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  1. A108-AI

    Jugal Ghat is now a garbage dump

    29.04.2019, Vrindavan The banks of Yamuna in Vrindavan that were once the dotted by sacred groves have been transformed into a garbage dump because of the incompetence and nonchalant attitude of civic authorities. Despite the state government and NGT’s stringent guidelines, construction debris and solid waste is being plonked on the river banks, particularly the area near Jugal Ghat. Devotees are deeply distressed to see the sanctity of the revered goddess being violated in such a manner. Religious gatherings that are organised on the river bank without permission and approval of concerned authorities also add to the garbage overload as no one is held accountable for the consequences. Blaring loudspeakers further vitiate the atmosphere with noise pollution. NGT lawyer Akash Vashistha expressed concern about the situation after examining the site on Wednesday. He said that around five years back NGT had imposed a fine of Rs 20 lakh on the Municipal Corporation and District administration for similar offences in response to a petition filed by activist and social worker Mahant Madhumangal Sharan Das. However, even this hasn’t been able to shake the authorities out of their laxity. He said that if the municipal corporation doesn’t act on the issue soon, the matter will have to be brought to the notice of NGT again. It will be naive to assume that the menace is limited to Jugal Ghat alone. The heavy rain and windstorm that wrecked Braj a fortnight back exposed the failure of development and sanitation efforts in the Dham. Tones of garbage and debris were washed ashore on Ram Ghat and Krishna Ghat due to the flood. Locals said that they hadn’t seen so much dirt being accumulated in the Yamuna in 12 years. Even after cleaning the garbage for two days, 25% was still remaining.
  2. Kusum Sarovar, which means a lake of flowers, is also known as Sumana Sarovar. It is believed that long back a beautiful forest once ran all around the kund, which was filled with sweet-smelling flowering trees. Standing near the two well-known pilgrimage towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, this place is located on the holy Govardhana hill that is famously associated with Shri Krishna. Among the lesser known historical monuments in the state of Uttar Pradesh are a group of 18th century memorial chattris or cenotaphs with a pretty water-body or kund in the foreground, known as Kusum Sarovar. Standing near the two well-known pilgrimage towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, this place is located on the holy Govardhana hill that is famously associated with Sri Krishna. Near this group of monuments also stand the Radha kund and Narada Kund, the latter being the place where it is believed that Bhakti Sutra was written by Narada. The recently renovated Kusum Sarovar group of chattris was built as a memorial for Maharaja Suraj Mal and his wife Kishori Rani in 1764 by his son Maharaja Jawahar Singh, the Jat ruler of Bharatpur, who reigned the region from 1707 to 1763. The central structure of the memorial is a large square with a high stone terrace, prettily carved domed bastions at corners, and lateral bays. The main chattris are built at the centre of a raised, ornamented high platform with two staircases to reach the top. Maharaja Suraj Mal, in whose name the chattris were built, was the famous Jat king who had successfully defeated the Mughal army stationed at Agra, causing much damage thereafter. According to some historians, Suraj Mal was later killed in Delhi in 1763 in a Mughal ambush, somewhere near the Hindon River. Later during the colonial era, members from this dynasty died while fighting against the British. The pretty kund that stands in front of the famous Jat king’s chattris also has an interesting history. The name of this kund is supposedly derived from an episode in the Kilakinchita Lila, where it speaks of Radha and the gopis gathering flowers to offer to Surya in a closely situated Surya Temple. It was on the banks of this sarovar that they would regularly meet Krishna and his friend Madhumangala. Kusum2-620x413.jpgKusum Sarovar chattri P.C. Monidipa Dey, Financial Express Kusum Sarovar, which means a lake of flowers, is also known as Sumana Sarovar. It is believed that long back a beautiful forest once ran all around the kund, which was filled with sweet smelling flowering trees such as mallika, chameli, juhi, champaka, bel, among many others. Set beautifully against the exotic sandstone memorial chattris, the 60 feet deep sarovar also holds a replica of Radha and Krishna’s feet in a separate monument. The chattri ceilings hold remnants of beautiful frescoes that depict scenes from various Krishna-gopi leelas. According to folklore, Muni Ashtavakra had once performed penance on the banks of Kusum Sarovar for a darshan of Sri Radha-Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is also believed to have visited this sarovar, and taken a dip in the cool waters of this holy kund.
  3. A108-AI

    20 ways to love Krishna

    Scriptures describe twenty topmost amazing and intimate ways to express your devotion, dependence and attachment to your Priya Thakurji, i.e. beloved transcendental murti form of Bhagavan Shri Krishna. Of Shri Rupa Goswamipada’s sixty-four limbs of bhakti-sadhana, ten forms of bhakti (#23-42) directly involve Shri Thakurji and His worshipers - us! Upon reading this description you will discover that our beautiful, sweet, charming and playful master, Shri Krishna, not only likes formal worship, but Shyama also likes the wild frantic dancing of His bhaktas. The term Shri-Thakurji means one’s favorite and beloved murti or Deity of Shri Krishna i.e. Bankebihari, Radha-Vallabha, Radha-Shyama or Radharamana. By citing Shrimad Bhagavatam and other Puranas, Shri Rupa Goswamipada reveals twenty different ways to please and personally interact with Radha and Krishna in their most beautiful, merciful, and accessible transcendental forms. After listing each item, Shri Rupa mentions the benefits attained by these loving exchanges with Bhagavan Shri Krishna. Their sources from Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu are in brackets. By engaging in these ways with Shri Thakurji, you will: conquer maya, and become free from disease, sin and rebirth (1.2.125-6, 129); attain liberation to Vaikuntha (1.2.139); and fulfil all your desires (1.2.165). 20 ways to love Krishna Accept Shri Thakurji’s Nirmalya (1.2.125) (Eating, smelling, touching and wearing Krishna’s divine food, perfumes, flower malas and celestial clothing.) Agre-Tandavam – Dance Frantically Before Shri Thakurji (1.2.128) Dandavats to Shri Thakurji (1.2.129) Stand Up to greet Shri Thakurji (1.2.130) Follow Shri Thakurji In Procession (1.2.131) Visit Shri Thakurji’s Sacred Places (1.2.132) (i.e. temple, Vrndavana, Navadvipa etc.) Parikrama (1.2.135) (Shri Thakurji’s murti or temple four times Worship Shri Thakurji “Deity Worship” (1.2.137) (bathing, dressing, feeding) ‘Paricarya Seva’ to Shri Thakurji (1.2.140) (wave camara, ring bell, blow conch) Solo singing Bhajans or Gita for Shri Thakurji (1.2.144) Sankirtana, Singing Loudly (1.2.145) (Krishna’s names, qualities, pastimes) Japa, Silently Utter Diksa Mantras (1.2.149) (before Shri Thakurji) Vijnapti, Submissive Prayers (1.2.151) (express your worthlessness, and submit your inner feelings towards Shri Thakurji while ever yearning for His personal service) Stava-Patha (1.2.157-9) (before Shri Thakurji, recite Bhagavad-gita; prayers of acaryas and mahajanas; and your spontaneous outpourings and heart’s compositions) Naivedyam-Svado, Relish Maha -Prasada (1.2.160) (honoring Shri Thakurji’s tulasi, grains, fruits etc.) Padya-Svado (Drink Shri -Thakurji’s Caranamrta (1.2.161) Dhupa-Saurabhyam (1.2.162) (smelling Shri -Thakurji’s incense, flowers, malas, perfumes) Shri-Murti-Sparsanam (1.2.165) (touching Shri Thakurji – if one is qualified) Shri-Murti-Darsanam (1.2.166) (looking at your Priya-Shri-Thakurji, and being overwhelmed by feelings of love) Aratrika-Darsanam (1.2.167) (seeing Shri Thakurji’s arati, festivals, and puja—bathing, dressing etc.)
  4. Mathura, 2019.04.11 Given the significance of Yamuna as ‘jeevan’ and ‘mokshdayani’ (giver of life and liberation), and as one of the ‘Ashtabharyas’ of Shri Krishna (as Kalindi), Yamuna Chhath is one of the most important festivals in Braj. The divinity of Yamuna is well established in Puranic and Bhakti Literature, the latter belonging to the middle ages. She is at the center of worship in the Pushti Marga Sampradya. Besides, her role as enabler to the flourishing of life and civilization has been well-acknowledged in Braj for centuries now. According to Laxmi Narayan Tiwari, founder-secretary of Braj Culture Research Institute, there is evidence of the tradition of Yamuna worship as far back as the first century BC, around which time Mathura was ruled by the Mitravanshi Kings. Gomitra was an early King of the Mitravanshi dynasty. Several coins and other artefacts belonging to his period have been found during excavations in Mathura and nearby areas (particularly the Sonkh Tila and Gosana village hill area). Based on the inscriptions from coinage and a broken slab excavated in Vrindavan few years back, it is speculated that Gomitra was a follower of Bhagavat Dharma. One such coin, which is conserved along with other artefacts and written records from this period at the Braj Culture Research Institute in Goda Vihar, Vrindavan, is shown in the adjoining picture. The institute has also published information on this subject under the title “Braj ke Abhilekh –Bhaag 1”. While numismatists say that the female figure seen on the coin is Goddess Lakshmi, Tiwari believes that she is Yamuna for two reasons – the Lotus flower in one hand, and wave-like parallel lines below her feet which suggest she is a river goddess. Aquatic life forms (fish and turtles) are carved out between these two lines, further hinting at her being Yamuna as the river is particularly associated with Turtles. According to Tiwari, the Gomitra coin is the most ancient depiction of Yamuna in human form, which also establishes the antiquity of her worship in Braj.
  5. Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor (1909-2001) The siddha babas of Braj are not easily recognizable, and rightly so, as they shun name and fame, giving their devotion and precepts only to the qualified. OBL Kapoor personally met and collected information about hundreds of siddha devotees of Braj – persons whose attachment to the Supreme far outweighs any lingering attachment to the body, to the extent that it is often difficult for them to survive in this world. Hearing about their pastimes is awe-inspiring and might even help us to recognize the rare soul who is siddha. For the modern striving devotee, the stories of the devotees of the modern age is very useful. For this reason, the stories of the lives of the devotees of approximately the last two hundred years have been collected." (Extract from the Preface to Braj ke bhakt, Translated from the Hindi by J.K. Brzezinski) Kapoor later released an English edition of Braj ke bhakt, called "The saints of Braj". In the chapter on Shri Gauranga Dasa Babaj, Kapoor describes how he used to come to Vrindavan in search of a siddha Mahatma – a great soul who is directly in touch with the Supreme. "After my spiritual master Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj had passed away, I was in great distress. Though I knew that his benedictory hand was still on me, I felt that without his living presence, I was like an orphan. There was no one to whom I could go to for succour, guidance or inspiration. My wife was in greater distress because she had only received Harinama from him. She was to be given proper initiation on some auspicious day later. But he passed away before that auspicious day came. We used to go to Vrindavan in search of a siddha Mahatma, whom we could accept as a spiritual guide or guardian. Once I asked an old saint in Vrindavan, "Is there any siddha saint in Vrindavan at present, a spiritual dynamo, to whom one could go to charge his battery whenever it became weak or discharged?" "Of course he replied, Have you not met Sri Gauranga Das Baba ji Maharaj of Ramanreti?" "No" "Then what have you been coming to Vrindavan for? He is the only siddha saint in Vrindavan at present. He is most unostentatious and humble. But the spiritual treasure behind his simplicity can hardly escape the eyes of a discerning sadhaka. You must go and see him." My wife and I went to see him the same evening. We saw a fair coloured, attractive looking sadhu of about sixty, sitting all alone in his room and doing japa. His eyes were wet, his face was radiant and a heavenly peace seemed to reign on and around him. It appeared from his eyes that love, which filled his heart up to the brim was spilling out through the eyes. He cast a tender look at us, as if to draw us close to his heart and give us a loving embrace. We felt that we had found the guardian, the great saint we were looking for. Our hearts melted and tears began to stream from out of our eyes." Baba could understand that we were in distress. He said affectionately, "If there is anything that afflicts you, do not worry. Go and tell your tale to a kalpataru over there (he pointed out the Neem trees in the ashram). Every tree in Vrindavan is a kalpataru (desire tree). If you embrace it and speak out your heart to it, it listens and helps. There is nothing it cannot help you with. It can even present to you the most cherished objects of your heart – Radha and Krishna, if you so desire." My wife said, "Baba, if I go to a kalpataru, there is only one thing I shall pray for. I will say – Give me the guru I want. But since I have found in you the guru that I want, why should I go to the kalpataru and not pray to you directly? Would you not kindly give me diksa and accept me as your sisya?" "Lali, you are mine," replied Baba affectionately. "And what about me Baba?" I asked excitedly. "You are both mine," said Baba, looking at me with deep affection. "But Baba, I am already initiated by Shri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja." "So what? He is your diksha guru, I am your siksa guru. You should regard the diksa guru and siksa guru as one. My problem was solved. Baba gave me the best of his love and blessings and in the few remaining years of his life I remained in close contact with him." The descriptions of the ‘devotees of Braj’ in OBL Kapoor’s work certainly sets the standard and gives us an inkling about why ‘siddha mahatmas’ are not easy to find or recognize. OBL Kapoor’s siksha gura, Shri Gauranga Das, also came to Vrindavan in search of a siddha baba. Once, when on the train on the way to Sanskrit College, he met a Vaishnava and asked him… "Have you come across a siddha vaisnava saint?" "Yes I have. Have you not heard of Sri Rama Dasa Baba ji Maharaj? He is the only siddha vaisnava I have known. I have seen such asta satvika bhavas appear on his body at the time of kirtana as I have never seen or heard anywhere else. Rama Dasa Babaji is the disciple of Sri Radharamana Charana Dasa Baba ji Maharaj, whose miracles, like making a tree dance in Sankirtana, bringing back to life a corpse ready to be burnt on the funeral pyre, granting Krishna-prema to people by his mere embrace and many others, are well known all over Bengal and Orissa." So Shri Gauranga Dasa (who was then known as Dhirendra) took initiation from Rama Dasa Baba. After some time, with permission of his guru, he went to Vrindavan to practice lila smaran under the guidance of Shri Jagadisa Baba of Kalidah who affectionately called him ‘Gopal’. To outsiders, Dhirendra seemed to be loitering around the banks of the Yamuna, which caused people to complain to Jagadish baba saying, "Your Gopala does not do any bhajana. He only loiters around like a lunatic." Jagadisa Dasa replied, "What Gopala does is the bhajana of the highest order. He cannot do anything except bhajana." Jagadisa Baba sent Dhirendra to study the shastras and Braj Bhasha literature under the guidance of Pandit Ramakrishna Dasa Baba, the sent him back to his Diksha guru in Calcutta, who gave him Sanyasa Diksha. After this time he was called Gauranga Baba. Gauranga Baba lived very simply by begging in a village in Bengal. One day he had a dream that Giriraj was calling him and saying "Take me to your Kuti. I long for your service." The next day, a Deity came out of the ground where some people were digging a well so Gauranga Baba started serving the Deity in his hut. Gaurange Baba had to spend all his time in serving Giridhari, so he had hardly any time left for lila smarana. He then returned to Vrindavan to ask Jagadisa Baba what he should do. Jagadisa Baba advised him, "With folded hands you express to Giridhari your inability to serve Him and leave him on the Govardhan hill. You should yourself follow the path of abstinence and bhajan shown by Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan". As Kapoor explains, "A lower end has sometimes to be sacrificed for the higher. Sanatan Goswami and Gauranga Dasa Baba ji sacrificed lower service of the Deity with the physical body and meterials on the mundane plane, to a higher service with spiritual body (siddha deha) and materials on the transcendental plane in smarana." The most merciful Supreme Lord instructs all as they are qualified to hear. Sometimes we imagine ourselves to be qualified for a level of service that we really don’t understand. Just as it is not easy to see Krishna’s lilas, it is also not easy to see those siddha babas who can see. And even if we meet them, will we recognize them? The following example from the chapter on "Krsnachaitanya Dasa Baba" shows what happens when devotees try to jump to a level that they are not ready for: Chandrasarovar, Govardhan "Vrajamohana Dasa Ji of Yasohara, who, after taking vesa from [Sri Krishnacaitanya Dasa] Baba, lived in Chandrasarovar and served him, once asked for instruction in lila smarana. Baba expressed in this connection the views of two great saints of his time who had become siddha through lila smarana. He said, when Pandita Ramakrishna Dasa Baba lived in Balapokhara in Govardhan, I went to him and asked for instruction in lila smarana. He replied, ‘If anyone else had asked me to give him instruction in lila smarana, I would have given him a slap on the cheek.’ I understood what he meant and did not have the courage to say anything. Lila smarana is not easy." Once two devotees went to Jagadisa Dasa Baba of Kalidah and requested him to give them instruction in lila smarana. Baba talked about other things, but did not say a word about lila smarana. They went again after a few days and made the same request. Again they returned disappointed, because Baba parried all questions regarding lila smarana. Then they began to practice lila smarana after taking instruction from another mahatma. Next time when they went to Baba, they found that he knew everything about their bhajana without their telling him anything about it. He asked with a smile, "How is your smarana going on?" "It is going on, but not very satisfactorily", replied the devotees. "Baba said, "You don’t know. There is no smarana without marana (death). One has to conquer the body and forget all about it before doing lila smarana. One has for all practical purposes to die as far as the world is concerned Sri Krishnachaitanya Baba himself tried to leave the body so as to be able to remain constantly in remembrance of Krishna Lila. He arranged for a Bhagavata Saptaha. On the last day, after a grand feast, he breathed his last. Kapoor describes the incident: "On the tenth day all the Vrajabasis and Mahatmas, who lived within fourteen miles of Chandrasarovara, were invited to a grand feast. All arrangements for the feast were completed. Then suddenly Baba breathed his last. Festivity was over and dark clouds of grief and dismay cast their shadow over the scene. People waited in vain for a long time for the reappearance of some sign of life in Baba’s body. At last, arrangements were made for the funeral. His body was carried to the cremation ground for burning. As soon as the body reached there, he was heard saying, in a lean voice, "Where are you carrying me? Take me back to my place." After that Baba became famous but he moved to a secluded place. Many people requested him to give them initiation but he only gave initiation to a few, after the insistence of his guru, Shri Haricharana Das Babaji, disciple of Shri Gaurkishora Shiromani. One day, one of Krishnachaitanya Baba’s disciples suspected that something had happened to Baba because when he used to say Jai Radhe everyday after paying pranam at Baba’s cottage near Chandrasarovar, but, on that day there was no reply. He consulted a Mahatma, who told him, "Absence of any response from Baba is not a cause for anxiety because Baba is so absorbed in Lila that he often goes into Samadhi and remains unconscious for house. But I saw one extraordinary thing happen this morning. I saw that Baba’s hut was aglow with a supernatural light such as I had never seen before. I do not know what kind of light it was. I never saw a lamp in Baba’s cottage." The villagers found Baba in an unconscious state. They held kirtan in an attempt to revive him but his state remained the same. Just then a pandit from Barsana came running with paan saying that Radha Rani has sent it for the Bengali Baba who is dying. As soon as the paan was placed in his mouth, Baba said, "Jai Radhe" and sat up but remained in a state of ‘divyonmada’ (divine madness) for several months. "He would in a fit of emotion sometimes laugh, sometimes weep and sometimes fall unsconscious on the ground. People thought he had gone mad. They took him to the Gwalior temple in Kusum Sarovar for treatment. In Gwalior temple, food used to be served on behalf of the Raja of Gwalior. As soon as Baba reached there he said, "I will not eat Raja’s food. Take me back from here." He was brought back to Chandrasarovara. Gradually his divyonmada subsided. Radharani had once again foiled his attempt to leave the body, because she wanted to keep him alive for some more time to serve as a beacon light to the fallen souls and show them the path of bhakti by example and precept At last the time came when Radharani wanted to accept him in Her service. Baba came to know about it. He thought he should go and meet all the people, who were dear to him. So he went to Sesayi, Vansi and other villages, stayed there for some time and came back. On returning he said to Vrajamohana Dasa, "This time I told everyone while coming back that this was my last meeting with them. They were very much aggrieved. But what could I do? In the year 1940 on Kartik Krsna Astami, Baba left the body finally to take shelter under the lotus-feet of Radharani. His Samadhi was laid in Chandrasarovar. Saints of Braj ki Jai! Radharani ji Jai!
  6. Verse 11: Whoever faithfully recites this prayer, indicating vows written by some insignificant wretch will attain blissful residence in Vraja and, lovingly offering his mind to Radha and Krishna, he will be able to serve Them along with Shri Rūpa. kṛtaṁ kenāpy etan nija-niyama-śaṁsi stavam imaṁ paṭhed yo visrabdhaḥ priya-yugala-rūpe’rpita-manāḥ dṛḍhaṁ goṣṭhe hṛṣṭo vasati vasatiṁ prāpya samaye mudā rādhā-kṛṣṇau bhajati sa hi tenaiva sahitaḥ <b>Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā</b>: Very humbly Shri Raghunath describes the benediction offered here to the reciters of this Sva Niyama Daśakam, which indicates his own vows in bhajana. This prayer describes both his rigid discipline and his tender devotion, and the blend of this culminates into a holy meeting place (bhajana tīrtha) for the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, like the confluence of the Gangā and the Yamunā, serving as a perfect example. Although Shri Raghunath Das always dwells in the kingdom of ecstatic love, he still mercifully kept all his matchless treasures of love for all the rāgānuga-practitioners. For those who desire to cross over the ocean of material existence and engage in Shri Radha Madhava’s loving service in the play-forests of Vraja in a spiritual love-body (bhāva deha), this Sva Niyama Daśakam is beneficial and like a reviving elixir. What to speak of those who follow the examples given in this prayer, those who just faithfully recite these vows, thinking: “It is not otherwise than is described by the mahājanas in their benedictions!” will be blessed with blissful residence in Shri Vrindavan and will be able to lovingly offer their minds to the worship of the adolescent Couple Radha Madhava. The purport is that if one lives in Vraja while cherishing other desires one will be guilty of offending the holy dhāma and the holy name, and as a result will be deprived of the loving service of Radha and Madhava’s lotus feet. There is such an inconceivable potency in these perfect words of the Goswamis that hearing and chanting of their prayers frees the practising devotee from all desires other than Krishna and blesses them with firmness and safekeeping of the treasure of worship of the Divine Couple. kona akiñcana jane,e saṅkalpa kori mone, vāsa kore rādhākuṇḍa tīre. sva niyama daśa ratna, hṛdaye koriyā yatna pāṭha kore parama ādare “If a renounced person vows within his mind, “I will live on the bank of Radha Kund” and carefully takes these ten jewel-like resolutions in his heart, reciting them with great respect…” bhāgyavān sei jane, sukhamaya vṛndāvane, rādhā-pada dāsī abhimāne premāspada kṛṣṇa pade, cittārpana kori tāte, bhaje nitya śrī rūpera sane “….that person in blissful Vrindavan is fortunate if he fixes his mind on the lotus feet of Krishna, which are the abode of love, and considers himself to be a maidservant of Shri Radha’s lotus feet, always worshiping them together with Shri Rūpa.” kuṇḍa tīre kuṭirete, mora dāsa raghunāthe, ḍubi kṛṣṇa bhajana samudre sva niyama daśa ratna,tulilo koriyā yatna, bheṭa dilo sādhaka jagate “My Dāsa Raghunath is immersed in the ocean of Krishna-bhajana in a cottage on the bank of Radha Kund, but still he carefully hands the society of practising devotees these ten jewel-like vows.” Thus ends Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami ‘s Sva Niyama Daśakam
  7. sphural-lakṣmī-lakṣmī-vraja-vijayi-lakṣmī-bhara-lasad- vapuḥ-śrī-gāndharvā-smara-nikara-divyad-giribhṛtoḥ vidhāsye kuñjādau vividha-varivasyāḥ sarabhasaṁ rahaḥ śrī-rupākhya-priyatama-janasyaiva caramaḥ Following in the footsteps of Shri Rūpa I yearn for the different kinds of confidential nikuñja-services of Shri Gāndharvā, who defeats the beauty of all the Vraja-gopīs, who are themselves more beautiful than all the goddesses of fortune, and Giridhārī, who defeats the beauty of all Cupids! Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this final verse of Sva-niyama-daśakam Raghunath reveals his ultimate desire. The ultimate goal of all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas’ sādhanā is to attain the confidential nikuñja-sevā of Radha Madhava. Although the ācāryas are eternal maidservants in the Vraja-nikuñjas they have descended along with Shriman Mahaprabhu to teach the world how to perform rāga-bhajana. By giving a perfect example they have made the practising devotees in this world greedy after the nikuñja-rasa and are thus taking them along to the transcendental groves of Vraja. Without this, the advent of Shriman Mahaprabhu could not have reached perfection, because the mañjarī service of Shri Radha is Shriman Mahaprabhu’s ultimate and unprecedented merciful gift. Six Goswamis, Utah KrishnaThrough the ācāryas, headed by Shri Rūpa and Raghunath Das Goswami, the Lord had this message preached. Although they are eternal associates of the Lord in Vraja, āpane nā koile dharma śikhāno nā yāya (CC) “If they had not practised it, it could not be preached.” Following this principle, the Goswamis also desire this service in the kuñjas, as if they are ordinary neophytes. In this verse, Srila Raghunath Das prays that he may serve in the Vraja-nikuñja in allegiance to Shri Rūpa. Without this allegiance, Vraja-worship cannot reach perfection. Srila Rupa Goswami writes in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.295): sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi tad-bhāva-lipsunā kāryā vraja lokānusārataḥ “A practising devotee who desires the feelings of the Vraja-people serves in allegiance to them, both in the present physical body as well as in the (mentally conceived) spiritual body.” Shri Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments: sādhaka rūpeṇa kāyikyādi sevā tu śrī rūpa sanātanādi vrajavāsi-janānām anusārena tathā ca siddha-rūpeṇa mānasī-sevāśrī rādhā lalitā viśākhāśrī rūpa mañjaryādīnām anusārena kartavyety arthaḥ “In his physical body, a worshiper of the Vraja-mood follows in the footsteps of Vraja-people like Shri Rūpa and Sanatan Goswami and in his spiritual body he renders mental service in allegiance to Shri Radha, Lalitā, Viśākhā and Shri Rūpa Mañjarī”. nijābhīṣṭa kṛṣṇa preṣṭha pāche to lāgiyā nirantara sevā kore antarmanā hoiyā “Following one’s favorite beloved devotee of Krishna one constantly serves him within the mind.” (CC) For Shri Raghunath Das that favorite devotee is Shri Rupa Goswami in the physical, outer world, and Shrimatī Rūpa Mañjarī in the spiritual, inner world. In this way Shripāda, who desires Yugala-sevā in allegiance to Shri Rūpa, teaches all the Gaudiya Vaishnava aspirants also to worship in allegiance to Shri Rūpa (Goswami and/or Mañjarī). Radha Rani, AaradhanaShri Raghunath Das says, “The Vraja-gopīs are more beautiful than all the goddesses of fortune, and Shri Radharani defeats even them in beauty! A consort of the Lord is considered beautiful according to her love for him, and not according to her physical, cosmetic beauty. Krishna can never be captured by beauty or attributes that do not arise from pure love. In Srila Rupa Goswami’s Lalita Madhava-play (5.29) it is seen that when Lord Shri Dwarkanātha mounted his eagle Garuḍa to fly to the town of Kuṇḍina to kidnap Rukmiṇī, Garuḍa was so much enchanted by the beauty of Rukmiṇī that he told Dwarkanātha: saundaryāmbunidher vidhāya mathanaṁ dambhena dugdhāmbudher gīrbāṇair udahāri cāru caritā yā sāra sampan-mayī sā lakṣmīr api cakṣuṣāṁ cira camatkāra kriyā cāturīṁ dhatte hanta tathā na kāntibhir ayaṁ rājñaḥ kumārī yathā “When the demigods churned the Milk-ocean they also churned the ocean of beauty and thus attained the beautiful goddess of fortune. Aho! This princess (Rukmiṇī) causes such astonishment to the eyes! Even the goddess of fortune could not delight the eyes like that!” Immediately after hearing Garuḍa’s words, Dwarkanātha replied: sakhe bhavatu! kim etena yad eṣa rūpa mātrena na hāryo hariḥ “O friend! Let it be! What’s it to Me? I am the world-enchanting Hari Myself! Mere bodily beauty can’t enchant Me (rather, tell Me how much she loves Me!).” Vraja damsels, RS Dhanjal All the Vraja Lakṣmīs (gopīs) are endowed with mahā-bhāva, which is the quintessence of prema. This is only known to the Vraja-devīs. Not one of the goddesses of fortune have this mahā-bhāva. The beauty of the Vraja-sundarīs is caused by their mahā-bhāva, and therefore they are more beautiful than all the Ramās and Kamalās (goddesses of fortune). Shrimatī Radharani defeats the beauty of all these Vraja-gopīs, because her beauty is caused by the quintessence of mahā-bhāva, called mādanākhya mahā-bhāva. Indeed, she’s the embodiment of mahā-bhāva, therefore her beauty and sweetness are incomparable. Shripāda Raghunath says, “I desire the confidential nikuñja-service of this Radharani and Shri Giridhārī, who is victorious over all Cupids.” Just as Radharani defeats the beauty of all the Vraja-gopīs, who are again more beautiful than all the goddesses of fortune, similarly Shri Giridhārī defeats the beauty of all Cupids. He is the transcendental youthful Cupid of Vrindavan, the fountainhead of all mundane and spiritual Cupids, whose worship is described by the Vedas in the Kāma-Gāyatrī and the Kāma-bīja. He enchants millions of Cupids and everyone else as well, and he is the turbulent ocean of sweet nectarean elegance. Such sweetness can only be truly experienced through mahā-bhāva. Seeing his sweet form, the mahā-bhāvavatī Vrajasundarīs can say: sajani! yab dhari pekhaluṁ kāna tab dhari jaga-bhari, bharalo kusuma-śara, nayane nā heriye āna “O sakhi! When I saw Krishna, the world was filled with flower-archers (Cupids)! My eyes didn’t see anything else!” (Pada Kalpataru) Shri Raghunath prays for the confidential nikuñja-service of this transcendental youthful Cupid Shri Giridhārī, who enchants millions of Cupids, and Shri Radharani, who enchants millions of goddesses of fortune. Nikunjas of Seva KunjEven the dearmost girlfriends like Shri Lalitā and Viśākhā do not have access to these confidential nikuñja-pastimes of Radha Madhava, only Shrimatī’s most intimate maidservants or mañjarīs, who are as if non-different from her, are blessed with this confidential service. They can walk in and out of the nikuñja at will whenever their service is required, and then they can witness the sweetest pastimes of the Adolescent Pair. Shri Raghunath is very eager to attain this confidential nikuñja-service. yāra aṅga sulāvaṇi, dedīpyamāna śobhā-śreṇī, jaya kore vraje jaya-śrī sei Srila gāndharvikā, mad īśvarīśrī rādhikā, pada-nakha maṇi mañju-śrī “Srila Gāndharvikā, my mistress Shri Radhika, whose bodily beauty shines brilliantly, defeats the goddess of victory Jaya-Shri in Vraja. How lovely (mañju-śrī) are her jewel-like toenails!” saundarya guṇete yini,nikhila kandarpa jini, śrī govinda nāma giridhārī nibhṛta nikuñjavane, śrī rūpa gosvāmī sane, kuñje yini śrī rūpa mañjarī “I desire to serve her in the solitary nikuñja-forests along with Shri Govinda, who is also named Giridhārī, and whose attribute of beauty defeats all Cupids, in the company of Shri Rupa Goswami , who is known as Shri Rūpa Mañjarī in the transcendental kuñjas.” tāhāra paścāte thāki, yugala mādhurya dekhi, anurāge koribo sevana e saṅkalpa kori mone, bando guru śrī-caraṇe, yāra kṛpāya vāñchita pūraṇa “I will stay behind her/him, beholding the sweetness of the Divine Pair and serving Them with great devotional attachment. Taking this vow within my mind I praise the lotus feet of my guru, by whose grace all these desires are fulfilled!”
