By now the early mornings and brisk walking started taking its toll on our bodies but this was the day that we looked forward to – bathing in Radha Kund and Shyama Kund. We met early as usual and most of us had not as yet missed a day on parikrama. Our bus driver dropped us off at Kusum Sarovara and we walked down to Radha Kund – where we would begin our day.
On our way down we past Kundeshwar Mahadev – he is Lord Shiva who is guarding the kunds and one can take darshan of him right from the street. Soon thereafter we arrived at Radha Kund and Guru Maharaj explained that there are many explanations to the origin of the kunds, the most popular explanation being that of Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarty Thakur. He said that 1 time Krishna was associating with Srimati Radharani and she became so ecstatic that her body melted and formed the waters of Radha Kund and then
Krishna became so ecstatic that his body melted and formed the waters of Shyama Kund. Guru Maharaj pointed out the sangam – the meeting place, the place where the waters of Radha Kund and Shyama Kund mix. The Padma Purana describes how Lord Krishna had killed the demon Aristasura and the gopis refused to associate with him as a result of being contaminated. He asked them what he could do to become free from that contamination. They asked Him to bathe in all the holy waters of the universe. This is when, right in the middle of Shyama Kund, Krishna struck the ground with his heel making an indentation and He called for all the holy waters, rivers, kunds, etc to come in their personified forms. The gopis saw this happen and they also took liquid forms and entered into that indentation. Shyama Kund was formed first and then Krishna took his bath. He then told the Gopis: “now I am purer than pure therefore I will not associate with you – you are just village girls!!” Then the gopis decided to make their own kund. They took our their bangles and starting digging a hole in the ground. They formed a chain and started passing pots of water from Manasi Ganga and started filling it up. All the personified holy waters approached Srimati Radharani
and said “won’t you please let us into your kund?” They broke through from Shyama Kund and filled up Radha Kund and Srimati Radharani and the Gopis took their bath there. Krishna then accepted them and they all lived happily ever after. Guru Maharaj stressed that these are the most sacred places as here we come into contact with the bodies of Srimati Radharani and Krishna in their liquid forms. He cautioned us to be most respectful. Here the pandas are constantly harassing any tourists therefore Guru Maharaj adopted 1 panda to ward of the rest of the pack and to allow us to have a peaceful darshan. Our Panda’s name was Dan Bihari. At this point, after Guru Maharaj gave His short talk, we took water on our heads and continued with the rest of the tour of Radha Kund.
We went to a temple where there is a Krishna deity which was found by Ragunatha Das Goswami while excavating Radha Kund and Shyama Kund. He understood this to be the presiding deity of the area and it was installed by Vajranabha. Just outside there is a banyan tree which Guru Maharaj said was sacred as well.
We then went to the temple which was donated to Svarup Damodar Goswami Maharaj by a King. The main deity on the altar is Gopal and he is looking east – he wanted to be the first to have darshan of the sun when it rose. We visited Svarupa Damodara Goswami’s room and samadhi. Here we found a nice spot where Guru Maharaj lead some kirtan and then we took breakfast prasadam. As usual it is real austerity to ward of the monkeys but the residents seemed to have it all under control. After that we continued and with the next stop being Julan Tala.
There is a square structure just outside the temple we were at. This is where Radha and Krishna used to swing. Guru Maharaj describes – it was like a big lotus with Radha and Krishna at the centre. Around them were 8 petals with one Astasakhi on each petal. Around them were 16 petals with 16 other Gopis and around them were 32 petals with 32 Gopis and like that it keeps on multiplying. Just imagine what a sight that must’ve beeniGuru Maharaj said it multiplies and multiplies until there are megabytes and megabytes of petals (he said this is what Dina Bandhu Prabhu would say) and that is how many gopis there would be. Guru Maharaj also said that this could very well be where the idea for computers originated from.
So at Radha Kund, there is a replica of the 7 main temples of Vrindavan – all of which we will see no doubt. We stopped at the Radha Gopinatha temple and we saw the sitting place of Mother Jahnava, wife of Lord Nityananda. After the disappearance of Lord Nityananda, Mother Jahnava came to Vrindavan and went to visit all the holy places in Vraj Mandala. She came here to Radha Kund and Shyama Kund and she would sit mainly on the exact spot we were standing on, right outside the temple of Gopinatha. She has a very special connection with Gopinatha. She would sit and chant while looking at Radha Kund. Guru Maharaj pointed out the bridges and islands connecting each side of Radha Kund which are still there and He said that the pastimes are still going on. To facilitate the bathing of Mother Jahnava, the gopis built stairs behind her sitting place so she could bathe privately.
