The long awaited 26km walk was upon us. On our way there, Guru Maharaj spotted a blue cow. Guru Maharaj is always on the look-out for these blue cows. He said that blue cows were a sign of auspiciousness. We started the parikrama on the eastern side, Kusum Sarovara, going down towards the southern side). At Kusum Sarovara, Guru Maharaj spoke a little. He said that at the moment Krishna’s pastimes is covered by a layer of mist and we cannot see Govardhan Hill with our material eyes, but if we pray nicely and chant nicely on parikrama, then He predicts we will see Govardhan in about 10-15 minutes. At Kusum Sarovara, Radharani and the gopis pick flowers for Krishna. Once while wandering around, Radharani’s hair caught in a tree. She was stuck and she could not move. The gardener released her hair. He was a dark skinned striking gardener. Radharani asked who are you? He replied Vanamailli (forest gardener). Radharani became stunned by just looking at him. The gopis found her like that and asked her what happened. She replied that it was the Vanamalli. The gopis said no, that was Van Behari – the one who enjoys pastimes in the forest. Jaya Radha Madhava kunja behari – All glories to Radha Madhava who enjoys pastimes in the kunj. Guru Maharaj asked us to pray to Giriraj Govardhan to have a wonderful parikrama and also for his mercy. We paid obeisances right at the feet of Govardhan. Guru Maharaj asked us to put our heads right against the rock, to bang our head against the rock.
We came to a part in Govardhan that was connected with Hanuman. When building the bridge to Lanka in the Ram lila, Hanuman came to pick up Govardhan to use him. Govardhan was so happy to be engaged in the service of the Lord but just as he was about to lift him, a voice from the sky said “the bridge is finish”. Therefore Hanuman did not lift Govardhan. Govardhan was sad. When Lord Ram was returning from Lanka with Sita he stopped here and spoke to Govardhan saying “do not worry, the next time I appear, I will personally pick you up and personally engage you. I am sure we all know which pastime that was! Guru Maharaj advised us not to walk on the tarred road as it wears out the feet quickly and told us that to step in cow dung is good for the feet as well as auspicious. We passed the pushpa samadhi of Tribhuvanatha prabhu. He was a Srila Prabhupada disciple. Along the way you see many people who use bricks to build houses which they hope they will live in during their next lives. There are many big and beautiful silas quite close to the pathway.
Next stop was Manasi Ganga – the Ganga that came from Krishna’s mind. The pastime goes like this: Krishna had killed the Vatsasura demon who came in the form of a calf. Krishna had felt good that he had killed him. He boasted to the gopis “I killed this demon. I’m cool.” The gopis said you killed a baby cow. Krishna said – he was a demon! But the gopis said : “still, that was a cow and you have become contaminated. We don’t want anything to do with you”. The gopis kept away from Krishna and said that he can overcome the contamination by bathing in Ganga. Therefore from his mind he manifested Manasi Ganga. The gopis then asked “but how do we know that this is the Ganga? There are so many lakes here.” So Krishna called out “Ganga Devi! Ganga Devi!” A woman came out of Manasi Ganga on a crocodile. Not many woman ride on crocodiles so therefore the gopis accepted this was Ganga Devi. Krishna bathed here and the gopis accepted him again. In the temple of Manasi devi there is a form of yoga maya. She is protecting the area from nonsense influences, demons, etc.
