Writings

Vraja Mandala parikrama – by Syamarani devi dasi

Dear Devotees

Please accept my humble obeisances.  All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Guru Maharaja.

On Guru Maharaj’s request, I am submitting a post for His website.  I pray that this may give you a brief idea of Guru Maharaj’s stay in India, especially for those of you who could not be here to join this parikrama.  I
will be submitting a daily report of the parikrama, describing the days events, posting as many pictures as possible and hopefully setting out some wonderful pastimes – we all know that Guru Maharaj is a legendary narrator of pastimes so please try and capture these in the mood that Guru Maharaj would have presented if He were personally narrating it.  I was not exactly prepared for this so please forgive any shortcomings.  I would like to thank you in advance for the opportunity to serve you in this way.  The parikrama is mostly as per the pre-determined schedule posted on the website with a few minor changes according to practicality and unforeseen circumstances. There will be several posts so please stay tuned.

SOME BACKGROUND
On 12 November 2007, Guru Maharaja announced in Pretoria, South Africa, that in November 2008 He will be conducting a “special parikrama” in Vrindavana and that all of us that were present (all 8 of us), were personally invited to attend this wonderful programme.  That was the first time I heard of the parikrama and for the entire year I meditated on it.  On 26 October 2008 I arrived in India in anticipation of the upcoming parikrama with Guru Maharaja.  I spent a few days in Vrindavana before the start of the parikrama and it was wonderful but the mood became so incredibly sweet when Guru Maharaja arrived here on 4 November.

GURU MAHARAJ’S ARRIVAL
Early on 4 November, Saci Kumar Das went to Dehli to meet Maharaja at the airport.  Maharaja’s expected time of arrival in Vrindavana was 2pm.  Back in Vrindavana, devotees gathered eagerly outside of Guru Maharaj’s house to receive Him.  I was hoping that someone would engage me in some service while we were waiting.  Avaduta Chandra Prabhu, whom I met for the first time, came outside and asked if anyone would like to do some service.  I accepted without hesitation and was told to clean and set up Guru Maharaja’s
desk.  I was also asked if I could clean the copper water jug – anyone tried cleaning anything copper?  It is a tapasaya indeed.  I was wondering how I would ever get all done before Guru Maharaja arrived and if Guru Maharaj would walk in while I was busy.  Such anxiety – but this sort of anxiety was sweet.  I kept on glancing at my watch and it was almost 2pm and I tried my best to work as fast as I could (with the help of my sister) with the limited resources that we had.  We were then informed by Avaduta Chandra Prabhu that Guru Maharaj would be arriving a little later as a result of heavy traffic.  What a relief!

Guru Maharaj arrived at about 3pm.  By then a group of mostly Russian disciples had gathered all equipped with sound and instruments and were having a wonderful kirtan which we took down to the entrance of the MVT building where Guru Maharaj would be dropped off.  The taxi pulled up and Guru Maharaja got out and paid obeisances having arrived in the Holy Dham. He was received with many, many colourful and sweetly fragranced garlands and chandan and smiling faces of overly ecstatic disciples.  Guru Maharaja was here!!  Guru Maharaja looked exhausted and it was extremely hot.  The kirtan party led Guru Maharaja to the house where there was a short but nectarean foot bathing ceremony.  Thereafter Guru Maharaja said a few words.
He said he was happy to see so many disciples and that He was not aware that some of them were attending and that it was a nice surprise.  Guru Maharaja then went to freshen up and take prasadam and He told us that he would see us the next morning which would be the start of our long awaited parikrama.

Day 1 – 5 November, Vrindavana Town

We had to meet Guru Maharaja outside his house at 10am.   We had first sight of Guru Maharaja on his balcony and then He came downstairs.  The parikrama was about to begin. Vraj Mandala Parikrama Ki Jai!  His Holiness Bhakti Caitanya Swami Maharaja Ki Jai!!  Vrindavana Dham Ki Jai!!!  The group comprised approximately 100 devotees from different countries including Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, South Africa and many more.  We walked to Vrindavan Town, the first stop being the ISKCON Goshala. We walked through
the goshala, relishing the peaceful atmosphere.  There was something on a wall written in Hindi and Guru Maharaja asked if any of us knew what it read.  None of us did so He translated “Giving protection to cows is giving protection to the whole world”.  Guru Maharaj is studying hindi and He speaks it quite fluently already.  We then made our way to Kalia Ghata.