We went to the Samadhi of Srila Ragunatha Das Goswami and the bhajan kutir of Gopal Bhatta Goswami. They used to sit overlooking Radha Kund and chant Hare Krishna. Here they worshipped Radha Raman.
Then we saw 3 samadhis, those of Ragunatha Bhatta Goswami, Ragunatha Das Goswami (you may notice from the previous paragraph that we had just been to 1 samadhi of Ragunatha Das Goswami – how is this possible?) and Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami. So Guru Maharaj explained what it means to have 2 samadhis. He said that these 3 devotees left the world on the same day in different years. I think we all are aware that pure devotees’ bodies are buried. Then the muslims started a destruction and desecration of the holy places and temples. They began digging the bodies of devotees placed in samadhi. The devotees were afraid that they were going to dig the bodies of the great devotees as well therefore they dug these bodies out themselves and cremated the bodies. I bet that very few of us knew this! These samadhis contains the ashes of the 3 devotees. ½ the ashes of Ragunatha Das Goswami is here and ½ is in the samadhi garden in Vrindavan. Therefore occasionally one may come across more than 1 samadhi for a particular devotee.
Right in between Radha Kund and Shyama Kund is Manasa Pavan Ghat where Ragunatha Das Goswami used to live. Gopal Bhatta Goswami and Visvanatha Chakravarty Thakur also lived close by and Guru Maharaj said this is a very popular place of great devotees with Radha Kund on 1 side and Shyama Kund on the other side. Ragunatha Das Goswami lived here for 49 years. He was the first one to come after Lord Caitanya. At that time Radha Kund and Shyama kund was very small – about 3 or 4 metres across. Now they are very big. Ragunatha Das Goswami was responsible for excavating and building the into nice thirthas. There are many pastimes that took place here. In the bhajan kutir, there is a picture of Ragunatha Das Goswami sitting at Shyama Kund at Manasa Pavana ghat chanting the holy names – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Sanathana Goswami was watching him from the other side of Shyama Kund. As he was watching, he saw 2 tigers drinking water from the kund very close-by
to Ragunatha Das Goswami who had not even noticed them. Sanathana Goswami was in great anxiety thinking that maybe they will attack and kill him. He was about the shout and raise and alarm when He saw behind Ragunatha Das Goswami was Lord Krishna watching over him, protecting him and he knew that He would stop the tigers if they planned to do anything.
Another pastime: Again, Ragunatha Das Goswami was sitting by the banks of Shyama Kund and chanting the Lord’s holy names. It was about mid summer and it was very hot – 45-50 degrees maybe – Sanathana Goswami was watching Ragunatha Das Goswami simply sitting and chanting in the sun. He was thinking that it will be bad for him to sit in the sun and he may get a sun stroke and die. He was about to call out to him but he saw Srimati Radharani had appeared, she stood over him and held the end of her sarie over his head. She was protecting him from the very hot sun and she remained standing in the sun herself. Srimati Radharani was perspiring in the sun. Later Sanathana Goswami spoke to Ragunatha Das Goswami and told
him that he had engaged Srimati Radharani in his service and that he cannot do that. Ragunatha Das Goswami accepted that and he built a bhajan kutir where he could sit and chant.
Another time, when Ragunatha Das Goswami was living here, Rupa Goswami came to him with a book called Lalita Madhava, a play about Krishna leaving Vrindavan. Rupa Goswami asked him to read it and make any changes that needed to be made. Ragunatha Das started reading and he came to the part when Krishna was leaving and the Brijbasis were thrown into an ocean of separation. Some gopis began to commit suicide. Lalita threw herself off Govardhan Hill, Radharani and Vishaka drowned themselves. As he continued reading he became overwhelmed and all transcendental ecstatic symptoms came in full. The material body can only take so much energy and is not suitable for spiritual things. The ecstatic symptoms were so powerful it appeared that his body would be torn to pieces. The devotees saw that and tried to convince him to stop reading and rather chant and worship his deities. Ragunatha Das started to cry and said “no, Rupa Goswami ordered me” and he carried on reading. The devotees could see he would leave his body anytime.
They contacted Rupa Goswami in Vrindavan and told him to take the book from him. Rupa Goswami did a very intelligent thing – he quickly wrote another drama of Radha and Krishna meeting on Govardhan Hill, meeting and having tax collecting pastimes. This one was jolly and funny. It was a short drama and he finished quickly. Rupa Goswami came and told him: “I have to check and make changes to Lalita Madhava so give that back to me. You take Dohan Keli Cintamani – the transcendental touchstone of tax collecting pastimes”. Ragunatha Das gave it back as he was ordered. He started reading about Radha and Krishna meeting and how they joked with each other. Krishna said to Radharani: “you have to pay tax!”. Radharani asked: “why?” Krishna said: “I was sent by the King.” Radharani asked: “which King? Your king is stupid. Oh, we never heard of this king!” Like thatiit was very jolly and Ragunatha Das became happy and satisfied.
