The mornings are becoming much cooler now than when we first started. Today we are heading off for Gokul, the place where Krishna spent His early childhood. But before that, Guru Maharaj took us on a side excursion to Raval Dham – the birthplace of Srimati Radharani. This is an important place but not many people visit it. This is where King Vrsabhanu found Srimati Radharani floating on a lotus on the Yamuna. The Yamuna used to run very close to the banks at which we were standing but has now moved 100’s of
metres away. Guru Maharaj said that during flood times the water still comes right up to these banks and that the palace used to be situated on the waters edge. The Larily-Lal temple has Radha Krishna deities – Radha and Krishna as little children.
A few days after Srimati Radharani appeared, Nanda Maharaj and Mother Yashoda came to visit. Krishna had just appeared 2 weeks earlier. They came to show Krishna and also to have darshan of Srimati Radharani. Srimati Radharani was lying in her cradle and until that time, Her eyes were physically sealed closed. No-one could open them. Mother Yashoda, Nanda Maharaj, King Vrsabhanu and Kirtidi were talking about things. Guru Maharaj called it “baby katha” – how is your baby? etc. Krishna was just 2 weeks old. At that age a baby cannot even move, but Krishna started to crawl. He crawled over to the cradle of Srimati Radharani, climbed up and looked over the top. He saw Srimati Radharani lying on her back facing up. As Krishna looked at Radharani, she opened her eyes and saw Krishna. He was that first thing she saw and all the time that she was present, she didn’t see anything other than Krishna. Radharani’s family and Krishna’s family lived in this area for about 3 years and four months before moving to the Vrindavana area, where the Krishna Balarama mandir. We took breakfast on the rooftop. Our little 8 year old Govinda dasi, youngest on parikrama, told Guru Maharaj that she had chanted 16 rounds while going on Govardhan parikrama. Guru Maharaj asked us if we heard that and pointed out “and she is only 8 years old!”.
We were at the Northern side of Vraj mandal at Baladev town – named after Lord Balarama – also Dauji – big brother. Guru Maharaj started to chant the famous “Krishna ke naiya, dauji ke bhaiya”. There is a two metre tall deity of Lord Balarama which was installed by Vajranabha. It is an original 5000 year old deity of Vrindavana. There are many places around Vraj that are connected to Baladev as the main personality. Normally Krishna is the main one. In Srimad Bhagavatam, 10th Canto, it is stated that there were 21 demons killed in Vrindavana. Guru Maharaj asked “how many did Balarama kill?” Someone answered correctly – 2 demons – Pralambasura and Denakasura. All the others were killed by Krishna therefore he holds a more prominent position. Guru Maharaj said that Lord Balarama has his place and should not be under estimated. Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead and Lord Balarama is his first expansion. They are equal with no real differences except 2 – they differ in colour and mood. Krishna is Shyam – almost black. Balarama is white, white, white. Guru Maharaj said he was white like the clothes of the prabhus and He joked that this may very well have been the origin of racial differences. Lord Balarama has the mood of a devotee and Lord Krishna has the mood of being the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you ask Krishna “who is God?” – he will answer “me”. If you ask Balarama “who is God?” – he will answer “Krishna”. The significant difference between the 2 is that Lord Balarama is deeply absorbed in the mood of serving Krishna therefore he is doing so many things to serve Krishna. Like in Goloka Vrindavana Krishna expands into many aspects/features. Guru Maharaj listed the expansions from Sankarshan, Vasudev, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Maha Sankarshan (in Vaikuntha), Maha Visnu, Garbodakshai Visnu through till Ksirodakshai Visnu. All these forms are expanding from Lord Balarama to help Lord Krishna to enjoy in the spiritual world. Lord Balarama is a big devotee. We are just 1 form, we do just 1 thing at a time – we cannot take prasadam and chant at 1 time. Lord Balarama can do everything at 1 time. In Goloka Vrindavana He is Krishna’s house, shoes, clothes, chair, bed, turban, umbrella. He also expands in the different rasas. He is serving Krishna in many ways. Lord Balarama understands that if you want to get nectar, then you must be a servant. People think that if we enjoy our senses in different ways then we will get happiness, but happiness is not got in that way. Srila Prabhupada told the story about the hand going on strike. When that happened, it would not put food into the mouth thinking that it would become a strong hand if it took the food itself thinking that it could squeeze the food in somehow. But it didn’t work out like that and it became weak and had to surrender. Like that if we try to enjoy ourselves directly, it will seem that we will get enjoyment, but we don’t really. If the hand serves the whole body, it will be happy. Like that, if we render service to Krishna, we will get enjoyment as we are part and parcel of Krishna. Guru Maharaj said that Lord Balarama
knew this a long time ago – he is very intelligent and we should follow in his footsteps.
