Writings

Day 3 – 7th November, Nandagram – by Syamarani devi dasi

By now, the group is starting to get into a routine of meeting and departing at 6am. I think that we were all still recovering from the previous days walking but we were ready for yet another day. We had no idea what to expect or if it would be anything like the previous day. Our dear Gurudev looked refreshed and was all enthusiastic and ready with no signs of fatigue at all. I am not sure how Guru Maharaj does it but I am sure the chanting may have something to do with it!

Our first stop today was Yavat (after a long enough drive). This is the place of Jatila, Kotila and Abhimanyu. The temple there is the Radha Kanta temple where Sri Sri Radha Radha-Kanta reside. Yavat is the place where Srimati Radharani lived when she was married. Once Krishna was herding the cows and Purnamasi approached him and offered him a big laddu. He asked where it came from and Purnamasi said it was prasadam from the wedding in the village. Guru Maharaj demonstrated how Krishna was in the process of lifting the laddu to bite it and as He lifted it closer to his mouth he asked who got married? Then he took a bite and Purnamasi said it was Radharani. Krishna made such a look, He spat out the laddu and said “that is the worst laddu ever”. How could Radharani marry Abhimanyu? It was the special arrangement of Purnamasi. It seems like a bad arrangement because Abhimanyu is not a very qualified young man. Radharani is extremely qualified. Abhimanyu is extremely unqualified. Guru Maharaj explained that compared to Radharani, Abhimanyu is a mudha, maha moorg or someone with 2 left feet. Guru Maharaj told us that recently he received a pair of “modern” socks but both of it were for the left foot and he wondered if that person thinks he got 2 left feet! Guru Maharaj explained that these special arrangements are to make the pastimes more exciting. If there is no challenge, it will be too boring. According to research, the most a happy marriage lasts these days is 2 years, 3 months and 23 days. Guru Maharaj explained that a good chutney is so spicy you cannot eat it, yet so sweet you cannot resist it. Radha and Krishna’s relationship is just like that. They are never bored. They never have to wonder what to do next. Mother Yashoda puts Krishna to rest. 5 mins after she leaves, He goes out dancing and returns before the sun lifts above the horizon. The relationship between Radharani and Abhimanyu is a special one. Srila Prabhupada makes the point that there is “no relationship anyway”. There is no contact between the two. Abhimanyu has never even touched the shadow of Srimati Radharani. When Srimati Radharani was in Yavat, everyday Krishna came. Everyday Radharani was trying to go out to get together with Krishna and have pastimes. Once Jatila came to the point where she could not take it any longer. Everyday Radharani has to cook at Nandagram and Krishna would come and interfere. Jatila had enough. She said NO MORE! You are not going out to cook, you will stay inside. Srimati Radharani fainted – she seemed almost dead. They put a piece of cotton in front of her nose – there was hardly any breadth. Lalita said she is in her final stages and she will die. She told Jatila that she was bitten by a black snake (referring to separation from Krishna). Jatila panicked. She needed a snake doctor – a lady one. They could not find one. They found Gargi, the daughter of Garga. She could not cure a snake bite but she said her friend was here from a high class mathura Brahmin family and she is expert in curing snake bites. Gargi took Jatila to this young lady – very beautiful – very dark skinned. People do not recognise Krishna in disguise. Jatila asked “what is your name?” Vidyavalli. I can cure any snake bite – no problem. But actually there is one problem. I heard there is a young man Krishna in Nandagram and when young girls go walking in fields or in the forest, he interferes and tries to touch them, he speaks badly to them. This doctor said – if Krishna touched my shadow, it would be too muchitherefore I cannot cure this, find someone else. I don’t want my reputation to be damaged. Jatila fell onto the ground – I surrender my life to you – I will be your servant forever, just order me. Vidyavalli said – I will think about it. After some begging he said yes, but if Krishna comes, I will leave. He came to Yavat, went to Radharani’s room – she was motionless, she was hardly breathing. Vidyavalli looked at Radharani – this is a serious case – there is a secret procedure – all have to leave the room. Jatila went around chasing all out. Vidyavalli locked the door from inside. Radha and Krishna had wonderful pastimes in the room. Jatila was waiting and wondering what’s happening? No-one came out still. She asked again what’s happening? [Guru Maharaj narrated this story in snake lingo] A voice said ” I am the sssssnake of Lord Ssssshiva”. Jatila asked “what are you doing here?” Voice: You offended Lord Ssssshiva. I will punish you by killing your daughter-in-law. Jatila: How did I offend you? Voice: You ssssspeak badly of my Lord. He isss Lord Krissshna. You make sssso many blasssssphemiessss againsssst Krisssshna. You ssssay he interferessss with Radharani. That isss all nonssssenssssse. Jatila: Punish me, what bite Radharani? Voice: If I bite you, you will die in one minute. If I kill your daughter-in-law, you will ssssuffer your entire life. Jatila: What can I do? Voice: “You must allow Radharani to cook for Krisssshna everyday. You must sssstop talking about them in thessse waysss. Jatila: Yes, Radharani can go everyday at any time. Radharani and Krishna came out. Jatila asked where is the snake? Vidyavalli said the snake went to Kailash. Jatila asked Radharani to show her gratitude to Vidyavalli by giving her a BIG hug. Radharani hesitated thinking how she could do this in front of her mother-in-law. Just then Abhimanyu came in and said “you have to”. Radharani gave Vidyavalli a big hug. On the order of the very person who tried to stop me from seeing Krishna, I am now embracing Him.

