Vrindavan, 2017.08.14 (VT): Siddha Krishna Das Baba of Govardhan was one of the four famous siddha babas of 19th-century Braj. He spent most of his life by the banks of the Manasi Ganga, at Chakleshwar, where his samadhi is now. After receiving a direct vision of Shri Lalita Sakhi and Sanatan Goswami, by their infinite mercy the deep meanings of the scriptures manifested within his heart.
Siddha Krishna Das Baba helped many to dive deep in the ocean of Shri Radha and Krishna’s lilas, and he wrote many books about them. His most famous book is simply called Gutika (The Pill). The Gutika contains detailed descriptions of Shri Radha and Krishna’s daily lilas in the Gaudiya Vaishnav mood. It also describes the yearly festivals and other rare information about the eternal lila.
Shri Radhashtami Lila
The Great Festival of Shri Radha’s Birthday
(On the eighth day of the bright half of the lunar month of Bhadra – Bhadra Shukla Ashtami)
Since bhadra shukla pratipad (the first day of the bright half of Bhadra) a band has been seated at the “Lion’s Gate” of Vrishabhanu Maharaj’s town, Barsana, making it look as beautiful as Nandgaon during Janmashtami.
On tritiya (the third day of the bright half of Bhadra) is the birthday of Tungavidya Sakhi. That night, the Raas Lila and Shyayan Lila (taking rest) are held in her kunj. These same lilas take place on ashtami (the eighth day) in the kunjs of Shri Radha and Vishakha Sakhi, on Navami (the ninth day) in the kunj of Champaklata, on ekadashi in the kunj of Indulekha, on Purnima (the full moon night) in the kunjs of Rangadevi and Sudevi and on ashwin shukla tritiya (the third bright lunar day in Ashwin) in the kunj of Chitra Sakhi.
Shri Krishna comes to stay in Barsana
Two days before Radhashtami on shashti (the sixth day of the bright half of Bhadra), Radha’s father Vrishabhanu sends an invitation to Krishna’s father, Nand Maharaj, at Nandishwar Parvat, the hill in Nandgaon upon which Nand’s palace is situated. Through this invitation he requests Nand Baba to come and celebrate Shri Radha’s birthday. Shridam, Radha’s elder brother, and Rishikanya deliver the inivitation.
The next day, after performing their morning routine, Nanda Maharaj and his entire entourage, including darling Shri Krishna, come to Vrishabhanupur (Barsana). They travel on foot, in bullock-carts and in palanquins. Their procession is accompanied by musical instruments, and hearing the sound, Vrishabhanu Baba and his brothers, along with Radha’s mother Kirtida and her sisters-in-law, come out to greet them.
They show the guests their quarters and take a meal with them. Radha and other prominent gopis (yutheshwaris) cook rice, vegetables, puris, ksheera and many other delicious dishes, and the pujari offers everything to Vrishabhanu Baba’s deity of Narayan. After the pujari puts the deity to rest, Shridam arranges for the prasad to be served in the courtyard of the palace. Radha starts quarreling with those gopis (the yutheshwaris) about who should serve first. Making a show of anger Shyama sakhi says says to Radha: “It’s Your father’s festival! What’s it to us? You can serve first or not, whatever you like!”
Hearing this loving quarrel, Kirtida Maiya decides to make lines for serving, and assigns every sakhi to serve her own line of guests.
After eating, chewing paan (betel leaf wraps – a digestive) and washing their mouths, everyone lies down in his or her own guest room. On the pretext of picking flowers, Radha then goes to Vilas Kund, which is situated west of Barsana, where she secretly meets Shri Krishna. After a brief meeting, they return to their own rooms. Then Radha cooks something and takes it along for her usual noontime meeting with Krishna at Shri Radhakund.
Radha’s Abhishek on Radhashtami
On the morning of Radhashtami, after completing their morning routine, everyone assembles to witness Radha’s abhishek (bathing ceremony). Radha wears thin, white clothes along with all her usual ornaments for the abhishek. The musicians start playing their instruments like the veena, upanga, pakhawaj, mridang, dundubhi, bheri and dholak, and the maidservants enter, bringing all the paraphernalia for the bathing ceremony with them.
Paurnamasi Devi chants the mantras and Gargi, the daughter of sage Garg, starts the abhishek. First she pours mahaushadhi-water – water that contains many auspicious herbs – over Radha’s delightful limbs, then panca-gavya – five products of the cow, namely milk, yoghurt, ghee, govar and go mutra – then a hundred jugs of clear water, and finally she bathes her with water from a conch shell and a sahasradhara (an apparatus that creates a shower-like effect).
