to recognize the true Forms of the Lord, the Guru and the accomplished devotees. Association with such devotees could bring them closer to the Lord and His pastimes. This concept is far away from them and whatever they do they do not put their heart and soul into it and are not granted the knowledge that they need.

They should seek out qualified and self realized devotees and constantly read and try to understand the Shrimad Bhagavatji and the Subodhiniji commentary thereon. Maybe then they could begin to love the Lord  from the very bottom of their heart. The Lord’s heart is always with the Vraja Devotees, the Gopis, because they capture Him through their pure service and love for Him. A striving Vaishnava should seek the company of devotees who strictly follow this Path of Grace because Shri Thakurji lives in their hearts. One example of this is the great devotee Gajandhavan [viz.varta 13] who served the Lord with the purest love and whose every wish the Lord granted. Therefore, it is crucial to contemplate the interactions of such close devotees.

Furthermore, they should regard devotees who have realized the Form of the Lord as part of the spiritual realm and connected to the Lord’s pastimes and therefore follow their instructions. Once, such a Vaishnava has realized the Lord’s Form then everything they do is directed to the Lord. They crave for Him at all times. They are aware of all their own faults and constantly analyze their relationship with the Lord, wondering, “Who am I? Who was I before? After realizing my relationship to the Lord, who have I become? What are my duties now?” When they begin to ponder such things night and day then they fully grasp the concept of their relationship to the Lord. The appearance of such understanding is the mood of the Vraja Devotees, the Gopis. This shows the importance of associating with great devotees in order to know the Lord.

The Shastras and the Puranas are the written scriptures and historical reference. Even they are not able to reveal the Lord’s personal Form. This can only be known through association with pure devotees who are the only ones who truly know the ways of serving Him. A striving Vaishnava should meet them and enquire about the ways of service. Then true love for the Lord will arise in the heart and his pastimes will be revealed.

     ********PART 7 *********

Shri Acharyaji again went to visit Vedavyasji. Shri Acharyaji pointed out to him that in the Shrimad Bhagavatam 10,47 [the account of when Uddhavaji was sent to meet the Gopis and their Ode to a Black Bee] there was half a verse missing. Vedavyasji was able to fill in the missing line and Shri Acharyaji told him the commentary he had already written about that very line. Vedavyasji was extremely gratified to hear the commentary.

Thereafter, Shri Acharyaji went to the temple of Badrinathji. That day was Shri Vamana Jayanti, the appearance day of Lord Vamandevji, which is a fast day for Shri Acharyaji. Vedavyasji and Krishnadasji searched for foodstuffs suitable for a fast day but they couldn’t find anything.

Lord Badrinathji himself came to Shri Acharyaji and told him that, despite his searching for such edibles he had not found any and that he should cook as usual and offer those preparations to Shri Thakurji and accept that Prasad afterwards, considering this to be the Lord’s own wish. Shri Acharyaji accepted this situation. Krishnadasji had already told Shri Acharyaji that there were no suitable foodstuffs available and the Lord spoke to Shri Acharyaji through Vedvyasji as well. He said “utsavānte ca pāraṇā” [Prasad may be consumed even on a festival day].

Shri Acharyaji offered the usual preparations and they all partook of the Prasad. From that day to this the 12th day on which Lord Vamandevji’s appearance day falls is not strictly a fast day. Shri Acharyaji then left that place along with Krishnadasji.

             ***Bhavaprakash***

They could not find any non-grain foodstuffs! If Shri Acharyaji had truly required them then they would have become available. Neither Krishnadasji nor Vedavyasji were able to find any because Shri Acharyaji had the desire to make the type of offerings usually made on a festival day. He first of all made the point of principle that on fast days no grains should be offered or consumed but then none was made available and through Vedavyasji Shri Thakurji Himself gave the instruction  to cook as normal.

Due to this occurrence, Shri Gusainji and all his seven sons, especially the first son Si Giridharji uphold the principle of fasting on this day but elsewhere they keep to “utsavānte ca pāraṇā” and Shri Thakurji eats as usual!

         *******PART 8********

When Shri Acharyaji left this world, Krishnadasji was struck with sore affliction due to separation and he also immediately left his body.

 

 

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imageproxy.jpgVrindavan, 20.10.2018

Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra was celebrated with the traditional fervor in Vrindavan. People celebrated the victory of righteousness over evil by burning the effigy of Ravan in several places around the town. The towering effigies of Ravana symbolizing evil were burnt with fireworks to celebrate the destruction of evil.

Vijayadashami also marked the end of Durga Puja, when we remember goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon Mahisasura that helped restore dharma. More than two dozen Durga Pujas were organized around Vrindavan. Vijaya Dashami celebrations included the processions of Goddess Durga and her associate gods and goddess, to the riverbank for immersion.

