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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

For all Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Vrndavana is the topmost place of sadhana bhajan. Sri Krishna Caitanya Himself set the example of staying here for four months, totally immersed in gopi-bhava i.e. Radha’s premonmada mahabhava.

Roaming around Vraja, Mahaprabhu went mad searching for that elusive King of love divine, the all-attractive, Master of sweet bliss eternal—Sri Krishna! After partially recovering from His eternal swoon of love in separation from Syama, Gaurahari left Vraja and returned to His circle of loving friends.

In great ecstasy, Gauranga then ordered His antaranga bhaktas, the six Goswamis, to go live in Vrndavana—serve, search and cry for Krishna, and teach others to do the same.

For fifty-years or more of their manifest presence, the Goswamis—Sri Rupa, Sanatana, Bhatta, Gopala and Dasa Raghunatha, and Sri Jiva—LIVED IN VRNDAVANA. They showed the ideal of Radha-Krishna sadhana bhakti for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

Their lives, books, bhajans, and eternal blessings teach us how to live in Vrndavana in the mood of Srimati Radharani’s eternal maidservants i.e. dasis, manjaris. Like the Goswamis, the fervent, hankering bhaktas will internally serve Radhika with their minds, and externally through bhajan, tears and endless prayers to see Her beloved sweet Syama.

Jai Jai Sri Radhe

Ten Phenomenal Powers

To encourage everyone to live in Vrndavana doing Krishna bhakti sadhana, Sri Rupa, the very form of Sri Radha’s beauty and compassion, wrote extensively about the glories of Sridhama Vrndavana. In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Sri Rupa Goswamipada describes ten uniquely astonishing attributes of Vrndavana, unavailable anywhere else in the universe!

1) All in Vraja! Other Yatras Not Needed

In Adi Purana, Bhagavan Sri Krishna says:

mathuram -ca -parityajya,
yon -yatra -kurute -ratim
mudho -bhramati -samsara,
mohita -mama -mayaya

“Only a fool, wandering in samsara and bewildered by My maya, will leave Vrndavana out of attraction to go somewhere on a yatra.” (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.211)

One might argue, “But Bharata-bhumi is filled with all kinds of sacred places, tirthas, and dhamas like Prayaga, Puskara, Haridvara, Kanchi, Dvaraka, Ayodhya, Sri Rangam, Ramesvaram, and Badrinatha. So why can’t we go on tirtha yatras to see all these wonderful places?”

Of course, anyone can go; there is no law against it. Indeed, these sacred places can purify one and even grant mukti. But why leave Braja, since the Six Goswamis never did that once they settled here? They stayed 24/7 in Vrndavana and quoted so many sastras to encourage others to live here too.

In fact, Sri Rupa Goswamipada’s “Sri Mathura Mahatyam” contains over four-hundred Vedic verses proving the supreme efficacy of Braja vasa, and the incredible benefits of living and dying here.

To establish Vrndavana Dhama above all the other sacred places like those listed above, Sri Rupa Goswamipada quotes the Padma Purana on residing in Mathura/Vrndavana:

anyesu –punya -tirthesu
muktir -eva –maha -phalam
muktaih -prarthya -harer -bhaktir
mathurayam tu labhyate

“Mukti is the topmost fruit to be gained at other sacred places. But HARI BHAKTI, which even the liberated desire, is only attainable in Mathura/Vrndavana!”

aho -madhu -puri -dhanya
vaikunthac -ca -gariyasi
dinam -ekam -nivasena
harau -bhaktih -prajayate

“Aho! Wow! The sweet land of Mathura/Vrndavana is most auspicious and even superior to Vaikuntha. By staying here only one day, Hari bhakti will appear! (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 1.2.135, 137)

In the following, most beautiful, poetic and musical Sanskrit verse, Sri Rupa Goswamipada summarizes nine more powers of Braja, elaborately described in the Puranas (khyatam-puranesu-na-vistara-bhiyocyate). In these nine ways, Mathura/Vrndavana fulfil desires.

sruta- smrta –kirtita -ca
vanchita- preksita -gata
sprsta- srita sevita -ca
mathur -abhista -da -nrnam

“[Due to the unlimited power of Vrndavana], anyone can fulfil their cherished desires [for Krishna’s eternal service] simply by:

2) Hearing about Vrndavana (sruta).

3) Remembering Vrndavana (smrta).

4) Glorifying Vrndavana (kirtita).

5) Desiring Vrndavana (vanchita).

6) Seeing Vrndavana (preksita).

7) Visiting Vrndavana (gata).

8) Touching Vrndavana (sprsta).

9) Living in Vrndavana (asrita).

10) Serving Vrndavana (sevita).”

Sri Jiva Goswami’s commentary

“The word preksita (#6) means seeing Vrndavana from a distance, or going near but without direct contact. Srita (#9) means accepting Vrndavana as one’s shelter [residence]. Sevita (#10) means serving Vrndavana by cleaning, beautifying, repairing old temples, etc.

The items in this list fulfil the desires of all beings with successively increasing power. Thus, the last item, sevita, serving Vrndavana is the most powerful!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das comments:

Regarding (#9), living in Vraja, in Padma Purana (Patala-khanda), Sri Rudra says to Sri Parvati:

aho -madhu -puri -dhanya
yatra –tisthati -kamsaha
tatra -deva -munih -sarve
vasam -icchanti -sarvada

“Aho! Wow! The sweet land of Mathura/Vrndavana, where Kamsari Sri Krishna resides eternally, is so valuable and fortunate. Even all the munis and devas desire to always live there.” (Laghu Bhagavatamrta I.5.433)

Thus, the conclusion of sastra, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the example and teachings of the six Goswamis is that Gaudiya Vaisnavas should live in and serve Vrndavana, while continually practicing raganuga bhakti bhajan in the mood and manner of the sakhi/manjaris of Srimati Radharani in Goloka Vrndavana.

Sridhama Vrndavana vasa ki jai! Six Goswamis ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Welcome all lovers of Vrindavana! This is Part Seven of our continuing series of articles glorifying Sridhama Vrindavana. Vraja [aka Vrindavana] is the divine realm wherein Sri Krishna loves, plays and sports with all and everyone. If you simply visit Vraja or live in Vraja, Gopala will enchant your heart by His sweet love, beauty, charm and naughty playfulness.

