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.

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Renovations at Radhakund Updated

18 12 2009

Jai Radhey!

The work has been going on steadily. The south and west walls are nearly complete. There is a new arch across from Gopi Kupa that spans the walkway leading to Shyam Kund. The arch by Tamaltala is close to completion. Now they have started work on the marg around the kundas. Parikrama marg around the kundas is blocked off and car traffic is not allowed for now. They have torn up the road down to bare ground from Radha Brajamohan Mandir all the way to the intersection on the southwest corner of Radhakund near Kundeshwar Mahadeva and are beginning to pour concrete. So far the concrete goes from Nitai Gaura Mandira and should be up to the intersection by the end of the day.





Renovations at Radhakund

1 12 2009

Jai Sri Radhey! Renovations have started at Radhakund. The marble walkways, which were slippery when wet and extremely hot in the summer sun, are being replaced with sandstone.  The walls surrounding the kunda are getting chipped away and decorative stone pieces are being installed. A new archway is now in the northwest corner of the kunda and the exterior of Kunjabihari Ji Mandir is nearly completed. When I find out more details of the work being done and more progress is made I will share it here.





Rajarshi Banamali Roy and Rajbari ~ Jagadbandhu and Radharaman Charan Dev

21 11 2009

Rajarshi Banamali Roy

The great zamindar of Tarash in the district of Pabana, Sri Banamali Roy was born in 1863. Shortly after his birth, his mother and father gave him up in adoption to Raja Banavari Lala, the zamindar of Tarash, and they went to Brindavan to do bhajan. Banavari Lala died when Banamali Roy was only 17 years of age. The heavy responsibility of being the zamindar of Tarash rested on his shoulders. He was a good and kind landlord and he started to open hospitals and schools, and dug wells and did many other things to help the people under his care.

He received the samskars of a sadhu from his parents. At first he became attracted to the Brahma Samaj and their meditation on the formless absolute, but later he became a great Vaisnava by the influence of Prabhu Jagadbandhu Sundar. One day in Pabana he was traversing the highway in a royal fashion, riding upon a decorated elephant, and surrounded by guards and other attendants when he happened upon Prabhu Jagadbandhu performing kirtan and dancing among hundreds of devotees. Banamali Roy got off of his elephant, removed his shoes and joined in the kirtan. As if under a spell he was dancing and singing with his arms raised above his head. When the kirtan was finished he came to Jagadbandhu and offered his obeisance at his feet and asked him to visit him at his residence.

After hearing the kirtan of Jagadbandhu, an extreme change came over him. He felt the bliss of bhakti overwhelming his heart and attracting his mind. Jagadbandhu came to his house and stayed for several days and instructed him in the path of raganuga-bhakti. Now Banamali Roy’s heart turned towards Vinod-Vinodini. Previously Banamali Roy had no interest in serving the deities of his father, the Raja Banavari Lala. Banavari Lala’s life and soul was Vinod-Vinodini, but after his passing they were neglected because Banamali did not believe in the worship of Sri Murti. Please read the excellent blog post on the lila of Vinod-Vinodini written by my gurusister Bisakha Dasi for the entire story.

Jagadbandhu Prabhu first came to Brindavan in 1890 at the request of Banamali Roy. He stayed there for about 6 months mostly at the mandir of Vinod-Vinodini that Banamali established. Jagadbandhu travelled throughout India and reportedly even went to Paris between the years 1890-92 and then returned to Brindavan to stay with Banamali Roy. Banamali was elated to see the unspeakably charming appearance of Prabhu Bandhusundar again. All of the mahatmas of Brindavan were attracted to Prabhu. One day while standing before a tamarind tree, Jagadbandhu told Banamali that the tree was a great soul and that he would leave the body of the tree the next day at 1 p.m. Banamali arranged for Harinam Sankirtan to be sung for 24 hours around the tree as instructed by Jagadbandhu and at the time predicted the tree fell over and died. On another occasion Jagadbandhu saw the parents of a dead boy weeping bitterly at the cremation ground. Feeling compassion for the plight of the parents, Jagadbandhu said to the dead child, “Re lala, lala, lala” (Oh dear child, Oh dear child) and revived the boy. The boy then consoled his parents by explaining the transitory nature of the world and that nobody is related to anybody. Only God is permanent so you should worship the Lord with all your heart. After saying these words the boy again returned to the state of death.

