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  1. 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||**
  2. “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
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!”
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.”
  9. 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
  10. (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!”
  11. 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.”
  12. 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.
  13. 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.”
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.”
  18. 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.
  19. Vrindavan, 16.01.2019 The Hindu festival of Makara 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). It is considered highly auspicious for spiritual activities because on this day the Sun God – considered as ‘Pratyaksha Brahmana’ – begins ascending into the Northern Hemisphere. The day also holds special significance for Gaudiya Vaishnavas as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was initiated into ‘Sanyasa’ by Srila Keshav Bharti on this day. The village where Mahaprabhu’s hair shaving ritual was conducted came to be known as ‘Katoya’. It so happened that just few days before his initiation, Nimai Pandit was treated roughly by a group of Brahmins in Nadia who were opposed to him. The incident troubled him deeply because he realized that the villagers’ casual attitude will never let them surrender to him. Though he has come to deliver them from the sufferings of this material world, they think of him as a classmate, a relative, a friend or just another householder. FB_IMG_1547640115101-300x300.jpgP.C. Mahanidhi Swami (Official) On the day he was supposed to leave, Nimai instructed his loved ones to keep chanting the Lord’s name in all circumstances, favorable or adverse. “Chant his name while eating, or sleeping, chant during the day, chant at night…If you love me, never do anything without remembering Krishna,” he said. That night, Nimai had a long conversation with his mother. He also asked her to prepare some pumpkin ‘Kheer’ (Indian dessert). Bowing down to his sleeping mother and wife, he left home in the dead of night. After crossing the Ganga, Nimai reached the village of Katoya. On the evening before Makara Sankranti, people came in large numbers to take a dip in the Ganga. They were taken aback on learning about Mahaprabhu’s decision to enter ‘sanyasa’ at such a young age. The barber performed ‘mundan’ (head shaving ritual) on Nimai’s soft hair with tears in his eyes. After this ‘seva’ (service), he pledged to give up his profession even if that meant subsisting on alms, though later, he became a ‘Halwai’ (sweet meat maker). People were aggrieved to see Nimai in the garb of a ‘sanyasi’ (monk). They ran amok closing their eyes to avoid witnessing the scene. Shri Chandrashekhar Acharya could resume the ceremony only after Nimai pacified the crowd. When Shri Keshava Bharti proceeded to give him the sanyasa mantra, Nimai informed that he had already received it in a dream and whispered the mantra in the guru’s ear. Shri Keshava Bharti whispered it back to him and gave him the name ‘Krishna Chaitanya’- the one who will awaken Krishna consciousness in the hearts of all. Although Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sanyasa brought grief to his loved ones, he performed this lila to bless everyone with the nectar of Krishna’s name.
  20. ← Pandit Krishna Das Babaji By Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das Maharaj: When Sri Sri 108 Pandit Sri Krishna Das Babaji Maharaja, Bhakti-tirtha, was about 15 years old, three desires (sankalpas) mysteriously arose in his mind: “I will worship Radha-Krishna in the mood of gopi-bhava,” “I will study Srimad Bhagavatam!” “And I will chant Harinama and do Sankirtana!” As a tender teen, Babaji Maharaja had no idea what is gopi-bhava. Nor did he know that the rest of his long life of 101 years would be spent realizing these three desires. From where did these three beautiful, transcendental ‘sankalpas’ come from? Bhagavan Sri Krishna answers in Sri Gita (6.44): “purva abhyasena