Guru Maharaj mentioned that this is a most sacred place. He said that the place in which we were all sitting was exactly the same spot where the river once ran through – he joked that we would have had to swim if that were still the case :  He also said that the Kadamba tree which is there was the original tree from 5000 years ago which Lord Caitanya came to see (as stated in the Caitanya Caritamrta).  He then expertly narrated the pastime of how Krishna was able to protect the people of Kaliya Ghata (by the mercy of devotees like Garga Muni).  So as the pastime goes, Krishna did two things:

  • 1.  He tightened his cloth around his waist just like wrestlers about to fight do and
  • 2.  He made a noise by slapping his hand underneath his arm –

he asked some devotees to try to imitate that and two devotees got it exactly right – it was pretty funny and Guru Maharaj enjoyed that.  Then Krishna jumped into the lake and created a tsunami which hit Kaliya in the
face.  Sanatana Goswami said “But Krishna is so small – how can he create a tsunami?”  Guru Maharaj explained that even though He looks little, he is not.  He is everything.  It was further explained that Krishna pretended that Kaliya was beating Him.  Sanatana Goswami explained that during this time, Kaliya’s dormant Krishna Consciousness was awakened and Kaliya was embracing Krishna out of love for Him.  Guru Maharaj asked us if we knew what it felt like to be embraced strongly by someone?  He told us His experience with HH BB Govinda Swami Maharaja and how He was squeezed so tightly from behind and lifted off the ground and just like that Krishna was caught in the coils of Kaliya and couldn’t move.  Guru Maharaj also explained that Lord Balarama and Mother Rohini were not there at the river as it was Balarama’s birthday and he was having a party (this pastime took place on Balarama’s appearance day).  The residents were in such anxiety to
see Krishna in this state and they were becoming overwhelmed with grief and wanted to dive into the river.  When Balarama found out he tried to stop them in 3 ways:

  • 1.  He was running and physically grabbing them;
  • 2.  He was calling out to them telling them it is ok;
  • 3.  He was looking at them and smiling with confidence.

When the residents saw him smiling, this increased their anxiety.  Then Balarama called out to Krishna to rather play with Ananta Sesa and leave “stupid” Kaliya alone.  He told Krishna that these are not the monkeys from the Ram Lila and that these residents know nothing else but Him and that if he did not stop this pastime then the residents will become overwhelmed with grief and they will die.  Then Krishna started to dance.  Guru Maharaja explained that there are two types of Indian dancing, bharatyanatyam and kathak.  Krishna chose to dance the kathak style and Guru Maharaja motioned with his hand “Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang!!!” on the 1000 hoods of Kaliya.  Eventually Kaliya got the realisation that this is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and he surrendered to Krishna who accepted Him as His devotee.  He offered prayers in his heart saying “My Lord, from this day on I am yours”.  Guru Maharaja explained how the different demons in Vrindavana represent our different anarthas.  Kaliya represents envy.  Guru Maharaja explained how we can have the tendency to poison the hearts of others about devotees.  Hearing such talk is poisonous and simply hearing such talk makes us think about it and act on it.  Guru Maharaja explained how the tongue is a high-tech weapon and the ear is an easy target to hit.  The tongue just has to be in the range of the ear and the target could be easily hit.  Speaking badly about devotees is not appreciated by Krishna.  Krishna did not kill Kaliya.  He went to Figi.  If we commit this offence, Krishna may kick us out of the Holy Dham and he may kick us out of the association of devotees.  Guru Maharaja mentioned that when HH Indradyumna Swami Maharaj goes to Figi, He is going to try to find Kaliya there :  Guru Maharaj also said that all the trees in the dham (including the thorn trees) are wish fulfilling trees.  Guru Maharaja asked us to put our heads against the kadamba tree and offer humble prayers (not ones that are materially motivated).  We then moved on to the Madan Mohan temple.

