Trip to Babla – Sri Advaita Pat

30 04 2009

Jai Nitai! Jai Gaura! Jai Sitanath! On March 5th, the second day of the Dig Nagar festival we went to Babla, the Sri Pat of Advaita Acharya. We got on a bus at the main road in Dig Nagar and after about a 20 minute ride we were in Shantipur. A 5 minute rikshaw ride took us to Babla. There is a mandir there with the Sri Vigraha of Sri Advaita Acharya and some shaligram silas. Behind the mandir is, tin prabhura vishram sthan, the resting place of the three prabhus…Gaura, Nitai, and Sitanath. There is also a mandir of Sri Vijaya Krishna Goswami. I will post photos of that mandir at another time.

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The Dancing tree of Dig Nagar

28 04 2009

Jai Nitai! About an hour drive from Nabadwip is a village known as Dig Nagar. There is an annual utsav held there by the followers of our param-gurudev, Sripad Ramdas Babaji Maharaj commemorating a special lila performed there by Sri Radharaman Charan Das Dev. The lila involves a banyan tree that danced to the kirtan of Sri Radharaman Charan Das. There is a full account of the lila in Carit Sudha and I have reproduced the English version done by Dr. Kapoor below. This is the first time I attended the utsav which was held this year on the 4th-6th of March. The remote village of Dig Nagar is very picturesque and peaceful. This is one of the most blissful utsavs that I have attended and it left me feeling imbued with the grace and shakti of Sri Radharaman Charan Das Dev. The original banyan tree left its body some years back and the tree that is now being worshipped grew up directly in its place. Note: In the photos you will see a sadhu whose name is Raman Das Babaji, we refer to him simply as Raghunath Da. He is our dear gurubhai and the chief organizer of the event. Since this event he has become the Mahanta of all our ashrams. Due to the poor lighting conditions I was unable to take decent photos of the adhivas kirtan and the dancing tree lila-kirtan which is quite sad.

From: The Life of Love

The Dancing Tree

When Babaji Mahashaya reached Diknagara he heard .men complaining about an unhappy event, which had recently occurred in the locality. There was an old banyan tree, and some Mohammedans had taken it into their head to chop off some of its branches for some reason or another. The Hindus regarded the tree as sacred, and they were sorely aggrieved at the unsympathetic attitude of their Muslim brethren.

Next morning, Babaji Mahashaya set out with his train, as was his wont, dancing and singing the Name of the Lord. The villagers came in crowds and joined them on the way, and he led them straight to the banyan tree. There he marked the mischief that was done, passed round and round and prostrated himself before the tree, and then marched asinging to the Mohammedan quarter of the town. He went his way, as if perfectly familiar with the lanes and by-lanes of the entire neighbourhood, and they soon found themselves in the residence of Haradhan Mandal, a Mohammedan gentleman, who enjoyed local reputation and had considerable influence over the Muslims of the place. The villagers of course feared a row, and they thought of desisting the sankirtan-.party from venturing into the quarter, but they could do nothing. There they were, in the courtyard of Haradhan Mandal, and when he appeared, the band of singers like trained soldiers surrounded him on all sides and went on singing and dancing, oblivious of the world and anything else besides.

Suddenly, Babaji Mahashaya addressed himself to Haradhan and roared:

“Say, Nitai-Gaura Radha-Shyama! ‘”
Haradhan repeated, “Say, `Nitai-Gaura Radha-Shyama!'”
Babaji said again, “Say, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Rama!”
Haradhan again repeated, “Say, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Rama!'”

And so on for some fifteen minutes, Haradhan repeating what Babaji suggested, till tears streamed down the cheeks and the flowing beard of Mandal Sahib, and he began to dance— hands with the rosary of pebbles raised on high, and wooden sandals under his feet; and when Babaji Mahashaya came forward and clasped him to his chest, he was overpowered with joy and came down reeling to the ground beneath. The sankirtan closed round, and Babaji breathed into his ears, and he trembled and rolled on the ground; and then, blanched with dust, he began to dance with renewed vigour in the midst of sankirtan. Off went his sandals he knew not where, the rosary slipped between his fingers he did not perceive, he fixed his eyes on the Babaji, muttered in broken accents, and went on with his dance; and when our Babaji left the scene and made for the Banyan tree, he made one of the party and followed him, hardly knowing what he was doing and where he was going and why.

Now, this is hypnotism, one would say. May be, but our Babaji was not a trained hypnotist for aught we know. The fact is, that these powers come, without any seeking—yes, they come to the man of Love—the power of raising any man and every man to the Kingdom of Heavenly Bliss, where all these petty dissensions are lulled into the harmony and repose of love and joy.

So they came back to the banyan, and went dancing and singing round and round the banyan tree; when lo! what is this!—the very branches of the tree seemed to dance in tune with the sankirtan beneath. Can this be true?—They could scarcely believe their eyes. They cleared their looks and looked again, but only to see what they saw before. The branches were indeed dancing—the branches just above the sankirtan below. At first they thought there might have been some birds flapping their wings and moving the branches. But they had soon to give up this idea, for they noticed with surprise that the branches danced only where the sankirtan was going on, and that other branches danced while the former ones stopped as the sankirtan moved round and round. Rumour flew apace, and men and women came in crowds to witness the strange performance. The sankirtan continued till eleven o’clock in the morning, after which, when Babaji Mahashaya was about to retire, our friend Haradhan requested him with tears in his eyes to be permitted to stay with him. Our Babaji consoled him saying that he need not fear, for the grace of God was upon him, only he should see that the tree might not be defiled again in time to come. He gave the banyan the name of the Wish-tree,’ and said that whoever would offer milk, Ganges-water and chirag (a lamp; small clay pot with oil and a wick) in the evening at the feet of the tree, should have the fulfilment of his desires. Haradhan pledged himself and his family to the sacred vow, whereupon our Babaji embraced him heartily, and bidding him good-bye, returned with his sankirtan back to his lodgings.

