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  1. ← Entrance to Pisi Ma’s Gaur Nitai temple There is a small Gaura-Nitai temple right across the street from Bankandhi Mahadev temple in Vrindavan. The temple looks more like double story house, but its humble facade hides the glorious pastimes and history of the Gaura-Nitai deities inside. First worshipped by Murari Gupta and his descendants, the deities were brought to Vrindavan by Smt. Candrasasi Mukherjee, who, after arriving in Vrindavan, became known as, Pisi Ma Gosvamini. Murari Gupta’s Gaura-Nitai deities were buried under the ground after the village of Rayapura (Siudi District, Bengal) was abandoned. The village had been reclaimed by the jungle after the inhabitants had abandoned the area due to an outbreak of Malaria. Gaura-Nitai arranged that they be ‘discovered’ by a gopa who used to graze his cows in the area. The gopa noticed that one of his cows would drip milk in that spot. Villagers dug in the spot and Gaura-Nitai deities with ‘Murari Gupta’ engraved on the bottom were unearthed. Then, the deities arranged for their worship by appearing in a dream to Balaramadasa Babaji from Odisha, who, following the call in the dream came to the and began to worship them. Soon after, Smt. Candrasasi Mukherjee came to the area on some business concerning her family’s land. She saw the deities and the desire to feed them arose in her heart. Her desire to serve Gaura-Nitai forced Chandrasasi to take initiation. Balaramdas Baba told her that a person must be initiated before cooking for temple deities, so Chandrasasi took initiation from him. Chandrasasi was from a wealthy family. She acquired 40 litres of milk to make kheer for Bal Gaura and Bal Nitai. Gaura-Nitai seemed to enjoy the kheer and the very next day, they appeared to her in a dream. She had a dream that they were pulling on her sari, insisting that she stay with them. In the dream, a piece of her sari got torn off. In the morning, she told Balaramdas Baba about the dream. When they opened the temple, they saw the torn off piece of her sari in Gaura’s hand. From this day, Candrasasi pledged herself to serving Bal Gaura-Nitai, and she soon came to see them as her sons. One day, Pisi Ma became upset when because her monthly started while she was cooking. Crying, she thought, “Today I won’t be able to offer my own cooking for Gaura-Nitai’s bhoga!” Thus suffering over the matter, she had a vision in which both brothers, Gaura and Nitai, came to her and said, “Ma, there’s nothing to be sad about. You just do what mothers in your condition usually do. There’s no fault in that. Get up. Take your bath and give us something to eat. We’re very hungry. From now on, you’ll be free of this problem” Pisi Ma did as she was told. She was only in her 20 years old, but, from then on, her monthly cycle stopped. So, Gaura-Nitai had arranged that two devotees – Chandrasasi Ma and Balaramdas Baba had become completely engaged in Their service. A natural consequence of this arrangement was that the townsfolk began to suspect some illicit relationship between Babaji and Chandrasasi Ma. Chandrasasi Ma became disturbed by the gossip and prayed to Gaur Nitai for a solution. After praying repeatedly and weeping before the deities, she fell asleep. The answer came to her in a dream in which Gaura-Nitai lovingly threw their arms around her and told her, “Take us to Vrindavan”. So, after the pain of being slandered, Chandrasasi got the benediction of coming to Vrindavan. She and Babaji travelled by boat and, as soon as they arrived, by yet another divine arrangement, they met a female devotee called Bhakta, who was bathing in the Yamuna at the time. Overjoyed to see Gaur Nitai, Bhakta offered Babaji and Chandrasasi a place in her house. Locals Bhakta by the name Pisi Ma (Paternal aunt) and Chandrasasi became Pisi Ma Goswamini. Once in Vrindavan, Bal Gaura-Nitai’s mischief increased manifold. They started involving other residents of the Dham and even visitors in their lila (pastimes). Hungry for offerings made with love, Gaura-Nitai’s mischief inspired people to make offerings to the temple. Once Gaura-Nitai asked Pisi Ma for sandals, but, since she didn’t want Them to leave her even for a moment she simply told Them, “What do You want with sandals? You do not have to go anywhere”. So, Gaura-Nitai remained on the watch for some other devotee who might be willing to arrange sandals. In the month of Shravan, a woman from Serpura Beguda in West Bengal came to Vrindavana. She was lodged near Gaura-Nitai’s temple. It was raining and Pisi Ma was sitting on the temple veranda. With her left hand, she was pulling the rope attached to Gaura-Nitai’s fan. With her right hand, she was chanting on her beads. It began to rain very hard. Pisi Ma dozed off a little. At that time, she saw that Nitai had left the temple and was running about the courtyard in the water. Gaura followed Him. Pisi Ma shrieked, “Oh! Where are you going? You’ll catch a cold!” This dream was clear, as if it wasn’t a dream at all, but, she kept pulling on the fan and dozed off again. Meanwhile, Nitai-Gaura had entered the room of the woman from Serpura Begud who was also sleeping at that time. Gaura-Nitai sat at the end of the bed. Shaking Their heads, they said, “Have you come here to sleep? Get up!” In her sleeping state, the woman mumbled, “Wha… who are you?” “Our names are Nitai and Gaura; we are the sons of Pisi Ma of Bankhandi. People in the neighbourhood just call us Pisi Ma’s boys. Everybody in Vrindavan knows we’re her children.” “Why have you comehere?” “We have come to say that we do not have sandals. You please arrange for us. See how our feet are soiled without sandals.” Upon seeing Gaura-Nitai’s extraordinary beauty, the woman became fascinated. She had never before imagined such beauty. Awakening, she began to cry. Weeping thus, she left the house, even though it was still pouring rain. On the road, she asked anybody she saw where Pisi Ma’s children lived. A Brajawasi showed her Nitai Gaura’s temple at Bankhandi. The woman went inside. Pisi Ma was still pulling the fan and chanting. The woman asked, “Is this the house of Pisi Ma?” “Yes, mother, this is the home of Gaura-Nitai, the sons of Pisi Ma. Why are you crying?” “Where are your two sons? I want to see them,” the highly agitated woman said. Pisi Ma respectfully seated the woman and opened the curtain. After taking Gaura-Nitai’s darshan, which exactly resembled the vision in her dream, the woman burst into tears and she began to tremble. She was simply unable to do anything at all. For a long time she remained on the floor in a faint. Upon coming to consciousness and controlling herself, she related the whole story of her dream to Pisi Ma. Pisi Ma too told of what she had seen. For quite some time, both simply remained in an embrace, shedding tears of ecstasy. That fortunate woman later brought silver shoes for Gaura-Nitai, which remain in Their possession even today. Nitai and Gaura continue to use them with love. Another lady from Serpura Beguda, Prasanna Dasi, lived in Vrndavana. One day she dreamt that Gaura and Nitai, decorated with all kinds of dazzling ornaments came before her. Showing Their lotus feet, which were marked with flag, ankusa (elephant goad), thunderbolt, etc. They said: “Look at all the ornaments We have, but We don’t have nupura (ankle bells). Give us nupura.” Upon awakening, Prasanna Dasi went to Pisi Ma and narrated the whole story with tears of love streaming from her eyes. She had special ankle bells made and, after these golden nupura on Gaura-Nitai’s lotus feet, her life became successful. For some days, a babaji who was a very pure, dear servant of Lord, was assisting Pisi Ma in serving Nitai Gaura. An idea arose in his mind and, opening the temple door at night, he stole Gaura-Nitai’s ornaments. Arising early the next morning, Pisi Ma was horrified to see that the door was open and the Deities were without Their jewels. In her mind, she said to Gaura Nitai, “Boy’s, why don’t you tell me who robbed you of your ornaments?” Full of anxiety, she fell down on the veranda of the temple and remained there, devastated. In her daze, Gaura Nitai said to her, “Ma, that Babaji who serves us is very poor, but he fed us brothers so much rabdi (sweets), so we gave our jewellery to him. Please, don’t say anything to him about this.” Pisi Ma wondered how she could get more jewellery. She had already left her own wealth long ago, coming to Vrindavana in beggar’s dress. She laughed and said, “Very well. You do what you like. Give your ornaments to whomsoever you like. I know that if you want them again, you will get them from someone. You do not feel shy about begging since you are the sons of Brahmins”. Just like children who go insist on having something only to get quickly detached from that thing, Gaura Nitai gave away the ornaments that people had given them, and, all who were involved in these pastimes had benefited. In another dream, Gaura-Nitai told Pisi Ma, “Take us out for Braja-mandala-parikrama.” Being a loving mother, Pisi Ma wanted to make her children happy, so she readied a palanquin and assembled some devotees and they set out the very next day. The Deities were extremely happy on this trip. After a month or so, when They were concluding the parikrama and were at the outskirts of Mathura, Pisi Ma went with a devotee named Vishnudasa, to make some purchases. Mathuradasa followed behind with the palanquin. At that time, there were British soldiers camped in Mathura. Some of the soldiers were curious about the spectacle of the parikrama procession. Pointing at the palanquin, they asked, “What’s in that?” Mathuradasa replied, “There are deities inside.” The soldiers garrulously said, “Show the deities to us!” He replied in a very humble voice, “Sir, this is not the time for their darshan” The soldiers overwhelmed him and tried to see the Deities. At that very moment, a blinding flash of light bolted from the palanquin blasting the soldiers away, and scorching their eyes. Screaming out, “Oh God!” they fled in terror. When Mathuradasa later narrated the whole episode to Pisi Ma, she said, “I am happy to know that my children are now capable of self defence. So I need not worry about their safety”. Pisi Ma thus passed many years, serving Gaura-Nitai faithfully. Even when she was 100 years old, she continued to take three baths daily in the sacred Yamuna and personally performed Gaura-Nitai’s seva. But, gradually, this became impossible for her to continue, so, she entrusted their worship to Gopesvara Goswami, a devotee in the family line of Lord Nityananda. Goswami was a staunch bhakta but wasn’t very experienced in Deity seva. Thus he happened to bathe Gaura-Nitai in cool water once, at the beginning of the cold season. They caught a cold and Their noses began to drip. But Gopesvara Goswami didn’t even notice this. Pisi Ma mostly stayed on the second floor as she could not easily negotiate the stairs anymore but, whenever she was needed, she came downstairs. When she came down from her room, Pisi Ma saw that Gaura-Nitai’s eyes were red and Their noses were dripping. She touched them and realized that They were feverish. She could not bear this. She wiped Their noses with the edge of her sari and called for Gopesvara Goswami. Crying, she said in disbelief, “What have you done? You have bathed my children in cold water and made them ill. See what a severe cold they have caught and how their noses are running”. Gopesvara didn’t believe it and he told her so. Pisi Ma bristled with anger. She held the end of her sari so that Goswami could see it and said, “Gaura-Nitai’s mucus!” But Goswami still did not believe her, so Pisi Ma put her Sari next to Gaura’s nose and said, “Babu, sneeze a bit”. Gaura sneezed. This filled the temple with an unprecedented, divine fragrance from beyond this world. Astonished and full of remorse, Goswamiji fell at Pisi Ma’s feet and begged forgiveness. Pisi Ma was very particular about all aspects of service. It was her habit to put ten lamps above the temple doorway every evening. On the evening of Kojagara-purnima, she used to bring Gaura-Nitai out to enjoy Themselves on the veranda. One Kojagara-purnima, after the evening aarati, Goswami went out somewhere. He extinguished the ten lamps, since their oil was expensive. That evening, Gaura Nitai were not even taken out onto the veranda. In the temple, only one flame was burning, in a large brass ghee lamp. Suddenly, there was a loud sound. The temple was then engulfed in darkness. Gaura had lifted up the lamp and thrown it into a corner of the temple. It took no time for Pisi Ma to understand the anger of Gaura. Upon Goswami’s return, she said, “Gopesvara! You didn’t take Gaura-Nitai out on the veranda. You also put out the ten lamps. See how angry Gaura is. He has thrown away the lamp and is sitting in darkness. Why do you act like this?” When she was 106, Pisima mentioned to Gopesvara Gosvami that she would soon leave her body. On that very day, she gave up her earthly body and entered the eternal pastimes of the Lord. Sri Gopesvara Gosvami and Srimati Pisi Ma’s Gaura-Nitai Once, after the disappearance of Gosvamini Pisi Ma, Gopesvara Goswami became dreadfully ill with smallpox and was bedridden for a month. He eventually lost the power to speak and fell into a coma. Late one night, he saw that a fearsome demoness was trying to take him away, but then Pisi Ma Gosvamini and Gaura-Nitai