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A108-AI

19_05_2018-18mth115.jpgGovardhan, 2018.05.19

Of the traditional forms of Parikrama, dandavat parikrama is one of the most exacting forms. Dandavat parikrama takes strength, endurance and firm faith.

It usually takes around one week to complete a dandavat parikrama of Shri Govardhan. A person of average height will have to lie on the ground and stand up 17,300 times in order to offer obeisances to the entire circumference of Shri Govardhan.

Dandavat parikrama is done by stretching out on the ground and leaving a marker at the place where your hand reached. Devotees then walk to the place where the stone was placed, pick up the stone and lie down again, thereby slowly moving forward.

Many devotees undertake further fasting during the week-or-so it takes to do dandavat parikrama, abstaining from soap and lotions and oils. To lighten the austerity, residents often form groups and perform the parikrama together, meeting at the same time each day and continuing their parikrama from the place they stopped the day before.

Other traditional forms of Govardhan parikrama include milk-parikrama and dhoop-parikrama. Devotees performing milk parikrama carry a pot of milk with a small hole in the bottom that drips milk along the way, thereby encircling Shri Govardhan with a milk offering. Usually, around 45 litres of milk is needed to do a milk-parikrama.

Image result for radha kund dudh parikrama

Dhoop-parikrama is performed by carrying a pot of burning dhoop. The fragrant smoke becomes an offering to Shri Govardhan.

Image result for govardhan parikrama nightParikrama can be performed in a  many different ways, according to a devotee’s feelings about what would please Shri Govardhan.

All parikramas (or sections of parikrama) are started and ended by paying obeisances to Shri Govardhan, who bestows great mercy on those who do parikrama and helps us feel close to the Supreme.

The benefits of Parikrama are said to increase at particular times such as during purnima  (full moon) and during the month of Purushottam Maas (16th May to 13th June 2018). Every purnima, Govardhan’s streets are filled with people who have given up their sleep in order to embark on a six hour walk around the mysterious Govardhan hill, whose glories are beyond our imagination and who was lifted easily by Shri Krishna.

A108-AI

Yamuna River in Vrindavan(1)

vrajādhirāja-nandanāmbudābha-gātra-chandanā-

nulepa-gandha-vāhinīṁ bhavābdhi-bīja-dāhinīm

jagat-traye yaśasvinīṁ lasat-sudhā-payasvinīṁ

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“To the one who carries the sweet fragrance of the sandalwood paste that adorns the beautiful limbs of Shri Vraj-Raj Krishna. She who burns up the seeds of both material misery and happiness. Whose fame flows throughout the three worlds and whose waters are as brilliant as nectar (amrit). She is the destroyer of attachment [which is false and ultimately full of misery]. I serve that daughter of the Kalind mountain, Shri Yamunaji.”

 

(2)

rasaika-sīma-rādhikā-padābja-bhakti-sādhikāṁ

tad-anga-rāga-pinjara-prabhāti-punja-manjulām

svarocishāti-shobhitām kritām janādhiganjanām

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“To the one who bestows devotion to Shri-Radhikaju’s lotus feet, which is the utmost limit of rasa. Carrying the cosmetics that adorn the beautiful limbs of Shri Radha makes her waters appear very enchanting and she also possesses her own radiance which is part of her natural beauty. She who is very capable in destroying the very root of the sins of those who take her shelter. I offer my worship to Shri Yamunaji, the daughter of the Kalind mountain.”

 

(3)

vrajendra-sūnu-rādhikā-hridi prapūrya-mānayor

mahā-rasābdhi-pūrayor ivāti-tīvra-vegatah

bahih samucchalan-nava-pravāha-rūpinīm aham

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“The joy produced from the great ocean of rasa which flows very fast and completely fills the hearts of Nanda Maharaja’s son [Shri Krishna] and Shri Radhika, has sprung out and become her ever-fresh, forever-new flow. She is the destroyer of false attachment, which is very difficult to overcome. I offer my service to Shri Yamunaji, the daughter of the Kalind mountain.”

 

(4)

vicitra-ratna-baddha-sat-tat-dvaya-śriyojjvalām

vicitra-hansa-sārasādy-ananta-pakshi-sankulām

vicitra-mīna-mekhalām kritātidīna-pālitām

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“Whose two banks are made of bright illuminating gemstones and full of wonderful varieties of birds such as Swans and Cranes among others. Wherein many kinds of fish playfully frolic within her waters giving the appearance of a waistbelt. Who gives nourishment to even the most fallen and lowest of people. She who vanquishes the difficult to overcome attachment to this world. I serve that daughter of the Kalind mountain, Shri Yamunaji.”

 

(5)

vahantikām śriyām harer mudā kripā-svarūpinīm

viśuddha-bhaktim ujjvalām pare rasātmikām viduh

sudhā-srutim tv alaukikīm pareśa-varna-rūpinīm

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“Who joyfully carries the brightness of Shri Hari’s dark limbs and is the very embodiment of mercy. Who personifies the foremost, radiant, pure and ambrosial (rasamayi) bhakti. She whose flow is transcendental nectar (amrit) and has a complexion just like Shri-Shyamsundar. She is the destroyer of false attachment, which is very difficult to overcome. I offer my service to Shri Yamunaji, the daughter of the Kalind mountain.”

 
(6)

surendra-vrinda-vanditām rasād adhishtate vane

sadopalabdha-mādhavādbhutaika-sad-rasonmadām

atīva vihvalām ivocchalat-taranga-dor-latām

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“She who is worthy of being worshipped by the host of all devas [higher/heavenly beings] and is equally intoxicated by rasa as Shri Madhava [Krishna] himself is. Who has attained some wonderful rasa from the land of Sri Vrindavan. Whose wave-like arms are very restlessly moving about, being overcome by divine love [prem]. I offer my worship to that Shri Yamuna Rasa-Rani who destroys the painful attachment to this world.”

 

(7)

praphulla-pankajānanām lasan-navotpalekshanām

rathānga-nāma-yugmaka-stanīm udāra-hansikām

nitamba-cāru-rodhasām hareh priyām rasojjvalām

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“The red lotuses that have bloomed are her face and the beautiful blue lotuses are her pretty eyes. The pair of chakwa (Brahminy duck) are her breasts. Within her waters, many swans are enjoying play. Her two banks are her buttocks and she is forever shining brightly due to the rasa of Shri Radha, Shri Hari’s beloved. To that Shri Yamuna rasa-rani who destroys the painful attachment to this world, I offer my worship.”

 

(8)

samasta-veda-mastakair agamya-vaibhavām sadā

mahā-munīndra-nāradādibhih sadaiva bhāvitām

atulya-pāmarair api śritām pumartha-sāradām

bhaje kalinda-nandinīṁ duranta-moha-bhañjinīm

“To the one whose splendour is inaccessible for all the Vedas/Upanisads! Upon whom great Yogis such as Narada meditate. She who grants divine love [prem, the ultimate goal] to even the lowest and sinful of all people. She is the destroyer of false attachment, which is very difficult to overcome. I offer my service to Shri Yamunaji, the daughter of the Kalind mountain.”

 

(9)

ya etad ashtakam budhas trikālam ādritah pathe

kalinda-nandinīm hridā vichintya vishva-vanditām

ihaiva rādhikā-pateh padābja-bhaktim uttamām

avāpya sa dhruvam bhavet paratra tat-priyānugah

“For those who respectfully recite this eight-versed prayer (ashtak) three times a day [morning, midday and evening] whilst keeping in their hearts, that Shri Yamunaji who is worthy of the entire world’s worship, will attain that prema-bhakti for Shri Krishna in this world. After giving up their present bodies, they will certainly become close followers of Shri Radhika (priyānugah) in the mood of a sahachari (maidservant).”

Translated by Radhacharan Das into English from Ras Bharti Sansthan’s Hindi edition.

———————

Note:

Following in the footsteps of Shri Hitacharya’s Shri Yamunastaka prayers, many other rasikas have also written their own Yamunastaka prayers. Among them, the most famous are: Shri Chandralal Goswami, Swami Chaturbhuj dasji, Tulsidasji, Laal Sakhi, Chacha Vrindavan Dasji, Preetam Lal Goswami, Trailokyanath Sharma, etc.

 

A108-AI

Jagadananda-Das-780x520.jpg← Confessed child abuser and deadbeat-dad Jagadananda Das (aka Jan Brzezinski) lives in Vrindavan at Jiva Institute, and is a personal assistant to Satyanarayana Dasa.

The following is a letter we received from Jan Brzezinski on 5 Janunary, 1997. He was a gurukula teacher in Dallas (Texas, USA), New Vrindavan (West Virginia, USA) and the head master of the Mayapura (India) gurukula.

 

Dear anonymous writers and organizers of VOICE,

My ISKCON name was Hiranyagarbha Das and I was formerly a Gurukula teacher (on and off from 1972-75) at Dallas and later the headmaster of the short-lived New Vrindavan Varnashram College in 1974 and the Mayapur Gurukula from 1975- 1979. I think I had a rather unique position in that I was involved in the early stages of these Gurukulas. I left in disgust when I realized that I was not spiritually or materially qualified to run such a school and when I realized that the ISKCON institution itself did not seek to improve the situation.

Reading your articles brings back many memories about painful experiences that I had. Painful from bad conscience because I myself perpetrated acts for which I am eternally sorry. I wish to take this opportunity to beg forgiveness for all those acts of violence towards innocent children in which I was involved.

school-children.jpgFirst of all, I would like to confirm both the stories about Smaranam and the institutionalized use of physical punishment in the Indian gurukulas. Smaranam the paddle was the invention of a certain Dvarakanath Das. It seems to have gotten used to circumvent bursts of sudden violence by frustrated teachers against misbehaving or recalcitrant students. There were very few qualified or experienced teachers in the early Gurukula at Dallas, the only exceptions being Rupa Vilas and Chandrika. At that time in ISKCON in general there was a hubris about individual qualifications. It was thought that a devotee who was chanting his rounds was empowered to do anything and that he did not need any special training. The task of dealing with a hundred children or so from morning to night on a tough schedule through mangal arati to bedtime was too much for most of them. I can remember in 1975 sneaking out of my classes after lunch to go and take a nap in the rooms above the stage in the main prasadam hall where Sunday feasts were held. The schedule was far too demanding for the teachers and far too demanding for the children. There was little or no playtime. There was insufficient time for sleeping. There was little real concern for education in that the primary goal of the school was to get the children to do things like chant sixteen rounds and follow the morning program.

All these things were doubly true at the Varnashram College and again at the Mayapur Gurukula. I personally always placed a lot of importance on academic education, but ISKCON in general alway downplayed it, saying that all we needed to know was in Prabhupada’s books so why bother with too much education? Even Sanskrit, which I started teaching with only a smattering of knowledge, was considered rather unimportant if not a bother. It was only a superficial understanding which was sought. Too much knowledge of Sanskrit and Bengali was indeed blamed as the major cause of my blooping in 1979 as well as in that of other Sanskrit scholars such as Nitai Das, etc.

There is little that I can say to exonerate myself from personal acts of violence against some of the children in my care, especially at New Vrindavan. I was there in 1974 when, as all you readers of Monkey on a Stick will know, there was a very strong militant spirit being instituted by Kirtanananda. My own discriminatory powers were still weak and I participated in giving Kirtanananda an exaggerated amount of respect. I also thought that a strong discipline was needed to help bring the children up, to produce in them the necessary qualities to become a little foot soldier for Krishna and Prabhupad. I enlisted the help of a certain Madhupati Das who was an ex-marine and he turned our Varnashram College into a boot camp. We used to march on the main road from our site (known as Prabhupad’s House, I believe) to Madhuban, keeping time with the maha-mantra instead of ‘left-right’. Once again, though, the basic lack of understanding of child psychology and inexperience, coupled with fatigue and overwork were the principal causesof sudden fits of temper on my part which on occasion led to spankings of a particularly unpleasant nature. For this I wish to especially beg forgiveness of Tausteya and Jagadananda Pandit as well as Ekendra and Dwarkadish. You may have a hard time believing this, but I really did love you all. In my ignorance, I thought that I was doing the best that I could for you. It took me far too long to realize that I was wrong.

At Mayapur, the situation became in many ways worse. As some people may already have pointed out on these pages, Bhavananda Maharaja, Nitai Chand, Tapomaya and other members of the Mayapura leadership were actively involved in sexual abuse of some of the children. Nitai Das and Subhadaloy were particular targets of their affections. I was a true ignorant and it took me a long time to become aware of these activities. Some of the children started to accuse the teachers in 1978 and a number of them were reprimanded for sexually molesting the children. We had a worse problem with brahmacharies living in the temple who had fairly easy access to the children. Some of them were true predators and took advantage of them. For the Western kids, the worst case was that of Bhakti Caitanya Maharaj, a Punjabi who later became a sannyasi and president of Chandigarh temple. In 1975 he attempted to sexually abuse several of the American children in the Gurukula. Naturally, these boys were vulnerable and starved for affection as well as material comforts and goodies and were easy prey. The same was true of the Bengali boys who were easily bribed with small gifts of a Western nature, watches, etc., which they, mostly being poor, could never hope to otherwise get. When some of my most trusted teachers started to get involved in such activity, I became so frustrated that I did not know what to do. In a way, I could understand the problem. Living so closely to the children, brahmacaris who had no outlet for sexual activity found themselves tempted by children who were often genuinely affectionate and with whom a certain form of loving relationship was formed. There is, of course, no excuse for such a breach of confidence. But people like Venkat were not pedophiles by nature. The situation in which they found themselves in good faith was compromised by the emotional and sexual fulfilment of which they were themselves deprived when combined with the innocence and affection of the young children with whom they were in contact from early morning to late at night. I find it easier to forgive someone like Venkat than those who like Nitai Chand or Bhavananda were more directly exploiters and pedophiles by nature and predilection.

Although I was the head of the Mayapur Gurukula, I had little real control over policy. Indeed I kept my distance from the Mayapura leadership, feeling more affinity with the less-empowered Western and Bengali devotees. Bhavananda ran things by bullying and his minions, of whom I was one, all adopted his style to some extent. Education had little place in the Mayapura scheme of things. Bhavananda, Tapomay and Nitai Chand saw the Gurukula children as useful free labour. The Bengali children were considered insufficiently intelligent for academic work, as sudras, and better off doing field work or cleaning toilets. Though this assessment was not entirely without foundation, even those children who had intellectual potential were given little or no time to study on their own, to pursue their intellectual curiosity or to take any academic initiative. Even had they wished to, the facilities were nil and besides there were perks for doing other tasks. According to Prabhupada’s instructions, the most important thing was that the children follow the morning programme. This led to the ridiculous situation of teachers monitoring young children of five or six years old in lines in the temple room at mangal arati, forcing them to dance! Walking up and down lines of dozing children chanting japa. I don’t think I ever became more frustrated at a useless waste of time. How much better off these children would have been getting a decent night’s sleep and then coming to evening arati with genuine enthusiasm!

Before I left, I had come to the point of thinking that our entire Gurukula policy in Mayapura needed to be changed. First of all, I felt that we needed to hire professional teachers from Nabadwip and elsewhere to offer a complete course of education. (This incidentally is the policy at the Bhaktivinode Institute at the Caitanya Janma Sthan in Mayapur, run by the Caitanya Math.) I felt that if ISKCON wanted to get the most mileage out of its educational system in India, it should make it attractive to life members, etc., who would send their children in order to get a real, professional quality education. This would mean minimizing devotional activities to a few classes in religious instruction and perhaps a few formal ritual activities. The school would be segregated from the non-teaching devotional staff and teachers would be divided into ashram teachers and class teachers whose competences would be carefully monitored. These policies were based greatly on the success that the Ramkrishna Mission has had in using their schools to train people for public life who later support the society. This in turn was based on the example of Christian schools in India which continue to furnish the best education there. I believe that some of these proposals were accepted after I left the movement in 1979, and hopefully the entire movement has become more mature in its approach to education. I can only apologize to those who suffered through those first years, and all those who have continued to suffer abuse at the hands of incompetent educators who though that chanting Hare Krishna was a substitute for real training as a teacher.

