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Sheela_Mata_Temple_Agroha.jpgBraj (Devanagari: ब्रज), also known as Brij or Brijbhoomi, is a region in Uttar Pradesh of India, around Mathura-Vrindavan. Brij, though never a clearly defined political region in India, is very well demarcated culturally. The area stretches from Mathura, Jalesar, Agra, Hathras and Aligarh right up to Etah, Auraiya and Farrukhabad districts. It is believed to be the land of Krishna and is derived from the Sanskrit word vraja. The main cities in the region are Mathura, Jalesar, Bharatpur, Agra, Hathras, Dholpur, Aligarh, Etawah, Auraiya, Mainpuri, Etah, Kasganj and Firozabad. The term "Braj" means "Pasture", and a settlement of herders and cattle breeders or Abode of Yadavs/Aheers or yaduvanshsthali. The residents or natives of Braj are called Brijwasi. Braj bhasha or Brij bhasha, closely related to spoken Hindi with a soft accent, is spoken throughout the region.

Брадж или Вра́джа (хинди ब्रज), также Бра́джбуми, Враджабху́ми — исторический регион в индийских штатах Уттар-Прадеш, Раджастхан и Харьяна. Является священным местом паломничества для вайшнавов, так как согласно Пуранам и другим текстам индуизма, в этом месте родился и провёл свою юность Кришна. Самые крупные города на территории Враджа — это Матхура, Агра, Алигарх и Майнпури. Географически и культурно Врадж расположен в самом центре доаба Ганги-Ямуны, который с древности являлся центром развития индийской культуры. Врадж занимает территорию в 3800 км² и располагается в "золотом треугольнике" Дели-Джайпур-Агра. Врадж можно разделить на два региона — восточную часть, в которой расположены такие места, как Гокула, Махаван, Балдео, Мат и Баджна; и западную часть, где находится округ Матхура с такими местами паломничества, как Вриндаван, Говардхан, Кусум-саровара, Варшана и Нандаграм. Врадж расположен на территории современных округов Матхура (Уттар-Прадеш), Бхаратпур (Раджастхан) и Палвал (Харьяна). Регион Враджа простирается от местечка Котбан в 95 км от Дели до Рунакты в районе Агры — места, получившего известность в связи с великим поэтом Сурдасом. Жителей региона называют "бриджбаси" или "враджабаси". Население Враджа разговаривает на диалекте хинди браджбхаша.

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A108-AI

Vrindavan, the essence of all things


Shri Vraja Dhama

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anādau saṁsāre kati naraka-bhogā na vihitāḥkiyanto brahmendrādy-atula-sukha-bhogāś ca nyakkṛtāḥ |tadāsminn ekasmin vapuṣi sukha-duḥkhe na gaṇayansadaiva śrī-vṛndāvanam akhila-sāraṁ bhaja sakhe ||

In this beginning less world of repeated birth and death,
how often have you not been condemned to suffer hell?
And how many times have you not relished pleasures
that eclipse even those of Brahma, Indra and the other gods? So, my friend, for just this one lifetime,
give up all consideration of happiness or distress,
and forever worship Sri Vrindavan,
the essence of all things.


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In the previous verse, we traced the concept of Nature as manifest in Vrindavan, i.e., Vrindavan as archetypal Nature, seen as existing in the service of God, and thereby itself partaking of the sacred. The essence of the Vaishnava view is that of the non-difference of the Energy or Nature, and the Energetic, or God.

As such, Nature is never looked at as separate from God, and the relation of humanity to nature is that of servant employing the things of world, the world itself, in the service of God.

God’s pleasure is understood in terms of the realization of human fulfillment in all respects, but especially the realization of the human spiritual potential in love. After all, the foundation of the Hindu approach to life is to recognize its limited duration in this world and to seek transcendence, and in bhakti, love (prema) is said to be both the vehicle and the destination.

The word sāra, or “essence” found at the end of this verse is particularly important for understanding the idea of archetypes. Whenever this word is used, it is an attempt at defining the ideal or archetypal characteristics of a thing. In the previous verse, Vrindavan was said to be the abode of all the sylvan virtues, which is to say that the essence of all the best or ideal things about a forest are to be found there. Thus it is the archetype of a forest. But here Prabodhananda Saraswati goes even further and says that it is the essence of all (akhila) things. It is the ultimate destination of the sāra-grāhī, the seeker of essences.

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Sāra is one of those words that Prabodhananda likes to repeat often in a single verse. In the following, there is a progressive hierarchy of ideas, each exceeding the previous, though all are true:
sakala-vibhava-sāraṁ sarva-dharmaika-sāraṁsakala-bhajana-sāraṁ sarva-siddhy-eka-sāram |sakala-mahima-sāraṁ vastu vṛndāvanāntaḥsakala-madhurimāmbho-rāśi-sāraṁ vihāram ||

Residing in Vrindavan is the substance
that is the essence of all opulences;
it is the single essence of all religious duties,
it is the essence of all bhajan
the single essence of all success,
and the essence of all glories:
It is the play of the Divine Couple
that is the essence of all the oceans of divine sweetness. (VMA 17.85)

Whenever a reference is made to essentiality, it should be understood as an appeal to the imagination to follow the path of experience to go to a place where any limitations of the phenomenal are eliminated and only the Perfect and Pure is left.

This is a natural tendency in the human mind, and indeed, even when we speak negatively about any phenomenon whatsoever, recounting its imperfections, it is due to an implied, unstated, unspoken, unconscious or inchoate concept of some ideal. The via negativa, neti neti, is an essential part of the process of defining that ideal.

The presence of ideal characteristics in an ordinary human being results in the ordinary human taking on archetypal qualities, which can have far-reaching consequences in human society.

Transferring the archetypal qualities to a realm outside direct experience, i.e., the world of the imagination, is one way of protecting ourselves against falsely attributing transcendence to mundane phenomena. Thus, the play of the archetypes is the task of all literature.

For Vaishnavas, the principal archetypes are all cataloged in different ways in books like Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, and other works of poetics where, for example, different kinds of heroic personality types are listed. Because of the vast number of possibilities available to the imagination for ideal personality types, they are personified in particular forms.