appeared and the demoness went away. Nitai stroked Gopesvara’s limbs with His transcendental hand and said, “Oh, get up, if you keep on lying like this, who will bring out food. Get up, we are very hungry!” Shortly thereafter, Goswami regained consciousness and coughed up a great deal of phlegm. Sitting up in bed, it then seemed that there was no more disease in his body. Gopesvara Goswami was a brahmacari from childhood. Before coming to the service of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, he used to travel around pilgrimage places. It was against his nature to be bound to one place. Therefore he initially hadn’t wanted to accept the service of Gaura-Nitai. But, being helpless in the face of Pisi Ma’s insistence, and Gaura-Nitai calling him, he had to accept the seva. Goswami would personally do all of the cooking, offer all of the bhogas, do every aarti, all of the dressing, singing kirtans and even scrubbed Thakuraji’s pots himself. Some time after Pisi Ma’s disappearance, Gopesvara Prabhu began to think, “What have I gained from all of this seva? Nothing has happened. If I would have done bhajan in solitude, I would have attained something”. Thinking in this way, he entrusted the temple service to someone else and went to Kusuma Sarovara with the intent of doing solitary bhajan. At midnight on the third day, while seated beneath a Bakula tree on the bank of the Sarovara, he saw a transcendental vision – a light appeared in the center of the pond and slowly came towards him. Soon, Nitai and Gaura were there with him under the tree. They stood before him and said, “Dada! For three days we have not taken any food or water. Why have you gone away? Will you not come to us again?” As Gopesvara Gosvami had attained what he wanted, what objection could he have in going back to serve Them? From the time that Goswami began worshipping Pisi Ma’s children, they adapted themselves for him. He wanted to serve Thakurji in sakhya-rasa (as a friend) so Pisi Ma helped her children ‘grow up’ by putting her hand under their chin and raising them up so that they became taller. This was yet another miracle associated with these very special deities, whose mischievous ways have pulled so many devotees deeper into Their service. (Adapted from The Saints of Braj by OBL Kapoor, Aravali Books International, Delhi) Pisi Ma’s Gaur Nitai on 20.06.2018
  2. Vrindavan, 2018.06.2018 Vrindavan’s dedicated painter of Radha naam has merged into the lotus feet of Srimati Radha Rani. Painting the name of Shri Radha was his principal devotional service. He painted the words “Shri Radha” in countless places including on tree trunks, on the walls of ghats and temples, indeed, he put Radha’s name wherever he found a place. His work became one of the attractions for those who adore Vrindavan and the spiritual ambiance of the town. Shri Radha Sarveshawar Das ji Maharaj, better known as Kirtaniya Baba, passed away at Harivyas Nikunj, Raman Reti in Vrindavan. He was 86 years old when he took his last breath at 6 am this morning. The news of Baba’s entering the nitya lila (eternal pastimes) spread like wildfire across the entire Vraja. Saints, Brajwasis and Vaishnavas gathered outside the ashram in large numbers to participate in the procession carrying Kirtaniya Baba’s mortal remains to the Yamuna banks for cremation. The mukhagni ritual during the cremation was performed in the presence of many prominent saints of Vrindavan by Shri Murari Das, the mahant of Harivyas Nikunj, amid pad gayan and sankirtan. With the news of his demise, the saints of Vraja began to mourn the loss. Whoever heard said that it was a great loss for Vraja. Not many people recognized Baba, but many knew him through his work of drawing attention to the holy name of Radha with his paintings. Vrindavan is almost defined by the name of Radha which appears everywhere, but especially on the trees on the Parikrama Marg. Baba came to live in Vrindavan in 1977 when in his early forties. He took initiation from Shri Sanat Kumar Das ji Maharaj, Gaddi Acharya of Mukund Devacharya Dwara (Topi Kunj, Vrindavan). He lived on madhukuri (charity given to sadhus) from the Brajwasis. Shri Tulsi Sharan Upadhyay who became Baba’s disciple at the tender age of 13, said, “Kirtaniya Baba grew up in an opulent and educated Khanal family of Singri village in the undivided Darrang District of Assam. He graduated in science and obtained a diploma in Fine Arts from Guwahati. He became famous in Assam for his ecstatic kirtans. He traveled all over the state with his kirtan band for the promotion of Harinam Sankirtan. He was known as a master of kirtan among all the Vaishnava communities in Assam. Later, he established a Radha Krishna Temple in Dhaula in Tinsukia district. He moved to Vrindavan in 1977.” Shri Dev Sharan ji, another of Kirtaniya Baba’s disciples, who is continuing the tradition of painting Radha’s name everywhere in Vrindavan, told a Vrindavan Today correspondent, “The purpose of writing the name of Radha on the walls and trees of Vrindavan is to make the ambiance of Vrindavan filled with Radha.” He said, “Radha Rani is the Queen of Vrindavan, and so there should be an overwhelming presence of her name everywhere.”
  3. Nandagaon, 2018.06.16 On Friday morning, locals rushed to Krishna Kund as word spread about thousands of dead and stunned fish floating in the Kund. Many expressed their sadness and anger over the incident. Chairman Pati Baccu Singh said that dead fish have been appearing in the kund for several days. As yet, the reason for the fish deaths is unknown, but, locals suspect that fish smugglers are putting poisonous substances in the water to extract the fish. Some locals are adamant that the colour of the water has changed in the last few days and say that dead fish have also been found in other kunds in Nandagaon. Another theory about the cause of the fish deaths is that sewage leaking into the kund has poisoned the water. According to the Assistant Director of the Fisheries Department, Dr Mahesh Chauhan, the reason for the fish deaths is likely to be the reduced water level in the kund, compounded by the dirtiness of the water. The silt from the bottom of the kund was not removed before summer. The silt buildup at the bottom of the kund decreases the available oxygen in the water, which is already decreased due to the heat and low water levels. The fisheries department official said that water samples from the kund have been taken for testing. Nandagaon is famous for its kunds but, many of these are either extinct or fighting for existence. After extensive renovations two years ago, Krishna Kund became the pride of Nandgaon. The kund is much loved by residents who say that it was made in Dwarpa Yuga by the descendants of Shri Krishna.
  4. Vrindavan, 2018.06.15 The municipality is unable to supply enough water for the population of Vrindavan. Each person needs between 100-180 litres of water per day including drinking water, bathing etc, and many people undergo extreme hardship in order to get this amount of water. The municipality supplies 9 MLD, but Vrindavan’s population of 125,000 requires at least 13.5 MLD, so many people have to struggle to get water. Many houses in Vrindavan do not have running water. In villages such as Dorera village, which is in between Mathura and Vrindavan, the situation is even worse as only a few houses have their own hand pump or a boring to supply running water. The Municipality’s failure to supply enough water means that people are forced to spend big money on getting their own boring drilled, and it often happens that the money is wasted because the groundwater is not fit for drinking, even after filtration, because it is too saline. Even in areas where government water is supplied, in some places, such as Chaitanya Vihar phase II, the water is so salty that it is not good for watering plants. An overhead water tank was built in the colony but then was never used. Ten years after the development of the colony, the tank is still empty. The cement has become weakened and the tank is now unfit for use but it has not been demolished, and instead lies empty, a memorial to bad planning. Yogendra Sharma from the Water Department said that the four overhead tanks at Mukherjee Park, Attala Chungi, Gandhi Park and Kalidah are supplying most parts of the city. The 4 MLD water shortage is made worse by broken pipelines, which leak up to 80,000 litres of water per day. The system of only supplying water for a few hours per day also leads to water wastage as people rely on storing water in tanks in their homes and these storage tanks can easily overflow. As the water crisis looms, a few individuals and organizations are making efforts to conserve water and implement rain water harvesting systems. Local leaders media agencies are also working to raise awareness about the importance of green areas and kunds for replenishing the underground aquifers.
  5. Vrindavan, 2018.06.12 Listening to Shri Laxman Das Maharaj’s katha fills people with hope and joy. He reassures people that once Shri Krishna listens to you, he will always be with you, just like He stayed with the Pandavas. Once that connection is made, it is never broken, he says, giving the example of Kunti Devi. Kunti Devi’s wish that things would keep going wrong so that Shri Krishna would keep coming to help shows how a person ceases to be troubled by the difficulties of this world once the connection is made with the Supreme. Yesterday, on the second day of the katha, Maharaj also spoke about Karn who complained that he frequently suffers insults and is considered to be of low birth. Maharaj said that Shri Krishna reassured Karn by reminding him that his birth also took place in unusual circumstances, in a prison. Maharaj said that there are mountains of sorrows that we have to tolerate and we have to be careful to stop ourselves from getting involved with people who are engaged in sinful activities. Maharaj told the audience that there is no hope of meeting with the Supreme without first doing some good deeds. His organization, the Krishna Kripa Seva Mission Charitable Trust, engages in a variety of charitable works including supporting children’s education, cow seva and help for the aged. Maharaj has established his headquarters on the banks of the Ganga at Devbhoomi in Haridwar. Filled with awe and reverence for Shrimati Ganga Devi, Maharaj tells the audience that tears of Prem are even more pure than Ganga jal. Shri Laxman Maharaj belongs to the Ramanuja sampradaya which was founded by Ramanuja Acharya(1017–1137 CE). Ramanuja Acharya wrote commentaries on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gitain Sanskrit and helped to popularize Vaishnavaism in India. In the last five years, Laxman Maharaj has been constantly engaged in giving Katha in different parts of the country. He is a devotee of Banke Bihari and frequently visits Vrindavan. He gave katha in Vrindavan only three months ago and now, as Purushottam Maas draws to a close, is making use of this auspicious time for katha and pilgrimage. The katha program began on 9th June with a kalash yatra from Banke Bihari temple to Fogla Ashram. In order to bring auspiciousness to the katha stal, one hundred kalash pots were carried by women through the streets of Vrindavan. The program will continue until 15th June, from 3 to 6pm. On 14th June, Shri Krishna and Rukmini’s wedding will be celebrated; needed items will be distributed to the poor and the audience will present their Laddu Gopal deities for a ‘fancy dress competition’. [It is very common to see pilgrims and devotees carrying a Laddu Gopal deity on a small singhasan with them while they visit the temples and attend Harikatha in Vrindavan.]
  6. Chatta, 2018.06.12 The residents of Semari village feel helpless to save Nari Semari Kund. The kund used to be a center for devotional activities and wildlife and was beneficial for agriculture in the area. But, these days, the kund lies deserted, filled with garbage shunned by the animals that used to frequent it and with only a fraction of the water that it used to hold. Six acres are reserved for the kund, however, most of this land is now dry. Villagers said that there used to be bathing ghats on the edge of the kund with a separate ghat for women, but, the ghats have long since disappeared. These days, few people visit the kund which, locals believe was one of the places where that Krishna and Balaram would visit to quench their thirst. Closeby the kund is the Nari Semari Devi temple, which is home to the most popular Navaratri festival in Braj. Every Navaratri, a huge fair is held in the town and people stand in long queues to enter the temple, hoping to get the blessings of the Divine mother. If the kund is restored, it will attract pilgrims and will become a resting place for people who come for darshan at Nari Semari Devi temple. Villagers say that rainwater harvesting could help fill the kund, and that, in the dry season a submersible pump could be used to maintain the water level and trees should be planted around the kund. Village resident Deepchand (Pappu) Jadaun said that villagers consider the kund more pure than the Ganga. Villagers are upset to see the state of the kund and say that the government is not helping to restore it. The kund was once an important water reservoir and helps to refill the ground water. The area is currently suffering a water crisis. Several hand pumps and wells have dried up.