Filled with thousands of temples, Vrindavana is known as a “temple town”. In fact, the entire 168 sq. mile area of Vraja Mandala is adorned with thousands of temples, sacred places, mountains, rivers, lakes and bathing tanks.

Bhakti-ratnakara, a 500-year-old holy book penned by Gaudiya Acarya Sri Narahari Chakravarti, describes over 300 different inhabited villages still existing today in Vraja Mandala. Each village is named after and commemorated to a particular amazing pastime of Sri Krishna which occurred there.

Vraja Dhama ki jai ho! This is such a unique and captivating sacred place. In every square mile of Vraja Mandala, one can visit two villages named after a divine lila that Sri Krishna enacted there 5,000 years ago! Here in Vraja, every step is a celebration of love leading us from village to village, lila-to-lila, and on into Krishna’s heart.

These articles are meant to increase attract everyone more and more and more to this most astonishing, wonderland of pure love and never ending play. Sri Krishna’s pastime villages will be grouped by area like Kamavana, Govaradhana, Varsana, etc. The villages will be listed by their modern names. The origin of that name will appear in brackets after its English translation.

Sri Vraja Dhama ki jai!

Vraja Dhama! O, What an amazing sacred place? In every square mile of Vraja Mandala, one can visit two villages named after a divine lila that Sri Krishna enacted there 5,000 years ago! Here in Vraja, every step is a celebration of love leading us from village to village, lila to lila, and on into Krishna’s heart.

Nandagaon & Kokilavana Area Lila Villages

Now come, let us wander through the northern area of Vraja Mandala around Nandagrama to uncover more hidden lila sthalis full of bliss.

** Kosi (Kosikalan)
While waiting here in a kunja, Radhika pretends not to recognize Her eternal beloved when Syama knocks on the bamboo door.

“Who is that?”, Sri Radha tauntingly says from behind the door.
Krishna: I am Krishna.
Radha: O, a black snake has come here to bite Me? Just go from here, slither into the forest and leave Me alone. [word Krishna means black snake]
Krishna: No Priyaji, listen it’s Me—Ghanasyama!
Radha: O, no, no, no! I don’t want any thick rain clouds [ghanasyama] drenching My kunja!
Krishna: Come on Kisori, I am Cakri, wielder of the Sudarsana cakra.
Radha: Sorry, no need, My father has thousands of water pots [cakri].
Krishna: I am Madhusudana.
Radha: There are no blossoming flowers inside this kunja, little bee [madhusudana], so just fly away to some white flowers and drink some honey.
Krishna: What are You saying? It’s Me, Hari, your dearest!
Radha: I am very afraid of being scratched and bitten by a lion [hari]. So just run away somewhere into a deep forest!

May we someday come to Kosi, and hear this wonderful joking pastime of Lila Yugala, Radha Govinda.

** Nari-Semaré (near Chata)
These are two combined villages (Nari & Semari), of which, Semari is the residence of Syamala, a friendly sakhi of Radha. Here, Srimati Radhika is feeling so angry and jealous with Krishna that none of the sakhis even Her confidante Visakha-sakhi can break it. As advised, Krishna arrives disguised as a beautiful girl playing a vina.

Marvelling at her beauty and virtuosity in music, mystified Madhuri asks, “O sakhi, what is Your name and where are you from?”

Krishna [sakhi] “My name is Syamari. I am a celestial Kinnari, and I have come to entertain You.”

To reward Syamari for her stunning performance, Radha starts to drape a costly diamond necklace around Syamari’s lovely neck.

But Syamari [Krishna], immediately lifts her arms to stop Radha while begging with folded palms, “O sakhi, I don’t need a diamond necklace. I just want You to give up your sulky angry mood [maan].” Seeing through the ruse, Radha immediately wraps Ramana in a tight loving embrace while all the sakhi/manjari’s cheer:

“Jai Jai Sri Radheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee—SYAMA!” Thus the village is named.

** Baithäna (Baithana)
Name derived from baithaka [sit]. Here Nanda Baba, Upananda and the village chiefs sit down to discuss the welfare of Krishna, Baladeva and all Vrajavasis in Baba’s kingdom. It’s said that the love and hospitality of Vrajavasis here was so amazing, that only in this village did Sri Sanatana Goswami stay for more than one night as he wandered around Vraja Mandala.

** Rasauli Grama
Near Kotvana and Chota Bhaitan. Puranas say this village is the actual, original site of the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.29-33) Maha Rasa Lila. Hence the name Rasa-uli.

In 2017, Sri Pandit Baba personally showed us this lila sthali, with its Rasa mandala, forests and small “Yamuna” river meandering between its sandy banks. Indeed, a very beautiful, tranquil divine spot.

** Kamara [blanket/lust]
Village name is derived from a lila involving a woollen blanket and divine, spiritual desire or love [kama]. Feeling extremely eager to meet Priyaji and all the gopis, Priyatama Syama summons them all to His side. Radhika and the playful sakhis decide to play a trick on Krishna. Without Syama seeing, the sakhis snatch Krishna’s favorite black blanket [kari kamara] and hide it.

Not finding it, Krishna goes home to complain to Maa Yasoda: “Maiya, while I was grazing cows just now, the pesky sakhis stole My blanket. When I ask them to return it, they say, ‘O Kanhaiya, I saw Your old blanket floating in the Yamuna.’ Maa, another sakhi then says, ‘Hey Gopala, I saw a cow eating Your blanket.’ A third sakhi then teases Me, saying, ‘If you dance for me, then I will buy You a new blanket.’

Maa Yasoda caresses Gopala to her bosom, and says, “O Lala, don’t worry, just go back, and I am sure the gopis will return your blanket.” Upon returning, the gopis give back the black blanket, and then lead Syama into a dark, shady Keli Nikunja to dive in the waves of Radha’s mysteriously sweet love.

Krishna Kanhaiya ki jai! Radha Govinda Yugala ki jai!