So, simply stated, in order to understand Radha and Krishna we are asked to find the essence of certain characteristics and qualities. Look at this verse from Govinda-līlāmṛta where Kaviraj Goswami uses the ornament known as viśeṣa to show how it works. When the essential qualities are so uniquely present in one object, it becomes more than just a general example of that thing, but takes on its own individual, archetypal character.

nayana-yuga-vidhāne rādhikāyā vidhātrājagati madhura-sārāḥ sañcitāḥ sad-guṇā ye |bhuvi patita-tad-aṁśas tena sṛṣṭāny asārairbhramara-mṛga-cakorāmbhoja-mīnotpalāni ||

“The Creator collected the essence of every beautiful object in the universe to make Radha’s eyes, and when the leftover portions fell to the ground they became the bumblebees, the chakoras, the fish, the lotuses and their finest species, the blue lotus.” (GLA 11.100)

Bumblebees, chakoras, etc., are all used as similes for the beauty of eyes. Here is another GLA verse in the same vein:

dṛṣṭvā rādhāṁ nipuṇa-vidhinā suṣṭhu kenāpi sṛṣṭāṁdhātā hrīlaḥ sadṛśam anayā yauvataṁ nirmimatsuḥ |sāraṁ cinvann asṛjad iha tat svasya sṛṣṭeḥ samāsyānaikāpy āsīd api tu samabhūt pūrva-sṛṣṭir nirarthā ||143||

 

Lalita Sundari exclaims: Seeing Radha’s exquisite form, the Creator desired to make more beautiful women like her. But after collecting his best ingredients and employing his finest artistic ability—he became depressed; not one of them could match Radha! Thus ashamed, he thought: “The lotus and the moon are in no way comparable either!” Hence, just as one crosses out a misspelled word, the creator splotched the lotus with swarms of bees, and scribbled a deer-spot over the moon! (GLA 11.143-144)
The word sāra appears over 80 times in the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta. It also appears 30 times in Sudhā-nidhi (RRSN), a much shorter work. In the following verse, which might be considered the sāra of them all, Saraswatipada summarizes the description of Radha as the essence of all essences (akhila-sāra-sāra):

lāvaṇya-sāra-rasa-sāra-sukhaika-sārekāruṇya-sāra-madhura-cchavi-rūpa-sāre |vaidagdhya-sāra-rati-keli-vilāsa-sārerādhābhidhe mama mano’khila-sāra-sāre ||


May my thoughts always rest in the one named Radha,
who is the essence of loveliness,
the essence of rasa,
the single essence of all happiness; who is the essence of compassion,
the essence of all charming depictions of beauty,
the essence of cleverness in the arts of love,
the essence of amorous love-play,
indeed, she is the essence of the best of everything. (RRSN 26).

Meditation on Radha and Krishna, or on Vrindavan, is the work of the active imagination provoked by the words of the poet-acharyas. By searching out the ideal, we in fact search out God. The tendency towards the Ideal is the tendency towards God, even though for an ignorant person, it is sought out in material phenomena to inevitable failure and dissatisfaction, as Prabodhananda chastises his mind in the first two lines of this verse.

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We have focused here on the word sāra, but of course there are many other statements of the same sort using different language.

In fact, if we examine the use of alaṅkāra, then we will see that practically all alaṅkāras — not only in the literature related to Radha and Krishna, but in all Sanskrit poetry and literature — are meant to push the imagination to an ideal beyond the best of everything, to admire a certain quality or attribute and to stretch it to infinity.

Here are a couple more examples, this time in relation to bhakti itself, which is the process of extracting the essence. Let us start with what Narottam Das calls the essence of the practice of rāgānugā bhakti:

manera smaraṇa prāṇa, madhura madhura dhāmayugala bilāsa smṛti sārasādhya sādhana ei, ihāra para āra nāhiei tattba sarba vidhi sāra
“Meditation or remembrance (smaraṇa) is the life of the mind, an abode of ever-increasing sweetness; and the Divine Yugala’s loving dalliances are the very essence of such remembrance. This is the practice, this is the goal of the practice: this truth is the cream of all instruction.” (Prema-bhakti-candrikā, 62)

Briefly: Since the essence of all meditative practices is to reduce the directedness of the mind to a single object, remembering Radha and Krishna’s pastimes is the essence of devotional practice. It is at the same time the end of the practice. Practices are either direct or indirect. When the practice is not different from the goal, that is called a direct practice. Therefore there is nothing beyond this. So reducing both the practice and the goal of the practice to their essence, one comes to prema bhakti. There is nothing beyond this.

A108-AI

Shri Radha is Supreme in Rasa Lila


Shri Vraja Dhama

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– by Shri Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Dasa Babaji Maharaj

This post will quote Mahaprabhu and Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas to illuminate some essential facts regarding the extraordinary transcendental identity and phenomenal transformational quality of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna’s eternally whirling dance of universal bliss called “Rasa Lila”.

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Maharasa

I . Unique Position of Rasa Lila

Sri Rupa Goswamipada says that of all Krishna’s lilas, the Rasa Lila is most unique and special.

“In the Bṛhad-vāmana Purāṇa, Sri Krishna says, ‘Although I have many fascinating pastimes, whenever I think of the Rasa Lila, which I perform with the gopīs, I become eager to have it again.’’’(Nectar of Devotion chapter 22; Krishna’s 61st quality)

Srila Prabhupada:

Krishna’s Rasa Lila dance is never to be considered like the mundane relationship of man and woman. It is the highest perfectional stage of the exchange of feelings between Krishna and the living entities. (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.9.25 p.)

The living spirit is eternal, Krishna is eternal, and their exchange of loving feelings is also eternal. One who is intelligent should refrain from sensual enjoyment which is flickering, and seek enjoyment in spiritual life. That is called Rasa Lila. (BBT Folio: 660909BG.NY)

Krishna likes every part and parcel of His different potencies [i.e. jiva-sakti, we living entities] to take part in His eternal Rasa Lila, which is the highest living condition, perfect in spiritual bliss and eternal knowledge. (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.5.24 p.)

II. Supremacy of Srimati Radharani in Rasa Lila

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Shri Radha

Sri Caitanya Caritamrta:

Raya Ramananda tells Mahaprabhu how Sri Radha once left the Rasa Lila, because She felt Her preeminence reduced in the presence of lacs of gopis.

Raya Ramananda said, “O Mahaprabhu, You should know that Radhika alone is the binding link in Krishna’s desire for Rasa Lila, rasa lila-vāsanāte rādhikā śṛṅkhalā. Without Radha, Krishna felt no bliss so He left the rasa mandala to search for Radha.

“Krishna wandered here and there but not finding Radha, He became distressed by Cupid’s arrows and lamented. Can You imagine the astonishing quality of Sri Radhika that Krishna left lacs of gopis to search for just one?” (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta 2.8.113-116)

Srila Prabhupada:

The next beautiful quote paints a wonderful meditative picture about Radha’s special position. “Srimati Radharani is the central petal of the Rasa Lila flower.”(Sri Caitanya Caritamrta 1.4.81 p.)

III. WHY Krishna Enacts Rasa Lila?

Srila Prabhupada: “Krishna displays the Rasa Lila to induce all the fallen souls to give up their diseased morality and religiosity, and to attract them to the kingdom of God to enjoy the reality. (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta 1.4.30 p.)

IV.Benefits of Rasa Lila

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu:

Here Mahaprabhu proclaims the most incredible and cherished fruit that one can attain by the mercy of Radha-Krishna’s Rasa Lila.

“Anyone who hears or speaks about the Rasa Lila will become immersed in bhava, and attain a siddha deha to serve day and night alongside Krishna’s eternally perfect associates.” (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta 3.5.49-50)

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ye śune, ye paḍe / tāṅra phala etādṛśī
sei bhāvāviṣṭa yei /seve ahar-niśi
tāṅra phala ki kahimu, kahane nā yāya
nitya-siddha sei, prāya-siddha tāṅra kāya

V. Who Can Hear or Speak Rasa Lila

Srila Prabhupada:

One who has developed his faith in Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Spirit Soul, can both describe and hear the Rasa Lila.