Guru Maharaj said there are many pastimes. Once a sadhu visited Vrindavana. He came from the Ganges to the North and had a big programme with the brijbasis. He told them that he saw Garuda at the Ganges. He was flying over the Ganges and in his claws he had a snake (Guru Maharaj joked that Garuda was not a strict vegetarian but we do not follow him). The snake was hanging down when he flew over and his tail passed through the waters of the Ganges. The snake turned into a four armed form and became a resident in Vaikuntha. He returned to the Vaikunta planets. So the brijbasis were so fired up, they decided to go to the Ganga as well, we’ll take bathe there and we will also go to Vaikuntha. Krishna thought NO, this is bad! Vrindavana is the highest abode. Why go to Vaikuntha? That will only result in deviation. Krishna told Nanda Maharaja that the Ganga was right there. He told Krishna that he is just a little boy and he didn’t understand. He said the Ganges is 300km north. Krishna said NO, I will show you. He brought Nanda Maharaj to Manasi Ganga. See, here is Ganga. Nanda Maharaj asked Him what He meant because there are so many rivers. So what did Krishna do? He called out for Ganga Devi again and she came again on the back of the crocodile and they accepted this. Manasi Ganga is the original Ganga. The others are an expansion of this one. All the places in Vrindavana are original and all others are expansions.
Sometimes Radharani and gopis come carrying dairy products and cross Manasi Ganga. They needed a boat to get across. There was only 1 broken boat. The only boatmen around was young, dark skinned and tired.. Gopis decide that there is no-one else around let’s wake him up and use him. They tried to get him up, he lifted his head and fell asleep again. They tried again – He said he is tired – they must wait or swim. Eventually they managed to negotiate and the price was half of all the dairy products they were carrying. He rowed very slowly for a short while, laid down and said this is a very heavy load and He wants advanced payment. They fed Him. He just ate with the left hand, right hand, both hands. Only 1 person can eat like that. He collapsed after the big feast. He said that He has to take rest and that the Gopis should massage his hands and feet. They said – no problem, we will take your hands and feet and throw you into Manasi Ganga if you don’t start rowing. He started but He was very grumpy. Right in the middle of the river a big storm arose from nowhere. The weather was good. The boatman started jumping from one side to the other side screaming “storm! storm!”. The gopis said we can see that!! The boat started filling with water and the boatman said they were overloaded and that they had to throw their dairy products over. But they were still sinking after that and the boatman asked them to throw their jewels and ornaments – their genuine gold and gem stones, etc. But they were still sinking. So the boatman said they had to throw their clothes over. They shouted to the boatman to ROW!!! Now the boat was really sinking and in desperation Radharani grabbed the boatman and begged him to save them. While holding on to the boatmen they felt underneath the cloth a flute. Krishna then gave up his disguise and the storm cleared completely. They had wonderful boating pastimes all day.
On the right we saw Brahma kund – Brahma came here after the Vihomana Lila when Brahma had stolen the cows. Brahma had made a terrible mistake and needed Krishna’s mercy therefore he offered prayers to Brahma. Guru Maharaj described how Krishna stood there with his hands on his hips. After reciting prayers, Brahma asked if he could go but Krishna didn’t say anything. Brahma took this to mean “hit the road” and he wasn’t feeling good. Brahma needed more mercy, He needed Krishna’s prasadam remnants. He knew that Krishna takes lunch with the cowherd boys and washes his hands in the local kund. Brahma knew this and he secretly entered the kund by assuming the form of a fish. As Krishna was about to put his hand into the water to wash it, he saw a fish in the water looking at him. Krishna felt put off. He didn’t wash his hands there and Brahma did not get the remnants of Krishna.
The bhajan kutir of Sanatana Goswami is nearby. We went to the Haridev temple. He is the presiding deity of western vraj mandal and he holds Govardhan Hill in his hand. When the gopis miss Krishna, they come to this temple and cry out for Haridev. Haridev! Haridev! Krishna appears to them in this form. When Lord Caitanya did parikrama he came here. He saw the deity and became overwhelmed with ecstacy. The village people had gathered and when they saw Lord Caitanya they understood this is Krishna who came back again.