But things like this cannot be readily swallowed by men of the present age, and there came censors and the connoisseurs—the educated and scientifically inclined men of the neighbourhood, who still doubted the testimony of the eyewitnesses on the scene. They had their honest doubts, and it was well that it was so, for these ‘honest doubts’ act as the cement of conviction, when careful experiment removes these doubts and reveals the truth.

It was not long before Babaji Mahashaya heard all this, and he wished to show them that truth like gold shines brighter when put to the proof. Personal aspersions he would never mind—we have already seen so much of him in the earlier pages—but when any one of the verities (we have mentioned before) was called in question, he would at once take up the challenge and prove it to the hilt that such doubts only arise out of the ignorance of the higher laws, that work inspite of the arrogant and adverse allegations of the shortsighted coxcombs and bigoted scientists.

Said the Babaji in solemn accents, “I say, gentlemen, the Name of the Lord is Omnipotent; it is such a trifling thing to be accomplished by His Name—this dancing of the stocks and stones. Come and see, if you still have doubts, join the sankirtan, and you shall have ample opportunity of verifying the truth once again.”

Next morning Babaji Mahashaya set out with his sankirtan-party, and those who were skeptically inclined accompanied him to the scene of occurrence. It was about half past nine in the morning when they reached the banyan, and the men found to their astonishment that the tree danced again as the Lord’s Name was sung beneath the branches. They saw it, and yet they would not believe. One of them stepped forward and asked the Babaji if he had any objections to somebody climbing the tree for ascertaining the truth. He said he had none, provided no non-Brahmin should undertake the task. Two Brahmin boys were accordingly summoned to get up on the tree, with instructions to ransack branches and see if there was any bird or monkey or any other animal that might have been swinging the branches that seemed to dance to the tune of the sankirtan. But, they could find nothing, and so it was finally established beyond the shadow of a doubt, and universally accepted as a truth—this dancing of the branches of the tree. They naturally attributed it to the power of the saint—more so, when they looked at our Muslim friend Haradhan Mandal, the leader of the Mohammedans regarded with fear by their Hindu neighbours— this Mandal, who was come again and singing with tearful eyes along with the others in the sankirtan-party.

The same thing was repeated for seven consecutive days, and the branches danced whenever the Babaji sang with his party under the banyan tree.

One Radhika Babu approached Babaji Mahashaya and asked him respectfully to explain the mystery of the dancing tree. Babaji Mahashaya said, “Vegetables have internal consciousness as well as the animals, and they are more or less sensible of pleasure and pain. The shastras say that the tree can see and taste as we men do, and we can demonstrate the truth by noticing that the tree evinces selective action as it takes in air, light, water and salts for its consumption and subsequent growth and development, and also that a creeper planted at a distance of five or six yards is always sure to surmount the obstacles and make its way to the neighbouring tree. Facts like these go to show that vegetables can see and they have their tastes and tendencies in common with the animals, with the difference that in the latter they are more clearly pronounced and more strongly manifest than in the former. But they are there, and so we should think twice before we carelessly harm these plants, for then we might be guilty of some such offense as cruelty to animals when we try to injure them.

“Our shastras go further and say that even men may sometimes, for some serious offense on their part, find themselves transformed into plants in the course of the future transmigration of their souls. This may sound rather strange, and men may be disinclined to accept it as truth, as the Theory of Evolution may have got a firm hold on their minds. But it is not the less true on that account, for if ‘Evolution’ is true, ‘Involution’ is also true, the one being necessarily implied in the other.” Then he proceeded to point out that the being in the tree was a saint, who came to be born as a tree for some serious offense (and there is a list of such offenses with like consequences recorded in the scriptures) committed in a previous life, and as such danced like a saint and a devotee when the Name of the Lord was heard. He then asked all present thence-forward to regard all beings with the love and respect due to them.





Chandan Yatra at Radhakund

27 04 2009

Today is the very auspicious Akshaya tritiya and the beginning of Chandan Yatra. Below are photos I took at some of the major mandirs here at Radhakund.





Radhakund/Shyamkund drained 26-04-09

26 04 2009

Here are a couple of pics of Shyamkund taken this morning.  

 

    





Radhakund/Shyamkund drained 25/04/09

25 04 2009

After two more days nearly three additional feet of water has been pumped off.





Radhakund/Shyamkund drained

23 04 2009

Jai Nitai! I returned to Radhakund not long ago after being away for six weeks. I wasn’t able to do any posting on this blog unfortunately, though I have much new material to share from the time spent in and around Nabadwip. Since my return to Radhakund I have had many problems with my internet connection…it is very, very slow and the electricity is sparse. Since much of what I have to share is photos, the poor connection is really holding me back. I should be able to post some material from my trip soon, however since the draining of Radhakund is happening as I type, I would like to immediately post pics showing the daily progress. This is what the kunda looks like now after about 3 days of effort. More pics tomorrow.