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  1. Around two hundred years back, when Gopal Das Mukherjee was the temple pujari. One morning when he was doing Madan Mohan’s shringar, he found it difficult to put the deity’s turban on him. He couldn’t put the turban even in after several attempts. Annoyed by the difficulty, the pujari slapped Madan Mohan with his left hand and did not bother trying to put the turban on afterward. That night Madan Mohan himself appeared to the then Mahant, Shri Chandra Das Goswami, and told him what had happened. He complained, “When Yashoda Maa dressed me up before I went off to gocharan (cow grazing), she would give me kheer or butter to eat. I was thinking of my mother’s love while the pujari was putting the turban. While remembering the mother I shook my head, which made it difficult for the pujari to put the turban.” The next day, the mahant went to the temple to see if the turban had been put on the deity. He found that it was missing from Madan Mohan’s head. When interrogated about the missing pagri, the pujari said that the bhandari (the storehouse manager) had not been able to get a good turban from the market, and this one was too small. Then the Mahant asked him if he had slapped Madan Mohan and the pujari shamefully admitted his misdeed. So the Mahant immediately sacked the pujari after paying him off. The pujari was so disappointed that he went to the Pushpanandan Ghat and began a hunger strike to the death, as he could not bear to live without serving Madan Mohan. With each passing day his condition deteriorated. All this was too much for Madan Mohan, who could not bear to see his devotee in trouble. He appeared again to the mahant in a dream and pleaded with him to re-employ the pujari. Madan Mohan excused the pujari’s offense as he had been in haste to perform his father’s shraddh ceremony that day. When the pujari was asked about it, he admitted that he had been late for the shraddh and was in hurry and that is why he had been frustrated. Pujari was finally given his job back and the tradition to offer kulia after shringar was established in the temple. The samadhi of the Pujari Shri Gopal Mukherjee is still there in the temple grounds. Many similar stories are told about the deities of each of the Sapta Devalayas and the temples of the contemporary times. When narrated by the Acharyas, these stories seem to be as real as if happening just in front of us.
  2. Although Hit Dhruva Das is already giving the example of how to reside in Vrindavan, as we saw in the previous installment of Vrindavana-sata-lila, here he specifically takes the voice of the teacher and advises those who have been attracted by the glories of the Dham on how they need to behave, in other words, he tells us about the nature of Vraja-vasa sadhana. He describes an amazing spiritual practice that seems contrary to logic – The material vision is to see Vrindavan as a part of this material world. But, in fact, it is the bridge to the spiritual world of Divine Love. It is impossible to convey this to someone who has not experienced the bliss of chanting the Holy Names, who has not experienced the joys of singing the glories of the Divine Couple. Such acts of devotion open the doors to grace, and bestow upon one such powers of perception that when the devotee lies flat in sashtanga dandavat pranams in Vrindavan’s dust, s/he can feel the power of unlimited millions of devotees’ love for the Lord penetrating every atom of the body. How can one explain this to the uninitiated, whose minds and hearts are filled with desires for the fleeting pleasures of this world? And how to explain to the materialistic that only by giving up the pleasures of this world can one’s mind become capable of entering that mystical paradise that exists just beyond the eyes and mind of flesh? वृन्दावन इह विधि बसै तजि कैं सब अभिमान । तृन तैं नीचौ आपकौं जानै सोई जान ॥८७॥ vṛndāvana iha vidhi basai taji kaiṁ saba abhimāna | tṛna taiṁ nīcau āpakauṁ jānai soī jāna ||87|| The rule for residing in Vrindavan is to give up all false ego; Think of yourself as lower than grass, for that is true knowledge. कोमल चित सब सौं मिलै कबहुँ कठोर न होइ । निस्प्रेही निर्वैरता ताकौ सत्रु न कोइ ॥८८॥ komala cita saba sauṁ milai kabahuɱ kaṭhora na hoi | nisprehī nirvairatā tākau satru na koi ||88|| Deal with everyone gently, don’t ever be hard-hearted, give up material expectations and hostility, so that you make no enemies. दूजै तीजै जो जुरै साक पत्र कछु आइ । ताही सौं सन्तोष करि रहै अधिक सुख पाइ ॥८९॥ dūjai tījai jo jurai sāka patra kachu āi | tāhī sauṁ santoṣa kari rahai adhika sukha pāi ||89|| Whatever leaves or grains come to you every second or third day, be satisfied with that, you will find greater happiness living in that way. देह स्वाद छुटि जाइँ सब कछु होइ छीन सरीर । प्रेम रंग उर में बढ़ै बिहरै जमुना तीर ॥९०॥ deha svāda chuṭi jāiɱ saba kachu hoi chīna sarīra | prema raṁga ura meṁ baḏhai biharai jamunā tīra ||90|| Give up attachment to the sense of taste, and even if you become emaciated, increase the joy in your heart by wandering on the banks of the Yamuna. जुगल रूप की झलक उर नैंननि रहै झलकाइ । ऐसे सुख के रंग में राखै मनहि रँगाइ ॥९१॥ jugala rūpa kī jhalaka ura naiṁnani rahai jhalakāi | aise sukha ke raṁga meṁ rākhai manahi raɱgāi ||91|| The form of the Divine Couple will appear suddenly to your eyes like a flash, keep your mind colored with the colors of joy from that vision. आवै छबि की झलक उर झलकै नैंननि वारि । चिन्तत स्यामल गौर तन सकहि न तनै सँभारि ॥९२॥ āvai chabi kī jhalaka ura jhalakai naiṁnani vāri | cintata syāmala gaura tana sakahi na tanai saɱbhāri ||92|| May the image of the Divine Couple appear in your heart, tears in your eyes, May you think constantly of the Dark and Fair forms and forget your connection to the body. जीरन पट अति दीन लट हियैं सरस अनुराग । विवस सघन वन में फिरै गावत जुगल सुहाग ॥९३॥ jīrana paṭa ati dīna laṭa hiyaiṁ sarasa anurāga | vivasa saghana vana meṁ phirai gāvata jugala suhāga ||93|| Wear old rags, take on the appearance of a beggar, but in your heart love’s juice will brim, and you should wander in the forest, carefree, singing songs of the Divine Couple’s love. रसमय देखत फिरै वन नैंननि वन रहै आइ । कहुँ कहुँ आनँद रंग भरि परै धरनि थहराइ ॥९४॥ rasamaya dekhata phirai vana naiṁnani vana rahai āi | kahuɱ kahuɱ ānaɱda raṁga bhari parai dharani thaharāi ||94|| Your eyes should look at the nectar filled forest until it remains printed on your vision, and you will sometimes be so overwhelmed with the flow of joy that you fall to the ground in ecstasy. ऐसी गति ह्वै है कबहुँ मुख निसरत नहिं बैंन । देखि देखि वृन्दाविपिन भरि भरि ढारै नैंन ॥९५॥ aisī gati hvai hai kabahuɱ mukha nisarata nahiṁ baiṁna | dekhi dekhi vṛndāvipina bhari bhari ḍhārai naiṁna ||95|| Will that destiny ever be mine, when no words come from my mouth, when just looking at Vrindavan Dham, my eyes will fill with a rush of tears? वृन्दावन तरु तरु तरै ढरै नैंन सुख नीर । चिन्तत फिरै आवेस बस स्यामल गौर सरीर ॥९६॥ vṛndāvana taru taru tarai ḍharai naiṁna sukha nīra | cintata phirai āvesa basa syāmala gaura sarīra ||96|| When I will take shelter of the trees, tears of joy flowing from my eyes, and I wander under the control of absorption in the beauty of the Dark and Fair Couple. परम सच्चिदानन्दघन वृन्दाविपिन सुदेस । जामें कबहूँ होत नहिं माया काल प्रवेस ॥९७॥ parama saccidānandaghana vṛndāvipina sudesa | jāmeṁ kabahūɱ hota nahiṁ māyā kāla pravesa ||97|| This lovely land of Vrindavan is the supreme manifestation of existence, consciousness and bliss, where the illusory power and Time can never find entrance. सारद जो सत कोटि मिलि कलपन करैं विचार । वृन्दावन सुख रंग कौ कबहुँ न पावैं पार ॥९८॥ sārada jo sata koṭi mili kalapana karaiṁ vicāra | vṛndāvana sukha raṁga kau kabahuɱ na pāvaiṁ pāra ||98|| If I were to live for ten million years, using the best of my imagination, still I would never be able to find the limits of the blissful world of Vrindavan Dham. वृन्दावन आनंद घन सब तें उत्तम आहि । मो तें नीच न और कोऊ कैसे पैहौं ताहि ॥९९॥ vṛndāvana ānaṁda ghana saba teṁ uttama āhi | mo teṁ nīca na aura koū kaise paihauṁ tāhi ||99|| Vrindavan is the place of intense bliss, greater than any other, No one is a more lowly creature than myself, so how can I ever attain it? इत बौना आकास फल चाहत है मन माहिं । ताकौ एक कृपा बिना और जतन कछु नाहिं ॥१००॥ ita baunā ākāsa phala cāhata hai mana māhiṁ | tākau eka kṛpā binā aura jatana kachu nāhiṁ ||100|| Such aspirations are like imaginary fruits that are desired in a hungry man’s mind; only Radha’s grace will bestow it on me, efforts themselves are as nothing.