The conditioned soul should hear the Rasa Lila dance from an authorized spiritual master and be trained by him so that he can understand the whole situation. Thus one can be elevated to the highest standard of spiritual life. (KRSNA BOOK 33)

VI. Sweet Rasa Lila

One day in a dream, Mahaprabhu saw Krishna performing the Rasa Lila, eka dina mahaprabhu Krishna rasa lila kare dekhila svapana. Madana Mohana’s beautiful body was curved in three places; murali caressing His lips, and adorned with bright yellow garments and a forest garland.

tribhaṅga-sundara-deha / muralī-vadana
pītāmbara, vana-mālā/ madana-mohana
(Sri Caitanya Caritamrta 3.14.17-18)

Radha-Krishna Rasa Lila ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

A108-AI

avatars-000211408697-ouagbe-t500x500.jpgby Shri Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das Babaji Maharaj

The Kaustubha jewel is an eternal, uniquely distinguishing necklace adorning the beautiful transcendental bodies of both Bhagavan Shri Krishna and Shri Vishnu.

But did you know that Kaustubha contains all the jivas? Did you know that Shrimati Radharani can be seen in the Kaustubha?And did you know that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila can be seen in the Kaustubha?

Identity of the Kaustubha

Before answering these intriguing questions let’s first establish the color of the Kaustubha gem. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB 8.8.6) says, “Kaustubha is a type of ruby.” (Shri Bhanu Swami)

In Ānanda Vrndavana Campu (22.25), Shri Kavi Karnapur says:

kaustubha -rashmi-pura-shonayamana-vara-mauktika.

The word shonayamanameans ‘reddened’.

In Krishna Bhavanamrta (12.65), Visvanatha Cakravartipada says:

uditendu -surya -shata -nindi kaustubha-acchalato -yato -jagad -avapa -raktatam

“The Kaustubha gem defeats therising sun and moon and pervades the universe with redness.”

However, Krishna Bhavanamrita also compares Kaustubha with Krishna Himself when Radhika wears it on Her chest after winning it in thedice game (ch.15), which would indicate it is Krishna’s color.

Or it can be read that the Kaustubha is just being a representativeof Krishna on Radhika’s chest because the Kaustubha gem is normally an inseparableapparel of Krishna.

The conclusion is that although Krishna’s Kaustubha gem is an unlimitedly brilliant and beautiful transcendental jewel, it is deep red in color something like a ruby.

All Jivas Are in the Kaustubha Jewel

Gopal-tappani-Upanisad (67) says, “Because by its essence, its light, the Kaustubha is the shelter of all jivas, tejasa-sva-svarupina.

Shrimad Bhagavatam (3.28.28), says, “The Kaustubha jewel on Krishna’s neck represents jiva-tattva (caityasya tattvam)

Shri Jiva Goswamipada tika:

The Kaustubha is the shelter of all  jivas (maha-samasti-rupa). (Krama San. Canto 3)

Visvanatha Cakravartipada tika:

The Kaustubha is the tattva of jiva-shakti. Vishnu Purana says, “The Kaustubha represents the unlimited rays or jivas,vibharti -kaustubha-mani-svarupam -bhagavan -hari.”

Dr. Shri Satyanarayan Das Ji said, “The Kaustubha gem that Bhagavan wears on His chest is also a samasti-jiva because it is the embodiment of the tatastha-shakti.” (Paramatma San.)

Shrimad Bhagavatam (12.11.10) says:

kaustubha-vyapadeshena svatma-jyotir -bibharty -ajah tat-prabha-vyapini-sakshat shrivatsam -urasa-vibhuh

“Upon His chest the almighty, unborn Bhagavan Hari wears the Kaustubha gem which represents the pure spirit soul.”

Visvanatha Cakravartipada tika:

The effulgence from the svarupa of the Kaustubha (vyapadeshena) supports the pure jiva. Thus, Bhagavan Shri Krishna holds His servant on his heart as confirmed in Shrimad Bhagavatam (9.4.68):

sadhavo -hrdayam -mahyam sadhunam -hrdayam -tv -aham mad-anyat -te -na -jananti naham -tebhyo –manag api

Bhagavan Shri Krishna said,  “Thesadhu, saintly person, is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the sadhu devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them.”

Pandit Shri Krishna Das Babaji Maharaja tika:

 Babaji Maharaja personally told the author, “All jivas stay inside the Kaustubha gem on Shri Vishnu’s chest at the time of jagat pralaya. Kaustubha is the sarva-jiva-ashraya, shelter if all conditioned souls, jivatmas.”

Radharani in the Kaustubha Jewel

Sometimes when They separate after Their intimate nikunja lilas, Shri Krishna can still see the inconceivably beautiful form of Shri Radha inside His Kaustubha gem.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Lila in Kaustubha

Late one rapturous night in Nidhivan, Nikunjivani Shri Radha had a spectacular dream wherein Radha saw Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila.

In Svapna Vilas Amrita, Visvanatha Cakravartipada recounts the dream thus:

Once, at the end of night (nishant-lila), while Lila Yugal Radha-Krishna were sleeping in a keli-kunja in Nidhivana, Vrishabhanu-nandini had an amazing dream. Upon waking, Kishori woke Her Prana-vallabha and said:

“Beloved, I just had an amazing dream wherein I saw an incomparable river, just like the Yamuna. On its charming banksI saw a wonderful golden-complexioned youth singing and dancing very beautifullyto the rhythm of the mrdanga and kartalas.

“That golden youth was crying and uttering,

‘O Krishna, O Krishna!’ and sometimes He would utter, ‘O Radha, O Radha, where are You?’

“Sometimes He rolled on the ground, and sometimes He became unconscious. He freely distributed these sentiments to all the living entities in the universe.

“My beloved Shyam, upon seeing Him, I began to think, ‘Who is this golden-complexioned youth? Am I that golden youth who is constantly crying and uttering “O Krishna, O Krishna”? Or is this golden-complexioned youth You who is crying loudly,‘O Radha, O Radha, where are You?’”

Shri Krishna said, “O Priyaji, at different times I have given You darshan of Narayan and some of My other forms, yet You were never astonished.

“I don’t know who this golden-complexioned youth that is bewildering Your mind.” While speaking Krishna smiled slightly.

Radhika said, “Prana-vallabha, now I understand that this golden form is no one but You. No one other than You is able to infatuate Me in this way.”

Then inside His Kaustubha jewel Shyam showed Shriji Her dream just as She had seen it.

Shri Krishna said, “Praneshvari! I will assume Your golden complexion and sentiments to appear in the form of Gauranga to personally relish Your blissful bhavas.

“And I will preach raganuga-bhakti,Harinam-sankirtan, and freely distribute Krishna prema. Radha, You will also appear on earth with Me as My associate.”

By this pastime Radha-Krishna gave an indication of the future appearance of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (shastra input Shri Advaita Dasji)

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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das Babaji Maharaj
Shri Krishna’s Kaustubha jewel ki jai! Jai Jai Shri Radhe!

