On Wednesday, devotees shaved their heads in preparation for Shobhyatra. It is traditional for devotees to shave their heads at this time of year in honour of Sanatan Goswami and his disciples. The head shaving ceremony is usually conducted one day before Guru Purnima, but as it fell on Thursday, the ceremony was done one day earlier. It is said that hair should not be cut on Thursday because our ancestors may think it is an offering to them. Out of respect for tradition, the hair cutting ceremony at Radha Shyama Sundar temple was conducted on Wednesday.
Sanatan Goswami left his body in 1558 on Guru Purnima. Hundreds of Brijwasis shaved their heads and did Govardhan Parikrama in his honour. Sanatan Goswami’s reverence for Shri Govardhan is well known even today and we are still getting benefits from the boons he received. As well as the Govardhan Shila at Vrindavan’s Radha Damodar temple, which gives the same benefit as an entire Govardhan Parikrama, Sanatan’s Bhajan Kutir next to Chakaleshwar Mahadev in Govardhan is said to be free of mosquitoes as Lord Shiva ordered the mosquitoes to stay away from the area so that they would not disturb Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan.
Sanatan Goswami was born in a part of West Bengal that is now in Bangladesh. He was a minister in the government of Raja Hussein Shah of Bengal. Impressed by the devotion of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he tried to resign from his post, but the Emperor refused his resignation and threw him in jail after finding that he was feigning ill health in order to avoid work. Sanatan’s brother, Rupa Goswami, whose resignation was accepted, sent Sanatan Goswami some money and Sanatan used the money to escape from jail. Sanatan Goswami found out that Lord Chaitanya was in Varanasi, so he went to meet him and receive instructions before coming to Vrindavan.
One of Lord Chaitanya’s instructions to Sanatan Goswami was to write about Shri Krishna’s pastimes and the process of developing love for the Lord. In the Brihad Bhagavatamrita, Sanatan Goswami establishes that the highest level of bhakti is that of the gopis in Vrindavan, who loved Shri Krishna to the point that they forgot all worldly cares.
Gaudiya Vaishnavas from across the country have come to Govardhan to celebrate the Mudiya Mela in honour of Sanatan Goswami and Hindus whose Gurus have ashrams in Vrindavan are taking the opportunity to celebrate Guru Purnima in the Dham, to hear Bhagavat Katha and give offerings to express thankfulness for the wisdom that gurus give throughout the year.
Heavy rains are causing some difficulties and exacerbating traffic problems. Despite the extra buses that have been commissioned for the festival, they are still overloaded and passengers are sitting on the rooftops.
In Vrindavan, the sand that was put on the Parikrama Marg to replicate the natural Parikrama path and provide a cooler place to walk during Purushottam Mas has now turned to mud.
Mercifully, the rains have brought the Yamuna back to Keshi ghat and visitors can be seen washing clothes and bathing at the ghat as pilgrims have done for hundreds of years. The only thing that disturbs this rare and wonderful darshan is the sewage pipes that can still be seen in front of the steps of Keshi Ghat. After been forced away from the ghat by the Riverfront Development Project, the boats that have come back to the ghat to take tourists on joy rides in the Yamuna now rest on sewage pipes instead of on the ghat.
Boats almost reaching Keshi Ghat