We stopped at the Giriraj sweet shop and purchased some breakfast. We walked past the Iskcon Govardhan temple – this palace used to belong to some Maharaj in India – but now it is Srila Prabhupada’s palace. We then came to Dan Nivartan Kund. We were blessed to have the much desired brief association of His Holiness Radhanatha Swami Maharaj. Guru Maharaj had spotted Radhanatha Maharaj and went and paid his obeisances to him. Maharaj was chanting under a tree near the kund facing Govardhan Hill and when he saw Guru Maharaj he paid obeisances to him. Such sweet exchanges and the two gurus embraced each other.
Guru Maharaj then told us that from the beginning of the parikrama to this point us known as Dhan Ghati. This is the place of tax collecting pastimes. There was a sacrifice about to take place at Govinda Kund for Krishna and Balarama. Radharani and the gopis were at the other end at Radha Kund. When they heard about the sacrifice they wanted to take ghee, etc. They came down the western side of Govardhan Hill. They decided to cross the hill at the side we had just passed. Krishna and the cowherd boys just happened to be at that exact spot. They saw the gopis coming. Krishna saw Radharani. He became partially bewildered. He grabbed the arm of Madhu Mangal saying: “What is coming? Is that a flash of lightening? No, no, it can’t be – lightening only stays for a second – this is constant. Could this be a golden champak vine? No, no, it can’t be – a champak vine is stationary – this is moving. What on earth or heaven could this be?” Madhu Mangal took Krishna by the hand – I think it is Radharani! Then Radharani saw Krishna. She asked Lalita – “What is that? Is that a blue lotus? No it can’t be – a lotus is stationery – this is moving. Could this be a string of sapphires? No, no, it can’t be – sapphires are not living – this is living”. Lalita said it was Krishna. Krishna has a very playful mind so he said – block the road boys! Madhu Mangal set up a tax collecting stand. Krishna said: “let’s stop those rascal girls. Why are you sneaking over Govardhan Hill? Why are you sneaking around selling dairy products on the black market?” The gopis said “we are innocent village girls and we are taking stuff for the fire sacrifice for your benefit”. Madhu Mangal said “this is a likely story, it must be the truth”. Radharani said “we must go now”. Krishna said “no problem, you can go immediately – just pay your taxes and you can go – no problem”. Radharani asked “how much?” Krishna said “for each Gopis we want 5 heaps of diamonds”. The gopis said “but we only have dairy products!” Radharani said “we cannot pay this. We have hardly anything with us. Maybe tomorrow we will pay you”. Krishna said “no problem. Go but just leave Lalita with us as security. We will look after her very nicely”. Krishna then looked at Srimati Radharani. He charged her tax for every part of her body. For the parting in her hair – 100 000 crystal stones; for her forehead – 10 000 000 diamonds; for her eyebrows which fire arrows of sidelong glances – 10 000 golden bows studded with emeralds. Krishna charged her a fantastic tax for every part of her body from the parting in her hair to underneath her feet. There was no chance of paying even a fraction of it. The gopis couldn’t go. The cowherd boys would not let them go. They could not pay anything either. Guru Maharaj said “stale mate”. Nandi Mukhi – Madhu Mangal’s sister. She could see the problems and made a political settlement. She guaranteed that the girls will come and pay the tax. She asked the boys to meet them at this kund the next day at 11am. The girls came at 10am. They hid behind the trees. Krishna and the cowherd boys were laughing and joking about the gopis. The gopis jumped out from behind the trees and captured Krishna and the cowherd boys. The gopis tied them to the trees by their sikhas and beat them up. Krishna was begging for their mercy. Srimati Radharani said “sure, but let us of the tax”. Krishna said “yes, no problem”. Dan Nivartan Kund Ki Jai!!! [The kund where the tax was nullified.]