  8. Vrindavan, 2019. 03.15 Throughout the “Hindu” world the Spring Festival of Holi festival is celebrated for a few exciting days, but in The Vraja Realm, Shri Yugala Kishor’s own Playground, it is so enjoyable that it lasts for a full 40 days, starting on 10th February 2019 and not concluding until 21st March! Thus it is known as Hora; the”Vast Hori”. We have already been playing since Vasanta Pancami, through Jaya Ekadashi, Hori Dandaropana, Ropani ko Utsava and Shri Nathaji ko Patotsava and Vijaya Ekadashi. On Thursday 14th March 2019, we arrive at: Phalgun Shukla, Holiashtakarambha. On this day begins the lead up of 8 days to the culmination of the play with the lighting of the Holika Fire. Since the play is at its most vigorous at this time, during these 8 days weddings and other auspicious social rituals are not performed. Dhamar ko Pada Raga Saranga, Poet Rasakhan [The Gopis address the Enchanting Shri Krishna] “O, Enchanter! Hohohoho, It is Hori!! Yesterday You came into our realm and unleashed some fresh insults upon us !! ||1|| Today, although You are the Lord Who sports in the Forest Bowers, why are avoiding us and sitting so close to Your mum? The lasses whom You insulted on that day have very enthusiastically come over here to Your Gokul! ||2|| Then those Cowherd maidens challenge Him and,dying of thirst for the Nectar of His beauty, kidnap Him from there! Their beauty is effulgent as they embrace that Lord Who is as beautifully dark as a rain-filled cloud. ||3|| The Vraja lasses put collyrium into His eyes and make Him run and dance like a jester, laughing to see this scene!! Says the poet Rasakhan, “One insult is worth more than a hundred words of respect!!”||4|| Friday 15th March Phalgun shukla 9 – varshane ki holi Socially, Hori is a festival of fun and outspokeness. Songs full of insults are sung to the Lord. Men and women gather at the shrines and sing and dance to the seasonal rhythms. This is followed by the ‘horanga play’ which has a slightly varying character in each of the Vraja Villages. In several of these, the ladies dress up in their finery for battle and the young men of the village have to escape lashes from the ladies’sticks [lathmar holi]. The most famous Lathmar Holi takes place in and around Rangili Galli [“The Colourful Alleyway”] in Shri Varsana Dham. This occurs on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Phagun. Men from Nandagaon [Krishna’s village, about 8 kilometres distance] come in a musically charged procession to Varsana. To get up to the temple, they must climb up the steep pathway of that Rangili Galli where beautifully dressed and adorned Vrajavasin ladies emerge fully veiled from their houses wielding long sticks with which they beat the shield bearing men over the head as they dance in a squatting stance. When they finally manage to reach the top of the path, at Shri Radharaniji’s temple, an exciting festival of wet and dry colours overtakes everyone and all of this is accompanied by the seasonal music focusing on the drumbeats- often ‘nagadas’ – huge drums played by four or more men at the same time, that are so big they need to be on wheels to move. Thus signifying that the climb up to total bliss, at the Lotus-Feet of Shri Radharani, the Queen absolute of Joy, can be fraught with divinely imposed danger – but that one must be willing to humble oneself and dance to the divine tune before one attains the state of actually playing within the Lords own Realm. Before any of this can occur the “Hori ko Nyoto” (invitation to the Holi Play) must be given. How they are exchanged is fully described in 2 long songs called “ Dhamar Pande ke Pada” where the Pande is the Brahmin responsible for delivering the invite. One goes from Nandagaon to Varsana and one from Varsana to Nandagaon, and these invitations are the precursors of the most prestigious event in the Vraja Holi Calendar. The beats are infectious and the whole area turns into a dancing crowd, coloured from head to toe in fragrant wet and dry colours. The sky fills with clouds of colour and the music never stops. Dhamar ko Pada: Raga Vilavala “Pande ko Dhamar, Nandagaon to Varsana” Poet Jana Hariya [possibly Sri Harirayji] The Brahmin Pandit goes to Varasana from Nandagaom. Shri Vrishabhanu is most generous and respectfully welcomes him. ||1|| He smilingly bows his head to him, bathing his feet and feeding him. ||2|| When the Vraja Ladies hear of his arrival they all come crowding into Vrishabhanuji’s home in order to play Holi. ||3|| They apply mustard oil to his head and then flower oil to his limbs which become shiny, just as if they were rubbing oil onto an image of Sri Hanumanji. ||4|| They put a black collyrium in his eyes and a big red dot on his face forehead which looks like a patch stuck onto a leaking black pot to seal it. ||5|| Then the ladies, who all walk as gracefully as she-elephants, rub sticky glue into his moustache in order to shape it up. It’s as if the month of Phagun has personified and come to Vraja in order to join in the Holi Play. ||6|| One of them anoints him with light sandal paste, bows to him and then add dark sandal paste which make him look like the fresh flowers that appear on the Palasa tree in this Spring Season. ||7|| One of them puts a string of small beads made from cowdung around his neck and another dresses him up in a loose shirt. These look like bells painted with alligator designs on them, tied around an elephants neck ||8|| They smother him with so many handfuls of colour that he begins to yawn, making him look like a priest wearing necklaces of gunja beads. ||9|| One lovely lady pours a pot full of buttermilk over his head. It looks like the sacred Mount Govardhan is being bathed in raw milk ||10|| He runs away like a thief when dawn comes, only to have Ganga water poured all over him, like the water that has washed the Lords Feet breaking out of Lord Shivas locks. ||11|| His teeth begin to chatter noisily as his body begins to shiver. They sound like nice musical rhythms being played! ||12|| Then he calls out, “O,Radhe,O,Sri Radhe! O,Daughter of Sri Vrishabhanuji, I surrender to you!.||13|| Hearing these words spoken so lovingly Sri Radha approaches, full of sympathy. |She brings a padded jacket that belongs to her father and helps the Purohitji to put it on. ||14|| He goes to Shri Kiratiji and bows at her feet, she then gives him some hot milk to drink. As he does so, Shri Krishna, Who has been playing Holi, comes there dressed as a bridegroom ||15|| Everyone gathers together, in all shapes and sizes,to stage a wedding procession.Rishi Vyasa is there with his avadhuta son Sukadev. ||16|| Also there are the four Brahman boys, Sanaka etc.who enjoy their renunciate status. As he circumambulates the globe, Indra also stops there and the Gopis make him dance madly! ||17|| Then they make him roll in the mud of Holi colours in the narrow pathways of Vraja. Also brought to this stage is the curiously four faced Brahma. ||18|| Ganesh with five faces sings with all five of his mouths. Narad who had been rendered crazy by Shri Hari comes there dancing. ||19|| Seeing Nanda’s Son, he puts a conch to his mouth and sounds it. Mahadevji takes off his tiger skin garments and gives them to Shri Thakurji Who very much likes them. ||20|| Lord Krishna Who disperses all sorrows laughingly shouts, “ho ho ho Hori”, and everyone else laughs too. The Lord’s potency Maya casts her net of magic and Narad happily spreads the joy to the scene. ||21|| All became full of Love as Cupid’s army stole all their hearts. Lalita ties together Shri Radhaji’s and Shri Krishna’s upper garments with a knot to simulate Their wedding. ||22|| After tying the knot in the Daughter of Vrishabhanu’s garment Lalita they make crowns for Both of Them from peacock feathers and fresh young mango leaves. ||23|| She takes yellow cloth and creates a small wedding pavilion. They use Hori insults in place of the vedic mantras to solemnize the marriage. ||24|| The Holi fire is lit and the Groom makes offerings and offers respect to it [bowing and circumnambulating].Then everyone gets to eat bagfuls of special Holi foodstuffs. ||25|| The Poet Janahariya now sings “anyone who sings this account of Their lovely Holi Play will blossom like the spring. The Lord Who is as dark as a rain-filled cloud takes up His residence in Varsana |26|| Rasiya Song Poet Ghasiram “Phāga khelana Barasāne āye haiṁ Naṭavara Nãndakiśora| Ghera laī saba galī rañgīlī, |Chāya rahī chabi chaṭā rañgīlī, Ina ḍola mṛdañga bajāye haiṁ, Banśī kī ghanaghora||1|| Jura milike saba sakhiyāṁ āyī, Umada ghaṭā aṁbara meṁ chāī, Jina abīra gulāla uḍāye haiṁ, Mārata bhara bhara jhora||2|| Lai rahe coṭa gvāla ḍhālana pai, Keśara kīca maleṁ gālana pai, Hariyala bāṁsa mañgāye haiṁ, Calana lage cahuṁ ora||3|| Bhaī abīra ghora añdhiyārī, Dīkhata nāhīṁ nara aru nārī, Rādhe saina calāye haiṁ, Pakare mākhana cora ||4|| Jo lālā ghara jānoṁ cāhau, Tau horī kau phaguā lāo, Śyāma ne sakhā bulāye haiṁ, Bāṁṭata bhara bhara jhor ||5|| Rādhe jū ke hā hā khāo, Saba sakhiyanan ke ghara pahuñcāo Ghāsīrāma kathā gāȳe haiṁ, Lagī śyāma te ḍhora” ||6|| “The Dancer Supremo, Shri Krishna, Son of Nanda, has come to Varasana to play Hori. He and His sakhas fill “Rangili Gali”. Their colourful beauty shines brightly all around. Their beating of the dol and mridanga drums accompanies His lovely loud playing of the flute ||1|| Then all the Sakhis form a group and arrive there. Through their joyful play, clouds of colour fill the skies. They cover anyone who throws up white, pink or red powders with bagfuls of colour. ||2|| They beat the cowherd lads on the shields that they hold above their heads, rub the kich [the muddy mixed wet and dry colours] into their cheeks and then, gathering more bamboo poles, begin to wield them all around. ||3|| The clouds of powdered colours make the sky grow dark and no-one, neither the ladies nor the lads, can see anything. Shri Radhaji gives the signal to capture the Butter Thief! ||4|| They say, “Well,little boy! If you want us to let You go You must give us our Phaguva reward!” The dark Krishna calls to all His friends and they distribute bagfuls of gifts ||5|| He says “Do whatever Radhaji tells you to and take gifts to all their houses!” The poet Ghasiram, lovingly attached to the dark and Beautiful Shri Krishna, now sings this tale.”||6||**
  9. “Free from pride I will spend the rest of my time at Radha Kund, at the base of Govardhana hill, making a rule to drink milk from Vraja and use clothes, plates and other articles from Vraja. Certainly I will leave my body near my beloved lake in front of Shri Jīva Goswami and others.” vrajotpanna-kṣīrāśana-vasana-pātrādibhir ahaṁ padārthair nirvāhya vyavahṛtim adambhaṁ saniyamaḥ vasāmīśā-kuṇḍe giri-kula-vare caiva samaye mariṣye tu preṣṭhe sarasi khalu jīvādi-purataḥ Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (Trans: Ananta Das and Adwaita Das): In sādhakāveśa, Shri Raghunath vows allegiance to Vraja with his body and all his senses. In this verse he vows to live in Vraja until death (āmaraṇa) and to surrender exclusively to Vraja Dham. One of the items of surrender is taking exclusive shelter of the Lord’s playground: tavāsmīti vadan vācā tathaiva manasā vidan; tat sthānam āśritas tanvā modate śaraṇāgataḥ “He who says: ‘I am yours!’ and who also thinks like that, blissfully takes shelter of the Lord’s abode and is a surrendered soul.” In his Bhakti Sandarbha, Shri Jīva Goswami mentions the conditions leading to surrender: When a person is troubled by fear of material life, which consists of the six enemies of lust, anger and so on; he finds no way out, then he takes full shelter of the Lord. Another person, who takes shelter of the Lord is someone who desires devotional service and who wants to destroy all obstacles that keep him away from the Lord. Braj is the kingdom of mahā-bhāva, which leads to surrender. When a devotee reaches the stage of prema bhakti, his surrender is called tadaika-jīvana (‘the Lord is all I have in life’). A surrendered devotee doesn’t like to have anything to do with dull, material things that are not connected with the Lord. Not only his inner senses, but also his outer senses – in connection with maintaining the body – take shelter of the Lord and his abode. In this verse, Shri Raghunath vows to maintain his life simply by consuming dairy products from Vraja only and wearing clothes produced in Vraja. Vraja is a transcendental abode and everything that comes from here is also transcendental and therefore greatly nourishes one’s bhajana. Shri Raghunath Das is an eternal associate of the Lord who is always satisfied with the nectar of Prema – hunger and thirst can never agitate his spiritualised body and senses. In the Bhaktamāla it is written: śrīmān raghunath das ye gosvāmī; pracaṇḍa vairāgya yāra mahā-bhakta premī anurāga parākāṣṭha śrī rādhā-govinde; divā niśi nāhi jāne matta premānande “Srila Raghunath Das Goswami was a greatly renounced, loving devotee. He was attracted to Radha-Govinda to the limit and out of ecstatic love he didn’t know whether it was day or night.” śrī rādhākuṇḍera tīre korilena vāsa; divā-niśi sadā rādhā-kṛṣṇa premollāsa rādhā-kṛṣṇa prāpti lāgi sadā utkaṇṭhita; sadā hāhākāra kṣaṇe sthira nahe cita he he vṛndāvaneśvari he vraja-nāgara; dekhāiyāśrī caraṇa rākho prāṇa mora nidrāhāra nāhi sadā koroye phutkāra; bāhya sphūrti nāhi sadā mātoyāra “He lived on the bank of Radha Kund and was absorbed in ecstatic love for Radha-Krishna day and night. He was always very eager to attain Them and he always loudly cried out for Them, without ever calming down. Without eating or sleeping, he constantly exclaimed: “O Queen of Vrindavan! O amorous hero of Vraja (Krishna)! Save my life by showing me your lotus feet!” He was always inebriated by ecstatic love and was always unaware of external affairs.” Whatever he still accepted to keep himself alive, that little bit of buttermilk had to come from Vraja alone, and not from anywhere outside of Vraja – that was his firm vow. Also the clothes he wore had to be made only in Vraja, and not from anywhere else. Secondly, he vowed to live forever at the base of Shri Girirāja, at Radha Kund, the best of all places in the 84-Kos circumference of Vraja. In many places in his Stavāvalī Srila Raghunath expresses his firm determination to stay on the bank of Shri Radha Kund. Many great souls have attained perfection by remaining fixed in a certain place. Before attaining perfection, Lord Buddha sat down at the foot of a Bodhi-tree and firmly vowed: ihāsane śoṣyatu me śarīraṁ tvag asthi māṁsaṁ vilayaṁ ca yātu aprāpya bodhiṁ bahu kalpa durlabhāṁ naivāsanāt kāyamataś caliṣyate “My body may parch under this tree and my skin, bones and flesh may dissolve, but, until I reach enlightenment, even if it takes many ages, I will not move my body from this seat!” Shri Raghunath’s vow to remain on the bank of Radha Kund is not even slightly less firm than this! Samadhis at Radha Kund, P.C. Tripmondo Thirdly, Shri Raghunath Das desires to leave his body in front of great souls like Shri Jīva Goswami. These great souls are in a sense non-different from the Lord; they are the manifest mercy of the Lord and a devotee greatly desires to pass away close to such great saints, as is revealed through this prayer of Shri Raghunath Das Goswami. ahaṅkāra śūnya hoiyā, tṛṇād api nīca hoiyā, vrajotpanna kṣīrādi bhojane vrajavāsīra ye vasana, aṅge kori ācchādana, ānandete yāhā kore dāne “Free from false pride, feeling lower than a blade of grass I will only use dairy products from Vraja and wear clothes made and blissfully donated by the people of Vraja.” girirāja govardhane,sannihita sarovare, rādhākuṇḍa tīre kori vāsa ei mora abhimata,śuno he bāndhava yoto, vidhi ki pūrābe mora āśa? “I will reside on the bank of Radha Kund, near the base of Girirāja Govardhana. This is my wish. Listen, O friends! Will Fate fulfill my desires?” rādhe rādhe rādhe boli,ḍākibo ki bāhu tuli, preme kaṇṭha hoibe ye rodha mad īśvarīśrī rādhikā, saṅge saṅge dibe dekhā, rākhibe ki ei anurodha? “Will my voice break with love when I raise my arms and cry out: “Rādhe! Rādhe! Rādhe!?” Will my mistress Shri Radhika then reveal herself to me and thus fulfill my request?” priya rādhākuṇḍa tīre,yugala darśana kore, ei deha patana hoibe prabhura priya pāriṣada, śrī jīva gosvāmī yoto, se samaya sammukhe thākibe “Will I see the Yugala Kiśora when I leave my body on the bank of my beloved Radha Kund, and will the Lord’s dearmost associates, like Shri Jīva Goswami, be there also at that time?” kuṇḍa-tīre Raghunath,e bhāvanāya dina rāta, pratikṣaṇa koriche yāpana. jhuriyā jhuriyā kānde, hiyā dhairya nāhi bāndhe, haripada pābe ki darśana “Will Haripada Śila ever see Raghunath on the bank of Radha Kund in this way, absorbed day and night in these thoughts, crying streams of tears, unable to keep his heart at ease?” Verse 8
  10. Vrindavan, 11.03.2019 While the spirit of Holi takes over Braj from Basant Panchami itself, Phulera Dooj which was celebrated on March 8 this year, marked the beginning of the main festivities in Radhavallabh temple. Phulera Dooj falls on the second day of the light fortnight in the month of Phalgun. ‘Phulera’ comes from the Hindi word ‘Phool’ (flowers). In North India people celebrate this festival by playing Holi with flowers. On this day every year, Shri Radhavallabh Lal is dressed in a white ‘poshak’. A white ‘phenta’ (cummerbund/girdle) with a pouch of ‘Gulal’ (coloured powder) is tied around his waist to indicate that he all set for ‘the big event’, the five-day Holi starting on Rangbharani Ekadashi (March 17). Thereafter, the girdle is regularly tied to Thakurji’s waist and his cheeks are smeared with the colours of Holi. (Here, it is interesting to note that during the Lathmaar Holi played in Barsana and Nandagaon, men tie a similar girdle with ‘Gulal’ pouches around their waists.) Starting with the ‘Shringaar Aarti’ on March 8, devotees thronged the temple to get drenched in Radhavallabh’s ‘Gulal Prasadi’. Music and colours filled the atmosphere as Rasik saints sang the ‘Rasiya’, ‘Phaag’ and other Holi ‘padas’ in tune with the ‘Daph’ (Indian percussion instrument similar to the tambourine).
  11. Vrindavan, 2019.03.04 The legend of Vrindavan’s Gopeshwar Mahadeva who is Lord Shiva appearing in the form of a ‘Gopi’, is well-known in the land of Vraja. As one of the ‘dikpala’ Shivas protecting the four corners of Braj, Mahadeva not only guards Vrindavan, but also a devotee’s entry in Sri Krishna’s ‘Maha Raas’. One of the fortunate devotees blessed by Lord Shiva with a ‘darshan’ of Krishna’s ‘Raas Lila’ in Vrindavan was Narsinh Mehta (1414-1481) of Gujarat. Gopeshwar Mahadev Revered as ‘Adi Kavi’ (first among poets) in Gujarati Literature, Narsinh Mehta (also known as Narsi Mehta or Narsi Bhagat) was a 15th-century Vaishnava poet-saint, who composed around 22,000 verses in praise of Sri Krishna. Born in a Nagar Brahmin family in the town of Talaja in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district, Narsi was raised by his grandmother, Jaygauri, after losing his parents at the age of 5. He was unable to speak until he was 8. Narsi was married to Manekbai in the year 1429. They used to stay with his brother Bansidhar whose ill-tempered wife would often insult Narsi for his devotion. Fed up of her taunts he left the house one day, and threw himself at Shiva’s feet, fasting and meditating upon him for seven days. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Shiva appeared to offer him a boon. Narsi was so satisfied with the ‘darshan’ that he told Mahadeva to give him ‘whatever he likes the most’…Mahadeva gave him the nectar of Krishna’s ‘Raas Lila’ in Vrindavan. Some say that he was the only person in ‘Kaliyuga’ to have witnessed this splendour. In one of his works, ‘Shamaldas No Vivah’, Narsi mentions the place of this incident as ‘Gopinath’, and as ‘Gopeshwar’ in another composition called ‘Narsain Mehtanu Akhyan’. It is unambiguously stated that the temple was in a ‘vana’ (forest), and hence it cannot Gopnath near Talaja which is on the seashore. Narsinh Mehta (1414-1481) Was it Vrindavan’s Gopeshwar Mahadev then? Struck by immense grief, did Narsi travel all the way to Vrindavan? While historians speculate, these questions are irrelevant; time, space and form are no constraints for Shiva and his devotees. Legend goes that Lord Krishna commanded Narsi to share his blissful experience with the mortal world in the form of songs and poetry. He composed around 22,000 ‘padas’ (verses), ‘aartis’ and ‘bhajans’ which were largely preserved orally for centuries. ‘Vaishnav Jan to’ – the famous ‘bhajan’ which inspired Indian freedom fighter MK Gandhi and gained nationwide popularity, is his composition. It was by the blessings of Mahadeva, described as the greatest Vaishnava in Srimad Bhagavatam, that a ‘Shaiva’ Narsi Mehta became a celebrated Vaishnava saint. At the beginning of Ramcharitramanas, Goswami Tulsidas also says that no one can perceive the Supreme without Shiva’s grace. Followers of ‘Tantra’ and ‘Aghora’ have long held that Shiva and Krishna are “two aspects of the same being”, where one leads to the other. They are the paths of ‘Jnana’ and ‘Bhakti’, both of which need to be practised and perfected to realise the truth.
  12. Jiva Gosvami’s teacher, Rupa Gosvami, has divided bhakti into three categories: sadhana, bhava and prema. Sadhana-bhakti is that which is realizable by the function of the senses. It is devotion in practice and is a means for attaining bhava-bhakti. But sadhana-bhakti is not a means in the ordinary sense. Generally, sadhana refers to some practice that is undertaken to attain a specific goal, known as the sadhya. In this general sense sadhana is merely a cause that gives rise to a previously non-existent sadhya, and once the sadhya is attained, the sadhana that was undertaken to achieve it becomes obsolete. Bhakti is not sadhana or sadhya in this sense. Bhakti is eternal and not manufactured by any combination of ingredients. Sadhana-bhakti qualifies the aspirant so that bhava can become manifest. Bhakti, manifesting in the form of internal emotions, is called bhava-bhakti and when it matures into the sentiments of love, it is called prema-bhakti, or devotion in love. Sadhana-bhakti is of two types: vaidhi and raganuga. When devotional activity is inspired solely because of the prompting of scriptural injunctions, it is termed as vaidhi-bhakti. No raga, or spontaneous attachment, exists in this case. There are sixty-four angas, or limbs, of vaidhi bhakti described by Rupa Gosvami. Out of these, five are considered as most powerful: (1) associating with saintly people, (2) singing the Lord‘s name, (3) listening to the recitation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, (4) residing in the holy land of Mathura and (5) serving the deity with reverance. A little contact with any of these can give rise to bhava-bhakti. These limbs of vaidhi-bhakti engage the body, mind and senses in the service of the Lord and are all highly effective in promoting the appearance of bhava-bhakti. The second type of sadhana-bhakti is called raganuga, which means to follow the mood and attachment of the Lord’s eternal associates, known as ragatmikas. Ragatmikas have a natural raga, or deep absorption in the Lord manifesting out of love. Upon coming into contact with ragatmikas, such as by hearing about them, an adherent may develop a yearning to serve the Lord in the same mood as his model. When this yearning impels one to engage in devotional service, irregardless of scriptural injunction, it is called raganuga-sadhana. Raganuga follows the natural deep sentiments of the adherent and is therefore independent of all outward rules. Vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti, on the other hand, depends upon the injunctions of scripture and is not necessarily performed with loving sentiment. The difference between these two practices is like the difference between a mother and a maid taking care of a baby. A mother has innate affection for her baby and thus takes care of the child out of her natural attachment, whereas a maid does not have such affection. She merely follows the instructions of her employer. This does not mean that raganuga devotees are averse to scriptural injunctions. The injunctions are meant for those who do not have a natural inclination for devotion. A raganuga devotee does not need them because he has a natural, spontaneous inclination to act favorably towards the Lord and to abstain from anything unfavorable. The mature stage of sadhana-bhakti is called bhava-bhakti. Bhava is the dawn of prema, or love, which is the perfected stage of bhakti. It is a pure and internal feeling which softens the heart toward the Lord.
  13. Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: While Srila Raghunath, in sādhakāveśa, takes his vows in this Sva Niyama Daśakam, the ocean of his love-in-separation is suddenly agitated. Burning in the fire of separation from Radha Madhava, Shri Gaurasundara and Sripāda Swarup Damodar he came to Vraja, planning to commit suicide by jumping from Govardhana hill. Shri Rūpa and Sanatan Goswami pacified his burning heart somewhat and advised him to settle down on the bank of Shri Radha Kund and do bhajana there. In this way they saved his life. VERSE 8: parityaktaḥ preyo-jana-samudayair bāḍham asudhīr durandho nīrandhraṁ kadana-bhara-vārdhau nipatitaḥ tṛṇaṁ dantair daṣṭvā caṭubhir abhiyāce’dya kṛpayā svayaṁ śrī-gāndharvā-sva-pada-nalināntaṁ nayatu mām Abandoned by my beloveds (Srila Rupa Goswami and Shri Swarup Damodar) I have become completely blinded and bereft of intelligence. Even though they have disappeared I am still alive and I’m immersed in an ocean of great misery. Holding a blade of grass between my teeth I humbly and anxiously pray that Shri Gāndharvā (Radha) herself may now take me to her lotus feet.” Translation and purport by Ananta Das and Adwaita Das When Shri Rūpa and Sanatan Goswami passed away, the fire of Raghunath Das’ love-in-separation increased a hundredfold and burned up his heart. Rasika, soft-hearted and like-minded devotees are able to relieve Each other from the burning fire of separation from the Lord, but when these devotees also disappear the pain of separation becomes intolerable. kṛṣṇa bhakta viraha vināduḥkha nāhi āra (CC) “There’s no other suffering than separation from the devotees of Krishna.” Separation from the Lord is still somewhat tolerable, but there’s no greater anguish than separation from his devotees. When separation from the Lord is experienced, then this can be somehow relieved by speaking kṛṣṇa-kathā with loving, like-minded devotees, but when such devotees are absent, it is as if the whole world becomes void. By reading this verse, one can get some idea of what Srila Raghunath Das Goswami’s state of mind was. Likewise, Krishnadāsa Kavirāja Goswami has written: raghunāthera niyama yeno pāṣāṇera rekhā (CC): “Raghunath’s discipline was like a line carved in a stone.” Such lines can never be wiped out. While taking all these different vows, Raghunath suddenly remembered Shri Rūpa and Sanātana, and this made him greatly upset. Their personal mercy was the very foundation of Raghunath’s worship and now that they had disappeared, the whole world became dark for him. What to speak of continuing his worship, without them it was impossible for him even to stay alive! Shri Raghunath Das, the embodiment of love-in-separation, humbly says: “Being abandoned by my beloved Shri Swarup Damodar and Shri Rūpa-Sanātana, I’ve become completely oblivious of what is beneficial and what isn’t.” Once he gave up his vast regal opulence like a straw, just to come running to Shri Chaitanya’s lotus feet, and the Lord became placed him into the care of Srila Swarup Damodar, who is the embodiment of Vraja-rasa. Shri Swarup Damodar was the only one who could keep him alive and teach him the intricacies of bhajana. Shri Raghunath Das stayed under Swarup Damodar’s shelter for sixteen long years and became like a bumblebee, intoxicated by the highly delectable divine honey that trickled from Shri Chaitanya’s lotus feet. The Govardhan Shila gifted to Raghunath Das Goswami by Lord Chaitanya, now kept at Gokulananda TempleSince he was always able to associate with the Lord, he attained the great fortune of witnessing the Lord’s extraordinary pastimes and thus became fully blessed. When Sriman Mahaprabhu and Swarup Damodar left their bodies, Raghu’s world became void. Desiring to give up his afflicted life of suffering the pangs of separation, he went to Vraja, where he met Shri Rūpa and Sanatan Goswami, who were at that time Vraja’s most influential examples of prema bhakti and Vraja-rasa. Their consoling words saved Raghu’s life and awakened the desire in him to do bhajana at Shri Radha Kund, where he remained for the rest of his life (about 50 years), deeply absorbed in the most confidential pastimes. In the end, he forgot everything external and realized his identity as Radha’s maidservant, crying day and night out of separation from his mistress and her loving service. While he showered himself day and night with his tears of love and performed his internal worship, he simultaneously maintained a firm discipline in his external body. This Raghunath, who suffers great pain when he remembers Shri Swarup Damodar, Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami, says: “I’m a great fool, for even though they have become unmanifest, I’m still keeping myself alive, drowning in an ocean of agony! There’s only one way out of this ocean of anguish, and that is Gāndharvā Shri Radharani’s personal mercy! Therefore I’m holding a straw between my teeth and I humbly and anxiously pray that Shri Radhika herself will be merciful to me and take me towards her lotus feet!” svarūpa rūpa sanātana, ye mora bāndhava-gaṇa, eke eke hoilo adarśana viraha samudra jale, phele more gelo cole, śūnya hāṭe koriye krandana “My friends Svarūpa, Rūpa and Sanātana have passed away, one after the other, throwing me into an ocean of love-in-separation and leaving me crying in an empty marketplace.” hitāhita jñāna-śūnya, tribhuvana dekhi śūnya, dante tṛṇa kori nivedana. adya mora gāndharvikā, mad īśvarīśrī rādhikā, pādapadme koruna grahaṇa “I’m bereft of insight of what is beneficial and what not. Seeing the whole world as empty I’m taking a straw in-between my teeth and I pray: May my mistress Gāndharvikā Shri Radhika take me to her lotus feet now!” he rādhe dāsi boli, kātarete ei boli, pada sevāya niyukta koribe. vrajendra-nandana yini, vraje indranīla-maṇi, kṛṣṇa-prāpti anāyāse hobe “O Rādhe! I anxiously pray to you: Make me your maidservant and engage me in the service of your lotus feet! Then I will easily be able to attain the prince of Vraja, the blazing sapphire Krishna!”
  14. Hari-Radhacharan Das has compiled and translated commentaries about a wonderful Holi song that is sung in Vrindavan’s Radha Vallabh temple at this time of year. The explanations, as well as the performance of the song help devotees to associate with the true spirit of Vrindavan Holi. Commentary by Lalitcharan Goswami: This is the only pada within Hit Chaurasi which describes the play of faag [holi/the festival of colours]. One specialty of this pada is that it also mentions the swing festival [dol] which takes place on the first day of the lunar fortnight [pratipada] after Holi. This pada begins with a detailed description of Shri Vrindavan. At the very beginning of the pada it says ‘pratham yathamati pranau shri vrindavan atiramya’. The words ‘pratham’ [firstly] and ‘yathamati’ [according to my own realisation] help to reveal the particular divine svarupa [nature and form] of Shri Vrindavan that Shri Harivansh accepts. In Hit-siddhanta [the theology that Radhavallabhis adhere to], Hit or tatsukh-mayi-prema is the absolute reality [paratpara-tattva] and Shri Shyama-Shyam, Shri Vrindavan and the Sahachari girlfriends are its different forms. While describing Shri Radha’s form in his Sanskrit work ‘Shri-Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi’ [Sloka 76], ShriHitacharya has said “yad vṛndāvana-mātra-gocaram…that form of Shri Radha which my eyes are forever restless to behold is perceivable in Shri Vrindavana”, in other words, it is only possible to see her in Shri Vrindavan. In another Sloka [260] he also says “yat tan nāma sphurati mahimā hy eṣa vṛndāvanasya…it is due to the greatness of Shri Vrindavan that Shri Radha’s name, which is extremely difficult to attain manifests in the mind of a wretch like me.” In conclusion, Shri Radha’s darshan is only possible within Shri Vrindavan, which is the dense form [saghana-murta-svarupa] of love for her. This is why Shri Hit Prabhu has offered his first respects [pranama] to Shri Vrindavan in this pada. Now we should consider the word ‘yathamati’. Yathamati means’according to one’s intellect’. Shri Hitacharya says “I pay respects to Shri Vrindavan as far as my intellect can reach”. The implied meaning [vyanjana] is that Shri Vrindavan’s actual/real form [vastavika-svarupa] is outside of the realm of the intellect and that any individual’s attempt at making it an object of their speech [i.e. attempt to describe it with words] has to be done within the boundaries of their own intellect. Radhavallabh temple Holi song 57: by Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhuji Pratham Yathamati pratham yathāmati pranau shrī-vrindāvan atiramya, shrī-rādhikā kripā binu sab ke manan agamya | 1 | “First of all, I pay respects as best as I can to Shri Vrindavan, the most beautiful. Without the mercy of Shri Radhika, it cannot be understood by anyone.” var yamunājal sīnchan dinahī sarad-basant, vividh bhānti sumanas ke saurabh alikul mant | 2 | “The river Yamuna’s excellent water nourishes the land and autumn and spring are ever-present. Swarms of bees are intoxicated with the scents of many types of flowers.” arun nūt pallav par kūjat kokil kīr, nirtan karat sikhīkul ati ānand adhīr | 3 | “On red new leaves, cuckoos and parrots sing sweetly. While troops of peacocks dance overwhelmed in great happiness.” bahat pavan ruchi dāyak sītal-mand-sugandhu,arun nīl, sit mukulit jahā tahā pūshan-bandhu | 4 | “A pleasant breeze blows, cooling, gentle and fragrant; and red, blue and white lotuses are blooming everywhere”. ati kamnīye birājat mandir naval nikunj, sevat sagan prītijut din mīndhvaj-punj | 5 | “There lies a most attractive ever-fresh nikunja, which is always joyfully served by many Gods of Love [kamadevas].” rasik rāsi jahā khelat shyāmāshyām kisor, ubhay bāhu pariranjit utte unīde bhor | 6 | “Where the best of lovers, that youthful Shyama Shyam play. At dawn, they awake drowsily with their arms around one another.” kanak kapis patt sobhit subhag sānvare ang, nīl basan kāminī urr kanchukī kasūmbhī surang | 7 | “[His] beautiful dark limbs are decorated in golden cloth; and the passionate lady wears a blue dress along with a kasumbhi-red blouse.” tāl rabāb muraj daph bājat madhur mridang, saras ukati-gati sūchat var bansurī mukhchang | 8 | “Cymbals, the rabab, muraja-drum and the frame-drum play along with the long-barreldrum; and the marvellous flute and mouth-harp indicate the rhythm.” dou mili chānchar gāvat gorī rāg alāp, mānas-mrig bal bedhat bhrukuti dhanush drig chāp | 9 | “The two sing a springtime song together, tuning their voices to the Gauri – raga. The bows of their eyebrows and the arrows of their eyes [their glances] forcibly pierce the deer of their minds!” dou kar tārinu patkat latkat itt utt jāt, ho-ho-horī bolat ati ānand kulkāt | 10 | “Clapping their hands and swaying [due to the feeling of intense happiness], they wander here and there. Feeling great bliss, they call out Ho-ho-hori!.” rasik lāl par melat kāmini bandan dhūri, piya pichkārinu cchirkat taki-taki kum-kum pūri | 11 | “The passionate lady smears dry coloured powder over her Lover Shri Lalju; and he sprinkles her with the kum-kum powder from his water-syringe again and again.” kabahu-kabahu chandan taru nirmit taral hindol, chadhi dou jan jhūlat phūlat karat kalol | 12 | “Sometimes a moving swing is set up on a sandalwood tree; the two climb aboard and swing, feel thrilled and have fun.” var hindol jhakoran kāmini adhik darāt, pulaki-pulaki vepath ang prītam urr laptāt | 13 | “The passionate lady feels very afraid by the swift movements of the wonderful swing! Feeling a thrill, she wraps her trembling limbs around her Beloved’s chest.” hit-chintak nij cherinu urr ānand na samāt, nirakhi nipat nainan sukh trin taurat bali jāt | 14 | “Their well-wishing maidservants’ hearts overflow with happiness and realizing the pleasure of the eyes [in seeing them], they make a protective gesture and dedicate their lives [to the lovely couple].” ati udār vivi sundar surat sūr sukumār, (jay-shrī) hit harivansh karo din dou achal bihār | 15 | “These two tender amorous heroes are both very generous and attractive. Hit Harivansh says, may the pair be absorbed in their loving plays forever.”