Another pastime: Once Mother Yashoda was packing a box of wonderful things – silk cloth, perfumes, fragrant oils, jewelleryiKrishna asked “mata, who is this for? Me?” No, this is for Srimati Radharani. Her husband Abhimanyu is here. I will send this box with him to Yavat. Mother Yashoda went out for a few minutes, Krishna took out all that was in the box, out it into bags and sent it to Yavat. Krishna climbed into the box. Krishna was locked in the box. Abhimanyu came. Mother Yashoda told him that the box is full of the most valuable things. There is nothing more valuable. You must tell your wife to take it, wear it and keep it right next to her. Abhimanyu said no problem. He lifted the box on his head. He carried it on his head all the way from Nandagram to Yavat – it was heavy. Krishna is everything and Abhimanyu starting feeling symptoms of ecstacy. I am bring all these valuables to Radharani, finally she will be happy with me. Abhimanyu was not a wealthy person. Radharani’s parents had to build their house for them to live in. Normally Radharani sees Abhimanyu and thinks “oh no! you again”. Abhimanyu was thinking now their marriage will be a happy one. His hair was standing on end, had pimples on his body, was shivering with ecstacy and tears were coming from his eyes. He didn’t realise he could feel so good. Jatila and Abhimanyu went to Radharani’s room. He said these are gifts from Mother Yashoda and inside is the most valuable things and she orders you to keep these things right next to you. As a husband and as a mother-in-law we also order you to keep these gifts close to you. Jatila and Abhimanyu left the room. The gopis gathered around and wondered what is in the box, Radharani started to open the box very slowly but suddenly the lid burst open and Krishna jumped out like a jack-in-the-box. The gopis were so astonished, they gasped. Srimati Radharani said “u rascal, what are you doing in there? U stole the valuables and now we got you, you thief!” Krishna said “no, I was just checking out this box very innocently and suddenly your husband closed the box and brought me here. U kidnapped me! It is all your fault.” Lalita stepped forward and said it happened already – there is no use arguing. Srimati Radharani, you must remember what Mother Yashoda, Jatila and Abhimanyu said – take what is in the box and keep it next to you. You must do it right now! Radha and Krishna embraced.