** Basosi
Village near Sesasayi. When Krishna comes here, the bees hover all around Syama, smelling the sweeter than sweet fragrance of Krishna’s transcendental form. Basa means fragrance and so the village name, Basosi.

While throwing colors on each other here during Holi, Krishna and the gopis fill the atmosphere with the beautiful flower-like, sandal-scented, natural fragrance of Their beautiful limbs.

** Paya-gaon
10 km. east of Kosi. Feeling hungry because His tiffin has not come, Krishna, Dou and all the gopas do madhukari here, and drink the milk [paya] loving offered by the sweet hands of the Vrajavasis.

** Sesasayi
While sporting here with Srimati and the damsels of Vraja, Krishna tells the lila of Visnu lying on the snake bed of Anantasesa in the milk ocean. Entering the bhava and lila of His form as Anantasayi, Sri Krishna lies down on a huge lotus flower in the middle of a clear water lake.

Srimati adopts the bhava of Visnu’s consort, Laksmi-devi, and massages Krishna’s lotus feet. Astonished, the gopis look on and cheer, “Visnu Visnu Visnu! Syama Syama Syama! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!”

Here today, one can see a large lake called Ksirasagara.

** Kashrata
Kashrata means [exercise or wrestle]. While Radha-Krishna and the sakhis play and sport here, Radha says, “O Pranavallabha! You always boast about your strength, and how You’ve defeated the strongest gopas like Sridhama and Subala!”

Krishna interjects, “That’s right, no one in the whole universe can defeat Me!”

Radhika replies, “O yea? If that’s so, then now just wrestle with us. If by chance you defeat us, then we will believe Your boasting.”

Radha removes Her bangles, ties up Her hair, and folds Her dress. Slapping Her arms like a wrestler, Rai starts tussling with Syama. Within minutes, Radhika easily pins Krishna on the earth. Then all the sakhi/manjaris clap their hands excitedly while crying out happily, “Jai Sri, Jai Sri, Jai Sri Radhe!”

Radha-Krishna nitya Vraja madhurya lila ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

NANDAGRAMA AREA LILA VILLAGES

Ludhauli
Village called ludhauli from lubdha which means eager. Here Radha and Shyama hankered to meet each other so Lalita arranged for it.

Pisai
While tending the cows one day, Baladeva brought water here to slake Shyama’s thirst. Village name comes from pyas ai meaning “thirst came”.

Sankhi
Village named after Shankhachuda, who was killed here by Krishna. Removing the valuable jewel from his head, Krishna arranged thru Baladeva, Madhumangala and Dhanishtha to secretly give it to Swamini.

Chata
Once Shridama and the sakhas came here to enact the pastime of a royal coronation. Sitting Shyama on a regal throne topped with an umbrella (chatra), the gopas proudly pronounced Krishna to be the reigning king of Vraja Mandala (chatra-pati). Then each boy took a different post in the new government. Balarama became the state minister. Arjuna fanned with a royal camara, Shridama held the umbrella, Madumangala pranced about as the court jester, Subala offered betel-nuts, and other sakhas became the subjects of the newly appointed King Gopala.

Umrao
This village lies just nearby Chata where Kanaiya ascended the throne. The sakhis became very angry when they heard that Hari had been honored as the Chatrapati of Vraja. Fuming with anger, Lalita-sakhi said, “Who is that person who dares to claim authority over Ishvari Radha’s kingdom? We shall retaliate against Him!”

Then she sat Rai on a beautiful throne and pronounced Radhika to be Vrindavana’s undisputed queen, umrava (now Umrao). Chitra sakhi held the umbrella over Vrindavaneshvari’s head, Vishakha fanned Radha with a camara, and Lalita, now the state minister, sat on Radha’s left. One sakhi offered betel-nuts and the rest acted as subjects.

Sitting on Her throne, Srimati commanded, “Go and conquer that person who so brazenly wants to usurp My kingdom. Bind Him with ropes and bring Him before Me.” Receiving the order of their Umrava Urjjeshvari Radha, thousands and thousands of sakhés with flower-sticks in their hands set out for battle.

Seeing an army of angry sakhis approaching, the cowherd boys Arjuna, Lavanga, Bhrnga, Kokila, Subala and Madhumaìgala ran away in all directions. One clever sakhi, however, caught the slow moving Madhumaìgala, tied him up with a mala, and brought him to the lotus feet of the Queen. Then some other gopis slapped Madhumangala’s cheeks a few times and said, “What audacity you have to try to unlawfully seize the authority of this kingdom from our Umrava? Now we will severely punish you!”

Like a defeated general, Madhumaìgala bowed his head and muttered, “That is only befitting. We concede defeat, but please punish me in such a way that my stomach will be completely filled!” Slightly laughing, Maharani Madhuri said, “This is just some gluttonous brahmana, so sakhis stuff his stomach with laddus and let him go!”

Returning to Chatra-pati Maharaja, Madhumangala, pretending to cry, told Krishna everything about his humiliating detention. After hearing this, Krishna, Madhu and the sakha army invaded Umrao. Upon seeing Shyama, Rai-vinodini became quite embarrassed and quickly tried to remove Her royal dress. The sakhis, however, laughed uproariously and prevented Radha from doing that.

Madhumangala sat Chatra-pati Sri Krishna on Umrava Sundari’s right side. Somehow Radha and Krishna signed a peace treaty, wherein Shyama submitted to Sriji’s sovereignty. Coming before Srimati, Madhumangala folded his hands and said humorously, “The kingdom of Kanu’s body is now under Your rule. You can take whatever You desire from Him.”

Dhanashinga
This is village is named after Dhanishtha Sakhi, who stayed here. She has more affection for Krishna, (krishna sneha-adhika), than for Radharani. Dhanistha Sakhi serves Krishna in various ways in the home of Nanda Baba and Yashoda. She especially acts as a messenger to arrange for Shyama’s meetings with Sarvanga-sundari Radha.

Watch this site for more wonderland posts.

Sridhama Vrindavana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Welcome all lovers of Vrindavana! This is part five of our continuing series of articles glorifying Sridhama Vrindavana. For those who are new to this series, we will repeat the introduction, and then describe the pastime villages in NANDAGRAMA for part five.

