We are losing the natural beauty of Braja and the Govardhan parikrama experience

31 05 2010

Jai Nitai!

We are all more or less aware of the destruction and insanity that it currently taking place in Brindavan in the name of “development.” Instead of trying to maintain the spiritual and cultural heritage which is the real wealth of India,  the current government is instead simply  interested  in quick money by  exploiting  India’s sacred areas and resources in their rush to fatten their purses and attain  first-world status which they  will never achieve by such careless and destructive behavior.

Jagat Ji informed me yesterday that on the 29th of May bulldozers were sent to Anyour, which is a small village  about four  kilometres south of the town of Govardhan on the parikrama marg and asked if I could get some photos. Grateful for the opportunity to do some seva I packed my camera, jumped on my bicycle, and wondered what I was going to encounter. Before actually arriving in Anyour I saw some buildings destroyed. I was a little confused because what they tore down with the bulldozers didn’t seem to follow any pattern. It looked random to me…as if they just picked and chose whatever they felt like destroying as they went.

The Government wants to install stone walkways on both sides of the marg and from what I have gathered,  anything within 21 meters of the center of the road will be cleared out so the road can be widened and the stone pathways can be installed. It appears that soon you will no longer be able to walk on the natural surface of the sandy ground when doing parikrama. Let’s all hope and pray that they leave the inner margs untouched.

So far the damage from the bulldozers is somewhat minimal, but that is soon about to change. There are literally hundreds of trees that have  the  red and white stripes painted on them which I was told by some managers of Brij Vasundhara luxury cottages means that they are to be cut down. I spoke with one man and his son who lost their entire house which included a puja room for a large Govardhan sila they worshiped. The  walls and ceiling of the puja room were smashed and collapsing. Giriraj was covered in dust and surrounded by broken chips of bricks and cement. The man was squatting on a little section of the roof of his house that was still standing with his chin in his hands contemplating what he should do.  I saw several Shiva-linga shrines, a mandir of Durga Ma, and many other sacred places that will soon be crushed by the bulldozers.

Yesterday they began pouring concrete on parikrama marg from the road leading to the south side of Manasi Ganga heading towards town. The road that runs along with the parikrama marg will all be widened and covered with concrete and both sides of the marg will have those three-sided interlocking stones covering the natural dirt pathways we all so much enjoyed traversing.  Nearly the entire road from Govardhan to Radhakund has been chopped up in preparation for the concrete that will eventually (probably soon)   be  poured and like everywhere else I saw, they are preparing for the stone walking paths to be laid.

I will post some photos that will give an idea what is happening on the parikrama  marg  now from beyond the town of Govardhan up to the area of Govinda Kunda. I hope to return tomorrow when the bulldozers are scheduled to come back and take more photos.

Ayi dina! Ayi dina!

29 05 2010

Yesterday was the tirobhav tithi of Sri Madhavendra Puri. Last night I went to Vyas Ghera to pay my respects to the sitting place of Madhavendra Puri. I was immediately greeted by friendly babajis inviting me to sit for prasad. I told them that I would prefer a cool drink instead of eating and I was given a couple of glasses of some delicious, cold beverage.

śeṣa-kāle ei śloka paṭhite paṭhite |
siddhi-prāpti haila purīra ślokera sahite ||Cc 2.4.196

“Madhavendra Puri recited this verse over and over again at the end of his life and because of it he attained siddhi.

ayi dīna-dayārdra nātha he
mathurā-nātha kadāvalokyase |
hṛdayaṁ tvad-aloka-kātaraṁ
dayita bhrāmyati kiṁ karomy aham || Cc 2.4.197

“O my beloved Lord, the friend of the afflicted. He Mathura-natha!  When, when shall I see you? Without seeing you my heart is perplexed, my beloved, and I am very restless! What am I to do?

Sitting place of Sripad Madhavendra Puri near Shyam Kunda

Radha Govinda of Radhakund ~ special day of flower decorations

28 05 2010

Jai Sri Radhey!

Yesterday was Narasingha Chaturdasi in Radhakund and also the day that Radha Govinda Jiu  get some special treatment by being extraordinarily dressed in beautiful and fragrant flowers. I took these photos last night…I am sure Their darshan will bring pleasure to the Vaisnavas viewing this blog.

The guardians of Radha Kunda and Mahaprabhu’s love for Shiva

27 05 2010

Radhakund is protected in all four directions by Mahadeva. The two most ancient mandirs are Kundesvara and Bankhandi. When coming to Radhakund it is best to first stop and offer your obeisances and prayers to Mahadeva and seek his permission the enter Radhakund. Kundesvara Mahadeva protects the south side of Radhakund. Bankhandi Mahadeva protects the east side. Ramesvara Mahadeva protects the west side and the Mahadeva shrine adjacent to the Radha Raman Mandir guards the north side. I have attached some photos I took of these four Mahadeva temples and told the story from Caitanya Mangal, by Locan Das Thakur about Mahaprabhu entering the village of Ekamraka, which is the place of Shiva and Parvati and is located in Bhubaneswar. Jai Bholenath!

Gaurahari walking like a ferocious lion eventually arrived at the village of Ekamraka. Shiva and Parvati stay in this village. Gaura’s heart went wild and He ran to see them. Soon Gaura Mahaprabhu found the temple. Great longings filled His heart. He became wild with ecstatic loving emotions. A beautiful flag fluttered on top of the mandir. Seeing the flag on the temple Gaurahari offered obeisances. He got up and continued walking until he was able to enter the temple of Shiva.

In the village of Ekamraka there are ten million Shiva-lingas. The main Shiva-linga is known as Visvesvara. It is said that the ground of that village looks like sandesa. The waters of all the holy rivers are present in the Maha-bindu sarovara which is there. Many different holy places are also present in that village.

Upon entering the temple, Gaurahari saw Shiva and Parvati. He bowed down before them, and was overcome with prema. Anyone who sees the linga of Shiva and Parvati finds that his troubles are soon broken into pieces. Seeing the linga of Lord Shiva, Gaurahari was overcome with ecstasy. His body trembled, and He was unable to remain peaceful. From His reddish eyes tears flowed nonstop, and the hairs of His body stood on end. Again and again He recited prayers.

Note: Sri Gaurahari then recites prayers that are said to have been composed by Himself to glorify Sri Shiva. The verses are known as Sri Shivastakam—eight verses along with a ninth verse known as the phala-shruti which states the benediction one receives by devotionally reciting these prayers.

Sri Shivastakam

namo namas te tri-daśeśvarāya
bhūtādi-nāthāyua mṛdāya nityam
cūḍāya gaurī-nayanotsavāya

I repeatedly offer my obesisances unto you, controller of the 30 primal devas…unto you, original father of created beings…unto you, whose character is gracious…unto you, whose head is crested by the sickle moon arisen from the waves of the Ganga and unto you, who are a festival for the eyes of the fair Goddess, Sri Gauri.

sa nṛtya-raṅgeṣta-vara-pradāya
kaivalya-nāthāya vṛṣa-dhwajāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are dressed in garments resembling molten gold, the moon, blue lotuses, coral, and dark rainclouds…unto you, who bestow the most desirable boons on your devotees by means of your delightful dancing…unto you, who are the master of the impersonalists, and unto you, whose flag bears the image of the bull.

tamo-bhide te jagataḥ śivāya
sahasra-sañjit-tvara-tejase ‘stu

I offer my obeisances unto you, who dispel darkness with your three eyes—the moon, the sun, and the fire…unto you, who causes auspiciousness for all the living entities of the universe and unto you, whose potency easily defeats that of thousands of moons and suns.

śārdūla-carmāṁśuka-divya tejase
sahasra-patropari saṁsthitāya
varāṅgadāmukta-bhuja dvayāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, whose form is brilliantly illuminated by the jewels of Ananta Deva, the king of snakes…unto you, who are clothed by a tiger skin and thus radiate divine effulgence…unto you, who sit upon a lotus of a thousand petals, and unto you, whose two arms are adorned by lustrous bangles.

premānam evādya harau videhi

I offer my obeisances unto you, who bring happiness to your servitors as you pour on them the liquid nectar of your reddish lotus-feet, which ring with charming ankle bells….Obeisances unto you, who are adorned with an abundance of gems—please endow me today with pure love for Hari!

śrī rāma govinda mukunda śaure
śri kṛṣṇa nārāyana vāsudeva
ity ādi-nāmāmrta-pāna-matta-

O Sri Rama! O Govinda! O Mukunda! O Sauri! O Sri Krishna! O Narayana! O Vasudeva! I offer my obesisances unto you, Sri Shiva, who are the monarch of intoxicated bee-like devotees, maddened by drinking the nectar of these and other Holy Names of the Lord. Obeisances unto you, who destroys all grief.

śrī-nāradādyaiḥ satataṁ sugopya-
jijñāsitāyāśu vara-pradaya
tebhyo harer bhakti-sukha-pradāya
śivāya sarva-gurave namo namaḥ

I  offer  my respectful obeisances again and again unto you, who are forever inquired of confidentially by Sri Narada and other sages…unto you, who also grant favors to them very quickly…unto you, who bestows the happiness of Hari bhakti…unto you, who create auspiciousness, and unto you, who are the guru of everyone.

tat-prāṇa-nāthāya rasa-pradāya
sadā samutkaṇṭha-govinda-līlā-
gāna-pravīṇāya namo ‘stu tubhyam

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are a festival of auspiciousness for the eyes of goddess Gauri…unto you, who are the monarch of her life-breath…unto you, who are capable of bestowing sacred rapture, and unto you, who are expert in forever singing songs of the lila of Govinda with great longing.

etat śivāsyāṣṭakam adbhutaṁ mahat
śṛṇvan hari-prema labheta śīghram
jñānaṁ ca vijñānam apūrva-vaibhavaṁ
yo bhāva-pūrnaḥ paramaṁ samādaram

A person, filled with loving sentiments, and who listens with rapt attention to this eight-fold prayer to Sri Shiva can quickly gain Sri Hari prema as well as transcendental knowledge, the complete realization of that knowledge and unprecedented powers.

Gaurahari recited these prayers to Shiva. His companions who surrounded Him also recited prayers to Shiva. Then one of the Lord Shiva’s pujaris offered Shiva’s prasada remnants of fragrances, sandal paste, and flower garlands. After offering His obeisances to Lord Shiva, Gaurahari left the temple.

Gaurahari went to the home of a devotee and rested. Later He ate, and slept happily. At dawn, He who is the master of the three worlds arose. Gaurahari then bathed, completed his morning duties, and after offering His obeisances to Shiva, He  departed. Mahaprabhu continued His journey accompanied by His companions. Now I will describe a conversation that took place between two of His associates, Murari Gupta and Damodar Pandit. Please listen carefully to the description of their conversation. Damodara Pandita asked Murari Gupta, why did Gaurahari who is the Supreme Lord accept the prasada of Lord Shiva? Because of a curse by Bhrgu Muni it is said that no one should accept remnants offered to Lord Shiva. Why then did Gaurahari accept them being fully aware of such a curse? Murari said, please hear me. Oh Damodara, how can I know what is in the heart and mind of Mahaprabhu? I can only speak as far as my intelligence allows. If your heart thinks I speak the truth you may accept my words.

A person who serves Lord Shiva but does not honor the prasadi remnants of Shiva does so only because he thinks that Shiva and Krishna are different. The brahmana Bhrgu Muni spoke his curse for people with an impure heart that don’t know Shiva’s true glories. However a person who is fully aware that Shiva and Krishna are non-different, and who serves Shiva should certainly honor the prasad of Lord Shiva. Such a person brings great pleasure both to Siva and to Krishna. Shiva is the king of the Vaisnavas. For this reason he should be worshiped. A person who eats Shiva’s prasad is released from the prison of the material world. In truth Gaura was a guest in Shiva’s house. With a joy filled heart Shiva offered Him all hospitality. Please know that Bhrgu Muni’s curse is meant for the non-Vaisnavas. A Vaisnava who honors Lord Shiva brings pleasure to Sri Krishna. Gaurahari descended to this world to instruct the jivas. Damodara Pandit then said, you have destroyed my foolish ideas. Hearing these words everyone’s heart became full of bliss.  In this way Locana dasa narrates Sri Caitanyadeva’s pastimes. This is coming from the madhya-lila of Locan Das Thakur’s book. Similar descriptions can be found in Murari Gupta’s book, Sri Caitanya Caritra Maha Kavya in the third prakrama of his writing.

Dhulat Festival at Gopinath Mandir, Radhakund

25 05 2010

Jai Radhey!

Last night at Gopinath Mandir the Dhulat Festival took place. The entire floor of the Nat Mandir was covered in clean sand and a roaring kirtan began. There was a lot of dancing, twirling, spinning and of course a lot of the dust thrown in the air and shouts of, “Gaurahari Bol!.”  When the kirtan was complete all the Vaisnavas remove their upper cloth and roll in the dust where the kirtan took place. What ecstasy! Afterwards many would go down to Radhakund for snana.  My photos didn’t come out perfectly because of all the dust but I hope they please the Vaisnavas nevertheless. Towards the end of the kirtan the camera had to be put away to avoid damaging it.

Sri Jahnava Thakurani’s subha avirbhav adhivas and Radha Gopinath and Ananga Manjari flower decoration

21 05 2010

Today in Radhakunda at the Gopinath Mandir the adhivas festival for the appearance day of Sri Jahnava Thakurani began. There was special flower decorations done on the altar and the adhivas kirtan began after sandhya aroti. I have posted a little selection of verses about Sri Jahnava Ma from the fourth wave of Sri Sri Ananga Manjari Samputika, by Ramachandra Goswami.

jaya jaya śrī jāhnavā, gopīnātha vallabhā,

bhuvana mohana manohārī

śrī rādhikā priyatamā, rūpa guṇe anupamā

karunāte jagat uddhāri [5]

baladeva śakti dhāma, dharilā jāhnavā nāma,

pūrve chilā anaṅga mañjarī

nityānanda anuraga, eka dehe dui bhāga

dekhāilā jīve kṛpā kori [6]

anaṅga mañjarī yā jāhnavā parikīrtita

vidagdhā rasikā dhīrā gaurāṅgī nayanāmbujā [7]

sūrya dāsa sutā devī sūkṣma vastra vidhāriṇī

hasta pādādi sarvāṅge nānālaṅkara bhūṣitā [8]

śona campaka varṇāḍhyā koṭi candra mukha dyuti

nityānanda guṇollāsī sadā tat pada bhāvinī [9]

anaṅga mañjarī yei, edānī jāhnavā sei,

śarad indu vadana maṇḍalā

śona campaka svarṇa jini, gaura kānti varṇa dhanī

sulāvaṇya parmama ujjvalā [10]

ambujākṣī sumadhurā, vidagdha rasikā dhīrā,

mṛdu smita madhura ṁūratī

nityānanda guṇollāsī, pūrṇānandāmṛta rāśi,

caitanyera priyatamā ati [11]

nityānanda śrī caitanya, nija prāṇa kori jāne,

heno cittya śrīmatī jāhnavā

vīracandra śiṣya yāra, ki jāni mahimā tāra

guṇa carṇe heno āche kebā [12]

akhila jagata jāyā, arva jīve kori dayā,

nityānanda saṁhati vihari

mo adhame ei koro, pāda padme nirantara

rahe mana kabhuj nā pāsari [13]

tomāra mahimā yoto, mui chāra jāni koto,

nija guṇe tāra dayāmayī

koriya karuṇā dṛṣṭi, pūrāho manera iṣṭī

duḥka nāśa koro duḥkajayī [14]

sūrya dāsa paṇḍita sutā, sarva guṇe samanvitā,

pāda-padme nivedana kori

janma hoy yathā tathā, ithe mora nahe vyathā,

svapne yeno tomā nā pāsari [15]

tava pādapadme mati, nirantara rahe sthiti,

heno kṛpā koribe āmāre

mukta-kaṇṭhe boli śuno, vadanete dhari tṛṇa,

ei bhikṣā māgi parihāre [16]

