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Jhulan Yatra, the swing festival

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[Every year there is a five day festival all over Vrindavan called Jhulan Yatra, at which time the vijaya-vigraha (small) Deities of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna are swung by hundreds of thousands of Vrajabasis and others, in their various temples or homes, on a beautiful swing attached to long ropes. Srila Narayan Goswami Maharaja lead this festival yearly, at Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha and Sri Rupa Sanatan Gaudiya Math, at which time he gives a short talk about the significance of this festival. This year, 2016, Sri Sri Radha Krishna’s Jhulan ceremony begins August 14 and Srila Rupa Goswami’s disappearance day is August 15. The following is a translation of both his Hindi talks, given on August 8, 2003:]


Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja
THE SWING CEREMONY
SRILA RUPA GOSVAMI’S DISAPPEARANCE DAY
Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Matha

In the month of Shravan or Sawan, which is during the rainy season, the clouds in the sky begin to make a thundering sound and an extremely fine, mist-like rain drizzles everywhere. The atmosphere is very beautiful and pleasant after the heat of the summer months, for at that time all the forests of Vrindavan begin to bloom. Many types of flowers on both sides of the Yamuna, such as beli, chameli, jui, and madhavi begin to bloom. The bumblebees look here and there and chant, “Radhe Radhe” and the cuckoos also call out, “Radhe Radhe.”

The peacocks and peahens all call out “Keka keka.” Ke means: “Which male person has the ability to do a very wonderful thing? Srimati Radhika’s maan (her sulky mood of loving anger), as well as her shyness and patience, are like a very tall and immovable mountain. Which male person, Ke, can crush that mountain into powder so that there is nothing left? This person is Sri Krishna.”
means: “Which female person can do a very wonderful thing? There is a powerful, mad elephant named Sri Krishna whom no one can control. One person, however, by the goad of her maan, can catch that elephant, bring him under her control, and then bind him in the shackle of her prema. Who is that? It is Srimati Radhika.” In this way the peacocks and peahens glorify Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna.

At the time of Shravan, everything becomes green. The summer was dry, but now the rain has come and everything has come to life again. All the young brides are taken at this time from their mother-in-laws’ homes by their brothers, and they return to their father’s home.

Srimati Radhika was still at her in-laws’ home in Yavat, however, because her brother, Shridama, had not come. Much time passed and finally he arrived there on the full moon day, with some clothing and ornaments to pacify Srimati Radhika’s mother-in-law, Jatila.

Seeing her brother, Srimati Radhika wept, “O my dear brother, why have you come so late? Only a few days remain of this Shravan month. Why did you come late? Did you forget me?”

Srimati Radhika then very happily left Yavat and went to Varsana, Vrishabhanupura, with her brother; and there she met together with all of her sakhis, her intimate friends, as they had also returned to their maternal homes at that time. It was a very beautiful meeting and reunion in the place of their childhood play.

The sakhis made a jhulan (swing) for her. They always make the swing on a kadamba tree and not on a tamal tree. The significance of a kadamba tree is that it carries the complexion of Srimati Radhika and the tamal tree has Sri Krishna’s complexion. The tamal tree is not very powerful, but the kadamba tree is very strong and beautiful. This signifies the superiority of Srimati Radhika – she can control Lord Krishna by her love.

jhula jhule rādhā dāmodara vṛndāvana meṁ
kaisī ccāyī hariyāli ali kuṁjan meṁ

Radha-Damodara are swinging on the swing in Vrindavan. O friend, how very green the kunja is!” (Jhula Jhule Radha Damodara, verse 1)

We sing this kirtana at the time of swinging Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. It describes how Lord Krishna has come and is waiting at the swing with folded palms for his beloved to come. Srimati Radhika is in maan, and her sakhis try to persuade her to come by saying, “Please give up your sulky mood and come at once to your beloved Krishna. He is waiting for you.”

In this way we are observing Jhulan Yatra and remembering the sweet pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

*******************************************************************************************

[When Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja’s discourse was completed, the over 200 devotees at Sri Rupa Sanatana Mandir then accompanied him on the five minute walk to Sri Gopinath Gaudiya Math, where they all performed the swing ceremony for Sri Sri Radha Gopinath and sang the same kirtan. The assembled devotees then sat in the temple courtyard to hear Srila Maharaja speak once again:]
Tomorrow is the disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami. Even though there are so many great acharyas, Srila Rupa Goswami has been attributed with the honor of being that person who has established the mano-‘bhīṣṭam, the innermost heart’s desire, of Sri Krishna in the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When Sriman Mahaprabhu came to the village of Ramakeli gram, he met with Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami and told them, “Leave your homes and be with me.” After a short time they left their homes, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came from Vrindavan and met with Srila Rupa Goswamipada at Prayag, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told him:

parapara-śūnya gabhīra bhakti-rasa-sindhu
tomāya cakhāite tāra kahi eka bindu

The ocean of the transcendental mellows of devotional service is so large that no one can estimate its length and breadth. However, just to help you taste it, I am describing one drop. (
Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya-līlā
19.137)”

Lord Chaitanya gave one drop of the ocean of rasa to Srila Rupa Goswami, and that one drop was sufficient to inundate millions upon millions of universes. Later, he met with Srila Sanatana Goswami in Varanasi.

