The twin Ramesvara Mahadevas

2 06 2010

In a recent article about the guardians of Radha Kunda, I mentioned how Ramesvara Mahadeva protected the west side of the kunda. I just learned that there are actually two Ramesvara Mahadev shrines and they are side by side. If you look closely in the first photo below you can see the shrine to Shiva that I originally posted.

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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.





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
gaṅga-taraṅgotthita-bāla-candra-
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.

sutapta-cāmīkara-candra-nīla-padma-
pravālāmbuda-kānti-vastraiḥ
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.

sudhāṁśu-sūryāgni-vilocanena
tamo-bhide te jagataḥ śivāya
sahasra-śubhrāṁśu-sahasra-raśmi-
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.

nāgeśa-ratnojjvala-vigrahāya
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.

su-nūpurārañjita-pāda-padma
kṣarat-sudhā-bhṛtya-sukha-pradāya
vicitra-ratnaugha-vibhūṣitāya
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-
bhṛṅgādhipāyākhila-duḥkha-hantre

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.

śrī-gaurī-netrotsava-maṅgalāya
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.





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.





Radha Kunda photo tour…less frequented locations Pt. 1

23 12 2009

Jai Sri Radhey!

There are dozens of mandirs here at Radha Kunda. Even if you stay at Radha Kunda for a considerable amount of time there will likely be many places that remain unvisited and unexplored. I thought it would be interesting to go to many of these lesser visited mandirs and share the images and information I could obtain. I am posting the images in the order you will encounter them if doing parikrama of Radha and Shyama Kundas, but other than that the mandirs shown in this series are a random selection… I am just entering various mandirs and taking photos as the inspiration hits me. Since it is winter time many of the deities are bundled up in chadars and blankets so you can’t always get a good look at Them. I will probably want to take Their photos again after it warms up.

In the late 1600’s many original deities had to be moved to Jaipur because of Muslim invasions. Radha Kunda was a stopping point on the way.  Replicas of these mandirs were established here at Radha Kunda at that time and the worship has been going on for hundreds of years. These deities are known as pratibhU mUrti and represent the originals and are not to be considered to be different. So you can visit the seven major mandirs of Brindavan here at Radha Kunda.

The first mandir pictured is Radha Ramana.  Along with Radha Raman you will see Balaram and Revati on the altar. Also just to the left of the entrance of this mandir is Mahadeva who is guarding the north side of the kunda. You will also find the carankamala of Sri Radha there. The next two places are found off of parikrama marg by going left down the first road you encounter. There is a mandir of Sri Sri Radha Binodji that are very beautiful and then a little farther down is and what used to be the bhajan kutir of Bhakivinod Thakur and his son Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. It is called Vraja Swananda Sukada Kunja. Inside you will find some pushpa samadhis and some personal articles of Bhaktivinod. Also there is the first toilet in Radha Kunda. I was told that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati installed the toilet which was stylish in those days in hopes of getting people to use plumbing and not just go anywhere that was handy. Now if you return to parikrama marg, immediately on your left you will find Bishwambhar Mahaprabhu Mandir.