From Yavat, we headed off to Ter Kadamba. This is where Srimati Radharani and Krishna meet in the mornings. Srila Rupa Goswami’s bhajan kutir is also at this place. We saw some white birds there and Guru Maharaj said that these were the descendants of Bakasura. This is a sacred and secret pastime place of Radha and Krishna. Not so many people know about this place. Every morning Lord Krishna comes to meet Srimati Radharani. In the evening he comes to call the cows before returning to Nandagram. This place is exactly half way between Yavat and Nandagram. Every morning Srimati Radharani comes from Yavat to help cook breakfast for Lord Krishna. Krishna takes His breakfast and Srimati Radharani takes his remnants. Krishna goes with the cowherd boys to herd the cows, Radharani goes back to Yavat. Radharani used to walk on the very same path that we had come on. It has the most beautiful soft sand and Guru Maharaj said that fortunate are those who walked bare feet. At about 10h30 Krishna tells the cowherd boys to carry on and He will see them a little later as He has business to take care of at Ter Kadamba. But the cowherd boys know what he is going to do. Subal and the others assist Krishna just like the gopis assist Srimati Radharani. Some of the cowherd boys are too young and they cannot relate with Krishna’s plans. They ask where is He going? Why does He do that? Not the gopis, they are girls – you cannot play or wrestle or fight with them, they just cry, they cannot run fast – there is no point, it is a waste of time. Srimati Radharani cooks in the mornings and evening by the order of Mother Yashoda.

Once Srimati Radharani and the Gopis were out in the forest. It was quite warm. They met Durvasa Muni. He said he was hot, tired, thirsty and hungry and he wanted something to eat. The gopis said, no problem, we will be back in 20 minutes with the feast. But Durvasa Muni wanted something now! The gopis knew he was very fussy. Even the smallest offence he will take very seriously and he may curse. Srimati Radharani picked the very dust we walked in, mixed it with some water from the kund and made mud biscuits. They gave it to Durvasa Muni saying “here, try this”. He said, you want me to eat mud! The gopis said you should try it, she is very good. He took a nibble and said it tastes like nectar. He asked for more and he was so happy her rewarded her with two blessings: whatever you cook will taste like nectar and whoever eats your cooking will never get sick. Mother Yashoda insisted she cooks for Krishna. She does not need any blessings to be an expert cook, she is more than qualified and she has never cooked the same preparation twice. In the evenings Krishna sits in the branches of the trees and plays his flute to call the cows. They all answer him when they hear their names and they go to Nandagram.

Srila Rupa Goswami wrote some literature here. When he used to write about Radha and Krishna’s separation, the leaves used to droop and when he used to write about them meeting new leaves and flowers used to be produced. Once he was speaking to devotees about this and as he was in such separation. He happened to breath on the devotee and his arm burnt and blistered from the hot breadth. The alter has a beautiful picture of Srila Rupa Goswami writing his transcendental literature. While writing he noticed a gopi coming from the forest. It was Sanatana Goswami’s birthday. Rupa Goswami wanted to cook something to offer him on his birthday but there was nothing to cook. This young gopi was carrying a pot. She approached Rupa Goswami and gave him the pot. He looked in and what did he see? Sweet rice and pakoras (the local priest was dramatically acting out this pastime as Guru Maharaj narrated). Rupa Goswami went to Pavan Sarovara and gave Sanatana Goswami the sweet rice and pakoras. He took a mouthful and asked him “where did you get it from?” He said a young gopi gave it to him and it was left over from a wedding that took place in the village. Santana Goswami said there was no wedding in the village. It was Srimati Radharani and you engaged her in your service! He started to cry – how can I accept service from her? I tasted the remnants of Lord Caitanya but I never tasted anything like this. What will we do with the prasadam? Sanatana Goswami said “pass me the sweet rice”. Tears dripped into the prasadam as they ate. Hrisikesh Maharaj looks after this place. He transformed it into a sacred place from what it used to be. He is doing a wonderful job. This is the very place where the Kadamba trees transformed leaves into cups to allow the gopis to serve Krishna prasadam. It does not happen often but the local priest has a sample to show. There was no water to wash Krishna’s hand so the gopis licked his hand. Here we met a group of devotees from Dehli. They were busy planting some flowers and trees and asked us to help them out. They got Guru Maharaj to plant the first one and then everyone else joined in.