tenaiva, hriyate hy avaso pi sah, “Because of performing bhakti yoga sadhana in a prior life, one is automatically attracted to the same practices in this life.” In 1918 (Magha Sukla Trayodashi), Babaji Maharaja appeared in Dakshina Khanda, West Bengal near the village of Gaura-Govinda Nitya-Parisada Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura. Babaji Maharaja appeared in wealthy Brahmin family of Krishna bhaktas hailing from the Kasyapa and Shandilya gotras. At the age of five, Babaji Maharaja lost his mother and was raised by his grandparents. In 1940, Babaji Maharaja graduated with honors from high school, and then stayed home managing the family estate. Most of the day, he chanted Shri Shri Radha-Krishna Nama (aka the Hare Krishna maha-mantra). Babaji Maharaja recalls those days saying, “I felt so much bliss in my mind while chanting Hare Krishna that I lost all interest in material life. I decided that I will leave home, become a sadhu and live in a Himalayan cave doing bhajan like Dhruva and Prahlada Maharaja. Detecting my mood of detachment, my uncle gave me a Gita to read, hoping that I would learn about duty, stay home, get married and so on. However, the Gita had the opposite effect and after reading it, especially 9.33; 18.65-66), I became even more determined to leave home and become a sadhu. “Then one night, Radha-Krishna appeared in my dream. They looked very beautiful dancing together in a most exquisite and attractive way. I moved towards them, but then They vanished, leaving me with an intense thirst to see Them again.” A short time later, Babaji Maharaja’s uncle’s baby of two years old was visiting his home. He gazed at Baba and suddenly surprisingly said in a most distinct way, “Dada! I give you a blessing: Become a sadhu!” At first, Babaji Maharaja couldn’t believe his ears, but then he thought that Bhagavan Sri Krishna must be speaking through that baby’s mouth. “Being a young Indian boy, however, I was afraid to leave home and I worried about getting food and shelter. Then Krishna appeared in a dream holding a club and said, ‘Don’t worry or fear. Just leave home and become a sadhu. If anyone tries to harm you, I will destroy them with this club!’” Babaji Maharaja left home and went to Gaya for Vishnu Darsana, Ganga snana, then on to Haridwar where he arrived after a month of walking. Babaji Maharaja lived on the bank of the Ganga under a tree, and in a garden house offered by a sympathetic devotee. Babaji Maharaja passed a few years in Haridwar staying in different places, chanting Hare Krishna and studying Bhagavad-gita. Babaji Maharaja then came to Vrindavan Dham in 1940 and did Vraja parikrama, subsisting on madhukari, before settling in Cakalesvara, Govardhana. There Babaji Maharaja met a ‘niskincana’ sadhu who lived there, doing bhajan and madhukari. Feeling the utmost respect and attraction to him, Babaji Maharaja took Diksa from that Gaudiya Vaisnava saint named Shri Shri 108 Sanatana Das Babaji Maharaja, who was the favorite ‘vesh’ disciple of the famous Govinda Kunda Siddha Baba, 108 Sri Sri Manohara Das Babaji. In 1941, Babaji Maharaja took sannyasa (babaji vesh) before Shri Raghunath Dasa Goswami’s Samadhi. Babaji Maharaja spent time with his guru in Radha Kund and Govardhan, studying sastra in the association of Sri Kunjabihari Das Babaji, Gaura-Gopala Dasji, Sri Dina Sarana Maharaja, Priyacharana Dasji Maharaja, Parameshvara Dasji Maharaja, and Shri Advaita Das Babaji Maharaja. Babaji Maharaja studied Sanskrit for a few years in Vrindavan and received degrees in Sanskrit grammar, the title ‘Vaishnava darsana tirtha’ and became a Bhagavata Acarya. Returning to Govinda Kund in Govardhan, Babaji Maharaj did bhajan and served his Guru and the other great ‘Govardhan nivasi bhajananadi sadhus’ staying at Govinda Kund. Not only was Babaji Maharaja an amazing Pandit, a strict ‘vairagi’ (renunciate) and a perfect gentleman, he was expert in cooking, book keeping and managing temples and ashrams. Appreciating Babaji Maharaj’s superb scholarship, honesty and impeccable behavior, several Vrindavan temple trusts requested his service as Mahant. For 35 years, Babaji Maharaja selflessly served as the Mahant of the Gwalior Mandir, Kusuma