When he appeared as Laksmana, the younger brother to Lord Rama, he was not happy at the unpleasant things he had to do. He was left to guard Sita while Rama went off to chase a deer. Eventually he had received chastisement for not guarding Sita. Laksmana was thinking, why did Rama go off chasing a deer, he was wasting time and if I were the older brother I would not have done something like that but what can I do? Then again, when the time came for the test of purity for Sita after she was rescued, Laksmana had to build the fire because he was the younger brother. He wondered why he had to as there was no need – Sita was pure and all was happy except Rama. He thought, if I were the older brother I would make a better arrangement, but I am younger so what can I do? Then Lord Rama heard the gossip that a washerman had kicked his wife out of their house for spending the night at another’s place, claiming to not be a hen-pecked
husband, while Rama had allowed Sita back. Rama wondered how he would be accepted as king and decided to banish Sita. Laksmana told him that he wouldn’t listen to a stupid laundry man. Here again, Laksmana had to do the duty of a younger brother and take Sita to the forest and leave her there. Again he thought, if I were the older brother, I would not do something like this. So the next time he appeared as Lord Balarama, the older brother, and he is always looking after and protecting Krishna. In the Kaliya lila, Lord Balarama was having a birthday party while Krishna was at the Yamuna taking care of Kaliya. Everyone said that if Lord Balarama was there, that would not have happened. So Guru Maharaj stressed that Lord Balarama is a very
After Lord Caitanya had left the world, the muslim tyrant, Orangzeb attacked Govindaji temple in Vrindavana, destroying many temples and deities. He came to destroy dauji and was about to attack when suddenly he became blind. He didn’t know what to do and that thought that he was offensive to Lord Balarama. The pujari said yes he was and asked him to do service to Lord Balarama in order to regain his sight. He gave 5 villages, the resources of which had to be used in the service of Lord Balarama. He regained his sight. For 12 years, the muslims used to play the drums for Lord Balarama in the mornings and evenings. At this temple, there is a guest book which Guru Maharaj autographed for each of the times that he had visited. Here, the pujaris take the signing of these guest books very seriously. The next time you are there you can ask the pujari to show it to you.
From the rooftop we saw Sankarshan kund where the deity of Lord Balarama was hidden during the muslim attacks. Guru Maharaj said that Lord Balarama was under water swimming and taking a bath for 450 years. At this temple there are local Iskcon pandas, Rameshwar and Mahadev (a father and son team), and Guru Maharaj referred to them as “my pandas”.
We then walked back to the buses. On our way there we heard a particular song which we heard every place we went to – and by this time we had been to many, many places. Guru Maharaj said that song was “top of the pops!”. We had been given a lot of maha, some of which Guru Maharaj distributed and a small portion he specifically asked his servant to keep aside for Him. Somehow, he was inattentive and a monkey had snatched it from him. Guru Maharaj narrated the story that Srila Prabhupada told – there was a lady making chappatis and there was a monkey who tried very hard to get one. Eventually it did get one and Srila Prabhupada said “in the matter of eating, the monkey is more intelligent than you”. This is the place where
Guru Maharaj told us “these toilets have European standards, can u believe it?” We did not hesitate to check it out as this was a rare opportunity in India.
We then visited Nanda Maharaj’ palace – Chaurasi Khamba. The famous “they” say it is the original palace of Nanda Maharaj built by Vishvakarma. It is an ancient building with 84 pillars. It definitely looks original. Lord Balarama and Krishna played in Gokul for 9 years – baliya lila. For Janmastami a special offering of makhan mishrie is made (butter and sugar).
We saw trinivarta behari – place where Krishna killed Trinivarta. We also went by the place where putana was killed. Guru Maharaj narrated the pastime. In this area there were many, many children sitting in different
postures with different costumes pretending to be the different demigods and goddesses. They were extremely sweet and not shy at all. Guru Maharaj asked each of them their names and they didn’t hesitate to say their names and who they represented.
We were still in the month of kartik and we were so fortunate to have visited the place where the damodara lila took place. Guru Maharaj pointed out the original grinding mortar, etc. The temple nearby has Radha
Damodara deities. Guru Maharaj said that previously this temple was just there but now some people have come and taken it over. There is a very nice goshala here with one sweet little brown cow – Dansuka. We also visited the well of Nanda Maharaj.
After that we made our way to the final stop for the day – Brahmanda Gaat. The original brahmanda gaat was some 10m away. We sat at a point where there were no pandas and there was less chance of being harassed by them here. Guru Maharaj said that these pandas were very good sankirtan devotees and that we needed sankirtan devotees like this. Here Lord Krishna and Balarama were playing. Lord Balarama was upset with Lord Krishna so he went to Mother Yashoda to cause trouble. He told her that Krishna was eating sand. Mother Yashoda was shocked. Lord Balaram told her to go see for herself. Mother Yashoda looked into his mouth for dirt in his teeth, under his tongue – but she didn’t see anything. Instead, she saw the entire universe. She was amazed and started thinking my son is God. As this idea was possessing her mind more and more her mood of motherly affection for Krishna became overpowered. She started thinking she made a mistake treating him like a little boy, he is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I should offer him my obeisances. She was becoming overpowered by the mood of awe and reverence. The amount of affection she felt reduced. But then she looked into his sweet little baby eyes and as she did that the mood of motherly affection came back slowly. The last thing she thought was well if he is God, then I am lucky to have a son who is God. Then she forgot all that and embraced Krishna as her little son. Lord Balarama became disappointed at the outcome and thought “now she won’t chastise him” and “he will get away with it”. He thought “I have to do something about it”. Lord Balarama said “I insist that he was eating dirt!”. They held a court case. Lord Balarama was the prosecuting lawyer. Krishna had to defend himself. Mother Yashoda was the judge and Krishna was found guilty of eating dirt. So this is where Krishna ate dirt and if you go there, u can eat the very same dirt which are being sold as biscuits. Here we took bathe in the
Yamuna and then we headed back to Vrindavana.
As you are able to tell, Guru Maharaj really goes out of his way to show us as many places as possible. He makes sure that He takes us even to the places which are not visited very often. We are really fortunate. Tomorrow we go to Kedarnatha for our second japa retreat. We are looking forward to a slightly more relaxed, less hectic day of japa in the mountains. We will let you know what happened there soon.