The ritual of worshipping the Shami tree was also performed at the Katyayani Temple and the Bade Baicha of Bhagwan Shri Rangnath ji Maharaj in the evening. Lord Rangnath Bhagwan was taken to His spacious garden in a procession to witness the ritual.

Swami Shri Vidyananada Ji Maharaj, Chief Priest of the Katyayani Mandir, performed the Shami Puja at the temple. According to the Hindu division of the day, these rituals should be done in the ‘Aparahna’, i.e afternoon. Shami Puja is traditionally done by Kshatriyas and Kings. Any Shami tree situated in the North East part of the city is preferred.

Shami pooja

The Shami tree is the tree that hid the Pandavas during their last year of exile. The Pandavas won the war, and hence, it is believed that the Shami tree gives power and victory to those who pray to it. During the day on Vijayadashai, people exchanged Shami leaves and greeted each other.

Shami tree pooja

Shami Puja is also known as Banni Puja and Jammi puja in some of the southern states in India.

The festival also marks the beginning of preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals – Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after Vijayadashami.

Since Lord Ram conquered Ravana on Dussehra, Thakur Shri Radha Raman performs a victory ride on a huge sliver elephant on this day. Devotees gathered at the temple in large number and waited anxiously to relish the incredible darshan. Every year Thakur Shri Radha Raman ji wins the hearts of devotees by giving this special darshan.

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Lord Rangnath Bhagwan was taken to His spacious garden in a procession to witness the ritual.

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Shami pooja

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Shami tree pooja

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Radharamanji on his victory ride

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imageproxy.jpgBy Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das: To confirm the connection between Radharani, the Kartik vrata and the uniqueness of this month, Shri Rupa Goswamipada says Radha is Kartik-devi, Urjadevi, Urjesvari, and the Kartik-devata.

The benefits of other vows last for only one life, but the benefits from a Kartik vow last for 100 lives, vratasyoktamphalamjanmasatanugam (SkandaPurana: HBV16.45)

In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Shri Rupa Goswamipada cites the Padma Purana to prove the special effect of observing Kartik in Vraja-dhama:

"Shri Krishna gives sense enjoyment or liberation, but never bhakti to those worshiping Him outside of Vraja Dhama, bhuktim-muktim-harir-dadyad-arcito-anyatra-sevinam. However, one will quickly obtain Hari bhakti by worshiping Damodara in Mathura/Vrndavana during Kartik—harer-bhaktir-labhyate- kartike-naraih-mathurman-sakrd-api-damodara-pujanat."

Shri Jiva Goswamipada comments: "By the power of just once worshiping Shri Krishna in Mathura/Vrndavana during Kartik, even an UNQUALIFIED person will OBTAIN BHAVA, love for Krishna—mathura-karttikayoh-sangame-pujanam-ghatate-tada-yogyata-virahiten-api-vastu-prabhavat-prapyate- eveti-bhava."

The Skanda Purana says, "The Kartik vrata is always dear to Shri Kesavaji, sarvada-kesava-priyah. If during Karttika one performs even a few pious deeds for the pleasure of Vishnu/Krishna, one will derive indestructible benefits, kincit-kriyate-punyam-visnum-uddisya-karttike, tad-aksayam-bhavet-sarvam-satyoktam-tava-narada."

Once Shri Rupa-manjari said, "O Krishna! You delight the world with Your flute by singing the glories Kartika-devi Radha, the topmost form of pure love, premamūrti-varakārtikadevī, kīrtigānamukharī-kṛtavaṁśam." (Uttkalik-vallari 11)

The Padma Purana (Karttika-mahatmya) says, "Of the twelve yearly months, Kartika is the most beloved of Krishna—dvādaśāsv- api -māseṣu / kārtikaḥ -kṛṣṇa-vallabhaḥ."

"If one performs even a little Vishnu/Krishna puja during Kartika, one will definitely attain Vaikuntha—sampūjito- viṣṇur -alpa- dadāti / vaiṣṇavaṁ -lokam -niścitaṁ."

"Bhagavan Shri Hari, the Master controller, will be pleased if one offers a ghee lamp, or even just relights another person’s extinguished lamp, and He will give one a good destination—."dīpenāpi -hi –yatrāsau / prīyate -harir –īśvaraḥ / sugatiṁ- ca –dadāty- eva / para- dīpa –prabodhanāt

Five Liberation Vows

In Hari Bhakti Vilasa (17), Shri Sanatana Goswami quotes the Padma Purana (Uttara-khanda chapter 115), wherein Bhagavan Shri Krishna says:

"If one performs these five vows for the entire month of Karttika, one will attain liberation (mukti) to the spiritual realm:

Stay awake both Kartik Ekadasi nights (Hari-jāgaraṇam).