Sarovara; Mahant of Siddha Manohara Das’s temple in Govinda Kunda, and the Radha-Syamasundara Mandir in Prema Sarovara. Of his 101 years as a sadhu-sannyasi, Babaji Maharaja did Radha-Krishna bhajan in Vraja Mandala for 80 years. All his belongings fit into one shoulder bag. Babaji Maharaj never had a bank account, personal ‘kutir’ (house) or any land. He wandered here and there living a completely renounced life—moving between Govinda Kunda, Radha Kunda, Kusum Sarovara, Prema Sarovara and Barsana. He initiated many devotees, wrote several books on Gaudiya Vaisnava tattva, sadhana and sadhya, and often went to Bengal, Assam and other places to discourse on the Srimad Bhagavatam, and preach ‘suddha Radha-Krishna bhakti bhajan’, and the ‘prema dharma’ introduced by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. During his long life, Babaji Maharaja freely taught Sanskrit and the secrets of the Srimad Bhagavatam to scores of eager brahmacaris and Babajis. As a service, whenever Babaji Maharaja was requested by other Gurus like Sri Sri 108 Pandit Sri Ananta Dasji Maharaja, he would give sannyasa vesh (bheka) to their disciples. Babaji Maharaja was a gentle, humble, unassuming sadhu with a fantastic memory of slokas from the Bhagavatam, Gita and other sastra. He deeply knew all the Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhantas, and he would compassionately share his vast wisdom with anyone seeking his shelter. Babaji Maharaja constantly stressed the need to take complete shelter in Harinama; always be completely humble; never offend any Vaishnava; and always remember the nitya-lilas of Radha Govinda Yugala. Govinda-lilamrta and Shri Raghunath Dasa Goswami’s Stavavali were his constant companions. Babaji Maharaja satisfied the thirst of all seekers who came for his Darshan. He emanated friendly warmth, care, and oceans of wisdom. Babaji Maharaja treated everyone like his own, making sure each and every devotee was satisfied and comfortable. And most importantly, before leaving his sublime association, everyone just had to take Krishna prasadam, which he often personally served with the utmost love. On January 11, 2019, at 7.10 A.M. Srimati Radharani came to Babaji Maharaja’s kutir in Barsana, and said, “Hey Baba! Now come with Me. We have to go to Nandagram to cook breakfast for Shri Nandanandana.” And thus Babaji Maharaja’s incredibly long life of Harinama, Gopi-Bhava and Bhagavata came to a beautiful close. He fulfilled his three sankalpas, perfected his bhakti sadhana bhajan, and went to Goloka Vrndavana to blissfully serve His beloved Radha Govinda Yugala for time eternal! 108 Sri Sri Pandit Sri Krishna Das Babaji Maharaja, Bhakti-tirtha ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe! Jai Gurudeva! Jai Gurudeva! Jai Gurudeva!
  21. In a case held before the court of Raja Jai Singh, Baladeva Vidhyabhushan proved the legitimacy of the Gaudiya Sampradaya, which was being questioned by Ramanandi priests. The priests argued: How can Radha and Krishna be worshiped together since they are not married? And how can Vishnu be worshiped through Krishna? Baladev Vidhyabhushan was sent to the court in Amber (Jaipur) to defend Gaudiya Vaishnavism by his shiksha Guru, the renowned Vrindavan scholar Shri Vishwanatha Chakravarti. ← Radha Govind Dev, Jaipur In 1669, Aurangzeb issued a decree that the temples of Vrindavan should be destroyed and many deities were moved to the region now known as Jaipur. When Govind Dev arrived, Raja Jai Singh was overjoyed, as he had visited Vrindavan when he was seven years old and had been naturally attracted to the Vrindavan way of worship. However, the Ramanuja priests, who had until then enjoyed official favour, felt that their position was being threatened. At the time of hearing in which Vidhyabhushan established the legitimacy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the political infighting had been going on between the Ramanandi priests and Gaudiya Vaishavas for many years. It had now reached the point where the Ramanandi priests demanded that Radha be removed from the main altar of Govinda Temple and be placed on a separate altar. According to their argument – Sita and Ram are married, so are Lakshmi and Vishnu, so