Next we came to Annakoot Ksetra (area from Govardhan town to Govinda Kund approx 5km). This is the area where the Govardhan puja pastime happened. We all know this pastime very well. Guru Maharaj explained about karma mimangsa – doing the right activites and getting the right result. Karma is the main thing – God does not matter. Guru Maharaj explained that Krishna was protecting his childish pastimes and if He had claimed to be God, the sweetness would have been spoiltiand what would’ve Jatila done? She would have thought she committed so many aparadhas and she may have not been able to continue living. During this pastime, from Govardhan Town to Govinda Kund there was food. Guru Maharaj played a little game – he asked the devotees to say the names of as many sweets as they could have without stopping. That was fun! This village became known as anniyor and this is where Balarama climbed to the top of the hill to give satisfy Giriraj with 1 Tulasi leaf.
We went through the anniyor village and came to the point at which Govardhan was at its highest. We passed Sankarshan kund where the deity of Lord Balarama was hidden for 4 years. We came to Govinda kund where Lord Indra and the demigods performed abhishek for Lord Krishna at the end of the Govardhan Lila. We were very close to Govardhan Hill and we walked pass many cows and buffalos. Guru Maharaj asked us to be very careful of the monkeys saying that they could smell food up to 200m. The banks of Govinda Kund lies at the lotus feet of Giriraj Govardhan.
All except Lord Indra was happy after the Govardhan lila. He was fuming. He had thought “who do they think they are? It is a very serious offence for not worshipping me. They will get punished – they should die.” Lord Indra was in maya. Guru Maharaj said maybe he was not chanting his rounds properly. He sent a huge storm to destroy the universe. The rain fell like pillars and the hail was the size of elephants. But under the hill it was like a palace. None sat down or ate anything or even moved. They were all drinking Krishna’s beauty through their eyes. They were maintaining their lives like that. This is the favourites pastime of Krishna because in this lila, all the devotees from all the different rasas take part simultaneously. Their glances were like firing arrows at Krishna’s heart. The gopis just stood looking at Krishna, Krishna stood looking at the beauty of the gopis. Krishna became overwhelmed and he started shaking with ecstacy and then the hill started to shake and the brijbasis screamed Help!! Krishna said – Oh, the hill is heavy and is difficult to hold. Balarama knew what was happening and he looked at Krishna and told him to keep himself together. Krishna felt embarrassed. The hill was heavy and they all wanted to help in some way. The little boys helped by pushing their little sticks up against the hill to hold it up. Krishna let the boys take some of the weight of the hill and it became too heavy for them and they felt it was coming down on their heads and screamed for help. Krishna then lifted it up again. The elderly thought he must be feeling tired so they massaged his hand, particularly the little finger. Madhu Mangal was watching and thought that he needed help so he chanted shakti giving mantras. Later when Krishna put the hill down they all thought he did well. The little boys thought it was because they helped with the sticks, the elderly thought it was their good massaging, Madhu Mangal thought it was his prayers. The abhishek substances had flowed down and formed the waters of Govinda kund.
Next stop – mukut sila. There is a little pink temple on the hill – it is the temple of Lord Balarama. During the spring time (February/March), the time of Lord Krishna’s spring rasa dance, Lord Balarama was sitting and looking in the direction where we were standing. Lord Balarama saw Lord Krishna and the Gopis dancing. He became overwhelmed with the beauty of the scene and he became stunned in ecstacy. His whole body turned blackish. He was so absorbed in seeing and remembering Krishna his crown fell onto a rock which melted in ecstacy. The impression of Lord Balaram’s crown is still on that rock. There were many pandas around and Guru Maharaj made a joke about dan bihari – one who goes through the forest collecting donations.
We went to the temple of Lord Nrshingadev – he is protecting all the devotees who go on parikrama. We stopped here for breakfast. From the rooftop some blue cows were spotted. Guru Maharaj took the opportunity to film them. There were many blue cows, even some little ones. We were at the southern end of Govardhan Hill. It is known as punchari – the tail of the peacock. Guru Maharaj said the Govardhan Hill is shaped like a peacock. Some say that at this point, Govardhan Hill is coming down, diving into the dust of Vrindavana. We saw the Apsara and Navala kunds. We went past Rasastali – the start of the rasa dance. There used to be a kadamba and tamal tree here. Now there is only a tamal tree. Guru Maharaj said he was here once and a monkey was jumping on the dead kadamba tree. The tree fell over into the kund with the monkey on it. The monkey had a very surprised look on its face as it sailed over.
