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  1. Govardhan, 2018.09.20 Religious books and paraphernalia were mixed with rubble yesterday as Kishan Das Baba’s cottage was demolished by bulldozer. The JCB machine stopped before reaching the Govardhan shila that is worshiped at the ashram. The incident took place at Pt. Gaya Prasad Samadhi Sthal located on the Parikrama Marg at Aanyor. Baba said that he was not even given time to remove his belongings from the room and accused the administration of harassing saints. Baba said that if the bulldozer had touched the Giriraj Shila, it would have been even worse, so he is grateful that the bulldozer stopped just before the Shila. After several rounds of demolitions, Govardhan’s saints are now slowly starting to unite in protest. Several dozen ashrams, goshalas, samadhis, and sadhu’s huts have already been demolished. Forestry Officer DP Singh said that the belongs to the Forestry Department and, one month ago, instructions were given to the ashram to demolish the building themselves, however, Kishan Das Baba said that the matter is currently before the District court, with the hearing scheduled for 25th of this month. The JCB machine was operating under the instruction of Forestry Department SDO Prashant Pandey and Tehsildar Ajay Singh. With the support of the National Green Tribunal, the Forestry Department is taking action to reclaim Forestry Department land at the foothills of Govardhan.
  2. ← Mota Ganesh, Vrindavan Braj, 2018.09.14 (VT): Shri Ganesh is worshiped before any other Thakurji and blesses us with removing obstacles in our everyday life and devotional life. To honour Shri Ganesh, programs were held across Braj yesterday. Every Thakurji has specific lovable qualities and Ganesh ji is known for being a lover of good food, especially Laddus. There was a rush on ‘boondi laddu’ yesterday as, all over Braj and India, people rushed to the markets to purchase laddus Ganesh pooja. At the Ganesh temple near Narasimha Bagicha in Mathura, 1008 Laddus were offered. And, after eating so many laddus, Ganesh is bound to become robust. So, across India and in Vrindavan, one of the most loved Ganesh Deities is the form of ‘Mote Ganesh’. In the Athakhamba area of Vrindavan’s main Bazaar, in the lane known as ‘Mota Ganesh wala line’, crowds of Brajwasis made their way through the crowds to make offerings to Mota Ganesh. And, while some schools and colleges had the day off, others conducted pooja and cultural programs in honour of Shri Ganesh. At Saraswati Vidyalaya, the students worshiped Shri Ganesh, then enjoyed the laddu Prasad. The principal narrated Ganesh ji katha. At Gyanadeep Akash Bharti, principal Preeti Bhatia reminded students that at the start of every auspicious work, Ganesh pooja should be conducted. At KDS International School, students performed traditional songs and dances for their classmates. Group chairman, Advocate Mahendra Pratap Singh, lit the lamp near the Deity of Shri Ganesh ji. Shri Ganesh Samiti organized a function at Shreeji Peeth in which Shri Ganesh ji’s Panchamrita Mahabhishek was performed. Crowds flocked to Katyayani Devi temple for darshan of Siddha Ganesh ji with whom many miracles are associated. This amazing deity traveled from Jaipur to England to Calcutta and finally to Vrindavan. (Read full story here). Ganesh pooja is usually carried out in the morning and many choose to stay indoors in the evening as seeing the moon on this night is thought to be inauspicious. Legend has it that Chandra Ma laughed at Ganesh ji so Ganesh ji cursed Chandra Ma to lose His shine. Ganeshji later relented and said that the moon would lose and regain his shine every month. On this evening, the moon is only a thin strip and it is thought that anyone who looks at the moon will be falsely accused of some wrongdoing. Such is the strength of this curse that it even affected Shri Krishna who was accused of stealing the Syamantaka Mani. In order to ward of the inauspiciousness, many householders read the ‘Syamantaka Path’ during the evening. Even common wisdom holds that ‘history is destined to be repeated by those who forget its lessons’, so, remembering this katha helps remind us to stay cautious and humble. Mota Ganesh temple, Vrindavan Boondi laddu
  3. ← Radha Govinda dieties [From Harikatha: In the early morning of September 14th, 2002, in order to commence the celebration of Shri Radhastami in the opulently decorated Shri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura, Shrila Narayana Maharaja requested the devotees to sing " Śrī kṛṣṇa-birahe " from Siddhi-lālasā by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. After that he explained some of the verses as follows:] śrī kṛṣṇa-birahe, rādhikāra daśā, āmi ta sahite nāri yugala-milana sukhera kāraṇa, jībana chāḏite pāri (1)"I am absolutely unable to tolerate Shri Radhika’s pitiable condition when She is suffering in separation from Shri Krishna, but I am fully prepared to immediately give up my life for the sake of Their happy reunion." (Verse 1) Only under the guidance of [a raganuga guru like] Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur it is possible to render service to Shrimati Radhika. In the mood of a maidservant of Shrimati Radhika, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has written that he cannot tolerate Radhika’s condition during the time of her separation from Krishna. And, for their meeting together, he is readily prepared to easily give up his life. rādhikā-caraṇa, tyājiẏā āmāra, kṣaṇeke pralaẏa haẏa rādhikāra tare, śata-bāra mari, se duḥkha āmāra saẏa (2)"If I were ever to renounce Radhika’s lotus feet for even an instant, I would be totally devastated. For her sake I will gladly tolerate the pain and agony of death hundreds of times." (Verse 2) Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur is saying: "I can give up anything. I can even give up Krishna, but I cannot give up the lotus feet of Radhika, even for a moment. For the service of Radhika I am prepared to die hundreds and millions of times, but I could never tolerate giving up her association for a second. When will that day come that I can render some service to her lotus feet? How can I have attachment for this Radhika, and how can I attain the perfect service of her lotus feet? e hena rādhāra caraṇa-yugale, paricaryā pāba kabe hāhā braja-jana, more daẏā kari, kabe braja-bane labe (3)"When will I be able to serve Radhika’s two lotus feet? Alas, I beg you all, O residents of Vraja, please be merciful to me now. When will you take me into the forests of Vraja?" (Verse 3) bilāsa mañjarī, anaṅga mañjarī, śrī rūpa mañjarī āra āmāke tuliẏā, laha nija pade, deha more siddhi sāra (4)"O Vilasa Manjari! O Ananga Manjari! O Rupa Manjari! Please lift me up and bring me close to your own lotus feet, thereby bestowing upon me the ultimate perfection." (Verse 4) Weeping bitterly, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur is praying, "O Vrajavasis, please be merciful to me! Place me in the service of the Divine Couple. Especially, please place me in the service of Radhika’s lotus feet. When will that day come that Shri Vilasa Manjari [Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s Guru-rupa sakhi, Ananga Manjari, the Vrindavan lila form of Jahnava Mata, the founder of Bhaktvinoda Thakur’s diksha parampara, and Rupa Manjari, the siksha guru of all Gaudiya Vaishnavas] and others will take me to Vraja? I long to render service." [The devotees then sang Shrila Gaur Kishor Das Babaji Maharaja’s "Uddesye Racita Gita Boliya Pracalita," (The Song Glorifying the Life Goal of Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami). The following is the first Bengali verse and the English translations of all the verses.] kothāya go premamayi rādhe rādhe rādhe, rādhe go, jaya rādhe, rādhe Where is she who is full of prema? All glories to Shri Radha! (1) O Radha! Please give me your darshan and save my life. Your wretched beggar calls out to you, "Radhe, Radhe!" (2) O Radha, you enjoy pleasure pastimes in the forest of Vrindavan, wherein you enchant the mind of Krishna. (3) O Radha, you are the crest-jewel among your eight principal sakhis. O Radha, daughter of Vrishabhanu Baba. (4) Raghunath Das Goswami was always calling out, "Radhe! Radhe!" (5) …sometimes at Kesi Ghata, sometimes at Vamsi Vata. (6) …sometimes in Nidhuvana, sometimes at Seva Kunja. (7) …sometimes at Radha Kunda, sometimes at Syama Kunda. (8) …sometimes at Kusuma Sarovara, sometimes at Giriraja Govardhana. (9) …sometimes at Talavana, sometimes at Tamalvana. (10) Raghunath Das wears simple cloth which appears to be dirty because he is always rolling on the earth crying out, "Radhe! Radhe!" (11) Calling out "Radhe! Radhe," his eyes are bursting with a flood of tears. (12) He wanders throughout the lanes of Vrindavan crying out, "Radhe! Radhe!" (13) He knows nothing but Radha-Govinda throughout the day and night (56 dandas: 1 danda= 24 minutes). Radhe! Radhe! (14) He takes rest for only 4 dandas (1 hr. 36 min.) At that time he receives darhsana of Radha-Govinda in his dreams. Radhe! Radhe! (15) Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami has heard from Shrila Svarupa Damodara, Shrila Raya Ramananda, Shrila Rupa Goswami, and especially from Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami, and thus he is presenting this tattva. Shrimati Radhika’s name is Govinda-Nandini (She who makes Shri Krishna happy), and there is nothing higher than this. Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami has revealed some of the names of Radhika in his Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila chapter four. govindānandinī rādhā, govinda-mohinī govinda-sarvasva, sarva-kāntā-śiromaṇi Radha is the one who gives pleasure to Govinda, and she is also the enchantress of Govinda. She is the be-all and end-all of Govinda, and the crest jewel of all his consorts. (CC Adi 4.82) One of her names is Govinda-nandinī. Govinda is the controller of everything. He is the extreme limit of the conception of the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna. He is full with unlimited opulence and sweetness. Who can give happiness to him? Only one personality can do so – Krishna himself in the form of Shrimati Radhika. She is Govinda-Mohinī. Krishna attracts all living entities, including animals, trees and creepers. He especially attracts all the Vraja gopis, but Radhika can attract him. Krishna bewilders everyone in this world by his māyā-śakti, and in the spiritual world he bewilders all by his beautiful form, qualities, and pastimes. He can bewilder everyone; yet Shrimati Radhika can bewilder him. Radhika is Govinda-Sarvasva. She is everything to Krishna. She is the be-all-and-end-all of Krishna; for him, nothing remains. Shri Radha is sarva-kāntā-śiromaṇi, the crown jewel of all Krishna’s beloveds. All the gopis were searching for Krishna after his disappearance from the Rasa dance. When her own sva-pakṣa gopis (the gopis from her own group) saw her footprints along with Krishna’s, they became very happy – knowing them to be hers. However, when the other groups of gopis saw them, not knowing to whom they belonged, they could only understand that this particular gopi had served Krishna more than any other – and therefore he left the Rasa dance with her alone. Shri Radha herself has become Chandravali and all the other gopis. There is no other beloved of Krishna – only Shrimati Radhika. She herself has become all the Lakshmis [Goddesses of Fortune], and all the queens of Dvaraka. If one thinks deeply about this, he will understand her greatness. Sita Devi and all the Lakshmis are manifestations of Radha, and she assumes these forms to fulfill Krishna’s desires. She is kṛṣṇa-mayī; She sees Krishna everywhere – inside and outside of herself. Wherever her mind or senses go, it is only for and about Krishna. When she sees a tamal tree She thinks, "Oh, there is Krishna." Her name is Radhika because she fulfills all the desires of Krishna and because he himself worships her. An example of his worshiping her is when he took her to a solitary place after leaving the Rasa dance, at which time even the vipakṣa gopis (rival party) also confirm this. Radhika is para-devatā, just as Krishna is: she is the most worshipable of all. Moreover, she is worshiped by Krishna himself. Is she not therefore worshipable by everyone? Once Radhika asked Vrinda Devi, "Where are you coming from?" Vrinda Devi replied, "I’m coming from Radha Kund. I saw Krishna there." Radharani asked, "What was he doing?" Vrinda Devi replied that he was dancing. Radha then asked, "Oh, who was his dancing teacher?" Vrinda Devi told her, Your reflection, Radhika, which he sees in every tree. Whatever prema exists in this world comes from Radhika. She is the mother of everyone because she nourishes everyone by giving them prema. Krishna is the principle Deity of all jivas, and Radhika is also. This is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā: ānanda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhāvitābhis tābhir ya eva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūto govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi "I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who resides in his own realm, Goloka, with Radha, who resembles his own spiritual figure and who embodies the ecstatic potency (hlādinī). Their companions are her confidantes, who embody extensions of her bodily form and who are imbued and permeated with ever-blissful spiritual rasa." Shri Radhika is sarva-lakṣmī-mayī, which means that all the various gopis emanate from her, and she is therefore the predominating deity of all the sakhis. As many beloveds as there are, she is their controlling deity. She is Kanti, which means that during Rasa-lila, only she could fulfill all the desires of Shri Krishna. There were hundreds of millions of gopis dancing, but when Radhika left, the Rasa dance stopped. Krishna appears as Mahaprabhu in order to taste all of Radhika’s loving moods; He cannot do so in Vraja-lila. What are Krishna’s thoughts when he is in Mathura and Dwarka and feeling separation from Radhika? He prays to her, "O most worshipful Radha! My mind always remains with you. I’m always anxious for the dust of your lotus feet. Somehow, in some form, I stay in Vrindavan. O Shrimati Radhika, I am roaming in those forests, playing on my flute, only in search for you. O Radhika, I go to the Yamuna, not to take bath, but only to meet with you. Otherwise there is no need to go there. I sit on the bank of Yamuna only to meet with you and serve you. "I stopped grazing cows, and I stopped all other activities. Seeing your beauty I became so eager; My eyes moved here and there and my mind was restless. I used to wait underneath a kadamba tree, thinking, ‘When will she come by this way?’ I am meditating upon your qualities, and upon your beauty which is like the auspicious svati-naksatra (constellation). The skylark (cakora bird) won’t drink any other water besides the water coming from the clouds at the time of the svati-constellation. Similarly, I am like a cakora bird, and your beauty is like rain falling during that constellation. I am eagerly waiting for you, to have your darshan. Your beauty and qualities steal my heart. I don’t want those qualities to steal my heart, but I forget everything else in my separation from you." Hearing this, Radhika replied, "O Prananath, lord of my life’s breath, I am your eternal servant and you are my life and soul, the only love in my life. I surrender myself unto your lotus feet. You may love me or neglect me, in your life or by your mind. You can leave me and thus bring me suffering. Whatever you desire, your happiness is my happiness and your life is my life. I don’t want anything other than your happiness in my life. As you realize my happiness and sorrows, so I can realize yours. You feel happiness by seeing me, but by seeing you I become millions of times more happy. There is no comparison to my happiness in these worlds. I am happy only by seeing your happiness. I am always blissful because I have no concept of the happiness of others; I only desire your happiness. I want to see your happiness from morning to night, and night to morning. "By seeing me you become happy, and therefore I decorate myself in many ways with śṛṅgāra (ornaments) and alaṅkāra (decorations). I do this for you only; I do this because by seeing me with all these ornaments and decorations you feel great happiness. I dedicate myself unto your lotus feet only to increase your satisfaction and fulfill your desires. I become so happy when you say to me, ‘You are my beloved, my mistress, my life and soul.’ No one can understand the happiness I feel; there is no comparison to it in this world. "When you say to me, ‘O Swaminiji, O Praneshwari Radhike, O my kanta,’ my heart becomes overjoyed, because you are happy when you taste the words Radha-Praneshwari, etc. I feel shy to hear this, and yet I am also very happy. Externally I feel shy, but internally I am extremely happy." Then Krishna said to Radhika, "You are the abode of matchless love. O Vrishabhanu-nandini, (daughter of Vrishabhanu Maharaja), you are the abode of all rasas, and what am I? I am always moving from one forest to another to graze cows. I’m foolish and irreligious. Other than to herd cows, I have no intelligence at all. I don’t know the rules and regulations of love, and only you can teach me these principles. I am always running after cows and playing hide and seek and other games like a village boy, whereas you are the river of prema. I’m just like terribly hot sand in the summer and you, on the other hand, are the river of love. How can there be any comparison between yourself and myself? When you give me the darshan of your love, I immediately become happy –there is no comparison to my happiness. When you bestow your mercy and look towards me, I become indebted to you." Krishna also told the gopis during Rasa Lila: "I have no qualification. I am only a beggar of your love." na pāraye ‘haṁ niravadya-saṁyujāṁ sva-sādhu-kṛtyaṁ vibudhāyuṣāpi vaḥ yā mābhajan durjara-geha-śṛṅkhalāḥ saṁvṛścya tad vaḥ pratiyātu sādhunā "I am not able to repay my debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahma. Your connection with me is beyond reproach. You have me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation." (Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 10.32.22) Now he confirmed this, as he told Shri Radha, "I am so indebted to you. How can I become free from this debt? Please be merciful; You are the abode of mercy. Only you can give me love and fulfill my desires." Hearing this, Shrimati Radhika became shy and replied, "O Shyamasundar! You whose eyes are like lotus petals! You who are the son of the king of Vraja. You steal my heart. To meet with you I shall give up all the rules and regulations of society. I will leave my in-laws’ house, I will give up all consideration of shyness, respect from others, religion and irreligion. I want to come to you and keep you as my own. I want to keep you, even for a moment, but I am only a village girl. I have no quality at all and I am not beautiful. You, on the other hand, are extremely qualified and beautiful, and you are the ornament of your dynasty. There is no rasa in me. I have no idea about rasa, whereas you are the abode of rasa. You are the ocean of mercy, so please bestow your mercy on me. This is my desire." Without the mercy of Shrila Rupa Goswamipada and Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami, no one would have been able to write about these topics. The conception that Radhika is the center of all is exclusively for those in our Gaudiya Sampradaya. We have the specialty that "Krishna is feeling separation from Radhika." No other acharyas can write about all the truths present herein. Shrila Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaja is glorifying and praying to Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami in this kirtana called "Uddesye Racita Gita Boliya Pracalita." He says there that Raghunath Das Goswami was always roaming, sometimes in Nidhuvana and sometimes in Vamsivata, and calling out, "Radhe! Radhe!" Gaura premanande!