Banamali Roy was a central figure among the community of Vaisnavas living in Braja. Many, many Vaisnava mahatmas graced his home with their presence, kirtan and Hari-katha. Banamali served the Vaisnavas and Brajabasis with his wealth. He built a hospital and opened a school for teaching bhakti-sastras and arranged for free lodging and free food for the students. He started a printing press where he printed the Srimad Bhagavatam with eight commentaries and other books as well, which were given for free to the sadhus and Vaisnavas. This was an extremely amazing time in Braja. There were many siddha-mahatmas living there during this period. Banamali Roy had the great good fortune of meeting and serving them and they showered their blessings upon him. Some of the more well known personalities were Sri Radhikanath Goswami, Sri Bijoy Krishna Goswami, Sri Gaurakishor Siromani, Sri Ramahari Das Babaji, Sri Krishnasundar Roy, Sri Jagadish Das Babaji, Sri Ramakrishna Pandit Baba and of course, Sri Jagadbandhu Sundar Prabhu. He also attained the association of my parat-para guru, Sri Radharaman Charan Das Dev who spent a great deal of time with him and profusely showered his blessings upon him too. Rajarshi Banamali Roy established a mandir called Rajbari at Radhakund. Vinod-Vinodini used to stay there, but after some time they wanted to return to Brindavan. Two brothers came to stay at Rajbari and they each brought their own deities, Sri Sri Radha-Govindadev and Sri Sri Radha-Madana Gopal, who still reside there today. The samadhi of Sri Banamali Roy can be found behind the mandir. It is just steps away from Sri Shyam Kund. The pictures in this post were taken by me yesterday. I spoke with the pujari Sri Rasika Mohan Sharma and he told me a little of the history of Rajbari and Banamali Roy. He is also well known as an astrologer.

Entrance of Rajbari

Inside the mandir

Sri Sri Radha-Govinda and Sri Sri Radha-Madangopal

Portrait of Rajarshi Banamali Roy and Prabhu Jagadbandhu Sundar on the altar at Rajbari

The pujari Sri Rasika Mohan Sharma

The samadhi of Rajarshi Banamali Roy

Another view of the samadhi of Banamali Roy

In The Life of Love (Carit Sudha) some of the interaction of Radharaman Charan Dev with Banamali Roy is described in the following chapters:

TALKS AND REJOICINGS IN RADHAKUNDA

One day Sri Kamini Kumara Ghosh, the manager of Rajrshi Banamali Raibahadur came to Baba Mahashaya and said, “I have come to invite you on behalf of Sriyuta Banamali Babu to his house in Radhakunda on the occasion of Gopashtami , when his Thakura, Vinoda and Vinodini will go into the forest to celebrate Gopashtami. Baba Mahashaya said, “I will be too happy to go and have the darshan of Radhakunda, Shyamakunda, Vinoda-Vinodini  and Their devo­tee Rajarshi Banamali Babu.”

The next day Baba Mahashaya started for Radhakunda with his companions. When Banamali Babu was informed that Baba Mahashaya had reached Manasi Ganga, he went forward with Haricharan Das Babaji, Rasika Das Babaji, Vishnu Das Babaji, Nityananda Das Babaji and a number of other ma­hatmas to receive them in a garden, half way between Kusum­sarovara and Radhakunda. From the garden he brought them to Radhakunda and, after they had made obeisance to Radhakunda and Shyamakunda, to the Temple of Vinoda and Vinodini in his house. Baba Mahashaya kept looking at Their beautiful faces for some time and then started singing songs in Their praise. Tears flowed from his eyes and sattvika-bhavas appeared all over his body. After sometime he controlled his bhava and at the insistence of Banamali Babu sat down to take shital-bhoga with others. Baba Mahashaya first put a morsel of the shital-bhoga into the mouth of Haricharan Das Babaji. Haricharan Das Babaji put a morsel from his pattal (leaf-plate) into the mouth of Baba Mahashaya. In this way Baba Mahashaya fed a morsel to everyone and everyone fed a morsel to him. Everyone was overwhelmed with a feeling of joy mixed with love, he had never experienced before. Baba Mahashaya was by nature ever so joyful and mirthful, so loving and lovable that by his every single act, he seemed to disseminate joy and love and win the hearts of people he met.

Rajarshi Banamali Raibahadur had arranged for the stay of Baba Mahashaya and his companions in the Madanamohana Temple and for their mahaprasad at his own place. So, they went and stayed in Madanamohana Temple. The next morn­ing Baba Mahashaya asked his companions to bathe in the Radhakunda three times every day and also to circumambulate Radhakunda and Shyamakunda and prostrate before the kuti of each mahatma living on the bank of the kunda.’