We went to Nandisvara temple, the temple of Lord Shiva – Asesvar Mahadev – Lord of desire. Lord Shiva came to Nandagram to see Lord Krishna. He was a strange looking sadhu, esoteric – he had a snake, he had scorpions on his body, ash of dead humans all over his body, fountain of water coming out of his head. He said, can I see your lalla? She said no. Immediately Krishna started to cry – full tantrum. Lord Shiva tried to persuade her but it didn’t work. He came to this kund. Krishna wouldn’t stop crying. Mother Yashoda and Purnamasi came to take Krishna. Lord Shiva went but every time he left, Krishna would cry. So Lord Shiva could not leave. Therefore he expanded himself to stay on the condition that he would always get the caranamrita of Lord Krishna after he bathes. Lord Shiva is known as ashutosh – very easily satisfies our desires. Why? Because he is a devotee. Why does he give materialistic people materialistic things? People come to ask for what they want and they break his meditation on the Lord. He gives quickly and easily so that he can go back to his meditation.

We went to the main temple in Nandagram. When Lord Caitanya was here there was no temple. Lord Caitanya looked and found the deities of Mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaj and Krishna in a cave. That is how this temple was established. The altar has Krishna and Balarama dressed alike, both with flutes and both black. There is also Radharani, Mother Rohini, Revati, Dansuka, Mansuka and little Bhankibihari. From the rooftop Guru Maharaj did a quick parikrama – we saw the road to Vrinda Kund, Pavan Sarovara and Moti Kund. A quick detour – Guru Maharaj narrated the pearl pastime and it was as entertaining as ever. Nanda Maharaj was decorating the cows with jewels. Krishna wanted to decorate his cows so he asked Srimati Radharani for some pearls. Lalita said no – our pearls are not good enough for your cows – sarcasm. So Krishna went to mother Yashoda and asked her for pearls saying that he wanted to plant them. She told him that is not where pearls come from. Krishna stole the pearls and planted them. They grew a few days later. The gopis saw it and said ” of he can do it, we can do it”. They stole their mothers pearls and planted it at a place new varsana. They saw something come out of the ground. It was thorn trees. Their parents started to look for the pearls. The gopis were becoming desperate. They had to beg Krishna to give them some pearls. Krishna was also sarcastic – my pearls are not good enough for you exalted ones. Then they begged and pleaded and were very humble and Krishna gave them some pearls. Roof top parikrama continued – we saw Gendoka where Krishna used to play ball games, Kokilavan being the forest of cuckoos, Mor kund being the kund of peacocks, Krishna Kund – Krishna’s cows drink water there and He dug this kund with His flute, we saw the road Krishna took when he was leaving Vrindavana and Charana Pahari.

We went to Haubilau which is on the banks of Yashoda kund (Mother Yashoda washed her clothes here). Krishna was being naughty and Mother Yashoda tried to get him to be good. She begged, bribed and even threatened him. Now she had a new idea – to make up a fictitious creature. She said “Krishna, you better be careful, if you continue to be naughty, the hau will get you”. He said “the what? I never heard of the hau.” Mother Yashoda said he has big claw, 3 eyes and loves eating naughty little boys. So Krishna was good for only 20 minutes. This happened a few times. Then Krishna came running screaming mata! mata! The hau is coming. Mother Yashoda felt bad thinking that she may have scared him and that she only imagined the hau and now he believes it. She said to Krishna – no don’t worry, it’s okay. Krishna said no, no – the hau is coming! Around the corner came 5 haus. Mother Yashoda could not believe it. She called on Krishna to help. Nandishvara Shiva came and turned the haus to stones. Mother Yashoda was bewildered – I just made it up and suddenly it was there. Krishna in a confident way said: “if my mata says there is a hau, then there is a hau. Wot my momma says is right.” There used to be 5 haus. 3 were stolen – now there are only 1½ haus left.

