Vrindavan, 2017.11.10 (VT): As we walk from Gopinath Bazar towards Gopeshwar Mahadev, we pass through the area of Vrindavan known as Dheer Sameer. Sameer means the breeze and dheer means soft and slow. The Yamuna River used to flow just next to this place, and the entire area was covered with her soft and sparkling sands, fine as ground camphor.
dhira samire yamuna tire vasati vane vanamali
This part of Vrindavan has been glorified often in Vaishnav literature. In the Gita Govinda, the poet Jayadeva describes how Shri Krishna, adorned in forest flowers, awaits Radha’s arrival in Dheer Sameer, where the soft breeze plays on the bank of the Yamuna River.
Today Dheer Sameer is covered with concrete and the Yamuna River has moved far away. But many important temples and saint’s tombs remain in the area.
Dheer Sameer Kunj: Shyam Ray Temple and the Tomb of Gauridas Pandit
Tucked away in a small alley behind Ma Sharada Kutir lies Dheer Sameer Kunj. Within the temple premises is the Shyam Ray Temple and the tomb of Gauridas Pandit.
Gauridas Pandit was a close follower of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu. He was the incarnation of Shri Krishna’s cowherd-boy friend, Subal Sakha. He is also the param-gurudev (grand-guru) of Shri Shyamananda, whose temple is one of Vrindavan’s sapta devalay.
Once Chaitanya and Nityananda visited Gauridas Pandit’s house in Ambika Kalna, West Bengal. He got the opportunity to serve them to his heart’s content. When it was time for them to leave, Gauridas said, “Please don’t leave me. I will die if you go.” Shri Chaitanya then had two life-size deities made – one of himself and one of his companion Nityananda.
The incomparable Shri Shyam Ray
Chaitanya and Nityananda stood next to the deities and asked Gauridas to choose. Of course Gauridas chose the originals. It is said that the deities are the ones who left his house that day and completed the rest of Chaitanya Lila.
Gauridas Pandit’s Nitai-Gaur are in Bengal, and no photographs of them are allowed. But one photograph of them is displayed in Gauridas Pandit’s tomb (samadhi) at Dheer Sameer Kunj. The picture is fading but you can still see Nityananda’s sweet moonlike face and Chaitanya’s handsome smile.
The deity of Shyam Ray in the temple is also Gauridas’s own. The deity is said to have been found by Gauridas whilst he was bathing in the Yamuna behind the kunj. In the modern day, Dheer Sameer Kunj is well-maintained by the followers of Shri Sitaramdas Omkarnath Thakur. There is also a gaushala, a tulsi garden, a temple of Shri Ram darbar and Mahadev, and a charitable medical dispensary on the premises.