  4. Yesterday, Vrindavan celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi by installing temporary shrines, called pandals, throughout the town. People would visit these to pay their respects to the elephant-headed God with prostrations and donations. Some may find it strange that Ganesh would be honored so highly in the land of Krishna, but Ganesh holds a great significance all over India as the God to worship at the beginning of any undertaking, including the worship of other Gods like Krishna! This special status held by Ganesh is the reason why, in many Indian temples, one sees a deity of Ganesh before seeing the primary temple deity. It is said that the tradition of seeing Ganesh before seeing any other deity stems from a blessing given to him by his father, Lord Shiva, who said: “You shall be the first one to be worshipped on all occasions and that no one will be worshiped before you, not even Me. After you are worshiped alone, will anybody else be worshiped.” Additionally, it was Ganesh who wrote the whole of the Mahabharata as it was narrated to him by the sage Vyasa. It is said that when Ganesh’s pen broke during the dictation, he snapped off one of his own tusks in order to continue writing the great epic. Thus, the scared teachings of Lord Krishna, such as those contained in the Bhagavad Gita, would not have been made available to the literate public were it not for the work of the elephant-headed god. On the occasion of Lord Ganesh’s holiday, Vaisnavacharya Chandan Goswami of Radha Raman Temple advised the people of Vrindavan to take caution when venturing out into the night: “Please don’t see the moon tonight. Today in all of the temples, deities will not come outside from their deity rooms to give darshan because of the moon. According to the scriptures, it is prohibited to see the moon on this day. Those who do see it get in trouble by getting a bad name. Once Sri Krishna saw this moon and he was accused of stealing Syamantak Mani (a sacred jewel belonging to the sun god Surya that was said to protect its wearer from any and all natural disasters). No one believed Krishna when He proclaimed his innocence and the rumor circulated everywhere that Krishna killed Prasen in order to take the Syamantak Mani for Himself. Upon hearing this, the mothers of Dwarka warned their children to stay far away from the “thief king.” For the first time in the lila, Lord Balaram also believed in this rumor and left Sri Krishna. Since then, acharyas have always recommended not to see the moon on this day and have kept their deities far from the moon.”
  5. In the earthly realm of Vrindavan and in the spiritual sky, Radha Rani known as Vrindavanesvari, the Queen of Vrindavan, which means that Radha Rani is the one and only controller of everything including the heart of Shri Krishna. In Vraja Gokula, there are two instances wherein Radha’s sakhis will sometimes chant the Hare Krsna Mahamantra to nourish Radhika’s taste in sambhoga vilasa: When She meets with Krsna and to soothe Radha’s searing heart in times of separation from Her beloved Shyam. At other times, the sakhis will sweetly sing “Radhe Radhe!” as they serve Shri Radha throughout the day. Now let’s consider the reality of the present day Vrindavan where I have been living for the last 27 years. In Vraja Dhama, everyone chants “Radhe Radhe” from the time they wake up until the time they take rest. For Vrajavasis, the name of Radha is inseparable from their breathing. They hear the name of Radhe in the wombs of their mothers; they are born with the name of Radha in their ears; they move with the name of Radha in their lives; they dream with the name of Radha in their minds; and they die with the name of Radha on their tongues. By continually hearing and chanting “Radhe Radhe” in this way, every Vrajavasi automatically becomes full of Radha-bhava or gopi-bhava. And this is the goal that all Gaudiya Vaisnavas hope to attain especially by residing in Vrndavana. In Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi, verses 95-97, Gaudiya rasika Acharya Shrila Prabodhananda Saraswati glorifies Radha’s completely pure and ecstatic Holy Name thus: “The name of Radha is the liquid rasa of blissful love (premananda rasam). Radha’s name give the greatest joy when chanted with tender loving affection (mahasukha karam uccharitam prematah). The two syllables Ra and Dha, contain all divine knowledge (vidya para dvakshara). Shri Krisna becomes supremely pleased whenever He hears someone chanting “Radhe Radhe!” (japa mudha gayati). “Even once chanting of Radha nama will immediately attract Shri Krishna (japa sakrid gokulapati akarshak). Lord Madhava Himself lovingly chants Radha nama (mantra japa priti svayam madhava). Sometimes, Hari sits with the sakhis and chants Radha nama until tears run down His lotus face (ali svayam japa ashru mukha hari).” “Sometimes, Krishna goes along the banks of Yamuna and enters the bowerhouse alone (kalindi tata kunja mandira gato). Shyama sits down like the King of Yogis to mediate on the radiance of Radha’s sweet lotus feet (pada jyotir dhyana). Krishna starts chanting Radha nama and soon becomes drenched in tears of love (sada japa prema-ashru purno hari) as He relishes the amazing blossoming mellows of Radha’s blissful loving enchantment (adbhutam ullasad rati rasananda sammohitah). “May the most amazing two syllables (Ra and Dha) become manifest to me forever (tad adhbhutam me radheti varna dvayam). The embrosial elixir “Radha” is my life and soul (tad amritam pradeti me jivanam).” Jai Jai Shri Radhe!!
  6. ← Nandotsav crowds in Gokul temple Gokul, 2018.09.04 This morning, on the auspicious occasion of Nandotsav, devotees flocked to Gokul, the place where Nandotsav was first celebrated. In a feat requiring supernatural intervention, on a rainy night, Vasudeva walked 12 kms (7.5 miles) from Kamsa’s jail in Mathura to Gokul with baby Krishna during and then back to Mathura with Baby Durga. While Devaki and Vasudeva quietly relished the darshan they had of both baby Krishna and Lord Vishnu, at Nanadababa’s home in Gokul, there were joyous celebrations. By the time Krishna’s naming ceremony came around, there was reason to be cautious, as King Kamsa had sent out his soldiers to kill baby Krishna, but, at the time of Krishna’s appearance, in Gokul, there was only joy. Last month Shri Krishna swings on a jhula with Radha Rani in the forests of Vrindavan, but, today in Gokul, there was darshan of a different jhula – baby Krishna’s cradle. The usually sleepy village of Gokul is bustling today as devotees say heartfelt congratulations to each other -we all share the benefits of the most joyous event to have ever happened in this world. A special preparation made for baby Krishna on Nandotsav. The mixture of curd, turmeric and misri was distributed to devotees in Gokul this morning. Temple sevayat Mathura Das Pujari said that during this festival all are absorbed in love for baby Krishna.