About the author: Mahanidhi Shri Madan Gopal Das is a Gaudiya Vaisnava Babaji (sannyasi), and a teacher of Gaudiya spiritual truths, practices and perfection (siddhanta, sadhana, sadhya) since 1974. He’s authored 25 English & 11 Hindi spiritual books all about Shri Guru, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Radha-Krishna, and the Gaudiya holy places, diksa mantras, bhakti-yoga sadhana, raganuga-bhakti, Gayatris and Vaisnava biographies. He is an Indian citizen living  30 years continually in India at Shri Radha Kunda, Govardhana, Dt. Mathura Uttar Pradesh.

A108-AI

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Vrindavan residents shouldn’t be surprised for the winter fog has not come early this year. Shri Krishna’s Vrindavan is being smothered by a blanket of thick smog. In a shocking revelation, Vrindavan was ranked the most polluted city in Uttar Pradesh, and one of the top ten polluters in all of India on November 8th, 2021. On Saturday, the Central Pollution Control Board ordered an investigation into the matter.

With an Air Quality Index (AQI) rating of “hazardous” – 475 on a scale of 500 – Vrindavan has beat out Noida, Ghaziabad, Kanpur and a host of other large cities in India’s most populous state. In addition to its proximity to mega-polluter New Delhi, Vrindavan’s air quality is negatively impacted by a number of factors, from deforestation to daily garbage fires and a shameful lack of city planning. 

But the primary culprit is automotive traffic from tourists. As of the 2011 census, Vrindavan’s population was only 63,005. It may have doubled or tripled since then: that will be determined during the upcoming census next year. However, the tourist influx far outweighs the native population. The U.P. Tourist department estimates that the number of tourists rose from just under four million in 2011 to almost fourteen million in 2017: an increase of ten million in just six years.

When, in the two months after the November 8th report, no action was taken to rectify the dire situation of Vrindavan’s air quality, social activist Prahlad Krishna Shukla took to Twitter to incite those in power to action. In a series of impassoined tweets, he implored the Central Pollution Control Board, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other key players to take urgent action.

In response, the Central Pollution Control Board on Saturday ordered an investigation into the matter of air pollution in Vrindavan. The inquiry has been entrusted to the U.P. State Pollution Control Board with strict instructions to take urgent action, and to report all actions taken to the central board.

A108-AI

Winter Seva in Braj Temples


Shri Vraja Dhama

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It is said that ‘rituraj basant’ (spring-the king of all seasons) who resides eternally in Vrindavan gives rise to the myriad seasons only for the pleasure of Shri Krishna and His beloved Radharani. How then can winter, however harsh and unrelenting, not become a festival of delight for the divine couple in this holiest of pilgrimages? Writes Shri Gadadhar Bhatt ji…

नीकी रितु लागत हे अति शीत की।
अंसन दे पिय प्यारी पौढे बात करत रसरीत की।।
बन गई एक रजाई भीतर होत परस्पर जीत की।
गदाधर प्रभु हेमंत मनावत चाह बढ़ी नव प्रीत की।।

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Shri Madan Mohan ji and Shri Radharani of Shri Gadadhar Bhatta Goswami

The winter season is very dear to us because the intense cold brings our ‘priya-priyatam’ closer. Huddled up together, They delight in the warmth of the blanket and that of sweet, loving words and gentle caresses. Shri Gadadhar Bhatt ji says we consider the ‘Hemant Ritu’ (winter season) a festival, for it increases the divine lovers’ longing for each other.  

It is with this ‘bhaav’, (emotion) that Braj celebrates the festival called winter. From ‘Shringaar’ to ‘Bhog’ and ‘Raag’, all of Tahkurji’s sevas are tweaked for the comfort and pleasure of Shri Krishna and Radharani with the season’s onset

Winter service in most Braj temples continues for 40-45 days, roughly till the arrival of ‘Basant Ritu’ (Indian spring). While this time duration may vary in accordance with the weather conditions, for most temples the peak of the ‘festival of winter’ is between Margshirsha Shukla Dwadashi and Paush Shukla Dwadashi.

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Shri Damodar ji

Margshirsha Shukla Dwadashi which signals the setting in of crisp winters is celebrated as ‘Vyanjan Dwadashi’. This day is also significant for it marks the beginning of one of the most luscious and rich traditions of Braj – the month-long ‘Khichdi Mahotsav’. Most changes in temple rituals and routine happen around this Dwadashi and the following ‘Margashirsha Poornima’, also known as ‘Gaddal Purnima’ – the day when thick woollen blankets (‘gadda’) are offered to the deities.

As part of daily ‘ang-seva’, the deities are given a nice massage with warm and perfumed essential oils (especially saffron and henna ‘ittr’) before the bathing rituals are carried out with warm water. After the bath, They are dressed in assorted winter finery that includes outfits such as hand-stuffed cotton shawls, ‘bagalbandhi’ shirts, and ‘labaada’ or ‘fargul’ (a type of overcoat).

Pushpang Goswami of Shri Radharaman Temple, Vrindavan shares that “For the entire month beginning Margshirsha Dwadashi, devotees cannot have ‘charan darshan’ of Thakurji because he wears woollen socks.”

Care is taken to keep the deity’s surroundings warm and cosy. For example, in Mathura’s Dwarkadhish Temple and Shri Radharaman Temple in Vrindavan all curtains are replaced with thick ones that are stuffed with cotton. ‘Angithis’ (braziers) are lit throughout the day and huge blankets are offered to Thakurji for a comfortable sleep at night.

In this regard, Baldeo’s Dauji Temple deserves a special mention where Brajraj Dauji Maharaj and his divine consort Revati are offered a giant quilt made with 75-metre-long cloth and 12 Kgs of cotton on ‘Gaddal Purnima’. Further, Dauji’s winter Poshak is made with 56 metres of warm fabric.

Flavours from the Lord’s winter kitchens

Starting from Margashirsha Shukla Dwadashi, also known as ‘Vyanjan Dwadashi’, a month-long (or 45-day) ‘Khichdi Mahotsav’ is celebrated in the ‘Sapta Devalayas’ and other temples of Braj every year. This winter, Vyanjan Dwadashi fell on December 9, 2019.

The ‘Sapta Devalayas’ (seven historic temples) of Vrindavan include Radha Damodar, Radha Gopinath, Radha Madanmohan, Radha Raman, Radha Shyamsundar, Radha Gokulanand and Govind Dev Temples. The festival began with a ‘chota annakoot’ bhog for Thakur Shri Radhadamodar.

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Dauji Maharaj and Revati Mata of Baldev village, Mahavan

The ‘khichdi bhog’ is prepared by the temple goswamis and their family members (mostly male). The humble ‘khichdi’ made of rice and lentils is the ultimate winter comfort food particularly when cooked in pure ghee, with lots of nuts and warming spices such as saffron, nutmeg, cloves and pepper. It is well-known for balancing all the three Ayurvedic Doshas.