  7. Vrindavan, 2018.06.05 Keshi Ghat is one of only a few Ghats left from over 36 Ghats that were built along the Yamuna. The High Court has ordered the Central Government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to preserve all of the remaining Ghats in Vrindavan and Mathura, but, so far, the ASI has not taken action to preserve Keshi Ghat. Image result for vrindavan tourism Tourist publication showing Keshi Ghat, P.C. Tour My India Up until last year, the Yamuna flowed under Keshi Ghat. Boats would pull up on the steps and people would take snan from the steps. Keshi Ghat is pictured in almost every publication designed to attract tourists to Vrindavan, and yet, the authorities are dragging their feet when it comes to preserving this iconic monument. Many of the stones are cracked and some pieces have broken off. The stairs that led people to the Yamuna for hundreds of years are now crumbling. Last year, a large stone fell from the roof during the night causing speculation that the building is becoming unsafe. Social worker Madhumangal Sharan Das Shukla said that he filed a case in the Allahabad High Court on November 6, 2017 for the protection of ancient ghats of Braj. On November 10, 2017, the High Court ordered the Central Government and the ASI to preserve all the Ghats of Vrindavan and Mathura. Shukla said, that he plans to file another case regarding the issue in July. Dr Rajesh Sharma from the Vrindavan Research Institute, points out that Keshi Ghat was commissioned by Rani Lakshmi of Surajmal, Bharatpur in 1760. Millions of devotees have walked through this monument while on Vrindavan parikrama and the Yamuna Devi temple at Keshi Ghat is Vrindavan’s only temple dedicated to Yamuna Maharani. Yamuna Aarti is still performed at Keshi Ghat every evening by two separate groups, but, these days, aarti is performed in front of a small pond of water that has been diverted back to Keshi Ghat after the main flow of the river was forcibly redirected away from the Ghat in the attempt to make a ‘new ghat’ that is still under construction. In an act of complete disrespect and disregard for the historical and spiritual importance of Keshi Ghat; in 2017, sewage piles were laid in between Keshi Ghat and the Yamuna. These days, people on parikrama walk over these pipes, which are not even under the ground but on the surface. Yamuna aarti performed on top of sewer pipes
  8. A108-AI

    Vraja Vilasa 31 : Vrinda Devi

    I surrender to the lotus feet of Sri Vṛndā, who, steeped in great love, decorates the many ever-fresh play groves with fragrant flowers and expands the festival of sweet and blissful pastimes of Sri Radha and Krishna, who are surrounded by their dear friends. VERSE 31: prati-nava-nava-kuñjaṁ prema-pūreṇa pūrṇā pracura-surabhi-puṣpair bhūṣayitvā krameṇa praṇayati bata vṛndā tatra līlotsavaṁ yā priya-gaṇa-vṛta-rādhā-kṛṣṇayos tāṁ prapadye Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami praises the sylvan goddess Sri Vṛndā, the presiding goddess of Sri Vrindavan and surrenders at her lotus feet. In the scripture, Sri Vṛndā is introduced as follows: paurṇamāsī vīrā vṛndā vaṁśī nāndīmukhī tathā vṛndārikā tathā menā muralādyāś ca dūtikāḥ nānā sandhāna kuśalā tayor milana kāriṇī kuñjādi saṁskriyābhijñā vṛndā tāsu varīyasī “Paurṇamāsī, Vīrā, Vṛndā, Vaṁśī, Nandimukhi, Vṛndārikā, menā and Muralī are among Sri Krishna’s female messengers. They are very expert in various researches, in accomplishing the meetings between Sri Krishna and his sweethearts and in maintaining trysting places like the groves. The greatest in all these activities is Vṛndā.” (Radha-kṛṣṇa-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā 2.87-88) Vṛndā is there described in the following way: tapta-kāñcana-varṇābhā vṛndā kāntir manoharā; nīla-vastra-parīdhānā muktā-puṣpa-virājitā candrabhānuḥ pitā tasyāḥ phullarā jananī tathā; patir asyā mahī-pālo mañjarī bhaginī ca sā vṛndāvane sadā vāsā nānā-kelī-rasotsukā; ubhayor milanākāṅkṣī tayoḥ prema-pariplutā “Vrinda’s complexion is as enchanting as molten gold! she wears a blue dress, a pearl necklace and a flower garland. Her father is named Candrabhānu, her mother Phullarā, her husband Mahīpāla and her sister Manjari. Vrinda always lives in Vrindavan and is eager to play different rasika pastimes. She is eager to establish the meeting of the Divine Couple and is immersed in love for them.” Sri Vrindavan is the abode of sweet love. The name of Vrindavan causes agitation in the mind and heart of both the Lord and his devotees. Here the devotees forget all of the Lord’s opulences and become eager to establish their own personal relationships with him, according to their individual feelings. The Lord also forgets his own nature and allows himself to be bound by the ropes of his devotees’ passionate love for him. And again, in this Vraja the passionate love like that of the gopīs cannot be found described in any scripture. In this Vraja their unlawful passion causes them to fall from the path of virtue and fidelity and flow towards Shyamasundar forcefully and without interruption, like the currents of the Yamuna and the Gaṅgā. Because this passion is ever-fresh, it causes Sri Krishna, the object of their love, to relish the wonderful ever-fresh essence of the erotic mellow. Above all, the mādana rasa of Sri Radha, who is the very embodiment of mādanākhya-mahā-bhāva, makes the transcendental youthful Cupid of Vrindavan forget himself in all respects. His nikuñjapastimes with Sri Radha continue day and night. rātri-dina kuñja krīḍā kore rādhā saṅge; kaiśora vayasa saphala koilo krīḍā raṅge “Day and night he sports with Radha in the groves and with these playful amusements he makes his youth a success.” Assisted by her girlfriends Sri Vrinda Devi, who is the guru of thousands of vanadevīs or wood fairies, decorates Sri Vrindavan and the groves, the playground of Sri Sri Radha Madhava, in ever-new ways. Vrinda, the presiding goddess of this kingdom of sweet pastimes, decorates this naturally beautiful and sweet unique abode of the enjoyments of the Yugala with her loving hands, thus making it even sweeter. She thinks, “The deities of my heart will play here!” and so she keeps the kunjas nicely decorated and scented with a variety of floral decorations. Just as a loving pujarini keeps the temple redolent with incense and aguru, similarly prema-pūjāriṇī Vrinda perfumes each kuñja-mandira, the playground of her heart’s deities Sri Sri Radha Madhava, with the sweet aroma of abundant flowers. Just as an expert sculptor attracts his employer with the expertise of his artistic creations, similarly Vrinda, the sculptress of love, intoxicates the hearts of Sri Sri Radha Madhava and their sakhīs with playful feelings through her loving expertise in decorating Vrindavan and the kuñjas. Vrinda Devi’s cleverness in relaying messages is another of her wonderful qualifications. Using clever words, the dūtī or go-between Vrinda always awakens passionate attachment for a tryst in the hearts of the lovers. For instance, when Srimati Radharani sets out for Radha Kund on her noontime love journey (divābhisāra) with her sakhīs, eager to meet Shyamasundar, and Sri Krishna is impatiently waiting for her in the woods around the kund, eager to meet her, the forest meanwhile becomes delighted by Sri Radha’s bodily fragrance. Sri Krishna sends Vrinda out to quickly bring Srimati to him. When Sri Radha sees Vrinda Devi they have the following discussion: kasmād vṛnde priya sakhi hareḥ pāda-mūlāt kuto’sau kuṇḍāraṇye kim iha kurute nṛtya śikṣāṁ guru kaḥ taṁ tvan-mūrtiḥ prati taru-lataṁ dik-vidikṣu sphurantī śailuṣīva bhramati parito nartayantī sva paścāt “O Vrinde! Where are you coming from?” Vrinda replies: “From Hari’s footsoles.” Radha: “Oh, and where is he?” Vrinda : “In the forest by your lake!” Radha: “What is he doing there?” Vrinda : “He is learning how to dance.” Radha: “Oh, and who is his teacher?” Vrinda : “It is your own image, which manifests in every direction like a dancing teacher, making him dance behind her!” (Govinda-līlāmṛta 8,77) With many such clever words Sri Vrinda Devi expands the wonderful sweet flavors of Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s blissful pastimes in the company of their girlfriends. Her role in these pastimes is described extensively in books like Govinda-līlāmṛta and Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta. Thus Das Goswami takes shelter of the lotus feet of this Vrinda Devi. prema rase nimagana hoiyā yei jana; sājāiyeche madhura ei śrī vṛndāvana nava nava kuñja yoto sugandhi kusume; suśobhita bohe yāhā malaya pavane vṛndāra racita sei śrī vṛndāvana; śrī rādhā-govinde korāya līlā uddīpana nirantara sei vṛndāra bhaji bhakti bhare; vrajavāsa rādhā-kṛṣṇera sevā-siddhi tare “I always devotedly worship Sri Vrinda Devi, who is absorbed in ecstatic love while sweetly decorating Sri Vrindavan’s ever-green groves with beautiful flowers, whose fragrance are carried by the southern breezes, and that incite amorous feelings in the hearts of Sri Radha and Govinda, so that I will be able to live in Vraja and reach perfection in Radha and Krishna’s devotional service there.”
  9. I always take shelter of Dvādaśāditya Tīrtha, where Sri Krishna was blissfully, devotedly and lovingly warmed by the severe rays of the twelve suns after he became afflicted by cold (from entering the Kaliya-lake) and where he shines, affectionately surrounded by men, women and bellowing cows. VERSE 82: sūryair dvādaśabhiḥ paraṁ muraripuḥ śītārta ugrātapair bhakti-prema-bharair udāra-caritaḥ śrīmān mudā sevitaḥ yatra strī-puruṣaiḥ kvaṇat-paśu-kulair āveṣṭito rājate snehair dvādaśa-sūrya-nāma tad idaṁ tīrthaṁ sadā saṁśraye Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami praises the Dwadasaditya Tirtha. When Sri Krishna came out of the Kaliya lake after swimming in it for a long time, he felt very cold and began to shiver. He is udāra-carita, which means that he is always engaged in human-like pastimes. While subduing the Kaliya snake Krishna certainly displayed great prowess in front of the Vrajavasis, but this prowess appeared as very sweet and relishable to them. This is the nature of the sweet conception. Srila Vishwanath Chakravartipada defines this sweetness in his Rāga-vartma-candrikā (2.5): “When one understand that Krishna is God, but still does not result in feelings of heart-trembling reverence, but rather fixes one in a friendly mood towards Him, thinking: “He is my son, he is my friend, he is my lover!”, then it is called mādhurya jñāna (a sweet conception).” (īśvaro’yam ity anusandhāne’pi hṛt-kampa-janaka-sambhrama-gandhasyānudgamāt svīya-bhāvasyātisthairyam eva yad utpādayati, tan mādhurya-jñānam.) In the material world it is also seen that when her son becomes a king, it does not weaken the mother’s conception of him as her child, but rather strengthens her maternal love. (yathā prākṛtyā api mātuḥ putrasya pṛthvīśvaratve sati tat-putra-bhāvaḥ sphīta evābhavati, Ibid). The Lord assumes a mood according to the way in which the devotee loves him, and hence he reveals his sweet pastimes according to the sweet conception the Vraja-devotees have of him. “Even while killing a powerful witch like Putana, Krishna acted just like a human child by sucking her breast. His act of kicking over a huge and strong cart and destroying it was accomplished with the tender feet of a three-month-old baby that was lying down, and during the dāma-bandhana-līlā, even though Mother Yashoda could find no means to bind him up because even the longest rope was always two fingers too short, still Sri Krishna was afraid of her. And though he bewildered Lord Brahmā and Baladeva (during the Brahma-vimohana-līlā) and showed his omniscience, at the same time he manifested his sweet pastimes of herding the calves.” (yathā pūtanā-prāṇa-hāritve’pi stana-cūṣaṇa-lakṣaṇa-nara-bāla-līlatvam eva. mahā-kaṭhora-śakaṭa-sphoṭane’py atisukumāra-caraṇa-traimāsikyottāna-śāyi-bāla-līlatvam. mahā-dīrgha-dāmāśakya-bandhatve’pi mātṛ-bhīti-vaiklavyam. brahma-baladevādi-mohane’pi sarvajñatve’pi vatsa-cāraṇa-līlatvam (Rāga-vartma-candrikā 3) Similarly, during the Kaliya-damana-līlā Krishna’s tender form engaged in a sweet dance while smashing the 100 hoods of the greatly poisonous snake Kaliya. When Krishna came out of the lake after defeating the snake, his whole body shivered of cold from having being in the water for so long. At that time the twelve suns [one for each month of the year] rose near the Kaliya-lake with great loving devotion and most blissfully began to protect Sri Krishna from the cold with their hot rays. Hence this place is called Dvādaśāditya Tīrtha. In the Ādi Varāha Purāṇa it is written: surya-tīrthe naraḥ snāto dṛṣṭādityān vasundhare āditya bhuvanaṁ prāpya kṛta-kṛtyaḥ sa modate āditye’hani saṁkrāntāv-asmin tīrthe vasundhare manasābhīpsitaṁ kāmaṁ prāpnuvanti na saṁśayaḥ “O Bhumi Devi! A person who bathes in Surya Tīrtha and sees the Sun God there attains his abode and will be blessed with the topmost bliss. A person who bathes here on Sundays and on Saṅkranti days will be blessed with the fulfillment of all his desires. Of this there is no doubt.” In the Sūrya-Purāṇa it is seen: dvādaśāditya tīrthākhyaṁ tīrthaṁ tad-anupāvanam tasya darśana mātreṇa nṛnām agho vinaśyati. “This Dvādaśāditya Tīrtha is most pure. Anyone who sees it is freed from all sins.” When Sri Krishna accepted the service of the twelve suns his mother, father and all other Vrajavasis surrounded him, making a lot of noise, while at the same time the cows filled the air with their bellowing. Raghunath Das Goswami says: “I always seek the shelter of this Dwadasaditya Tīrtha.” udāra caritra yāra, muraripu khyāti tāra, parameśvara boli gāya yāre naralīlā anurūpe, śīte tāra aṅga kāṁpe, līlā bhaṅgi ati camatkāre “Muraripu, who is glorified as being the Supreme Lord, actually performs very sweet pastimes. According to these most astonishing human-like pastimes his whole body shivered of the cold.” yathā strī puruṣa-gaṇe, śabdāyamāna paśugaṇe, veṣṭanete āchena govinda dvādaśa sūrya ātapere, sevā kore śrī aṅgete, prema bhare pulakita aṅga “Here Govinda shines, surrounded by women, men and lowing cows, while the twelve suns serve his divine body with their heat, their bodies horripilating of ecstatic love.” yāra dvādaśāditya nāma, mahā-tīrtha sei dhāma, mui tāra daraśana lobhe. sarvadā āśraya kori, nitya yeno tāre smari, padāṅkita bhūmi anurāge “I take shelter of the great holy place named Dvādaśāditya Tīrtha, where this pastime takes place and where the soil is marked by Krishna’s footprints. May I always remember this place, that I desire to see so much!”