Guru Maharaj pointed out a very sacred place – Raghava Gupa – the cave of Raghava – an associate of Lord Caitanya who used to do bhajan in this cave. It is now closed but we did see the one end of the cave. Guru Maharaj said we could go into the cave but we must be careful of scorpions and anacondas.
We then came to Kadamba Van – if you roll in the dust here, you achieve love of god very easily. We rolled in the dust with Guru Maharaj setting the precedent. He made sure that each of us did so and he then showered us all with the dust of Vrindavana. He said we should get as much as we could on our heads and face – it was our dicor.
Govardhan Hill used to be very, very high, so high that the horses of the sungod would eat the grass for lunch everyday. Now Govardhan Hill is not so high – it is only 80 feet above ground. Why is this so? Srila Rupa Goswami says – when Lord Krishna left Vrindavana, all the inhabitants were thrown into a bottomless ocean of separation, particularly Srimati Radharani and the Gopis. The gopis said Krishna must be here somewhere, we will go find him. They searched all the forests – Bandiravan, Baelvan, Talavan, the last place was Govardhan Hill. They went around it slowly – there was no Krishna. Radharani said that he left. The gopis said no – we will go again and we will look carefully. They looked under every rock and behind every tree but there was no Krishna. Radharani said he is gone. The gopis said no and went a 3rd time – they looked under every grain of sand. Radharani said he is gone. She became so overwhelmed with separation, all who were watching her became overwhelmed. This is when Govardhan shrank to the size of 80 feet therefore he is not so big.
We came up to Uddava Kund. The priest is a Srila Prabhupada disciple. This is where Uddava decided that in his future birth he wanted to be grass. When Uddava took the message to the gopis, he was astonished about the Krishna Consciousness of the devotees. He had never seen anything like that before and he could not forget them. On his way back from Nandagram he could not forget that experience and he wondered how he could get the mercy of the Gopis. He came past this kund and he was so deep in thought and wondered how he could get the dust of their lotus feet on their head. He thought if he became grass, then they would step on him. Even if they didn’t step on him, when they walk somewhere near, the dust they kick up would land on me. All the grass around Uddava kund is Uddava. When Lord Krishna left the world and the queens of Dwaraka were feeling separation from him, they wondered how to overcome this feeling. They were told that when the gopis felt this way, they got the association of Uddava and they needed to do the same. They asked how it was possible as he left the world already? Vajranabha said no, he is still here present in Uddava kund in the form of grass and if they have a big harinaam he may come out of the grass and give his association. They did that and Uddava appeared and took the queens to Kusum sarovara where they sat for 1 month and recited the pastimes of Krishna. The queens were so happy they felt like they were with Krishna again. One by one they went back to Goloka Vrindavana. Guru Maharaj said – who knows what will happen if we chant the glories of the Lord here!
We came to Shiva kund. Once there was a jackal who was being harassed by children. The jackal thought they would kill her therefore she took shelter of Srimati Radharani. Radharani chased the children away and came before the jackal who completely surrendered her life to Radharani. Guru Maharaj said “anyone can be a devotee”. We saw the pushpa samadhi of Gaura Kishore Das Babaji Maharaja. At Radha Kund we took some water on our heads. We went to Jaggantha Puri at Radha Kund where Guru Maharaj led some kirtan. The last stop was Shyama kund – the liquid form of Krishna. Then off we went back to where we started – Kusum Sarovara. The devotees were way too tired and we all decided to return to Vrindavana. It was a long day and we finished much later than we expected simply because we stopped of at many places. But it was a wonderful parikrama and we were looking forward to the second one on the 20th.
Syamarani devi dasi