On the side, Shri Radha and Krishna enjoy various types of ‘achar’ (spicy Indian pickles), ‘pakoras’ (fried fritters), ‘dahi’ (yoghurt), jam, butter, and sweets. Sweets made with sesame seeds are a special offering during the winter.

In Radharaman Temple, ‘khichdi’ is served to Shriji as ‘Shringaar Bhog’. Lord Radharaman savours it while enjoying the warmth from the simmering ‘angithi’ (brazier). Other winter delicacies such as ‘til laddoos’ and  ‘til pattis’ made using sesame seeds and jaggery are also offered to Him with the accompaniment of traditional songs sung by devotees.

Banke Bihari ji’s bhog for the season includes morning offerings of ‘kesar makhan mishri’ and ‘kesar halwa’; followed by ‘kesar kheer’ in the afternoon and ‘kesar doodh’ at night. In Mathura’s Dwarkadhish Temple, ‘Rajadhiraj’ is served saffron milk and ‘suhaag sonth’- a winter savoury made with saffron, almonds, dry ginger and other warm ingredients.

With the onset of the month of Paush (of the Hindu calendar), Goswamis of Nandgaon’s Nanda Bhawan take extra care to protect Shri Krishna and his family from the cold weather. ‘Mithi Khichdi’ (a sweet preparation of rice and lentils) made with generous amounts of saffron, ‘kasturi’ and nuts is served to the lordships throughout the season. With the onset of ‘Agahan Maas’, Thakurji is given saffron and kasturi ‘paan beeda’ (betel leaf and betel nut mouth freshener) after meals.

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Shri Man Bihari ji, Barsana

In Baldeo’s Dauji Temple, Dauji and His consort Revathi are given special ‘kheer’ (rice pudding) in the afternoon and warm milk with nuts at night.

One of the most vibrant ‘khichdi festivals’ of Vrindavan is celebrated by the Radhavallabh temple, where Thakurji wears different disguises called ‘Chadm Bhesh’ after ‘Mangla Aarti’ every day for 40-45 days. Dressed as a bangle seller, fruit vendor or sometimes as a ‘sakhi’ he ventures out to meet Radharani in Barsana. The ‘Chadm Bhesh’ helps Him in deceiving Jatila and Kutila in order to get the association of Shrimati Radharani. Daily three four darshans are given in the interval of 5 – 7 minutes.

Despite the deepening cold, devotees flock to the temple every day to enjoy the special darshan of their Beloveds, while hoping to get a taste of His ‘khichdi prasad’. Shri Radhavallabh savours the ‘khichdi’ bhog while basking in the warmth from a silver ‘angithi’. On ‘Makar Sankranti’ dried fruits, saffron and nuts are an important part of the offering.

Thakurji’s ‘khichdi’ is cooked by the Goswamis. It is very dear to Him as it warms the innards during the cold season. The ‘khichdi’ is distributed to the devotees after He has partaken of it.

The ingredients of the ‘khichdi’ include super fine rice meticulously cleaned, moong dal – one of the earliest lentils described in ancient scriptures of India, rock salt (sainda namak), white pepper, cumin seed, nutmeg, cloves, green and black cardamom, cinnamon, mace (javitri), bay leaves (tej patta), cashew nuts, raisins, almonds, pistachio, coconut, dates and saffron.

The finished preparation is enriched with the sumptuous addition of ghee (clarified butter), and it is this practice which popularised the saying khichdi, ghee ki nichudi about Shri Radhavallabh’s Khichdi Bhog.

The ‘khichdi bhog’ is served along with ‘sandane’ (pickles of various types prepared without mustard oil), ‘basundhi’ (a preparation of concentrated milk), and ‘adrak koocha’ (ginger sauce).

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Shri Radharaman Lal ji

The last preparation is a delicacy whose exact recipe is a strictly guarded secret, and it is available only to a few blessed devotees during this festival as ‘prasad’. The ‘adrak koocha’ consists of ginger well cleaned and ground on a stone mortar with a stone pestle along with black salt, rock salt, sloes (aloo bukhara), pomegranate seeds (anar dana), black currants (mungaa), black pepper, cumin seeds and some other ingredients that have digestive properties. It is prepared under hygienic condition (both spiritual and physical hygiene) in utensils made of metals that are most suitable for health.

The foods offered to the Lord have a close relation to health. In fact, some western university research scholars have been trying to study how ‘kadhi’ and other vegetables offered at the Radhavallabh Temple are enriched with iron, which fights diseases such as anaemia.

From flavors to musical notes

There’s no season, no tradition in Braj-Vrindavan which is not sung! Great saints from the veritable sampradayas of Braj have immortalised the many beautiful rituals and customs of this land in their lyrical ‘padas’ (verses).

This song by Shri Gunamanjari Das Goswami of Shri Radharaman Temple describes the scene where Thakurji is enjoying His ‘Khichdi Bhog’

खिचरी सहचरी प्रात राधिकारमणजी को ।
सुरभी को घृत डार थार आगे लाई ॥
कचौरी अचार चार साग धरे तापर ।
पापर कचरी दधि मोदक मलाई ॥
मीठी मीठी बात करें दीठी सों दीठी भरें ।
अँगीठी सुगंध धरें सीत बीत जाई॥
चौकी पे बैठै आन रूचि सों लगे खान । प्रान वराति सूँ अराति करत आई ॥

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Shri Radhaballabh ji

Shri Priyaji (Radharani) feeds Radharamanji delicious khichri soaked in cow ghee, with fried kachoris (wheat rounds stuffed with spiced lentils), spicy pickles (achar) and four kinds of vegetable dishes, all accompanied by papad, wild cucumber (kachari), yoghurt and sweets. Gazing longingly into each other’s lotus eyes, the lovers share sweet conversation whilst the coal stove gives fragrant warmth. Radharamanji sits on a low seat (chauki) and happily enjoys the luscious khichri. When He finishes, Yashoda Maiya offers her very life to Him in the form of aarti. (English translation from the book Shri Radharaman Gita)

Shri Radhavallabh’s Khichdi Padas (verses)

राधा प्राण-प्यारी संग रसिकबिहारी भोर, उठे चित्रसारी ते चले हैं भोग भौन कौं। फरगुल अढा़ई पै शीत अधिकाई महा,
तब तौ रजाई एक रोक्यौ तासौं पौन कौं।। भीर घिचपिच री त्यौं गर्मतर खिचरी मिली, पाई घृत निचुरी लेत स्वाद कियौ गौन कौं।
वृन्दावन’ आरती निहारैं प्राण-वारती त्यौं, राग लै उचारती सखी लै तान तौन कौं।।

The ‘pada’ describes how Shrimati Radharani and Krishna relish their hot, spiced and ‘ghee-dripping’ ‘khichdi’ tucked inside the warm blanket during the wee hours of a cold winter morning. The ‘aarti’ and songs further add to their delight.