Speaking in accordance with certain psychological profiles that were done in the 1980’s by scholars studying the Krishna consciousness movement (‘The Hare Krishna Character Type), a dominant personality type found amongst Krishna conscious devotees is based on a fear of sensuality, of losing control of one’s self. Many of the early devotees, like myself, were ex-hippies who were attracted by the structure of temple life, who were excited by the prospect of becoming self- disciplined and purified of material desire. In our vision of school life we thought to instill the spirit of discipline which we ourselves had not attained but were only aiming at. Thus we found ourselves in the silly and tragic situation of expecting things from the children which we ourselves were unable to achieve for the most part. Our frustration with our own failures found its natural outlet on the innocents who surrounded us.

I learned my lesson in 1977 when the Mayapur Muslims attacked the temple after Nitai Chand beat up on one of theirs. I was badly beaten up in the affair, receiving a broken arm which was improperly set and to this day is crooked. I took it as a sign that Krishna was giving me back something of what I had given to the kids and from that day on stopped hitting the children. There was only one exception: when I tried to slap a boy who refused to immediately obey a command, I broke one of my knuckles on a concrete pillar. It remains a cavity on my right hand which like my crooked left arm, bears permanent testimony to my past sins.

To conclude, I would like to say one last thing. I am happy to say that in some cases, children who were brought up in Krishna consciousness do look back on their experience in a positive light. I am pleased to say that my own daughter, with whose upbringing, I as a sannyasi had absolutely nothing to do, grew up to be well- educated and good-mannered due to the constant intervention of her mother, who did not allow her to suffer abuse in closed environments, who let her go to public schools when she desired it and who despite personal difficulties managed to provide love and a personal example of dedication to principle. For this I would like to publicly thank her in this space.

By abandoning my own child, I fit the ISKCON model of an uncaring parent about which I would like to say aword or two, which fits in with what I said above about character type. I notice similar regrets in recent statements which I have seen on the internet about Jagadish Das’s abandonment of sannyas and guruship in order to live with a female disciple, citing emotional needs as his reason. In his letters of demission, Jagadish laments his failures as a husband and a father. These are no doubt common sentiments amongst those who like Jagadish and myself, were involved in arranged marriages in the early 70’s under pressure from Prabhupada, who seemed to think (and probably with some justification) that any mature male and mature female in Krishna consciousness should be able to live together and raise a family if they had this common objective. Of course, we have seen how many mature individuals there were in Krishna consciousness. Misogyny is a fact in ISKCON and many intelligent ISKCON bloopers have cited it. In particularly, I advise you to get a hold of a statement made by Subhananda when he left ISKCON, in which he details how misogyny has been institutionalized in the movement. This attitude is particularly destructive in the marital situation where it leads to abuse of both physical and sexual kinds. These attitudes have been amply documented in feminist writings and there is no need for me to go into it here. Of interest might be Manisha Ray’s ‘Bengali Women’ in which she details masculine sexual attitudes in Bengal which has some similarities to the ISKCON situation. The ISKCON male personality type, seeking perfect control over his senses, is perpetually frustrated. Sannyas is the only real ideal. Whatever praises of the grihastha ashram might be found in Prabhupad’s books, everyone knows that sannyas is really where it’s at. This attitude, funnily enough, was started only after Prabhupada returned to India in the early 70’s and started making sannyasis. When these sannyasis (and I mention Bali Mardan in particular, but Subala, Gurukripa, Yasodanandana and others also) returned to America, they made it obvious that they were the real devotees and that everyone else had to strive for the same goals. As St. Paul says about householder life in his epistles, ‘It is better to marry than to burn [in the fire of hell]’ but that is about it. Prabhupada contributed to this with his famous ‘licking a leaking vagina’ remark which he made to Acyutananda, Bhavananda, Sudama and other homosexual misogynists in Mayapur in 1976. His comments about women’s smaller brain size did not help.

ISKCON reformers who criticize the guru institution should also seriously consider eliminating sannyas as undesirable and even prohibited in the age of Kali. There is a statement to that effect in the Puranas which is quoted in the Caitanya Caritamrita. Hinduism in general never worships a god without his Sakti. This must be telling us something. There are many who will tell you that sannyas is something that only really came into Hinduism as a result of the Buddhist influence. Even in Gaudiya Vaisnavism, though Caitanya took sannyas, the movement was really a householder movement. The six goswamis did not marry, or left their wives, but they were never formally initiated as sannyasis. The real leaders of Caitanya’s movement were householders such as Nityananda, Advaita, Srinivas Acharya, etc. Even Narottama, who never married, made householder disciples who carried on the tradition. As an essentially protestant movement, ISKCON reformers should think about Luther and his criticisms of the abuses in which celibate priests and monks were engaged during the high middle ages. This is what the sannyas institution is accomplishing in ISKCON. Sannyas should be a natural development of an individual who has gone through the grihastha life and learned how to live with people of the opposite sex and appreciate their qualities. Celibacy is not a prerequisite for spiritual realization. The body is (acintya-bhedabheda) simultaneously one and different from the supreme truth, so why do we only see the different? It is evident that the truth has been entirely misunderstood. Sannyas is an innovation in Gaudiya Vaisnavism created by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati who was looking for committed monks like those in the Ramkrishna Mission. Vairagya in babaji circles has taken on the character of a formal initiation also, so it too has lost to some extent the true spontaneous spirit of renunciation that was characteristic of Rupa and Raghunath. The Advaita line in Bengal is the only one that truly maintains this tradition, and those interested may consult with Advaita Das in Holland.

In summary, then, I would like to say that ISKCON has promoted a negative attitude towards women and children and family life in general. There is absolutely no reason why this should be the case. The Absolute Truth for Gaudiya Vaisnavas is Radha Krishna, the divine syzygy. Look at Radha and Krishna and don’t deny what they symbolize. ISKCON people are so eager to say Radha and Krishna are not symbols of mundane sex. This is serious denial, folks. They represent the ideal love and we should think of that when we love, just as we should think of Yasoda and Krishna when we see our child. Your wife and child are Krishna for you. Krishna is everywhere, he is even in the temple, but his presence is most important in the objects of love around us. You want to learn to love Krishna? Love the people who are around you. Love those whom you are supposed to love. Remember Jesus who said, ‘As you do to even the least of these, you do to me.’ That, my friends, is Krishna consciousness.

These are a few of the realizations that have come out of my experiences. To my daughter and students whom I failed I sincerely pray daily that they will be able to overcome the sadness and anger that these failings have caused them, that they may find their own path in spiritual life and all satisfactions, material and spiritual.

Your humble servant,
Jan Brzezinski.
aka. Jagadananda Das, Hiranyagarbha Das.

A108-AI

@VrindavanToday The glories of Kusum Sarovar ...

darshan-1.jpgGovardhan, 2018.05.16

Several pastimes of Radha-Krishna and the Gopis of Braj are associated with Kusum Sarovar. Shri Krishna and the Gopas would wait here for the gopis to come and pick flowers in the early morning.

Kusum Sarovar is located two kilometres from Govardhan. The kund is 450 feet long and 60 feet deep and is a favourite with photographers as the shadow of the buildings on the kund creates a mesmerizing effect. The steps of the kund provide a resting place for weary travelers and the historical buildings with painted ceilings are of interest to artists and historians.

Kusum Sarovar has also been used as an event venue. A floating stage was installed on the kund for a program  commemorating the 500th Anniversary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s arrival in Braj, on 17th November 2015.

Recently, plans were announced to promote the area as one of India’s top tourist destinations. Authorities are have announced plans to restore the kund and surrounding buildings and there is also talk of a fountain and boat rides in the kund.

The kund was dug out in the 17th Century by the King Veer Singh Dev of Madhya Pradesh. After this, King Suraj Mal renovated it and gave it the shape of a grand lake. King Suraj Mal’s son, King Jawahar Singh, built the domes on the West side of the kund as a memorial for his father and three daughters.  

While at Radha Kund, devotees meditate on this sweet pastime, described in Deena Bandhu’s Vraja Lila:

One day, Rādhārāṇī was picking flowers, and there was one flower that was just out of reach. She even jumped a couple of times, Her ankle bells and bracelets going ching, ching, ching. It was just out of reach. Krishna was watching from the forest nearby, so when Rādhārāṇī turned and began picking other flowers, He climbed up into that tree and put His foot on the branch so it would go down.

Rādhārāṇī turned again and saw that the flower had come low. She thought, “That’s very interesting. This is such a lovely flower.” So She tried to pluck it, and again it was just out of reach. She jumped and caught the end of the branch with Her left hand and pulled it down so She could reach to pick the flower. Then Krishna lifted His foot off of the branch. Rādhārāṇī screamed and went flying up into the air and was left hanging high in the tree. We can imagine who turned up to save Her in dire distress and pluck Her down from the branch! Kusum Sarovar is filled with so many wonderful pastimes.

This pastime helps us remember Shri Krishna’s mercy in appearing to those who truly desire to see Him and gives a glimpse of His playful nature.

A108-AI

11_05_2018-11mth116-1.jpgBraj, 2018.05.15

This year, Purushottamas falls between 16th May and 13th June. This month is a particularly auspicious time to do parikrama and millions of devotees will travel to Braj to perform either the entire Braj Mandal parikrama, Mathura Parikrama, Vrindavan Parikrama or Govardhan Parikrama.

This extra month of the lunar calendar, which serves as a kind of leap month, occurs only once every three years. This is indeed a special time because this month is considered to be the best time to quickly make spiritual advancement.

Purushottama means, “the highest” or “the supreme soul”. Purushottama is a name that describes Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna but Shri Krishna gave this name to Adhik Maas to show that this is the highest month.

During this time, many activities that would normally be auspicious (but take a lot of effort) are not recommended. During this time marriages, mundan (first head shaving of baby’s hair), and bhoomi pooja (ceremony on newly acquired land) are not carried out.

With most work not recommended, and with the natural slow down in most activities due to the heat, millions of devotees will take the opportunity to come to Braj to become absorbed in the spiritual bliss that cuts the sharp edge off the myriad of problems that we all face.

Due to being an inauspicious time for most purchases and ceremonies, Purushottamas used to be called Maal Mas (dirty month). Out of great mercy, Lord Vishnu gave the month the name Purushottamas and imbued the month with all the qualities of the Supreme Lord, making the month truly worthy of the name Purushottama (the best). Lord Vishnu ended the suffering of Adhik Mas through imbuing His name and qualities. This boon not only benefited Adhik Mas, but is a benefit for everyone because, now, once every three years, we get the chance to feel surrounded by Vishnu’s qualities and we get reminded that every second that passes is Vishnu’s time.

Preparations for the festival and expected influx of people wanting to take advantage of the spiritual power of Purushottamas have been underway for several weeks and, now, last minute preparations for the festival are moving ahead with full speed, despite the heat.

Embarking on a pilgrimage with the intention of receiving benefit in the material world is not recommended during Purushottamas. Pilgrimages/parikrama can only be undertaken for the purpose of increasing absorption in selfless devotional service i.e. Bhakti.

Purushottamas is also a good opportunity to focus on controlling diet by focusing on eating only  Sattvic foods (vegetarian meals, milk, fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables). Those who have already managed to stick to a sattvic diet, may choose to take on a special fast, such as fasting from grains or only eating one meal per day.

In the Padma Purana the Supreme Lord Krishna states “All human beings should perform some devotional service in this Purushottama month by:

  • Worshiping Me, (Shri Krishna) and by chanting My holy names.
  • Study of Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-Gita, in particular Chapter Fifteen named Purushottama Yoga.
  • Giving in charity.
  • Offering ghee diya (lamp) daily unto Me."

The month of Purushottamas is a particularly auspicious time for giving charity. Just as some seasons are particularly good for planting trees, it is said that a small seed of charity given in Purushottamas will become a huge banyan tree of benefits for the giver and receivers.

Lord Vishnu says to Sh Garuda-ji in Garuda Purana, Preta Khanda, chapter 14, Verse 12, “With the food for the journey in the form of gifts offered to the deserving, one is able to travel with comfort on the Great Highway in the journey after death. Otherwise, the wretch undergoes great hardships on the way, without food to subsist on.”

So, even if we cannot escape having selfish motives, the Garuda Purana gives us a good reason to give charity, especially in the form of Prasad or food relief. Whatever is done during this month has extra benefits, so it would be wise to not miss the opportunity to render service.

Mathura authorities are working especially hard in the lead up to Purushottamas to assist pilgrims in their journey to Braj. During a meeting on 11th May, District Magistrate, Sarvagyaram Mishra instructed the different departments to work together. The DM instructed the Public Works Department, Water Corporation, Electricity department and contractors to coordinate the provision of services including: street cleaning, drinking water, toilets, electricity, CCTV, sound system, lost and found booths and health services.

The Railways Department is also organizing special services for pilgrims including extra trains and extra ticket counters. The Railways Department has also requested extra police officers to patrol trains.

The Senior Superintendent of Mathura police, Prabhakar Chaudhary, said that during Purushottamas, there will be increased security across Braj.

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Dhruvdas continues to explain the glories of the Dham.

महिमा वृन्दाविपिन की कैसैं कै कहि जाइ ।
ऐसै रसिक किसोर दोउ जामें रहे लुभाइ ॥३४॥
mahimā vṛndāvipina kī kaisaiṁ kai kahi jāi |
aisai rasika kisora dou jāmeṁ rahe lubhāi ||34||

When the Divine Couple themselves are attached to this Dham,
then how could anyone properly sing its glories?

विपिन अलौकिक लोक में अति अभूत रस कंद ।
नव किसोर इक वैस द्रुम फूले रहत सुछंद ॥३५॥
vipina alaukika loka meṁ ati abhūta rasa kaṁda |
nava kisora ika vaisa druma phūle rahata suchaṁda ||35||

Though in the world, this forest is beyond it. It is the root of unprecedented rasa:
the Divine Couple, ever youthful, are the tree that forever blossoms there.

Radha and Krishna are the fruit and flower-bearing tree that grows from the root, Vrindavan.

पत्र फूल फल लता प्रति रहत रसिक पिय चाहि ।
नवल कुँवरि दृग छटा जल तिहि कर सींचे आहि ॥३६॥
patra phūla phala latā prati rahata rasika piya cāhi |
navala kuɱvari dṛga chaṭā jala tihi kara sīṁce āhi ||36||

The two rasikas look lovingly on the leaves, flowers, fruits and creepers,
and the forest flourishes, watered by their rainlike glances.

कुँवरि चरन अंकित धरनि देखत जिहि जिहि ठौर ।
प्रिया चरन रज जानि कैं लुठत रसिक सिरमौर ॥३७॥
kuɱvari carana aṁkita dharani dekhata jihi jihi ṭhaura |
priyā carana raja jāni kaiṁ luṭhata rasika siramaura ||37||

Whenever the king of rasikas sees a place where his beloved has stepped,
he rolls on the ground there, knowing it to be the dust of her feet.