  3. Vrindavan, 22nd August, 2015: Jhulanotsava, the festival of swinging, is being celebrated with fervor and gaiety across Vraja and Vrindavan. The deities of the various temples are seated on a swing and gently swung by the temple priests. The deities are giving darshan to their devotees from the majestic swings made of Gold, silver and wood. Even in the small households of Vrindavan the brajwasis and the devotees are celebrate the swing festival by getting their deities of Gopal ji and Radha Krishna seated on the ‘swing’ decorated in the alters . The deities are offered the sweet delicacies of Ghevar, feni, gujias, balooshahis etc. The festival began with the Hariyali Teej, third day of the bright half of the month of Shravan, and will last till the full moon of Shravan, Raksha Bandhan. When most of the temples began celebrating the swing festival by placing the deities on the swings, some temples are yet to celebrate the festival. They will begin the Jhulanotsava from Ekadashi. The ‘hindola’ made of gold in the Banke Bihari Temple was the major attraction on the first day as the devotees from the surrounding districts and the nearby towns thronged in the temple to have a glance of the majestic ‘hindola’. The temples of Shri Radha Raman, Radha Ballabh, Radha Shyam Sundar, Radha Damodar, Radha Gokulananda, Radha Govinda, Radha Gopinath, Radha Madan Mohan are also drawing the crowd of devotees. Samaj Gayan and Kirtan is being organized according to the rainy season mood of Shravan. For the festival of swinging, special verses are rendered in the temples, as the deities are seated on a swing and gently swung by the temple priests. The ras lila enacts the event of the Jhulan lila or play of swinging, that depicts the Divine Couple, swinging in the grove – a drama full of sweet emotions and loving sentiments. Various Raas Lila troupes are performing the dance drama to represent all of the Lord’s activities or pastimes in different places of Vrindavan. Swami Fateh Krishna’s Raas Lila Mandali is performing the dance drama of Shri Krishna Lila and Gouranga Lila from the stage of Gambhira in Jai Singh Ghera under the auspices of Shri Caitanya Prema Samasthan. Every raslila consists of an initial dance followed by a one act play based on any one of the multitude of Krishna’s lilas. The entire performance receives its name from its prior element, the ras, its most sacred component and its recurrent feature.
  4. Barsana, 2015.07.01 I have been ordered by the residents of the dhāma to speak about the dhāma. How can I talk about dhāma? I am unable to do this because I do not understand the dhāma. Even Brahma Ji cannot describe the dhāma then how can I possibly do so? Since there is a formality here in this program I shall try. I will share with you my first lesson when coming to Braja and talk about this incident as it concerns Śri Priya Sharan Das Bābājī for whom you have organized this annual celebration. That day was the point when my relationship with the dhāma began. Bābā (Śri Priya Sharan Das Bābājī) had come to Mān Mandir during a parikrama around Braja. In those days I, although not knowing much, used to frequently lecture in many places like Jaipur, and Alwar. On one very hectic day, running around in a car, I delivered 33 lectures, and people followed me to the various places till 2am. In the final lecture, I had answered 12 questions in a very authoritative manner, and people listened with great interest. Then came the 13th question; “How can one realize God?” It was a big crowd and suddenly I felt quite awkward. My tongue stumbled and I could not reply, it wasn’t that I felt sick physically. I thought to myself whether I could even answer this question? “Have I personally realized Śrī Ji myself?” Later, while I was resting, I asked the owner of the house to just to take me back to Braja. I insisted that if he did not, I would immediately walk back myself. He finally agreed and brought me to Barṣāṇā, however there were a lot of followers who wanted my lectures and to keep in contact. We were busy preparing pamphlets for my discourses when Priya Sharan Das Bābā had come to Mān Mandir on his passage through Braja. He questioned me whether at such a young age, had I actually given up my previous habits of lecturing and intermingling to do bhajan? I appreciated his comment and then started going to his lectures. He then told me, “That since I had left home for Kṛṣṇa, it is better that I take the shelter of the dhāma, and be dependent on the dhāma.” This changed my life. I started reading a lot of scriptures about the dhāma like the Śataks and other texts. From that point I withdrew from all outside connections, affiliations, reading, and writing, with any world outside the dhāma. As a result, I had to face a lot of opposition from my followers. Today, you are glorifying my guru Mahārāj, the one who taught me about the dhāma so I will speak about the dhāma. This brings back fond memories of him, as he was the one who gave me a great lesson. Bhagavān’s nāma (names), rupa (form), dhāma (abode), līlā (pastimes), guṇa (attributes) and jana (pure devotees), are all on the same platform. However, it has been declared by rasikās (experts in tasting rāsa) that the most simple and easy way to approach Bhagavān is through the dhāma. Even though the nāma is very easy, it cannot be chanted 24 hours a day as one needs to sleep. It is neither possible to chant harināma during sleep, as the jīva is not situated in such an elevated state, to perpetually meditate on the rupa, or continually glorify the qualities of Bhagavān. Again, it is not feasible to uninterruptedly sing the glorious līlās of the Supreme, and is difficult to have uninterrupted access and serve the jana. Hence, the saints clearly advise that one should take shelter of the dhāma, and be reliant on it. While in dhāma, you are there in all conditions. When you sleep you in the dhāma, when you wake up you still are in the dhāma. The Śataka-karas have mentioned hundreds of ślokas in this regard. They have gone to the extent of saying; dūre caitanya-caraṇāḥ kalir āvirabhūn mahān |[/b] kṛṣṇa-premā kathaṁ prāpyo vinā vṛndāvane ratim ||[/b]4.29|| All the ācāryas have already left. The very air that touched them could deliver a jīva. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrī Vallabhācārya Mahāprabhu, Swami Haridāsaji, Śrī Hitharivanshji Mahārāj, Mahavānikār Hari Vyāsaji are all gone. How can one obtain Kṛṣṇa prema now? The author of the Śataka says that the only available resort now is the Vṛndāvanaraja (dust of Vṛndāvana), the dhāma raja. Even in the Śiva Upāsanā it is stated: kāśyām maraṇān muktiḥ. If you cannot do much, just go and die in Kāśi. The same is found in Rāma Upāsanā also. baṁdauṁ avadha purī ati pāvani sarajū sari kali kaluṣa nasāvani These are the bare facts. The glories of the dhāma hold true in all yugas including Kali-yuga and even at the time of the pralaya (devastation). It destroys the vices of Kali-yuga. A visual proof is the number of people visiting the dhāma every year. In one day of Moodia (Guru) purnima in Braja, over 400 thousand people visit Govardhan, according to the newspapers. It is not inaccurate to say that millions visit Govardhan throughout the year. Similarly, millions come to Vṛndāvana, Gokul, Barṣāṇā (during Holi & Rādhāṣṭami), Nandgaon, Dauji, Kamyavan (Kama), and Mathura. Millions upon millions visit the dhāma to reap the benefits of its potencies. This is a practical proof that the dhāma is alleviating the devotees from the vices of Kali yuga. The same holds true for Awadh dhāma also. pranavauṁ pura nara nāri bahorī mamatā jinha para prabhu hi nā thorī RCM 1.15.2 One should pay obeisance’s to the people who live in the dhāma. They are the ‘transformed loved ones’ of God just by the virtue of staying in the dhāma. A very special aspect of the dhāma is that even the most unpardonable/unforgiveable offence turns pardonable by the mercy of the dhāma. For example, a mere rajaka (washerman) had made a great offence towards Bhagavatī Sītā by commenting that Rāmā could not be Rāmā for accepting His wife Sītā Ji back. He was not alone, as he had encouraged an entire community who harbored such feelings. However, all of them were pardoned of their deplorable offence by the mercy of the dhāma, as how a mother pardons the many offences of her child against herself. siyā niṁdaka agha ogha nasāe lok visoka banāi basāe The merciful dhāma destroyed this great wave of transgressions by this group of offenders against Sita Ji, they were pardoned by the dhāma. This is the greatest proof of the unimaginable potencies of the dhāma, as they all remained and lived in the dhāma. majjahiṁ sajjana vṛṁda bahu pāvana sarajū nīra japahiṁ rāma dhari dhyāna ura suṁdara syāma sarīra daras paras majjan aru pānā | hara i pāpa kaha beda purānā nadī punīta amit mahimā ati | kahi na saka i sāradā bimala mati RCM 1.34 Merely by staying in this dhāma, one obtains the Nitya dhāma without even trying for it. rāma dhāmadā purī suhāvani loka samasta bidita ati pāvani cāri khāni jaga jīva apārā avadha tajeṁ tanu nahiṁ saṁsārā If one cannot do much, one can at least simply go to the dhāma and die there. The glories of the dhāma are even sung by the Lord Himself. Lord Rāmā glorified Awadh dhāma to his beloved associates when he was returning from Laṅkā. He said that although Vaikuṇṭha is most absolute and is glorified by the Vedas and the Purāṇas, Awadh is far superior even though it is just a puri and appears mundane on bhurloka. The same has also been said about Braja. aho madhupurī dhanyā vaikuṇṭhaś ca garīyasī jadyapi sab vaikunth bakhana, veda puran bidit jagu jana avadhpuri sam priy nahi sou, yah prasang janai kou kou This concept is beyond the grasp of most to have such śraddhā, and such niṣṭhā. One may be a true scholar or even a truly renounced man, but such niṣṭhā is very difficult to achieve. Lord Rāma himself says that such niṣṭhā can be attained by only a very few. janmabhoomi mam puri suhavani uttar disi bah sarju pavni In this dhāma, the Lord performs unlimited past times; even the līlās of birth are found here which are not present in the nitya līlās. ja majjan te binhi prayasa, mam samip nar pavhi basa ati priy mohi ihan ke basi, mam dhamda puri sukh rasi Merely by staying in the dhāma, one is blessed with affection from the Lord Himself. One becomes His beloved. One who sees any difference between the Lord and His nāma, His dhāma or dhāmi (God Who performed līlās there), cannot be considered a devotee, no matter what. Even if one is a highly learned scholar it does not make a difference. He is certainly not a devotee. jā majjan te binahin prayāsa, mam sameep nar pāvahin bāsa One realizes the Lord just by dint of just living in the dhāma. To bathe and live in the dhāma will bring one to the Lord without effort. This is one of foremost aspects of the dhāma. This has also been declared by the rasikās of Braja and is a universal siddhānta (truth). One achieves perfection in the dhāma. It is a simple solution to realize God. This belief is important when one arrives in the dhāma, and stays in the dhāma. When one has no astha (belief), one still realizes God but the time duration is greatly extended. One surely realizes God, be it this birth or a later one. Even the one without astha shall receive pure satsaṅga some