More: Once, Ragunatha Das was meditating on the pastimes of Radha and Krishna and he was in it as Rupa Manjari. Radha and Krishna were eating sweetrice, so much sweetrice. They gave the remnants to the manjaris which included Rupa Manjari. They were all eating and eating Radha and Krishna’s maha prasadam. They ate so much. Ragunatha Das came out of his meditation. In his external consciousness, after 1 hour, he was feeling uncomfortable. He was suffering from indigestion. He was feeling a little sick. He used
to only take 1 leaf cup of buttermilk everyday. As usual a devotee brought that to him and he said he could not have anything as he was not well. A doctor read his pulse and was amazed. He said “he is suffering from indigestion from eating too much sweetrice!”. The devotee said: “what? He doesn’t eat anything, take another reading”. The doctor took another reading and said “it is completely confirmed – too much sweetrice”. The devotee thought he was not a good doctor but Ragunatha Das understood. Ragunatha Das was so austere. He used to eat every few days, sleep for ½ an hour per day, 22½ hours he had spiritual programmes, chant minimum of 64 rounds, min 3hrs lectures on Lord Caitanya, minimum of 1000 obeisances to the deities, minimum 2000 obeisances to devotees. He was very rigid in following this programme, he was eating so little, he was very thin, his body was weak, but still his programme continued. One day a devotee on parikrama came to the temple for darshan. He saw Ragunatha Das offering dandavats and he also offered obeisances. He stood up but Ragunatha Das was still lying there. He then realised that Ragunatha Das could not stand up. He picked him up and told him that he was old and that there was no need for him to make pranams and that Krishna will understand. Ragunatha Das was very grateful and said that was good advice. The devotee came the next day and again saw Ragunatha Das on the ground offering dandavats and could not stand up. His regulative principles were so strict, like lines carved into rock (described in Caitanya Caritamrita) – there was no room for flexibility. That is a rare practice in our present times.
There is the bhajan kutir of Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur. Here he wrote the Bhagavat Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam commentaries. He also wrote songs, one being the Guruvastakam prayer. We also see two trees here – 1 is Bhim. We notice that Radha Kund is square. Shyama Kund is not square. Ragunatha Das wanted to make it square also but he had a dream that the five pandava brothers had appeared here at Radha Kund and Shyama Kund in the form of trees. In that dream they said “please do not cut us down”. So
Ragunatha Das made the kund in a way so they could stay on the banks. Here also is the bhajan kutir of Krsna Das Kaviraj Goswami. He wrote Govinda Lilamrta and only one copy of this book was printed. We saw the Radha Govinda Temple.
We also saw the Govardhan Sila at the Jibya Mandir – tongue of Govardhan. When Radha Kund and Shyama Kund was being excavated by Ragunatha Das, they needed to dig a well for water for personal use as one cannot use sacred waters for washing clothes, etc. If people try, the locals will attack them. They were digging the well behind Shyama Kund. The worker struck a rock with his spade and that rock started to bleed. He got panicky and asked Ragunatha Das “what is this?” Ragunatha Das said he will think about
this. Govardhan spoke “that was my tongue your worker hit – put in into a temple and worship it”.
We then went to the house of Bhakti Vinodh Thakur and Bhakti Siddantha Saraswati Thakur at Radha Kund. It is called Braja Svananda Sukhada Kunja. Here the devotees had the very rare good fortune to have the shoes and stick of Srila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Thakur touched to their heads. The next time you are there, try and ask for the same opportunity – somehow I think you may not be so lucky. This was only through the special mercy of our Guru Maharaj.
We then went to the Jagganatha temple at Radha Kund. Every year, on ratha yatra day, they have a ratha yatra around Radha Kund and Shyama Kund. We also saw the bhajan kutir of Jiva Goswami. There is a beautiful painting done by Mother Archa-Vigraha from our very own South Africa. Here the Deities are those of Jiva Goswami. We saw the footprints of Lord Caitanya. These are genuine footprints which were formed when Lord Caitanya stood on the rock and it melted.
