Yesterday was Radha Kund’s appearance day. In honor of this occasion, over the next nine days we will start posting the Rādhākuṇḍāṣṭakam of Raghunath Das Goswami with Ananta Dasji’s commentary translated by Advaita Das. Today we give the first verse.
Eight prayers to Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa
nikhila-nija-sakhībhir yat sva-hastena pūrṇam
prakaṭitam api vṛndāraṇya-rājñā pramodais
tad ati-surabhi rādhā-kuṇḍam evāśrayo me
That very dear, beautiful and fragrant Rādhākuṇḍa, which appeared after a joking quarrel about piety between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa after the killing of the Ariṣṭa bull demon, and which was joyfully revealed and filled up by Śrī Rādhā’s own hand with the assistance of Her girlfriends –this Rādhākuṇḍa is my only shelter!
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā by Radha Kund Mahant Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj: In the preceding Śrī Govardhanāśraya-daśakam Śrīpāda Raghunātha discussed the importance of taking shelter of Govardhana, and in his Śrī Govardhana-vāsa-Prārthanā-daśakam he prayed to live at the base of Govardhana.
Although there are many holy lakes and ponds around Govardhana Hill, Śrī Dāsa Gosvāmī is mostly attached to Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa, because Rādhākuṇḍa’s glories equal Śrī Rādhā’s glories. kuṇḍera mahimā yeno rādhāra mahimā (C.C.).
Particularly the desire to serve Śrī Rādhā awoke within the heart of Śrī Raghunātha when he first saw the kuṇḍa. In Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (15) he has written:
yadā tava sarovaraṁ sarasa bhṛṅgasaṅghollasat
saroruhakulojjvalaṁ madhura vāri sampūritam
sphuṭat sarasijākṣi he nayana yugma sākṣād vabhau
tadaiva mama lālasājani tavaiva dāsye rase
“O Blooming lotus-eyed girl (Rādhe)! When my eyes directly saw Your pond (Rādhākuṇḍa), which is filled with sweet water and lotus flowers surrounded by blissfully humming bees, then I really got the desire to taste the nectar of Your service!”
Hence Śrī Raghunātha glorifies Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa in this Rādhākuṇḍāṣṭakam because he desires to live on its banks.
In this verse he describes the appearance of Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa, which is also praised as vraja-mukuṭa-maṇi, the crown jewel of all holy places of Vraja.
Although Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa and Śyāmakuṇḍa are manifest from beginningless time during Kṛṣṇa’s manifest pastimes on earth, Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava and their sakhīs used a humorous pastime to reveal the kuṇḍas. In the Ādi-Varāha-Purāṇa, Govardhana-parikramā-prasaṅga, it is thus described:
gaṅgāyāś cottaraṁ gatvā deva devasya cakriṇaḥ;
ariṣṭena samaṁ yatra mahad yuddhaṁ pravartitam
ghātayitvā tatas tasminn ariṣṭaṁ vṛṣarūpiṇam;
kopena pāṛṣṇi-ghātena mahyās tīrthaṁ prakalpitam
vṛṣabhasya vadho jñeya ātmanaḥ śuddhim icchatā;
snātas tatra tadā kṛṣṇo vṛṣaṁ hatvā sagopakaḥ
vipāpmā rādhāṁ provāca kathaṁ bhadre bhaviṣyasi;
vṛṣa hato mayā cāyam ariṣṭah pāpa sūcakaḥ
tatra rādhā samāśliṣya kṛṣṇam akliṣṭa kāriṇam;
sva nāmnā viditaṁ kuṇḍaṁ kṛtaṁ tīrtham adūrataḥ
rādhākuṇḍam iti khyātaṁ sarva pāpaharaṁ śubhaṁ
“On the northern side of Mānasa Gaṅgā, the God of Gods Who carries a disc (Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa) began a fierce fight with Ariṣṭāsura. Then, to atone for the sin of killing a bull, the Lord angrily struck the ground with His left heel and revealed a great holy tank (Śyāmākuṇḍa) in which He bathed for purification along with His cowherd boyfriends. (According to the Hari Vaṁśa, Kṛṣṇa then entered the goṣṭha (meadows) with His friends for an hour or so, after which He called Śrī Rādhā and the gopīs for a Rāsa-dance with His all-attractive flute playing) Then He said: “Bhadre! (beautiful, auspicious Rādhe) Now I am purified from the sin of killing a bull, how will You get purified now (the whole area is, after all, polluted by the sin I committed and everyone must share my karma for it!)?