After some time, Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami came here to Vrindavan and began to perform their bhajan, their hearing, chanting, and remembering about Krishna. Rupa Goswami thought, “In order to fulfill the innermost heart’s desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, I will write a drama. In this drama I will explain the beauty of the meeting pastimes of Srimati Radhika and Sri Krishna in Vrindavan, and also their separation pastimes, when Lord Krishna leaves Vrindavan and goes to Mathura and Dvaraka. I will explain how, by their expansions, Srimati Radhika and all the sakhis somehow or other (by the medium of their expansions) went to Dvaraka and became Lord Krishna’s 16,108 queens.”

He intended to write about this, but while he was traveling towards Jagannatha Puri he came to the village of Satyabhama-pura. There, Srimati Satyabhama Devi, Lord Krishna’s chief queen, appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Please don’t make only one drama. Please divide it into two parts.”

Then, when Srila Rupa Goswami finally arrived at Jagannath Puri and met with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord confirmed what he had heard from Srimati Satyabhama in his dream. Sriman Mahaprabhu told him, “Don’t take Lord Krishna out of Vrindavan.”

kṛṣṇo nyo yadu-sambhūto yaḥ pūrṇah so sty ataḥ paraḥ
vṛndāvanaṁ parityājya sa kvacin naiva gacchati

The Krishna known as Yadu-kumara is Vasudeva Krishna. He is different from the Krishna who is the son of Nanda Maharaja. Yadu-kumara Krishna manifests his pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dvaraka, but Krishna the son of Nanda Maharaja never at any time leaves Vrindavan. (
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā
1.67)

“Krishna never leaves Vrindavan. He never even sets one foot outside of Vrindavan.”

Srila Rupa Goswami then divided his drama into two parts. The first part is called Vidagdha-mādhava, Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan; and in the second part, called Lalita-mādhava, he goes to Dvaraka and all the gopis of Vrindavan were reunited with him in the form of the queens of Dvaraka.

Why did Srila Rupa Goswami do this? This is a very deep siddhānta, conclusive philosophical truth. Srila Kavi Karnapura, a very great devotee, has composed Ānanda-vṛndāvana-campū. In this book he described the pastimes of Lord Krishna from his birth up to rāsa-līlā and the Divine Couple’s swing pastimes, and he stopped there. He didn’t go any further than this. He didn’t describe about Krishna going to Mathura or Dvaraka, because this separation mood is very difficult to tolerate for the pure devotees. He was thinking, “My Divine Mistress Radhika cannot tolerate this separation, so I will not write about it.”

Srila Rupa Goswami, however, has written about the moods of both meeting and separation – because this separation mood is a very deep transcendental ecstatic feeling. At the time of meeting, though Radharani and Krishna are together, something may be forgotten or lost in the heart. On the other hand, at the time of separation, there is complete meeting in new and fresh ways in the heart; and not only inside, but sometimes externally there are sphūrtis, temporary visions in which the loved one is actually present.

Knowing all these very deep transcendental established truths, and wanting to establish the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu within the world, Srila Rupa Goswami also glorified the mood of separation. Although this mood is very high and has many transcendental features that will not come at the time of meeting, still, it is not our goal of life.

No Gaudiya Vaishnavas want Sri Sri Radha and Krishna to be eternally separated. What kind of person would want this? No Vrajavasi would want it. However, there is a place for this separation mood, and Srila Rupa Goswami has explained this in his book, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi: na vinā vipralambheṇa sambhogaḥ puṣṭim aśnute. Without the mood of separation, the mood of meeting will not be nourished and come to increasingly higher stages. The pastimes of separation are very important because they play the role of nourishing the sweetness of meeting.”