Vraja [aka Vrindavana] is the divine realm wherein Sri Krishna loves, plays and sports with all and everyone. If you simply visit Vraja or live in Vraja, Gopala will enchant your heart by His sweet love, beauty, charm and naughty playfulness.

Filled with thousands of temples, Vrindavana is known as a “temple town”. In fact, the entire 168 sq. mile area of Vraja Mandala is adorned with thousands of temples, sacred places, mountains, rivers, lakes and bathing tanks.

Bhakti-ratnakara, a 500 year old holy book penned by Gaudiya Acarya Sri Narahari Chakravarti, describes over 300 different inhabited villages still existing today in Vraja Mandala. Each village is named after and commemorated to a particular amazing pastime of Sri Krishna which occurred there.

Vraja Dhama ki jai ho! This is such a unique and captivating sacred place. In every square mile of Vraja Mandala, one can visit two villages named after a divine lila that Sri Krishna enacted there 5,000 years ago! Here in Vraja, every step is a celebration of love leading us from village to village, lila-to-lila, and on into Krishna’s heart.

A series of articles will appear here to attract everyone more and more and more to this most astonishing, wonderland of pure love and never ending play. Sri Krishna’s pastime villages will be grouped by area like Kamavana, Govaradhana, Varsana, etc. The villages will be listed by their modern names. The origin of that name will appear in brackets after its English translation. Sri Vraja Dhama ki jai!

NANDAGRAMA & KOKILAVAN AREA LILA VILLAGES

Anjanauka
The name of this pastime village, where Sri Vishakha-sakhi forever lives, comes from the word anjana meaning eyeliner or kajala.

Once, Praneshvari sat in a hidden grove here while Her priya-sakhis adorned Her gorgeous divine form with costly jewels and ornaments. Just when they were about to apply the anjana to Kishori’s beautiful blue lotus eyes, Radhika suddenly heard the dulcet sound of Dhani Raya’s murali.

Excited and overjoyed, Sri Radha immediately ran away to meet Her Pranavallabha. When Radhika arrived, Shyama anxiously sat His precious one on a fragrant flower asana, embraced Her and eagerly relished Priya’s sublime elegance with His thirsty eyes. Shyama became very pleased to see that in Her haste to meet Him, Radhika had forgotten to apply kajala. Seizing the opportunity for Radha’s seva, Kanu then carefully applied anjana to Anuragini’s loving eyes.

Bijavari
This is the “thunderbolt village” because the name Bijavari derives from the word vidyuta-punja which means thunderbolt. Here Kanai Balai mounted uncle Akrura’s chariot to go to Mathura. Thoroughly distressed over their impending separation from Kanaiyalal, the damsels of Vraja cried out “Prananatha!” and fainted. To all observers, it seemed that many brilliant golden lightning bolts (vidyuta-punja) were striking the ground.

Parson
This village name means “the day after tomorrow”. While sitting on Akrura’s chariot, Acyuta tried to solace the saddened sakhis by saying, “I promise you that I will surely return the day after tomorrow.”

Sii
This village name comes from shighra which means soon because Sri Krishna repeatedly told the gopis, “I will return soon!”

Karehla
This village is named, not after a bitter gourd, but after a cowherd wrestler named Karahala, the father of Govardhana Malla, who sometimes stayed here with his wife Candravali.

Vrajabhumi ki jai ho! Jai Jai Sri RadheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeShyama!!!!!!!!!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

VARSANA AREA LILA VILLAGES

My wisdom teacher once said, “Prema is everywhere available in Vraja Mandala, but especially in Varsana!”

I replied, “Really, but what about Radha Kunda?”

Teacher: “Yes, of course there, BUT in Varsana—PREMA IS RAINING FROM THE SKY (prema-varsha)!!!”

Come! Let’s go to Varsana, and get drenched and completely soaked in Radha’s rain shower of mercy, compassion and love. O, What an amazing sacred place? Ahh, My Vraja Dhama!

Please, O Radhika! I beg you with tears in my eyes, “May I live here eternally in the cooling shade seva of Your sweeter than sweet lotus feet.”

In every square mile of Vraja Mandala, one can see, feel and touch two transcendental villages named after a divine lila that Sri Krishna enacted there 5,000 years ago! Here in Vraja, every step is a celebration of love leading us from village to village, lila to lila, and on into Krishna’s heart. Vraja Bhumi ki jai!

Ajhai
After Krishna bewildered Brahmaji (brahma-vimohana lila), the cowherd boys came here and exclaimed, “Today (aja) Nandulala killed the monster snake Agha!”

Jainta
In this village, Krishna is remembered for killing Aghasura. At that time, the devatas cheered happily, “All victory to Bhagavan Sri Krishna, all victory to Him!” The gopas also chimed in to saturate the sky with a tumultuous sound of “All victory (jaya:jainta), all victory!”

Sihona (now Seyano)
Upon hearing of Agha’s demise, the elderly Vrajavasis repeatedly glorified Yashodanandana saying, “Krishna is so clever, very very clever (seyano) and strong!” (Krishna seyano hoya gayo hai).

Deravali Grama
When coming from Gokula and Chattikara in route to his ancestral home in Nandagrama, Sri Nanda Baba and his clan camped (dera dala) here overnight.

Ranavadi
This amazing lila village is significant for two pastimes, and the phenomenal disappearance of Siddha Krishna Dasa Babaji around 1865 a.d.

Within the sacred transcendental kunjas of this place, Sakshat manmatha-manmatha Bhagavan Sri Krishna and Mahabhavati Srimati Radharani often enjoyed playful games and love battles (rana).

Also at this lila sthali, Krishna and His comrades once met Kishori and Her band of heavily armed sakhis. They all fought a terrible yet hilarious battle of colors; each gleefully drenching and powdering the other in a barrage of rainbow colors. “Ho Ho Holi hai!!!” Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

BAELVANA & BHANDIRAVANA LILA VILLAGES

Jai Ho! Vraja Dhama ki jai! Radharani Sarkar ki jai. In parts one and two, we wandered together through the lila villages of the Kamyavan area. Now we will visit the eastern side of Yamunaji, and hear of little lila villages near the famous lila-sthalis of Bhandiravan and Baelvan.