  10. Mathura, 2018.06.06 A complete ban on liquor was imposed in several key towns of Vraja by the Uttar Pradesh State government on Tuesday. The complete ban was imposed in Barsana, Nandgaon, Radha Kund, Baldeo and Gokul. The Uttar Pradesh government, headed by the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, took the decision in a cabinet meeting. The decision was welcomed by Brajwasis and devotees. Shri Deepak Goswami from Bade Dauji Temple said, “It is a welcome step. Meat and wine must be banned in the entire Vraja region. Vraja is a centre of Vaishnavas, who are purely vegetarian and non violent. Killing animals is violence. Bhakti and violence can’t go together.” “The government must set up an enforcement team to clamp down on the illegal sale of the liquor too. Despite the ban, liquor is being sold illegally in Vrindavan,” said Shri Siddhartha Shukla from the Yamuna Temple. He further added, “Goat farming, pig farming and poultry farming should also be banned in Vraja. People are keeping pigs, chickens and goats in their houses to slaughter to eat the meat.” A complete ban on liquor was imposed in Vrindavan after the town was declared a pilgrimage site by the Yogi Adityanath government in October 2017. While declaring Vrindavan an official pilgrimage site, the government issued the official statement, “Vrindavan and Barsana of Mathura district, are the childhood places of Lord Krishna and his elder brother Balaram and are world-famous sites. Lakhs of tourists visit these places to pay obeisances. Keeping in mind their importance, and in view of tourism, they are declared as holy pilgrimage places.” Many illegal meat shops were closed down after the decision. It should be noted that people from Mathura demanded the same declaration for the town of Mathura, which is the actual birthplace of Shri Krishna. However, keeping in mind the mixed population that includes a large number of Muslim people, Mathura has not been declared an official pilgrimage site. The town of Mathura is still getting some benefits from the official recognition as the illegal slaughter houses in Mathura have been closed down.
  11. Vrindavan, 2018.06.10 Under a new plan formulated by city officials, the number of people allowed in Bihariji temple will be strictly limited. The plan, which is still being finalized, will see the deployment of 40 police officers in the temple in addition to the temple’s private security. DM Sarvagyaram Mishra and SSP Prabhakar Chaudhary met yesterday to discuss plans for crowd control in the temple. District Magistrate Sarvagyaram Mishra said that the aim of the meeting was to find a solution that will enable people to have darshan of Banke Bihari without being pushed by the crowd. Senior Superintendant of Police, Prabhakar Chaudhary, said that, under the plan, entrance to the temple will be from Gate 3 and the exit will be from Gate number 2. He said that a traffic plan is also being discussed and that e-rickshaws will be provided to transport visitors from the carpark to the entrance of the temple. Under the plan, crowds will be monitored and when guards see that the temple has reached maximum capacity, visitors will be stopped at the entrance. After taking darshan, people will be instructed to make their way out of the temple and those waiting at the entrance will be allowed in. On weekends and festivals, the chaos in Bihariji reaches the point that the old, weak and women with children are afraid of entering the temple. There have been several serious incidents caused by ‘stampedes’ including one incident in 2012 in which more a dozen people were hospitalized after being crushed by the crowd. There has been much discussion about crowd control, however, as yet, no permanent plan has been set in place. One solution that was proposed was increasing darshan timings, however, this idea met with opposition from Goswamis and local leaders who felt that it was in violation of the tradition of worship established by temple founder Swami Shri Haridas.
  12. ← Reduced water levels in the Yamuna in Braj Vrindavan, 2018.06.06 The Yamuna river has fallen to alarmingly low levels, and with it, the water levels of the underwater aquifers have also dropped. Activists are campaigning for Yamuna cleaning to be undertaken urgently so that the rainwater from the rainy season can effectively be diverted to the river which is clogged with silt in many places. River activist and chairman of the Youth Foundation Federation, Gopi Datta Aakash said that two thousand years ago the river was 15 metres deep, but now, it is little more than 1.5 meters deep in most places. There is so much industrial waste and sewage going into the river in Delhi that the government banned farming on the riverbank, but the practice still continues. According to the research paper, ‘Yamuna, the poisoned river’ by The Energy and Resources Institute, “These vegetables (grown along the Yamuna) become the carriers of heavy metals in our food chain,” Frighteningly, Vrindavan is downstream from Delhi. Pollutants are building up in the water and soil and the problem of contaminated water has long been recognized as a major cause of birth defects and weakness in people of all ages. In some villages immediately downstream from industrial centres, dangerous levels of toxins are found and authorities admit that people’s health is being affected. Despite knowledge of the adverse health effects, the government has not been able to effectively provide filtered water to even the worst affected villages. In villages where there is no private water treatment plant, people are forced to drink the contaminated water, even while knowing that it is destroying their health. (See case study of a village destroyed by poisoned water) More than 60 million people rely on the Yamuna for their water supply, and most are aware that we are now on the brink of a water crisis. In the absence of a government water treatment plant, people in Braj are forced to drink groundwater that they filter with home filtration systems or buy by 20L bottles from one of the private water treatment plants that have become a popular business these days. People who buy filtered water have no way of knowing if their drinking water is safe, but they are still better off than those who are forced to drink the water unfiltered. Further downstream in Agra, the situation is even worse than in Braj. Last week, an acute crisis caused water supply to be cut off for 8 days in many parts of the city, Officials said the cause was the dry Yamuna river and a series of technical snags. The main pipeline from the two water works burst at several points leading to wastage of water. Half the city has gone dry as the pipeline from the Sikandra Water Works burst under pressure. The engineers have been on the repair job for the past few days. In Vrindavan, people living in those parts of the town that are connected to the government water supply say they have recently noticed a reduction in the amount of water coming through the pipes. The water level in the tubewells on the Yamuna coast including Kalidahghat, Gaughat, Bihar Ghat, Jugalghat, Maladhari Akhara and Tatiya Stan is estimated to have dropped from 10 to 20 feet. Maheshanand Saraswati, Ladlisharan Maharaj, Navelisharan Maharaj and a host of religious and political leaders are lending their voice to the demand for action to Save the Yamuna! Women in Mathura drawing drinking water from a well amid summer water shortage. Picture taken June 4, 2018
  13. Bowing down to their abode Vraja and its inhabitants through these verses, I hope to see my most beloved king and queen, Sri Sri Radha Madhava, the memory of a single drop from the nectar ocean of whose sweetness has greatly agitated my heart. VERSE 3 yan-mādhurī-divya-sudhā-rasābdheḥ smṛteḥ kaṇenāpy atilolitātmā | padyair vrajasthān akhilān vrajaṁ ca natvā sva-nāthau bata tau didṛkṣe ||3|| Stavāmṛta kaṇā vyākhyā (commentary of Sri Ananta das Babaji) : How great is Shripad Raghunath Das’s passionate devotion, which caused such a great yearning for bhajan even in his old age. His extraordinary renunciation and his harsh adherence to the regulative principles of bhajan simultaneously arise in one place with the tenderness of his loving devotion, always serving as a shining example for the rāga-bhaktas like the pole star Deeply absorbed in bhajan, Raghunath Das is weeping on the bank of Radha Kund. He cannot remain alive without seeing the Lord directly. Occasionally a transcendental vision of the sweetness of Sri Sri Radha Madhava awakens in him, the relish of which expands a supernatural bliss in his consciousness, and then a moment later the vision ends and his lamentations double in intensity. It is comparable to a flash of lightning on a cloudy new moon night, which afterwards makes the traveller doubly blind. What a wonderful condition of bhāva awakens when the premika once relishes the sweetness of the Lord through his eyes, and then this vision vanishes. Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti describes this in his Mādhurya-kādambinī (8th shower): …hanta hanta kena vā anirvacanīya bhāgyena svayaṁ hasta prāpto nidhir ajani, kena vā mahāparādhena tataś cyutam iti, niścetuṁ niścetano’haṁ na prabhavāmi tad bādhāvādhitadhīḥ kva yāmi kiṁ vā karomi kam upāyam atra kam uha vā pṛcchāmi mahā-śūnyam iva nirātmakam iva niḥśaraṇam iva dāva pluṣṭam iva māṁ nigilad iva tribhuvanam avaloke “Alas! Alas! By some indescribable stroke of luck I had this jewel in my very hand! What offence did I commit that caused it to fall from there? I am ignorant, so I cannot ascertain anything myself! I’ve become like a great fool! Where shall I go? What shall I do? Who can I ask for a solution to this? I feel completely empty as if bereft of all relatives, without shelter as if burning in a forest fire! It is as if the three worlds are devouring me!” If a sādhana-siddha-premika experiences this out of want for the sweetness of the Lord, one can easily imagine how powerful the condition of separation of a nitya-siddha-parikara like Shripad Raghunath must be. When his transcendental visions vanish, he feels a strong want and even during such sphuraṇa (unfolding) visions he feels a deep hankering for the direct attainment of the deity. In such a condition Raghunath praised the holy Dham of Vraja and the eternal associates of the Lord in this Vraja-vilāsa-stava, as a means to directly attain the Lord. In this verse he says: “I have become extremely greedy after remembering the flavor of even one drop from the divine sweet nectar ocean of Sri Sri Radha Madhava.” (yan-mādhurī divya-sudhā-rasābdheḥ smṛteḥ kaṇenāpy atilolitātmā). The divine nectar of Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s sweetness is like a billowing ocean. When Shripad relishes a sphuraṇa-vision of even one drop of this nectar he becomes overwhelmed. Because he attracts everyone from the material universes up to Vaikuntha and Goloka, from the mobile and immobile creatures up to Lakshmi Narayan and even himself, the Lord of Goloka, with his wonderful sweetness, he is named Krishna. vṛndāvane aprākṛta navīna madana; kāma gāyatrī kāma bīje yāra upāsana puruṣa yoṣit kibā sthāvara jaṅgama; sarva cittākarṣaka sākṣān manmatha madana śṛṅgāra rasarājamaya mūrtidhara; ataeva ātma paryanta sarva citta hara The transcendental youthful Cupid of Vrindavan is worshiped with the Kāma-Gāyatrī-mantra with the seed syllable of Cupid, the Kāma-bīja. He attracts men and women, mobile and immobile creatures, for he is the enchanter of Cupid himself. He is the embodiment of the king of flavors, the erotic, and thus he captivates even his own mind! (Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 8.137-139) Along with his all-attractive, ever fresh and dense śyāma-beauty, the tender Shyamasundar who is an ocean of sweetness and the root cause of all luster, there is premera svarūpa deha prema vibhāvita; kṛṣṇera preyasī śreṣṭhā jagate vidita. Who can describe the power of the clash of the billowing waves of this incomparable ocean of sweetness, the golden embodiment of mahābhāva, that shines like fresh gorocana-pigments, Krishna’s dearmost beloved Srimati Varshabhanavi, with the Krishna ocean? Simply by remembering one drop of this, Raghunath Das Goswami becomes exceedingly greedy. Jiva Gosvamīpada gives a slight hint of this self-manifest sweetness of Sri Sri Radha Madhava: gaura-śyāma-rucojjvalābhir amalair akṣnor vilāsotsavair nṛtyantībhir aśeṣa-mādana-kalā-vaidagdhya-1digdhātmabhiḥ anyonya-priyatā-sudhā-parimala-stomonmadābhiḥ sadā rādhā-mādhava-mādhurībhir abhitaś cittaṁ mamākramyatām “May Radha and Madhava, who are shining with a golden and bluish splendor, whose eyes are dancing in a spotless festival of play, who are anointed with endless cleverness in erotic artistry, and who are greatly delighted by the nectarean fragrance of their mutual dearness, attack my mind in all respects with their sweetness.” (Śrī Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha 581) The purport of this verse is: “May the combined self manifest, indescribable forms of Sri Sri Radha Madhava arise in my consciousness in such a way that not even the slightest other awareness will remain. May that sweetness never leave my consciousness!” – This is Shripad’s wish. He describes this sweetness as a bright golden and bluish splendor. In other words, the sapphire-like luster of Shyam and the golden luster of Sri Radha illuminate all directions. Because of being with the beloved, Sri Radha’s right eye and Sri Krishna’s left eye are gladdened by wonderful gestures, dancing with indescribable sweetness. The endless manifesting expertise of Vrishabhanu-nandini’s mādanākhya-mahābhāva is as if surrounding Their sublime bodies. In other words, their bodies are adorned by the sweetness of innumerable wonderful pastimes like kissing and embracing, which are the visible signs of that mādana-bhāva from which innumerable pastimes become revealed, generating all bhāvas, from rati up to mahābhāva. Then again they are gladdened by the fragrance of sweetness that anoints Them with the unguents of mutual love and enchants all the people. In other words, just as the vermilion and other unguents that adorn a hero and heroine’s body makes their bodies fragrant and delights their bystanding girlfriends, similarly the fragrance of Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s mutual love supremely delights their sakhīs. Śrīmat Jīva Gosvāmī said: “May this sweetness attack my consciousness in all respects!” The remembrance of even a drop of this ocean of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava’s very powerful sweetness greatly overwhelms Śrīpāda Raghunātha’s heart and mind. He becomes unsteady when great sacred greed awakens within him. Without directly being able to relish this sweetness he won’t be able to stay alive. jala vinā yeno mīna, duḥka pāya āyuḥ hīna (Like a fish out of water I suffer like I am lifeless). Such is his condition. He cannot spend any more time without darśana. Being thus helpless in his desire to see Sri Sri Radha Madhava, his king and queen, he praises and honors Sri Vraja Dham and its inhabitants in these verses, seeing this as the best way to attain their darshan (padyair vrajasthān akhilān vrajaṁ ca natvā sva-nāthau bata tau didṛkṣe). Hence this stava is called Vraja-vilāsa-stava. When Vraja Dham and the inhabitants of Vraja are merciful, he will easily attain the direct audience of his most beloved Sri Sri Radha Madhava, this is Sri Raghunath’s unswayable faith. yāṅdera mādhurī sindhu, smari tāra eka bindu ati lubdha hoiyāchi āmi. katipaya śloka kore, vraja-dhāma parikare, bhakti bhare tāṅhā sabe nami. “Because I have become very greedy even by remembering a mere drop of the ocean of Their beauty, I am now bowing down with devotion to Vraja-dhāma and Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s associates there in these following verses.” ei vāñchā hoy prāṇe, nitya kori daraśane, prāṇa mora yugala kiśora. vrajavāsi saṅge vāsa, ei mātra abhilāṣa, (seve) ei āśā pūrṇa koro mora “I cherish the desire in my heart to always see Them, for the Yugala Kishor are my very life. I desire only to live with the Vrajavasis. Please fulfill these desires!”