वृन्दावन प्यारौ अधिक यातें प्रेम अपार ।
जामें खेलत लाढ़िली सर्वसु प्रान अधार ॥३८॥
vṛndāvana pyārau adhika yāteṁ prema apāra |
jāmeṁ khelata lāḏilī sarvasu prāna adhāra ||38||

Vrindavan is most dear, because there is unlimited love therein,
for there plays Ladili Srimati Radharani’s life and soul.

सबै सखी सब सौंज लै रैंगीं जुगल ध्रुव रंग ।
समै समै की जानि रुचि लिये रहत हैं संग ॥३९॥
sabai sakhī saba sauṁja lai raiṁgīṁ jugala dhruva raṁga |
samai samai kī jāni ruci liye rahata haiṁ saṁga ||39||

The sakhis, colored by the colors of the Yugal lila, bring all the paraphernalia,
and according to the time, stay in their company to give them pleasure.

वृन्दावन वैभव जितौ तितौ कह्यौ नहिं जात ।
देखत सम्पति विपिन की कमला हू ललचात ॥४०॥
vṛndāvana vaibhava jitau titau kahyau nahiṁ jāta |
dekhata sampati vipina kī kamalā hū lalacāta ||40||

It is impossible to describe the extent of Vrindavan’s opulence,
seeing the riches of the forest, Lakshmi herself becomes greedy to have them.

वृन्दावन की लता सम कोटि कलपतरु नाहिं ।
रह की तुल वैकुण्ठ नहिं और लोक किहिं माहिं ॥४१॥
vṛndāvana kī latā sama koṭi kalapataru nāhiṁ |
raha kī tula vaikuṇṭha nahiṁ aura loka kihiṁ māhiṁ ||41||

A single creeper from Vrindavan is worth more than a million desire-trees,
One grain of its dust more than all the Vaikunthas, what to speak of other, mundane worlds!

श्रीपति श्री मुख कमल कह्यौ नारद सौं समुझाइ ।
वृन्दावन रस सबन तें राख्यौ दूरि दुराइ ॥४२॥
śrīpati śrī mukha kamala kahyau nārada sauṁ samujhāi |
vṛndāvana rasa sabana teṁ rākhyau dūri durāi ||42||

Lakshmipati Narayan explained Narada with his own tongue
the he has kept the rasa of Vrindavan a secret, hidden far from the world.

अंस कला औतार जे ते सेवत हैं ताहि ।
ऐसै वृन्दा विपिन कौं मन वच कै अवगाहि ॥४३॥
aṁsa kalā autāra je te sevata haiṁ tāhi |
aisai vṛndā vipina kauṁ mana vaca kai avagāhi ||43||

All of God’s parts and portions and avatars all wish to dwell there,
so absorb your mind and words in Vrinda Devi’s forest.

तजि कै वृन्दा विपिन कौं और तीर्थ जे जात ।
छांड़ि विमल चिन्तामणि कौड़ी कौं ललचात ॥44||
taji kai vṛndā vipina kauṁ aura tīrtha je jāta |
chāṁḏi vimala cintāmaṇi kauḏī kauṁ lalacāta ||

One who abandons Vrindavan to go to any other holy place
leaves aside a priceless philosopher’s stone for the sake of a few cowry shells.

चतुरानन देख्यौ कछु वृन्दाविपिन प्रभाव ।
द्रुम द्रुम प्रति अरु लता प्रति औरै बन्यौ बनाव ॥४५॥
caturānana dekhyau kachu vṛndāvipina prabhāva |
druma druma prati aru latā prati aurai banyau banāva ||45||

The four-faced god beheld a little of Vrindavan’s power,
when he saw every tree, every plant, every creeper, as extraordinary.

आप सहित सब चत्रभुज सब ठौँ रह्यौ निहारि ।
प्रभुता अपनी भूलि गयौ तन मन कै रह्यौ हारि ॥४६॥
āpa sahita saba catrabhuja saba ṭhauɱ rahyau nihāri |
prabhutā apanī bhūli gayau tana mana kai rahyau hāri ||46||

Brahma saw that everything, including himself, had a four-armed form,
so he forget his own Lordship and lost all connection with material mind and body.

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31531385_1058541517654265_6649688540575694848_n-780x439.jpg← Worship of Shri Radha Vallabha and Jagadguru Hit Harivansh

Vrindavan, 2018.05.12

Despite his importance historically for the Radha Vallabha sampradaya, not much is known about the life of Hit Dhruvdas. The only biographical information comes from Bhagavant Mudita, who was his junior contemporary. Bhagavant Mudita wrote a small book glorifying all the disciples and followers of Hit Harivansh Goswami called Rasika Ananya Mal.

It is interesting because we know from Priya Das’s commentary to the Bhakta Maal that Mudita was initiated by Haridas Goswami, the Mahant of Govinda Devji temple at the time. In the first verse to Rasika Ananya Maal (“A Garland of Exclusive Rasika Devotees”) he bows first to Chaitanya and Nityananda, but then turns to Harivansh and his followers. We only have one other book by Bhagavant Mudita, which is a translation of the Vṛndāvana-śataka, or the 17th śataka of Prabodhananda’s Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta, which is dated 1650.

Dhruvdasji was born in a well-to-do Kayastha family in Deoband, which is now in northwestern Uttar Pradesh. Deoband or Devavan is also the hometown of Harivansh himself, who left his hometown to stay permanently in Vrindavan in 1534. He already had a following in Deoband, since his father and grandfather were disciples of Hit Harivansh. Dhruvdas himself was a disciple of Harivansha’s third son Gopinath. Of Dhruvadasji’s writings which are dated, we know that he flourished between 1591 and 1640.

When he was ten years old he left home to live in Vrindavan, where he came to stay by the Raas Mandal, which is near the Yamuna at Yugal Ghat not far from the Radha Damodar temple. Being naturally attracted to the rasika mode of life, he became absorbed in thinking of Radha and Krishna and indeed quickly attained the stage of rasa-siddha. All of Radha and Krishna’s lilas manifested to him directly. He developed a desire to start writing, but felt incapable. ura āvai mukha teṁ nahiṁ kaḍhe “What was in his heart could not manifest on his tongue.”

His desire to glorify the lilas in poetic form became so strong that he gave up all food and drink and simply remained in the Raas Mandal, praying for Radharani’s mercy. For three days he remained in this state, when, in the middle of the third night, the entire area filled with light; he heard the jingling of anklebells and Srimati Radharani appeared to him. She said,

वानी भ जु चाहत कियौ। उठि सो वर सब तोकौं दियौ॥
vānī bhaī ju cāhata kiyau | uṭhi so vara saba tokauṁ diyau ||

The desire you have to write your Vani, I now give you my blessing, arise and do that.

On receiving Radharani’s grace, Dhruvdas began to write. He composed 42 small books, which taken together go by the name Bayālīsa-līlā. of which Vṛndāvana Sata Līlā is one.

There is a small memorial, his footprints under a tamal tree at the Sri Hit Raas Mandal.

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Entrance to the Shri Hit Ras Mandal

The Raas Mandal is one of the more prominent holy places managed by the Radha Vallabha sampradaya in Vrindavan. There is a legend that from the Radha Vallabha temple, Hit Harivansh was given a bow and told that he could have all the land covered by the flight of the arrow. The Raas Mandal was thus the other extremity of his domain. There are also memorials there to Naravahan and Damodar Das “Sewakji,” both important figures in the development of the Radha Vallabhi parampara.

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वृन्दावन का स्वरूप वर्णन
vṛndāvana kā svarūpa varṇana
A description of the form of Vrindavan

देवी वृन्दाविपिन की वृन्दा सखी सरूप ।
जिहिं विधि रुचि होइ दुहुँनि की तिहिं विधि करति अनूप ॥२१॥
devī vṛndāvipina kī vṛndā sakhī sarūpa |
jihiṁ vidhi ruci hoi duhuɱni kī tihiṁ vidhi karati anūpa ||21||

The presiding deity of Vrindavan is Vrinda Devi, who acts like a girlfriend
Whatever pleases the Divine Couple is what she arranges incomparably.

छिन छिन वन की छबि नई नवल जुगल के हेत ।
समुझि बात सब जीय की सखि वृन्दा सुख देत ॥२२॥
china china vana kī chabi naī navala jugala ke heta |
samujhi bāta saba jīya kī sakhi vṛndā sukha deta ||22||

At every moment she makes the forest scene new and fresh for the Divine Couple,
Understanding what is in their mind, Vrinda Sakhi seeks to please them.

गावत वृन्दा विपिन गुन नवल लाढ़िली लाल ।
सुखद लता फल फूल द्रुम अद्भुत परम रसाल ॥२३॥
gāvata vṛndā vipina guna navala lāḏilī lāla |
sukhada latā phala phūla druma adbhuta parama rasāla ||23||

The Divine Youth and Beauty sing the glories of Vrinda’s forest,
whose pleasure-giving vines, fruits, flowers and trees, are amazingly delightful

उपमा वृन्दाविपिन की कहि धौं दीजै काहि ।
अति अभूत अद्भुत सरस श्री मुख बरनत ताहि ॥२४॥
upamā vṛndāvipina kī kahi dhauṁ dījai kāhi |
ati abhūta adbhuta sarasa śrī mukha baranata tāhi ||24||

What can be compared to Vrindavan, pray tell, when the Divine Pair themselves
glorify this incomparable, amazing, lovely manifestation?

आदि अन्त जाकौ नहीं नित्त सुखद बन आहि ।
माया त्रिगुन प्रपंच की पवन न परसत ताहि ॥२५॥
ādi anta jākau nahīṁ nitta sukhada bana āhi |
māyā triguna prapaṁca kī pavana na parasata tāhi ||25||

This forest is without beginning or end, eternal and blissful,
the breath of Maya’s creation of the three guna never touches it.

वृन्दा विपिन सुहावनौं रहत एक रस नित्त ।
प्रेम सुरंग रँगे तहाँ एक प्रान द्वै मित्त ॥२६॥
vṛndā vipina suhāvanauṁ rahata eka rasa nitta |
prema suraṁga raɱge tahāɱ eka prāna dvai mitta ||26||

Opulent Vrindavan is the eternal creation of prema rasa,
Where one soul in two bodies dally, absorbed in the beauty of love.

अति सरूप सुकुँवार तन नव किसोर सुखरासि ।
हरत प्रान सब सखिन के करत मंद मृदु हासि ॥२७॥
ati sarūpa sukuɱvāra tana nava kisora sukha rāsi |
harata prāna saba sakhina ke karata maṁda mṛdu hāsi ||27||

The Divine Youthful Pair full of beauty and bliss
steal the hearts of all the sakhis with their gentle, warm laughter.

न्यारौ है सब लोक तें वृन्दावन निज गेह ।
खेलत लाढ़िली लाल जहँ भींजे सरस सनेह ॥२८॥
nyārau hai saba loka teṁ vṛndāvana nija geha |
khelata lāḏilī lāla jahaɱ bhīṁje sarasa saneha ||28||

Radha and Krishna’s own home, this Vrindavan, is unique in the creation,
Where Lover and Beloved are drenched in loving affection.

गौर स्याम तन मन रँगे प्रेम स्वाद रस सार ।
निकसत नहिं तिहिं ऐंन तें अटके सरस विहार ॥२९॥
gaura syāma tana mana raɱge prema svāda rasa sāra |
nikasata nahiṁ tihiṁ aiṁna teṁ aṭake sarasa vihāra ||29||

The Fair and Dark Couple relish the essence of the flavors of love, body and mind;
They never leave this Dham, but remain absorbed in their loving enjoyments.

वन है बाग सुहाग कौ राख्यौ रस में पागि ।
रूप रंग के फूल दोउ प्रीति लता रहे लागि ॥३०॥
vana hai bāga suhāga kau rākhyau rasa meṁ pāgi |
rūpa raṁga ke phūla dou prīti latā rahe lāgi ||30||

This forest is a garden of love that keeps them absorbed in prema rasa,
They are like two flowers of beauty and dalliance, dangling from the vine of love.

मदन सुधा के रस भरे फूलि रहे दिन रैंन ।
चहुँदिसि भ्रमत न तजत छिन भृंग सखिन के नैंन ॥३१॥
madana sudhā ke rasa bhare phūli rahe dina raiṁna |
cahuɱdisi bhramata na tajata china bhṛṁga sakhina ke naiṁna ||31||

Filled with the taste of erotic ambrosia, they expand day and night,
Wandering in ever direction, and the sakhis’ eyes, like bees, never leave them.

कानन में रहे झलकि कै आनन विवि विधु काँति ।
सहज चकोरी सखिनि की अखियौं निरखि सिराँति ॥३२॥

kānana meṁ rahe jhalaki kai ānana vivi vidhu kāɱti |
sahaja cakorī sakhini kī akhiyauṁ nirakhi sirāɱti ||32||

The beauty of the Divine Couple’s moon faces light up the entire forest,
The eyes of the gopis are like moon-beam drinking chakoras, cooled by their sight.

ऐसे रस में दिन मगन नहिं जानत निसि भोर ।
वृन्दावन में प्रेम की नदी बहै चहुँ ओर ॥३३॥
aise rasa meṁ dina magana nahiṁ jānata nisi bhora |
vṛndāvana meṁ prema kī nadī bahai cahuɱ ora ||33||

Vrindavan is so submerged in this ras, that none know whether it is day or night;
the river of love flows there in every direction.

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When will I wander around the slopes of Govardhan, the king of hills, constantly uttering “Jai Radhe! Jai Krishna!” as if mad? And when will I stumble around, overwhelmed by feelings of ecstatic love, sprinkling Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s playgrounds with my tears?


bhraman kacche kacche kṣiti-dhara-pater vakrima-gatair
lapan rādhe kṛṣṇety anavaratam unmattavad aham
patan kvāpi kvāpy ucchalita-nayana-dvandva-salilaiḥ
kadā keli-sthānaṁ sakalam api siñcāmi vikalaḥ

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā : In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami, who is the embodiment of love in separation, reveals his aspiration to live in Vraja in great ecstatic agitation. Actually Raghunath Das Goswami’s heart is burning in a great fire of lamentation out of separation and with such a burning heart he falls on the bank of Sri Radha Kund and anxiously weeps, desiring to see the queen of his heart. The sacred Stavāvalī scripture is the culmination of this all. It is as if the body of this sacred Stavāvalī is made of his tears of love in separation. Still, on the plea of praying for this condition himself he draws a very beautiful picture of living in Vraja in great ecstatic agitation, a condition coveted by the loving devotees.

Vraja Dham is a place to be in great ecstatic agitation. Here the bhāvuka or greatly sensitive and advanced devotees are never immersed in bodily happiness, spending their time eating and sleeping and performing bhajan in a mechanical way, as those such as I am doing. This Vraja is a place to experience separation; bhajan here consists of only tears.

In Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta Sri Uddhava Mahāśaya reveals his experience of the mood of Vraja to Sri Narada and Gopa Kumāra –

tatraivotpadyate dainyaṁ tat-premāpi sadā satām
tat tac chūnyam ivāraṇya-sarid-giry-ādi paśyatām
sadā hā-hā-ravākrānta-vadanānāṁ tathā hṛdi
mahā-santāpa-dagdhānāṁ sva priyaṁ parimṛgyatām

 “When the saints see the void of the woods, rivers and mountains of Vraja they automatically get feelings of humility and love simultaneously. They will loudly wail and lament and search for their beloved deity with anxious hearts, that burn out of severe affliction.” (Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛtam, 2.5.242-243)

The purport of this is that the great souls that take shelter of Vraja to do bhajan always see the pastime places, but they do not see the playful pair Sri Sri Radha Madhava. This naturally causes agitation in their minds, as a result of which gradually humility and love are infused in the heart. When humility awakens the devotee considers himself very fallen and unqualified, and at the same time, while prema awakens, he develops a great eagerness for directly seeing his beloved deity. Then the loving devotee, whose heart is burning in the great fire of love in separation, wanders around everywhere in Vraja lamenting and searching for his beloved deity. This elevated condition is even more praiseworthy than the direct meeting with the Lord. That is because the Lord, who is subdued by the love of his devotees, generates such feelings of separation within the heart of the devotee so that he can relish the sweetness of this condition of the devotee, while watching him from a hidden place.

bhaktera prema ceṣṭā dekhi kṛṣṇera camatkāra

 “Krishna is astonished when he witnesses the activities of his devotees.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta)

When Sri Gopa Kumar was sent from the transcendental Dwaraka to the terrestrial Vraja by Sri Uddhava and Narada he attained such an ecstatic condition. Sri Sanatan Prabhu describes it as follows:

tāṁ nāradīyām anusṛtya śikṣāṁ śrī kṛṣṇa nāmāni nija-priyāṇi
saṅkīrtayan susvaram atra līlās tasya pragāyann anucintayaṁś ca
tadīya-līlā-sthala jātam etad vilokayan bhāva-daśe gato ye
tayoḥ sva-citte karaṇena lajje kathaṁ parasmin kathayāny ahaṁ te
sadā mahārtyā karuṇa-svarai rudan nayāmi rātrīr divasāś ca kātaraḥ
na vedmi yad yat sucirād anuṣṭhitaṁ sukhāya vā tat tad utārti-sindhave
kathañcid apy ākalayāmi naitat kim eṣa dāvāgni-śikhāntare’ham
vasāmi kiṁ vā paramāmṛtāccha-suśītala-śrī-yamunā-jalāntaḥ

 “Sri Gopa Kumar told Sri Jana Sharma: “O brahmin! Following the instructions of Sri Narada I am chanting the holy names of my beloved Sri Krishna and am residing in Sri Vrindavan, singing about and remembering his pastimes. Although I have attained this ecstatic condition while witnessing these pastimes of Sri Krishna, and I have kept these ecstatic feelings within my heart, I am feeling ashamed. How will I reveal them to you? I was always weeping in great anguish, pitifully crying, “O Lord!” day and night. I have practised this for a long time, but I don’t know if I did this for attaining happiness or being immersed in an ocean of transcendental anguish. I could not ascertain in any way whether I was residing in the flames of a forest-fire or in the cool water of the Yamuna!” (Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta 2.6.1-4)

Actually, love for Sri Nandanandana Gopal is full of contradictions. Sometimes it seems there is no limit to the bliss, and again sometimes it seems there is no limit to the misery. Sometimes it is delicious like nectar and sometimes it is more burning than poison. And again sometimes the nectar and the poison, the relish and the scorch blend together to become one!!

bahir viṣa jvālā hoy, antara ānandamoy, kṛṣṇa premāra adbhūta carita

 “Externally it is scorching like poison and internally it is blissful. That is the wonderful nature of love for Krishna.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta)

Raghunath Das Goswami says: “When will I wander around the outskirts of Sri Govardhan, constantly exclaiming: “O Rādhe! O Krishna!” like mad, while searching for my most beloved Sri Sri Radha Madhava? At some places I may stumble and fall, and sometimes I will get up again, dance, sing and weep! When will streams of my tears shower these transcendental playgrounds?”

Actually Sri Rupa and Raghunath Das and other sampradāyācāryas or teachers of the tradition of Caitanya-bhakti, gave the greatest example of how to live in Vraja in such an ecstatic condition. At the end of Shrinivas Acharya’s Saḍ Gosvāmy-aṣṭakam it is written:

he rādhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nandasūno kutaḥ
śrī-govardhana-kalpapāda-patale kālindī-vanye kutaḥ
ghoṣantāv iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair mahā-vihvalau
vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrījīva-gopālakau

O Rādhe! O goddesses of Vraja! O Lalite! O Sri Nandanandana! Where are You? Are You at the base of a wishyielding tree at Govardhana hill, or on the bank of the Yamuna? Where are You playing Your pastimes? This is Your Vraja Dham, where the stream of Your pastimes flows on eternally! Alas! How unfortunate I am that I cannot see Your pastimes here! Tell me where I should go to meet You!” I praise Rupa, Sanatan, Raghunath Bhatta, Raghunath Das, Sri Jiva and Gopala Bhatta Goswamis, who were thus wandering all over Vraja like madmen, searching for their most beloved Sri Sri Radha Madhava in a very anxious state of mind.”

Śrīla Thakur Mahashay also sings:

hari hari! āra ki emon daśā hobo?
e bhava saṁsāra tyaji, parama ānande maji,
āra kobe vrajabhūme jābo ?

sukhamaya vṛndāvana, kobe hobe daraśana,
se dhūli mākhibo kobe gāya
preme gada gada hoiyā, rādhā-kṛṣṇa nāma loiyā,
kāṅdiyā beḍābo ubharāya

nibhṛta nikuñje jāiyā, aṣṭāṅga praṇata hoiyā,
ḍākibo hā rādhānātha boli
kobe yamunāra tīre, paraśa koribo nīre,
kobe pibo karapuṭe tuli

āra kobe emana hobo, śrī rāsa maṇḍale yābo,
kobe gaḍāgaḍi dibo tāya
vaṁśīvaṭa chāyā pāiyā, parama ānanda hoiyā,
paḍiyā rahibo tāra chāya

kobe govardhana giri, dekhibo nayana bhari,
kobe hobe rādhākuṇḍe vāsa
bhramite bhramite kobe, e deho patana hobe,
kohe dīna Narottama Das

“Hari Hari! When will I attain such a state? When will I give up this material household life and go to Vrajabhūmi, immersed in transcendental bliss?

When will I see blissful Vrindavan and smear its dust on my body? When will I wander around there, weeping and singing Radha and Krishna’s names with a voice stuttering of ecstatic love?

When will I go to the solitary groves, offer prostrated obeisances there and cry out “O Lord of Radha!”? When will I go to the bank of the Yamuna, touch her waters and drink them from my cupped hands?

When will I go to the Sri Rāsa-maṇḍala and roll around there in ecstasy? When will I find the shade of the Vanshivat tree, and rest there in topmost ecstasy?

When will I fill my eyes with the vision of Govardhana Giri and when will I reside at Radha Kund? The fallen Narottama Das says: When will my life come to an end as I thus wander in the Dham?” (Prārthanā)

The vīṇā-like hearts of the great devotees all twang the same tune of anguish of separation from living in Vraja. Hence Raghunath Das Goswami’s anxious prayer –

nirantara hā rādhe! he śrī kṛṣṇa! boliyā;
unmattera prāya āmi pralāpa koriyā
govardhanera sānu-deśe bhramaṇa koribo;
premete vivaśa aṅga ḍhaliyā paḍibo
vyākulita citte sadā koribo krandana;
yugala vilāsa bhūmi koribo siñcana
ucchalita āṅkhi nīre paṅkilo se sthale;
sukhe viharibe sadā navīna yugale

“I will wander around the base of Govardhana hill, constantly exclaiming “Hā Rādhe! Hey Sri Krishna!” as if mad. Overwhelmed by ecstatic love I will drop my body and constantly weep with anxious heart. I will shower and mudden the ground where Radha and Krishna always blissfully play with streams of my tears.”


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.

Devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Sheel.

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11DFRGOKULOTSAVJI-1.jpgVrindavan, 2018.05.12

Haveli sangeet continues to strike a chord with the devotees and the connoisseurs but the number of its serious practitioners is dwindling

The temple rituals linked with music started some 500 years ago by Shri Vallabha Acharya are indeed a unique part of North India’s musical tradition. Amazingly, Sant Vallabha acharya was a South Indian Telugu Brahmin, though he was raised in North India and he revolutionised the worship of Lord Krishna in North India. It is indeed an amazing tradition, that knew no geographical boundaries; the music travelled in its form from Vrindavan to Udaipur (Shri Nath ji temple) to Gujarat, Baroda, Surat, Mumbai and even Amritsar.

Wherever the “Pushti marg” (path of grace) temples were consecrated, the musical rituals followed too. Other temples too, of course, have a vocal dhrupad tradition attached to them; the Goswamis of Vrindavan were prolific composers, but the Chaturvedi or Chaubey singers of the “Pushti Marg” tradition are distinct. Vallabha Acharya’s son Vitthal nath is said to have started the eight musical rituals; “ashta yam”.

A trip to Mathura and Vrindavan in search of practitioners of the music tradition was disappointing. The original texts are there, the trained singers have slowly petered out. At Dwarikadheesh Mandir in Mathura, which is around 350 years old, the Lord is called The Lord of Dwarka, but His worship there is also that of a young boy when He was in Vrindavan. The four seasons have four different types of music “sewa” (offering), in fact each month has separate compositions. Each time of the day has a different musical “sewa”. Not only were the lyrics appropriate to the occasion, the time theory of the Ragas was strictly maintained. The usual talas remained chautaal, ara chautaal, dhammar, teen tala.

The texts even went into such detail as what to sing when the Lord was attired in different raiment! As Pt Govind Lal, currently doing “sewa” at Dwarikadheesh temple in Mathura said, “jaisa bhog, jaisa raga, jaisa shringar”. (For different times of offerings, there are different forms of singing, and different types of garments).

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Dwarikadheesh temple

It is not easy to maintain vigil eight times a day, day in and day out, single handedly. No wonder there are no serious takers for this tradition in the next generation. The two Madan Mohan temples in Mathura which also used to have the sangeet tradition stand silent; there is nobody to sing to the Lord.

From before Lord Krishna awoke to the time He fell asleep, He was serenaded in a strictly classical format, in the old dhrupad tradition, meticulously maintained over the centuries from generation to generation. There were eight occasions to sing to Him – to wake Him, then during “kaleva” (breakfast) then mangala arti, then shringaar (called “osara”), palana (jhulla), Rajbhog, then in the evening “gau charan leela”, (taking the cows out) then evening arti, and finally “sayan” (sleeping). It is indeed a sublime experience to hear the “sewa”, with the musicians sitting right in front of the Lord, with a small fountain in front of them, made to entertain the young Lord.

The lyrics were composed over a period of time, by the disciples of the Saint, called the “Ashtachaap” kavis, (poets) the language was “braj bhasa”. The eight poets whose works are still extant were Kumbhan Das, Sur Das, Krishna Das, Paramanand Das, Govindswami, Cheetswami, Nand Das and Chaturbhuj Das – all of them lived and composed in the 15th Century.

Constant Mughal oppression after the time of Shri Vallabha Acharya resulted in wily protective innovations by the safekeepers of the Lord’s visable form, the signature black stone idols. The idols of Govind Dev ji and Gopi nath ji were smuggled to safe keeping in the Jaipur Darbar; Karauli received Madan Mohan ji, and Shri Nath ji went to Udaipur.

The purity of the dhrupad tradition was such, that even as late as the 19th century, a master of music, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan acknowledged his debt to his dhrupad Gurus, Pt Chukhe Lal and Pt Ganeshi Lal of Mathura, of the same Haveli sangeet tradition. Vidushi Shruti Sadolikar, currently Vice Chancellor at Bhatkhande University Lucknow, is a disciple of the grandson of Jaipur Attrauli founder Ustad Alladiya Khan, who apparently had also been greatly influenced by the Haveli sangeet tradition in the temples of Jaipur and Jodhpur.

Acharya Gokulotsav Maharaj, also a descendant of this same tradition, who additionally learnt in the khayal tradition points out how even as great a singer as Ustad Faiyaz Khan used to sing haveli sangeet compositions – some of the more well known ones are “seekhe ho”, and “sughar chatur baiyan” in Raga Kedara. “Vande nand kumar” in Raga Kafi is another well known piece immortalized by Ustad Faiyaz Khan he said, that too was from the haveli sangeet tradition. Pt Gokulotsav Maharaj said he probably learnt these during his residence in Baroda where there was the Goverdhan nath Haveli of the “Pushti Marg” tradition. Similarly, he recalled Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan used to sing a “sadra” composition in Raga Megh, also “sab din hot na ek saman” in Raga Multani – there are too many instances he said. He put the number of traditional haveli sangeet compositions that have been sung by various dhrupad singers at least 250-300. In his words, “Shastriya sangeet ka gayan utna ki pavitra hai jitna Bhagwan khud paritra hain”.The tradition of singing these authentic “haveli” (temple) compositions continues in today’s vocalists, with Pt Jasraj being in the fore front amongst the khayal singers.

Sadly, there are not many serious practitioners of this rich vibrant highly specific tradition among the inheritors of the tradition any more. Pt Lakshman Prasad Chaubey was the last well trained singer; his grandson Govind Lal is the only one in his generation with musical training. In the words of Pt Gokulotsav Maharaj, “jiske paas sur nahin hai, woh to asur (demon) hai” (he who doesn’t have, or doesn’t appreciate “swar” or sur is a demon) It seems in today’s world there must be many demons!

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Govardhan, 2018.05.10

Govardhan temple managers have been given six days to make arrangements to stop milk from flowing into drains. The temples were served notices yesterday informing them that police action will be taken against those who fail to comply with the order. The NGT is now taking this strict stance after the managers of Govardhan temples have repeatedly failed to comply with the tribunal’s order to recycle the milk that is offered to Giriraj.

Mukut Mukharvind temple, situated at the bank of Mansi Ganga; Danghati temple and Hargokul temple received warning notices from the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The temples have been instructed to install a system to recycle the offered milk. The notice warns that a FIR will be lodged against the temple manager if they fail to comply with the notice.

Every day, hundreds of litres of milk are offered to Shri Govardhan. Small temples usually manage to collect the milk and distribute it as Prasad, however, larger temples have been allowing milk to flow into drains. The huge quantity of milk flowing into drains has become an environmental issue as it creates an unpleasant odour. Apart from the environmental concerns, it is also hard to believe that Shri Govardhan would want milk to pour into drains.

The matter is scheduled to be heard again in the NGT on the 14th June.

Yesterday, the SDM of Govardhan, DP Singh, also issued a notice to The Braj Foundation that entrance to kunds must not be obstructed even while the kund is under renovation. The Foundation has also been ordered to seek permission from the NGT before beginning restoration work.

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PLACE_Gadadhar_dant_1.jpgVrindavan, 2018.04.10

We continue our Vrindavan Parikrama series by taking darshan of Shri Gour-Gadadhar and Gopinath ji at Gadadhar Pandit’s Danta Samadhi. The temple and samadhi are located just ten steps away from the Radha Vamsa Gopal temple, where we took you for darshan prior to this place.

During our visit to Gadadhar Pandit’s Samadhi, we met Shri Anuj Sharma, who is the manager of this temple. He showed us the Danta Samadhi, the shrine containing Gadadhar Pandit’s tooth. After taking darshan of the samadhi, we visited the main temple where the deity of Shri Gadadhar Pandit stands to the left of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.

Deities of Shri Radha Gopinath are also worshiped on the same alter. The deity is named Gopinath because Gadadhar Pandit served Shri Tota Gopinath in Puri. According to Shri Sharma, Gadadhar Pandit never came to Vrindavan. It was Gadadhar’s nephew and disciple, Shri Nayananda Thakur, who brought his tooth to Braj around 450 years ago, after the disappearance of Gadadhar Pandit.