Vraja Dhama! O, What an amazing sacred place? In every square mile of Vraja Mandala, one can visit two villages named after a divine lila that Sri Krishna enacted there 5,000 years ago! Here in Vraja, every step is a celebration of love leading us from village to village, lila to lila, and on into Krishna’s heart.

Venuya
A sweet little lila village on the bank of Yamunaji named after Shyama’s enchanting venu flute, which Manohara played one day to steal the hearts of His darlings.

Sarakoriya
One day, Gopalaji was playing here with His gopas. Some of Krishna’s pals said, “O Gopala! We are very hungry! Could You somehow arrange to feed us some milk?” As soon as they said this, pots of fresh milk suddenly appeared all around them. The boys laughed and drank to their hearts content. In jest they started churning the milk into cream and then relished it in great bliss. In honor of this divya-lila, the village has been known for 5,000 years as Sarakoriya (saram, cream; koriya, to make).

Chaheri (today: Vijauli)
After boisterous wrestling in Bhadravana, Krishna, Balarama and the cowherd boys came here to relax in the luxurious shade and honor prasadam. Chaheri comes from chaya meaning shade.

Kinarai
One day the sakhas came here enjoyed vigorous frolicking on the banks of the Yamuna. Kinara means riverbank.

Jayapura
One day the sakhas trounced Govinda here in play. They cheered loudly in unison, “Hai! Hai! Jai! Jai! O Krishnaji! Every day You win, but today we soundly defeated You. Ha! Ha! So You must treat us with fresh cream and yogurt from Nandalaya!”

Our next magical, wonderland tour of mystical Vraja will take us to the Varshana area.

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Come, let us wander through the far western corner of Vraja Mandala to uncover more hidden lila sthalis. Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

MORE KAMAVANA AREA LILA VILLAGES:

Pashopa (cow hoofs)
In this village, Krishna and Balarama and lots of cows once slipped away from the cowherd boys and wandered from forest to forest. After sometime, the gopas realized that Krishna and Balarama had gone away somewhere. However, the clever boys followed the hoofprints (pa) of the cows (pashu) and soon found the playboy brothers, Kanai Balai.

Virara
One time Rasabihari performed the Rasa dance here with the gopis. Afterwards, the sakhis made a luxuriant soft bed of fragrant flowers for Shyama to rest upon (virara from vishrama).

Badali
Once on a sizzling hot summer day Sri Krishna sat here with all the Vrajavasis. Everyone prayed to Krishna to please do something to relieve them. Soon a cool wind appeared there and refreshing rain (badala) poured down to everyone’s delight. Ghanasyama Radhe Radhe!!

Nagala Hara Narayana
Once Sri Krishna displayed His 4 armed Vishnu form here to please Radha (Hara).

Nagala Harasukha
Once Sri Krishna satisfied (sukha) Radha (Hara) and gopis here in all respects, each according to her own desires.

Kanabada
Here the gopis once dressed Srimati Radharani as a Queen. One gopi played as Radha’s gatekeeper; another one acted as Kishori’s footservant. After sometime, Krishna, Subala, Sridama and other boys, disguised as Vraja damsels, arrived and asked the gatekeeper to allow them to meet the Queen.

The gatekeeper informed Radha of Her “guests”, and Radhajeu asked, ‘Who are they?’ (ku uhara). Hearing Kishori’s inquiry, Krishna and His pals, fearing they may get caught, slowly slipped away into the deep forest. Because Sri Krishna fled after Radhika’s inquiry, this place has been called Kanabada.

Dana
One day the sakhas saw a torn and crumpled peacock feather (dana) here. Taking that proof, they concluded that Krishna had surely danced there among some joyful peacocks.

Nagala Sita Rama
Here in order to enjoy Rama-lila, the sakhis once dressed up Sri Krishna and Radharani as Sita-Rama.

Kanabadi
One day Nandanandana came here in a maddened state, shouting, “Whose (kona) home (badi) is the home of My dear sakha?”

Papadi
In this quaint village, the sakhis once decorated the Playful Pair Radha-Madhava with a throne, crowns and garlands all handmade from flower petals (papadi).

Vanacariya
Once some sakhas sat here glorifying their bosom friend Shyama: “It appears that our Govinda always moves in the forest (vanacari) either with His cows in the day or His gopis in the night.”

Parehi
Once the sakhis prepared a beautiful kunja and then invited Krishna to come. When Krishna arrived some sakhis began laughing at Him for some reason or other. Seeing this, Krishna said, “Listen, you all bring Me to this secluded forest bower, and then start laughing at Me. If you do that again, then I will never come anymore afterwards (parehi).”

Niganya
Here the sakhis told Gokulendu, “Was that You who distracted us while we were fetching water by playing on Your captivating flute? Krishna replied, “I did not play the flute (ham nahi gaya)! Perhaps it was somebody else.”

Pai Grama
One day Radha and Krishna all the sakhis played hide-an-seek here. Krishna hid in the deep dark forest. After a long search, Priyaji and Her sakhis finally got (pai) there Priyatama here.

Tiloyara
At this place, Radha-Madhava intimately enjoyed complete bliss without a moment’s (tila; literally a sesame seed) interruption.

Vichora
Once Shyama enjoyed love sports here with His dearest sakhi Chandramukhi Radha. When departing for Their respective homes, Radha-Govinda both felt unhappy because of separation (viccheda).

Bhulavana
This is not a lila village but an unforgettable forest.

One day Krishna and the cowherd boys came here, and everyone except Krishna dove into an ocean of playing. In a forlorn mood, Krishna sat under a kadamba tree lost in thoughts of Kishori.

Subala came and said, “O sakha! What’s happening with You? Who are You contemplating? Why don’t You speak, get up and take part in the games?”

“O Subala” replied Krishna, “As soon as I think of Radha I forget (bhulano) everything else!”