  14. ← Moti Kunda Braj, 2018.06.08 The sixteenth stop on Braja Mandal Parikrama is Nandagaon. Most parikrama groups stop at Nandagaon for 2-3 days in order to visit the many important places of Shri Krishna’s childhood pastimes. Upon arriving in Nandagaon, many devotees first take snan in Pavan Sarovar. Twenty acres of land was allocated as a reserve and rest area for pilgrims here, however, farmers have encroached on this land. Despite the importance of Pavan Sarovar as a pilgrimage and resting place, there are no public amenities here. It is said that Pavan Sarovar was made by Pavan Gopa, the father of Vishakha Sakhi. Shri Krishna and the gopas would lead their cows to drink here in the evenings and would swim and play in the water. Local tradition is to take snan or sprinkle water on oneself here for purification before heading up the hill to the Nandababa temple. At Pavan Sarovar, devotees also take darshan of Shrila Sanatan Goswami’s Bhajan kutir, as this kund is one of many places in Braj where Sanatan Goswami stayed to meditate on the pastimes of the lord. Another of Nandagaon’s famous kunds is Yashoda kund. This kund reminds devotees of Krishna and Balaram’s sweet childhood pastimes. Yashoda Ma used to bring the children to this kund to bathe. On the Western bank is a statue of Hau Bilau. Yashoda Ma used to tell the boys that if they don’t come immediately when she calls them, a demon called Hau Bilau will catch them. ← Statue of Hau Bilau at Yashoda Kunda Nandgaon local, Suresh Chand, said that many of Nandagaon’s 50 kunds have disappeared and the ones that are left have shrunk in size. He said that the authorities should act to preserve the remaining kunds as these serve as an important water source and resting place for devotees at the hottest time of day, when the temples are closed. Gupta Kunda → From Nandagaon’s kunds we can trace the activities of Shri Krishna and the gopis. Many kunds are the meeting places of Krishna and the gopis – Shri Krishna would see the gopis at Panihari Kund when they came to collect water and Radha and Krishna would meet secretly at Gupta Kund. Next to Gupta kund is Vrinda kund, a kund dedicated to the worship of Vrinda Devi (Tulsi), who is in charge of arranging meetings and pastimes of Radha and Krishna. The kund is well maintained by ISKCON. Madhava Baba, an activist who organized for the preservation of many of Braj’s pilgrimage places, entrusted this area to ISKCON in 1990, in honour of Shrila Prabhupada’s efforts to introduce the worship of Tulsi-devi to people around the globe. Ancient deities at Vrinda Kund One of the most popular and mysterious kunds of Nandagaon is Moti Kund. It is said that the pilu trees at this kund bear white fruit resembling pearls and locals collect these ‘pearls’ for good luck. ‘Pearls’ found on the trees near Moti kund According to the katha associated with Moti Kund, Krishna planted pearls here and irrigated them every day with milk. The pearls began to sprout after a few days, and lush, green plants emerged. A few days later, those plants bore fruit; and as these fruits ripened, radiant and splendid divine pearls began to manifest. When Radhika and her sakhis heard that Shri Krishna had planted pearls and reaped a huge crop, they asked Him for some. However, Krishna flatly refused, telling them, “When I requested some milk from you to irrigate my pearls, you refused to give me any. Now I will decorate my cows with ornaments made from these pearls, but I will not give any to you.” Vexed, the gopis stole pearls from their own homes, dug a field and planted them. Although they irrigated the field with cow-milk for many days, the pearls did not sprout pearl plants – only thorny bushes that were completely devoid of fruit emerged from the soil. The disappointed gopis returned to Krishna and narrated the whole story to Him. Krishna smiled and said, “Come, I want to see your pearl field myself.” Krishna went there and uprooted all the thorny plants. He planted His own ripened pearls and irrigated the field with cow-milk. Within a few days, these pearls sprouted and also bore pearls, filling the gopi’s hearts with joy.
  15. ← Holi at the Radha Vallabh temple Vrindavan, 2018.06.09 Temples all over Braj are celebrating all the festivals of the year during the month of Purushottam Maas. For the pleasure and benefit of devotees, Radha Vallabh temple has been celebrating each festival with great enthusiasm . At the special Holi festival on Thursday, the pujaris threw colours with even more enthusiasm and excitement (see video) than in March because many of the visitors did not realize that Holi was being celebrated in the temple, so they were caught unawares. The famous Radha Vallabh music made the atmosphere even more festive. Rakesh Mukhiya took the opportunity to sing Holi songs and devotees could be seen dancing, seemingly without a care in the world. Diwali games at Radha Vallabh temple Like many of the main temples in Loi Bazaar, every day this month, Radha Vallabh temple has been filled with fragrant flowers and intricate lattices of mogra buds woven into phool bangala decorations. Devotees who visited the temple this month were also treated to darshan of the marriage ceremony of Radha-Krishna, Diwali celebrations and jhulan yatra (swing festival).
  16. Mumbai, 2018.06.02 Bhawana Somaaya is better known for her authorized biographies of film stars including Hema Malini and Amitabh Bacchan, but now she has turned her writing expertise to describing how bhakti helps people to revere nature. In her work KESHAVA: A Magnificent Obsession, which was released earlier this month, Somaaya shares her unique perspective on the relationship between bhakti and the environment: Life has a bond with nature and every time there is decay and deterioration in the environment, it is a signal that humans are losing contact with the laws of nature. There is a reason why our seers chose to go to the mountains for meditation, a reason why our ancestors exercised the bhoomi vandan, the sun worship, the watering of the Tulsi plant. Human life does not and cannot live in isolation. All the components of universal life are inter-related and inter-dependent and mythology is proof of that. All our deities were assigned specific animals as vehicles. As a result, Lord Indra travelled via Airavata, the elephant and Lord Kartikeya rode his peacock. Lord Ganesha, despite his potbelly, chose the mouse as his friend and Lord Shiva’s constant companion is Nandi, the bullock. The deities have their favourite flowers and plants as well and religion does not permit a devotee to mix the flower in devotion to another. So the red shoe-flower is for Lord Ganesha, the betel leaf for Lord Hanuman, white flowers for Lord Shiva, and the lotus for Lord Krishna. Our seers emphasised that religion is science and our deities taught us by example to revere nature. The grain that nourishes our body, the herbs that heal, the trees that store our waters, bear us fruits, and offer us the wood we use for our fuel and dwelling; the same trees also provide us shade and are home to birds and animals. Tree and animal veneration in India has been practiced since ancient times…perhaps even before the civilisation of Mohenjo-daro. Our ancestors, through practice and faith have, over the centuries, inculcated in us the habit of revering plants, trees, the ocean, the cow, the sun, and the moon. Somaaya said that the work is a combination of research and her own perspective. She is happy with the result and feels that she was able to write the book because of the will of the Supreme. She humbly admits, “I don’t know if I can write a similar book again”. A prolific author, Somaaya is finalizing her third non-film book –‘Shaping of the Seed’ about Garb Sanskar (rituals before and during pregnancy). She is also writing her parent’s love story. Somaaya began writing about Shri Krishna over ten years ago when she translated Kaajal Oza Vaidya’s Krishna: The God Who Lived as Man from Gujarati in 2008. A fictional exploration of Shri Krishna’s life on earth, the descriptive language in this book helps to deepen people’s emotional connection to Shri Krishna’s pastimes. The river was in high tide and the footprints of the Yadavas were more or less washed away. Big waves came rushing to the shore and wiped away some more footprints Suddenly Rukmini discovered a familiar footprint and sat beside it . Her eyes brimmed over with tears . These were the footprints her hair locks drooped over when she knelt at her Lord’s feet every morning . These were the footprints she worshipped with chandan . the footprints of her Lord of Sri Krishna ! They were deeply immersed in the sand. the impression engraved in the sand was filled with water. Rukmini’s streaming tears were making an offering in the water-filled footprints. Daruk arrived and stood beside her . He looked startled. He could not believe how the footprints filled to the brim with water could contain Rukmini’s tears without spilling over. What was further surprising was that not a single tear had dropped out of the carved footprint. As well as writing several books per year, Somaaya is also the editor of Blockbuster trade journal. When asked how she manages to write so much, Somaaya said, “I don’t think of it as work, writing is a passion, I write because I like to express, it is a way of life. The energy is there in all of us, it is up to us that we use our energies constructively.”
  17. ← Rani Ahilyabai statue at Chain Bihari temple Vrindavan, 2018.06.02 (VT): Rani Ahilyabai Holkar (31 May 1725 – 13 August 1795) was a great queen, warrior and spiritualist who made a significant contribution to Vrindavan’s architectural heritage. Rani Ahilyabai became the queen of the Maratha Malwar kingdom (in present day Indore) after her husband died. She traveled widely in North India, sponsoring hundreds of temples and Dharamashalas. In his work Mathura: A District Memoir (1874), F.S. Growse mentions that there is a huge well, with 57 steps , on the Mathura-Vrindavan Road, which was commissioned by Rani Ahilyabai. Braj researcher, Dr Rakesh Sharma, said that he became interested in the contribution of Ahilyabai when he saw mention of her name on several monuments like Vrindavan’s Kaliya Ghat. Dr Sharma said that Rani Ahilyabai played a big role in the construction of Vrindavan’s ghats. Rani Ahilyabai also commissioned the Chain Bihari temple behind Kaliya Ghat. This lesser known temple, surrounded by a huge wall encompassing extensive grounds, is situated in the place where Shri Krishna took rest after killing the Kaliya demon. Speaking to a Vrindavan Today correspondent, the current servait at Chain Bihari temple said that his ancestor, Mayaa Ram, provided Rani Ahilyabai with ashes that cured the tumours on her back. Seeing the potency of Mayaa Ram’s yagya, Rani Ahilyabai ordered a grand temple to be built for Mayaa Ram’s Chain Bihari deity. Rani Ahilyabai was a great pioneer and builder of Hindu temples. She built hundreds of temples and Dharmashalas throughout India, especially during the later period of her life. She was also a fierce warrior and personally led armies into battle.