A108-AI

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By Ashee Sharma

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Shri Madan Mohan ji and Shri Radharani of Shri Gadadhar Bhatta Goswami

 It is said that ‘rituraj basant’ (spring-the king of all seasons) who resides eternally in Vrindavan gives rise to the myriad seasons only for the pleasure of Shri Krishna and His beloved Radharani. How then can winter, however harsh and unrelenting, not become a festival of delight for the divine couple in this holiest of pilgrimages? Writes Shri Gadadhar Bhatt ji…

नीकी रितु लागत हे अति शीत की। अंसन दे पिय प्यारी पौढे बात करत रसरीत की।। बन गई एक रजाई भीतर होत परस्पर जीत की। गदाधर प्रभु हेमंत मनावत चाह बढ़ी नव प्रीत की।।

The winter season is very dear to us because the intense cold brings our ‘priya-priyatam’ closer. Huddled up together, They delight in the warmth of the blanket and that of sweet, loving words and gentle caresses. Shri Gadadhar Bhatt ji says we consider the ‘Hemant Ritu’ (winter season) a festival, for it increases the divine lovers’ longing for each other.  

It is with this ‘bhaav’, (emotion) that Braj celebrates the festival called winter. From ‘Shringaar’ to ‘Bhog’ and ‘Raag’, all of Tahkurji’s sevas are tweaked for the comfort and pleasure of Shri Krishna and Radharani with the season’s onset

Winter service in most Braj temples continues for 40-45 days, roughly till the arrival of ‘Basant Ritu’ (Indian spring). While this time duration may vary in accordance with the weather conditions, for most temples the peak of the ‘festival of winter’ is between Margshirsha Shukla Dwadashi and Paush Shukla Dwadashi.

625605f0-c6c3-424e-a39a-b6924d3dbb47-768x1024.jpg

Shri Damodar ji

Margshirsha Shukla Dwadashi which signals the setting in of crisp winters is celebrated as ‘Vyanjan Dwadashi’. This day is also significant for it marks the beginning of one of the most luscious and rich traditions of Braj – the month-long ‘Khichdi Mahotsav’. Most changes in temple rituals and routine happen around this Dwadashi and the following ‘Margashirsha Poornima’, also known as ‘Gaddal Purnima’ – the day when thick woollen blankets (‘gadda’) are offered to the deities.

As part of daily ‘ang-seva’, the deities are given a nice massage with warm and perfumed essential oils (especially saffron and henna ‘ittr’) before the bathing rituals are carried out with warm water. After the bath, They are dressed in assorted winter finery that includes outfits such as hand-stuffed cotton shawls, ‘bagalbandhi’ shirts, and ‘labaada’ or ‘fargul’ (a type of overcoat).

Pushpang Goswami of Shri Radharaman Temple, Vrindavan shares that “For the entire month beginning Margshirsha Dwadashi, devotees cannot have ‘charan darshan’ of Thakurji because he wears woollen socks.”

Care is taken to keep the deity’s surroundings warm and cosy. For example, in Mathura’s Dwarkadhish Temple and Shri Radharaman Temple in Vrindavan all curtains are replaced with thick ones that are stuffed with cotton. ‘Angithis’ (braziers) are lit throughout the day and huge blankets are offered to Thakurji for a comfortable sleep at night.

In this regard, Baldeo’s Dauji Temple deserves a special mention where Brajraj Dauji Maharaj and his divine consort Revati are offered a giant quilt made with 75-metre-long cloth and 12 Kgs of cotton on ‘Gaddal Purnima’. Further, Dauji’s winter Poshak is made with 56 metres of warm fabric.

Flavours from the Lord’s winter kitchens

Starting from Margashirsha Shukla Dwadashi, also known as ‘Vyanjan Dwadashi’, a month-long (or 45-day) ‘Khichdi Mahotsav’ is celebrated in the ‘Sapta Devalayas’ and other temples of Braj every year. This winter, Vyanjan Dwadashi fell on December 9, 2019.

51.jpg

Dauji Maharaj and Revati Mata of Baldev village, Mahavan

The ‘Sapta Devalayas’ (seven historic temples) of Vrindavan include Radha Damodar, Radha Gopinath, Radha Madanmohan, Radha Raman, Radha Shyamsundar, Radha Gokulanand and Govind Dev Temples. The festival began with a ‘chota annakoot’ bhog for Thakur Shri Radhadamodar.

The ‘khichdi bhog’ is prepared by the temple goswamis and their family members (mostly male). The humble ‘khichdi’ made of rice and lentils is the ultimate winter comfort food particularly when cooked in pure ghee, with lots of nuts and warming spices such as saffron, nutmeg, cloves and pepper. It is well-known for balancing all the three Ayurvedic Doshas.

On the side, Shri Radha and Krishna enjoy various types of ‘achar’ (spicy Indian pickles), ‘pakoras’ (fried fritters), ‘dahi’ (yoghurt), jam, butter, and sweets. Sweets made with sesame seeds are a special offering during the winter.

In Radharaman Temple, ‘khichdi’ is served to Shriji as ‘Shringaar Bhog’. Lord Radharaman savours it while enjoying the warmth from the simmering ‘angithi’ (brazier). Other winter delicacies such as ‘til laddoos’ and  ‘til pattis’ made using sesame seeds and jaggery are also offered to Him with the accompaniment of traditional songs sung by devotees.

48659712-3291-4d1c-b779-bc60514cf457-768x1024.jpg

Shri Man Bihari ji, Barsana

Banke Bihari ji’s bhog for the season includes morning offerings of ‘kesar makhan mishri’ and ‘kesar halwa’; followed by ‘kesar kheer’ in the afternoon and ‘kesar doodh’ at night. In Mathura’s Dwarkadhish Temple, ‘Rajadhiraj’ is served saffron milk and ‘suhaag sonth’- a winter savoury made with saffron, almonds, dry ginger and other warm ingredients.

With the onset of the month of Paush (of the Hindu calendar), Goswamis of Nandgaon’s Nanda Bhawan take extra care to protect Shri Krishna and his family from the cold weather. ‘Mithi Khichdi’ (a sweet preparation of rice and lentils) made with generous amounts of saffron, ‘kasturi’ and nuts is served to the lordships throughout the season. With the onset of ‘Agahan Maas’, Thakurji is given saffron and kasturi ‘paan beeda’ (betel leaf and betel nut mouth freshener) after meals.

In Baldeo’s Dauji Temple, Dauji and His consort Revathi are given special ‘kheer’ (rice pudding) in the afternoon and warm milk with nuts at night.

One of the most vibrant ‘khichdi festivals’ of Vrindavan is celebrated by the Radhavallabh temple, where Thakurji wears different disguises called ‘Chadm Bhesh’ after ‘Mangla Aarti’ every day for 40-45 days. Dressed as a bangle seller, fruit vendor or sometimes as a ‘sakhi’ he ventures out to meet Radharani in Barsana. The ‘Chadm Bhesh’ helps Him in deceiving Jatila and Kutila in order to get the association of Shrimati Radharani. Daily three four darshans are given in the interval of 5 – 7 minutes.

Despite the deepening cold, devotees flock to the temple every day to enjoy the special darshan of their Beloveds, while hoping to get a taste of His ‘khichdi prasad’. Shri Radhavallabh savours the ‘khichdi’ bhog while basking in the warmth from a silver ‘angithi’. On ‘Makar Sankranti’ dried fruits, saffron and nuts are an important part of the offering.