The kunds of the eight main gopis and the kunds of the cowherd boys surround Radha Kund and Shyama Kund. Now only Lalita Kund is truly manifest. Guru Maharaj said “there are many fish and turtles in Lalita Kund but they are not in action today”. We saw the Radha Vinodh temple. We also past the well where the tongue of Govardhan was found. We went to the sitting place of Lord Caitanya. It is explained in Caitanya Caritamrita that when Lord Caitanya went on Govardhan parikrama, he knew that Radha Kund and Shyama
Kund were on the northern side, but he did not know how to find it. He also knew it was near where Lord Krishna had killed Aristasura. Each village is connected to a particular pastime. Lord Caitanya found 1 village called Arigrah and understood it was connected to Aristasura. He looked around to find the two kunds. He only saw rice fields. He walked to the middle and saw 2 lakes – Radha Kund and Shyama Kund. There is a tamal tree here which he used to sit under and look out at Radha and Shyama kunds. Under this
tree he spoke from the verses of Caitanya Caritamrta. Whoever swims in Radha Kund and Shyama kund will develop love of God.
Then we stopped off at the Radha Madan Mohan temple. Here you will find the bhajan kutir of Sanatan Goswami. He stayed here for many years and did vraja mandala. He used to sit here and look out over Shyama Kund towards Manasa Pavan Ghat and it was from here that he saw Ragunatha Das Goswami in his different pastimes. Rupa Goswami wrote a beautiful poem “Chatur Pushpanjali”. After he wrote it he thought “I must take this to Sanatana Goswami”. He came here and gave it to Sanatana Goswami. Rupa Goswami read the poem to him. In the first verse, Srimati Radharani’s hair is described. It says that she has long black hair which ties in one long plait which hangs down her back, when she walks it moves and it looks like a black snake. Sanatana Goswami was listening and thought that it sounded strange “a black snake?. How can that be correct?”. But then he thought “Rupa Goswami said this. How can he say something wrong?” He was perplexed. After reading the entire poem Rupa Goswami asked “So, what do you think?” Sanatana Goswami did not know what to say. He just said “I will think about it”. He sat at the banks of Shyama Kund looking out at Manasa Pavan Ghat thinking black snake hair. On the other side some young village girls came and were playing a ball game. They were jumping and laughing and he saw one of them had their back turned. He saw a black snake crawling up her back and was going to bite her. He jumped up and shouted “snake! snake!” The girls stopped their game and asked “where is it?” He said “on her back!”. They looked and laughed. It was her hair. Sanatana Goswami was embarrassed. These girls suddenly disappeared. Sanatana Goswami understood it was Srimati Radharani and the gopis. They wanted to show him that whatever Rupa Goswami says is right. So then Rupa Goswami told him “you must tell me what you think about the poem”. Sanatana Goswami replied “it is very nice, especially the part about the black snake!” This all happen right here at the Madan Mohan temple at Radha Kund.
Lastly we saw Lord Nityananda’s sitting place. He spent some years here and he left Vrindavan from this spot.
The moment we had been waiting for arrived. We went back to Radha Kund and Shyama Kund and we were given the opportunity to take bath. Before that, our adopted panda performed a puja which we all participated in, the ritual donation giving ceremony for his services took place and then the bathing ceremony. That brought an end to the day’s scheduled parikrama. It was still pretty early and we thought we had the rest of the day all free. Guru Maharaj is always thinking how he can squeeze more mercy into our day. So He decided that we will visit Surya Kund. We were surprised and also tired but we were up for it as usual.
So we went back to the buses and off we went to Surya Kund. This was quite a drive and the roads were so bad – it could hardly be called a road. Some times it seemed that the bus would overturn. Some places there was hardly any road and the bus driver had to go into the fields to pass by. I am sure all the devotees were chanting with rapt attention. But the bus driver did very well to get us to Surya Kund safely. We arrived there finally and we walked up to the temple. We arrived there and thought there was no-one there to let us in – all that way and no darshan! We risked a lot during that ride – they had to let us in. Then a local lady arrived and got the attention of the pujari who let us in. Jai!! We first sat outside under the tree where Guru Maharaj delivered a little talk. He said that Surya Kund was in deep vraja and that it is not easy to enter the holy dham. As a tourist, it is something else but to go deeper into the heart of the holy dham we have to make some effort. Guru Maharaj said “I apologise if it is austere and if you were wondering where he was taking us”. We were just happy to be with Guru Maharaj – wherever He was!