The maidservants dry Radha off with soft white towels and anoint her with fragrant oils and chatuḥ-sama (a blend of sandalwood paste, vermilion, camphor and musk). Then they take Her to Her shringaar vedi (a dais where she will be dressed and ornamented). There they dress her in her usual splendid blue sari and decorate her with shimmering ornaments, the sixteen shringars and twelve abharans.
Gargi worships Radha holding auspicious durva grass and wheat in her hand, and Paurnamasi offers her blessings. After a maidservant has offered aarti to Radha, mother Yashoda blesses her and presents her with a new jeweled necklace, clothes and ornaments. She also gives similar presents to the yutheshwaris. Then Radha gives ornamented cows away in charity. Father Vrishabhanu also gives thousands of cows and calves. Radha then bows to her superiors.
Shri Radha cooks an ambrosial feast
After this, Shri Krishna and his friends have a snack and Radha and her girlfriends, along with the yutheshwaris, also eat. Radha then takes off her ornaments and cooks Her own birthday feast together with Rohini Mata – sweet rice, savouries, rice and vegetables. Hundreds of Brahmins are cooking another feast for all the villagers outside.
Compassionate Yashoda Maiya says to her friend Kirtida: “Sakhi! Your heart is so hard! You make Radha, who is as tender as a raintree flower, cook so much! You don’t have any love or affection! Just see how hot she feels doing this hard labour on her own birthday!”
Mother Kirtida replies: “Because Radha got the blessing that whatever she cooks would be more delicious than divine ambrosia, my husband wanted Nanda Maharaj and his entire family to savour this nectar. That’s why Radha is cooking on this special occasion! O Queen of Braj! Just see how wonderful her preparations are!”
Rohini then shows Yashoda all the preparations Radha has cooked. Radha bows to Yashoda Maiya’s lotus feet and Yashoda blesses her, saying: “O Radhe! Your preparations please my eyes with their form and my nose with their fragrance!”
Then Lalita and Shyamala come and offer their obeisances to mother Yashoda’s lotus feet and she then also affectionately praises and blesses them. Rohini Mata then says: “O Krishna-Janani, mother of Krishna! Radha is like yellow topaz and Shri Krishna is a sapphire! They are just like a pair of necklaces for the Braj Lakshmi (Braj Bhoomi conceived as a goddess)!” Radha’s nose twitches slightly in shyness when she hears this. When Lalita and the other sakhis see this they are filled with bliss.
Yashoda then orders some maidservants to prepare the offering for the deity Narayan and to fan Radha and remove her fatigue. After the offering, the pujari offers the bhog and puts the deities to rest. (Meanwhile outside hundreds of Brahmins have also completed their enormous cooking work).
“Yoghurt fight” and water sports at Bhanu Khor
Then everyone changes clothes and, like on Krishna Janmashtami in Pavan Sarovar, they proceed to Bhanukhor, the pond that lies east of Barsana, to play Dadhi-kada, a game of throwing butter, yoghurt and other dairy products at each other, and splash each other with water from different corners of the Khor – one ghat (bathing place) is reserved for men, one for women, one for girls and one for boys.
Bhanu Khor (Vrishabhanu Kund) – P.C. Braj Discovery
After this, Vrishnabhanu Maharaj and Kirtida Maharani and present all the ladies and gentlemen present with gifts of clothes and ornaments. Vrishabhanu Maharaj first sumptuously feeds all the Brahmins and then all the other people, in a large courtyard. They all eat in supreme ecstasy, and after flushing their mouths, they chew paan and take rest in their individual abodes.
In the inner chambers of the palace, Kirtida and mother Yashoda also feed all the ladies, after which they too take rest in their individual quarters. Then Vrishabhanu Maharaj generously gives away clothes, ornaments and dakshina (monetary donations). Then everyone takes rest in their own rooms.
After resting a little, Radha goes to pick flowers with her girlfriends on the bank of Vilas Kund to the west of Barsana. As they depart, the sakhis give a signal to Shri Krishna through the window. Shri Krishna then joins them at Vilas Kund, performs his romantic pastimes with Radha there, performs yogpeeth lila and then everyone returns to their own bedrooms to rest a while.
After this, Radha’s pastimes of cooking offerings for the sun god (Surya Dev) and going on abhisaar are the same as on saptami. At night they dance the Raas and recline in the kunj of Vishakha Sakhi, because it is also her birthday on this day.