Daily sunrise bath (just before sunrise is best).

Caring for a Tulasi plant. (Daily watering, bathing, puja, plucking leaves and manjaris, praising, respecting and circling).

Finishing a charitable work previously started i.e. building a temple, digging a well.

Daily offering ghee lamps (dīpas)."

Radharani Month Kartik Vrata ki jai! Kartika-devi Shri Radhaki jai!  

Jai Jai Shri Radhe!

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imageproxy.jpgJay Shri Radhe! For decades, the Shri Radhanam  paintings all over Shri Vrindavan Dham done by Shri Kirtaniya Baba, have been most inspiring, especially the ones on all the trees that shine brightly as reminders of Shri Radhas Beautiful Name even in the midst of all the traffic and billboards.

Here are some lovely  Vraja Bhasha Dohas about Her super-sweet Name.

1]

rādhā rādhā kahata haiṁ

je nara āṭoṁ yāma|

te bhavasindhu ulaṅgha ke

basata sadā vraja dhāma||

“Anyone who chants Shri Radhaji’s Name constantly will easily cross the ocean of transmigration and gain residence within the Vraja Realm.”

2] [Here Shri Krishna speaks]

rādhā śrī rādhā raṭūṅ

nisi dina āṭhoṁ yāma|

jā ura śrī rādhā basaiṅ

soī hamāro dhāma ||

 “May I forever repeat Shri Radhaji’s Name over and over, day and night. I take up residence in the heart of that devotee where Shri Radhaji’s Name remains.”

Shri Vallabhacharyaji explains that the holy name is etched on every leaf of every tree of Shri Dham

3]

rādhe rādhe jo raṭe

chāhe base hazārana kosa|

tinake pātaka yoṅ nase

jyoṅ sūraja saṅga osa||

“The sins of a person who repeats the Name of Shri Radhaji, however far away from Vraja they may be, disappear like dew when the sun rises.”

4]

rādhā rādhā nāma kūṅ

supana hūṅ meṅ jo leta|

tākūṅ mohana sāṅvaro

rījha apano kara leta||

 “If a person says Shri Radhaji’s Name even in their dreams, that Dark and beautiful Shri Krishna is pleased and makes them His Own.”

5]

rādhe rādhe raṭata hī

saba vādhā miṭa jāe |

koṭi janama kī āpadā

rādhā nāma te jāe||

 “All obstacles and the adversities from many many births  fall away from the path of one who chants Her Holy Name.”

6]

rādhā rādhā je kahaiṅ 

te na parai bhava-phaṅda|

jāsu kaṅdha pai kamala kara 

dhare rahata  vraja candra||

“Those who chant Radhaji’s name are not ensnared by the chains of transmigration because the Moon of Vraja rests His lotus-hand upon their shoulder.”

7]

sukha ke māte sila parai

jo nāma hiye te jāe|

balihāri vā dukha kī

jo phala phala nāma ratāȳe||

“Throw a stone at the head of joy, for it steals the Holy Name from our hearts. I celebrate sadness for it makes us remember that Name at every moment.”

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imageproxy.jpgGokul, 17.10.2018

On a small hill at old Gokul is a temple that holds a place in many hearts, known as Chaurasi Khambe temple, this historical temple is popular with locals and visitors alike. The temple is situated at the place where Nanda Baba was born and the place of the house where Shri Krishna spent His first months.

The temple not only has 84 pillars, each pillar has a different design. Sevaiyat Goswami Mor Mukut Parashar said that the temple was built by Vishwakarma himself. The temple is also believed to have special grace from Shri Krishna because the attempts of Mughul ruler Babul to demolish it failed over and over again.

The temple has extensive grounds and there is one tree that is said to be 1000 years old. People tie threads around the ancient tree with a particular wish in mind. It is said that when the wish is granted, the thread opens of its own accord.

Gokul is around 30 kms from Mathura and is home to many of the places of Shri Krishna’s babyhood lilas, including the place where baby Krishna killed Putna and baby Krishna’s playground.

 

 

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imageproxy.jpg84 Vaishnavon ki Varta: Varta 1 

SRI DAMODARDASJI HARASANI

 Introduction

           ******PART 1******

When Sri Acharyaji entered the Land of Vraja he had Damodardasji by his side. Sri Acharyji always called him Damala and told him that he had created the Path of Grace for him alone!

