Places visited: Loharvari, Levara, Akbarpur, Kanwari, Sattvas
We are now beginning to approach the borders of Braja, visiting various Muslim villages where no other yatra has gone before. There are wonderful pastimes of the Lord that took place in these areas and the Brajabāsī Muslims, with obviously deep Hindu saṁskāras, show a certain degree of respect towards the yatris. Some could even be seen tapping their foot to the resounding kirtan coming by. They have never been exposed to such a spiritual safari within their quiet villages.
In some of these villages, there are still Hindu dwellings here and there. In these homes, one would find little old ladies with hands shaking, and with whatever strength they could muster just pleading for the sacred yatris to accept their offering as they lovingly distributed prasāda of rotis, deep fried chick peas, chach and chai to them. Just who knows who was handing gifts to whom? Such is the mystical reality of the Braja Yatra.
Some years ago there was opposition to the yatra coming through these areas, but after local Muslims saw Shri Ramesh Babaji Maharaj paying respects from afar to the pond at Sattvas, which is the marriage theatre of Lord Krishna and Satyabhama, their hearts softened and the leaders of the village invited the yatra to come and circumambulate this pond.
In the second book of the Rasīlī Braja Yātrā these places will be clearly described for all future parikrama groups to fearlessly visit and honor the pastimes of the Lord that have almost been lost to the world. We thank Sri Ramesh Babaji Maharaj for researching and bringing to light these pastimes, which came so close to being forgotten forever.
Loharvari and Levara
Lohar means small and vāri means flower garden. All the villages in this area are near Nandagaon. There are 16 vāris or gardens of flowers in the whole Braja. This is one of them.
Levara is a village of Loharvari, which is a place of the Krishna’s cow grazing pastimes. Here the Lord’s close friends, the cowherd boys, would talk in such away that would externally make Krishna angry. They would say such things as, “Just look at yourself. You are so dark in complexion that you will never be able to get married.”
They would taunt the Lord as children do to one another, each finding ways of insulting him. Krishna would get angry and would come before his mother to reveal his pained heart. Mother Yashoda would pacify little Krishna by saying, “Don’t worry, they are unnecessarily engaging in ‘long talks’, don’t be bothered by them.”
In Brajabhasha they are lovara; referring to “those who engage in unnecessary long talks.” From the word lovara comes the name of the village, Levara.
Adjacent to the village of Levara is Akbarpur where the cowherd boys would agitate Shri Krishna. Here Krishna complains to his mother about them. So the pastimes of Levara are related to those of Akbarpur. When Shri Krishna comes to his mother with these complaints, Mother Yashoda consoles him about the naughty cowherder long-winded talks.
“They are lovaras,” she would say. Then she began to joke with Krishna asking him who he would accept as his best man. “Who will you take with you now?” Krishna makes his declaration, “I will take him and him, and, hmmnn, definitely not him or him!”
After this comes the village Kanawari. Kanawari comes from the word kanhawari: that is Krishna, Kanha and wari can also refer to the flower garden named after Shri Krishna, or alternatively it can mean “one who is sold out to Shri Krishna.”
The gopis are so attracted to Krishna and are always talking about him. They have come to this very village to see the Lord. By being so mad for the Lord, the name Kanawari is derived from the word Kanha wari.
Then comes the village Sattvas. Sattvas is the place of Satyabhama. Satyabhama, in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is one of the Lord’s queens in the Dwaraka pastimes, but according to other scriptures Satyabhama was a part of the Braja pastimes also.The father of Satyabhama, Satrajit performed austerities to please the Sun god, Lord Surya Bhagavan, in the mood of sakhya-bhāva, i.e., as a friend. The Sungod became pleased with him and gave not only a jewel but his daughter Satyabhama.
The marriage of Satyabhama and Lord Krishna took place here according to some scriptures and these local residents of Braja. The exact tree under which wedding rituals took place is still here, separated by a pond of water according to the Brijwasis and local saints. This very tree can be seen to this day on the Kund. So Sattvas is the place of Satyabhama.