they can be worshipped together, but there is no precedent for the worship Radha and Krishna together. To appease the Ramanandis, Raja Jai Singh told them that he would ask the Gaudiyas to place Radha Rani in a separate room; explain their breach of Vaishnnava etiquette and prove their link with the Madhava Sampradaya. Baladev Vidyabhushana was the perfect person to defend the Gaudiyas as he had been initiated in the Madhava Sampradaya during his youth; born in Odisha, the young Baladeva travelled to Karnataka in search of a preceptor. In the Ananda Tirtha (Madhava Sanpradaya) Matha, Baladeva studied Madhava Acharya’s commentary on Vedanta Sutra and perfected his debating skills. He then travelled on to Puri where he met Radha Damodar Das who explained that Gaudiyas are not interested in commentaries on Vedanta Sutra as they consider the Srimad Bhagavatam to be the natural commentary as it was written last. Radha Damodar Das recommended that Baladev read Jiva Goswami’s Bhagavata Sandarbha. This work impressed Baladev, as it seemed to expand on Madhav Acharya’s writings, so he was convinced to join the Gaudiyas and travelled to Navadvipa then Vrindavan. ← Madhava Acharya Baladeva’s study of Madhav Acharya’s commentary on Vedanta Sutra, was put to good use when he was called to defend the charge of the Ramanandis that Gaudiya Vaishnavism cannot be considered a legitimate sampradaya because it is not a system established by any of the four learned Vaishnava preceptors who wrote commentaries on the Vedanta Sutra to refute the commentary written by Shankar Acharya (788-820). The four Vaishnava preceptors from whom the four main sampradayas – Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Madhava and Vishnuvami – each describe the connection of the universe and living entities to the Supreme. Shankarachaya interprets the Vedanta Sutra from a monist perspective, whereas Madhav Acharya’s interprets it from a Dualist perspective. In the chapter “Baladeva Vidyabhusan: The Gaudiya Vedantist” in Journal of Vaishnava Studies Vol 1, no2, Michael Wright explains the difference in the interpretations of the Vedanta: “Put simply, Shankara taught that only the Supreme is real or true, while the world of forms is an illusion; Madhava taught that the Supreme is indeed real and true, but the world is also real, not an illusion. Madhava asserted that while the world may be relative, temporary and non-absolute, it is nevertheless real in its own way.” The Ramanandis who contested the authenticity of Gaudiya Vaishnavism followed Ramanuja, the main proponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy, a philosophy that is closer to Shankaracharya’s monism. When Baladeva Vidyabhushan rose to give evidence before Raja Jai Singh’s court, the Ramanandi representatives tried to stop him from presenting his evidence by saying that they would not accept anything written by Gaudiya Vaishnavas, since they had no authorised sampradaya. In reply, Baladeva assured them that he was from the Madhava sampradaya but that Radha Damodar Goswami and Vishwanath Chakravarti of the Gaudiya Sampradaya were also his gurus. The Ramanandis had to accept Baladeva as a qualified sanyasi and pandit of an authorized lineage but argued that he argue by referencing Madhava Acharya’s commentary on Vedanta Sutra, as the Gaudiya Vaishnavas had no separate commentary. This put Baladeva into a dilemma as Madhava Acharya’s commentary does not directly justify the worship of Radha-Krishna as practiced by Gaudiya Vaishnavas. This dilemma led Baladeva to embark on an impossible task – to write a Gaudiya Vaishnava commentary on the Vedanta Sutra in only a few weeks. Michael Wright describes what Baladeva did after a recess was granted so that a Gaudiya Vaishnava commentary could be produced. “Baladeva went to Govindapur just outside Amber [Jaipur]. Presenting himself before the deity Govinda, he knelt and prayed, “O Govinda, your devotee Vishvanatha has sent me here to defend you and your devotees, but I cannot do it! I am just a soul fallen in ignorance. If you wish, you may empower me to write a Vedanta Sutra commentary that will glorify you. If you wish, I shall write the truths I have learned from your devotees and