Vrindavan, 2017.10.28 (VT): A few days ago, foreign devotees living in Vrindavan were requested to make their suggestions known for the development of the Dham. Adityanath Yogi, the CM of Uttar Pradesh, and Mr. Mishra have both promised that the development of Braj will take place according to the will of the people of Braj and in keeping with the mission of Braj as a spiritual center or tirth. Now that the government has officially declared that Vrindavan is a tirth or holy site, let us examine that proposal.
Drawings and paintings from the past, such as this one from 1789, show that the river Yamuna used to flow right past Madan Mohan. Exactly what year the river changed course I do not know, but the current river flows about 500 meters or more to the north of the Madan Mohan temple.
This is the marker for the Dwadashaditya Tila lookout point. Obviously, when this lookout was constructed, probably at the same time as the temple itself, there was a beautiful unobstructed view of the Yamuna River, as well as the fields and forests that grew on every side.
I wanted to take pictures from the lookout point was to show the “view” from Madan Mohan or Dwadashaditya Tila. This is the area that is currently under dispute. Numerous buildings have already been knocked down in this area, but several large buildings, like the Russki Dom in the upper left side of the featured image behind the parking lot have received stay orders and are not under the wrecking ball quite yet.
This is the current “view” from Madan Mohan. It is also part of the area that is currently under dispute. Numerous buildings have already been knocked down in this area, but several large buildings, like the Russki Dom in the upper left side of this image behind the parking lot have received stay orders and are not under the wrecking ball quite yet.
In the distance one can see the Yamuna. Now the view has been completely obliterated by these hideous parking lots and the unsightly and half-completed constructions.
The MVDA and Vrindavan municipality made some serious errors of judgment in allowing this area to be developed as a residential area, since it belongs to the Yamuna floodplain and therefore no construction is permitted there.
From the point of view of tourism, you really want to protect your views. There must be an unobstructed view of the Yamuna and beautiful gardens and orchards planted here for the pleasure of those doing parikrama and visiting the Madan Mohan temple.
The other thing, of course, is the Parikrama Marg itself, which on busy days like ekadashis or Gopashtami, sees an influx of pilgrims wanting to do Panchakosi Parikrama. Increased traffic on the Parikrama Marg, especially here with people headed in to Bihariji right ahead, makes the Parikrama walk a real difficulty.
Let the demolition work continue. Let’s find a solution for the Parikrama Marg that includes daily no-traffic times and no-traffic days when the crowds are greatest. In my view, every visitor to Vrindavan should be made to leave their vehicle outside the Parikrama Marg, including bus passengers and to walk to Bihariji and the other temples for darshan.
What is a visit to the holy place without some sacrifice or tapasya. In other days, visiting Vrindavan required taking days out of one’s life. Now one can breeze in for a drive, see Bihariji and go. The spiritual benefit of such actions is minimal.
If Braj is to be developed as a pilgrimage center rather than a purely tourist hub like Agra with the Taj, then some demands have to be made on the pilgrim, for the sake of the Dham itself, in order that its spiritual power is most effectively experienced. That is the magic of the Dham and that is where its real potential lies.
Vrindavan is about spirituality and nature. Without the Yamuna and without an attempt to make the land as lush and green in the current environment as is possible, should be taken as essential elements in any concept of the Dham that is sustainable for the long term.