The tooth was placed in samadhi by Shri Nayananada Thakur himself. Today, the seva of this temple is performed under the direction of Shri Paramahamsa Thakura Sri Srila Badrinarayana Bhagavata Bhushan Guru. The seva was handed over to him around 25 years ago.

Shri Gadadhar Pandit was the constant companion of Mahaprabhu from childhood. His father’s name was Shri Madhav Mishra and his mother was Shrimati Ratnavati Devi. Shri Madhav Mishra was a pandit in the court of the King of Kandi, Maharaj Surasena. In Nabadwip they lived very near Mahaprabhu’s residence.

Ratnavati Devi thought of Sachidevi (Mahaprabhu’s mother) as her own sister, and would often visit her. During their childhood, Shri Gaura Hari and Gadadhar would play together, sometimes at Mahaprabhu’s house and sometimes at Gadahar’s house. They both studied together at the same school.

Gadadhar was a few years younger than Nimai. Nimai couldn’t remain without Gadadhar even for a moment and Gadadhar also could not bear to be separated from Nimai. In the Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika it is said, “The daughter of Maharaj Vrishabhanu, Shri Radharani, is now celebrated as Shri Gadadhar Pandit. The Queen of Vrindavan has now become the most beloved og Shri Gauranga (Gaur Vallabha), Shri Gadadhar Pandit.” Shri Swarup Damodar has described him as Brajalakshmi. “Shri Shyamsundar’s Beloved has incarnated as the treasure of Shri Gauranga’s love.”

Bharatpur village in the Kandi block of Murshidabad district in West Bengal is the Shripat of Shri Gadadhar Pandit Goswami and his nephew and disciple, Shri Nayananda Thakur. The worship of the Bhagavad Gita written in Gadadhar’s own hand, and a deity of Shri Gopinathji that was worn by Gadadhar Pandit around his neck are being carried out there by the descendants of Nayananda Thakur.

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The Khandelwal edition of the Śrī Vṛndāvana Sata Līlā divides the text into six parts, Parts 3 and 4 being the longest. Today we will just add Part 2.

(1) 1-10 Mangalacarana
(2) 11-20 A general description of Vrindavan’s beauty
(3) 21-46 A description of the essential nature of Vrindavan
(4) 47-86 The glories of taking shelter of Vrindavan Dham
(5) 87-100 Residence in Vrindavan
(6) 101-116 Conclusion

Part 2

श्री वृन्दावन की शोभा वर्णन
śrī vṛndāvana kī śobhā varṇana
A description of Vrindavan’s beauty

हेममयी अवनी सहज रतन खचित बहु रंग ।
चित्रित चित्र विचित्र गति छबि की उठति तरंग ॥११॥
hemamayī avanī sahaja ratana khacita bahu raṁga |
citrita citra vicitra gati chabi kī uṭhati taraṁga ||11||

The land is golden, naturally laden with many colorful jewels,
Such a variety of wonderful pictures, rising waves of beauty.

वृन्दावन झलकनि झमक फूले नैंन निहारि ।
रवि ससि दुतिधर जहाँ लगि ते सब डारे वारि ॥१२॥
vṛndāvana jhalakani jhamaka phūle naiṁna nihāri |
ravi sasi dutidhara jahāɱ lagi te saba ḍāre vāri ||12||

Look with wide eyes at the glimmer and sparkle of Vrindavan
The sun and moon and other effulgent bodies offer their oblations to this land.

वृन्दावन दुति पत्र की उपमा कौं कछु नाहिं ।
कोटि कोटि वैकुण्ठ हू तिहिं सम कहे न जाहिं ॥१३॥
vṛndāvana duti patra kī upamā kauṁ kachu nāhiṁ |
koṭi koṭi vaikuṇṭha hū tihiṁ sama kahe na jāhiṁ ||13||

There is nothing to which one can compare Vrindavan’s effulgence
Millions of Vaikuntha planets cannot be said to be its equal.

लता लता सब कलपतरु पारिजात सब फूल ।
सहज एक रस रहत हैं झलकत जमुना कूल ॥१४॥
latā latā saba kalapataru pārijāta saba phūla |
sahaja eka rasa rahata haiṁ jhalakata jamunā kūla ||14||

Every vine and creeper is a wish-fulfilling tree, every flower parijat,
adorning the Yamuna’s banks, where naturally remain in the one prema rasa.

कुंज कुंज अति प्रेम सौं कोटि कोटि रति मैंन ।
दिनहिं सँवारत रहत हैं श्री वृन्दावन ऐंन ॥१५॥
kuṁja kuṁja ati prema sauṁ koṭi koṭi rati maiṁna |
dinahiṁ saɱvārata rahata haiṁ śrī vṛndāvana aiṁna ||15||

Millions and millions of Kamadevas and Ratidevis, in every kunj, lovingly
remain there day and night, decorating Vrindavan Dham.

विपिन राज राजत दिनहिं बरसत आनँद पुंज ।
लुब्ध सुगन्ध पराग रस मधुप करत मधु गुंज ॥१६॥
vipina rāja rājata dinahiṁ barasata ānaɱda puṁja |
lubdha sugandha parāga rasa madhupa karata madhu guṁja ||16||

The king of forests Vrindavan pours down rains of delight,
the honeybees, attracted by the fragrant pollen, make a sweet buzzing sound.

अरुन नील सित कमल कुल रहे फूलि बहु रंग ।
वृन्दावन पहिरैं मनौं बहु विधि बसन सुरंग ॥१७॥
aruna nīla sita kamala kula rahe phūli bahu raṁga |
vṛndāvana pahiraiṁ manauṁ bahu vidhi basana suraṁga ||17||

Pink, blue and white lotus flowers wave in the breeze,
as though Vrindavan was dressed in clothes of many colors.

हित सौं त्रिविध समीर बहै जैसी रुचि जिहिं काल ।
मधुर मधुर कल कोकिला कूजत मोर मराल ॥१८॥
hita sauṁ trividha samīra bahai jaisī ruci jihiṁ kāla |
madhura madhura kala kokilā kūjata mora marāla ||18||

The breezes are cool, gentle and fragrant according to time and season,
the musical koils sing sweetly, as do the peacocks and swans.

मंडित जमुना वारि यौं राजति परम रसाल ।
अति सुदेस सोभित मनौं नील मनिनु की माल ॥१९॥
maṁḍita jamunā vāri yauṁ rājati parama rasāla |
ati sudesa sobhita manauṁ nīla maninu kī māla ||19||

The Jamuna encircles the Dham with its most delicious waters,
it is as though the entire land had been adorned with a garland of emeralds.

विपिन धाम आनंद कौं चतुरई चित्रित ताहि ।
मदन केलि सम्पति सदा तिहि करि पूरन आहि ॥२०॥
vipina dhāma ānaṁda kauṁ caturaī citrita tāhi |
madana keli sampati sadā tihi kari pūrana āhi ||20||

The forest is the abode of bliss, as though intelligence itself
had designed it to be filled with all the treasures of love.

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dhruvadas1.jpgIn the mood of deepening our sentiments for Vrindavan, I would like to translate Hit Dhruva Das’s poem about Vrindavan. Dhruva Das lived in the first half of the 16th century. This poem was written in 1682 samvat, which is for most people these days, 1626. After Hit Harivansh himself, and Sewakji, Dhruva Das is the third great poet teacher of the Radha Vallabhi sampradaya.

A few days ago it was Hit Harivansh’s appearance day, and even though it was totally unintended, I had a Hit Harivansh Chandra Goswami day.

The fact is that I don’t get out of the house very much. You would think that with all my talk about Braja vasa sadhana that I do, I would occasionally visit Bihariji, Radha Vallabh or Radha Raman and Damodar… like I used to, not so long ago. I guess I am a real Vrajavasi in that I just live here.

But then, living here has its benefits. I was thinking that it was Hit Harivansh’s birthday and I hadn’t written anything special for VT. And I was occupied in some other activity, no doubt noble, when I heard music being played nearby and I thought I would take a gander. The music sounded attractive, and as I walked toward it, I recognized it as a Radhavallabhi song sung on the occasion of Hit Harivansh’s birth, so my curiosity grew even more.

As it turns out, a neighbor, a retired businessman from Haryana, a deep bhakta of the Radha Vallabha sampradaya had purchased the property neighboring the Jiva Institute garden. He was having a sort of auspicious event and inauguration of the home he intends to build there, and had chosen that most joyful of days to do it. There were numerous sadhus there, and I recognized my friends from the Khandelwal family and their bhaktas.

They had set up a nice phool bungalow altar with a beautiful tiny Radha Krishna. The women of the family, even young ones, were dancing. It was another Vrindavan party!

I got there just as the generous host was giving out yellow Radhe Radhe shawls and, of course, I thought I would just get in the mood. I hadn’t gone to Harivansh, but he had come to me. And I have long reflected on Harivansh in relation to Prabodhananda Saraswati and their role in Vrindavan history.

If only the Gaudiyas had been in charge of Vrindavan, we might still be greeting each other, “Hare Krishna! Haribol!”  Or if the Vallabhis, “Jai Sri Krishan!” like they do in Mathura. No it was Harivansh who made Vrindavan Radharani’s rajya. There are other reasons, but I think the main one is language. Bengalis were foreigners and they were writing in Sanskrit, which made them very influential amongst the pandit class. But the ideas of Rupa Goswami came to one conclusion, Radha dasya, and that was the exclusive mood of Harivansh, and he sang it, and his followers sang it, and it became the local reality.

Mr. Khandelwal from the bookshop in Ath khamba, who is a great Radhavallabhi bhakta,  as is his entire family, Vrindavana vasis to the core, and whose uncle is Hit Jash Ali Sharan, who is one of the living great scholars and bhaktas of the Radhavallabhi school. At any rate, one of the gifts distributed to the guests was Dhruvadas’s Vrindavana-sata-lila, in a nice handy format.

I had to say it was a lovely coincidence. I had just been looking the poem in Hitdas Swami‘s unwieldy Biyalis Lila. So suffice it to say that this little book started to take over a part of my life. I am interested in the influences back and forth of Prabodhananda Saraswati and the Radhavallabha sampradaya. Prabodhananda Saraswati was of course best known for Vrindavana-mahimamrita, which we are currently slowly becoming immersed in.

There can be little doubt that Dhruvadas was influenced by Prabodhananda’s Mahimamrita, as was another half-Gaudiya, half Radha-vallabhi, Bhagavant Mudita, who also wrote in Braja Bhasha. The point is clearly that even though Bengali was influenced by Braj, they did not overwhelm Braj with the mood of Bengali, of Nitai and Gauranga and the Pancha Tattva. Gaudiyas came to Vrindavan to fulfill Mahaprabhu’s incarnation by becoming one with Radha and Krishna lila. One way or another, they did not do in Vrindavan what they did in Bengal, in their own language. It was the Radhavallabhis, the Haridasis, and in their wake, the Vallabhis, Nimbarkis and Gaudiyas, who became progressively obsessed with the exclusive Radha mood.

And the primary mover in all this [for a Gaudiya like me] is Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya, who is the source of Prabodhananda Saraswati’s vision, who is really the one who brought Radha bhava and Vrindavana bhava into Vrindavan.

So that’s my rather complex thesis and I am going to try to explain it all, bit by bit. But it does not matter what the flow of influences was, because the principal medium for the Radha Vallabha sampradaya was the language of the people, Braj Bhasha. And they captured the imagination and became the shapers of the Jai Radhe! mood that is Vrindavan’s essential character.divider1.jpg

श्रीवृन्दावन सत लीला
śrī vṛndāvana sata līlā
One hundred verses describing Vrindavan

प्रथम नाम हरिवंश हित रटि रसना दिन रैंन ।
प्रीति रीत तब पाइयै अरु वृन्दावन ऐंन ॥१॥
prathama nāma harivaṁśa hita raṭi rasanā dina raiṁna |
prīti rīta taba pāiyai aru vṛndāvana aiṁna ||1||HitHarivamsh-300x206.jpg

First of all, may my tongue call out the name of Hit Harivansh,
for then will I obtain the method of worshiping in love, and residence in Vrindavan Dham.

चरन सरन हरिवंश की जब लगि आयौ नाहिं ।
नव निकुंज निज माधुरी क्यौं परसै मन माहिं ॥२॥
carana sarana harivaṁśa kī jaba lagi āyau nāhiṁ |
nava nikuṁja nija mādhurī kyauṁ parasai mana māhiṁ |

If one has never taken shelter of Harivansh’s lotus feet,
then how will the sweetness of the Nikunja Lila ever touch his heart?

वृन्दावन सत करन कौं कीन्हौं मन उतसाह ।
नवल राधिका कृपा बिनु कैसैं होत निबाह ॥३॥
vṛndāvana sata karana kauṁ kīnhauṁ mana utasāha |
navala rādhikā kṛpā binu kaisaiṁ hota nibāha ||3||

As I set out to these hundred verse about Vrindavan, my mind was full of enthusiasm, 
but without the youthful Radha’s mercy, how will my ambition ever be realized?

यह आसा धरि चित्त में कहत जथा मति मोर ।
वृन्दावन सुख रंग कौ काहु न पायौ ओर ॥४॥
yaha āsā dhari citta meṁ kahata jathā mati mora |
vṛndāvana sukha raṁga kau kāhu na pāyau ora ||4||

Holding to this hope in my heart, I speak according to my understanding,
but there is none who can understand the extent of the joy of Vrindavan’s revelries.

दुर्लभ दुर्घट सबनि तैं वृन्दावन निज भौंन ।
नवल राधिका कृपा बिनु कहि धौं पावै कौंन ॥५॥
durlabha durghaṭa sabani taiṁ vṛndāvana nija bhauṁna |
navala rādhikā kṛpā binu kahi dhauṁ pāvai kauṁna ||5||

To make one’s home in Vrindavan is the rarest and hardest thing to achieve. 
Without Radhika Kishori’s mercy, tell me who can attain it?

सबै अंग गुनहीन हौं ताकौ जतन न कोइ ।
एक किसोरी कृपा तैं जो कछु होइ सु होइ ॥६॥
sabai aṁga gunahīna hauṁ tākau jatana na koi |
eka kisorī kṛpā taiṁ jo kachu hoi su hoi ||6||

I am without virtue of any kind, and I have no means by which to overcome this flaw.
Only if Radha Kishori is merciful then whatever happens will happen.

सोउ कृपा अति सुगम नहिं ताकौ कौन उपाव ।
चरन सरन हरिवंश की सहजहिं बन्यौ बनाव ॥७॥
sou kṛpā ati sugama nahiṁ tākau kauna upāva |
carana sarana harivaṁśa kī sahajahiṁ banyau banāva ||

It is not easy to get that mercy either, but there is a means of attaining it. 
By taking shelter of Hit Harivansh’s lotus feet, then everything is arranged.

हरिवंश चरन उर धरनि धरि मन वच कै विस्वास ।
कुँवरि कृपा ह्वै है तबहिं अरु वृन्दावन वास ॥८॥
harivaṁśa carana ura dharani dhari mana vaca kai visvāsa
kuɱvari kṛpā hvai hai tabahiṁ aru vṛndāvana vāsa ||8||

Holding Hit Harivansh’s feet to my heart, keeping faith in mind and word, 
I will get Radharani’s mercy and residence in Vrindavan.

प्रिया चरन बल जानि कै बाढ्यौ हियैं हुलास ।
तेई उर में आनि हैं वृन्दा विपिन प्रकास ॥९॥
priyā carana bala jāni kai bāḍhyau hiyaiṁ hulāsa |
teī ura meṁ āni haiṁ vṛndā vipina prakāsa ||9||

My excitement to go on increases on the strength of beloved Radha’s lotus feet. 
By holding those feet in my heart, all the glories of Vrindavan will be revealed.