day, though it might be billions of years or kalpas in the future. There are several proofs to this statement and I shall talk about them later. This is important for people like us who are living in the dhāma. koaoo janam awadh bas joaee, ram parāyan avashya so hoi I shall narrate to you some stories about the dhāma’s potencies wherein even after many kalpas people have realized God. It is a sure fact that all the dhāma dwellers shall realize God one day, however, time durations may differ. Some day every dhāma-vasi shall have āsthā (faith) in pure satsaṅga and hence shall be able to realize God. There is however, a catch; one needs to maintain faith. There are several people around who mislead, distract and eventually bring down the āsthā. It is not only gṛhasthas but even sādhus who often bewilder people and make them fall spiritually. I do not say this because I detest anyone. Many people who visit me, often talk about dhāma niṣṭhā (devotion) in a rather undesirable way. They do so as they need to justify their travels outside Braja. I say, if you need to travel outside Braja, do so but do not speak about dhāma niṣṭhā in a poor light. Say, if one has conviction in the nāma and someone else confuses and weakens his faith, it is a nāma aparādha. Similary, in the case with the dhāma, it is people like me who incur dhāma aparādhe. I speak from experience as I have observed many people visiting scholars, even renounced ascetics, commit dhāma aparādha by speaking in an undesirable way. One cannot rebuke them as they have neither inquisitiveness nor eagerness to learn, and will not accept any advice. Such people shall get the dhāma’s mercy at a very later point of time. avadha prabhāva jāna taba prāni Why does it take so long to get the dhāma’s mercy? What is it that stops the dhāma from performing its miracle? The answer is; jaba ura basahiṁ rāma dhanupānī It shall happen only when you have the lotus feet of the Lord in your heart. (RCM 7.96) The above few examples have been given from Rāmāyaṇa on purpose. I do not claim to be a scholar on Rāmāyaṇa as I hardly understand it at all. I merely speak from Rāmāyaṇa to establish the fact that dhāma niṣṭhā is a universal truth, be it Awadh, Kāśi or Braja. We shall talk about Braja now. The same dhāma niṣṭhā has been emphasized for Braja also, that one cannot understand Vṛndāvana’s true svarupa (real form) just because one is staying in the dhāma. One shall understand the glories of the dhāma only when one has Rādhārāṇī’s lotus feet in his heart. As also mentioned earlier about Awadh: jaba ura basahiṁ rāma dhanupānī, Only when the bow wielding Lord Rāma takes a seat in your heart shall you realize the potencies of the dhāma, not before that, ever. Being scholarly does not help at all. Only when one’s istha dhāmi takes seat in one’s heart, can one obtain dhāma niṣṭhā. Prior to this, it’s a vacuum. People are fond of debating “Is God not all pervading and omni present?” Where is He not? They come up with such ideas and one is forced to remain silent. They say that we are trying to prove that God is not all pervading. All I want to say to them, “Oh dear ones, we absolutely agree that God is all pervading but all we are doing is embracing what has been declared by true saints of the past. If you want to sue me, you would had better sue those maha purushas (saints).” I am a mere parrot and have memorized these facts by heart and keep repeating them. God, the all pervading is like a tree. It happens that a fruit appears on this tree. You tell me, what is better to eat, the tree or the fruit from the tree? Of course, it is the fruit. I shall explain everything with scriptural evidences. If I eat the fruit, it does not mean that I have denounced the tree or have chopped it down. The relished fruit has appeared from the tree and the fact is that by my eating it, my niṣṭhā for the tree only grows in the process. The one who sees the tree and its fruit as different entities is a deluded person. God, the master of infinite universes stays only in Braja; they say that by saying this we are limiting Him, under stating His glories. They keep coming up with big arguments. Hear this; bhovan anek roam prati jāsu yeh mahima kachu bahut nā tāsu People say that we have reduced the master of infinite universes to just a master of a small place like Awadh. No we did not. One should ask the tree why it bears fruit. Why does tree not turn into a big fruit? Should one eat the whole tree? Should one eat the bark of a mango tree? soaoo jāne kar phal yeh leela kahe hi mahamunivar damsheela It is not that we have reduced God or placed a limitation on Him. We have only portrayed Him as ‘nectar fruit’. This is so as only fruit can bear nectar and not the tree. Hence, one should understand the glories of the dhāma. If one does not understand these glories then he shall not obtain the nectar of the dhāma and is a fool no matter how brilliant a scholar he may be. It is not me saying this, it is Gosvāmī Tulsidasji saying it and if you wish to sue somebody it should be him and not me. Even He put up an admonition as he actually said this principal has been declared by the great saints of the past. You never know when a critic may come up with an undermining detraction. Hence, he said that the true great saints have countered with this concept, that when God becomes a ‘dweller of one place,’ only then does true nectar manifest. It is after understanding these glories can one come to relish the nectar of God. so mahima khagesh jin jāni phir yehi charit tin hi rati māni Oh Garudaji, people who have understood these glories then relish the nectar that follows while (Bābā says) people like