your scripture. And I have faith that by your mercy, thee truths will appear most logical.” Then Baladeva began to write. Pausing scarcely to rest, he wrote and prayed and wrote again. Days and nights passed, but he did not stop. Some chroniclers of the tradition say he wrote for one month. Others say it took him only seven days. Either way, he soon accomplished the improbable, if not the impossible. Baladeva returned from Govindapur with his commentary. By now, keep expectancy had been aroused in all the various parties. Jai Singh, hoping to see the Gaudiyas vindicated, was especially eager to see the commentary. The Ramanandis, however, awaited the commentary with some trepidation, hoping they could defeat it readily …Baladeva then addressed each of the Ramanandis’ objections to Gaudiya worship. “I have expounded on every aspect of Gaudiya practice in chapter Three,” he said. “Since your criticisms concern our style of worship, you should turn to Chapter Three to see how Vyasa, the author of Vedanta Sutra has provided for our worship. You object to our worship of Radha with Govinda,” Baladeva continued, “on the superficial grounds that they are not married. In verses forty through forty two, I have presented the true position of Radha in relation to Krishna. Radha is the eternal energy of Krishna and is never separated from him. Their relationship may be parakiya [married] or svakiya [unmarried], but that does not affect the eternality of their union. The separation of Radha and Govinda you have effected is artificial and therefore offensive to the Lord, who holds deep affection for his female energy. “You have criticized our predilection for worshiping only Krishna , neglecting the worship of Narayana, Vishnu, which you say is mandatory for all Vaishnavas. I have addressed that point in my comments on verse forty three. According to the Vedanta Sutra , Narayana may be worshiped in any of his forms including Krishna. No scriptural injunction prohibits the worship of Govinda exclusive of Narayana.” The Ramanandis had to accept Baladeva’s arguments and drop the case.
  22. Govardhan, 10.01.2019 Braj Tirtha Vikas Parishad will begin the treatment and purification of the holy waters of Govardhan’s Radha and Shyam Kund this week. A Gurugram-based agency has been roped in for the job. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Tourism and Fire Departments. It is expected to take three months for completion. Situated on the Govardhan Parikrama Marg, Radha Kund is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Braj. Thousands of people visit the place during festivals. Even though residents and activists have been vocal about the polluted state of its waters, this has not deterred devotees from performing ‘Achaman’ (sipping of water for purification) or bathing in the kund. It is heartening that the government has finally started working on a solution. To begin with, firefighting machines will be used to overdose the two kunds which together cover an area of more than 3 acres. This will help in the proliferation of pollution-combating bacteria. Results will be visible within ten days of overdosing. According to BTVP chief engineer AP Singh, maintenance of the post-treatment kunds will not be a costly affair. If the project is successful, BTVP will implement this strategy for treatment of other kunds in Braj. The derelict state of these ancient and sacred water bodies of Braj is no secret. Many have been encroached upon, while others that have dried up are reduced to dumping grounds for construction and human waste. The previous government planned the renewal and restoration of ancient water bodies of Braj under the World Bank’s Pro- poor tourism project. Eleven kunds situated in Vrindavan, Mathura, Goverdhan, Varsana and Nandgaon were identified for it. There was no progress on the execution front however. The incumbent government led by chief minister Yogi Adityanath pruned the list to include nine kunds which will also feature on UP’s official tourist map. These include Potra Kund, Davanal Kund, Govind Kund, Harji Kund, Narad Kund, Madhusudan Kund, Vihval Kund, Priya Kund and Vrishabhanu Kund. Last year a sum of Rs. 100 crore was promised for their renovation.