कुँवरि किसोरी लाढ़िली करुनानिधि सुकुँवारि ।
बरनौं वृन्दा विपिन कौं तिनके चरन सँभारि ॥१०॥
kuɱvari kisorī lāḏilī karunānidhi sukuɱvāri |
baranauṁ vṛndā vipina kauṁ tinake carana saɱbhāri ||

Remembering the lotus feet of the youthful Radha Kishori, the beautiful ocean of mercy, 
soft and lovely, I now describe the glories of Sri Vrindavan Dham.

divider1-300x30.jpgSo now, here is Hit Ambarishji Maharaj’s rendering of the Vrindavana Sata Lila:

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Vrindavan, 2018.04.08 (VT): Rabindranath Tagore is most famous for being a great poet and the composer of India’s national anthem, but, from a young age, Tagore wrote about Braj and expressed his desire to become a resident of Braj.

Among his collected works, there are several poems written in praise of Braj. Tagore wrote about Braj in the Brajbuli language – an artificial literary language that is a mix of Bengali and Brajbhasha. Under the pen name, Bhanu Singh, Tagore wrote Bhanusimha Thakurer Padabali (The songs of Bhanushingho Thakur) at age 16.

The Songs of Bhanushingho are about Radha-Krishna and Tagore kept returning to these early works, revising them several times. There is nothing to suggest that Tagore ever came to Braj, but, through his poetry, he helped to continue the tradition of the strong connection between Bengal and Braj.

Not surprisingly, other poets also wrote of their desire to be reborn in Braj. Ras Khan wrote in ‘Rachnavali’, “If I, Ras Khan, am reborn as human, I wish to be a cowherd in the village of Gokul in Brajbhumi. If born an animal, I would like to be a cow in the herd of Nanda, grazing blissfully all day”

Tagore was inspired by Thomas Chatterton, a child prodigy who was able to pass off his poetry as medieval writing. Like Chatterton, the young Tagore enjoyed creating poetry in the style of other poets and wanted to be a “second Chatterton”. Using the Brajbuli language, which was used by Medieval Bengali poets including Narottama DasaBalarama DasJnanadas, and Gobindadas Kabiraj, Tagore wrote:

यदि पर जन्में पाइ रे, होते ब्रजेर राखाल बालक।

तबै निबिए देवो निजेर घरे सुसभ्यतार आलोक।।

(If I am reborn again, I want to be reborn in Braj, this would bring great honour to my family)

The collection of poetry in Brajbuli was published in 1884, when the poet was 24 years old.

The poetry and devotional sentiments of this great patriot remain an inspiration to people throughout India. Scholars such as Pragati Sharma are currently researching Tagore’s poetry and, this research is helping to shed light on Tagore’s attachment to Radha-Krishna’s pastimes in Braj.

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#BrajMandalParikrama #84KosParikrama #Purushottamas #VrindavanToday Sants and officials decide on authorized route for Braj Mandal Parikrama http://www.vrindavantoday.com/2018/05/sants-officials-decide-authorized-route-braj-mandal-parikrama/ …


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In Vrinda’s beautiful forest, 
sprinkled thickly with jewel vines and trees,
their flowers colorful joyful light, 
under the shade of a kadamba tree risen from golden ground, 
a fair and dark couple now fills our eyes.


śrīmad-vṛndā-kānane ratna-vallī-
vṛkṣaiś citra-jyotir-ānanda-puṣpaiḥ |
kīrṇe svarṇa-sthaly-udañcat-kadamba-
cchāyāyāṁ naś cakṣuṣī gaura-nīle ||


This verse strikes me as a bit of an interlude, a reversion to a kind of meditation that we saw in verses 2.30-32, so though I am loathe to say something belongs somewhere else rather than here, it feels a bit that way. This is especially so since the next few verses continue a theme to which it seems Prabodhananda has been building. So I will refrain from commenting on the verse today, but rather make something of a blog post.

I have always found it difficult not to play a role in my own explanation of these verses, though it is, for all intents and purposes, freeing oneself of one’s worldly identity, even that of the sādhaka-dehaitself, to become immersed in that mood of the Divine Madhura rasa. But I have toyed with the idea of the sādhaka-deha as a lila in itself. We are interested in our own lives and our own stories. And if the story is that of a sādhaka-deha, then it is the love story of you and God. On an non-theistic level, it is the story of the self and the Self, i.e., the “bigger than self, that is yet none other than the self.”

So when the story of the sādhaka-deha, i.e, one’s own life story in relation to the Perfect Self, the pathway towards that brilliant light of the True Self, touches the soul, then one experiences rasa. It is when one’s own story becomes a revelation that we experience rasa. That the story suddenly becomes clear and true, confirmed by Fate Herself.

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As I work on Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta, I find myself turning more and more inward. At present I have to concentrate my mind on Bhakti Sandarbha also, and so I am beginning to crave a different environment. After all, bhajan is my real calling in life. And at my age, who really wants to run around?

I was just over at Vineet Narain‘s house next door where he is putting on a big bash to celebrate the birth of a second grandson. Vineet knows how to party, Braj style, and he can get the most important local Bhagavata speakers to accept his invitation — brahmins, politicians, ultrarich businessmen and so on are all friends with him for many years and for many reasons, not least of which is his very successful seva to Braj Bhumi. But it is also safe to say that this is Vineet Narain’s natural milieu to begin with.

I am just an unimportant neighbor, and acquaintance and, of course, not at all of that milieu. I was a bit of a party crasher when you come right down to it.

So I thought, why not, since I am here, to introduce myself to the local MLA and some of the other political and important social figures at their table, but they were obviously busy with their world. It felt somewhat worldly also, as much as anything for me in Vrindavan feels worldly.

So I thought that I had said enough and did not wish to intrude any further. I rose and stated my polite goodbyes to the VP of the BJP for UP, who had come from Lucknow. I apologized to him that I had not been familiar with him before meeting, and he made a gentlemanly gesture and said we would meet again. I said I hoped so, but that I am getting a little too old to run around to politicians’ [or rich men’s] offices. Nevertheless, I have faith in Bharatavarsha and am attempting to get some service done to this land before I leave the world. Because I am ultimately a supporter of the BJP, and it is out of love for the idea I have of Bharatavarsha, as the birthplace and homeland of the Rishis, of the Buddha, of Mahaprabhu, of Krishna, of Radha Shyam and this divine land of Vrindavan.

And I am sincere. But rather than sweeping the streets myself to set example, as someone suggested to me the other day, I truly think that the greatest service I can do is to get to the bottom of things spiritually and to write about it. And my primary medium for understanding the Supreme Truth is the sādhanā of Braja-vāsa. That is what I think I am supposed to share at this stage in my life.

My basic premise is that those foreigners who have merged into Braja culture — and I mean Bengalis, Gujaratis, Nepalis and Dravidians, as well as the new generations of people from outside Bharatavarsha — they do so not without leaving their mark.

Those who come with a dream to live in a particular place, immigrants, enrich that place by enriching the dream that gives that place its character, even when they come with a lot of samskara baggage that might be quite undesirable. The dream of Vrindavan is not the same as the American dream, not by a long shot.

There is something of a learning process process involved here. It goes both ways, but those who teach about the outside world come from the outside world, and those who teach about the real Vrindavan, the Vrindavan that is ingrained in its eternal dust, are the ones who were born in it. And certainly anyone who plans on being a Brajavasi has to honor the people who live here and whose roots are here, across this entire spectrum of life and society, caste and class.

Indeed, such is the actual duty of an immigrant anywhere.

It is puzzling to me that foreigners could come to live in Vrindavan or Braj and then think that the people born here, high caster or low, educated or illiterate, are somehow not real Brajavasis unless they are marked Vaishnava sādhakas. Who think that they are here to teach rather than to learn, thinking that everything they need to know is already known.

For those who come to Vrindavan from afar, with whatever motivation, the highest motivation or ultimate goal is to enter into the Divine Vrindavan, which is a brilliant state of conscience above all others, the abode of Prema, the abode of Radha and Krishna. And since Braja-vāsa sādhana includes all the others, especially the most powerful ones, it is the only place where a complete sādhana of prema bhakti is possible.

Dhruvadas writes how a real rasika sādhaka sees Vrindavan: Even doing bhajan elsewhere is not as good as merely sleeping in the dust of Vrindavan and drinking the water of the Yamuna.

वृन्दावन में जो कबहुँ भजन कछु नहिं होइ ।
रज तौ उढ़ि लागै तनहिं पीवे जमुना तोइ ॥५३॥

vṛndāvana meṁ jo kabahuɱ bhajana kachu nahiṁ hoi |
raja tau uḏi lāgai tanahiṁ pīve jamunā toi ||53||

और देस के भजन ही घटत भजन की बात ।
वृन्दावन में स्वारथौ उलटि भजन ह्वै जात ॥५६॥

aura desa ke bhajana hī ghaṭata bhajana kī bāta |
vṛndāvana meṁ svārathau ulaṭi bhajana hvai jāta ||56||

I read Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta and I think about what it really means to be a Brajavasi. To just let the dust and water take over and propel my plunge into the Radha ocean where the mind fish of Shyamasundar swims.

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My queen,

the forest where gambols the black buck of Shyam’s life-breath, 
the divine clear lake where glides the fish of Shyam’s mind, 
the beautiful lotus flower playground that attracts the Shyam honeybee, 
and the brilliant moonlight that cools Shyam’s burning passionate heart,

eternally enjoys transcendental pastimes with Shyam, her peerless lover.


śyāma-prāṇa-mṛgaika-khelana-vana-śreṇī sadā śyāmalot-
khelan-mānasa-mīna-divya-sarasī śyāmāli-sat-padminī |
śyāmānaṅga-sutapta-hṛc-chiśiratā-kāri-sphurac-candrikā
śyāmānanya-sunāgareṇa viharaty ekā mama svāminī ||


This verse is unusual in the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta because it does not specifically mention Vrindavan by name. Here the word vana does appear in the first line, where Radha is metaphorically the forest in which Shyamasundar’s life airs are the deer that frolics. Though we have seen already that Vrindavan is the setting, the stage, the paradisiacal garden at the center of the mandala of spiritual attainment, it is always the Divine Couple who stand at its center. For the sakhi, for the aspirant to Vraja-rasa, they are together the object or viṣaya of love.

But that is the point of view from a certain distance. When one comes closer, one sees that sometimes Radha is the āśraya and Krishna the viṣaya, and sometimes it is the other way around. In fact, it is not really possible to penetrate the perfect love where Radha and Krishna are in competition of total absorption in each other.

The sakhis are the ones who take Radha’s side, who see primarily her glory, they see Krishna’s glory also, but mostly because it enhances hers: this Supreme Male, this all-attractive power, has been captivated by Radha’s love. To appreciate this is what it means to see Radha as the Swamini.

In other words, to be an audience, an attendant and a taster of the rasa of the Divine Sport in Vrindavan, one has to identify with Radha. And of course it is impossible to be Radha, so one identifies with her or enhances one’s identification with her through the moods of service and friendship. But though such moods exist between the sakhis and Radha, the truest part of service and friendship is identity. I love my friend because there is something I admire in her that I know I can never have or be fully. To be friends with someone means to take part in their being, in their uniqueness, and to feel that one’s own being and uniqueness are enhanced thereby.

The sakhis are lost in admiration for Radha. Rupa Goswami describes Chandravali, apparently a competitor to Radha, but he only does it because without comparison, one cannot know the superiority of any thing over another. Indeed, the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi can be read as an exercise in comparison between the personalities of Radha and Chandravali, in particular their ways of loving Krishna. All ways of loving God are good, but that of the gopis is best, and among the gopis, Radha is the essence, the full manifestation of the power of bhakti.

So Sri Rupa says,

tayor apy ubhayor madhye rādhikā sarvathādhikā |
mahā-bhāva-svarūpeyaṁ guṇair ativarīyasī ||

Of these two, Radha and Chandravali, Radha is in every way superior. She is the embodiment of the highest realms of love, and in every way the epitome of excellence in all the virtues. (UN 4.2)

To glorify Vrindavan is to glorify Radha. The sakhis are the pathway to Radha and to the epitome of excellence of madhura rasa. Through service, one is able to enter the deepest recesses of her knowledge and love for Krishna, which are infinite. One needs an eternity to touch even the hem of her skirt, or that of her closest sakhis, indeed of any of her associates, to glimpse even the glories of the grass and dust that receive the tread of their feet, but there is no delight in this world that compares to even an atomic morsel of those glories.

Though the quantity of Radha’s love is infinite and unfathomable, it is through relishing the quality of that love, its virtues, guṇa, in which she is the epitome of excellence, through meditation on the visions of the great devotee poets, the mahājanas, those who have trod the path of sakhī-bhāvaand madhura prema, where we are given gems of condensed expression of those excellences, windows by which to enter that dimension of transcendence.

cakoras te vaktrāmṛta-kiraṇa-bimbe madhukaras
tava śrī-pādābje jaghana-puline khañjana-varaḥ |
sphuran-mīno jātas tvayi rasa-sarasyāṁ madhu-pateḥ
sukhāṭavyāṁ rādhe tvayi ca hariṇas tasya nayanam ||

Oh Radhe! The Lord of Sweetness
is the chakora who drinks only the ambrosial rays
emanating from the mandala of your face.
He is the bee who enters the lotus of your feet,
the wagtail who struts on the shores of your buttocks,
the flourishing fish that swims in the lake of rasa you are,
Oh Radhe, his eyes are the deer
who wanders in the forest of bliss you are.

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Completely enveloping your entire body with the dust
from the feet of the residents of Sri Vrindavan,
seeing Sri Vrindavan as the one
supremely effulgent realm above all,
and remembering that Sri Sri Radha and Krishna
are constantly absorbed in the sweetness of Sri Vrindavan,
please reside in this their holy abode.

 


śrī-vṛndāvana-vāsi-pāda-rajasā sarvāṅgam āguṇṭhayan
śrī-vṛndāvanam ekam ujjvalatamaṁ paśyan samastopari |
śrī-vṛndāvana-mādhurībhir aniśaṁ śrī-rādhikā-kṛṣṇayor
apy āveśam anusmarann adhivasa śrī-dhāma-vṛndāvanam||2.27||


Braj-Vrindavan is the highest abode because the highest manifestation of the Supreme Person abides here. Those who dwell here are therefore not to be seen with ordinary eyes. Indeed, the mercy of the Brijvasis is necessary for anyone who wishes to share in the good fortune of residence in the Dham. The proof of this is given by Lord Brahma himself.