me only come up with counter questions, doubts and arguments and also claim to be learned scholars. They, after having understood all the glories, accept the supremacy of the dhāma. It is very difficult to understand this concept. The same has been said about Braja Vṛndāvana. Let us now talk about Braja now. It is declared by the Rādhā Sudhanidhikar’s that one cannot understand the glories of Braja Vṛndāvana. One can counter claim that he has studied a lot on the subject. But that is not important at all. One can claim to be a complete renounced ascetic. Well, renunciation can go to a choolah (oven). Even a Brahmānandi (a person in a state of Brahman/supreme beatitude) cannot perceive Braja. Radha Sudha Nidhikar states; brahmānandaika-vādāḥ katicana bhagavad-vandanānanda-mattāḥ kecid govinda-sakhyādy-anupama-paramānandam anye svadante | śrī-rādhā-kiṅkarīṇāṁ tv akhila-sukha-camatkāra-sāraika-sīmā tat-pādāmbhoja-rājan-nakha-maṇi-vilasaj-jyotir-eka-cchaṭāpi ||148|| Some in this world are uniquely devoted to the ecstasy of Brahma realization, while others are intoxicated with the joy of glorifying the Personal Lord. Some others relish an incomparable joy in friendship and other moods with Govinda. Those who are the maidservants of Radha, however, from even a single flash of the rays of the jewel toenails of her lotus feet experience the very upper limit of the essence of all wondrous manifestations of bliss. What to talk about Bābāji, Abāji, even a person who is a brahmanandi cannot realize Braja. What to do? Well, rasikas spell out the way. yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ dhyeyaṁ naiva kadāpi yad dhṛdi vinā tasyāḥ kṛpā-sparśataḥ | yat premāmṛta-sindhu-sāra-rasadaṁ pāpaika-bhājām api tad vṛndāvana-duṣpraveśa-mahimāścaryaṁ hṛdi sphūrjatu ||266|| May the wondrous glories of Vrindavan, and understanding of which is so difficult to reach, which are only completely accessible to the heart that has become absorbed in service to Radha’s lotus feet, which can never be meditated upon without the touch of Radharani’s mercy, and which bestows the flavors of the essence of the ocean of nectar of Prema, be manifest even to those who are devoted to a sinful life, like me. The kripa (mercy) of the dhāma has been defined at three levels. The first are those who can see the dhāma clearly. The divya (divine) Barṣāṇā, divya Vṛndāvana. They see the divya, chinmaya (eternal), manimaya (laden with priceless stones) dhāma. Not all can visualize the true dhāma. It is not for people like me who do not have eyes. So who are the ones who can? They are the ones where yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ exists. It is when you get kainkarya (affinity) towards the lotus feet of Ladali Ji (Rādhārāṇī), when the concept of I, being the body, goes. When you stop believing that you are a body of 30, 40, 70 years, young or old at age. It is when one stops seeing identities. The belief that I am Gopal das, he is Śyāma das and someone else is Rāma das should not be there. The fact is that only kainkaryas exist and all are sakhīs of Rādhārāṇī. They are the ones who see the dhāma clearly. This has been declared by the rasikās. If you have any doubt then you better keep it to yourself as I have no answers to them. I only speak from the scriptures and nowhere else. yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ To understand Śrīmān Vṛndāvana, one needs the complete kripa of Kiśorī Jī (Rādhārāṇī). One understands simply nothing without Rādhārāṇī’s mercy. Only after Her mercy does one see dhāma. This is the first level of the dhāma’s mercy. The same philosophy has been declared earlier in Rāmāyaṇa. avadha prabhāva jāna taba prānī jaba ura basahiṁ rāma dhanupānī One can match both. It is the same principal for the dhāma. The difference that exists does so only in our hearts. yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ
  5. Vrindavan, 4th May 2015: Radha Raman Dev takes birth again on Monday to please his devotees. A large number of devotees thronged in the Radha Raman Temple on the appearance day of the self manifested deity. The devotees felt blessed by witnessing the Mahabhishek, which continued for three hours. Everyone wanted to have a glimpse of their beloved Radha Raman having bath with the milk, honey, ghee, herbs, fruit juices etc. amid the Vedic chants. More than 2000 litres of milk, 350 kg of curd, and 100 kinds of herbs were used for the Mahabhishek. Every Goswami took their turn to serve the Lord, by showering panchamrita. The Mahabhishek ritual was performed under the supervision of the Senior Goswamis. The sound of the temple bell of the Radharaman Mandir resonated in the old part of the town during the Mahabhishek, hearing which the devotees ran to the temple to witness the spiritual event. In the morning when the curtain of the temple was raised the devotees shouted slogans in the praise of Shri Radha Raman. While many devotees stood with folded hands during the abhishek, others were catching the event in their cameras and mobiles. The Goswamis sang the traditional songs in the praise of the Lord. The Lord was adorned with the ornaments and new clothes after the Mahabhishek, which was followed by Aarti. The Goswamis distributed prasadam to the devotees. In the evening the temple was decorated with the scented flowers by organizing grand ‘Phool bangla’. Many foreign devotees also celebrated the appearance day of the adored of Shri Gopal Bhatta Goswami. Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami, Shri Padmanabh Goswami, Shri Vasudev Goswami, Shri Padma lochan Goswami and many other goswamis were present in the sanctum sanctorum during the divine event.