  7. ← Sonar Gauranga During the later years of his life, Siddha Jagannath Das baba lived for six months in Vrindavan and six months in Navadweep. Jagannath Das Baba’s amazing Vrindavan pastimes have left us with deities in two separate temples that he personally worshipped with love for many years. Jagannath Das Babaji lived an extraordinarily long life. Different sources give slightly different ages but all agree he lived over 100 years and some say he lived as long as 147 years. Babaji performed many miracles, including jumping up and down (despite being blind and crippled) at the place where Bhaktivinoda Thakur suspected to be the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, thereby verifying the hunch. Jagannath Das Baba left his body in Navadweep, so his Samadhi is there, but there are two very special temples in Vrindavan in which Jagannath Das Babaji’s deities, Sadbhuja Chaitanya and Sonar Gauranga are worshiped. Both of these deities were given away to people. In his work, The Saints of Braj, OBL Kapoor writes: It is difficult to say why Baba twice brought deities then sent them away. Did he not commit an apradha (offence) by doing so? It is not proper to judge the behaviour of a siddha saint by ordinary standards of behavoir. For they are above all the rules and regulations laid down in the scriptures for ordinary devotees. The loving intimacy that develops between the saint and the deity they worship does not countenance rules and regulations. In the game of love that goes on between the two, both are free to behave as they choose. Both play hide and seek with each other.” Sonar Gauranga means Golden Gauranga and there is a delightful lila related to Gaur Nitai’s goldern appearance: “The images were made of Brass and glittered like gold. One night, some robbers came in while Baba was doing bhajan. They said, “we are robbers, you must give us all that you possess. “I am only a servant. The masters are in the temple. You go to them”. The robbers entered the temple. They were overjoyed to see the deities which they thought must be made of gold. So they wrapped them in a blanket and got ready to make their escape, but, the chief of the robbers, who was carrying the images, struck his head against the top of the door frame and fell down, along with the deities. Sonar Gauranga Thinking this to be an ill omen, the robbers left the deities and ran away. The next morning, Babaji asked his servant, Bihariji to give the deities away to someone in Vrindavan. Bihariji took the deities to Vrindavan and gaven them to Ma Goswamini of Gayesapur. At present the deities are installed in a temple at Gopal Bagha in Vrindavan (100 meters from the Radha Gopinath temple main gate). They are known as Sonar Gauranga. But Babaji could not live without deities. He became a siddha saint when he had darshan of Gaur Nitai in Rishikesh, after performing mantra puruscarana – the continuous repetition of a mantra for a specific purpose. After 5 months of chanting continuously and eating only once per day, Gaur Nitai appeared to him. Even after the meeting with Gaura and Nitai, or perhaps because of it, Babaji was focused on deity worship. After some time Babaji said to Bihari, “I do not feel happy without a deity. Get me an image of Mahaprabhu from somewhere. Bihari brought an image of six-armed Mahaprabhu from Dinu Babaji, a Manipuri Vaishnava who lived in Mukhara village near Radha Kund. The image was duly installed and worshipped by Babaji for ten years. Sadbhuja Mahaprabhu After ten years, Babaji said to Bihari, Go and give the deity to someone in Vrindavan. Bihari gave the deity to Nityananda Das Baba of the Gopalguru Matha in Vrindavan. At present this deity is being worshipped in a temple in a lane adjacent to the boundary wall of Nidhivan in Vrindavan. It may be that Jagannatha Dasa Baba had ousted Gaura-Nitai from his temple because he thought they had invited the robbers and created a disturbance in his bhajan. But what offense had the six armed Mahaprabhu committed to deserve his ousting? Baba alone knows. The ways of the saints who have realized the Lord are no less inscrutable than the ways of the Lord Himself.” While the ways of the saints and the Lord may sometimes be inscrutable, it is humbling when we realize how they have acted for our benefit. Jagannatha Das Baba’s Vrindavan lilas have left us with two temples with deities worshipped by a siddha Baba who was in direct contact with the Lord. Shri Shri Gaura-Nitai ki jai! Jagannatha Das Babaji ki jai! Shri Vrindavan Dham ki Jai!
  8. ← Janmastami celebrations at Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi August 30, 2018 Mathura, 2018.08.29 (VT): As the preparations gear up for Janmasthami celebrations in Braj and across India and the world, the place where the birth of Shri Krishna took place is in everyone’s heart. Those who have the most kripa and the most determination to have darshan of the actual place where this most auspicious event took place will not to be deterred by the crowds, traffic jams and possibility of rain. The biggest crowds will be seen on 3rd September, but Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi will also celebrate the festival on 2nd, with the celebrations starting early in Keshavdev temple. There are three main centers of worship in the Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi complex – Kamsa’s prison, the Bhagavad Gita Hall and Keshavdev temple. Shyamcharan Goswami from Keshavdev temple explains that due to Kansa’s prison being nearby, the birth of Shri Krishna was first discovered by the people at the place where Keshavdev temple stands, so, the celebrations start here first. ← Keshav Dev Another spectacle of the Janmastami celebrations at Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi temple is the abhishek of Shri Krishna with 51kg of milk from the teets of a 51kg silver cow. Before the abhishek, a ceremony is conducted to call the 33 crore demigods who reside within the body of every cow. The silver cow was made in Jaipur two years ago and is used for the midnight abhishek of the Lord. After the abhishek, there will will be aarti at 12.40 am. The temple will remain open until around 1.30am. Due to the immense crowds, temple authorities have announced that Prasad will be distributed from both temple exits and that darshan will be televised on a big screen within the temple complex. The chairman of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das reached Mathura late on Wednesday evening. The chairman will preside over the Janmastami celebrations in Mathura and will attend the inaugurations of Braj development projects by CM Yogi Adityanath on 31st August. Extra trains and ticket counters have been announced by the Railways Department. Over the Rakshabandhan weekend, trains were packed and people were seen standing between the carriages. Once again this weekend, it is likely every train to Mathura will be jam-packed. Two extra ticket counters will be opened at Mathura Junction and the Jhansi express service will continue on to Mathura. Inspector Gaurav Saxena said that extra police will be posted on Mathura trains including 65 constables, six head constables and 6 women constables. Crowds are expected to start arriving in Mathura from the 1st.
  9. ← Deities in Nanda Baba temple Braj, 2018.08.31 Janmasthami in Nandagaon and Barsana is one of the festivals that celebrates the connection between the two towns. Even before the birth of Shri Krishna, Brahmins from Barsana will begin arriving in Nanda Mahal to receive the congratulatory offerings. The connection between the two towns remains strong to this day and there is a tradition of women from Barsana marrying men from Nandagaon. The connection between the hometowns of Shri Krishna and Shri Radha is also celebrated at Holi time. The tradition of men from Nandagaon attempting to enter Barsana only to be hit with sticks by Brijwasi women led to the now world-famous Lathmar Holi. ← The hilltop Nanda Baba temple On 3rd September, Barsana Brahmins will make their way to Nandagaon. Each will receive a half-kilo box of sweets. Nanda Baba Temple’s Deepak Goswami said that materials are being collected and preparations are underway to make the laddus. In the evening of Janmasthami, artists will present bhajans from 8pm. From 10pm the dadhi dandhin lila performance will depict the pastimes of Radha-Krishna. At 12 midnight, there will be an abhishek, but the Janmasthami abhishek in this temple is done behind a curtain. After the abhishek, darshan will open for devotees.