Khambi
Douji often played in this village. Once to indicate that this place is on the northern frontier of Vraja, Balarama lifted a huge stone pillar (khamba) and stuck it in the ground. It is still visible today!

Hasanapura
Here the playful cowherd boys once asked Govinda, “O sakha! How did You as a tiny toddler kill that fiendish witch Putana? Laughing (hasya) heartily at their question, Krishna replied, “This was just an ordinary pastime of Mine. Who can understand the extent of My potencies? I can do anything at any time!”

Thus ends the Kamavana Area Pastimes. Next article we will discover more astonishing places and pastimes.

Sri Dhama Vrndavana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Welcome all lovers of Vrindavana! This is part one of our continuing series of articles glorifying Sridhama Vrindavana.

Vraja [aka Vrindavana] is the divine realm wherein Sri Krishna loves, plays and sports with all and everyone. If you simply visit Vraja or live in Vraja, Gopala will enchant your heart by His sweet love, beauty, charm and naughty playfulness.

Filled with thousands of temples, Vrindavana is known as a “temple town”. In fact, the entire 168 sq. mile area of Vraja Mandala is adorned with thousands of temples, sacred places, mountains, rivers, lakes and bathing tanks.

Bhakti-ratnakara, a 500 year old holy book penned by Gaudiya Acarya Sri Narahari Chakravarti, describes over 300 different inhabited villages still existing today in Vraja Mandala. Each village is named after and commemorated to a particular amazing pastime of Sri Krishna which occurred there.

Vraja Dhama ki jai ho! This is such a unique and captivating sacred place. In every square mile of Vraja Mandala, one can visit two villages named after a divine lila that Sri Krishna enacted there 5,000 years ago! Here in Vraja, every step is a celebration of love leading us from village to village, lila-to-lila, and on into Krishna’s heart.

These articles are meant to increase attract everyone more and more and more to this most astonishing, wonderland of pure love and never ending play. Sri Krishna’s pastime villages will be grouped by area like Kamavana, Varsana, etc. The villages will be listed by their modern names. The origin of that name will appear in brackets after its English translation. Sri Vraja Dhama ki jai!

KAMAVANA AREA LILA VILLAGES:

Dhuleda Gaon (gaon means village)
This village is so named, because here the whole sky filled with dust (dhuli) from the hooves of cows as Govinda drove them home.

Udha
Named after Uddhava (udha), who rested here while en route to Nandagrama to deliver Krishna’s message to the gopis.

Atora
Here Krishna, Subala, Sridama, Bhrnga and the gopas would frolic here for eight (atora) hours a day.

Bajhera
This is the appearance place of two of Radhika’s asta-sakhis, the twin sisters Rangadevi and Sudevi.

Sunahara-gaon
Sona or suna means gold and hara means Lord Shiva or take away. Here Srimati Radharani removed Her golden necklace, and offered it in worship to Mahadeva Lord Shiva.

Nagala Moti (nagala means town or village) Here Sri Krishna hung a string of pearls (moti) on the beautiful smooth neck of Kishori.

Nagala Khapana
Madhava then suddenly ran away after offering Srimati the pearl necklace. Swamini Radha asked a sakhi, “Where has Krishna suddenly gone after getting some type of message (khapara)?”

Malapura
One day while cavorting in the forest, Gopala Shyama boasted to His playmates, “I can do anything at any time!” Challenging Nandulala, the gopas said, “Ok, Gopala! Then bring us lots sweets (maala) like rabri, laddus, and kheera. And if the plate remains full even after we stuff ourselves, then we will believe you can do anything!” It came to pass and so the village is named. Even today everyone here remembers and talks about that lila of 50 centuries ago! Vrindavana Dhama ki JAI HO!

Didavali
Yashoda’s mom lived here, and thus it is famous as the village of Krishna’s grandmother (didi ma).

Ghata
Once while cow herding here, Shyama remembered the vastness (ghata) of Priyaji’s love and called out, “O Subala! Quickly bring My Praneshvari here!”

Paramadara
Once the sakhis came to this lonely village searching for Shyama. In the pangs of separation, Ishvari Radha tightly embraced a glossy black tamala tree. Then upon seeing a nearby lake, shimmering with a dark blue hue, all the sakhis fainted. Suddenly Shyama arrived and fully (parama) worshiped (adaraniya) each gopi by satisfying her every wish and whim.

Nagala Maharani
Here the sakhis sat Srimati on a throne to honor Her as the greatest Queen (maharani). They adorned Radharani with lots of flowers; played instruments; sang and danced all around chanting……. Maharani ki Jai! Radharani ki jai! Bolo Varsane walli ki jai, jai, jai!!!!

Pahalabada
Here the gopas challenged Krishna, “If alone You can defeat all of us together in a wrestling match, then we will say You are strong and powerful.” Feeling a little afraid and doubtful about their collective strength, all the sakhas started goading each other, “O bhaiya! You attack (pahela) Krishna first.” And guess what? Sri Krishna defeated everyone and became Ajita Sri Krishna ki jai!

Kalyanapura
Here all the cowherd boys once playfully offered dandavats to the Divine Duo while roaring, “Krishna Kanhaiya, Douji ka Bhaiya ki jai!!!!!!” Responding, Krishna Balarama blessed them all, saying, “May all be auspicious (kalyana) for you!”

Khona
One day to make Radhaji happy, the sakhis started laughing and jumping here in a game called “Kho” (a girl’s play). Hence the name Khonha.

Kayarika Nagala
Once while Sriji and the sakhis were playing the game of Kho here, evening arrived suddenly and covered all directions in dense darkness. While walking home to Varsana the sakhis became scared. So they called out, “O Krishna! O Prananatha! We are afraid of this darkness (kari), so quickly come save us!”