This is where Krishna came after he defeated Kaliya.  He was wet and tired after 4 hours of fighting and he needed to rest and warm-up.  He came on top of this hill which is exposed to the sun very nicely.  The sun then expanded into 12 forms which made the atmosphere very hot.  During this pastime it was 40 degrees or so times 12 (12 sun expansions).  The shrine that we see on the outside of the temple as we enter commemorates this pastime.  Guru Maharaj showed us that whatever we could see from the top used to be the lake where Kaliya was.  One can also see Bhandiravan and Baelvan from there but we could not as it was misty.  This is the second oldest temple in Vrindavana.  The oldest temple is not being used anymore.  Here Sanatana Goswami worshipped Madan Mohana and Santana Goswami did Vraj Mandala all the time.  Once when Sanatana Goswami was in Mahavan he saw the cowherd boys playing ball and among them was a very dark skinned boy who was very beautiful  He studied Him and realised that this was Krishna playing with
the children.  Santana Goswami followed them and saw that this boy went into one house.  Sanatana Goswami as someone called Chobi if he knew who this boy was and that this boy should be put onto the altar and worshipped and be offered aarti – not be allowed to play ball and get dirty.  Krishna said nooo, that is too boring.  Krishna appeared in Santana Goswami’s dream that told him that to stand in one place is too much and that He wanted to go on Vraj Mandala parikrama with him.  Santana Goswami and Chobi had the same dream.  Therefore it was decided that Madan Mohana Krishna could go on parikrama with Santana Goswami.  But before that Santana Goswami spoke to Krishna and told him that it was very austere on parikrama, there is no place to sleep, they have to beg for food (sometimes you manage to get some rice which cannot be cooked and just has to be soaked in Yamuna water – other times they get some wheat which can be made into a dough and put into a fire which would cook into a bread ball, popularly known as bhatti) and he asked Him if he still wanted to come despite knowing this?  Krishna said that he doesn’t mind even if he does not eat.  Santana Goswami warned that if He ever complained even once then he would bring him straight back!  So Santana Goswami was offering Krishna bhatti everyday and after a few weeks Madana Mohan asked Santana Goswami if it was possible to have some salt with the bhatti?  Santana Goswami said “aha!  I knew you would complain now I am taking you back!”  Madana Mohan said no, no, I want to be with you.  Guru Maharaja explained that the main thing is that the devotee must love the Lord and that it is not about opulence and sophistication. The original temple was attacked by the muslims and there is no real worship going on at the moment.  There is a well which was used by Santana Goswami and we were shown where Santana Goswami’s Samadhi and bhajan kutir is.  We also saw where the old temple room used to be.  Sanatana Goswami spent his final days at Govardhan on the banks of Manasi Ganga.  He left his body on Gaura Purnima.  His body was brought to Samadhi next to the Madan Mohana temple and every day after raj bhoga the prasadam is offered to Santana Goswami, including bhatti.  We were in time for that offering and we all got to taste that bhatti.  Guru Maharaj showed us the Ghrant Samadhi which is the samadhi of the sastras.  After the 6 Goswamis left, Jiva Goswami was the last one. He was 25-30 years younger.  All the original writings were left with Jiva Goswami.  These writings were too elevated and therefore He put them into Samadhi.  We saw the samadhis (maybe pushpa) of Tapan Misra and Chandrashekar who were intimate associates of Lord Caitanya.  Guru Maharaj stressed that this is an important and sacred place.  We then moved on to the Bhanki Bihari temple.

Here the deity of Krishna is worshipped on His own.  He was worshipped by Swami Haridas who was an associate of the 6 Goswamis.  When Haridas used to go out, the deity used to follow him.  When he left the world the deity used to still go out of the temple then.  The devotees were scared that he would run away.  So now the temple maintains a special program where the curtains are open for darshan for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute and then the curtains closes againiGuru Maharaj joked that maybe the deities may go to
the Krishna Balarama temple.  We then went to the Radha Vallabha temple.

It was closed for darshan but the priests were so kind they gave such a lot of maha prasadam from the raj bhoga offering which Guru Maharaj distributed. I was the “prasadam diver” who cleaned all the maha that fell onto the ground and Guru Maharaj kept on saying “stay down there”.  That is the only place in the world I would like to be – constantly serving at the lotus feet of our beloved spiritual master.  It was just after midday and most temples were closing so be headed back to our rooms to return later on in the day when we would go to the Radha Damodara temple.