In Gokul there was a Śamī tree on the Govinda Ghata [a ghata is a bathing place by the side of a holy river where the faithful might bathe/meditate etc] and Sri Mahaprabhuji lay down to take rest there under the tree. Next to that place there was a temple dedicated to Sri Dvarakanathjji. In this very place Sri Mahaprabhuji began to worry about how he would be able to fulfill the Lord’s wish for him to reunite the fallen divine souls to Him.

Sri Mahaprabhuji thought “the embodied souls are full of impurities while the Beloved is an Ocean of the best pure qualities and, therefore, to forge a relationship between them may be problematic.” He became very anxious. At that very moment the Lord appeared personally to Sri Acharyaji and asked him why he was so worried. He replied “O,my Beloved Lord. You are very aware that the nature of the embodied souls is most impure. How then can a relationship between them and Yourself be established?”

To this Sri Thakurji Himself replied, “If you bless these souls with even just the sound of My Name they will be relieved of their faults. Therefore, please accept them.”

***Bhavaprakasha***

Mahaprabhuji was anxious because in the Path of Grace the principle is to please the Lord by offering Him the very best of everything; how then to offer these mediocre souls full of impurities to Him or expect Him to accept them? Furthermore, the nature of embodied souls in this world is that if He Himself were to command the process then only the rare soul would have full faith. That is why the command came from the Lord’s own voice and the Jivas faith was certain, for the Lord stated and promised Sri Acharyaji that He would never ever abandon whomsoever entered the Brahma Sambandha relationship with Him. Thus the Lord Himself made this declaration.

All of these occurrences took place on the 11th day of the bright half of the month of Sravan at midnight. The next day was thereafter known as the “Twelth  Day of the Pavitra” because Sri Mahaprabhuji made a garland of cotton strands and adorned Sri Thakurji with it. Then Sri Acharyaji wrote the letter-by-letter account of all these happenings and called it the “Siddhanta Rahasya” treatise or “The Secret Doctrine”.[translators note;-please refer to the Vraja Kishori Publications booklet “Brahma Sambandha” for the full text and explanation of this treatise]

Whilst all of this was going on, Damodarsdasji had been sleeping nearby. When he woke, Sri Acaryaji asked him whether he had heard anything in the night. Damodardasji replied that he had heard Sri Thakurji’s voice but had not understood a word. Sri Acharyaji then explained to him that Sri Thakurji had appeared to him and told him to unite the Jivas to Him through the Brahma Sambandha Process and that He would then most definitely accept those souls into His fold. Also, when Sri Mahaprabhuji gives people the Grace of letting them hear the Lord’s Name, all their innate impurities are cleansed and so the whole initiation process was very necessary.

            ***Bhavaprakasha***

Damodardas stated that he had heard the Lord’s words but had not understood them. In the 11th chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, it is stated that certain teachings cannot be readily understood without the Grace of the Guru.

When Damodardasji grasped this concept he became the Lords true servant; he was in  the service of Sri Acharyaji and so only when Sri Acharyaji explained it was he able to understand.

From this we learn the importance of the Guru-to-disciple and Lord-to-servant relationships and gain full knowledge of this in our hearts. If Damodardasji had claimed to have understood the Lord’s words, he would have been claiming to have knowledge equal to Sri Acharyaji’s. Therefore, he said he did not understand. And then it was up to Sri Acharyaji, as his Guru, to explain it all to him, otherwise it was not even necessary for him to know.

Then Sri Acharyaji said to Damodardasji “Oh, Damala, it’s been such a long time since we talked about Sri Thakurji.”

        ***Bhavaprakasha***

Sri Acharyaji is here regarded as the Form of Sri Svaminji Who did not tell Her Companion Lalita Sakhi [Damalaji] every last detail about Her trysts with Her Beloved. That degree of secrecy remained unveiled, which is only appropriate. Damala understood the implication.

 

          ******PART 2 ******

Sri Acharyji thrice requested not to let Damodardasji leave his body before him. He was contemplating renouncing the world and he wanted Damodardasji to be present to teach his two young sons, Gopinathji and Sri Gusainji, and so Damodardasji had to understand the Path in its purity and entirety.

Sri Acharyaji constantly taught the Srimad Bhagavatam to Damodardasji. He made sure that all the principles of the Path and all of the secret doctrines therein were securely placed inside his heart.

Sometime after Damodardasji’s understanding had become complete, Sri Acharyaji renounced the world. Again, after some time Sri Gusainji, Sri Vitthalnathji asked Sri Acharyajis wife Sri Akkaji about the festivals within the Path. She told him to go and ask Damodardasji for, as she reassured him, he knew every detail about Sri Acharyaji’s Path.

Sri Gusainji then proceeded to Damodardasji’s home. Damodardasji received him with great respect and devotion. Sri Gusainji asked Damodardasji about the manner of service for the festivals according to Sri Acharyaji’s Path and Damodardaji explained everything to him.