In Vraja-vilāsa-stava, Raghunath Das Goswami shows how this is so when he humbly and attentively praises each and every person who lives in Vraja, arguing from Lord Brahma’s own example:

mudā yatra brahmā tṛṇa-nikara-gulmādiṣu paraṁ
sadā kāṅkṣan janmārpita-vividha-karmāpy anudinam
kramād ye tatraiva vrajabhuvi vasanti priya-janā
mayā te te vandyāḥ parama-vinayāt puṇya-khacitāḥ

“Although engaged in offering up all his worldly tasks to the service of the Lord, Brahmā every day blissfully expressed his aspiration to take birth as one among the blades of grass or shrubs of Braj. Those dear devotees who have subsequently come to dwell in that very land of Braj are the object of my veneration, which is offered with the greatest humility, for they are decorated with great piety.” (VV 100)

Brahmā is born in the navel-lotus of Lord Narayan. He has reached this topmost post as the universal creator due to being Lord Narayan’s beloved devotee. A fortunate soul may become qualified to occupy the post of Brahmā only after performing selfless activities for one hundred births.  But even such an exalted soul as Lord Brahmā recognizes the good fortune any person who lives in Vrindavan and so in his stava, he submitted the following prayer to the lotus feet of the Lord:

tad bhūri bhāgyam iha janma kim apy aṭavyāṁ
yad gokule’pi katamāṅghri rajo’bhiṣekam
yaj jīvitam tu nikhilaṁ bhagavān mukundas tv
adyāpi yat pada-rajaḥ śruti-mṛgyam eva

“I would deem it my greatest good fortune if I could take even a lowly birth here in Gokula whereby I could be showered by the dust of the feet of any one of its residents, for their life and everything else is Lord Krishna, the giver of liberation, the dust of whose feet is sought by the Shrutis even to this day.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.14.34)

In the Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī commentary on this verse, Sri Jiva Prabhu writes:

The intention of saying “even in Gokula” is that Brahmā covets any kind of birth in Vraja, even that of dūrva-sprouts and soft blades of grass, because only then would he be able to have a full showering of the Vrajavasis’ footdust.

So one might ask him, why do you not pray directly for reincarnation as a Vrajavasi, instead of for such a trivial birth?

In answer, Lord Brahma speaks the second half of the verse: The Supreme Lord Mukunda is everything in this Gokula, meaning he is everything to every single inhabitant of Gokula. It is impossible to directly propitiate or attain the Supreme Lord and highest truth, and even if it were possible, he usually gives only liberation, but not pure unadulterated devotion (muktiṁ dadāti karhicit sma na bhakti-yogam, ). But that pure devotion is something without which the Vrajavasis cannot remain alive for even a moment. This shows how Mukunda is the highest object of love.

Leave aside that Mukunda is hard to propitiate and the Vrajavasis’ love for him rarely attained by others, but even now when the Lord has personally descended into the world, his foot dust is still being sought by the revealed scriptures, meaning that the Vedas are trying to understand the extent of even one speck of this dust’s glories, but cannot find its limits. As it is said in the Upaniṣads:

yato vāco nivartante aprāpya manasā saha |
ānandaṁ brahmaṇo vidvān na bibheti kadācana ||

“That from which words along with the mind return, being unable to attain it; one who knows the bliss of Brahman is never fearful of anything.” (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.4)

Therefore [Brahma says] it is greatly improper for me to pray for Krishna’s foot dust, which is unattainable even for the Vedas, who bestow all their knowledge upon me at the time of creation. How much more improper it would then be for me to pray for birth as one of these cowherds, whose great love has completely subdued the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord?

Is it therefore so astonishing that Brahmā prayed for birth in Vraja even as a blade of grass or a bush so he could become showered by the footdust of any person from Vraja?

Those who are desirous of residing in Vraja should keep this in mind. It is a matter of great fortune to place oneself in a relation of humility to those who simply reside here, even now in the present day, whatever their superficial material character or qualifications.

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Vrindavangrass-780x585.jpg


With great longing I praise Vraja’s 
all-blissful grass, bushes, worms and insects, 
whose fortune is desired for by Brahmā, Uddhava and others, 
whose glories are repeatedly and clearly established 
by scriptures like Śrīmad Bhāgavata, 
who are very dear to Mukunda and who assist Krishna in his pastimes.

 


 

yat kiñcit tṛṇa-gulma-kīkaṭa-mukhaṁ goṣṭhe samastaṁ hi tat
sarvānanda-mayaṁ mukunda-dayitaṁ līlānukūlaṁ param
śāstrair eva muhur muhuḥ sphuṭam idaṁ niṣṭaṅkitaṁ yācñayā
brahmāder api sa-spṛheṇa tad idaṁ sarvaṁ mayā vandyate

 


Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā : Desiring to see and personally serve Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Raghunath Das Goswami praises Vraja’s grass, bushes, worms and insects in this verse, who are all very dear to Mukunda and who assist Krishna in his pastimes.

Although they appear like insignificant blades of grass, bushes, worms and insects to the external eyes, they are not like the grass, bushes, worms and insects of this material world, who have taken such a low and fallen birth among the 8.4 million species of life due to sinful acts in previous lives. No, they are favorable assistants to the pastimes of Sri Radha and Krishna!

They are also required for their pastimes, just like the divine abode and the divine companions. Hence, they are also divine companions in these transcendental pastimes, and are dearly beloved by Mukunda. They are so fortunate to relish the sweetness of Mukunda’s smile, which is white as the kunda flower, as he jokes with Priyājī and her sakhīs during his vana-vihāra, and they are blessed to relish his ever-so-sweet form, qualities and pastimes and to be touched by his hands and feet.

Some people may think: “The blades of grass, bushes, worms and insects that were present during Sri Sri Radha and Krishna’s prakaṭa-līlā may have been the eternal companions of the Lord, but the blades of grass, bushes, worms and insects that are present now during the aprakaṭa-līlādid indeed attain such wretched bodies due to their sinful activities in the past.”

No, it is not like that! The scriptures and the great souls see it like this: What is visible of the holy dhāma during the aprakaṭa-līlā may be transcendental, but out of mercy upon the living entities in this world it accepts both the form and nature of the material planet earth. If not, then persons like us, who are bound to our worldly activities (karma) would never be able to see this transcendental abode or to reside there. Therefore, just as the holy dhāma is transcendental although it assumes a material form, similarly who knows which great, offenseless souls have taken birth in Vraja as blades of grass, bushes, worms and insects to live there and to relish the aprakaṭa or nitya-līlāsthere?

The acharyas say: Persons who commit the offense of considering these creatures ordinary will not experience any result from their bhajan or from even an extensive stay in the dhāma — which can bestow prema on the offenseless aspirant who stays there for only one night. Therefore the offenseless person who considers all the blades of grass, bushes, worms and insects that reside in the dhāma to be transcendental will make his stay there a success by attaining prema. This is the experienced conclusion of the wise and learned.

Raghunath Das Goswami says: “Knowing these glories, great learned sages like Lord Brahmā and Uddhava have desired to take birth in Vraja as blades of grass, bushes, worms and insects” (śāstrair eva muhur muhuḥ sphuṭam idaṁ niṣṭaṅkitaṁ yācñayā brahmāder api ). This is found in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, which contains the essence of the whole Vedānta. In our commentary on verse 100, wherein Brahmā’s prayer is cited from the Bhāgavata–tad bhūri bhāgyam iha janma kim apyaṭavyām and its Toṣanī commentary. Sri Uddhava Mahāśaya has made a similar prayer:

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁ 
vṛndāvane kim api gulma latauṣadhīnām
yā dustyajaṁ svajanam arya-pathaṁ ca hitvā 
bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

“Aho! I have an impossible dream! All the different bushes, vines and herbs of Sri Vrindavan are most fortunate and blessed, for they can easily hold the footdust of the Vrajasundarīs on their heads! If I could attain the birth of any of these bushes, vines and herbs then I can also become blessed with the footdust of the Vraja-gopīs, that have given up the path of morality and family-virtues, that is so hard to give up, to eagerly and thirstily worship the lotus feet of Mukunda. Such a position is coveted, but not attained, even by the Vedas!” (Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.47.61)

In this way Lord Brahmā and Uddhava pray for birth in Vraja as a blade of grass or a bush, and all of their words have been clearly mentioned by scriptures such as Śrīmad Bhāgavata, which is the essence of the Vedānta. Raghunath Das Goswami says: “Full of longing I praise the all-blissful blades of grass, bushes, worms and insects of Vraja.”

brahmā uddhavādi yādera saubhāgya kāmanā | nirantara kore sadā koriyā vandanā
vṛndāvane kim api gulma latauṣadhīnām | bhāgavata śāstre āche yāhāra pramāṇa
vraje yoto tṛṇa gulma kīṭa pataṅgādi | kṛṣṇa līlāra anukūla sadā līlā sāthī
kṛṣṇa priya hoy tārā sarvānanda maya | vraja yoto tṛṇa gulma kīṭādi nicaya
sa-spṛhe vandanā kori tāṅdera sakale | vāñchā-pūrti hoy yāṅhādera kṛpā-bole

“Full of longing I always praise all the blissful blades of grass, bushes, worms and other creatures of Vraja, that are so dear to Krishna, who favorably assist him in his pastimes as his companions and whose fortunate has been coveted by Brahmā, Uddhava and others, as has been proven in the Bhāgavata-verse vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām. On the strength of their grace I will have all my desires fulfilled!”


anantadas_thumb-275x300.jpgCommentary 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.

Devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Sheel.

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31947672_10214170650653231_3782148540160016384_n-780x511.jpgMathura, 2018.05.05

An artist from Kerala has been engaged to paint murals depicting Shri Krishna Lila at Mathura Railway Station. The initial phase of the project includes five murals, three of which are complete.

It is hoped that the Murals will give passengers the feeling of being in a sacred place as soon as they enter the station. Watching passengers on the station clicking snaps of the murals gives the impression that the murals are a hit with tourists.NBT-image.jpg

Kerala artist, Sumesh, who was chosen to paint the murals, said that this style of art can be seen in the Ajanta and Ellora caves, in temples in South India and in the Chitrasutra, the oldest known treatise on painting in the world. According to the Chitrasutra, which dates back to the 5th Century AD, religious art has a beneficial influence on viewers and is the greatest treasure of mankind. Sumesh, said that the murals should last for more than fifty years.

Locals have mixed feelings about the exhibition. Some have been left wondering why the authorities did not choose to promote Braj’s painters, many of whom have been acclaimed internationally.

Braj also has its own traditional artform, known as Sanjhi. It is said that sanjhi dates back to Radha and Krishna, who used to make images of each other using flower petals and other materials. These days, coloured powders are used to make vibrant sanjhi on a variety of backgrounds with some sanjhi made in water and others on paper or directly on the earth.

In October 2017, Rail Minister Piyush Goyal made a visit to Mathura Railway station to discuss the renovation of the station. Hema Malini’s office and railway officials organized the detailed budget for the project which was approved by the Northern Railways Department.

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Within the boundary of Vrindavan forest, O friend, 
there is a dark ocean of ambrosia,
the abode of the divine fish of Radha’s heart,
unknowable to the gods headed by Shiva and Brahma.
That ocean’s tide surge with the rising of her moon face; 
it is churned by Cupid, the beautiful Mandara Mountain, 
to create amrita for the eyes of her sakhis.
Worship that black ocean of rasa.


śrī-śaṅkara-druhiṇa-mukhya-surendra-vṛnda-durjñeyaṁ
rādhā-mānasa-divya-mīna-nilayaṁ tad-vaktra-candrocchritam|
tat-kandarpa-sumandareṇa mathitaṁ sakhy-akṣi-pīyūṣadaṁ
kañcic chyāma-rasāmbudhiṁ bhaja sakhe vṛndāṭavī-sīmani ||


The churning of the ocean is a theme that is loved by Sanskrit poets for its many metaphorical possibilities. The idea that by churning one thing, its essential elements are extracted, and that there are various roles in the process that can be assigned is a part of the charm of the metaphor.

A similar metaphor is applied to Mathura itself in the Gopala-tapani Upanishad:

mathyate tu jagat sarvaṁ brahmajñānena yena vā |
tat-sāra-bhūtaṁ yad yasyāṁ mathurā sā nigadyate ||

The name Mathura has been given to this land because the manifest essence of the knowledge of Brahman by which the entire universe has been churned appears there. (GTU 2.63)

In his commentary there, Prabodhananda says, “The act of churning produces butter from cream; similarly, knowledge of the Supreme Person, the personal form of Brahman, is revealed through the churning of the entire universe.” The essence of all things is Krishna, but Krishna is also to be churned to extract his essence.

Vrindavan itself, Saraswatipada will say later in the Mahimamritam, is the essence churned from the ocean of devotion.

hari-bhakti-surasa-sindhau manthād iva sāram utthitaṁ kim api  |
āśraya paramodāraṁ sakalāsāraṁ vihāya rādhikārāmam ||

Renounce everything that is without substance and take shelter of Radhika’s supremely generous pleasure garden, which is the ineffable essential extract that arises after churning the ocean of nectar that is devotion to Lord Hari. (VMA 11.35)

Here the ocean itself is Krishna. Krishna is in need of being churned in order to realize his potential as Rasaraj. So although Radha’s mind and heart dwell within this ocean, it must be churned by the passion of desire, Cupid, before it produces the rasa that brings joy to the sakhis. That churning process begins when the light of Radharani’s full moon face shines upon the water and the tide rises.

Churning means a continuous movement back and forth that has the effect of removing superficial elements and leaving only the most important part. Krishna is churned by Radha’s love, just as he churns the mind of Cupid, the mind-churner.

So it is wisely said,

rādhā-saṅge yadā bhāti tadā madana-mohanaḥ |
anyatra viśva-moho’pi svayaṁ madana-mohitaḥ ||it is 

When Krishna is with Radha, then he is called the bewilderer of Cupid. But otherwise, even though he may enchant the universe, he is under Cupid’s spell. (GLA 8.32)

In the previous verse we saw it mentioned that there is a certain aspect of Radha and Krishna’s pure being that are off bounds or outside the scope of even the sakhis to experience, or adṛśya. That is the state of absolute oneness of the Divine Couple. But here in this verse it is stated that after the Shyama ocean has been churned to produce the nectar of immortality, it is sakhy-akṣi-pīyūṣadaṁ, or nectar for the eyes of the sakhis. In other words, when the lila is activated then the sakhis are the ones who get to relish it. That separation of the sakhis from the Divine Couple is in fact what makes the lila possible. What is the point of a play if there is no audience?

The sakhis are the perfection of the sat-sāmājika, the cultured audience that makes the relishing of rasa possible. We will see this in the next three verses, for which we need to understand the fundamental concept of sakhi-bhāva.

Radha, Krishna, the sakhis, and Vrindavan, form one tattva, one Whole of which no one part can exist without the others. Kaviraj Goswami says that the sakhis are the ones who expand the lila: it is their imagination that creates infinite possibilities in the expansion of rasa, of which we got some indication in the last verse,

To understand and enter this realm of Vrindavan, there is really only one pathway, and that is to follow in the footsteps of the sakhis. Thus Rupa Goswami has delineated the rasa-sādhanā, both in its theoretical, technical, as well as practical aspects. The technical aspects lie in understanding human psychology, in particular the psychology of love. The theoretical aspect is how to apply this knowledge to become a suitable receptacle for the experience of madhura-bhakti-rasa. and the practical aspect lies in poetry, literature and drama. It is to actually engage in hearing and chanting of the Divine Pastimes, and to thus place oneself in the amphitheater named Vrindavan.

The essence of Rupa Goswami’s concept of rasa-sādhanā is outlined at the beginning of the second division of the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu:

bhakti-nirdhūta-doṣāṇāṁ prasannojjvala-cetasām
śrī-bhāgavata-raktānāṁ rasikāsaṅga-raṅgiṇām
jīvanī-bhūta-govinda-pāda-bhakti-sukha-śriyām
premāntaraṅga-bhūtāni kṛtyāny evānutiṣṭhatām
bhaktānāṁ hṛdi rājantī saṁskāra-yugalojjvalā
ratir ānanda-rūpaiva nīyamānā tu rasyatām
kṛṣṇādibhir vibhāvādyair gatair anubhavādhvani
prauḍhānanda-camatkāra-kāṣṭhām āpadyate parām

For those whose faults have been entirely removed by the performance of devotional practices and whose minds are peaceful [making them suitable for the appearance of pure goodness’s special features] and effulgent [and thus equipped with full knowledge], who are attached to hearing the Bhāgavata-purāṇa, who find happiness in the company of rasika devotees, for whom the joy of service to Govinda has become the raison-d’être of their existence, and who are always engaged in the most confidential process of developing love for Krishna, namely hearing and chanting about his qualities and pastimes, have a love (rati) for Krishna which is effulgently manifest due to the conditioning of both the past and present lives. This love, which is an embodiment of the divine joy, is led to the state of being relished, and when combined with the direct experience of the vibhāvas like Krishna and the other ingredients, attains the very limits of mature bliss and wonder. (2.1.7-9)

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In one form, unseen even by the sakhis, 
Radha and Krishna hold each other to their hearts,
losing themselves in mutual oneness.