At about 7:30 a.m. Rajarshi came and said, “Today is Gopashtami. Vinoda-Vinodini will go to the garden between Radhakunda and Kusum-sarovara to celebrate the occasion. I have come to request you kindly to accompany Them.”

Baba Mahashaya was happy to hear this. After sometime he reached Rajarshi’s Rajbari (palace), where Ramahari Das Babaji, Madhava Das Babaji, Haricharan Das Babaji, Rasika Das Babaji and others were waiting for him. As soon as he reached there they stood up and took him and his companions to a room adjoining the Temple of Vinodaji. Since all of them did lila-smarana, they started talking about the lila. They requested Baba Mahashaya to say something about lila. Baba Mahashaya said, “Baba, what can I say about lila? Let me see if by your blessings Yogamaya Devi inspires some lila in my heart.” As he said this he was overwhelmed with bhava and, as if possessed by Yogamaya, began to narrate an amorous lila of Radha-Krishna slowly in a manner, which showed that he actually saw the lila as he described it. Tears flowed from his eyes and sattvika-bhavas appeared all over his body. Everybody heard like one bound by a spell. Everyone lost outward consciousness and seemed to enjoy the lila as he had never enjoyed it before. As the talk was going on someone came and said, “Bhoga has been offered. Mahaprasad is ready.” Rajarshi said, “Baba, we have to go for mahaprasad.” Baba Mahashaya clapped happily and said, “I am ready, I love mahaprasad as I do not love anything else. It is on account of my love and lobha for mahaprasad that I live in Puri and call Jagannath Dev ‘Baba.’ It is the same lobha that has brought me here. Let us go. I go ahead.” Ramahari Das Babaji said, “Baba, I am your uncle. My lobha is greater. I must go ahead of you.”

RAJARSHI BANAMALI ROY’S VISIT TO PURI

One day Baba Mahashaya received a letter from Shyama Das Babaji. The purport of the letter was as follows:

“Vrindavan is at present suffering from the scourge of plague. Many Vrajavasis are running away from Vrindavan and Govardhana and coming to Kusum-sarovara, which is so far free from the epidemic. Banamali Babu has shifted to Calcutta with Vinoda-Vinodini and his family. Sripada Radhakanat Goswami, Haricharan Das Babaj i, Nityananda Das Babaji, Rasika Das Babaji etc., have all gone with him. Kindly let me know what I should do.”

Baba Mahashaya could not remain calm, when he came to know about the suffering of the Vrajavasis. He burst into tears. After some time he wrote to Shyama Das Baba as follows:

“Jai Nitai-Gaura!

Brother Shyama Das, I received your letter. The plague should be taken as Radharani’s device for testing the faith of the people in Vraja. She wants to know whether they are attached more to Vraja or to their body. Whatever happens you should not leave Vraja. You only do trisandhya-kirtan with the Vrajavasis and rest assured that plague will not touch you. If possible try to come to Puri before Ratha­Yatra.”

A few days before Ratha-Yatra Shyama Das, Pandit Haricharan Das and Nityananda Das came to Puri and stayed with Baba Mahashaya in the Math. Soon after a letter was received from Banamali Roy Bahadur saying that he would reach Puri with Vinoda-Vinodini and his family before Ratha­Yatra. This was followed by a telegram from Kamini Babu to Pandit Haricharan Das asking him to arrange for a suitable accommodation for Rajarshi at Puri. Haricharan Das started his search for a suitable accommodation, but could not find any. In utter helplessness he requested Baba Mahashaya to help. Baba Mahashaya said, “You need not worry. So many Raja-Maharajas come to Puri. They are all accommodated somehow somewhere. Jagannath does not turn anyone away. Let Rajarshi come. We shall see what can be done. It is also possible that he may stay in the Math and may not like to go anywhere else.”

Another telegram came next morning saying that Rajarshi Banamali Babu was reaching Puri next morning. Pandit Haricharan Baba went to Baba Mahashaya in a flurry and said, “Look here! Rajarshi is coming tomorrow morning and you have not done anything to accommodate him.”

Baba Mahashaya said, “Why are you so much worried? It is not so easy for big men like him to move out. It is likely that you get another telegram saying that Rajarshi has stomach­ache, which prevents him from starting today.”

Panditji: That is not possible, because they have pur­chased tickets.

Babaji: There is nothing that is not possible.

At five o’clock in the evening Panditj i received another telegram. He read it and was stunned. He remained standing still for some time. Then he rushed to Baba Mahashaya and fell at his feet. He said, “Baba! Forgive me for blaming you for your indifference with regard to Banamali Babu’s visit.”