          ***Bhavaprakasha***

Doubt may arise here as to why, when he is capable of doing, not doing and doing otherwise, Sri Acharyaji needed to ask for Sri Thakurji’s intervention.

The explanation offered here is that Damodardasji’s loving devotional mood was perfected. And Damodardasji is Sri Lalitaji’s form and thus most dear to Him.

Lalitaji is Beloved of both Sri Svaminiji and also Sri Thakurji and totally immersed in Their service. In this way, Damodardasji is attached to the sight of both Sri Acharyaji and also Sri Thakurji. This is why Sri Acharyaji said to the Beloved Lord that he would like Him to continue granting His vision to Damodardasji after he had left. Hereby it is known that Sri Acharyaji is very very loving towards Damodardasji and did  not want him to suffer any grief after his departure, so he requested this kindness from Sri Thakurji.

Where it is written that Sri Acharyaji established his Path in Damodardasji’s heart for the sake of Sri Gusainji the question might arise as to why this was necessary since Sri Gusainji was also a Divine Form though a child.

This is why Sri Acharyaji stated that he founded the Path actually for Damodardasji’s own sake. The Path spread from there; so, while the Vaishnavas knew very well that Sri Gusainji, being Bindu Srishti [a direct descendent] was therefore the manifestation of Dharma itself in Gokul. They themselves  are connected through the Divine word in the sound of the teachings. Therefore the Path had to be imparted to Damodardasji and then to the Vaishnavas who, as Sri Acharyaji taught, should always remember their dedication in the company of other Vaishnavas.Therefore he gave the instructions to Damodardasji first of all.

He put the Path of Devotion into the Devotees’ hearts and the Path of Love which followed attracted the Lord to always be present; the Lord within the heart and manifesting personally and where the devoted Vaishnavas are independent and full of uplifting excitations.

 

             *****PART 3******

Once Damodardasji and Sri Gusainji were sitting together alone in a quiet place. Sri Gusainji asked Damodardasji what he felt about his father.

Damodardasji replied that he was even greater than the Lord, the ruler of the world! Sri Gusainji quizzed him as to why he thought like this. Again he replied, this time with a question, “O, Maharaj, is the gift greater or the giver of the gift?”

A person might possess much wealth but it is only ever known when it is given away. Sri Acharyaji’s greatest wealth is Sri Nathaji and he has granted this wealth to such a lowly Jiva as myself. That is why I consider him to be superior.

 

        ******PART 4 ******

Once Sri Gusainji was sitting in his Baituk [sitting place where visitors could be received].With him were a few Vaishnavas including Sri Kumbhandasji and Sri Govindadasji, and they were all playing and laughing together while Sri Gusainji was telling them jokes. Damodardasji arrived there and Sri Gusainji received him respectfully. Damodardasji bowed low before Sri Gusainji and said, “This Path is not to be taken lightly. It is very serious and the adherent must be able to tolerate the pains and sadness which may ensue.”

Sri Gusanji thanked him for reminding him of such a fact but added that a Pushtimargi Jiva would only be able to experience such Divine agony when they had been blessed by Sri Acharyaji, otherwise it was impossible. This Path, he stated, can only be known by those Blessed by Sri Acharyaji.

Damodardasji then humbly apologized for his words saying that although he knew that Sri Gusainji is the Lord, they still had to be said for that is the nature of the Path. Sri Gusainji was most pleased and told Damodardasji that he recognized that these teachings had come to him from his father through Damodardasji and that no one else could teach such matters.

Sri Gusainji told Damodardasji how happy he felt even just by seeing him and that he should please continue to speak in such a manner whenever necessary because he knew him to be his father’s servant. After this he behaved according to what Damodardasji had said because he realized the simple superiority of those words.

         ***Bhavaprakasha***

Here we see the reversal of the usual worldly protocol where the servant would never give instructions to the master.

And Damodardasji’s body might appear as his but he was always filled with Sri Acharyajis spirit. His every word came from Sri Acharyaji and this is why Sri Gusainji felt as if it were his father who was speaking directly to him.

 

          ******PART 5******

On a certain day, it was time for Damodardasji to honour his father’s passing with a shraddha ceremony. Sri Gusainji attended and performed the necessary rites. When Damodardasji went to have the early afternoon sight of Sri Thakurji, Sri Gusainji then asked him for the traditional payment given to an officiating priest. Damodardasji replied that he would offer him the explanation of one and a half verses from Sri Acharyaji’s ‘Siddhanta Rahasya’ treatise.