  6. Vrindavan, April 21, 2015: Devotees from around the country thronged in Vrindavan to have a glimpse of the Lord decorated with the sandal paste in his whole body. The deities gave darshan smearing the çhandan on Tuesday afternoon. The temples were beautifully decorated with flowers, balloons and lights. On the occasion of the Akshaya Tritiya the deities of various temples were adorned the sandal paste to bring relief to the Lord from the scotching heat of summer. The cooling effect of the sandal is very pleasing to the lord during summer. The festival of smearing sandal wood is also known as Chandan Yatra. The devotees and the temple priests started grinding the sandalwood one month ahead of this day to obtain paste from it. They collected the paste in a vessel by maintaining complete sanctity. The sandal paste wass mixed with camphor and other ingredients on the day of Chandan Yatra. The paste was applied on the whole body of the deities of Shri Krishna after the Panchamrita Abhishek. Hardly any clothes were worn by the deities. Later the deities were adorned with the garland of tulsi and scented flowers. The devotees felt blessed to have darshan of the lotus feet of Shri Krishna. Smearing the body of Lord with ointments is considered to be an act of devotion, and the best of the ointment is the sandalwood. The Lordships in the Saptadevalyas were offered with the ‘Sheetal-bhog’, which contain sattu (made of roasted grain powders), cucumber, watermelon, sprout dal etc. The Sheetal Bhog will be offered until the ‘Jal-Yatra’, the festival which will follow after a month. The temples of Shri Radha Raman, Radha Gokulananda, Radha Shyam Sundar, Radha Damodar, Banke Bihari, Radha Ballabh, Krishna Balaram were crowded with the devotees in the afternoon to have the darshan. While the sandalwood paste brought pleasure to the body of the lord, the darshan of the deities smearing sandalwood paste brought peace to the eyes of the devotees. Akshay Tritiaya, according to the Vedic calendar, is a day considered to be conductive to success in any significant endeavor. Traditionally those are aware of Akshaya Tritiya’s benefit schedule major life events – marriage, business ventures, entering in a new residence and initiations. All the marriage homes of Vrindavan were booked on this day.
  7. Vrindavan, April 21, 2015: The restoration of ‘Seva Kunj’ got disputed when the Goswamis of the temple shrine charged serious allegation against the organization which undertook the restoration work there. Several people including the Goswamis of Seva Kunj, saints, Brahmins and the local residents gathered in the shrine on Sunday to oppose the restoration work of ‘the Braj Foundation’. Shri Bhagwat Sharan Gautam who presided over the meeting claimed that the NGO had done severe harm to the original ethos of the shrine grove. “The original swaroop is lost as the whole of the grove is now covered with the metal net. It looks like a modern garden rather than an ancient grove,” said Pradyumna Pratap Maharaj of the Meera Bai Temple. According to the speakers who participated in the protest, the NGO didn’t work in coordination with the management of the temple. It implemented the project arbitrarily which resulted in the loss of the green patches for which the grove was known. The Goswamis also alleged that the restoration project took more time to be completed than it was agreed initially. The devotees had to suffer during the implementation of the restoration work. They alleged that the NGO not only challenged the natural ethos of the temple grove, but compromised with the sanctity of the temple campus. Many of its workers wore shoes in the temple campus and spitted gutka and paan on the wall of grove which is considered as sacred. Pt. Bihari Lal Bashishtha said, “They could have adjusted the restoration designs without harming the natural ambience. But they chose to go ahead with the construction work instead of planting new trees and helping the old groves to prosper.” “Many trees have already been destroyed. The ancient look of the grove has already been finished. It will take many years to revive the original swaroop. We shall do our best to revive it,” said Sevait Prem Kumar Goswami. They also blamed the NGO for not following the terms and conditions of the actual agreement to implement the restoration project. Sevaits and the devotees were also disappointed with the NGO for inviting the high profile dignitaries without their consent for ‘the handing over ceremony’ after the restoration is completed. Sevait Prem Kumar Goswami, Dr. Puneet Goswami, Rajeev Goswami, Sunil Goswami, Sanjeev Goswami, Chandan Goswami, Hitendra Goswami, Anil, Pt. Biharilal Vashishtha, Mahant Sacchindananda Maharaj, Mahant Narayan Das, Pradyumna Pratap Singh, Dr. Om ji, Vishnu Prasad Sharma, Dr. Laxmi Gautam, Vishnu Prasad Sharma, Vinay Gopal Goswami, Ram Baby Sharma, Anand Gopal, Rakesh Pandit, Sanjay Gautam, Keshav Dev Chaturvedi, Acharya Shri Hari Sharma, Acharya Ramesh Chandra Vidhi Shashtri, Radha Raman Gautam, Girdhar Kishor etc. were present there.