  18. Vrindavan, 2018.06.02 Shri Hit Harivansh was the founder of the Radha Vallabh sampradaya. He was born in the early 1500’s in Braj, in Baad village but spent his childhood in Deoband, In 1534, he returned to Braj, founded the Radha Vallabh temple and spent the rest of his life worshiping Radha-Krishna and writing beautiful songs describing Their pastimes. [Shri Hit Chaurasi pada 1] “Whatever my beloved does, pleases me” – Sri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhuji joi joi pyāro kare soi mohi bhāve bhāve mohi joi soi soi kare pyāre | Whatever my beloved does, pleases me, and whatever pleases me, my beloved does; moko to bhāvatī thor pyāre ke nainan mai pyāro bhayo chāhe mere nainan ke tāre | The place that I cherish is in the eyes of my beloved, and my beloved seeks to become the apple of my eyes. mere tann mann prān hu tai prītam priya apne kotik prān prītam moso hāre | My beloved is yet dearer to me than body, mind and life-breath, and my beloved has given himself up to me ten million times over; (jay shrī) hit harivansh hans hansinī sāval gaur kaho kaun kare jal tarangan nyāre | | Hit Harivansh [says], as the male and female Swan* are the dark one and the fair one -tell me, who could separate the water from the waves? [to indicate that Shyama Shyam can never be separated]. __________________________________________________________ *Translation adapted from Charles White and Rupert Snell. The mention of the male and female Swan Couple [Hans-Hansini] is given to intend the idea of inseparability, that they are always seen together. Commentary of Shri Lalitcharan Goswami Bhumika [Introduction]: In this first pada [song] of Sri-Hit-Chaurasi, the wonderful unparalleled prema that is present in Sri Radha Shyamsundara’s eyes and hearts is described briefly but very touchingly by Sri Radha herself. At the time of this description, Sri Shyamsundara has gone to pick flowers from another kunja. And so, seeing this as a perfect and private opportunity, Sri Radha decides to discuss the uncommon prema of her beloved Krishna with Sri Hit Sajani [Sri Hit Harivansh’s sakhi identity]. In this pada, Sri Hitacharya has very beautifully revealed Sri Radha’s extremely merciful nature [parama-udhaar-svaroop]. Vyakhya [Explanation]: “Whatever Beloved Sri Krishna does, that is very dear to me. And whatever I like, my Beloved does.” (In these lines, Sri Radha has described the extremely rare condition of prema. For the lover and beloved’s minds to be forever united [to be completely compatible in thoughts, words and deed] is only possible in the prema of Sri Radha Shyamsundara. In the love of this world [laukika-prema] the lover and beloved are seekers of their own individual happiness.) “I like to reside in the eyes of my Beloved and my beloved wants to become the apple of my eyes”. (Just as Sri Radha has described how she and her beloved are of one mind, one heart in the opening lines, she has revealed the same thing here, that the two of them share the same vision regarding one another.) “My beloved is dearer to me than my body, mind and very life [prana/life-air] and my beloved Sri Krishna has offered his life to me a million times over!” (In these lines, Sri Radha is revealing that she and her Priyatam Govinda are of one life, that their life-breath are one and the same. In this way, the two are proven to be of one heart, one mind and one life. This is the extremely rare condition of divine love beyond this world [alaukik-sthiti]. (Upon hearing from Sri Radha’s own lips about her and her Beloved’s mutual, equally matching and completely pervasive divine love, Sri Hit Harivansh becoming overwhelmed by his mood of a Sakhi says). The two of you are just like a Swan couple, one fair, the other black. You are both just like the water and its waves, existing together. | meaning: no-one can separate you, not even you yourselves are capable of this. (Sri-Hit-Dhruv-dasji taking inspiration from the above pada/song has described the nature of Sri Shyama-Shyam’s love in this way) – prītam kisorī gorī, rasik rangīlī jorī, prem hī ke rang borī shobhā kahī jāt hai | ek prān, ek ves, ek hī subhāv chāv, ek bāt duhini ke manahi suhāt hai | | ek kunj ek seyj, ek pat audhe bete, ek-ek bīrī dou kadhi-kadhi khāt hai | ek ras ek prān, ek dristi ‘hit dhruv’, heri heri badhe chaup kaho hu na aghāt hai | | “Is it even possible to describe the glory of that divine love drenched ever-fresh golden-complexioned girl Radha [Gaurangi-naval-kishori] and her bluish-raincloud beautiful lover [neel-ghan-sundar] Krishna? (Meaning, No it is not possible. The description of their loveliness is inexpressible [anirvacaniya]. The divine couple are of matching age and possess one life-breath. Their nature and enthusiasm is also matching and their likes/tastes are also the same. Today, they are inside one kunj [grove], sit on one bed, wear one type of clothing, taking one [spiced] betel leaf each, are chewing them with their teeth. Sri Hit Dhruv-das says, this amazing yugal [couple] who are of one rasa, one life-breath and united by heart, gaze at each other and feel newer and newer enthusiasm, in other words, they never tire of one another’s loving company and beauty.”
  19. There is no difference between the teachings of the Bhāgavata and the philosophy of Braja-vāsa-sādhana. When one lives in Vrindavan or Braj, then one is to see everyone living there as a blessed person and not in terms of their external actions. Though many verses can be cited, let this one from Prabodhananda Saraswati stand out today for those who wish to perfect their Braja-vāsa. May Prabodhananda, the ādi-ācārya of Braja-vāsa-sādhana please bless us and make us worthy of the Dham. para-dhana-para-dāra-dveṣa-mātsarya-lobhā- nṛta-paruṣa-parābhidroha-mithyābhilāpān | tyajati ya iha bhakto rādhikā-prāṇa-nāthe na khalu bhavati bandhyā tasya vṛndāvanāśā || The hopes for perfecting residence in Vrindavan of one devoted to the beloved of Radhika will never go in vain, if he gives up the attraction to others’ riches, others’ wives, enmity, envy, greed, untruth, cruelty, vengeful against others, and useless conversation. (VMA 17.48) Let me share with you a bit more of the explanation of two verses that I included in my article about Babaji. Why I respect and love Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji. Scripture says those who engage in Vaishnava aparādha slowly descend into madness. This is the consequence of Vaishnava aparādha, which by its very nature is in the tamo-guṇa, which means to see the opposite of truth and identifying it as truth. Therefore any defense or glorification of the sādhu will be interpreted as just more reason to criticize. Just read what Sati says to her own father: doṣān pareṣāṁ hi guṇeṣu sādhavo gṛhṇanti kecin na bhavādṛśo dvija | guṇāṁś ca phalgūn bahulī-kariṣṇavo mahattamās teṣv avidad bhavān agham || Oh Brahmin! Persons like you only find the faults among the virtues of others, but there are others who are not like you. The greatest people magnify the positive side of even insignificant virtues, but you looked at Shiva’s glories and decided they were sins. (4.4.12) Sridhar Swami says there are four kinds of persons spoken of in this verse: (1) The envious. These people see fault where others see virtue. (2) The second are madhyastha, or neutral. They judge on the basis of their intelligence and are able to see good and bad objectively. These people are also called mahat. (3) The sādhus are mahattarabecause they see the virtues and do not take note of the flaws. (4) And the mahattamaare those who not only do not take notice of the flaws but magnify even the slightest or most insignificant virtues and glorify them. The word phalgu usually means false, so even the pretense of a good quality is taken as a virtue. Like Krishna who only saw the positive side of Putana, who had disguised herself as a well-wisher even though she had evil intentions. Jiva Goswami adds that corresponding to the three levels of mahatare the three levels of asat. These are the exact opposites: In the asattamastage, for instance, they take minor flaws and magnify them, ignoring the good. So the implication, Jiva Goswami says, is that Daksha is sarvādhama, the lowest of the low. And so it is with those who follow his way of being. Sati says, This is the nature of Shiva, this is his greatness. He is even greater than a mahattama, he sees the glories of the Supreme Lord everywhere. But Daksha still found fault with him. And so he invited destruction down on himself. This is not material destruction, though material destruction and death are also inevitably consequences of Vaishnava aparādha, because it is the greatest door to the tamo-guna. We see those who engage in Vaishnava ninda, who though living in Vrindavan, are afraid and cowering in their rooms, thinking that at any moment the end will come, just like Kamsa. Why? There is no objective danger, only the paranoia that fills their own heart as a result of their vendetta against a pure soul. Is there any doubt that such people are on the road to spiritual self-destruction, even while residing in Vrindavan and apparently under the shelter of a Mahatma? Is the nature of Braja-vāsa not the celebration of the Divine Couple’s glories in the association of advanced devotees (tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī)? Can there be greater misfortune than to be in the middle of the ocean of nectar and there to drink the bitter neem juice of petty envy? Vishwanath expands the categories a little further, to eight kinds, four great and four bad individuals, giving examples of each. Here is his taxonomy: (1) The sādhus or mahats take flaws and see them as virtue: kaṭhora-bhāṣitvaṁ yad apy asya doṣaḥ, tad api hita-kāritvād ayaṁ roga-nivartako nimba-rasa iva guṇa eva. “Even though he speaks roughly, which is a fault, because he is doing it as an act of kindness it is a virtue, just like the bitter neem juice has the virtue of being medicinal.” (2) The asādhu takes virtues as flaws: asya yat paropakāritvaṁ, tat para-dravya-jighṛkṣayaiveti doṣa evāyam.“All these good deeds he is doing for the benefit of others is simply a way of stealing other people’s goods and thus a fault. (3) The mahattarais one who ignores the faults altogether and just takes the virtues. vaṇig ayam ātitheyo nistīrṇaḥ. “This businessman who serves his guests is liberated.” Businessmen are always suspected of dishonesty, often for good reason. Here the mahattara does not observe those flaws, but only sees how he takes care of his guests. Another example: tyakta-parigrahaḥ bhikṣur ayam udara-pūram anna-mātraṁ yathā tathā gṛhṇāti, “This mendicant has given up all possessions and takes only enough food to fill his belly” rather than daridro bahv-āśī, “This poverty-stricken fellow sure is a glutton!” (4) The asādhutara, more unkind, is one who takes faults and ignores any virtue. bhikṣur ayam udara-pūraṁ snigdhānnaṁ yad atti, tad ayaṁ kāmī bhraṣṭo mantavyaḥ. “This beggar is eating nice foodstuffs to fill his belly, so he must be considered a lusty and fallen individual.” Something like Ramachandra Puri in Caitanya Caritamrita. (5) The mahattama is the one who magnifies the tiniest virtue. śītārtatvād eva madīya-vastram apaharann api, śastra-pāṇitve’pi dayālutvād eva na hinasti, tad ayaṁ dhanyaḥ. “He has taken my cloth because he is suffering from the cold, but he is very kind, because though he has a weapon, he did not hurt me with it.” (6) The asādhutamadoes the opposite, magnifying flaws and ignoring virtues. virakto’yaṁ vanam apahāya yad gṛhastha-gṛheṣu vasati, tat pracura-dhanaṁ corayitu-kāmaḥ. “This babaji has left the forest and is living with grihasthas, he no doubt has the intention of stealing a large amount of money.” (7) Now Vishwanath adds a new category, atimahattama: One who sees virtue even in the total absence of any. jagaty asmin ke’pi duṣṭā na santi, sarva eva sādhavaḥ. “In this world there is no one who is evil. All are good.” (8) And so we have the atyasādhuttama.This is the nihilist. jagaty asmin ke’pi śiṣṭā na santi, sarva eva duṣṭāḥ. “In this world there is no one who is good. All are evil.” All those who profess religion or purity are hypocrites whose only purpose is to gain power over the gullible and to manipulate them for their own schemes. This is the asura of the Gita’s Chapter 16. It is of course, those who claim objectivity, or “radical transparency,” or who are just telling it “like it is,” who are the ones who give the most leeway to their own tendencies to magnify the flaws of others and to marginalize the good. They are protecting the gullible they profess self-righteously. That is the way that they come as wolves in sheep’s guise. Indeed, this is perhaps the nature of the world, but there are reasons why this tendency needs to be disciplined: It is not the Truth of Braj or indeed the world as a whole. From the transcendental perspective of the Uttama Bhāgavata, there is only one, non-dual Truth which we are being trained to see through the sādhana of Braja-vāsa. That is why we are reading these instructions here. Here is Sati’s second verse, which confirms what we can see before our very eyes happening to those who make enmity of the Vaishnavas the whole of their being. nāścaryam etad yad asatsu sarvadā mahad-vinindā kuṇapātma-vādiṣu | serṣyaṁ mahāpūruṣa-pāda-pāṁsubhir nirasta-tejaḥsu tad eva śobhanam || It is not at all astonishing that the wicked (asat) who have accepted the transient material body as the self engage constantly in enviously deriding great souls. Such people are diminished in power by the dust of the feet of great personalities, and that is indeed good and proper. (4.4.13) This means that the great souls themselves take no action against their detractors, but the dust of their feet, their innate spiritual power and the Supreme Lord’s protection, mean that the consequences of aparadha always befall those who speak calumny of those who are dear to the Lord. Another example is that of Ambarish and Durvasa. Ambarish continued to think of Durvasa as a sage, but the Sudarshan Chakra came to torment Durvasa. We understand the dust of Vrindavan to be non-different from the dust of the feet of all the great saints who have made their residence here and who are the acharyas of Braja-vāsa-sādhana. At any rate, we strive to follow in the footsteps of the Mahattamas, Prabodhananda Saraswati and all those whose hearts are devoid of any tendency to blame others (anya-nindādi-śūnya-hṛdaya) and so we look at the actions of those who act against this principle as the grace of the Divine Couple to help us learn the principle of tolerance to all indignities and to help us perfect the anya-nindādi-śūnya-hṛdaya. Instead, we see that they are, though misguided, helping the sincere and pure-hearted devotees to come to know the greatness of pure residents of Vrindavan like Satyanarayana Das Babaji and the that of the original and true Vrindavan Today. And indeed, the principal lesson we are learning from all this is that freedom from envy (nirmatsarāṇāṁ satām) and faultfinding is the essence of Braja-vāsa–sādhana. rādhā-mādhava-pāda-paṅkaja-rajaḥ-premonmāde tat-priya- krīḍā-kānana-vāsiṣu sthira-cara-prāṇiṣv api drohiṣu | pradveṣaṁ paramāparādham ahaho tyaktvetarair apy aghair yukto’py āmaraṇānta-labdha-vasatir vṛndāvane syāt kṛtī || In the madness of love for the dust of the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha and Madhava, you should give up all hatred for the residents of the Divine Couple’s beloved playground forest, for all its moving and unmoving creatures, even those who are inimical, considering such hatred to be the supreme offense. Then, even if you have committed all other sins, you will be blessed with residence in the Dham until you leave this body. (VMA 17.52)