We then moved on to Nanda Baitak – the sitting place of Nanda Maharaj. Nanda kund is the bathing place of Nanda Maharaja. He used to relax and do bhajans there. This is where the brijbasis used to gather to have special meetings to decide on different subject matters. 1 day Upananda stood up and said I have a very important subject matter to inform you about regarding Mother Yashoda and Krishna. We all see how Krishna does amazing things, lifting hill, killing demons so it is clear he is not ordinary. He is someone special. Upananda also reminded them that Garga Muni said Krishna is saintly, he may be a demigod or even may be Lord Narayana. We should stop tying him with ropes, pulling his ear, wagging your finger at him. Nanda Maharaj said – wait a minute. Krishna may be saintly but lies all the time. How can he be saintly – when it storms and there is lightening, he runs into my room and climbs into my bed. Therefore Krishna is not powerful. Lord Narayana controls the universe – he cannot control his senses. He always wants butter and sweets therefore he is my son and if he does nonsense I will chastise him. In this way they all remember different pastimes about Krishna and they discuss and laugh. On the alter there is a painting of Nanda Maharaj with Krishna and Balarama.

Guru Maharaj was then requested to say something on Gopastami. He started by saying that at the Krishna Balarama temple we would have had special darshan as Srimati Radharani was dressed as a cowherd boy and her lotus feet were showing – Sri Radha Charan. Once Krishna was feeling separation from Radharani. Jatila was nasty and won’t let Krishna anywhere near. Krishna did not know what to do and how to meet her. Subal looks like Radharani. Subal told Krishna that he will sneak in and get her out. Krishna said I don’t think you can but you can try. Subal came to their front door and Jatila was sitting right there. She asked Subal what he wants. He said one of my calves escaped. Jatila told him to have a quick look. Subal saw Srimati Radharani, exchanged clothes, picked up the calf and went to go out. Jatila asked – got your calf? Radharani could not say anything so she just nodded. Krishna did not know that this was Radharani who came. He said thanks for trying. I am not surprised you were not successful. Radharani decided to test Krishna and she imitated Subal’s voice. I’m really sorry, I tried. Maybe I should just get Chandravalli and you can meet with her. Krishna said no, no, no – nothing will make up for Radharani. Radharani turned and took out the disguise and had wonderful pastimes. In the meanwhile, back at Yavat, Subal was trying to avoid Jatila.

Last stop for today is Pavan Sarovara – the lake which purifies the heart. Krishna noticed Mother Yashoda cooking snacks. Krishna asked “mata, is this for me?” No, this is for your father – he is going on a long trip. Krishna asked Nanda Maharaj – where are you going pita? He said he was going on pilgrimage to Prayag. Nanda Maharaj explained that all year he performs material acts to maintain family, now on this day of Askhaya Tritia (May) I am going to sacred prayag (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati to be purified. Nanda Maharaj came to bathe at Pavan Sarovara before leaving. Krishna asked his pita for one samoosa. He said no – he needs it for his long journey. Nanda Maharaj was about to dive in and he saw a big man with opulent dress, very handsome – dive in and came out laughing. It was Prayag Raj. He said all year people bathe in him and leave their karma there. Therefore, on this day they bathe here and free themselves from karma. Nanda Maharaj was stunned. The personality of all holy places came here to bathe. All great people come to bathe here. Therefore Nanda Maharaj changed his mind and decided not to go to Prayag. Krishna said “pita, give me 1 samoosa. He gave it to Krishna. Guru Maharaj explained that Vrindavana is the topmost place, Krishna Consciousness is the topmost process and the Hare Krishna mantra is the topmost mantra. Guru Maharaj said there are two rules: “you have to offer your obeisances first” and “you are not allowed to drown or we will be upset with you”. We all took bath there – it is a beautiful place.

Thereafter, we returned to Vrindavana as we had to gear up for the all important Govardhan parikrama which Guru Maharaj was training us for. Guru Maharaj told us that for breakfast we could buy some nice sweets at the very popular Giriraj sweet shop. He also said that they make the best dokra in the world. We are all looking forward to tomorrow.

Your servant

Syamarani devi dasi

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