  15. Sva Niyama Dashakam, Verse 7: ajāṇḍe rādheti sphurad-abhidhayā sikta-janayā- nayā sākaṁ kṛṣṇaṁ bhajati ya iha prema-namitaḥ paraṁ prakṣālyaitac-caraṇa-kamale taj jalam aho mudā pītvā śaśvac chirasi ca vahāmi pratidinam But if anyone in the world, bowed down with love, worships Shri Radha, Whose sweet name showers mankind, along with Krishna, aho! I will wash that person’s lotus feet and joyfully drink the water, carrying it on my head every day! Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In the previous verse, Shri Raghunath Das firmly vowed that he would never go to the impure place where a person worships only Krishna, but disrespects Shri Radha. Now one may ask: “Sripāda! Then how will you behave towards those who do worship Krishna with Shri Radha?” In this verse he answers this question. The Yugalopāsakas (worshipers of Radha and Krishna) worship Krishna under the shelter of Shri Radha. Shri Radharani is the Prema-Lakṣmī, the presiding goddess of love of God. By being even slightly connected with her names, attributes and pastimes, a fortunate soul can become blessed with Prema. Therefore, can there be any doubt that a person who worships only Krishna while ignoring her is simply deceiving himself? To corroborate this secret, Shri Raghunath begins this verse by saying: “All the people are sprinkled with the nectar of love simply by hearing the sweet name ‘Radha’. In the Brahma vaivarta purāṇa Shri Radha’s name is glorified as follows: rā-śabdoccāraṇād eva sphīto bhavati mādhavaḥ dhā-śabdoccārataḥ paścād dhāvaty eva sa-sambhramaḥ “When someone just says rā Madhava blooms with joy, and as soon as someone (also) says dhā he carefully runs after the chanter!” Nothing else other than love can attract Krishna. The name ‘Radha’ has such a sweet attractive power of love that when Krishna simply hears it he immediately becomes attracted to the chanter, even if that person is not involved in any spiritual life. Because the holy name of Shri Radha is non-different from Shri Radha herself, all her love is fully present within her name. The loving power of this most nectarean name ‘Radha’ is known throughout the world. The holy name of Shri Radha is a wonderful siddha-mantra that awakens great prema rasa within the heart and is like a Mahā-vidyā (magic spell) that can attract Krishna. This is exactly why Shri Suka Muni did not pronounce Shri Radha’s name while speaking Srimad Bhāgavata. If he had pronounced this holy name, which is permeated by prema-rasa in such a wonderful way, his pure heart, that is completely free from illusion, would have been so overwhelmed by ecstatic love that he would have entered into samādhi (transcendental trance) or he would have fallen into a swoon. In that case Mahārāja Parīkṣit, who had only seven days left to live, would not have been able to hear the rest of Srimad Bhāgavata anymore. This is why Śuka Muni did not pronounce the names of Shri Radharani and other gopīs in Srimad Bhāgavata, although he repeatedly mentioned the names of Rukmiṇī, Satyabhāma and the other Queens of Krishna in Dwarka. [See Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s Brihad Bhagavatamrta 1.7.158] Shri Raghunath Das says: “But if anyone in the world, heart bowed down with love, worships Shri Radha, whose sweet name showers mankind, along with Krishna, aho! I will wash that person’s lotus feet and joyfully drink the water, carrying it on my head every day!” The adolescent Pair Radha-Krishna must be worshiped with a humble heart. Who has the humility of heart that makes them qualified to worship the Divine Pair? In the eighth chapter of the “Madhya-līlā” of Caitanya-caritāmṛta Shri Rāmānanda Rāya explains to Sriman Mahaprabhu that the love of Radha-Krishna is the highest goal of life, and when the Lord asks Rāmānanda about this worship Sri Rāma Rāya replies: rādhā-kṛṣṇera līlā ei ati gūḍhatara; dāsya vātsalyādi nā hoy gocara sabe eka sakhīgaṇera ihā adhikāra; sakhī hoite ei līlāra vistāra sakhī vinu ei līlā puṣṭi nāhi hoy; sakhī līlā vistāriyā sakhīāsvādoy sakhī vinu ei līlāya nāhi anyera gati; sakhībhāve tāre yei kore anugati rādhā-kṛṣṇa kuñja-sevā sādhya sei pāya; sei sādhya pāite āra nāhiko upāya The pastimes of Radha and Krishna are very confidential, and they cannot be perceived by devotees who love Krishna as servants or parents. Only the girlfriends (sakhīs) can enter into them. They can expand these pastimes, and without them these pastimes cannot be accomplished. The sakhīs extend these pastimes and make them relishable. Without the sakhīs these pastimes cannot take place, hence those who develop the mood of the sakhīs can attain the highest goal of life, Radha and Krishna’s kuñja-sevā. There’s no other way to reach this goal.” The love of the gopīs is free from desire for personal sense-gratification and is thus completely pure, and they are more advanced in loving submissiveness than the devotees who love Krishna as servants or parents. The gopīs are divided into two groups: sambhogecchāmayī or nāyikā-bhāva, and tad-bhāvecchātmikā or sakhī-bhāva. There’s no comparison to the humility and submission (prema-namita-citta) of the girlfriends of Vraja-nāyikā-śiromaṇi premamayī Shri Radharani, and again the greatest of all prema-namita-citta sakhīs are Shri Radha’s maidservants. Although Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is himself an eternally perfect Radha-kiṅkarī he firmly vows to always humbly drink the water that washed the feet of those fortunate rasika devotees who worship the Divine Couple in allegiance to the eternally perfect mañjarīs, loving Shri Radha more than Krishna (rādhā snehādhikā) and carry that foot-water on his head. The best way to attain prema is to serve the foot-water of such great, soft-hearted, and like-minded rasika devotees: bhakta pada-dhūli āra bhakta pada-jala; bhakta bhukta avaśeṣa – tina mahābala ei tina sevā hoite kṛṣṇa premā hoy; punaḥ punaḥ sarva śāstre phukāriyā koy tāte bāra bāra kohi śuno bhakta-gaṇa; viśvāsa koriyā koro e tina sevana “The devotees’ foot-dust, foot-water and food-remnants – these three are very powerful. All the scriptures repeatedly proclaim that by serving these three one attains love for Krishna. Therefore, O devotees! I tell you again and again: serve these three with full faith!” Although Shri Raghunath is himself one of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s eternal associates he assumes sādhakāveśa to show his topmost love for the devotees who worship both Radha and Krishna by vowing always to blissfully drink their foot-water and sprinkle his head with it. In this way he encourages all the Gaudiya aspirants always to serve the foot-water of the Yugalopāsakas (Radha-Krishna worshipers) with great devotion, as the greatest means of attaining love for the lotus feet of the Divine Couple. jaya jaya rādhā nāma, ki amṛta rasa-dhāma, pade pade prema taraṅgiṇī śravaṇete prema rase, bāla vṛddha yuvā bhāse, japite japite ratna-khani “All glories to the holy name of Shri Radha, the abode of all nectarean flavours, that is a river of love at every step! When they hear or repeat this jewel-mine, all the children, old folks and youngsters float in the nectarean flavours of Prema!” rādhā saṅge śrī govinda, vraja nava yuva dvandva, yei jana prema sevā kore ohe tārkika boli śuno,nitya tāra śrī caraṇa, bhakti bhare prakṣālaṇa kore “O Logicians! Listen, I’ll tell you something: I always devotedly wash the lotus feet of anyone who lovingly serves Shri Govinda along with Shri Radha, as the adolescent pair of Vraja.” pādodaka pada-dhūli,tāhe mora snāna keli, dhūli kori mastaka bhūṣaṇa padajala kori pāna, śirete kori dhāraṇa, yāte hoy vāñchita pūraṇa “I playfully bathe in their foot-water and foot-dust, and I decorate my head with these items. By drinking this foot-water and keeping it on my head all my desires will be fulfilled.”
  16. Vrindavan, 06.02.2019 Devotional fervor ran high in Braj on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya which was observed on the new moon day of Magha Krishna Paksha of the Hindu calendar. Since it fell on a Monday (February 4) this time, people also received the benefit of it being a Somavati Amavasya. Mauni Amavasya has great significance in the Hindu spiritual tradition. It is said that on this day, Rishabh Dev – considered as the first sage – broke his long vow of silence and bathed in the holy waters at Sangam (confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) in Prayagraj. It is also the third and most important ‘shaahi snaan’ date of Kumbh Mela. In Braj, devotees took a dip in the Yamuna at Vishram Ghat during ‘Brahma Muhurta’ and performed various rituals to propitiate the gods, particularly Lord Shiva, Vishnu and the Sun God. After observing ‘maun vrata’(vow of silence) during the day, people flocked to temples and gave sesame seeds, grains, and clothes in charity. Undeterred by the cold and dense fog, many also did Vrindavan and Giriraj Parikrama. Huge crowds gathered in the Bhandira Van temple where Lord Brahma performed the marriage of Radha and Krishna. It is believed that bathing in the waters of the sacred well during the ‘Brahma Muhurta’ on Somavati Amavasya fulfills all wishes. Married women also took a dip in the adjoining pond to be blessed with a child. Krishna is holding his hand over Radha's head to put sindur in her part in Bhandira Van temple
  17. (Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das Maharaj) What is so special about dying in Vrindavana? Shri Krishna Himself answers this question in the Brhad Gautimya Tantra: “This charming Vrindavan possesses great power because its nature is pure consciousness, and it lies beyond the range of the physical eye, “tejomayam idam ramyam adrshyam carma cakshusha”. This most delightful Vrindavan is My only abode”. “All the celestial beings, humans, domestic and wild animals, birds, worms and insects who reside in Vrindavana will go to My home [spiritual world, Goloka Vrindavana] when they die, “vrindavana ramyam mama dhamaiva kevalam atra ye pashavah pakshi mrgah kita naramarah ye vasanti mamadhishne mrta yanti mam alayam.” Can one attain spiritual perfection in one birth? Yes, but it is rare and usually takes many births of trying for it. In the Gita (7.19) Krishna confirms this by saying, “After many births, a wise man surrenders, “bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyante”. However, the Srimad Bhagavatam does mention three who attained Lord Vishnu and spiritual perfection in one lifetime of sadhana, namely Narada Muni, Dhruva and Ajamila. So keep chanting, serving, surrendering, crying and praying…and hope for the best! Srila Rupa Goswamipada writes in (BRS.1.2.244), “These five limbs of bhakti, which include living in Vrindavan, have inconceivable power to manifest the state of bhava and its object, Krishna, at the same time, “achintya shaktir idrshi bhavam tad vishayam prakashayet.” In his comments on (BRS.1.2.244), Shri Jiva Goswamipada says, “Concerning Deity worship, it is said: “If only once, even by force, one brings the form of the Lord into one’s mind, one can attain the supreme destination by the mercy of Krishna, “sakrd yad anga pratima antar ahita manomayi bhagavatim dadau gatim.” Ultimately, perfection entirely depends on the mercy Krishna. Prema and dying in Vraja Many think that just by dying in Vrindavana, they will attain Goloka Vrindavana, their spiritual bodies, and the eternal seva of Radha-Govinda Yugala in the kunjas of Vraja. But, without a lifetime of intense and focused raganuga sadhana, why would Shri Krishna just give them a spiritual form? Gita 8.6 and all the Gaudiya shastras say a sadhaka will receive an appropriate ‘siddha svarupa’ based on the desires and bhava he developed during sadhana. Of course, there can be exceptions to the rule, but generally one gets what he deserves. By sheer causeless mercy, it is possible to get Prema [love of God] and spiritual perfection just at the time of death, even without performing any sadhana whatsoever. In his Govinda Bhashya (3.3.53), Shri Baladeva Vidya Bhusana explains how, “By seeing Shri Krishna while dying, the demons achieved Prema, “priyata vadina tad drsteh seti bodhyam.” The best way to spiritual perfection is to live in Shri Dham Vrindavan chanting the pure Holy Names of Bhagavan Shri Krishna, and practicing raganuga sadhana bhajana under the guidance of Shri Guru and Vaisnavas. One must always remember that Vrindavan is the divine abode of spiritual mercy, miracles and magic. Here in Shri Krishna’s lila bhumi, anything can happen. One fine day, you may be walking around Radha Kunda and experience a sudden monsoon shower of mercy. Right there just before you, Krishna will appear pressing His murli to His lips. Smiling through His eyes, Shyama will say, “Come with Me, and I will take you to the eternal land of playful love!”