This temple was established by Srila Jiva Goswami at whose Samadhi we sat as Guru Maharaj narrated the pastime.  He was the youngest of the 6 Goswamis and was the nephew of Rupa and Santana Goswamis.  Jiva Goswami’s father died when he was 5 years old and he took shelter of his uncles.  Each Goswami made a special contribution to the gaudiya vaishnava tradition.  Rupa Goswami explained the process of devotional service.  Sanatana Goswami explained the basic relationships/elements that make up Krishna consciousness.  Jiva Goswami compiled very systematically the main aspects of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness.  He wrote 400 000 versus together with commentary on those versus.  Jiva Goswami lived in Bengal and wanted to go to Vrindavana.  Lord Caitanya was not as yet present.  Lord Nityandanda arranged to meet Jiva Goswami in Navadvipa.  Lord Nityananda took Jiva Goswami on the first Navadvipa Mandal Parikrama which parikrama is recorded in the Navadvipa Dham Mahatmaya.  Jiva Goswami got the very close
association of Lord Nityananda who instructed him in so many ways.  In this way Jiva Goswami became prepared for the mission and came to Vrindavana where he took shelter of Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis, serving Rupa Goswami as a disciple.  Guru Maharaja explained how when Rupa Goswami would sit in the
sun, Jiva Goswami would stand behind him to block the sun, moving as the sun moved thereby taking the full force of the sun.  We saw a special Vrajraj temple which was made with the dust of Vrindavana.  We went into Srila Prabhupada’s rooms which comprises a living and bedroom with a kitchen and prasadam room just across.  This is where Srila Prabhupada meditated and developed his plans for spreading Krishna Consciousness all over the world. He lived here from 1959 to 1965.  He wrote his books here.  His room has the original fan used by Srila Prabhupada.  Guru Maharaja pointed out Srila Prabhupada’s safe at the bottom of the beam right above us.  Guru Maharaj explained that in the prasadam room there is a picture of Srila Prabhupada taking prasadam exactly like he used to while looking out the window.  He used to look at the Samadhi of Rupa Goswami with a thoughtful look on his face meditating and praying to Rupa Goswami how will we spread Krishna Consciousness all over?  Srila Prabhupada was never happy to do anything small and was constantly thinking how to make the world Krishna Conscious. Srila Prabhupada had no problems but said “actually I have one problem – I cannot think small”.  That is how we got the mercy of Krishna Consciousness.  If Srila Prabhupada did not think like that, we would not get any Krishna Consciousness.  He was the only disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur who did something to make the world Krishna Conscious.  This is the place where it all began.  There is a Govardhan Sila of Santana Goswami
which one can take darshan of – it has Krishna’s footprint, a hoofprint of a cow, Krishna’s stick for herding cows and a flute.  Krishna appeared before Santana Goswami and gave him this sila.  To circumambulate this sila 7 times is considered equal to a Govardhan parikrama.  We then moved on to Nityananda Vat and Sringar Vat.

This place houses the staf that Lord Nityananda used to take on harinaam and by Guru Maharaj’s mercy we got darshan of it and the pujari placed it on each of our heads.  There are deities of Lord Nityananda, Lord Jagganatha, Lord Baladeva, Lady Subadra and Laxmi Narayana at this temple.  Outside is a banyan tree which is the original tree.  Lord Nityananda lived under this tree.  It was very old and died.  A branch was taken and planted right next to the old tree.  It is now grown and is big and is considered to same original tree.  Sringar Vat is right next door.  Sringar means to decorate and make something very beautiful.  In the spot where Guru Maharaja was sitting, is where Srimati Radharani sat and her gopis were decorating her to look her best before Krishna saw her.  Krishna could only see her when she was completely dressed.  This dicor was going on secretly.  Lord Krishna snuck in and the gopis saw Him.  He asked them to be quiet so they acted
normal.  Krishna personally decorated Srimati Radharani’s hair from behind.  He massaged her head and she was feeling good – Srimati Radharani thought that this gopi was doing this so nicely.  Srimati Radharani asked so how am I looking?  She looked into the mirror and saw her face and also saw Krishna was behind her.  All the gopis laughed.  The dicor was done beneath the banyan tree.  There is also a Vrajraj temple here.  We then moved on to Radha Raman temple.

This is where Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswamis Samadhi is.  The saligram sila’s in the temple were those of Gopal Bhatta Goswami.  He once felt that it was not appropriate to worship the silas and he took them back to the Gandaki river in Nepaul.  He travelled 100’s of kilometres back to leave them and he placed them back into the river but the silas jumped out of the river and He caught them in his cloth.  He understood that the Lord wanted Him to worship Him in that form.  Once he was thinking that He is worshipping a saligram sila but wanted to worship the personal form of the Lord – one who has a face like Gopinatha, a chest like Govinda, hips like Madana Mohan and as he worshipped the Sila, it transformed into Radha Raman.  Guru Maharaj pointed out the exact place where Radha Raman manifested his form.

That brought an end to the first day of parikrama.  I hope this is not too much information.  You may agree this was very nectarean and relishable.  I hope you enjoy it.  More to follow soon…

Your servant
Syamarani devi dasi

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *