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.

Advertisements




Sri Sri 108 Siddha Radha Charan Das Babaji

11 08 2009
Sri Sri 108 Siddha Radha Charan Das Babaji Maharaj

Sri Sri 108 Siddha Radha Charan Das Babaji Maharaj

Amar Rajani Jyetha
Jai Nitai!
Our param-gurudev Sripad Ramdas Babaji Maharaj had many siddha disciples and of those who did their
bhajan in Brindavan two were particularly dear to him. Siddha Gauranga Das Babaji and Siddha Radha
Charan Das Babaji, the latter was commonly known as Rajani Baba. Siddha Gauranga Das Babaji is much
more well known, mostly due to the fact that his hagiography was included in Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor’s book,
Braja ke bhakta, or the Saints of Braja. Both of the above-mentioned Babaji’s are my gurudeva’s gurubhais,
so from now on I will refer to them as “jyetha” which means uncle in Bengali. Both of them were very close
and loved each other like brothers.
Rajani Jyetha’s father was great Vaisnava and a scholar. Bijoy Krishna Goswami would come to his house to
hear his Hari-katha. In fact, Bijoy Krishna Goswami was in their house and was present for the birth of
Rajani Jyetha, and he predicted that he would become a great Vaisnava. At a very early age, Rajani Jyetha
took to the yoga-marg and quickly attained Brahma-jnana, realizing Sri Krishna in His form as the all-
pervading Brahman. During this time he was with the Indian Freedom Fighing movement and the English
police arrested him and placed him in jail. While he was in his cell he performed his yoga practice. Some of
the Government officials noticed his shakti and saintly qualities and started to cooperate with him by
providing better facility for his yoga sadhana. Shortly after his release from prison he met Sripad Ramdas
Babaji and received his blessings. He surrendered to Babaji Maharaj and began doing bhajan of Nitai Gaura
Radhey Shyam.
He made very rapid advancement in bhakti and soon became siddha. Sripad Ramdas Babaji loved him very
much and was very proud of him and enjoyed talking about his early attainments. Ramdas Babaji even
used to enjoy glorifying him in front of his elder gurubhai, Gauranga Baba.
At Govinda Kund in Brindavan Rajani Jyetha has an ashram and his samadhi is located there. At one time
he resided in Sri Path Bari Ashram. My gurudeva then lived in that room after Rajani Jyetha left there to go
to Brindavan.

Jai Nitai!

Our param-gurudev Sripad Ramdas Babaji Maharaj had many siddha disciples and of those who did their bhajan in Brindavan two were particularly dear to him. Siddha Gauranga Das Babaji and Siddha Radha Charan Das Babaji, the latter was commonly known as Rajani Baba. Both of them were very close and loved each other just like brothers. Siddha Gauranga Das Babaji is much more well known, mostly due to the fact that his hagiography was included in Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor’s book, Braja ke bhakta, or The Saints of Braja. Both of the above-mentioned Babaji’s are my gurudeva’s gurubhais, so from now on I will simply refer to them as “jetha” which means uncle in Bengali.

Rajani Jyetha’s father was a great Vaisnava and a scholar. Bijoy Krishna Goswami would come to his house to hear his Hari-katha. In fact, Bijoy Krishna Goswami was in their home and was present for the birth of Rajani Jetha, and he predicted that he would become a great Vaisnava. At a very early age, Rajani Jetha took to the yoga-marg and quickly attained Brahma-jnana, realizing Sri Krishna in His form as the all-pervading Brahman. During this time he was with the Indian freedom fighing movement and the English police arrested him and placed him in jail. While he was in his cell he performed his yoga practice. Some of the Government officials noticed his shakti and saintly qualities and started to cooperate with him by providing better facility for his yoga sadhana. Shortly after his release from prison he met Sripad Ramdas Babaji and received his blessings. He surrendered to Babaji Maharaj and began doing bhajan of Nitai Gaura Radhey Shyam.

He made very rapid advancement in bhakti and soon became siddha. Sripad Ramdas Babaji loved him very much and was very proud of him and enjoyed talking about his early attainments. Ramdas Babaji even used to enjoy glorifying him in front of his elder gurubhai, Gauranga Baba. At Govinda Kund in Brindavan Rajani Jetha has an ashram and his samadhi is located there. At one time he resided in Sri Path Bari Ashram. My gurudeva  lived in that room after Rajani Jetha left there to go to Brindavan.  More about his life and lila to come…

The picture of Rajani Jyetha that hangs in my gurudeva's room in Path Bari

The picture of Rajani Jetha that hangs in my gurudeva's room at Path Bari Ashram





Siddha Manohar Das Babaji Maharaj ~ a brief bio on his tirobhav tithi

3 08 2009

Jai Nitai!