Sri Gusainji asked him to continue, but Damodardasji said that was all, however, when Sri Gusainji kept quiet, Damodardasji elaborated on all the Path’s principles and teachings given by Sri Acharyaji in Sri Subodhinji, which is his commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam, his other works [eg.Shodush Grantha] and other private teachings.

After this, Sri Gusainji refused to let Damodardasji touch his feet because he reasoned that his father was always present in Damodardasji’s heart so how could he let him bow down to his own son? He also refused to give him the water in which his feet had been washed.

Sri Acharyaji appeared to Damodardasji and told him to continue drinking that water. Damodardasji went to Sri Gusainji the next morning and asked for some. Sri Gusainji refused, but Damodardasji told him that his father had ordered it. Then Sri Gusainji relented and granted his wish.

        ***Bhavaprakasha***

There is a reason and explanation for why Damodardasji was performing the shraddha ceremony for his father. By his being a devotee, his father had already been uplifted – in the Srimad Bhagavatam in the story of Prahladji and Lord Narasimha it is stated that 21 generations both past and future are saved through one member becoming a true devotee.

This is normal within the Path of Lawful Limitations. But, Damodardasji is a devotee in the Path of Grace, therefore there is absolutely no question about his father’s liberation. On the other hand, it may be said that without his father having a proper established relationship within the Path of Grace then how could he gain acceptance?

By Damodardasji’s performance of the shraddha and his relating this to Sri Gusainji, the connection was established and the father accepted therein. The Guru must cement the acceptance, and this was the process that Damodardasji initiated.

Another doubt is that he had indeed brought the acceptance from the Guru for his father, but not for all the other Vaishnavas. Here it is sure that Damodardasji is the divine foundation of all Vaishnavas and thus the shraddha that he did for his father spread to all the Pushti Vaishnava, because this Path was, as stated by Sri Acharyaji, established for Damodardasji’s sake, and, from him proceeded all the Vaishnavas.

The founding principle of the Path of Grace sprouted from here most certainly. Devotion within Grace grew from Damodardasji. Otherwise, the Devotional life within the Path of Grace cannot be grasped so quickly or easily.

Damodardasji gave the explanation of one and a half lines of Sri Acharyaji’s “Siddhanta Rahasya” treatise in payment for Sri Gusainji’s performing the rites. Sri Gusainji asked him to continue but Damodardasji refused, saying that he had vowed to just do this much. For even this small token delivers the purport of the entire Path.

The Sri Gusainji would not let Damodardasji touch the water from his feet nor bow down to him. For, he said, Damodardasji is Sri Svaminiji’s dear lady companion and that affection was best given to Her. Damodardasji did not argue with this but then Sri Acharyaji intervened and told Damodardasji that he lives in Sri Gusainji’s heart, that Sri Gusainji was his very own, manifested from himself. With this bhava [heartfelt belief] Sri Gusainji let Damodardasji drink the water from his feet, for it was really from his father and not from himself.

Till now, if a Vaishnava partakes of that water it is with the bhava that it comes from Sri Acharyaji alone.

 

         ******PART 6******

Sri Acharyaji would grant his sight to Damodardasji every three days and explain some secrets of the Path to him. If, for some reason, Sri Acharyaji did not appear to him he would get a really bad stomach ache which could only get better when he did appear. This went on for many years, such was the Great Grace.

Damodardasji would then go and tell Sri Gusainji everything that his father had taught and thus they spoke of nothing except the Path. Sri Gusainji was very pleased with Damodardasji and always said that Sri Acharyaji was present in his heart at all times.

          ***Bhavaprakasha***

Damodardasji would remain immersed in the bliss of Sri Acharyaji’s presence and teaching for the three days and then when he regained his body consciousness he would become most unsettled in separation from Sri Acharyaji, who then blessed Damodardasji with his sight and sent him back to that realm of Grace filled remembrance.

            *****PART 7******

Damodardasji used to sit on one half of Sri Gusainji’s throne. When Sri Acharyji noticed this, he asked Damodardasji who he thought Sri Gusainji was. He replied, “Your son”, but, Sri Acharyaji refuted this and told Damodardasji that he should recognize Sri Gusainji as being equal to himself.

            ******PART 8******

One day, when Sri Gusainji was sitting in his baituk, Damodardasji came there and said, “This Path is not all about impersonal realization but about the direct Realization of the Lord’s Form.

Once when Sri Acharyaji was asleep, Sri Govardhannathji came there and told him to uplift the fallen divinely oriented souls through a Path founded on the Divine Pastimes and the purifying awakening of an enlightened heart with Love towards the Divine Beloved. Sri Acharyaji then spoke these one and a half lines [from the Siddhanta Rahasya treatise] Much has been realized from just these one and a half lines.