When Srila Rupa Goswami was in Puri with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord was dancing at the Ratha-yatra festival and uttering a verse from a book of mundane poetry called Sāhitya-darpaṇa:

yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ sa eva hi varas tā eva caitra-kṣapās
te conmīlita-mālatī-surabhayaḥ prauḍhāḥ kadambānilāḥ
sā caivāsmi tathāpi tatra surata-vyāpāra-līlā-vidhau
revā-rodhasi vetasī-taru-tale cetaḥ samutkaṇṭhate

That very personality who stole away my heart during my youth is now again my master. These are the same moonlit nights of the month of Caitra. The same fragrance of malati flowers is there, and the same sweet breezes are blowing from the kadamba forest. In our intimate relationship, I am also the same lover, yet my mind is not happy here. I am eager to go back to that place on the bank of the Reva under the Vetasi tree. That is my desire. (
Padyavali
382)

No one could understand why Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was uttering this verse and in what mood he was absorbed. There was one young boy there, however, named Rupa, who later on became that very same Rupa Goswami. There and then, upon hearing this verse from Mahaprabhu, another verse appeared in his own heart, and he wrote down that verse:

priyaḥ so’yaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ sahacari kurukṣetra-militas
tathāhaṁ sā rādhā tad idam ubhayoḥ saṅgama-sukham |
tathāpy antaḥ-khelan-madhura-muralī-pañcama-juṣe
mano me kālindī-pulina-vipināya spṛhayati ||383||

This is a verse spoken by Srimati Radharani: “My dear friend, now I have met my very old and dear friend Krishna on this field of Kurukshetra. I am the same Radharani, and now we are meeting together. It is very pleasant, but still I would like to go to the bank of the Yamuna beneath the trees of the forest there. I wish to hear the vibration of his sweet flute playing the fifth note within that forest of Vrindavan.” (
Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya-līlā
1.76)

In this verse Srila Rupa Goswami has clarified Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s inner meaning and thus he revealed to the world the importance of parakīyā-rasa, the mood of paramour love between Lord Krishna and the gopis. Srila Rupa Goswami is that very person who established within this world the innermost heart’s desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

After Sriman Mahaprabhu disappeared from the vision of the world, the discussion of parakīyā-rasa was not prominent. According to scripture, mundane rasa, this world’s love between those who are unmarried, is very immoral, illicit and sinful. However, in addition to manifesting the endless varieties and wonder of vipralambha and sambhoga, the meeting and separation pastimes of Radha and Krishna, Srila Rupa Goswami also established the superiority of parakīyā-rasa. By using evidence from many different sastras, he proved that Lord Sri Krishna is not an ordinary nāyaka (lover) and Radhika is not an ordinary nāyikā (beloved). In other words, when there is meeting between a mundane lover and beloved in the parakīyā mood it is very sinful, but Sri Krishna is a transcendental personality, God himself, and everything is possible for him. Therefore, if he is the object of the parakīyā-bhāva, there is no fault or defect in this. Rather this is the topmost supremely pure manifestation of mādhurya-prema, the romantic mood.

Srila Rupa Goswami established the fact that Lord Krishna himself came into this world to taste these mellows, and, as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna himself experienced the parakiya-bhakti-rasa that is within the heart of Srimati Radhika:

anarpita-cariṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatirṇaḥ kalau
samparyitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam |
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śaci-nandanaḥ ||

May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sachi Devi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, he has appeared in the Age of Kali by his causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love. (
Caitanya-caritāmṛta
1.1.4)

śrī-caitanya-mano-‘bhīṣṭaṁ
sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale
svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ
dadāti sva-padāntikam

I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him. When will Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Chaitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet? (prayer by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura)

These deliberations and philosophical conclusions are extremely deep, and very difficult to understand. It is therefore essential that one come under the guidance of a self-realized guru and pure devotees, and give ones full time and energy, very hard labor, and enthusiastic work in the service of that guru and in chanting Harinam, the holy names of Krishna, and performing bhajana. One should also make a great effort to understand and realize the reason for which Srila Rupa Goswami appeared in this world and why he wrote so many books like Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Vidagdha-mādhava and Lalita-mādhava. Unless one comes to the lotus feet of Sri Guru and makes a very great endeavor to understand these topics, after some time he will be taken away by maya and engage in mundane activities. This is a very important point.

[srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja announced at the end of class that all the devotees will meet him at Sri Rupa Sanatana Mandira on the following morning, to observe Sri Rupa Goswami’s disappearance day, at 6am. They will go together to Sri Radha Damodara Mandira, to Rupa Goswami’s Samadhi and Bhajana Kutira, and there they will have more kirtana and glorification.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada speaking to disciples at Rupa Goswami's samadhi.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada doing kirtan with disciples at Rupa Goswami’s samadhi, ca. 1970.

The post Jhulan Yatra, the swing festival appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

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