Today is the tirobhav of Sri Sri 108 Siddha Manohar Das Babaji Maharaj of Govinda Kunda. His life was a remarkable celebration of intense vairagya coupled with japa and lila-smaran. The famous Siddha Mahatma Sri Sri 108 Kishorikishorananda Das Babaji (Tin Kudi Baba) took shelter of him and was taught the process of bhajan by him. Both of them were great jewels in the Vaisnava Samaj of Brindavan illuminating the path of pure raganugiya bhajan by demonstrating it themselves in their thoughts, words, and deeds. I have put together a brief history of the life of Siddha Manohar Baba for the pleasure of the Vaisnavas while praying for his kripa so I can meet with success in my bhajan.

~Sri Sri 108 Siddha Manohar Das Babaji Maharaj~

~Sri Sri 108 Siddha Manohar Das Babaji Maharaj~

Siddha Manohara Das Babaji was born in Madhavapura in the district of Nadia in 1847 and was named Mahendra. His father was Sri Bholanatha Adhikari and mother was Pyarisundari. His mother died when he was six years old and his father died when he was thirteen. When he was six years old he had a dream that a saint came and took him to a forest, then set the forest on fire on all sides.  This dream awakened in him a distaste for material life. After the death of his father he took diksha from Sri Nandakishor Goswami, a decendent of Advaitacharya and went to Nabadwip to study Sanskrit grammar, alankara, and nyaya.

He took bhek from Sri Svarupa Das Babaji of Nabadwip and was given the name Manohar Das. While in Nabadwip he had the good fortune of enjoying the association of Siddha Caitanya Das Babaji of Nabadwip and Siddha Bhagavan Das Babaji of Kalna.

In 1881, Manohara Das Babaji went to Brindavan and for five years he studied bhakti sastras under Prabhupad Sri Gopilala Goswami the sevait of Sri Radharaman Mandir. At that time he enjoyed the association of great siddha mahatmas like Balaram Das Babaji of Jhanumandala, Jagadish Das Babaji of Kalidaha, and Nityananda Das Babaji of Madanmohan Thaur.

Afterwards he went to practice bhajan at Kusuma Sarovara, Kamyavan, and Nandagaon. Once he went to do Braj Mandal parikrama with Siddha Ramakrsna Pandita and some other mahatmas. Though he eventually selected a secluded spot for his place of bhajan, he was forced to leave the place out of fear of Muslim troublemakers. In 1893, after receiving instruction in a dream, he went to Govindakund to settle for good and live at the base of Giriraj. Siddha Ramakrishna Pandit lived in nearby Pucchari at the time, so often they would get together for Hari-katha. During this time many Vaisnavas came to sit at his feet to learn Srimad Bhagavatam.

In 1915 Manohar Baba built a cave in Govindakund in which he lived and performed his bhajan. He came out only in the evening for madhukari. He slept for only one or two hours per day. The rest of the time he spent doing japa and lila-smaran. It is said that he did no less than seven lakhs of japa daily. He avoided the company of people and spoke very little. He was very humble and bowed to all and never allowed anyone to touch his feet. He was so absorbed in his bhajan that he was mostly unaware of his body at all. Sadhus would sometimes suggest that he use a mosquito net at night, but he said, “mosquitoes don’t do any harm to us. They help us in bhajan by keeping away sleep.”

Once it became extremely cold at night in Braja with the temperatures dropping below the freezing point. Baba used to wear only rags to cover his body. His body began to shiver and shake which created an obstacle to his bhajan. Getting angry with his body he removed his clothing and jumped in the icy-cold waters of Govindakund. A sadhu living nearby checked on Baba to find out what all the commotion was about. Baba replied, “The body was asking for more clothes, it’s always demanding something, it needed to be disciplined.” The sadhu told Baba that the cold is very severe and that he needed to use a blanket, but Baba said, “Bairagis, who have renounced the world have no business using blankets.”

Manohar Das Babaji’s wholehearted and determined application to bhajan and his complete indifference to worldly affairs was profound and proverbial. Demonstrating intense bairagya and deep absorption in japa and lila-smaran he set an example for sadhakas of how bhajan is to be performed. Siddha Sri Kishorikishorananda Babaji (Tin Kudi Goswami) took shelter of him and learned bhajan from him. The same kind of bairagya and absorption in japa and smaran were seen in his behavior as well.

“Manohara Dasa Baba used to say that bhajan is not possible without the complete surrender at the feet of the Lord and total dependence upon Him. It is only in the state of utter dependence on Him that one enjoys the calmness of mind which is necessary for bhajan: A mind that is disturbed by various kinds of worldly anxiety is not fit for bhajan.”

He defined bhajan as: A state in which the mind is constantly absorbed in meditation of the Lord and revolts at the thought of everything else as poison”.

He also said: “One must be firm in bhajan. To a man who practises bhajan steadfastly and with all his heart and soul, staking for it his life and everything else, obstacles begin to appear as illusory as the ‘horns of a hare.’ The Lord Himself makes the path of bhajan smooth for him. But this does not happen in a day; both perseverence and patience are necessary.”

He wrote two books. One pertaining to Krishna-lila titled, vaidagdhI-vilAsa and a book about Harinam titled, nAmratna-mAlA.

In 1947  on the 13th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Sravana (July-August) he entered nitya-lila.