Thakurji’s ‘khichdi’ is cooked by the Goswamis. It is very dear to Him as it warms the innards during the cold season. The ‘khichdi’ is distributed to the devotees after He has partaken of it.

267711545_2759804767652945_6562058436363734816_n.jpg

Shri Radharaman Lal ji

The ingredients of the ‘khichdi’ include super fine rice meticulously cleaned, moong dal – one of the earliest lentils described in ancient scriptures of India, rock salt (sainda namak), white pepper, cumin seed, nutmeg, cloves, green and black cardamom, cinnamon, mace (javitri), bay leaves (tej patta), cashew nuts, raisins, almonds, pistachio, coconut, dates and saffron.

The finished preparation is enriched with the sumptuous addition of ghee (clarified butter), and it is this practice which popularised the saying ‘khichdi, ghee ki nichudi’ about Shri Radhavallabh’s Khichdi Bhog.

The ‘khichdi bhog’ is served along with ‘sandane’ (pickles of various types prepared without mustard oil), ‘basundhi’ (a preparation of concentrated milk), and ‘adrak koocha’ (ginger sauce).

The last preparation is a delicacy whose exact recipe is a strictly guarded secret, and it is available only to a few blessed devotees during this festival as ‘prasad’. The ‘adrak koocha’ consists of ginger well cleaned and ground on a stone mortar with a stone pestle along with black salt, rock salt, sloes (aloo bukhara), pomegranate seeds (anar dana), black currants (mungaa), black pepper, cumin seeds and some other ingredients that have digestive properties. It is prepared under hygienic condition (both spiritual and physical hygiene) in utensils made of metals that are most suitable for health.

The foods offered to the Lord have a close relation to health. In fact, some western university research scholars have been trying to study how ‘kadhi’ and other vegetables offered at the Radhavallabh Temple are enriched with iron, which fights diseases such as anaemia.

From flavors to musical notes

There’s no season, no tradition in Braj-Vrindavan which is not sung! Great saints from the veritable sampradayas of Braj have immortalised the many beautiful rituals and customs of this land in their lyrical ‘padas’ (verses).

This song by Shri Gunamanjari Das Goswami of Shri Radharaman Temple describes the scene where Thakurji is enjoying His ‘Khichdi Bhog’…

270140686_4827867533959864_5652875663798613099_n-2-684x1024.jpg


खिचरी सहचरी प्रात राधिकारमणजी को ।
सुरभी को घृत डार थार आगे लाई ॥
कचौरी अचार चार साग धरे तापर ।
पापर कचरी दधि मोदक मलाई ॥
मीठी मीठी बात करें दीठी सों दीठी भरें ।
अँगीठी सुगंध धरें सीत बीत जाई॥
चौकी पे बैठै आन रूचि सों लगे खान । प्रान वराति सूँ अराति करत आई ॥

Shri Priyaji (Radharani) feeds Radharamanji delicious khichri soaked in cow ghee, with fried kachoris (wheat rounds stuffed with spiced lentils), spicy pickles (achar) and four kinds of vegetable dishes, all accompanied by papad, wild cucumber (kachari), yoghurt and sweets. Gazing longingly into each other’s lotus eyes, the lovers share sweet conversation whilst the coal stove gives fragrant warmth. Radharamanji sits on a low seat (chauki) and happily enjoys the luscious khichri. When He finishes, Yashoda Maiya offers her very life to Him in the form of aarti. (English translation from the book Shri Radharaman Gita)

Shri Radhavallabh’s Khichdi Padas (verses)

राधा प्राण-प्यारी संग रसिकबिहारी भोर, उठे चित्रसारी ते चले हैं भोग भौन कौं। फरगुल अढा़ई पै शीत अधिकाई महा, तब तौ रजाई एक रोक्यौ तासौं पौन कौं।। भीर घिचपिच री त्यौं गर्मतर खिचरी मिली, पाई घृत निचुरी लेत स्वाद कियौ गौन कौं। वृन्दावन’ आरती निहारैं प्राण-वारती त्यौं, राग लै उचारती सखी लै तान तौन कौं।।

The ‘pada’ describes how Shrimati Radharani and Krishna relish their hot, spiced and ‘ghee-dripping’ ‘khichdi’ tucked inside the warm blanket during the wee hours of a cold winter morning. The ‘aarti’ and songs further add to their delight.

A108-AI

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by Vishakha Dasi

The Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance (BVHA) scored a major victory on December 17th when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) delivered its order on the longstanding case regarding the discharge of sewage into the sacred Yamuna River.

Unfortunately, the flow of sewage continues unabated, and it remains to be seen whether the state government will comply with the NGT’s directives. The original complaint was filed by BVHA members Shri Damodar Shastri and Shri Vijay Kishore Goswami with the impassioned support of advocate Shri Akash Vashishtha. Their statement revealed that Vrindavan’s two STPs, which have a combined daily capacity of a mere 12 million liters, are grossly insufficient to process the 20 million plus liters of effluent generated by Vrindavan’s population every day. 

Additionally, the Kosi drain brings in another 9 million liters of sewage from Kosi, 4 million liters from Raya, and an unknown amount from Chhata and a number of other small villages. Thereafter, the entire wastewater burden of the Kosi drain is dumped directly into the Yamuna River in Vrindavan’

In January of 2021, the UP Pollution Control Board recorded extremely high levels of pollutants in Vrindavan’s Yamuna, resulting in the following:
*Combined bacteria levels (Total Coliform) 136 times higher than the maximum permissible levels *Fecal contamination including e.coli (Fecal Coliform) approximately 12.4 times higher than the maximum permissible levels *Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of more than double the maximum permissible levels

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Kosi drain going into river Yamuna in Vrindavan

The NGT’s report offers the following scathing criticism of the state’s anti-pollution efforts to date: “The National Mission for Clean Ganga erroneously states in the letter dated July 23, 2020, that the work of the sewerage in Mathura – Vrindavan had been completed. The State Pollution Control Board has failed to perform its duties to prevent, control and abate pollution in Vrindavan under Section 17 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.” 

Unsurprisingly, the sewage and industrial effluent dumped into the Yamuna at Vrindavan was found to be the primary cause of pollution in the region, as the water downstream from Vrindavan is significantly more polluted than water tested upstream.

In conclusion, the NGT directed the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to monitor all pollution-control efforts by state agencies, and enjoined state authorities to ensure funding for sewage treatment. The Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority (MVDA) was also instructed to clear all encroachments on the floodplain, and plant trees in order to prevent further encroachment there.

A108-AI

21_11_2020-belvan-temple_21085022-650x445.jpgThousands of devotees visited Belvan on the first Thursday of ‘Pausa’. Devotees from Vrindavan and other places of Braj came in groups to Belvan. After taking darshan they prepared Khichdi together in the different camps and distributed the food among the devotees.