  10. Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das (Moods of Vraj): The Puranas, Goswami granthas and most Radha-Krishna Archana Puja books describe the bhakti sadhana of manasic-seva. This is one authentic limb of bhakti. It means to mentally, with your thoughts and feelings, offer varieties of invisible and intangible tasty foods to your beloved Thakurji. Shri Krishna equally accepts any favorable thing that is lovingly and caringly offered to Him, be it done externally with the body or internally with the mind. The bhakta gets the full benefit and result from both devotional practices. Everywhere shastras proclaim the efficacy of this sublime and mystical practice. Here are some examples of the visible effect and power of serving Shri Krishna within the mind. The Padma Purana and Shri Rupa Goswamipada’s Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (1.2.282) both narrate the famous story of the Pratiṣṭhānapura brahmin who burned his finger tip when testing the temperature of his mentally prepared sweet rice for Thakuraji. Afterwards, Shri Vishnu immediately took him to Vaikuntha. Shri Narottama Dasa Thakura: One day while mentally visualizing Radha-Krishna’s divya-lila, Shri Narottama Dasa Thakura was simultaneously mentally stirring milk (his nitya-seva for Swamini). Somehow due absorption in the lila, his “mental milk” boiled over and scalded his hand which he felt and saw upon returning to external consciousness. Shri Jiva Goswamipada thrilled with joy seeing how Narottama had attained bhajana siddhi. (PBC tika Shri Ananta Dasji Maharaja) In Antya-two of Shri Chaitanya Caritamrita, Shri Krishna Dasa Kaviraja tells the amazing story of Nrisimhananda Dasa’s beautiful, opulent and comfortable “mental road” he offered to Mahaprabhu who was traveling outside of Navadvipa. Suddenly his meditation broke and his “mental road” abruptly stopped in the village of Kanai Natashala. And lo and behold in external time and space that is exactly where Mahaprabhu stopped His journey. Once Shri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami suffered severe indigestion. Doctors diagnosed him and found no cause, especially since he only ate a bit of buttermilk. Humbly, Dasa Goswami revealed the mystery—within in mind during his meditation, he relished a little too much of Shrimati Radharani’s “mental kheer prasadam”! A.C. Bhaktivedanta Shrila Prabhupada: Krishna makes no distinction. Thus, if you serve Krishna by mind He will accept. That is sure!” (conv. Hrshikeshanandaji) “But in case you have nothing to offer materially, but still, you can offer in the mind.” (folio: 740417BG.BOM) “Yes, you are correct—spiritual activities, even mentally performed, are beneficial.” (SPletter 72.12-21) Offer Mental Chappana Bhoga (56 delightful preps) Devotees generally eat simply and also externally offer simple foods to Shri Krishna. So why not start doing this from today on to the lotus feet of Shyama in Vraja Dhama? Offer 6 items externally directly to Thakurji Shri Krishna. And then mentally offer 50 more to make it 56. Shri Shri Radha-Krishna pura santoshanam ki jai! Jagannatha Swami ki jai! Shrila Prabhupada introduced and beautifully sang the following bhoga bhajana which he wanted his followers to sing for the pleasure of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna when They enjoy our simple daily offerings. In Gaudiya Padavali i.e. songbooks, there are literally hundreds of such songs, many of which have been in vogue for 500 years. Many vaishnavas try to sing one of these offering songs at least once daily during their “big” bhoga offering to Shri Krishna. While singing, meditate that in your siddha deha you’re right beside Radhika in Nandagrama, assisting Her by cutting, cooking and giving the various delicacies to Yashoda Ma to serve to Shri Krishna. You may become so absorbed in your bhoga-lila smarana manasi seva than you completely forget to eat!
  11. Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.55.28) describes how the Dvaraka queens of Krishna became bashful, and hid themselves here and there upon seeing the teenage Pradyumna (Krishna’s son) whom they mistook to be their husband Shri Krishna. Shri Jiva Goswami said, “Shri Krishna does not age beyond the kaishora period (ages 10-16).” (tika: SB 10.45.3) To be exact, the 19th century Gaudiya Vaisnava acharya Siddha Krishnadasa Tatapada said, “Bhagavan Shri Krishna’s eternal age is 15 years, 9 months, seven and a half days!” In an amazing Bhagavata tika (SB 10.45.3), Gaudiya Vaisnava Mahajana, Shri Jiva Goswami reveals the exact age of Shri Krishna during some of His spectacular pastimes. To please the ears and hearts of our devoted friends, we summarize here: AGE 8: Ashvina Month (Sept-Oct); Shri Krishna played flute. Karttika Month (Oct-Nov); Shri Krishna lifted Mount Govardhana (although Vrajavasis there exclaimed that Krishna was only seven years old). Karttika sukla ekadashi: Indra and Surabhi bathed Shri Krishna and gave name “Govinda”. Karttika sukla dvadashi: Shri Krishna went to Varuna’s kingdom to rescue Nanda Baba. Karttika Purnima: Shri Krishna immersed His Vrajavasis devotees in the lake Brahma-hrada to show them the spiritual realm and Krishnaloka. Karttika Mrgashirsha month: During the winter season, Shri Krishna stole the Vraja kanyas clothing. Next summer: In the summer of his eighth year, Shri Krishna gave mercy to the Yajna patnis, wives of the brahmanas. AGE 9: Ashvina month (autumn, sharada season) In his ninth year, Shri Krishna enjoyed the rasa dance. Phalguna month: (Krishna caturdashi, Shiva Ratri) Krishna rescued Nanda Baba from the Vidhyadhara serpent in Ambikä-vana. Phalguna Holi Purnima: Krishna kills Shankhacuda. AGE 11: Caitra Month: (march-april) On Purnima, Krishna killed Aristasura [and also manifested Radha-kunda] [Krishna’s “running age” although was still age 10] AGE 12: Shri Krishna killed Keshi, the last demon killed in Vraja, on Phalguna sukla dwadasi. On Trayodashi, uncle Akrura took Krishnaji to Mathura. The next day on Phalguna chaturdashi, Shri Krishna killed Kamsa. Once Krishna enters His kaishora period, He does not age beyond that. Nitya nava-yauvanam, saundarya swarupam Bhagavan Shri Krishna ki jai! Jaya Jaya Shri Radhe!
  12. A108-AI

    Confusion over Hariyali Teej dates

    ← Radha Vallabh Ji on Haryali Teej Vrindavan, 2018.08.12 The Teej tithi falling across two dates has created confusion among devotees and the possibility that some will miss out on the Hariyali darshan of their beloved Thakur. Some temples are celebrating Hariyali Teej on the 13th, while others are celebrating on 14th. The festival will be celebrated in Radharaman temple starting on the evening of Monday 13th , but, at Banke Bihari temple the darshan of Thakurji amongst greenery will start from the morning of the 14th. Due to a Supreme Court ruling, doe to excessive crowds in the evenings, Banke Bihari’s management has been told to put up flower bangalows earlier so that devotees can have this spectacular darshan in the mornings also. According to tradition, on Hariyali Teej, Bihariji can be seen sitting on His silver swing when the temple opens in the evening at 5pm, however, this year, management is considering bringing out the swing in the morning also. In the evening, the temple will open at 4pm and will remain open until midnight. Assistant manager, Umesh Saraswat, said that the final decision about Hariyali Teej darshan timings will be made at a meeting on the 13thAugust. Visitors to Radha Vallabha and Radharaman temples will enjoy special songs about Thakurji’s swing pastime, which will continue until Raksha Bandhan on 26th August. Authorities have informed that Vrindavan roads will be closed to visitor vehicles from the 13th and will stay closed until after the Independence Day celebrations on the 15th. The efforts to reduce the traffic congestion will include 80 checkpoints where visitor cars will be redirected by 800 police personnel. E –Rickshaws and tempos will also be stopped, so people will have to walk from the carparks into town. Yesterday also, there were huge crowds in Vrindavan’s temples for Hariyali Amavasya, the tithi that marks the date of the last flower bangalows of the season.