  20. I offer my obeisances unto Variyasi, Sri Krishna’s paternal grandmother, whose feet do not touch the ground out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved grandson, and who always delights her moon-like grandson with her joking words. priyasya naptuḥ sukhato’ti garvāt pādau na yasyāḥ patataḥ pṛthivyām namāmi narmārcita-naptṛ-candrāṁ varīyasīṁ kṛṣṇa-pitāmahīṁ tām Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: The līlā-śakti paints sweet pictures of the Vraja companions’ love in the consciousness of Sripada Raghunath Das, who relishes these sweet feelings himself and leaves his adharāmṛta (lip-nectar, or remnants) to the practicing devotees of the world. When the practicing devotees hear and chant this topic, their personal feelings towards their beloved deity will awaken and the corresponding prema will be infused into their hearts. ei amṛta anukṣaṇa, sādhu mahanta megha-gaṇa, viśvodyāne kore variṣaṇa tā’te phale prema-phala, bhakta khāya nirantara, tāra śeṣe jīye jagajana “The great devotee-saints are like clouds that always shower this nectar over the garden of the world, and prema sprouts as a result. The devotees always eat this, and the people of the world subsist on their remnants.” (Caitanya Caritāmṛta 2.25.269) In this verse Śrīpāda Raghunātha introduces us to the great love of the gopī Varīyasī for her grandson Sri Krishna. pitāmahī mahī-mānyā kusumbhābhā harit-paṭā; varīyasīti vikhyātā kharvā kṣīrābha-kuntalā – “Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s paternal grandmother is named Varīyasī, and she is greatly respected in the Vraja-maṇḍala. Her complexion resembles the Kusumbha-flower, her dress is green, she is small and her hair is white like milk.” Out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved grandson her feet do not touch the ground, so it is said by the people. This pride is not a transformation of the mundane modes of passion and ignorance, this is a transformation of pure sattva (spirit). This pride arises from love of God. prītiḥ khalu bhakta cittam ullāsayati mamatayā yojayati viśrambhayati, priyatvātiśayenābhimānayati, drāvayati, sva viṣayaṁ pratyabhilāṣātiśayena yojayati prati-kṣaṇam eva sva viṣayaṁ nava navatvenānubhāvayati asamordhva camatkāreṇonmādayati ca. “Love delights the hearts of the devotees, links through feelings of mine-ness, bestows confidence and, through great feelings of affection, special pride, it causes one to melt (or soften), it creates a great craving for the Lord and a resultant attachment to Him, it causes the lover to experience the Lord as fresh at every moment and intoxicates the lover with unprecedented feelings of astonishment.” (Prīti Sandarbha, 84) In the devotional scriptures, these feelings are progressively described as rati, prema, praṇaya, māna, sneha, rāga, anurāga and mahābhāva. Taking this abhimāna or pride to heart, Śrī Rādhārāṇī is saying: baṅdhu, tomāra garave garavinī hām! “O friend! I am proud of your pride!” Prema cannot leave this pride for even a moment. premera sadāi abhimāna, prema cāya ṣola ānā prāṇa. “Prema always has pride, prema wants 100% of the heart!” What can a premika be more proud of? That the Lord is his all-in-all! The experienced know how high the price of this loving pride is! Knowing this to be the soul of prema they want to embrace it from all sides. How glorious the prema of Sri Krishna’s grandmother Variyasi is can be known from this verse. She always makes fun and jokes with Krishna and he also floats in an ocean of topmost bliss whenever he hears her pleasantries. Seeing that Krishna is happy with her humorous remarks, grandma calls him again and again: “Orey nāti-cāṅd (“moon-like grandson”)! Come here!” The acharyas say: “Those who think of Krishna as the Supreme Truth cannot understand him in full. Sri Govinda, who is the embodiment of sweetness, can only be fully realized through a sweet loving attitude. One should not think, though, that the knowledge of the Lord’s prowess is thereby somewhat lost. Knowledge of the Lord’s sweetness, which is like the Triveṇī, (the confluence of the Gaṅgā, Yamunā and Sarasvatī) is always inseparably strewn together with knowledge of the Lord’s prowess. When separation is experienced this is being revealed and thus saves the life of the separated devotee. Śrī Raghunātha bows down at the feet of Krishna’s paternal grandmother Variyasi, who is most conscious of his sweetness – kṛṣṇa mora nāti’ boli garve buka bharā; kṛṣṇa sukha sampad heri sukhe ātma-hārā pautra garve pā phele nā kabhu dharaṇīte; hāsya parihāse magna govinda sahite kṛṣṇa pitāmahī boli yāra kautuka kathā; ullāsete śune sabe prasaṅga hoy yathā sei varīyasī kṛṣṇa pitāmahī yini; kṛpā-lobhe sadā pade praṇata ye āmi “Eager for her mercy I bow down to Kṛṣṇa’s paternal grandmother Varīyasī, whose heart is filled with pride as she says: “Kṛṣṇa is my grandson!”, whose feet don’t touch the ground out of pride of Her grandson, who is always immersed in joking and laughing with Govinda and who gladly speaks of herself as Kṛṣṇa’s paternal grandmother, something which is gladly heard and discussed by all the others.”
  21. May Kṛṣṇa’s uncle Upananda, who delights his nephew with billions of life-airs, whose face is beautified by a white moustache, who has a blackish complexion, who is a wise and learned counsellor, who lives in the village of Sāhāra and who always stays in the government of the king of Vraja as a learned scholar, always protect the land of Vraja! śveta-śmaśru-bhareṇa sundara-mukhaḥ śyāmaḥ kṛtī mantraṇā- bhijñaḥ saṁsadi santataṁ vrajapateḥ kurvan sthitiṁ yo’rcitaḥ sva-prāṇārbuda-khaṇḍanair murabhidaṁ bhrātuḥ sutaṁ toṣayet sāhāre nivasan sa goṣṭham avatān nāmnopanandaḥ sadā Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Shripad Goswami Charan praises Upananda, the elder brother and minister of Nanda Maharaj. upanando’bhinandaś ca pitṛvyau pūrvajau pituḥ. pitṛvyau tu kanīyāṁsau syātāṁ sannanda nandanau “Nanda’s elder brothers are Upananda and Abhinanda, and his younger brothers are Sannanda and Nandana.” (Rādhā-kṛṣṇa-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā 1,32): They are all Krishna’s uncles. Upananda was the oldest son of Parjanya Maharaj, and the third son Nanda inherited the kingdom only because of Upananda’s magnanimity. In the Gopāla-campū it is described as follows, When Parjanya Maharaj considered the qualifications of his sons he decided to hand over the responsibility of the kingdom to his eldest son Upananda. He had become eager to perform Haribhajana and had thus attained peace of mind. He had the royal class, headed by Vasudeva, and the brahminical class, headed by Garga, called into the assembly and gave his eldest son Upananda the royal tilaka there. Sri Upananda kept the order of his father on his head (followed it), considering himself blessed. Then, in the presence of Vasudeva and other great souls he called his younger, middle brother Nanda into the assembly, lovingly embraced him and gave him the kingdom of Gokula by giving him the royal tilaka. Then he honored him as the new king of Gokula. Seeing this inconceivable behavior of his elder brother, Nanda became shy, those present in the assembly were struck with wonder and father Parjanya looked at the two men with eyes wide of bliss. Actually, Parjanya had been desirous to give the kingdom to Nanda, having seen his countless attributes, but he had thought it better just to follow the etiquette and give the kingdom to his oldest son. Seeing this Upananda said: “This is not a thoughtless action of mine, because everyone is controlled by feelings of affection. The proper thing was done, considering Nanda’s glorious attributes. This is not a whimsical action on my behalf, the great qualities of Nanda just have an overwhelming, all-controlling effect. Besides, this is the arrangement of Sri Narayana, the Overseer of all living beings. This is because everyone’s bee-like eyes drink the honey of Nanda’s beautiful lotus-like face. This has been Narayana’s decision long ago. Also, his name is Nanda, while my name is Upananda (sub-Nanda). Upa means inferior and assisting. Hence he is the king of Gokula, and I am his assistant.” Hearing these words of Upananda the demigods showered flowers from the sky and sang sādhu sādhu (glory, glory!). The lotus-like eyes of everyone present began to blossom and the auspicious sounds of jaya jaya! filled the universe. From that day on Nanda, the mine of all great qualities, was the king of Gokula, and Upananda was appointed his minister. (Gopāla Campū Pūrva 3.31-34) Therefore it was said that Upananda is a learned and expert counselor. His body has a deep blackish complexion and his face is beautified by a white moustache, which are signs of a learned and expert advisor and minister. His expert advice was the source of an increase in Nanda’s bliss in all respects. When the demons caused havoc in Gokula it was Upananda who advised the cowherd community to leave Gokula and move to the safe haven of Vrindavan, just to save his nephew Krishna, who was dearer to him than millions of lives. It was on his advice also that the safe haven Nandishwar Giri was established as the capital of the king of Vraja. When the people of Vraja are safe then Shripad Raghunath Das is also safe and his aspirations will be fulfilled – that is the secondary meaning transcending the first meaning of the verse. śveta śmaśru-bhare yāra vadana sundara; śyāma ruci aṅga śobhā ati manohara mantraṇāya mahā-vijña nanda sabhā mājhe; pūjita hoyena yini paṇḍita samāje bhrātuṣputra śrī govinde kolete koriyā; santoṣa vidhāna kore marama bujhiyā sei kṛṣṇa pitṛvya śrī upananda nāma; goṣṭha-rakṣā korun tini ei nivedana “I pray that Krishna’s uncle, who is named Upananda, whose face is beautified by a white moustache, whose body shines with an enchanting blackish luster, who is the very expert counselor in the assembly of Nanda Maharaj, who is worshiped in the assembly of scholars, who takes his nephew Govinda on his lap and makes Him happy by understanding his feelings, may protect the goṣṭha!”
  22. ← Kedarnath temple Braj, 2018.06.03 Many of the residents of Braj have never been to this most auspicious area which was created by Shri Krishna so that his parents would not have to travel to the Himalayas to perform char dham yatra (pilgrimage of the four Holy Dhams). If the area was promoted then more local and domestic tourists would make the journey, and many would feel very blessed at being able to get the benefits of a long Himalayan pilgrimage without having to leave Braj or take a ten day trip into the Himalayas. It is commonly thought that going on char dham yatra is necessary to achieve salvation. The lila behind Braj’s char dham yatra is that Nanda Maharaj was anxious that he was getting older and did not have any children, so, he made a vow that if he was blessed with a son, he would go on char dham yatra. As well as providing darshan of the four Dhams – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri – there are also some pilgrimage sites here that one can not get darshan of in the Himalayas, like Laksman Jula. Laksman Jula is a stone protruding from the mountain. It is said that Shri Laksman sat here for meditation. Another specialty of Braj’s char dham yatra is that, close to the Gangotri and Yamunotri streams, there is a stone on which Shri Krishna’s footprint can be seen. Path to Kedarnath temple → While work is underway to beautify Vrindavan, we can only hope that this out of the way place gets developed soon. Presently, there are no toilet facilities and no accommodation close to Braj’s Badrinath temple. There are drinking water facilities near the Badrinath temple and some fast food sellers, but the lack of cleanliness of the nearby Tapas Kund is disappointing. The road to Braj Badrinath passes through Alwar and through the fields to Pasopar village in the Kaman District of Rajasthan. This stop on the Braj Mandal Parikrama is around 8 kilometres from the stop before – Khoh village. Behind the Badrinath temple, there are two streams representing Yamunotri and Gangotri. There is a gate at the back of the temple leading to a hiking trail. After a half kilometre walk through the mountains, devotees reach the Yamunotri and Gangotri streams and the Yamuna Maharani and Ganga Devi temple. The best time to visit is July-August because the streams dry up at other times of the year. Closeby is Braj’s Kedarnath, where devotees can have darshan of a Shiva ling in a cave at the top of a hill and can take darshan of the Shri Ram temple at the bottom of the hill. Braj’s char dham yatra is the furthest point from the center of Braj on the Braj Mandal Parikrama. From here, the parikrama starts heading back.