Pastime: Everyday Srimati Radharani worships the sun god. Why?…we may wonder. It is the program of Jatila. Her idea is that if she worships the sun god very nicely then her husband will get a lot of benefit. Jatila, Kotila and Abhimanyu were a very poor family. The palace had to be built by Radharani’s parents. Normally the husband’s parents’ provides the accommodation. They were always in anxiety how to get more money to take care of Radharani better. Therefore they came here everyday to worship the sun god. Srila Rupa Goswami describes how Krishna used to secretly meet with Radharani here. Once, Madhumangal was dressed as a Brahmin as usual and Krishna came disguised as a Brahmin. Jatila and Kotila had arrived and where looking for Brahmins for the surya puja. No sooner than she said it, did the 2 brahmins arrive. Jatila asked “what are you doing here? And who is this dark skinned Brahmin?” Krishna replied “I am a very pakka Brahmin from the Surya dynasty”. He started to chant mantras – not normal mantras. He was actually speaking to Radharani in cryptic terms saying “I would like to meet you. Please grant me the benediction of your side-long glances”. He was speaking intimate words to her but he presented it in such a way it can mean something else. Jatila was listening and asked what those mantras were. She never heard it before. Madhu Mangal said haughtily: “what do you know of our vedic mantras? All you know is village songs of the cowherd ladies. These are very traditional mantras!” After the puja was over they had to pay dakshina. Jatila asked “how much?” Madhu Mangal said “10 000 ladoos”. Jatila said “I did not carry so many”. Madhu Mangal: “no problem, I will come to your house”. Jatila: “what about my daughter-in-law?” Madhu Mangal: “My friend will look after her – he is from the Surya dynasty”. Jatila went with Madhu Mangal to Yavat. Krishna and Radharani were left alone but their pastimes are never easy. As they began to associate, along
came Mukara, the grandmother of Srimati Radharani. She said: “You rascal, what are you doing with my grand daughter?”iand she ran at him with her stick. Krishna ran into the bushes. Mukara followed him waving her stick. Little did she know that hiding in this forest was Shankadacuda – he is a big demon and is described in the 10th canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. This demon has a big jewel fixed on his head. Mukara is half blind and is running looking for Krishna shouting “where are you?” She saw someone and
thought it was Krishna. She couldn’t really tell and she said “You rascal, I caught you!” Shankadacuda thought: “who is this fearless old woman and he ran with Mukara chasing him. He came running where Radharani was and he kidnapped her. Mukara saw the fangs and the big sharp teeth and realised it is a demon and not Krishna who has kidnapped Radharani. Krishna came. Mukara begged him to rescue her. Krishna put on a big show. He rolled up his sleeves, he tightened his belt and he shouted out to the demon “How will I torture you? I want to torture you forever you offender of Radharani, but how will I do that if you simply die?” Madhu Mangal was impressed. He thought he was so brave. Krishna gave him one blow and he killed the demon. He took the jewel and he gave it to Balarama and asked him to give it to one of the gopis. He gave it to Radharani. This is the main pastime at Surya Kund.
Guru Maharaj also told us about a nearby babaji ashrama. There is a Samadhi of Krishnadas babaji. He was living in Vraj and he was absorbed in Radha-Krishna lila. He then went to Dwaraka and became attached to the Dwaraka lila. After that he returned to Vrindavana and he was preaching about Rukmini and Dwarakadish. A gopi appeared in his dream and said to him: “you will never enter into Vrindavan again, you will go to Dwaraka.”. He realised he made a mistake and he tried to get back into Vrindavan meditation and Radha-Krsna’s lilas. He could not do it. One night he wondered how he could enter into Vrindavan lila’s again – his body burst into flames and burnt up.
So after hearing these wonderful and inspiring pastimes we went into the temple and sadly the altar was closed. Guru Maharaj got our best speaking hindi translators on the job to try to convince the pujari to open the altar for us. We could see Vishaka and Kaishori matajees trying extremely hard, pulling out all the stops but it was not looking good. Then in went reinforcements – Namacarya Prabhu with a potential bribe – just like they do it in South Africa – and surprisingly, that did not work either. In the meanwhile Guru Maharaj was leading an out of this world kirtan – everyone was chanting loudly and dancing ecstatically in the hope that the Lord will allow us to have his darshan. The kirtan was so wonderful I thought that the altar doors may just burst open! I think I stopped hoping when the pujari asked “if your Guru Maharaj was sleeping, would you disturb him? Darshan is in two hours.” Awe – that was painful to hear. At least we had
an amazing kirtan and we had to have been given credit for trying – we really did. I am yet to see what the deities look like at Surya Kund.
That much excitement at the end of a long, long day. So sorry for the delay in getting these to you. I am working as fast as I can. Stay tuned for our experience at Kadamba Kandi.
Syamarani devi dasi