Then Rādhā embraced Kṛṣṇa, the remover of all distress Who can easily perform difficult tasks like destroying demons, and made a lake which was named after Her on the west of Śyāma’s kuṇḍa. This auspicious lake destroying all sins, is known as Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa.”
How Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa appeared is also elaborately described by parama-surasika-kavi Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda in his Sārārtha-darśinī commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, verse 10.36.15.
Here he quotes twenty verses from the Purāṇas describing the humorous pastimes surrounding the advent of Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa and Śrī Śyāmakuṇḍa. The essence of this story is written down here.
After Kṛṣṇa had killed the demon named Ariṣṭāsura, who had assumed the form of a bull, Śrī Rādhārāṇī and Her girlfriends blamed Him for killing a bull and told Him that He could only get purified from this sin by bathing in all the holy waters if He ever wanted to gain qualification to touch the gopīs again! Hearing their words Kṛṣṇa forcefully struck the ground with His left heel and thus made the water of the Bhogavatī Gaṅgā appear from the Pātāla-region. Like this Kṛṣṇa invoked all the holy waters and thus revealed Śrī Śyāmakuṇḍa.
He bathed in the water of this kuṇḍa and then told all the holy waters of the world to appear within it. The gopīs did not believe Him, though and therefore by Kṛṣṇa’s wish, all the holy waters assumed visible forms and thus introduced themselves.
Kṛṣṇa then jokingly told the gopīs that He had revealed such an enormous holy place, but that they were bereft of all religiosity and pious merit. Hearing these joking challenges of Kṛṣṇa Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī wanted to reveal another beautiful kuṇḍa, and, seeing a huge cavity created by the hooves of the bull on the western side of Śyāmakuṇḍa, she began to dig out the earth there with Her own hands assisted by Her girlfriends. Within 48 minutes she had dug out a beautiful lake of Her own. In this way Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa advented itself. Then Kṛṣṇa wanted to fill up Rādhākuṇḍa with all the holy waters which had filled up Śyāmakuṇḍa, but Rādhārāṇī refused, saying that the water of Śyāmakuṇḍa, in which Śyāmasundara had bathed, was now stained by His sin of killing a bull and that Her creation of Rādhākuṇḍa would thus become useless.
So she went with her sakhīs to the pure Mānasa Gaṅgā lake and filled up her own kuṇḍa with its water. Then, on Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s indication, all the holy waters of Śyāmakuṇḍa arose and offered choice praises and obeisances unto Śrī Rādhikā. Being satisfied with these praises Rādhārāṇī gave them permission to enter into her kuṇḍa, so they broke the dam which existed between the kuṇḍas and forcefully entered into Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa, thereby filling it up.
In this kuṇḍa Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa eternally play Their watersports. Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa is even more glorious than Śyāmakuṇḍa and in this lake Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa always play their midday-pastimes.
Hearing about the appearance of Rādhākuṇḍa, Bhagavatī (the holy mother) Paurṇamāsī ecstatically called Vṛndādevī (the presiding goddess of the Vraja-forests) and told her to plant various trees and vines on all four banks of the kuṇḍas. According to her own wish, Vṛndādevī also had different jewelled and pearly ghāṭas (bathing places) built which were suitable for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, with stairs leading down to the kuṇḍa.
She arranged for beautiful kuñjas to be laid out with different kinds of trees, vines and flowers. On both sides of the ghāṭa she had charming, wish-yielding kalpavṛkṣa-trees planted. Singing male and female parrots, pigeons, cuckoos and peacocks are always sitting on the branches of these trees and the kuñjas are filled with golden, yellow, green, red, blue and white lotus flowers.
On all four sides of the kuṇḍa are the enchanting arbours of Lalitā, Viśākhā and the other sakhīs. This Śrī Rādhākuṇḍa is the place where Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava have Their most confidential, eternal midday-pastimes.
Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī says: “May this very fragrant and beautiful Rādhākuṇḍa be my only shelter.”
śrī nandanandana saha māti raṅga rase;
rādhā nija kuṇḍavara karilā prakāśe
vṛṣāsura vināśānte parihāsa chale;
sakhī saha rādhā khanana kori nija kare
prakaṭita koriyāche yei sarovara;
atiśaya ramaṇīya mano mugdhakara
sei rādhākuṇḍa mora ekānta āśraya;
hauk ei prārthanā koriye niścoya
“May that Rādhākuṇḍa, where Śrī Nanda-nandana blissfully revealed the greatest of holy tanks with Rādhā, joking with her after killing the Ariṣṭāsura, which was dug out by hand by Rādhā and her sakhīs and which is the most mind-enchanting place in existence, be my only shelter. Therein lies my ardent prayer!”