  13. ← Temple and Mosque side by side at Janma Bhoomi Mathura, 20-8.08.11 The issue of meat sellers in the vicinity of Janma Bhoomi Temple was raised for discussion at the District Administration meeting on Friday. The District Magistrate said that meat selling in the vicinity of Janma Bhoomi will not be tolerated, however, the selling of chicken in the Deeg Gate area will not be stopped. DM Sarvagyaram Mishra said that action will be taken against anyone who sells meat within the restricted area. The DM instructed the Food Safety Authority to be vigilant about checking for the selling of meat in restaurants. Out of respect for Hindu sentiments, meat is not allowed to be sold within 1 km of the birthplace of Shri Krishna. Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi of the Yamuna Action Plan said that in the Deeg Gate area, restaurants who are licensed to sell chicken are also selling buffalo and cow meat. He said that to sell cow meat in the vicinity of Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi is a condemnable act. Police Superintendent, Bablu Kumar instructed officers to take action against restaurants who are taking advantage of their license to sell chicken meat to sell other kinds of meat. Mathura is shared between Muslims and Hindus so the government has been unable to make the town an official Hindu pilgrimage site. So, while selling meat is illegal in Vrindavan, it is tolerated in Mathura, despite the significance of Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi. Activities involving meat are continuously monitored. At the beginning of this year, police shut down an illegal slaughterhouse that was operating in the vicinity of Janma Bhoomi.
  14. ← Construction at Asta Sakhi Kund Radha Kund, 2018.08.07 The Deputy Commissioner has issued a directive to remove encroachments from around Asta Sakhi kund within 10 days. The order comes after several court cases spanning 16 years, during which, further construction went on in the area surrounding the kund. Despite receiving the order to remove illegal buildings from around the kunds in 2002, local authorities did not take action. At this time, environmentalist lawyer M C Mehta prepared a detailed report alleging a nexus between a ‘land mafia’ including powerful builders in league with local authorities. In the report, Mehta also alleged that 500 year old kunds had been filled with sand so that buildings could be constructed on top of them. All of these kunds have significance in Krishna Lila, but, due to lack of care, many kunds in Braj have been covered over. As well as highlighting the religious significance of the kunds, the environmentalist lawyer also drew attention to the ecological imbalance that happens when people cover kunds. Kunds are an important natural means of rainwater harvesting and having an open area around the kunds helps to prevent flooding as well as providing a place for pilgrims to gather. During the hearing, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) agreed that some of the kunds are over 300 years old. The ASI said that Asta Sakhi kund is the only remaining example of medieval kund construction techniques and should be preserved. When action was not taken to preserve the kund and surrounding area, the case was again brought before the Supreme Court in 2012, but, once again, despite promises, comprehensive action was not taken to remove the illegal constructions. According to Radha Kund residents, Asta Sakhi kund was developed by the King of Avagadh, Suryapal Singh. There was a 9 acre reserve around the kund, but in 1980, this reserve was divided into plots for housing. Radha Kund resident, Mahendra Goswami was one of the people involved in making the complaint to authorities about the illegal constructions in the 80’s. Goswami said that in the year 2000, when MC Mehta filed the case in the Supreme Court, there were 72 houses in the area. Now there are over 300 houses. Frustrated at the lack of action taken by local authorities to enforce the Supreme Court order, two months ago, local residents brought the case before the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT issued a directive that the court order must be enforced immediately. Last week, Deputy Commissioner, K. Ram Mohan Rao, gave an order to District Magistrate Savagyaram Mishra stating that action must be taken to remove encroachments within 10 days. The Asta Sakhis are the eight leaders of all the other gopis. They always serve Radha and try to please her in every way. They are the dearest and most beloved friends of Srimati Radharani. Rupa Gosvami describes the qualities of these eight main gopis in Radha Krishna Ganodesa Dipika. 1. Lalita Sakhi 2. Visakha Sakhi 3. Campakalata Sakhi 4. Citra Sakhi 5. Tungavidya Sakhi 6. Indulekha Sakhi 7. Rangadevi Sakhi 8. Sudevi Sakhi
  15. Yamuna ji returns at her favorite Keshi Ghat. Kindly ensure that She stays here round the year.
  16. Braj, 2018.08.03 The floodwaters in Braj have started receding but there is still a chance of further rain on Saturday and Sunday. The worst effected have fled their homes or are living on the second story without power and everyone in Braj is feeling the effects of the flooding. Those already living in poor conditions are among the worst affected by the floods Farmers in low lying areas and on the banks of the Yamuna between Delhi and Mathura have lost their vegetable crops or are unable to reach them so vegetables are being brought in from other states. Mohamed Habib, Chairman of the Fruit and Vegetable Market Association said that prices have increased considerably due to the rising Yamuna water level. The effect has been showing for the last 10-15 days and prices are likely to stay high in the coming days. The rising Yamuna levels caused crowds of locals to gather at Keshi Ghat to see the river return to the ghats so many years after she was forcibly diverted by the government’s Riverfront Development Project. Boatmen made a good profit taking people out from the ghat, but now authorities have banned boats from taking passengers until the flooding subsides. The Yamuna at Keshi Ghat on Thursday, Vrindavan Dham In Mathura, 500 houses on the banks of the Yamuna flooded. On Wednesday, DM Sarvgyaram Mishra and other officials visited flood victims. Mathura residents have also been having problems with water supply after the Gokul Barrage was shut down. The water purification machinery at the barrage became jammed with the soil that is being carried along with the floodwaters. Authorities say that the plant is unlikely to restart operation before 8th August. By Thursday, 1500 houses were without power as the electricity department cut off the electricity in flooded areas to avoid the risk of electrocution. Volunteers from the Roti Bank distributing food packets Thursday also saw a sewer line at Atala Chungi exploding and sewage pouring out onto the road. Locals said that hours after the notification was made, no official from the municipal administration had come to see the situation. Some relief for flood victims was organized by the Roti Bank which delivered 350 food packets in Mathura’s Jaisinghpura Bangar on Thursday.
  17. Vrindavan, 2018.07.31 Crowds gathered in Gopeshwar Mahadev temple from the early morning of Monday to give offerings to Gopeshwara. According to Braj legend, after the Maharas, Shri Krishna paid respects to Lord Shiva and Radha Rani gave him the blessing to appear in Braj in gopi form in eternally. In Vrindavan many devotees worship Lord Shiva in the gopi form that he got by bathing in Mansarovar. Only gopis were allowed into the Maharas, but, Lord Shiva was not about to let this stop him. In order to enter the place where the Rasa Lila was happening, Lord Shiva became a Braj gopi. Of the 330 million demigods, only Lord Shiva and Narad Muni got a gopi form, perhaps because both are constantly chanting the names of the Lord and accept even the most humble service. Every evening, the Shiv Ling at Gopeshwar Mahadev temple puts on gopi sringar, so, devotees wanting to offer milk and water to the ling form must go to the temple in the morning. On Monday morning, there was a big crowd of devotees wanting to give their offerings and there are likely to be similar crowds on the three remaining Mondays in Sawan. Sawan is a special month for Shiva, Paravati and Ganesh. Worshiping them, especially during this month, brings benefits to family life. Devotees giving offerings at Gopeshwar Mahadev temple
  18. Govardhan, 2018.07.27 During this year’s Mudiya Mela, police have been demanding that all stalls for prasad and water distribution be registered. Even those distributing Prasad free of cost must pay a Rs3000 deposit, which will be refunded only if the area is found to be clean after the distribution. Those who wish to distribute water are being asked to pay a Rs1500 registration fee. Plastic cups are now banned in the area, so those who serve devotees by providing water on the Parkrama path mostly poor the water onto people’s hands. Bijendra Singh of Hatras said that he has been organizing a feast in Govardhan every year for the fast five years and has never taken permission, but, this year, police came demanded that he get registration. Govardhan Sub District Magistrate, Nagendra Kumar, said that the rule of registering distributions is not new. The rule was also in place last year and Rs5000 was demanded as a deposit, this has been reduced to Rs3000. The SDM said that the deposit will be refunded if the area is cleaned after the distribution.