Sri Krishna then fully illuminated the road all the way to Varsana with the effulgent rays of His beautiful smile. By the mercy of Priya-Priyatama, watch here for more nectar from the Wonderful Land of Play.
Sri Dhama Vrndavana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

Since one can practice bhakti anywhere, why does Srila Rupa Goswamipada stress physically living in Vrindavana, kuryad vasam vraje sada? (Brs.1.2.295)

Why, because Vraja Dhama has the inconceivable power to quickly manifest bhava bhakti within the heart of a non-offensive sadhaka residing there, duruha adbhuta virya smin shraddha dure panchake …bhava janmane (Brs. 1.2.238)

The word panchake above refers to the five most potent, result producing limbs of sadhana bhakti, namely nama sankirtana, murti seva, sadhu sanga, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam and living in Vrindavana. Not only will one attain bhava-bhakti by Vraja vasa but also prema. Mahaprabhu explains, “Of all sadhanas, these five limbs of bhakti are the best. Krishna prema will appear in the sadhaka by even a slight association, alpa sanga, with them, sakala sadhana shreshtha ei pancha anga, krishna prema janmaya ei panchera alpa sanga.” (Cc. 2.22.128)

After reading this, the sadhakas living in Vrindavana may ask, “How is it then that I have not yet attained bhava, what to speak of prema, even though I have lived in Vrindavana for 5, 10, 15 or 25 years?”

The answer is that there is a certain type of “how to” mood of residence in Vrindavana. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura describes it: “One should live in Vraja with anuraga which means a continuous mood of respect, love and loving attachment; while always desiring to be counted among Srimati Radhika’s sakhis and manjaris, vrajapure anurage vasa, sakhi gana gananate.” (Pr.Bk.Candrika 56).

If one does not have this mood, however, then he will invariably commit offences to the holy dhama or the dhamavasis, and thus have to wait a long time to receive the promised bhava and prema. After one suffers for his aparadhas and deeply repents, then Sri Dhama will eventually forgive, and soon award bhava-bhakti to that sincere sadhaka.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada reveals the matchless quality of Vraja vasa. While traveling on his spiritual odyssey, Gopa Kumara arrived in Dvaraka in the spiritual sky [not in Gujarat, India]. There he directly saw Krishna and interacted with Him in a very personal way. Nevertheless, Gopa Kumara still felt dissatisfied because there he could not find his coveted “Vraja bhava”.

Feeling compassion for him, Uddhava Mahashaya advised him to go to Gokula Vrindavana in the material world, saying, “When the saintly devotees see the empty forests, rivers, mountains and so on in earthly Vrindavana, they automatically get feelings of humility and love simultaneously. Overwhelmed, and their hearts intensely burning in separation, they loudly cry out “Alas! Alas!” as they search for their dearest Sri Krishna.” (Brhad-Bh. 2.5.242-243)

Upon arriving in this earthly Vraja, Gopa Kumara entered a similar emotional state which he describes here: “I came to Vraja and went to see the many places of Sri Krishna’s pastimes while singing my favorite names of Krishna. While loudly and sweetly singing about Krishna’s pastimes, I fixed my mind upon them. I attained such as state of ecstasy (bhava dasha), and became so emotional that it embarrasses me even to think of it. So how then can I describe this to anyone else?

“In this way, I passed many days and nights. However, I did not know whether my bhajana was bringing me immense joy or immense misery. Was I living in a forest fire or was I submerged in the cooling, sweet waters of Yamunaji? That I cannot say. Then one fine day while I was sitting in a Vraja nikunja doing my bhajana, I became immersed in an ocean of crying and fell unconscious.

“Suddenly dayalu cuda mani Shyama appeared before me. With His cooling nectar hand, Shyama personally wiped the dust from my body. Then Madan Gopaladeva filled my nose with the most uncommon and enchanting fragrance of His divine body. I awoke from my swoon and stood up.

“Vraja Nagara Shyama artfully played a sweet tune on His murali, and before I even knew it, Shyama just disappeared in a kunja. Alas! Alas! I ran behind looking for Him. But Shyama had vanished and I collapsed on the ground!” (Brhad-Bh. 2.6.3-10)

Displaying a similar mood, Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamipada prays in Stavavali: “When will I wander around Govardhana Hill, constantly crying out like a madman, ‘O Radhe! O Krishna!’ for my most beloved Priya Priyatama? Sometimes I will stumble and fall, and then get up again dancing, singing and crying. O when will the streams of my tears shower these transcendental playgrounds?”

In his Goswami Astakam, Srinivasa Acharya perfectly depicts the mood of the six Vrindavana Goswamis, whom we are trying to follow in our present sadhaka forms (sadhaka rupena): “Greatly agitated and distressed, they wandered everywhere in Vrindavana crying out, “O Radhe! O Vraja Devi! O Lalite! O Nandanandana! Where are You all now? Are You at Sri Govardhanaji, or are You under the desire-trees on the bank of Yamunaji? Where are You?” (he radhe vraja devike ca lalite, he nanda suno kutah)

By the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Krishna, raganugiya sadhakas who live in Vraja practicing manjari-bhava-sadhana will someday also have a similar experience of seeing Krishna, then losing sight, and then seeing their playful Lord once again while participating in Shyama’s sport of hide and seek with His beloved premika bhaktas.

O when, O when will that day be mine, sei din kabe habe mor? Srila Narottama dasa Thakura prays, “When while absorbed in transcendental bliss in Vrajabhumi will I give up my body, and go to the joy-filled divine realm of Vrindavana, e bhava samsara tyaji, parama anande maji, ara kabe brajabhume jaba, sukhamaya vrindavana?” (Prarthana 26)

To reside in Vrindavana means to experience this type of separation while performing one’s bhajana, which in essence is nothing more than crying…for mercy, for prema, for seva and for the sweet darshana of Radha Govinda Yugala. And this is exactly what Srila Narottama dasa Thakura means by saying one should live in Vraja with anuraga.

Without a doubt the best example of living in Vraja with intense anuraga is seen in the lives and writings of Sri Rupa, Sanatana, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamis. By always hearing/reading their anguished, heart-rending words of separation from Radha-Madhava, a fortunate sadhaka will continuously cry and cry until the waves in the river of his tears carry him along to the lotus feet of Priya Radha.