In another, they may be seen 
from far away in a cottage of newly blossoming vines. 
In another, they enjoy playful joking words. 
In yet another, they wander the forest of Vrindavan,
enjoying its beauty.

In one form they meet in Gokula, 
and in another are separated again.

In this way that Supreme Truth
in the form of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna 
manifests itself in many different ways.

 


ekaṁ sakhyāpi no lakṣitam urasi lasan-nitya-tādātmya-kāntaṁ
tad dṛśyaṁ dūrato’nyad vratati-nava-gṛhe’nyat tu tan-narma-śarma |
anyad vṛndāvanāntar-viharad atha paraṁ gokule prāpta-yogaṁ
vicchedy anyat tad evaṁ lasati bahu-vidhaṁ rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-rūpam ||2.35||

In one pair of forms, unseen even by the gopis, Radha and Krishna hold each other to their breasts, brilliant in a state of lustrous unity. In another, they may be seen from afar under a cover of newly blossoming vines. In yet another manifestation of their dual form as the Divine Couple, they enjoy amusing conversation and you listen in. In another, they wander in a walk through the Vrindavan forest and you can follow along and sing, and enjoy their consummate beauty. And sometimes they meet in Gokula and elsewhere they are separated again. This is how Sri Sri Radha and Krishna manifest in many different ways.

In a section of the Bhagavatam that is often cited by Jiva Goswami, Narada famously visited Dwarka and saw its opulence, how in more than 16,000 palaces Krishna was living with each of his wives, in each of these relations functioning individually and differently. The commentaries never stop telling us that Narada’s amazement came from seeing how his own powers of taking many forms, gained through yoga, did not have this power of individual personality in each.

There are many points to a story like that. Not unlike the one that is made by the residents of Mathura when they saw Krishna and Balaram enter the wrestling arena

mallānām aśanir nṝṇāṁ naravaraḥ strīṇāṁ smaro mūrtimān
gopānāṁ svajano’satāṁ kṣitibhujāṁ śāstā svapitroḥ śiśuḥ
mṛtyur bhojapater virāḍ aviduṣāṁ tattvaṁ paraṁ yogināṁ
vṛṣṇīnāṁ paradevateti vidito raṅgaṁ gataḥ sāgrajaḥ

When Krishna entered the arena of Kamsa with his elder brother, he appeared as a thunderbolt to the wrestlers, as the perfect man to other men, as the god of love to women, as a kinsman to the cowherds, as a chastiser to the wicked kings, as a child to his parents, as death personified to Kamsa, as the gross cosmic form to the ignorant, as the Absolute Truth to the yogis, and as the supreme deity to the Vrishnis. (SB 10.43.17)

The One Truth is recognized differently by each observer. So the observer is challenged to see God in different ways, in different ways of relating, in different ways of loving, in order to experience the highest happiness in love of God. This we saw in the previous verse. But each individual observer is also many in the love of experiencing variety within the frame of one’s own desires.

priyāṁse nikṣiptotpulaka-bhuja-daṇḍaḥ kvacid api
bhraman vṛndāraṇye mada-kala-karīndrādbhuta-gatiḥ |
nijāṁ vyañjann atyadbhuta-surata-śikṣāṁ kvacid aho
rahaḥ-kuñje guñjad-dhvanita-madhupe krīḍati hariḥ ||

Sometimes flinging his horripilating arm over his beloved’s shoulder, wandering through the Vrindavan forest with the charming gait of a maddened elephant, revealing his extraordinarily amazing education in amorous love, he plays in the secret groves, where the bees drone round the flowers. RRSN 234

Now comes the adbhuta or wondrous dimension with which we are asked to enter into God’s being. The Bhagavad Gita says in words that are invoked by the sages since time immemorial, He is not knowable. The infinite cannot be grasped by a finite intelligence. The only way it could grasp that infinitude it is to become one with it. But rasa means trying to know and giving up just to be amazed.

āścaryavat paśyati kaścid enam
āścaryavad vadati tathaiva cānyaḥ |
āścaryavac cainam anyaḥ śṛṇoti
śrutvāpy enaṁ veda na caiva kaścit ||29||

Someone sees it as being wondrous,
similarly, others speak of it as wondrous,
and others hear of it as wondrous,
and others, even hearing from authority,
are unable to know it.
 (2.29)

This is the absolute union of the Divine Couple that not even the sakhis can know, because if they were to know it, they would lose their separate existence altogether. That which is unknowable through the human body and senses can only know that by becoming it. The greater pleasure is in rasa, the manifestation of the multiple. It is all God’s play.

It is the intensity with which one is permitted to observe the perfection of Love and Beauty in the heart of meditation. An infinity of the manifestations of that Love that can be observed, the panoply of the emotions of love, all being expressed as if simultaneously in the eternal Vrindavan.

This is how the word āścarya indicates the principal quality that characterizes rasa. It is not the satisfaction of knowing, but the astonishment that comes when you realize it is yet far beyond being known. This is stated in the Sāhitya-darpaṇa (3.3)- :

rase sāraś camatkāro yaṁ vinā na raso rasaḥ |
tac camatkāra-sāratve sarvatraivādbhuto rasaḥ ||

In the experience of rasa, the essence is wonder, for without astonishment, rasa is not rasa. Since surprise or astonishment is its principal characteristic, the adbhuta-rasa or sentiment of wonder is omnipresent throughout [effective works of drama].

The last part of this verse speaks of union and separation in Gokula, which is an interesting use of phrasing. By specifying Gokula, it would appear that Saraswatipada is going so far as to say that the separation of Krishna to Mathura is taking place here as one of the many manifestations of rasa going on in the nitya-lila.

Generally speaking, Prabodhananda Saraswati is categorized as a nitya-vihari, or someone who believes in absolute meditation on the beauties of the innermost sanctum of the Divine Lila. There is almost nothing to which a nitya-vihari is averse than the concept of separation. Krishna never sets foot out of Braj, they exclaim.

There is a spectrum of visions of the meaning of union and separation and their importance in the experience of rasa. The Ujjvala-nilamani ends with a reminder that uninterrupted union is not as amusing as union interrupted with a little drama. To succumb to the Grand Dramatist is the road to experiencing amazement and rasa. The One craves to be many, and once being many tries to remember and recover and rediscover its Oneness.

The nitya-viharis do not generally contemplate even the painful separation of Krishna from the gopis at the time of his departure for Mathura, though this is an integral element of the Bhagavata’s story of this particular aspect of the avatar, a secret that stands at the center of the Bhgavatam. The Gaudiya Goswami school is a little more varied in their visions of the nitya-lila. The idea here appears to be a little more like that described in Sanatan Goswami’s Brihad-Bhagavatamritam, where these lilas are played in eternal repetition, the devotees reliving those same emotions in real time over and over again in eternity. The different approaches to separation in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, even with the six Goswamis, is a subject of some interest, which we will perhaps be able to return to again in this endeavor of relishing the Vrindavana-mahimamrita.

vṛndāraṇya-nikuñja-sīmasu sadā svānaṅga-raṅgotsavair
mādyanty adbhuta-mādhavādhara-sudhā-mādhvīka-saṁsvādanaiḥ |
govinda-priya-varga-durgama-sakhī-vṛndair anālakṣitā
dāsyaṁ dāsyati me kadā nu kṛpayā vṛndāvanādhīśvarī ||

When will the queen of Vrindavan,
who deep in the hidden forest groves
intoxicated by drinking the succulent nectar of Krishna’s lips,
the festival of undulating amorous pastimes,
who is invisible to even the dearest devotees and friends of Krishna
be pleased to make me her maidservant? RRSN 128

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31501323_1847487405551357_3773151434078420992_n.jpgVrindavan, 2018.04.30

All of Shri Vrindavan is rejoicing today, for this is the Appearance Day of our beloved Shri Radharaman Lal. On Vaishakh Purnima 476 years ago, Shri Radharaman manifested himself from a shaligram shila for the sake of Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami’s love.

Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami was the incarnation of Radharani’s maidservant named Gunamanjari. Born in a Vaishnav family in Shri Rangam in South India, Gopal Bhatt’s family were priests of the ancient temple of Shri Ranganath. Gopal Bhatt too would have become a high priest of Shri Rangam. But the course of his life changed when Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited his home while he was still a small child.

In the presence of the Master, Gopal Bhatt’s true self awakened, and the love of Eternal Vrindavan blossomed in his heart. By Mahaprabhu’s order, Gopal Bhatt remained at home for many years, studying and taking care of his elderly parents. Later he moved to Vrindavan where he performed intense bhajan and wrote books that would become part of the foundation of the Gaudiya Sampradaya.

After Mahaprabhu left this world, Gopal Bhatt journeyed to the Gandaki River in Nepal where he received twelve shaligram shilas. In a vision, Mahaprabhu had said that Gopal Bhatt would find him again in Nepal, but there was no sign of Mahaprabhu anywhere. Gopal Bhatt’s heart wept as he returned to Vrindavan without meeting his Master again. But, despite the pain in his heart, he continued to dedicate himself to his writing, and to the service of the shaligram shilas.

Gopal Bhatt also helped serve the Deities of other saints. He loved to dress and do the shringar of Shri Govind Dev, Gopinath and Madan Mohan, but in his heart he longed for a Deity of Shri Krishna to love and care for as his very own.31416746_1846702275629870_5474506181818974208_n-280x300.jpg

To fulfil all the pure longings of His devotee’s heart, Shri Radharaman Dev manifested from Gopal Bhatt’s Damodar Shaligram Shila in 1542AD. A wonderful festival was held to celebrate the miraculous appearance of Radharamanji in Vrindavan. The great saints and devotees of the day attended. They danced and sang in kirtan while the grand abhishek was offered to Radharaman. And every year, from then until today, the Appearance Day of Shri Radharaman is celebrated in the temple.

The festival begins in the morning when a team of Goswamis goes out with Kirtan to collect Yamuna water in huge silver pots. Then, around 9am, the abhishek begins. Thousands of litres of milk, yogurt, honey and so fourth are poured over Radharamanji’s divine form. All of the liquid is carefully collected and later distributed to devotees as charanamrit, as are the strips of the white cloth that Radharamanji wears during the abhishek.

In the evening, a framed piece of Mahaprabhu’s own clothing is displayed on the altar, alongside Mahaprabhu’s wooden gaddi (seat), both of which Mahaprabhu sent to Gopal Bhatt Goswami as a blessing.

Gopal Bhatt Goswami’s samadhi and Shri Radharaman Dev’s Appearance Place (prakatya sthali) can also be seen on the temple premises.

 

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DSCN3774-780x593.jpg← Aarti at Narsingh Dev temple, Vrindavan

Vrindavan, 2018.04.29 (VT): Today is Shri Narsingh Jayanti, the appearance day of Lord Narsingh, the half-lion half-man incarnation of Supreme Lord Krishna, who appeared on Vaishakh Shukla Chaturdashi  (14th day of the bright fortnight) to protect his devotee Prahlad Maharaj from his demoniac father Hiranyakashipu.

Hiranyakashipu received a special benediction from Lord Brahma that he could not be killed by any human being, demigod or animal or any other entities; he could not be killed by any kind of weapon or during either the day nor night. So, the Lord appeared in half-man half-lion form and killed Hiranyaksahipu with His nails at twilight, thus avoiding all the barriers that Hiranyaksashipu thought would protect him.

Devotees around the world, and especially in the sacred town of Shri Shri Radha Krishna, fondly remember this pastime and celebrate it with great enthusiasm. Narsingh lila is one of the most loved lilas in Vrindavan. The festival is celebrated in an elaborate way at Narsingh temple in Atkhamba, Varah ji temple in Chipi Gali, the Radha Krishna temple in Keshighat and Ramji Dwara in Pratap Bazaar.

These temples begin their preparations several weeks before the festival and celebrate the occasion with great zeal and enthusiasm. On this auspicious occasion, the temples are abuzz with activity starting from early morning, with various offerings of aarti, bhoga etc. At noon, abhishek is performed with panchamrit and various herbs and fragrances, sandalwood paste etc. The abhishek offering is then followed by a variety of food offerings.

In the evening, special darshan of Lord Narsingh is arranged and devotees flock to temples to enjoy renditions of the Lord’s pastimes enacted by the artists of various lila mandali (performance troupes). The artists thrill the crowds with their elaborate, handmade masks and costumes designating them as Lord Narsingh, Varah Dev and other demigods including Ganesh, Hanuman, Makardhwaja etc.

Each performer is required to wear mask that is put in place with cotton and fixed onto a pagdi(turban). The performers where bagalbandi (traditional jacket or kurta) in different colours –  yellow for Narsingh Dev, red for Ganesh ji and green for Varah Dev along with chamar (fan), pajamiya (pajamas), ghaghriya (flared knee length skirt), bajubandh (armlet), chunari (stole), ghungroo(anklets), socks and gloves. Several makeup artists specializing in this kind of make-up and hair styles as well as costume helpers are engaged to create a traditional look and get the artists ready for the swaroop lila.

The proceedings begin with Ganesh ji’s aarti. Ganesh ji, in red costume and mask, begins the procession, followed by Varah Dev, Hanuman and Makardhwaja. Different pastimes are enacted on the streets and the procession is taken to several places to give devotees in different places the opportunity to see the performances.

As the time of sunset approaches, an artist dressed in white kurta-pajama and holding a mace can be seen parading as Hiranyakashipu. Soon after Hiranyakashipu’s appearance, Lord Narsingh appears from a special pole that spits into two parts. A mock-battle ensues with the two attacking each other using swords etc. A young child is engaged to play the role of Prahlad Maharaj and he stands with a garland in his hand, ready to put it around the neck of the victorious Supreme Lord.

Narada Muni is also represented and the surroundings echoe with the sound of bells, drums and conch shells. The atmosphere becomes charged as the crowd cheers and sings the praises of the Lord. Fruits, sweets etc. are distributed and various traditional dances are performed. Crowds gather and are enthralled to see the performance and absorb the atmosphere of revelry and religious fervor.

Apart from the temples and street parades, devotees also celebrate the festival in their homes by serving their personal deity of Lord Narsingh Dev with the best of offerings. Many fast until sunset while engaging in all-day kirtan and katha.

According to the Narsingh Puran, it is highly beneficial for devotees to read Narsinghcharya, Narsinghkalap, Narsinghparijata, Narsinghkawach, Narsinghsahastranamastrotra, Beejakshara mantra etc. to elevate themselves to the platform of devotion and seek mercy and blessings from the Lord.

The Narsingh lila of the Lord not only portrays His reciprocation of pure love but also shows that, even a person of lower birth can attain higher noble qualities and pure love of the Lord especially if there is an environment that is conducive to nurturing love for the Lord.  Not only this, even an unborn child, while still in the womb, is able to imbibe good virtues – by hearing the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord.

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