  19. ← Sanatan Goswami at his samadhi at Madan Mohan temple, Vrindavan Braj, 2018.07.26 On Wednesday, devotees shaved their heads in preparation for Shobhyatra. It is traditional for devotees to shave their heads at this time of year in honour of Sanatan Goswami and his disciples. The head shaving ceremony is usually conducted one day before Guru Purnima, but as it fell on Thursday, the ceremony was done one day earlier. It is said that hair should not be cut on Thursday because our ancestors may think it is an offering to them. Out of respect for tradition, the hair cutting ceremony at Radha Shyama Sundar temple was conducted on Wednesday. Sanatan Goswami left his body in 1558 on Guru Purnima. Hundreds of Brijwasis shaved their heads and did Govardhan Parikrama in his honour. Sanatan Goswami’s reverence for Shri Govardhan is well known even today and we are still getting benefits from the boons he received. As well as the Govardhan Shila at Vrindavan’s Radha Damodar temple, which gives the same benefit as an entire Govardhan Parikrama, Sanatan’s Bhajan Kutir next to Chakaleshwar Mahadev in Govardhan is said to be free of mosquitoes as Lord Shiva ordered the mosquitoes to stay away from the area so that they would not disturb Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan. Sanatan Goswami was born in a part of West Bengal that is now in Bangladesh. He was a minister in the government of Raja Hussein Shah of Bengal. Impressed by the devotion of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he tried to resign from his post, but the Emperor refused his resignation and threw him in jail after finding that he was feigning ill health in order to avoid work. Sanatan’s brother, Rupa Goswami, whose resignation was accepted, sent Sanatan Goswami some money and Sanatan used the money to escape from jail. Sanatan Goswami found out that Lord Chaitanya was in Varanasi, so he went to meet him and receive instructions before coming to Vrindavan. One of Lord Chaitanya’s instructions to Sanatan Goswami was to write about Shri Krishna’s pastimes and the process of developing love for the Lord. In the Brihad Bhagavatamrita, Sanatan Goswami establishes that the highest level of bhakti is that of the gopis in Vrindavan, who loved Shri Krishna to the point that they forgot all worldly cares. Gaudiya Vaishnavas from across the country have come to Govardhan to celebrate the Mudiya Mela in honour of Sanatan Goswami and Hindus whose Gurus have ashrams in Vrindavan are taking the opportunity to celebrate Guru Purnima in the Dham, to hear Bhagavat Katha and give offerings to express thankfulness for the wisdom that gurus give throughout the year. Heavy rains are causing some difficulties and exacerbating traffic problems. Despite the extra buses that have been commissioned for the festival, they are still overloaded and passengers are sitting on the rooftops. In Vrindavan, the sand that was put on the Parikrama Marg to replicate the natural Parikrama path and provide a cooler place to walk during Purushottam Mas has now turned to mud. Mercifully, the rains have brought the Yamuna back to Keshi ghat and visitors can be seen washing clothes and bathing at the ghat as pilgrims have done for hundreds of years. The only thing that disturbs this rare and wonderful darshan is the sewage pipes that can still be seen in front of the steps of Keshi Ghat. After been forced away from the ghat by the Riverfront Development Project, the boats that have come back to the ghat to take tourists on joy rides in the Yamuna now rest on sewage pipes instead of on the ghat. Boats almost reaching Keshi Ghat
  20. Radha-kunda, 2018.07.19 A young man who came to Braj to do Govardhan Parikrama with his family, has left his body in Shri Radha Kund. The youth, 21 year old Akash from Dhaulpur Rajasthan, was taking snan in Radha Kund when he slipped and got submerged in the kund. Radha Kund police called divers to remove the body, which was sent for post-mortem. The incident happened on Wednesday at Midday. The day before this tragic incident, DM Sarvagyaram Mishraissued the orders the Public Works Department about what should be done to beautify the area for the upcoming Mudiya Mela. A similar incident occurred in 2017, although in that case, locals saw the man struggling and pulled him out but the man became unconscious and no one with first aid training was present to revive him. Drowning incidents are common in Braj as many people who take snan are unable to swim. The absence of lifeguards even at popular bathing spots also increases the danger.
  21. Mathura, 2018.06.26 At Mathura's famous Vishram Ghat, devotees setting out on the 40 day Braj Mandal Parikrama take vows to follow the rules and special penances of the Parikrama. After the arduous journey, devotees return to this place to celebrate the completion of their parikrama while remembering how Shri Krishna took rest here after killing King Kamsa. Along with many of Mathura's ghats, Vishram Ghat was restored in 2007. Of Mathura's 25 ghats, Vishram Ghat is considered to be the foremost. It is situated in the middle of the line of ghats and is close to many of Mathura's most elegant temples including Dwarkadhish. There are several small temples at Vishram Ghat including Mathura's Yamuna Devi temple. Mangal Aarti is held here at 4.45am in summer and 5.15 in winter. The other temples of Vishram Ghat are Krishna Balaram “Mukut” temple, Neelkanteshwar Mahadev temple, Veni Mahadev temple, Radha Damodar temple, Yamuna Krishna temple, Langali Hanuman temple, Narasimha Dev temple, Yamraj temple and Murli Mohan temple. The ghat is always crowded with devotees, but there are few amenities for visitors. There is no toilet block nearby and the water from the taps is not potable. Devotees are also disappointed by seeing drains emptying into the Yamuna here. The head pujari at Vishram Ghat, Jhabbu Chaturvedi, said that the government should help to develop the ghat so that visitors are encouraged to spend more time in the area.
  22. Braj, 2018.07.17 The management of Radharaman temple has announced that on, Guru Purnima, the temple will remained closed after 2.50pm due to a lunar eclipse. Many other temples are likely to remain closed on th evening of the 27th, which is disappointing news for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who manage to get away from the daily grind come to Vrindavan. Darshan of Vrindavan’s Thakurjis is not something that is easily achieved. The eclipse will no doubt also decrease the number of people doing parikrama in the evening as it is thought that the best thing to do at such times is to stay inside and sing or chant. The eclipse is being described as the longest eclipse in the century. The Lunar Eclipse Starts – 23:54:26 on 27th July and ends at 3:49am on 28th. During this time, the moon will appear red as the earth’s shadow blocks the other wavelengths of light. Precautions are taken at this time because evil influences are said to be more prominent and it is not recommended to sleep during an eclipse as such prominent celestial events can cause nightmares. The clash of Guru Purnima and the lunar eclipse is unfortunate although perhaps some will take advantage by having their own jagran (fast from sleep) program. Dwarkadheesh jhula Dwarkadheesh temple has announced that Lord Dwarkadheesh’s Jhulan Yatra (swing festival) will begin from the evening of 28th July. During the month of August, Braj’s temples will all hold Jhulan Yatra festivals. The swing festival is held for several days, even weeks in some temples. Many temples begin the festival from Hariyali Teej (13th August) by installing Thakurji’s swing among decorations made from greenery. The festival continues until Raksha Bandhan (26th August).