  18. VERSE 6: anādṛtyodgītām api muni-gaṇair vaiṇika-mukhaiḥ pravīṇāṁ gāndharvām api ca nigamais tat-priyatamām ya ekaṁ govindaṁ bhajati kapaṭī dāmbhikatayā tad-abhyarṇe śīrṇe kṣaṇam api na yāmi vratam idam Not even for a moment will I go near that impure place where a proud hypocrite worships Govinda alone without worshiping his most expert lover Shri Gandharvā (Radha), whose glories are sung by the Vedic scriptures and great sages like Nārada Muni, who carries the vīṇā. That is my solemn vow! Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In the previous verse, Shri Raghunath vowed to worship Vrajendra-nandana, the embodiment of sweetness, birth after birth. His svarūpa is Radha’s maidservant, and he is completely fixed on Shri Radha’s lotus feet. He’s only so attached to Krishna’s worship because He is the Lord of Radha’s life, not for any separate reasons: āmāra īśvarī hon vṛndāvaneśvarī; tāra prāṇanātha boli bhaji giridhārī “My Goddess is Shri Radha, the Queen of Vrindavan, and I worship Giridhārī because he is the Lord of her life!” This is the mūla-māntra (main anthem) of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas for their worship of Krishna. Actually, without attaining Shri Radha’s grace and without worshiping her, attainment of Krishna and the relish of ujjvala (effulgent) rasa is extremely difficult. Shri Raghunath Das opens his Saṅkalpa-prakāśa-stotram with this verse: anārādhya rādhā-padāmbhoja-reṇum anāśritya vṛndāṭavīṁ tat-padāṅkam asambhāṣya tad-bhāva-gambhīra-cittān kutaḥ śyāma-sindho rasasyāvagāhaḥ “How can anyone enter the Śyāma-ocean of rasa without having worshipped the dust of Shri Radha’s lotus feet, without having taken shelter of Vrindavan, where her footprints lie, and without conversing with those persons whose hearts are deep with loving feelings for her?” What to speak of entering into the ocean of rasa? Sripāda Prabodhānanda Saraswati has written that those who do not worship Shri Radha have only attained a drop of the Shyāma-ocean, even if they have reached it. rādhā-dāsyam apāsya yaḥ prayatate govinda-saṅgāśaye so’yaṁ pūrṇa-sudhā-ruceḥ paricayaṁ rākāṁ vinā kāṅkṣa¬ti kiṁ ca śyāma-rati-pravāha-laharī-bījaṁ na ye tāṁ vidus te prāpyāpi mahāmṛtāmbudhim aho binduṁ paraṁ prāpnuyuḥ “Anyone who gives up the service of Shri Radha, desiring Govinda’s personal company, is like someone who wants to enjoy the full moon without the fullmoon night, and anyone who does not know (that Radha is) the seed of Śyāma’s pleasure is like someone who only gets a drop of the great ocean of nectar that is available to him!” (RRSN 80) The purport of this verse is that the ocean of mādhurya mūrti Krishna’s sweetness increases unlimitedly in front of Shri Radha’s sweetness. rādhā-saṅge yadā bhāti tadā madana-mohana (Govinda-līlāmṛta) “When he shines with Radha he enchants even Cupid.” yadyapi nirmala rādhāra sat prema darpaṇa; tathāpi svacchatā tāra bāḍhe kṣaṇe kṣaṇa āmāra mādhuryera nāhi bāḍhite avakāśe; e darpaṇera āge nava nava rūpe bhāse “Although the mirror of Radha’s true love is clear, its clarity increases at every moment. There’s also no end to the increase of my [Krishna’s] sweetness, which appears before this mirror in ever-new forms.” (CC 1.4.140-1) Therefore, the service of Shri Radha is the best means to relish the ocean of sweetness that is Krishna. Those who take shelter of Shri Radha’s lotus feet and those who are so fortunate to relish Krishna’s sweetness with Shri Radha know that it is totally useless to try to relish Krishna’s sweetness by abandoning the service of Shri Radha. Shri Raghunath Das says, “The great sages like Nārada Muni as well as the Vedic scriptures are always singing Shri Radha’s glories.” Shri Nārada had learned about the nectarean glories of Shri Radha from his guru Shri Śaṅkara and has revealed these teachings in his ‘Nārada Pañcarātra’. There he describes Shri Radha as the parā prakṛti: lakṣmī sarasvatī durgā sāvitrī rādhikā parā; bhaktyā namanti yat śaśvat tvaṁ namāmi parātparam “I offer my obeisances always unto the Supreme [Krishna] who is devotedly worshiped by Lakṣmī, Saraswati, Durgā, Sāvitrī and the Supreme Shri Radhika.” In this verse, Nārada Muni especially uses the affix parā, or Supreme, for Shri Radhika to firmly confirm that Shri Radhika is the greatest of all the Lord’s potencies. In the scriptures Shri Nārada has often used this affix parā in connection with Shri Radha – devī rādhā parā proktā catur-varga prasaviṇī, rasikā rasikānandā svayaṁ rāseśvarī parā “Shri Radha, from whom the four goals of human life emanate, is the Lord’s supreme potency. Shri Radha is full of rasa, she delights in rasa, she’s the Queen of the Rāsa-dance and she’s the Supreme Goddess.” parāṁ te śrestha-vācakā “A person who is called parā in the end is the greatest.” Following this rule, Shri Radha is ascertained as the greatest of the Lord’s potencies. In the same way, the Vedic scriptures also elaborately glorify Shri Radha. Especially the Åk, Sāma and Atharva-Vedas mention her name with great respect. stotraṁ rādhānāṁ pate girvāho vīra yasya te (Rk 130/5, Sāma 1600, Atharva 20.45.2) “O hero, O Lord of Radha! In this way you are the object of our praise! May your prowess be true and beloved!” In the appendix to the Rk-Veda it is written: rādhayā mādhavo devo mādhavenaiva rādhikā vibhrājante janeṣv ā “Through Radha Madhava shines and through Madhava Radhika shines amongst the people.” In the Gopāla Tāpanī Upaniṣad it is seen: tasyādyā prakṛtī rādhikā nitya-nirguṇā yasyāṁśe lakṣmī-durgādikāḥ śaktayaḥ “Shri Radhika is Krishna’s foremost eternal transcendental potency and all the other potencies of the Lord, like Lakṣmī, Durgā and so on, are merely her expansions.” In this way, the Vedic scriptures repeatedly glorify Shri Radha, Krishna’s foremost beloved, in many places. Shri Raghunath says: “Anyone who worships Shri Govinda alone, without caring about his most expert lady-love, Shri Gāndharvikā, is a proud hypocrite!” Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is an ācārya of the era of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Sriman Mahaprabhu has brought the worship of Krishna under the shelter of Srimati Radharani as a unique gift. A person who worships only Krishna in this age of Mahaprabhu, without worshiping Shri Radhika, thus being deprived of her mercy, is highly unfortunate. Without taking shelter of her, it is not possible to attain Prema or the relish of Krishna, so it’s needless to say that someone who worships Krishna while disrespecting or neglecting Shri Radha, is a proud hypocrite. Moreover, Sriman Mahādeva (Lord Śiva) also explains to Mahādevī (Māyādevī) that such a person is to be condemned as a sinner: “O Paravati, A person who worships the blue light (Krishna), chants his name or meditates on him without worshiping the golden light (Shri Radha) is a sinner!” gaura-tejo vinā yas tu śyāma-tejaḥ samarcayet japed vā dhyāyate vāpi sa bhavet pātakī śive Since the scriptures prohibit association with sinful people, Shri Raghunath Das says, “I will never go to the impure place where such a person can be found – this is my firm vow!” vīṇā vādye nāradādi, veda vedānta purāṇādi, gāna kore mahimā yāhāra kṛṣṇa priyatamā yini, śrī rādhikāṭhākurānī, gāndharvikāya kori anādara ye kapaṭī dambhabhare, govinda bhajanā kore, āmi tāra apavitra saṅga kṣaṇa kāla koribo nā, tāra mukha dekhibo nā, sthira vrata nā kori tā bhaṅga “I will never go to the impure place where a person stays who disrespects Gāndharvikā Shri Radhika, Krishna’s dearmost beloved, whose glories are sung by the Vedas, Purāṇas, the Vedānta and the Vīṇā-playing sage Nārada, and who is so proud and deceitful to worship Govinda alone – and I will never look at his face. That is my unbreakable vow.”
  19. There are at least two places in Braj dedicated to Shri Krishna’s friend, Uddhava – Uddhava Kund (Uddhava Baithak) in Govardhan and Uddhava Kyari in Nandagaon. After Uddhava tried to console the Gopis at Uddhava Kyari, Uddhava took the form of the grass and bushes in order to get the dust of their lotus feet. Later he also appeared at Uddhava Kund when the queens of Dwarka came to Braj due to their feelings of separation from Shri Krishna. Uddhava tried to console the gopis who were feeling intense separation from Shri Krishna, but ended up accepting them as his guru. His heart remained in Braj, and he took the form of the shrubs and grasses, hoping to get the dust of their feet. Shri Krishna sent Uddhava to Braj to console the gopis and tell them about connecting with the Supreme through yoga and Vedic rituals, about which he was supremely knowledgeable, however, Uddhava’s knowledge was no match for the gopi’s loving devotion. But when the Dwarka queens were feeling separation and came to Braj, Uddhava helped to console them. It is said that when Krishna’s grandson, Vajranabh Maharaj, brought the Dwarka Queens to Braj, they held a kirtan at Uddhava Kund in Govardhan. Uddhava appeared at the Kirtan, and following his appearance, Shri Krishna appeared. Uddhava Kund is west of Kusum-sarovara on the right side of the Govardhan Parikrama path. Uddhava Kyari is situated near Lalita Kund in Nandagaon. The conversation that Uddhava had with the gopis at Uddhava Kyari is in the Srimad Bhagavatam as well as in the Bhramargeet by the famous blind poet of Braj, Shri Surdas. The song begins with the gopis telling Uddhava: Udho man na bhaye das bis / ek huto so gayo syama sang, kau aaradhe is? O Uddhava, we don’t have ten or twenty hearts. We have just one heart which also has gone along with Lord Krishna, so, how can we worship [your Supreme Lord] now? The gopis were most concerned about Krishna and asked about his well being and activities. They were most concerned when they heard that outside of Braj, He doesn’t play his flute. According to Bhagavat speaker, Braj Bhushan Tiwari, for four months that summer, Uddhava visited the ‘lila sthans’ of Braj while relishing the sweetness of Shri Krishna’s pastimes.
  20. Shri Raghunath Das Goswami is Shri Radha’s eternally perfect maidservant, therefore his love is also eternally perfect. He expresses this unconditional love in his Sva Niyama Dashakam, Verse 5: anādiḥ sādir vā paṭur ati mṛdur vā pratipadaṁ pramīlat kāruṇyaḥ praguṇa karuṇā hīna iti vā mahā vaikuṇṭheśādhika iha naro vā vrajapater ayaṁ sūnur goṣṭhe prati-jani mamāstāṁ prabhu-varaḥ He may be beginningless or with a beginning, harsh or very tender, most compassionate or merciless, more opulent and powerful than the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha or just an ordinary human being – the son of the Lord of Vraja is always my worshipable Lord, birth after birth! Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In his sādhakāveśa the most earnest Shri Raghunath Das describes his loyalty to his worshipable deity Krishna, the embodiment of sweetness, here. In the Śruti-scriptures, Krishna is said to be the Original Personality of Godhead and the fountainhead of all Viṣṇu-avatāras like Shri Nārāyaṇa, but the people of Vraja, who are fixed in their sweet conception of him, don’t love him just because of seeing any such quality in him. Their love for Krishna is natural; it is not created by seeing some quality in him, it does not diminish by seeing some fault in him and it does not increase by seeing more prominent qualities in him. This love arises naturally and is not dependent on virtues or faults at all. It is causeless and natural – doṣeṇa kṣayitāṁ guṇena gurutāṁ kenāpy anātanvatī premnaḥ svārasikasya kasyacid iyaṁ vikrīḍati prakriyā (Vidagdha Madhava). Such is the nature of the love of Vraja. Shri Raghunath Das is Shri Radha’s eternally perfect maidservant, therefore his love is also eternally perfect. Those who worship in the Vraja-mood are similarly fixed in Krishna in this way. The beginningless perfect scripture Brahma-saṁhitā opens with Lord Brahmā declaring Krishna to be the fountainhead of all avatāras and the cause of all causes: īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac cid ānanda vigrahaḥ anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva kāraṇa kāraṇam “Krishna is the supreme controller. Govinda’s body is transcendental, he has no origin, but he himself is the origin and the cause of all causes.” In the Bhagavad Gītā Krishna himself says: mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya “O Arjuna! There’s no higher truth than Me!” In the quintessence of the Vedānta, Srimad Bhāgavata, Mahāmuni Veda Vyāsa firmly establishes Krishna as the fountainhead of all avatāras like Lord Nārāyaṇa of Vaikuṇṭha by saying ete cāṁśa kalāḥ puṁsaḥkṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: “All the aforementioned descensions are fractions or expansions of the original Lord, but Krishna is that Original Personality of Godhead.” In this single verse Mahāmuni Veda-Vyāsa ascertained the basic truth of the whole Srimad Bhāgavata. Such basic truths are only uttered once in the scriptures and thereafter no more. Hence the verse kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam appears only once in the entire Srimad Bhāgavata. Therefore this verse is completely independent from whatever other truths Srimad Bhāgavata promulgates. Just as a king proudly places his victory-flag above everyone’s head to show his supremacy, this verse proudly flutters above all the other verses of the Srimad Bhāgavata. This verse ascertains that the all-powerful supreme truth Krishna is not a fraction, but the whole, he is not a phase of the moon, but he is the full moon, he is not a puruṣa (a mere man), but he is Puruṣotta¬ma (the supreme person) and he is not the Lord, but he is the Original Lord. He is the original abode of all the forms of Godhead and Their potencies like majesty and sweetness. Because of all this he is naturally also the most merciful Personality of Godhead. rasika śekhara kṛṣṇa parama karuṇa (CC) “Krishna is the king of relishers and he is most compassionate”. Although all the forms of God are endowed with the quality of compassion, Krishna is most merciful because he bestows sweet Vraja-prema upon the people. Although Krishna, who is the supreme Brahman appearing in a human form, is endowed with all opulence, prowess and attributes, the people of Vraja don’t love him because they see all these virtues in him. Their hearts naturally float in an ocean of love for Krishna simply by coveting his sweetness. Therefore Shri Raghunath Das firmly vows to worship Krishna without bothering about all his qualities, saying: “he may be beginningless or with a beginning, very expert or clumsy, most compassionate or merciless, more opulent and powerful than the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha or just an ordinary human being – the son of the Lord of Vraja is always my worshipable Lord, birth after birth!” anādira ādi yini, vṛndāvana līlābhūmi, avatārī svayaṁ bhagavān ādira sahita vartamāna,prati kṣaṇe prakāśamāna kāruṇya-śālī guṇavān “The beginningless and primeval fountainhead of all avatāras, the most compassionate and qualified Lord, is always manifest in his Vrindavan playground, where his pastimes have a beginning”. sarvatra sunipuṇa, bhūṣita vividha guṇa, kiṁvā tiṅho kāruṇya vihīna paravyoma adhipati, nārāyaṇa hoite khyāti, kiṁvānara mātrai haun “he may be most expert and adorned with all attributes or he may be bereft of all mercy. He may be more glorious than the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, Lord Viṣṇu, or he may be just an ordinary human being.” nanda suta boli yāra,sakalei gāna kore, sei kṛṣṇa vrajendra-nandana janme janme vṛndāvane, e lālasā mora mane, śrī govinda prabhu-vara haun “May Shri Govinda, who is glorified by everyone as the son of Vraja’s king Nanda, always be my only Lord in Vrindavan, birth after birth. This is the desire on my mind.”
  21. Nandagaon is Krishna’s childhood village, where he lived until he was twelve years old. At every corner in Nandagaon, there are places associated with Krishna lila – Pawan Sarovar where Mother Yashoda used to bathe Krishna; Moti kund, where Krishna made pearls grow on trees to decorate his cows and tease the gopis who had refused to give him pearls, and, of course, Nanda Bhavan, the temple on top of the hill, which marks the site of the residence of Shri Krishna and His family. Nandagaon was named after, the head of the village, Nandababa, and Nanda Baithak is the place where Nandababa held meetings with townsfolk. According to local legend, it was here that the young Krishna presented the case to worship Govardhan instead of Lord Indra. It is also thought that Krishna and Balaram left to go to Mathura from this place. It was here that they boarded Akrurji’s chariot to attend the wrestling match in Mathura, which led to the liberation of Braj from the cruel reign of king Kamsa. Nanda Baithak was uncovered only 90 years ago by Sant Haridas who had a vision of Krishna and Balaram sitting in Nandababa’s lap surrounded by townsfolk. From this vision, he understood that this must be the place where Nandababa held official meetings. Sant Haridas painted the scene from his dream vision on the wall. The painting was destroyed, but it was replicated by a painter who had seen the original. Sant Haridasji passed away 50 years ago. His Samadhi and the replica painting of his vision is at Nanda Baithak. There is also a kund here called Nanda Kund. Until a few decades ago, the water from this kund was used in the temple kitchen.