ONLY IN VRAJA

Regarding the uniqueness of living in Vraja Mandala, the Padma Purana (patala-khanda) says, “Anyone who spends even one day in Mathura/Vrindavana will attain Hari-bhakti, aho madhupuri dhanya, vaikunthac ca gariyasi, dinam ekam nivasena, harau bhaktih prajayate.” (Brs. 1.2.237) The Brahmanda Purana says, “One achieves the bliss experienced at the stage of prema just by touching Mathura, parananda-mayi siddhir mathura-sparsha-matratah.” (Brs. 1.2.212)

Of course, this will never ever happen just by living a day in Mumbai, Moscow, Manhattan or anywhere in this maya jagat! The word mathura in Mathura-mandala means “to churn, spin or agitate”. And that’s exactly why residence here is so very special, because Vraja-dhama has the power to agitate one’s mind with thoughts and feelings for Krishna, and make one forget everything else!

From my 29 years of continuous residence in Vrindavana, I can personally say, that unlike anywhere else in the world, Vrindavana has a distinctive other worldly atmosphere or ambience. There is some special enchantment in Vraja that practically every visitor feels upon coming here. Devotion to God is imperceptibly floating in the air. It’s all-pervasive, touching every heart with a drop of joy. It’s the kind of happiness every heart hankers for. This is the taste of Krishna bhakti, and this Vrindavana is the land of Krishna’s love, waiting to embrace all who venture forth.

In Bhakti Ratnakara (chapter 5), Sri Raghava Goswami, a resident of Govardhana, became completely impatient and overwhelmed with bliss when he started narrating the glories and benefits of being in Vraja. He said, “One who bathes anywhere in Vraja Mandala, or sees the Holy Places there is freed from his sins.” (Padma Pur.) “Simply by touching the dust of Vraja, one can attain ecstatic love for Krishna.” (Brahmanda Pur.) “Living in Vraja Mandala is possible only by the grace of Sri Krishna, for without it one can’t stay a second.” (Adi Pur.)

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja wonderfully describes the transcendental position the Vrindavana situated right here right now:

“Beyond all spiritual abodes is the abode of Vraja-loka, or Sri Gokula, which is also called Sri Goloka, Shvetadvipa and Vrindavana. Like Sri Krishna’s transcendental body, Gokula is unlimited, supreme and all-pervading. Vraja-loka spreads above and below without any restriction. Although by Krishna’s wish it manifests in the mundane universes, it only has one basic form, and not two separate ones. The soil of Vrindavana consists of thought gems and the forests are full of wish-yielding trees. But one with material eyes, sees it as a mundane place. The true form of Vraja Dhama manifests to one with the eyes of love, as a divine land wherein Krishna IS playing with His beloved gopas and gopis.” (Cc. 5.17-21)

One of best things about living in Vraja, and nowhere else in this universe, is that it enables one to see the pastimes of Radha Govinda Yugala. How is that? Shukadeva Goswami answers saying, “Sri Hari is very intimately connected with and ALWAYS PRESENT in Vrindavana, madhu-vanam yatra sannidhyam nityada hareh.” (SB 4.8.42; and 10.1.28)

Since Sri Krishna, Sri Radha and all the beautiful damsels of Vrajabhumi are still living here right now and eternally in Vrindavana, a raganuga sadhaka who lives here doing bhajana will one fine day see this:

“O, Krishna is here, living eternally in Vrindavana! And I see that Kamadeva Shyama, with His blissful smiling face, is forever increasing the lusty desires of the Vraja gopis, susmita sri mukhena vraja pura vanitanam vardhayan kama devam.” (SB 10.90.48)

In the above verse of the Bhagavata, the first line says jayati jana-nivaso devaki-janma, which means that “Krishna, the son of Devaki (second name for Yashoda), eternally lives gloriously among the cowherds of Vrindavana.” Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada explains, “The word jayati is in the present case, meaning, “Krishna is victorious and eternally in this world—in Vrindavana, in His Holy Name, and in His Hari-katha.” (Sarartha Darshini tika)

In short, living always in Vrindavana, vraje vasa sada, means at the ultimate level to always meditate upon Radha-Krishna’s asta-kaliya-lilas while, ideally if one can, residing in a nitya-lila sthali like Radha Kunda, Govardhana, Varsana, Nandagoan, Yavata, Seva Kunja, Nidhi Vana or others.

In this regard, Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada says, “One must meditate upon Radha-Krishna along with Their Vraja lilas, and never meditate on Radha-Krishna without Their pastimes, sri krishna lila sahitayor evopasyatvam, na lila rahitayoh lilayam.” (Raga Vartma Chandrika II.6)

If physical residence in Sridhama Vrindavana is impossible, however, then Sri Jiva Goswamipada advises that one can live elsewhere, but always remember Radha-Govinda’s eternal pastimes in Vrindavana. Physical/mental Vrindavana is best, but only mind in Vrindavana will also bring success in bhajana.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “When one’s mind simply becomes fixed on the lotus feet of Krishna, then one’s mind becomes as good as Vrindavana. Wherever Krishna is, there also are Srimati Radharani, the gopis, gopas and all the Vrajavasis. Thus as soon as one fixes Krishna in his mind, his mind becomes identical with Vrindavana.” (Cc. 2.13.138 p.)

Although one may live outside Vrindavana, one should not be satisfied and complacent with that residence, and never become attached to it. Rather, one should intensely hanker for that auspicious day or the life when one can physically and mentally live in Vraja Dhama absorbed in Radha-Krishna Yugala bhajana

Srila Narottama dasa Thakura beautifully expresses these sentiments in his bhajana, “hari hari! kabe habo vrndavana vasi”:

“O Hari, Hari! When will I be able to live in Vrindavana, and see the beautiful radiant forms of Radha Govinda Yugala? When will I give up the happiness of sleeping in a wonderful, luxurious bed, and smear my body with the dust of Vraja, Vraja dhuli? When will I give up the desire for tasty food, and live on begged food (madhukari) in Vraja?

“When will I wander around the forests of Vrindavana, and sometimes take rest on the cool, sandy banks of the Yamuna? When will I find relief from the scorching sunshine under the cooling shade of Vamshi Vata? When will I sit in a kunja amidst the elevated Vaisnavas? O when will that day come, when I give up everything [and run to Vrindavana]?”

Sri Vrindavana Dhama ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!