  23. ← Jagannath Ratha Yatra, Vrindavan 2018 Vrindavan, 2018.07.15 While Jagannath’s Ratha Yatra was held in Puri amid tight security, fanfare, religious fervor and enthusiasm, here in Vrindavan it was simple and absorbed in emotion. It is a unique experience that all the Chariots of Jagannath coming out from different temples of Vrindavan for circumnambulation of Gyan Gudri. The chariots from the three ancient temples of Govinda, Gopinath and Madan Mohan; the Jagannath temples at Bishram Bat and Jagannath Ghat and Sadhumai ashram etc. were the major attractions. It is not just about celebrating Rath Yatra in Vrindavan, it is more than that. Most people don’t know the significance of Jagannath Ratha Yatra in Vrindavan. People hardly know why all the chariots of Jagannath gather in Gyan Gudri. After research and interviewing many acharyas and scholars, we have discovered the significance of Jagannath Rathyatra in Vrindavan. When Aurangzeb invaded Vrindavan, the deities of Govinda, Gopinath and Madan Mohan were moved to Jaipur. The original temples of the Lordships remained empty, without any deity. The Acharyas of the time decided to place Jagannath deities in the empty temples. Acharya Naresh Narayan explains that after the new temples of Govinda, Gopinath and Madan Mohan were built and their replicas were installed, the deity of Lord Jagannath was also seated in the new temples. As Lord Jagannath was seated in the temples it became necessary to take Him out on Ratha Yatra. The Acharyas decided that the best place for the Yatra would be Gyan Gudri, where Uddhava heard about Divine love from the Vraja Gopis. Radha Raman sits on a chariot for His Vijay Yatra, P.C. Anjana Aggarwal In Vrindavan, alongside Jagannath, Shri Krishna’s Ratha Yatra is also held on this day and the festival is associated with the Gopi’s Divine love for Shri Krishna. Acharya Naresh Narayan said that Shri Krishna rode a chariot for the first time in Vrindavan. The chariot was sent by King Kamsa transport Krishna and Balaram to Mathura. Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami said, it was the separation from Vrindavan that made Krishna take the form of Jagannath. Once, Rohini Ma was speaking to Krishna’s wives in Dwarka about His pastimes in Vrindavan and the Gopis’ love for Him. Meanwhile, Krishna, realizing that He was being talked about, came to hear Rohini’s wonderful narration. Shri Krishna stood to listen with His brother Balaram, standing on the right and their sister, Subhadra, on the left. Hearing the stories, Krishna became overwhelmed with intense feelings of separation for Vrindavan. He was so much absorbed in relishing His own Vrindavan pastimes, that His heart began to melt. Krishna and Balaram became so ecstatic that their internal feelings were exhibited externally. Their eyes became very wide. Their heads compressed into their bodies and their limbs retracted. They appeared just like the forms that are worshipped in Jagannath Puri today as Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra. Gradually, they returned to their normal consciousness and forms. When Krishna had recovered fully, He could understand that it was Narad ji’s doing, as Narad ji had given the idea of requesting Mata Rohini to speak about Vrindavan to Krishna’s wives. Narad ji thought Krishna would be angry, but, to his relief Krishna was happy with him. Shri Krishna wanted to give a benediction to Narad Muni. Narad ji requested that Krishna, Balaram and Subadhra remain in those forms somewhere in the world, so that devotees can have Their darshan. Moreover, this form should be known as ‘Patita Pavana’, the savior of the fallen and liberator of the entire world. Krishna accepted Naradji’s wish to give darshan in the form of Jagannath in Puri. It was the feelings of separation from Vrindavan that made Krishna take the form of Jagannath. So, while most people associate Jagannath’s Rath Yatra with Jagannath Puri, the festival is also deeply connected with Shri Krishna’s Vrindavan pastimes.
  24. ← Jagannath, Baladev, Subhadra at the Vrindavan's Jagannath Ghat Vrindavan, 2018.07.14 The deity at Jagannath Ghat was originally installed in Puri. Perhaps wanting to taste the sweetness of Vrindavan Dham, two hundred years ago, Lord Jagannath made arrangements so that a devotee called Haridasa brought Him to Vrindavan. Haridasa lived in Vrindavan and spent his time on the banks of the Yamuna meditating on the Lord’s form as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe. He wept day and night for Shri Jagannath’s darshan, and finally, Lord Jagannath appeared before him. When Lord Jagannath appeared before Haridasa, Haridasa was so charmed by Shri Jagannath’s beauty that he could not stop looking at Him. But he could not look for long and soon became unconscious. As soon as he regained consciousness, Haridasa fell at the feet of Lord Jagannath. Lord Jagannath said, “Haridasa. I am pleased with your devotion and I yearn for your loving service. You go to Jagannath Puri. This year, in the month of asadha, the image of Jagannath will be changed. You Bring the old image to Vrindavan to be installed here and served”. (The Jagannath deity in Puri is changed every 36 years). In the introduction to the chapter on Haridasa in The Saints of Braj, OBL Kapoor explains that the Lord incarnates in physical form to allow to His devotees serve Him, which helps them become free from Maya (illusory energy). The Lord also longs for the loving service of the devotees and creates a relationship with them by pretending to be dependent. After instructing Haridasa to bring Him to Vrindavan, Lord Jagannath disappeared. Haridasa was so aggrieved at His disappearance that he became unconscious again. On regaining consciousness, he remembered the Lord’s command and began to prepare for his journey to Puri. There was no railway in those days. Haridasa went on foot with some of his disciples; crossing the jungles and rivers, all the while singing the glories of the Lord. When he reached Jagannath Puri, the town was alive with visitors from all over the country who had come to celebrate the festival of the changing of the Jagannath deity. Haridasa went to the sevaiyat in the temple and asked for the old deity. The sevaiyat said, “I am not authorised to give the deity to anyone. You should approach the king”. Haridasa went to the king. The king did pranam to Haridasa and asked how he could be of service. Haridasa told him about the command of Jagannath and asked for the old deity. The king was confused about what to do. He said, “Maharaja. Jagannath has commanded you but he has not given any such command to me. According to the long established tradition, every time the deity is changed, the old image is consigned to the sea.” Haridas breathed a deep sigh and said, “So let that be. With the consignment of the old image of Jagannath, my body shall also be consigned to the sea.” Haridas took a vow to undertake an indefinite fast. He sat on the sea shore, waiting for the time when he would drown himself in the sea with the image of Jagannath. In the introduction to his wonderful book about the devotees of Braj, OBL Kapoor explains that, sometimes, great devotees act in ways that are difficult for us to understand. Knowing the will of the Lord, the great devotees act in accordance with His transcendental games. That night, Jagannath appeared before the king in a dream and said, “My devotee came to you to ask for my image on My command. You did not do well by turning him away. He is now fasting on the sea shore. Go and apologize to him and send my old image with him to Vrindavan.” The king was struck with fear. Immediately he woke up and went to the sea shore. He apologized to Haridas and promised to send the deity with him to Vrindavan. After the installation of the new images, the king ordered that the old images of Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra be seated on a chariot and taken to Vrindavan with an army escort. He also gave Haridasa sufficient money and paraphernalia for the service of Lord Jagannath in Vrindavan. The return journey took several months. Haridas and his disciples would stop and hold celebrations at places along the way. Finally, they reached Vrindavan. Haridasa built a temple at the place on the banks of the Yamuna where he used to sit. The place came to be known as Jagannath Ghat. Jagannath Ghat is just past Keshi Ghat on the Parikrama Marg. The deities in the temple here are the original ones that Haridasa brought from Puri. The temple welcomes people of all nationalities. Vrindavan’s Jagannath goes on Rath Yatra at the same time as the Jagannath in Puri. Source: The Saints of Braj OBL Kapoor
  25. ← Forest Department Officials checking the dead peahen Vrindavan, 2018.07.11 A spate of monkey attacks in Vrindavan has become a cause of concern not only for residents, but for birds and animals too. Everyone is living in fear, particularly children and senior citizens. Several people in Vrindavan, have died due to monkey attacks and almost everyone has been bitten at some stage. On Wednesday, a pack of monkeys attacked a peahen at the Lata Bhavan ashram, situated at Tehari Wali Bagichi near Atalla Chungi. People residing at the ashram rescued the severely injured pehen, which succumbed to the injuries after some time. The Forest Department was immediately informed, but the peahen died before they could reach the spot. The ashram is owned by Baba Shri Hit Kinkar Sevak Sharan ji, who is known as the father of the environmental movement in Vrindavan. Many of Vrindavan’s activists aspire to follow in his footsteps. Baba’s love for nature, trees, birds, mongoose, squirrel and other species is well known among the natives of Vrindavan. Every day, grains are spread on a large surface of the garden. Peacocks, parrots and other birds visit the garden in search of food. Monkeys waiting to eat the grains and attack birds Talking to ‘Vrindavan Today’, Shri Gunakar, a close associate of Baba Sevak Sharan said, “Peacocks visit our garden often in search of food. We spread the grain for the birds everyday. In Vrindavan Peacocks are even more vulnerable to monkey attacks than humans. Monkeys ransack the entire garden. They don’t allow the new trees to grow.” “When we saw the peacock being held by the pack of monkeys, we ran to rescue it from them. The monkeys had already ripped off its feathers and bit it in many places. We immediately informed the Forest department for help. But the peahen died before the help could reach it,” added Shri Gunakar. It should be noted that peacocks are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
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