  23. Traditionally, Indian poets like to conclude their works with a phala-śruti, a summary of the benefits that accrue to the person who hears or chants it. In the case of this poem, it seems that Dhruvdas’s enthusiasm to glorify Vrindavan could not stop at his intended 100 verses and he simply added a few more restating the glories of the Dham and his desire to glorify it, even while knowing it is an impossibility. The true purpose is stated in verse 114: The purpose of bhakti is bhakti itself. Bhakti has no ulterior motive. One engages in bhakti only so that one can experience bhakti more fully, for by bhakti one knows the Supreme, and by knowing the Supreme, one attains the parā bhakti, as stated in the Gita and Bhāgavata and all the devotional scriptures. Have faith in Vrindavan. Have hope for Vrindavan vasa. Your heart will be filled with love and you will become immersed in the amazing ocean of rasa that is the Divine Couple’s holy Dham. कुँवरि किसोरी नाम सौं उपज्यौ दृढ़ विस्वास । करुनानिधि मृदु चित्त अति तातैं बढ़ी जिय आस ॥१०१॥ kuɱvari kisorī nāma sauṁ upajyau dṛḏha visvāsa | karunānidhi mṛdu citta ati tātaiṁ baḏhī jiya āsa ||101|| By the beautiful young maiden’s grace, deep faith has arisen in me: she is an ocean of compassion, her heart is soft, and from that I have hope for Braja vasa. जिनकौ वृन्दाविपिन है कृपा तिनहिं की होइ । वृन्दावन में तबहिं तौ रहन पाइहै सोइ ॥१०२॥ jinakau vṛndā-vipina hai kṛpā tinahiṁ kī hoi | vṛndāvana meṁ tabahiṁ tau rahana pāihai soi ||102|| She is the queen of Vrindavan forest, so one who gets her mercy can alone aspire to reside here in the Holy Dham. वृन्दावन सत रतन की माला गुही बनाइ । भाल भाग जाके लिखी सोई पहिरै आइ ॥१०३॥ vṛndāvana sata ratana kī mālā guhī banāi | bhāla bhāga jāke likhī soī pahirai āi ||103|| I have strung a necklace of a hundred jewels; one whose forehead has good fortune written there will wear it. वृन्दावन सुख रंग की आसा जो चित होइ । निसि दिन कंठ धरे रहै छिन नहिं टारै सोइ ॥१०४॥ vṛndāvana sukha raṁga kī āsā jo cita hoi | nisi dina kaṁṭha dhare rahai china nahiṁ ṭārai soi ||104|| One whose heart aspires to taste Vrindavan’s joyful pastimes should wear this necklace day and night, and not take it off for even a moment. वृन्दावन सत जो कहै सुनिहै नीकी भाँति । निसि दिन तेहिं उर जगमगै वृन्दावन की काँति ॥१०५॥ vṛndāvana sata jo kahai sunihai nīkī bhāɱti | nisi dina tehiṁ ura jagamagai vṛndāvana kī kāɱti ||105|| One who recites or listens to this Vrindavan century of verses, will experience the illumination of Vrindavan shining in his heart day and night. वृन्दावन कौ चिन्तवन यहै दीप उर बारि । कोटि जनम के तम अघहिं काटि करै उजियारि ॥१०६॥ vṛndāvana kau cintavana yahai dīpa ura bāri | koṭi janama ke tama aghahiṁ kāṭi karai ujiyāri ||106|| Meditation on Vrindavan is like a lamp, which illuminates the heart and removes the darkness of sins that have accumulated there for millions of lives. बसि कै वृन्दाविपिन में इतनौ बड़ौ सयान । जुगल चरन के भजन बिन निमिष न दीजै जान ॥१०७॥ basi kai vṛndāvipina meṁ itanau baḏau sayāna | jugala carana ke bhajana bina nimiṣa na dījai jāna ||107|| While living in Vrindavan one should become more and more clever, until not even a moment goes by without doing bhajan of the Divine Couple’s lotus feet. सहज विराजत एक रस वृन्दावन निज धाम । ललितादिक सखियन सहित क्रीड़त स्यामा स्याम ॥१०८॥ sahaja virājata eka rasa vṛndāvana nija dhāma | lalitādika sakhiyana sahita krīḏata syāmā syāma ||108|| Naturally absorbed in the single spirit of love, in their own abode of Vrindavan, the Divine Couple Shyama-Shyam play eternally with Lalita and all the sakhis. प्रेम सिन्धु वृन्दाविपिन जाकौ अन्त न आदि । जहाँ कलोलत रहत नित जुगल किसोर अनादि ॥१०९॥ prema sindhu vṛndāvipina jākau anta na ādi | jahāɱ kalolata rahata nita jugala kisora anādi ||109|| Vrindavan is an ocean of love that has neither beginning nor end, which surges and billows with the beginningless Divine Couple’s pastimes. न्यारौ चौदह लोक तें वृन्दावन निज भौंन । तहाँ न कबहूँ लगत है महा प्रलय की पौन ॥११०॥ nyārau caudaha loka teṁ vṛndāvana nija bhauṁna | tahāɱ na kabahūɱ lagata hai mahā pralaya kī pauna ||110|| Unique in the fourteen worlds is their abode of Vrindavan, where the winds of cosmic destruction never blow. महिमा वृन्दाविपिन की कहि न सकत मम जीह । जाकै रसना द्वै सहस तिनहूँ काढ़ी लीह ॥१११॥ mahimā vṛndāvipina kī kahi na sakata mama jīha | jākai rasanā dvai sahasa tinahūɱ kāḏhī līha ||111|| My tongue is incapable of properly speaking the glories of Vrindavan, but even Shesha, who has two thousand tongues, has to admit defeat when trying. एती मति मोपै कहाँ सोभा निधि वनराज । ढीठौ कै कछु कहत हौं आवत नहिं जिय लाज ॥११२॥ etī mati mopai kahāɱ sobhā nidhi vanarāja | ḍhīṭhau kai kachu kahata hauṁ āvata nahiṁ jiya lāja ||112|| How much intelligence do I have, and how great is the ocean of Vrindavan’s beauty? Yet I have audaciously tried to say something of king of forest, without shame. मति प्रमान चाहत कह्यौ सोऊ कहत लजात । सिन्धु अगम जिहिं पार नहिं कैसैं सीप समात ॥११३॥ mati pramāna cāhata kahyau soū kahata lajāta | sindhu agama jihiṁ pāra nahiṁ kaisaiṁ sīpa samāta ||113|| My mind wants to say something about Vrindavan, but that is embarrassing, for when it comes to this, even the scriptures are like an oyster shell trying to contain the ocean. या मन के अवलम्ब हित कीन्हौं आहि उपाय । वृन्दावन रस कहन में मति कबहूँ उरझाय ॥११४॥ yā mana ke avalamba hita kīnhauṁ āhi upāya | vṛndāvana rasa kahana meṁ mati kabahūɱ urajhāya ||114|| I have only engaged this mind in order to find a way to benefit it, so that my intelligence becomes absorbed in tasting the rasa of Vrindavan. सोलह सै ध्रुव छ्यासिया पून्यौ अगहन मास । यह प्रबन्ध पूरन भयौ सुनत होत अघ नास ॥११५॥ solaha sai dhruva chyāsiyā pūnyau agahana māsa | yaha prabandha pūrana bhayau sunata hota agha nāsa ||115|| In the year 1686, on the full moon day of Agrahayan month, this composition, hearing which all one’s sins are destroyed, was completed. दोहा वृन्दाविपिन के इकसत षोड़श आहि । जौ चाहत रस रीति फल छिन छिन ध्रुव अवगाहि ॥११६॥ dohā vṛndāvipina ke ikasata ṣoḏaśa āhi | jau cāhata rasa rīti phala china china dhruva avagāhi ||116|| I hereby complete this poem of 116 couplets in glorification of Vrindavan, Dhruvdas, who desires the rasika ways of Vrindavan, immerses himself in it at every moment.
  24. ← The Madan Mohan temple Vrindavan, 2018.05.31 Earlier this month, Madan Mohan temple celebrated their 515th anniversary. This mysterious temple is one of the iconic architectural monuments of Vrindavan, but, have you ever wondered, how many people go straight past it on the way to Banke Bihari, without considering that perhaps it might be worthwhile to climb up the small hill on which this historical temple stands? Sanatan Goswami’s Madan Mohan deity is in Jaipur, it is true, but the temple’s service tradition continues unbroken. Aurangzeb made many attempts to destroy Madhan Mohan temple but was defeated every time. Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan kutir and Samadhi are on the grounds and the 70ft tila (hill) is a great vantage point for Yamuna darshan. Madan Mohan temple is one of the few protected monuments in Vrindavan. The temple roof is of a similar design to the Yugal Kishore temple near Keshi Ghat, but Madan Mohan temple was built almost 100 years before Yugal Kishore temple. Madhan Mohan temple was built in the 1500’s and Yugal Kishore temple was build in the early 1600’s. Both have a distinctively tall, red sandstone shikhara (roof tower) decorated by vertical lines and rings, with a prominent amalaka (circular design) at the top. Keshi Ghat was built in the 1700’s and also has a similarly designed temple tower. The story of Madan Mohan starts from the Yamuna. Legend has it that Mrs Chaube was taking her morning bath in the Yamuna when she saw a small boy playing closeby. She called out to him but he didn’t answer. She went over to him and picked him up, carrying him home. Madan Mohan told her that he will stay with her, but, if she ever tells him to get out of the house, he will leave forever. ← The Yugal Kishore temple So the family lived happily for many years, but the small boy was mischievous and would steal butter from the neighbour’s houses. The people of Mathura would complain to Mrs Chaube and, one day, after receiving many complaints, Mrs Chaube angrily told Madan Mohan to get out of the house. Sanatan Goswami was passing by the house at that very time and Madhan Mohan stopped him and asked to accompany him. Sanatan Goswami agreed, on the condition that the boy would accept whatever food was given to him and would not mind where he slept because Sanatan Goswami was a living as a mendicant and so had no luxurious accommodations. Madan Mohan agreed, so, Sanatan Goswami brought him to Vrindavan. They started living on the hill where Madan Mohan temple now stands. Sanatan Goswami would ask for flour from the townsfolk, mix it with Yamuna water and make rotis for Madan Mohan then eat the same, plain rotis every day. One day, Madan Mohan said that he wanted some salt with his rotis and Sanatan Goswami became angry. At that time, a merchant named Ramdas was travelling from Delhi to Agra via the Yamuna carrying fruit and salt. Mysteriously, his boat got stuck when it reached Vrindavan and Ramdas saw Sanatan Goswami and Madan Mohan on the hill. Madan Mohan said that he would help Ramdas to dislodge the boat and asked what he would get in return. Ramdas said that the goods he was carrying were water damaged, so he had nothing to give, to which Madan Mohan replied that Ramdas should check the boat again. Ramdas saw that his boat was filled with precious jewels and he readily agreed to use some of this wealth to build temples. As well as Madan Mohan temple, Ramdas also built Madaneshwar Mahadev temple, Shetala Devi temple, Surya Temple and Surya Ghat. According to temple history, Madan Mohan said that he wanted to enjoy an abhishek and, while the abhishek was underway, he turned into a deity. Madan Mohan is also known as Chatore Madan Mohan. The temple pujaris say that he got this name because he demands a different dish every day! Madan Mohan ki jai! Yamuna Maharani ki Jai!
  25. Govardan, 2018.05.27 This enchanting sarovar is situated Parsauli village in Govardhan. This sarovar is one of the places where the Maharasa takes place, so it abounds with secrets and mysteries. Many groups make this kund the 6th stop on Braj Mandal Parikrama. This stopping point is around 8km from Mukharai, Radha Rani’s Grandmother, Mukhara Devi’s village. In Mukharai village, there is a kund called Mukhara Kund. After departing from Mukharai, pilgrims take darshan of Radha Kund and then reach Chandra Sarovar. There is not much in the way of facilities for visitors here. There is no drinking water or shady place to sit. There are no facilities for visitors to stay overnight and no toilets. This kund, which is said to have been made by moonbeams should be one of the most glorious and luxurious places of Braj. As you have probably heard, during the Maharasa, time stood still. While time stood still for one whole day of Lord Brahma. Chandra Ma (the moon) stood still above Parsauli village and it is said that the moonbeams that rained down here created what we now call Chandra Sarovar. This pastime is described in the Varah Purana and this sarovar the Garga Samhita says that Chandra Sarovar is the nose of Giriraj Ji. There is a small shrine here called Shringar Mandir, where Shri Krishna decorated Radha with flower garlands and ornaments. Surdas came Chandra Sarovar to meditate on Radha Krishna’s pastimes and there is a shrine to him called ‘Sur Kuti’. Shri Krishna performs Rasa Lila of two distinct types, one in the autumn season (Saradiya) and one in the spring season (Vasant), on Vaisakha Purnima. Chandra Sarovar is associated with Shri Krishna’s Vasant Rasa. In Saradiya, the autumn season, the Rasa Dance was performed in Vrindavan, under the shade of the Vamsivata tree, in the beginning of Kartika month. All classes of gopis participated in that Saradiya rasa-yatra, whereas in this Govardhana Vasanti-rasa, only the highest class of gopis were allowed to participate. In this Spring Rasa Dance, Lord Krishna openly demonstrated the prominence and superiority of Srimati Radhika. Krishna disappeared in the midst of this Vasanti Rasa Dance, and all the gopis were bitterly crying, “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” The gopis searched for him everywhere, and after some time they saw him in his four-handed form, standing like a statue. Coming nearer, they said, “Oh, he looks like Krishna, but at the same time he is not Krishna. Our Krishna is not four-handed. Where is his flute, his peacock feather, and all his other apparel gone? He now carries a conch shell, disc, club, and lotus flower – in four hands!” They prayed to him, “We are very attached to Krishna, and we are searching for him. We will die without him. If you are Narayana, please be merciful and tell us which way he went. Be merciful so that we may find him.” Then, after praying in this way, they left and went on their way. When Srimati Radhika was arriving after the other gopis had left that place, the breeze that had just touched her veil carried so much fragrance from her body that it entered the nostril of Krishna and he thought, “Oh, my most beloved is near.” He forgot that he was supposed to maintain his four-handed form, and he could no longer hide his original form. Two hands disappeared at once, entering his body, and his original two-armed form reappeared – with his flute in his hands and his peacock feather atop his head. “At the beginning of the Rasa Dance, Lord Krishna hid himself in a grove just to have fun. When the gopis came, their eyes resembling those of deer, by his sharp intelligence he exhibited his beautiful four-armed form to hide himself. But when Srimati Radharani came there, he could not maintain his four arms. This is the wonderful glory of her love.” (a quotation from the Ujjvala-nilamani by Srila Rupa Goswami, as quoted in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita 1.17.293) When Krishna sees Radhika, his most beloved and the embodiment of all love and affection, he forgets everything else. All glories to Shri Radha who is the enchanter of the enchanter!
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