  23. A108-AI

    Braj saints leave for Kumbh

    Vrindavan, 10.01.2019 Kumbh Mela, the mass Hindu pilgrimage and also the world’s largest religious gathering, has started in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. Millions of pilgrims will attend the event over the course of approximately 48 days to bathe at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati. Sadhus and saints of Braj have also reached Prayagraj to attend this auspicious event. The first ‘Shahi Snaan’ will be held on ‘Makar Sankranti’ (January 15). Karshni Guru SharananandJi Maharaj, Swami Swaroopanand Maharaj, Swami Govindanand, Swami Maheshanand and Acharya Ashok Joshi from the Raman Reti ‘Karshni Udasin Ashram’ left for the Kumbh on Wednesday. Religious discourses and cultural programmes have been organised by the Karshni Shivir at sector 7, Prayagraj Kumbh. Chote Thakur Harivallabh Sharma will perform ‘Raaslila’. Mahant Ladlisharan Das said that the glories of Prayagraj Kumbh are as eternal and pristine as the spiritual and cultural heritage of Braj. Prominent religious personalities such as Yog-guru Swami Ramdev, The Dalai Lama, Jagadguru Rambhadracharya, Govind Dev Giri Maharaj, Bhagvat Bhaskar Krishnachandra Shastri Thakurji, Maluk Pithadheeshwar Mahant Rajendra Das Maharaj and Achraya Pundarik Goswami have been invited to address pilgrims at the Karshni Shivir. Braj saints will forcefully demand the construction of Ayodhya Ram Temple at the ‘Kumbh Dharm Sansad’ which will be held on January 31 and February 01. Recognised as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by UNESCO last year, Kumbh Mela is the largest public gathering and collective act of faith. It is held every three years in one of the four places including Haridwar (Ganges), Ujjain (Kshipra), Nashik (Godavari), and Prayagraj by rotation. At any given place, the Kumbh is held once in 12 years. A special Kumbh fair is held in Vrindavan, on the banks of the Yamuna every 12 years, whenever the main Kumbh is at Haridwar. There are several lilas relating the Kumbh to Vrindavan. One popular belief is that while flying with the pitcher of amrit (nectar) obtained after ‘Samudra Manthan’, Garud Dev sat on the Kadamba tree at Kalidah.
  24. Sva Niyama Dashakam is Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami’s ten instructions or rules for himself. These instructions form ten main points of focus for devotees wanting to engage themselves in Krishna Bhakti. In verse 2, Raghunath Goswami pledges his devotion to Braj and his enthusiasm for associating with the residents of Braj. Continuing along this same line, in verse 3, he expresses his determination to stay in Braj: sadā rādhā-kṛṣṇocchalad-atula-khelā-sthala-yujaṁ vrajaṁ saṁtyajyaitad yuga-virahato’pi truṭim api punar dvārāvatyāṁ yadupatim api prauḍha-vibhavaiḥ sphurantaṁ tad vācāpi hi nahi calāmīkṣitum api Even if the greatly opulent Lord of the Yadus (Krishna) should personally invite me to come and see him in Dwarka, I will not leave the land of Vraja, the eternal matchless playground of Radha and Krishna, for even a moment, even if I were to suffer separation from the Divine Couple there for ages! Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In the previous verse, Shri Raghunath Das vows that even if he can associate with saints and see the deities of Krishna in other holy places, he does not desire to leave Vraja. He would rather spend his time in Vraja speaking nonsense with the villagers. Now one may ask: “What if Krishna personally called for Raghunath Das to come to Dwarka, to mitigate the burning pangs of separation from which he is suffering — would he then desire to leave Vraja and go to Dwarka?’ To dispel these doubts Raghunath writes this verse, in which he confirms his loyalty to Vraja. Shri Raghunath Das says: “What to speak of a short time, even if I suffer the pangs of separation from Krishna for aeons, I will not go to Dwarka, even if the supremely majestic Yadupati (Krishna of Dwarka) should personally call me there to see him!” When, in his manifest pastimes, Krishna left Vraja to go to Mathura, Nanda and the cowherders did not desire to go there to see him, no matter how much they suffered from his separation, and even though it was only a very short distance (12 kilometers) from Vrindavan to Mathura. The reason is that the love of the Vrajavāsīs is completely sweet. They can only be happy by loving Krishna in the human way of relating: “He is my son, he is my friend, or he is my lover.” They would not be able to see him in that way in Mathura. Their love would shrink back with timidity when they saw him engaged in his royal duties, with all his prowess and opulences. There’s not a drop of selfish desire left in the love of the Vrajavāsīs. Their minds and hearts are totally absorbed in giving pleasure to Krishna. Krishna would feel embarrassed if he saw them in Mathura, because in this majestic abode he would not be able to carry Nanda Baba’s shoes on his head, anoint his head and other limbs with mother Yashoda’s foot-dust, be defeated by his friends in play, or fall at the feet of his proud, beloved Radha. It would not make him happy to meet them outside of Vraja where the mood is different, therefore, the Vrajavasis, who only care about his happiness, do not desire to go and see Krishna anywhere else. If they should ever meet him elsewhere, they would feel great anguish and say: tomāra ye anya beśa, anya saṅga anya deśa, braja-jane kabhu nāhi bhāẏa braja bhūmi chāḏite nāre, tomā nā dekhile mare, braja-janera ki habe upāẏa “The people of Vraja are never attracted to you in another dress, another country and with other associates. We cannot leave Vraja and if we don’t see you we will die. What should the people of Vraja do about this?” (CC 2.13.146) Hence Sri Raghunath Das says: “Even if I suffer separation from Krishna for ages I will not go to see the vastly opulent Yadupati, even if he himself tells me to do so!” Shri Raghunath Das is actually Sri Radha’s beloved maid-servant, therefore he never desires to leave Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s many blissful and rasika pastime places in Vraja Dham. Krishna is called Līlā Puruṣottama, the Supreme Person in his playful aspect. The taste of his pastimes can never be fully relished in abodes like Dwarka, because the devotees’ love is hampered by all the majestic glory there. In Vraja, the special quality of Krishna’s pastimes is their sweetness. kṛṣṇera yateka khelā, sarvottama nara-līlā, nara-bapu tāhāra svarūpa. gopa-beśa beṇu-kara, naba kiśora naṭabara, nara-līlāra hoy anurūpa “Of all of Krishna’s pastimes, his human-like pastimes, in which he appears as a human being, are the greatest. Then he dresses like a young adolescent cowherdboy, holds a flute in his hand and is adept in dancing, exactly according to human pastimes.” (CC 2.22.109) The special feature of that best of adolescent dancers, Vraja-nandana, is that he is Eros personified. There’s no comparison to the sweetness of his erotic pastimes with the Vraja-sundaris, who are all endowed with mahā-bhāva. Especially his pastimes with the crown-jewel of Vraja gopis, mahā-bhāvavatī Srimati Radharani, are endowed with endless glory. Srila Raghunath Das is Shri Radha’s dear maidservant, and he is very happy to take shelter of Radha and Madhava’s transcendental playground of Vraja, where he can remember all their blissful amorous pastimes. When that playground is merciful, the practising devotee will also be able to see the immensely sweet, self-manifest pastimes of Sri Radha and Madhava that always take place there. This is what happened with Sri Lilashuk and other fortunate devotees. The pastimes of Radha and Madhava began to float before their eyes. For this reason, Shri Raghunath Das vows never to leave Vraja and not to go to Dwarka for even a moment, even when he is being called there by Krishna himself. His vow of living in Vraja stands firm. yugala vilāsa khelā, yathā nitya nava līlā, sukhamaya śrī vṛndāvana. vrajadhāma tyāga kore, yete dvārāvatī pure, ājñā kore madana mohana “If Madana Mohana orders me to leave Vraja Dham, blissful Sri Vrindavan, the place where the Yugala Kiśora always perform Their pristine pastimes, and to go to Dwarka…. prauḍha vibhava-śālī, yadupati yāre boli, sei prabhu korite darśana. lava nimeṣārdha tare, yāibo nā vraja cheḍe, e saṅkalpa korechi grahaṇa ….even if the very wealthy Yadupati asked me to come and see him I would not leave this Vraja for even a split second. This is my firm vow.”