Babaji: Why? What has happened? Whose telegram is that?

Panditji: Kamini Babu’s.

Babaji: Read.

Panditji: You know it already.

Babaji: Shyama Das, you read.

Shyama Das began to read: “All of a sudden Rajarshi has developed severe stomachache. So we are not leaving today.”

This was followed by another telegram saying, “We have started today.” They arrived next morning. As soon as they reached Jhanjapita Math and went to Baba Mahashaya’s room, Rajarshi and his wife said, after making obeisance to him, “Baba, we shall stay in this room and not go anywhere else.”

Lalita Sakhi Dasi: This room is too small and not properly ventilated. How will you live in it?

Banamali: I have not come here for Jagannath darshan or any other purpose. My purpose is to enjoy the company of Baba Mahashaya to my heart’s content.

Then no one could say anything. Baba Mahashaya asked Lalita Dasi to vacate the room for them and shift his own things elsewhere.

Banamali Babu suffered from dyspepsia. He could hardly digest even old rice bound in a piece of cloth and boiled in half litre of water. Therefore someone asked Baba Mahashaya in his presence about arrangement to be made regarding his food. Baba Mahashaya replied, “No special arrangement. Since he is now an Ashram-vasi he will eat whatever is prepared in the Ashram with the other Ashramites after all other Vaishnavas have been fed.” Then he said to Banamali Babu, “Look, as long as you live in the Ashram, you will not spend a single paisa of your own.”

Banamali Babu said, “Baba, I shall abide by your wish, for am I not your own?”

Since Ratha-Yatra was near, a large number of people had come from outside and were staying in the Math. Everyday food had to be cooked for about two hundred and fifty people. Cooking took a lot of time and by the time the Vaishnavas had eaten it used to be 3 p.m. At that time Baba Mahashaya sat down to eat with Banamali Babu and the Babaj is. It is surprising that though Banamali Babu was accustomed neither to the time of the meal nor the variety of things he had to eat, he digested everything well and his health was sound as long as he stayed in the Ashram.

Ratha-Yatra arrived and the usual ceremonies began. Baba Mahashaya’s kirtans in front of the ratha were, as usual, the greatest attraction of the occasion. This time the participation of Rajarshi Banamali Roy and his Babaji companions in the kirtans added an additional charm to it. For them, however, the company of Baba Mahashaya was more important than any­thing else. They spent all their time with him either in kirtan or in conversation, in which his repartees were not only enjoyable but enlightening and inspiring. During the conver­sation they got an opportunity to ask him questions regarding some of the most knotty problems, which defied their un­derstanding, and invariably got a satisfactory answer.





Radha kunda evening of June the 22nd

22 06 2009

Jai Radhey!

Tonight there was a special appearance of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Kumari Mayawati. She flew over Radha kunda in a helicopter several times and showered rose petals over the kunda and the devotees. This event attracted large crowds of people.





Radhakund samskar evening of June 20

20 06 2009

Jai Jai Sri Radhey!

Despite Nagara Sri Krishna’s endeavours, Srimati’s mana was not broken. She just stubbornly sat there, covering her head with her veil. The rejected Nagara thought of different means to break Srimati’s mana. Suddenly it came to him, “Aho! I am standing on the bank of Sri Radhakund! By the grace of the kunda I will be showered with the grace of Sri Kundesvari!”

In this way some glimmer of hope illuminated the desperate heart of Krishna. He bathed in Sri Radhakund, picked flowers from the trees and vines on its banks and kneeled on the jewelled steps leading down to the kunda. The flowers he collected were moistened with the tears of his love and he gently threw them into the kunda with devotion as an offering. He made obeisances to the kunda and prayed. “O Sri Radhakund! May I get the merciful glance of your Isvari by your grace!” One sakhi who witnessed the activities of Nagara Krishna ran to Srimati’s kunja and told her of Krishna’s loving seva to her kunda. This made tears of compassion trickle from her lotus-like eyes. The sakhis understood that Srimati was pleased with Krishna again, and her mana was broken so they quickly brought him to her kunja. Kundesvari being pleased with this servant of her kunda cast a merciful glance filled with love upon him. Nagara Krishna understanding that his service of the kunda was successful, considered himself blessed and the sakhis and manjaris were also blessed by seeing the sweet meeting of the Yugal.





Radhakund samskar morning of June 20

20 06 2009

Jai Sri Radhey!

Most of the Vaisnavas assemble in the evenings to do the seva of Radhakund. This morning only one line of devotees assembled for seva.