        ***Bhavaprakasha***

[The sloka states “in the bright half of the month of Shravan, at midnight, the Lord Himself appeared and now I am recounting everything that he said, letter-by-letter, that the upliftment of all the divine souls is through the establishment of a relationship with the Lord”.]

The month of Sravan may be regarded to be the Beloved spouse of the Lord. The bright half of the month belongs to the Devotees. Within these, the 11th day is special to the Lord and the number 11 signifies the purification of all the souls’ 11 senses [ten senses plus the mind].

It occurred at midnight because this is the time, within the Great Circle Dance, the Rasalila, when the Lord becomes closest to His devotees and they share that Divine Love. So this was all very clearly explained to Sri Acharyaji. The Lord then instructed Sri Acharyaji very specifically to go and initiate the Jivas into a divine relationship, the Brahma Sambandha, with Him.

After this, Damodardasji told Sri Gusainji “See, the instruction is very clear to spread this Path of Devotion. Please do so. Jivas are basically ignorant. The Brahma Sambandha Relationship removes all their impurities so please accept them in this way.”

In the one verse, the pastime was recounted and in the half verse the essence of the Path was given. Everything was included in these one and a half verses and this is why Damodardasji recounted them to Sri Gusainji who then, with Damodardasji’s help, wrote his own treatise called the ‘Sringararasamandan’.

 

          ******PART 9 ******

In the beginning Sri Acharyaji told Damodardasji that he had founded the Path of Grace for his sake. Therefore Damodardasji’s presence is subtly established in Sri Acharyaji’s Path. When Damodardasji stated that he had heard the Lord’s words but had not been able to understand them, Sri Acharyaji told him that it would take ten lifetimes for the understanding to be complete.

      ***Bhavaprakasha***

Sri Acharyaji established the Lord’s pastimes in Damodardasji’s heart so that the whole of creation could be uplifted. Damodardasji is the column upon which rests this Path of Grace and therefore he should be reborn over and over again in subtle form in the Path in order to keep the Path firmly established. The Path is thus perpetuated by Vallabhakuli lineage and also that of Damodardsji in order that firm faith and devotion manifests in countless Vaishnavas.

         ******PART 10******

Once, Sri Acharyaji, at the site of the ‘Sundara Śilā’ [beautiful rock] also known as the ‘PūjanīŚilā’ [worshipful rock],was sleeping with his head in Damodardasji’s lap. At that time, Sri Govardhannathaji came down from His temple up on the Sri Giriraji mountain to see Sri Acharyaji.

Out of pure love for his Guru, Damodardasji requested the Lord not to approach any closer for He might wake Sri Acharyaji up with His playful character. Sri Govardhannathaji stopped in His tracks and stood here. When Sri Acharyaji woke up and saw his Beloved Lord there, he exclaimed, “O,Baba, why are You standing there? Please come closer”. The Lord came close and told Sri Acharyaji that his Damodardasji had forbidden Him from coming close in case his Guru was disturbed, therefore He had remained standing there.

Sri Acharyaj berated Damodardasji for stopping Him in His tracks. The Lord intervened saying, “He was only doing his duty as he should have done.”

Sri Acharyaji took Sri Govardhannathaji in His lap and touched His cheeks whilst asking Him His wishes. The Beloved Lord told him that He really loves cows. So Sri Acharyaji asked Sadhu Pande to purify a cow through Vedic rites and then bring her there. He bought the cow from that Vrajavasi, and presented her to Sri Govardhannathaji.

 

 

A108-AI

imageproxy.jpgsadā rādhā-kṛṣṇocchalad-atula-khelā-sthala-yujaṁ
vrajaṁ saṁtyajyaitad yuga-virahato’pi truṭim api
punar dvārāvatyāṁ yadupatim api prauḍha-vibhavaiḥ
sphurantaṁ tad vācāpi hi nahi calāmīkṣitum api

Even if the greatly opulent Lord of the Yadus (Krishna) should personally invite me to come and see him in Dwarka, I will not leave the land of Vraja, the eternal matchless playground of Radha and Krishna, for even a moment, even if I were to suffer separation from the Divine Couple there for ages!

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In the previous verse Sri Raghunath Das vows that even if he can associate with saints and see the deities of Krishna in other holy places, he does not desire to leave Vraja. He would rather spend his time in Vraja speaking nonsense with the villagers. Now one may ask: “What if Krishna personally called for Raghunath Das to come to Dwarka, to mitigate the burning pangs of separation from which he is suffering — would he then desire to leave Vraja and go to Dwarka?’ To dispel these doubts Raghunath writes this verse, in which he confirms his loyalty to Vraja.