  25. Vrindavan, 05.01.2019 Last week we brought you the life story of Ramakrishna Baba from OBL Kapoor’s seminal work, The Saints of Braj. Now enjoy the inspirational story of his younger godbrother, Sri Radharaman Das Baba. Born on April 14th 1932 in a village in West Bengal, Sri Radharaman Das Baba received initiation from Sri Rama Das Baba. His initiation at an early age was arranged by his devotionally minded mother, Lalita Devi. OBL Kapoor describes the change that took place after initiation and how he quickly attained Vrindavan: “After initiation, a sudden change was noticed in him. He used to retire to a lonely place and meditate for hours. His eyes always swam in tears. In this state he somehow completed his education and passed the MA examination from Calcutta University. But when his parents began to negotiate for his marriage, he found himself standing on a crossroad. He renounced the world and went to Vrindavan. In Vrindavan, he took sanyasa diksha from Sri Madhava Dasa Baba Ji. Then he went to village Maghera where his elder godbrother, Sri Ramakrishna Das Baba lived. Under his guidance he studied Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata and other scriptures. After this, he began to live in Vihar Vana, near Rala village, and practiced Sadhana. His absorption in bhajana was so deep that he would not even go for madhukari every day. He went for madhukari only once or twice a week and collected sufficient rotis to last him for a number of days. When the roties dried, he dipped them in water and ate. The result was that he developed a gastric ulcer. Acute pain in the stomach caused great difficulty in bhajan. He had to go to Calcutta for treatment. He was admitted in a hospital. His younger brother Sacidulala and niece Kumari Nandini attended him. But his condition worsened day by day. One day, in the evening, the pain in the stomach suddenly became too severe. The doctors were called. He overheard one of them saying to the other, “He may vomit blood tonight and die.” He was not afraid of death, but his anxiety was that he would die out of Vrindavan in a Calcutta hospital. In his anguish he began to pray to Radharani. “O Svamini (the mistress of my heart)! Why have you turned me out of Vrindavan to die here like a dog? Perchance I have committed some offence. May be that instead of doing bhajan, I have only deceived myself and others by aping as one absorbed in bhajana. If I had not done so, you must at least have given me the boon of death in Vrindavan. You thought I did not even deserve to die in Vrindavana. But my Swamini! Even though undeserving, am I not yours? Even if I have aped, have I aped as someone other than your servant? You are by nature so merciful that even if a man takes your name by mistake, you give him Darshan. I do not know why you are so indifferent to me. I do not ask for Darshan because I know I do not deserve it. I ask only for death in Vrindavan. Have mercy on me, Svamini, have mercy on me! As he said this, he cried aloud in deep distress then became unconscious. His cry did not go in vain. It touched the heart of Radharani. She came running along with Krishna and gave him Darshan in his unconscious state. With a smile on Her face, She showed him Her right hand, as if to bless him with death in Vrindavan, while Krishna gently moved his Lotus hand on his stomach and asked in a tender voice, “Where do you feel pain, Baba?” How could Baba say where he was feeling pain and to whom? For the pain as well as the questioner had disappeared along with the question and Radha had disappeared too. ← Rang Mahal in Nidhivan The next morning, the doctors were surprised to see the patient, who was writhing with excruciating and incurable pain till only eight or ten hours before, and should have died by morning, had sat up and was asking for food. But, after this miracle, after which Baba became illness free and returned to Vrindavan, Sri Radharaman Baba began to feel intense separation from Radha Krishna. “How could he bear the thought that those, who were his own more than anyone else, be remote from him more than anyone else?” He moved to a cave in Govardhan known as Raghav Pandit’s cave, but his ‘pain of separation’ continued to increase and he paid little attention to his body. For sustenance, he took only buttermilk and neem leaves. Baba had Darshan many times while in Braj, but his thirst for darshan could not be quenched. Once, he and Baladev Rama had Darshan and were told to go to Jaipur, upon which the pair found themselves standing hear Jaipur station. And, once again, he was called back to Vrindavan at the right time: “On November 26, 1987, when he was still in Jaipur, he had a vision and a message from Radharani. He called Baladev Ram and said to him, “Radharani has called me to Vrindavan. Take me there. The next day Baladeva Rama started with Baba in a car to Vrindavana. On the way, Baba went to meet some of his disciples and devotees and said to them while parting, “I take leave of you. May Radharani bless you!” After reaching Vrindavan, Baba announced that he was going to see one of his disciples, Murali Lal, but did he not return. Baladeva Rama and Atmaram ji from Gyan Gudri, went to Murari Lal’s house to ask about Baba. Murari Lal said that Baba never came. The trio searched for Baba but found no clues. A few days later, they read in the Amar Ujala news that the body of a baba ji had been found underneath Radha Rani’s Rang Mahal in Nidhivan. Due to the mysterious circumstances, police conducted an autopsy but no cause of death could be found. Hence, all who were ready to understand what happened knew that Baba had gone to transcendental Vrindavan at the call of Radharani Who had accepted him as Her sakhi. Baba’s siddha manjari deha had entered Radha Rani’s Rang Mahal in her eternal abode in transcendental Nidhivan.