  22. Vrindavan, 17.01.2019 Makar Sankranti is considered highly auspicious for spiritual and charitable activities. Most temples in Mathura-Vrindavan celebrated the festival on January 15 this year. The Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti which is celebrated in the month of Magha, marks the first day of sun’s transit from Sagittarius to Makara (Capricorn) ‘rashi’ (zodiac sign). Despite the cold weather, people lined up at the ghats for ‘Yamuna Snan’ early in the morning. Many people also did Vrindavan Parikrama. After performing ‘Dugdh-abhishek’ and other rituals on the Yamuna riverbank, many took the traditional ‘sankalpa’ (sacred vow) to donate food, clothes and other items in temples or to the poor. ← Shri Shri Radha Shyama Sundar on Makar Sankranti Devotees thronged temples throughout the day. Special ‘Panchmeva Khichri’ was offered in Vrindavan’s Banke Bihari temple, while a ‘Chappan Bhog Khichri Mahotsav’ was organised at Baldeo Dauji Temple. Makar Sankranti also marks the end of the month-long Khichri festival in many temples. Sesame seeds were donated in Dwarkadhish, Cantt. Kali Mata, Deergh Vishnu, Ramchandraji, Dauji, and Lakshmi Temples. At the Radha Kund Gopalji Temple, Bal Gopal was draped in new winter finery. ‘Suhaag Sonth’ made with saffron and warm spices such as nutmeg and mace was offered as ‘bhog’. On this day, women in Nandgaon and Baldeo follow a particularly sweet tradition of persuading their elders and trying to even up differences with them through folk songs. Many religious, charitable and political organisations set up Khichri festivals/distribution at various locations. Surya Narayan, P.C. Radharaman Dasi Parikar → The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Makara Sankranti Festival began on the day of Lohri – January 13. Various programs were organized at 24 different locations in which around 120 Swayamsevaks performed ‘seva’ (service) for the saints of Braj. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kalpana Garg distributed sweets and jaggery in Malin Basti. Vishva Hindu Mahasangh Matrshakti did ‘Khichri Seva’ at the Kankaali Temple and Kapil Muni Ashram Goshalas. Sadbhavana Silaai Prashikshan Kendra distributed sewing machines, blankets and saris to girl students. Reading material, notebooks, stationery items and clothes were given to children in Narayana Anaathalaya by Vrindavan Bal Vikas Parishand. Serving cows is also an important part of Makar Sankranti festivities, so many took the opportunity to visit Goshalas and contribute to the important work of maintaining stray cattle. Mahant Mahendra Das Maharaj said that ‘seva’ (service) and charity are the essence of Hindu festivals. Swami Sureshanand reiterated the importance of generosity in the building of society and nations.
  23. On each of the hilltops in Barsana stands an important historical temple, the best known being Maan Mandir or Radha Rani Temple. Kushal Bihari temple, stands on a hilltop around half a kilometre from Maan Mandir. It is a majestic temple with an interesting history. The temple was completed in 1911 but the deity could not be established until 1918. Intricate stonework of Kushal Bihari temple Kushal Bihari temple was built by the Jaipur King, Madho Singh II. The temple was built at an expense of 15-16 Lakh Rupees and took 14 years to build. In addition to the main hall and temple room, the complex includes over 60 rooms for temple sevaiyats and brahmacharis. It is said that the day before the installation of the deities in the temple, Radha Rani appeared Raja Madho Singh II’s dream and told him that her home is the place where she has been staying, in the temporary temple. The king thus abandoned the idea of shifting the deity. He installed a different set of deities in the Kushal Bihari temple and built another temple. Madho Singh II ,and his wife were devoted to Radha-Krishna. He had the Madhav Vilas (in Vrindavan) built in his name, and Kushal Bihari temple is named after queen Kushal. Madho Singh II was known as a Dharmic king who ruled the kingdom according to his guru’s orders. He had 5 wives but no sons. He left this world in 1922. The first temple sevaiyat was Radheshyam Brahmachari, disciple of the Nimbark Mahatma Shri Gopaldas. According to Nimbark Sampradaya history, Radheshyam Brahmachari renounced the world at a young age and took shelter of Shri Gopaldas in Vrindavan. The Nimbark sampradaya manages the temple and conducts the rituals according to their tradition. Shri Nimbark Acharya Nimbark Sampradaya is one of the four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas. The Sampradaya was founded by Nimbark Acharya (c.7th century CE). Nimbārk acharya was born in Vaidūryapattanam, the present-day Mungi Village, Paithan in East Maharashtra. He migrated with his parents to Mathurā and settled at what is now known as Nimbagrāma (Neemgaon), situated between Barsānā and Govardhan.
  24. In Sva Niyama Dashakam, Shri Raghunath Goswami instructs himself about how to remain steady in Braj where Radha Rani is always present and is always occupied in mercifully arranging service opportunities for Manjaris, saints and ordinary devotees. VERSE 4: gatonmādai rādhā sphurati hariṇāśliṣṭa-hṛdayā sphuṭaṁ dvārāvatyām iti yadi śṛṇomi śruti-taṭe tadāhaṁ tatraivoddhata-mati patāmi vraja-purāt samuḍḍīya svāntādhika-gati-khagendrād api javāt But if I hear even with faintly that out of loving madness Radha has gone to Dwarka, where she is clearly manifest and where Hari is holding her to his heart, then with a jubilant spirit I will immediately fly from Vraja faster than even Garuḍa, the king of birds who flies with the speed of mind, and blissfully land in Dwarka! Vishnu on Garuda, flying faster than the mind Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In the previous verse, Sri Raghunath Das, who suffers the pangs of separation from the Divine Couple, vowed that he would not leave Vraja Dham, the matchless playground of Radha Madhava, for even a moment, even if Krishna would personally call him to come to Dwarka. “Alright then,” one may ask, “now what if Sri Radharani went to Dwarka and Sri Raghunath Das would be blessed there with the sweetness of the Yugala Kishor, then would he go there or not?” As an answer to this question Shri Raghunath begins this verse by saying that Shri Radharani is naturally not inclined ever to leave Vraja to go to Dwarka. This he has reasonably explained in the previous verse. But then again, maybe she would become so maddened out of separation from Krishna that she would lose her senses and go to Dwarka anyway! In Srimad Bhāgavata it is described that Shri Radharani went to Kurukshetra on the occasion of a solar eclipse, and in Lalita-mādhava Nāṭakam Srila Rupa Goswami describes how she became completely mad out of separation from Krishna and committed suicide by jumping into the Yamunā at Khela Tirtha, from where she entered into the sunglobe, finally ending up in the Nava-Vrindavan garden in Dwarka. But, according to the scriptures and the ācāryas, these two forms of Radharani are mere expansions of the fountainhead Shri Vrishabhanu-nandinī. This fountainhead Vrishabhanu-nandinī never leaves Vrindavan. This daughter of Vrishabhanu has two manifestations – 1) Saṁyoginī and 2) Viyoginī. The former was manifest in Kurukshetra and the latter went to Dwarka’s Nava-Vrindavan garden in transit through the sunglobe. Srila Gopal Guru Goswami quotes the following verses from the Sanat Kumāra Samhitā in the Paddhati-traya: “In Vraja there are three Radhas – Saṁyoginī or Kāmā, Viyoginī or Vāmā and Kīrtidā-putrī. Kāmā and Vāma are two expansions of Kīrtidā-putrī. Kīrtidā Putrī knows that: “My Prāṇa Ballabha never leaves Vraja!” When Mathuranātha (Krishna, the Lord of Mathura) leaves for Mathura in his Vāsudeva-prakāśa and Sri Nanda-nandana’s consequently disappears from Vraja, Kīrtidā-putrī relishes the rasa called ‘pravāsa’ (foreign sojourn of the beloved). The Munis call this loss of association ‘pravāsa’. Thinking “The Lord of My life has left Me to go to Māthurā!”, Vāmā Radha became totally overwhelmed by anguish and jumped into the Yamunā to go to another manifestation of Gokula, named Goloka, where she could relish the taste of union with her Lord once more. The other manifestation of Sri Radha, named Kāmā, suffered so much of separation after Krishna went to Mathura that she went on pilgrimage to Kurukṣetra, yearning to see him.” Although this expansion of Shri Radha went to Kurukṣetra, eager to see Krishna, this meeting with him could not be as relishing as meeting him in Vraja. Weeping and weeping she sang: anyera hṛdaya ‘mana’,āmāra mana vṛndāvana, mane vane eka kori jāni tāhā tomāra padadvaya, korāho yadi udoy, tabe tomāra pūrṇa kṛpā māni prāṇanātha! śuno mora satya nivedana vraja āmāra sadana, tāhā tomāra saṅgama, nā pāile nā rahe jīvana “For others the heart is the mind, but my mind is Vrindavan. I know this forest and my mind to be one and the same. If you would make your lotus feet appear there I would consider that to be your full mercy. O Lord of My life! Listen to My earnest prayer: Vraja is My abode, and if I cannot meet you there I cannot remain alive!” Another expansion of Shri Radha, named Vāmā, jumped into the Yamunā and went to Dwarka through the sunglobe, but despite the fact that she lived in the new Vrindavan-garden and that Dwarkanātha came there dressed as Vrajendra-nandana, she still desired to meet Krishna in Vraja. From all these facts it is clearly understood that it is impossible for Kīrtidā-sutā (the original Radharani) to go to Dwarka and meet Dwarkanātha there. “Despite that”, Shri Raghunath says, “I will heed to anyone who argues what would happen if Radhika became so maddened by feelings of separation from Krishna that she would actually leave Vraja go to Dwarka and stay with him there. If I hear such a thing I would fly there even faster than Garuḍa, who flies faster than the mind, I would land in Dwarka and would be blessed there with the sweet relish of the Yugala Kiśora.” Shri Raghunath Das’s svarūpa is Shri Radha’s beloved maidservant, and the sweetness of the Yugala Kiśora is his very life. He is so attached to living in Vraja because that is the place where he can serve the Divine Couple and relish Their sweetness. Therefore he will take shelter with body, mind and words of any place where he can serve Them and relish Their boundless sweetness – this is the purport. Radha Rani and her maidservants Especially the kiṅkarīs (maidservants) always stick to Shri Radhika like her shadow. They always stay with her when she feels separation from Krishna, to console her and to serve her. They cannot stay without her anywhere, not even for a moment. Therefore wherever Shri Radha is, there is Shri Raghunath’s most coveted shelter – that is the inner meaning of this verse. From this verse we also learn that Shri Radha possesses mental equipoise and does not leave Vraja to go elsewhere, even though she greatly desires to meet Krishna. This is why Shri Raghunath is so attached to living in Vraja! virahete unmādinī,vṛṣabhānu rāja nandinī dvārakāya gamana korile. śrī kṛṣṇera āliṅgane, sukhe hon ageyāne, nayanete dekhiche sakale “If Vṛṣabhānu’s princess goes mad out of separation from Krishna and goes to Dwarka, where everyone can see that she goes beside herself of bliss when he embraces her……” ei kathā yadi śuni, manodhika drutagāmī, garuḍa hoite savegete vraja cheḍe śighra uḍe, yāi dvārāvatī pure, āṅkhi bhare yugale herite “…as soon as I hear this I will fly out of Vraja faster than Garuḍa, who is faster even than the mind, and go to Dwarka where I will fill my eyes with the vision of the Yugala Kiśora.”
  25. Vrindavan, 15.01.2019 ‘Andal Utsav’ or ‘Shri Vivah Utsav’– the five-day festival celebrating the marriage of Devi Goda (Lakshmi or Andal) and Lord Ranganath was concluded at Vrindavan’s Rangji Temple yesterday. The festival commenced on 10th January with a grand procession in which Goda Devi went around the temple to invite her ‘sakhis’ (friends) to the ‘wedding’. Accompanied by sounds of ‘dhol’ and ‘shehnaai’ in traditional south Indian style, the goddess reached the ‘Barahdwari’ where women devotees welcomed her with turmeric and flowers. Temple Sevaiyats and their families were joined by hundreds of people to witness the marriage ceremony of the ‘Divya Dampathi’ (divine couple). Devi Goda blessed devotees with her veiled glances while going around the temple in her palanquin. After four days of festivities, Andal and Lord Rangamannar married in accordance with Vedic rituals and injunctions, yesterday. As per tradition, the bride was taken for ‘Yamuna Darshan’ in the morning. All pre-marriage rituals were conducted in the ‘Barahdwari’. In the afternoon, Lord Ranganath mounted his ‘vahan’ – Garuda, and proceeded towards Barahdwari. The marriage procession was greeted by Shri Godamma’s father, Vishnuchitta Suri. Betel nuts, silk clothes, and other presents were offered to the Lord on arrival. The temple resounded with Vedic chants as ‘Saptapadi’ rituals – the most important ritual in a Hindu marriage ceremony where the bride and groom go around the holy fire seven times and take the seven marriage vows – were conducted. Lord Ranganath tied a ‘Magalasutra’ (sacred thread) around Devi Lakshmi’s neck. After the ‘Saptapadi’ rituals, the divine couple gave ‘darshan’ to devotees in ‘Sheesh Mahal’. The ceremony concluded with Lord Rangamannar’s bathing rituals in the temple pond (Pushkarni). Shri Rangji Temple, Vrindavan Built in 1851, Sri Rangji Mandir is dedicated to Lord Sri Goda-Rangamannar. Goda or Andal as she is popularly known in South India was a great 8th century Vaishnava poet-saint and Lord Ranganatha is none other than Shri Krishna. Goda composed the ‘Tiruppuvai’ – a collection of devotional poems/songs of love for her beloved Lord Krishna and his ‘lila bhoomi’, Vrindavan. Lord Ranganatha answered her prayers by becoming her bridegroom. In Rangji Mandir, Lord Krishna is present as the bridegroom with a walking stick in his hand as is the custom in a traditional south Indian marriage. To his right is Andal and to the left, Garuda – his vahana. Shri Rangji temple is one of the largest temples in North India where one can witness the coming together of south and north Indian traditions in the spirit of Goda herself.
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