Sri Raghunath Das says: “What to speak of a short time, even if I suffer the pangs of separation from Krishna for aeons I will not go to Dwarka, even if the supremely majestic Yadupati (Krishna of Dwarka) should personally call me there to see him!”

When, in his manifest pastimes, Krishna left Vraja to go to Mathura, Nanda and the cowherders did not desire to go there to see him, no matter how much they suffered from his separation, and even though it was only a very short distance (12 kilometers) from Vrindavan to Mathura. The reason is that the love of the Vrajavāsīs is completely sweet. They can only be happy by loving Krishna in the human way of relating: “He is my son, he is my friend, or he is my lover.” They would not be able to see him in that way in Mathura. Their love would shrink back with timidity when they saw him engaged in his royal duties, with all his prowess and opulences.

There’s not a drop of selfish desire left in the love of the Vrajavāsīs. Their minds and hearts are totally absorbed in giving pleasure to Krishna. Krishna would feel embarrassed if he saw them in Mathura, because in this majestic abode he would not be able to carry Nanda Baba’s shoes on his head, anoint his head and other limbs with mother Yashoda’s foot-dust, be defeated by his friends in play, or fall at the feet of his proud, beloved Radha. It would not make him happy to meet them outside of Vraja where the mood is different, therefore the Vrajavasis, who only care about his happiness, do not desire to go and see Krishna anywhere else. If they should ever meet him elsewhere, they would feel great anguish and say:

tomāra ye anya beśa, anya saṅga anya deśa,
braja-jane kabhu nāhi bhāẏa
braja bhūmi chāḏite nāre, tomā nā dekhile mare,
braja-janera ki habe upāẏa

“The people of Vraja are never attracted to you in another dress, another country and with other associates. We cannot leave Vraja and if we don’t see you we will die. What should the people of Vraja do about this?” (CC 2.13.146)

Hence Sri Raghunath Das says: “Even if I suffer separation from Krishna for ages I will not go to see the vastly opulent Yadupati, even if he himself tells me to do so!”

Sri Raghunath Das is actually Sri Radha’s beloved maid-servant, therefore he never desires to leave Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s many blissful and rasika pastime places in Vraja Dham. Krishna is called Līlā Puruṣottama, the Supreme Person in his playful aspect. The taste of his pastimes can never be fully relished in abodes like Dwarka, because the devotees’ love is hampered by all the majestic glory there. In Vraja the special quality of Krishna’s pastimes is their sweetness.

kṛṣṇera yateka khelā, sarvottama nara-līlā,
nara-bapu tāhāra svarūpa.
gopa-beśa beṇu-kara, naba kiśora naṭabara,
nara-līlāra hoy anurūpa

“Of all of Krishna’s pastimes, his human-like pastimes, in which he appears as a human being, are the greatest. Then he dresses like a young adolescent cowherdboy, holds a flute in his hand and is adept in dancing, exactly according to human pastimes.” (CC 2.22.109)

The special feature of that best of adolescent dancers, Vraja-nandana, is that he is Eros personified. There’s no comparison to the sweetness of his erotic pastimes with the Vraja-sundaris, who are all endowed with mahā-bhāva. Especially his pastimes with the crown-jewel of Vraja gopis, mahā-bhāvavatī Srimati Radharani, are endowed with endless glory.

Srila Raghunath Das is Sri Radha’s dear maidservant, and he is very happy to take shelter of Radha and Madhava’s transcendental playground of Vraja, where he can remember all their blissful amorous pastimes. When that playground is merciful, the practising devotee will also be able to see the immensely sweet, self-manifest pastimes of Sri Radha and Madhava that always take place there. This is what happened with Sri Lilashuk and other fortunate devotees. The pastimes of Radha and Madhava began to float before their eyes. For this reason Sri Raghunath Das vows never to leave Vraja and not to go to Dwarka for even a moment, even when he is being called there by Krishna himself. His vow of living in Vraja stands firm.

yugala vilāsa khelā, yathā nitya nava līlā,
sukhamaya śrī vṛndāvana.
vrajadhāma tyāga kore, yete dvārāvatī pure,
ājñā kore madana mohana

“If Madana Mohana orders me to leave Vraja Dham, blissful Sri Vrindavan, the place where the Yugala Kiśora always perform Their pristine pastimes, and to go to Dwarka….

prauḍha vibhava-śālī, yadupati yāre boli,
sei prabhu korite darśana.
lava nimeṣārdha tare, yāibo nā vraja cheḍe,
e saṅkalpa korechi grahaṇa

….even if the very wealthy Yadupati asked me to come and see him I would not leave this Vraja for even a split second. This is my firm vow.”

Commentary of Sri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar of Stavāvalī), and was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) from Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.

 

 

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