Among the winter festivals of Vraja, the Belvan Mela (fair) holds an important place. Thousands of people from across Vraja are visiting Belvan on every Thursday in the month of Pausa, to have darshan of Mahalaxmi in deep meditation.

Belvan is situated in Jehangirpur village across the Yamuna in Vrindavan. The temple of Mahalaxmi is the core of attraction of the festival. Devotees gather in the temple and sang various songs in praise of the Goddess. The annual fair of Belvan is held on the Thursdays in the month of Pausha (December – January). People gather in the Laxmi Temple of the Bevan to worship the Goddess of wealth on every Thursday of this holy month.

Devotees from the distant villages of Vraja and the surrounding districts come here to pay their respect to the Goddess who is in deep meditation to participate in the Maharasa of Shri Krishna. According to Shrimad Bhagvatam Lakshmi Devi is sitting, performing meditation to cross the Yamuna to enter the Rasa Lila. Once, Lakshmi Devi heard a description from Narada about Shri Krishna’s Rasa Lila with the Gopis.

An eagerness to behold this Rasa Lila arose in Lakshmi Devi’s heart. When she tried to enter Vrindavan to relish the Rasalila, she was stopped as no one is qualified to enter in Rasa lila except the Gopis, since they are the symbol of true love. Gopis had such unconditional and unmotivated love for Krishna that they were ready to do anything to please Krishna, to the extent that if by giving the dust of their feet, Krishna’s headache was relieved for even a moment then they were ready to give that dust even if they had to go to hell for such offence for the rest of eternity.

But Lakshmi Devi, being the Goddess of fortune was not willing to do simple village chores like the Gopis such as picking up the cow dung paddies, milk cows, churn butter etc. Therefore, Lakshmi Devi stayed in Belvan, but couldn’t cross the Yamuna to enter Rasa Mandala. In order to enter the Rasa Lila Lakshmi began performing sever austerities at Belvan and to this day she is performing austerities here with this desire. Devotees offered bhog to the Goddess and distributed the prasad among the people present there. Women make swastika with Gobar (cow dung), to seek the well being of their families. While celebrating the Goddess of wealth, devotees used the event as picnic where they prepare Khichdi, in which everyone in the group participate in cooking. Later everyone enjoyed the Kichdi prasad together.

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Dauji & Ravati Mata

Brajraj Thakur, Shri Dauji Maharaj’s 441 Prakatoksav was marked with a delightful celebration on Agahan Poornima on Sunday. Lakki Mela or Fair is organized every year during this time which lasts for one month. Traditionally lord Dauji is covered with a quilt on every Margshish Poornima. This festival coincides with the foundation day ceremony of the Dauji temple in Braj. This is also known as Lakki Mela due to the large number of devotees that gather here for this occasion.

This ritualistic event is also known as Gaddal Poornima, getting its name from ‘gaada’ i.e quilt. This signifies that the cold climate has begun in Braj and one should start protecting themselves from cold.  At this time, the lord is covered with a quilt. Keeping in mind the harsh cold climate, there are few changes done in the daily routine like going to bed early with a late morning rise. There’s a change to their cuisine and dresses too.

Inside the temple, there’s a beautiful deity of the divine couple. According to the archeologists, the deity established in the temple is of lord Krishna’s era. This temple is one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in Braj. The beautiful blackish deity is 8 feet tall  whereas the width is 3.5 feet and is seated on a grand throne. On its back there is ‘Sheshnag’ casting a shadow. In front of Brajraj there is a beautiful deity of His Consort Revati Mata.

It is said that Kheer was offered to Brajraj when he appeared and even now devotees are seen offering this in Braj Bhog. Whereas in the Bal Bhog, Makhan and Mishri is being offered to the lord.

Crowds of devotees were enthralled to participate in the worship of Dauji

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Dauji temple at Baldev village of Mathura

Devotees offered bhoga of Makhan and Mishri to the lord. They were seen dancing on various bhajans in the spirit of devotion. Deities were beautifully dressed after  Maha Abhishek. Their gorgeous form fascinated everyone who came to seek their blessings. The temple was elegantly decorated and music was being played, while the scholars recited the Balbhadra Sahastranama.

Lakki Mela was commenced by Vidhayak Puran Prakash, Chairman Kamal Kumar Pandey and SDM Devendra pal Singh. Nagar Panchayat has made provisions that include good electricity supply, water availability, cleanliness and water tankers have been arranged for the shopkeepers, vendors, circus staff and other people engaged in such services.

Chairman Kamal Kumar Pandey has said that this time there would be cultural and entertainment programmes too. He also assured that covid norms will be followed strictly. Vidhayak Punam Prakash said, ” This Mela is historic, legendary and ancient. We’re working to make this event a grand success.”

The present day temple was built by Shyamlal Seth from Delhi. It is believed that the deity of Dauji Maharaj and Revati Mata was manifested in the year 1582 to Goswami Shri Gokulnathji, who’s the grandson of Shrimad Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhu. A grand temple was built for Dauji Maharaj in 1983. The custom has been carried on since then. The seva of the deities were handed over to Shree Kalyan Dev whose family is engaged in this service even today. 

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268429719_2754464474853641_8593209654093531240_n-edited.jpgKhichdi Mahotsava at Shri Radharaman Temple begins on the Vyanjan Dwadashi. Special arrangement is being done at Shri Radharaman temple to keep the Lord warm during the ‘Sheet Seva Mahotsava’.

Administering the ‘Seva Mahotsava’, Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami ji said, “The delicious. ‘Kichadi’ containing various spices and varieties of pulses is offered to Shri Radharaman. The Khichdi is made of meva, jaggery, sesame, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg and garam masala is an integral part of the daily offerings in the temple during the winter to keep the Lord warm. Other food items that are offered to include peanut gazak, til papdi rolls, Urd daal laddos, moong daal barfis, dry fruits like kaju badam, pista and anjeer.”

Thakurji is generally dressed in velvet and woolen clothes from the onset of the winter season. Woolen blanket, shawl, quilt, knitted hat, socks and muffler are offered to the lord as the cold increases.  The deities can be seen draped in warm clothes, and a sigari (heater burned from coal) is kept to protect them from the chilling cold.

All the major temples of Shri Dham Vrindavan follow their different ways to keep the Lordships warm during the cold weather. The temple priests are adorning their deities by offering woolen blankets and designer warm clothes apart from arranging hot water and hot eatables for the presiding deities. Various food items, which are considered healthy and best suited for the season, are being offered. In the night, milk with Kesar and Mewa is offered and the beautiful Deities are anointed with Kesar itra (fragrant saffron scent.)

Apart from the winter Shringar (dressing) and food, there’s also change in their routine. The deities go to bed early and rise late in the morning. Hot water is also being arranged everyday for their baths. The priests are lovingly serving their deities in Braj while the devotees are mesmerized by the beautiful sight of the Lord.

The devotees can be seen buying warm clothes as the cold season prevails in Vrindavan. With this the winter ‘seva’ has begun in the temples in Braj. People are seen buying winter staples like sweaters, blankets, shawl, socks for their lordships. Special winter bhog containing suitable ingredients are being offered to Lord.

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