“All glories, all glories to Sri Jahnava, the beloved of Gopinath, who enchants even the enchanter of the world (Krishna)! She is Sri Radhika’s dearmost sister, Her form and qualities are matchless and out of great compassion She redeems the world”

“Baladeva’s shakti is named Jahnava, who was previously known as Ananga Manjari. Out of love for Nityananda She kindly showed two parts in one body, to bestow mercy on the fallen jivas.”

“She who was Ananga Manjari is now famous as Sri Jahnava Thakurani. She is clever, has excellent taste, is grave, is golden-complexioned and has lotus-like eyes. This daughter of Surya Dasa Pandita is a Devi who wears thin garments and whose hands, feet, and all other limbs are decorated with a variety of ornaments. Her complexion is as golden as Campaka flowers and her face shines like a million moons. She is always meditating on Nityananda and is enchanted by His attributes.”

“She who was Ananga Manjari in Krishna-lila is now Jahnava Ma in Gaura-lila. Her face shines like the autumn moon. Her complexion defeats that of a Campaka flower. She is utterly radiant and elegant.”

“She has eyes like lotuses, is very sweet, clever, rasika, and grave. Her sweet form is adorned with a mild smile. She always takes delight in Nityananda’s qualities, she is the full abundance of nectarean ananda, and is very dear to Sri Caitanya.”

“Srimati Jahnava considered Nitai and Caitanya as Her very life, such was the condition of Her heart. Who knows the glories of someone who has a disciple like Prabhu Viracandra? Who can possibly describe Her amazing qualities?”

“She enjoys along with Nityananda, bestowing Her grace upon all of the fallen jivas in the world. Please let a fallen soul like me never forget Your lotus-feet. May they be my constant remembrance.”

“What can a wretch like me know about all of Your glories? You are naturally full of compassion. Please cast a merciful glance upon me and fulfill my desires. Please destroy my misery and make me conquer distress.”

“The daughter of Surya Das is endowed with all good qualities. I pray to Her lotus-feet: ‘Wherever I may take my birth, that will not bother me, as long as I will not forget You even in my dreams!”

“Be so kind to me that I may always remain aware of Your lotus-feet. Please listen, for I tell you this loudly! Holding a straw between my teeth I beg from You this alm.”

Manasi Devi and Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir

21 05 2010

Jai Nitai!

As I was taking photos of the project of cleaning the Manasi Ganga  I also took darshan and photos at a number of other mandirs as well. For now I will post the photos I took at Manasi Devi Mandir and the Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir.

Manasi Devi is the the Goddess that supervises and controls the Manasi Ganga area. There are four Devis in Braj Mandal that are considered by many as the most prominent. Manasi Devi on the bank of Brahma Kund  in Govardhan,  Yogamaya Devi (zrI pAtala devI) adjacent to the Govinda Ji Mandir in Brindavan, Paurnamasi Devi near Seva Kunj in Brindavan, and Vrinda Devi in Kamyavan.

The Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir and the immediate surrounding area is known as Chakra Tirtha. It is said that Krishna’s Sudarshan Chakra is embedded in the northern bank of Manasi Ganga. The Chakra was being used at the time to protect the Brajabasis from the deluge created by Indra at the time when Krishna was holding up the entire Govardhan Parvat.

Chakalesvara Mahadeva Mandir contains a group of five lingas and a beautiful Sri Murti of Nandi sitting and facing the main shrine. This is one of the main Mahadeva Mandirs that are protecting Braja Mandal. The other ones being, Gopesvara in Brindavan, Kundesvara in Radhakund, Bhutesvara in Mathura, Nandesvara in Nanda Gaon and Kamesvara in Kamyavan.