  8. Vrindavan, April 7th 2015: As a part of the celebration of the appearance day of Saint Maluk Das, a scholars’ convention was held at Maluk Peeth on Monday. Several spiritual leaders attended the convention, which was inaugurated by the current Mahant Shri Rajendra Das Devacharya. Speaking at the convention Karshni Guru Sharananda, said, “Maluk Das ji inspired all of us to have faith on Shri Hari. The saints take birth to look after the welfare of the world by propagating the message of the Lord.” Swami Ramdevananda and Jagadananda Maharaj said, “there are many types of people in the world. Everyone is living in misery. But if the devotees of the Lord Hari are in problem, He takes birth to protect them.” Mahant Fuldol Bihari Das said, “Lord Krishna sends the saints like Maluk Das ji and Rajendra Das Devacharya to this world to show the path of spiritual perfection.” On this occasion Guru Sharananda released a book named 'Paramarth ke patra pushp'. Raja Ram Mishra, Bihari Lal Bashishtha, Saint Raja Baba, Kishori Raman Acharya, Rasiya Baba, Acharya Badrish, Ram Gopal, Ram ji Das Maharaj, Ram Pravesh Das, Swami Aniruddhacharya Maharaj, Madan Mohan Das Maharaj, Vasant Sahashri, Abhiram Das Maharaj, Swami Haribol Maharaj, Ful dol Bihari Das ji Maharaj also addressed the convention.
  9. Vrindavan, April 4th 2015: “Bhakti is spontaneous attachment to God. The devotee is entirely possessed by Him. He is absorbed in the God. Bhakti is the supreme stage of love towards the God. It is the slender thread of Love that binds the heart of a devotee with Super soul. When a devotee attains bhakti, he forgets the three worlds and only thinks about the supreme. Thus he doesn’t have any worries,” said Maluk Peethadhishwar Mahant Rajendra Das ji. Maharaj ji was giving discourse at Maluk Peeth on the occasion of the 441st birth anniversary of Jagatguru Maluk Das ji Maharaj. Elaborating further on Bhakti, Maharaj ji said, “Bhakti is the eternal love for love’s sake. It has to be sincerely experienced by a devotee with higher emotion and sublime sentiments. This divine experience unites the devotee with the Lord. Divine love is infinite, pure, all pervading and everlasting. Thus the relationship between God and a devotee is also everlasting.” Baba Dina Bandhu Das focused on the life of Maluk Das ji Maharaj. He said, “Maharaj ji had deep faith in the Divine. He believed in complete surrender on the lotus feet of the Lord. We should celebrate his appearance day every year, which gives us an opportunity to discuss his teachings. He gave a new direction to the devotion, which is being practiced by the present acharya and his followers.” Mahant Fuldol Bihari Das, Dinabandhu Das, Ganga Das, Rasik Das and many other saints and devotees were present while Rajendra Das ji Maharaj was giving discourse on Bhakti.
  10. Vrindavan, Februay 14th 2015: Ancient Ashtadhatu (eight-metal) deities were stolen from Nimbark Kot Mandir in Chhipi Gali of Vrindavan. According to the temple Mahant Shri Vrindavan Vihari Goswami these deities were two hundred years old. The deities of Laddu Gopal and Devacharya Narad along with his Vina were stolen from the temple in broad day light at 10 a.m. Some puja accessories and utensils made of silver and brass were also found missing from the temple. Shri Vrindavan Bihari Goswami said that after Shringar Aarti he went inside the room to wash his hands. When he came back he found the deities were missing from its place. There was no deployment of security guard in the temple as it is a private property. A big number of local people gathered outside the temple when they heard about the incident. They blamed the police of being inefficient as it reached forty five minutes late after the case was reported. Moreover the police haven’t formally registered a case against the unknown miscreants. The Station Officer of Vrindavan Police Shri Akhilesh Kumar has said, “We are investigating the case. We shall formally register the case once the initial investigation is done. We shall initiate man hunt to find the deities.” The Nimbark Kot temple was built in 1924 and has been a centre of faith for the followers of the Nimbark Sampraday. This is not the first time when the deities were stolen from any temple. The deities from many other temples were also stolen earlier which have not been recovered till today. The ASI protected Yugal Kishore temple may be the first temple in Vrindavan’s history from where the deity was stolen centuries before. The temple remains closed without any deity.
  11. Vrindavan, February 23rd: Ten days long Brahmotsavam began in the Goda Haridev Divya Desh Mandir. This is an annual festival celebrated for ten days in this temple. It attracts the devotees from the near by villages of Vrindavan. The Brahmotsava festival is the most important and auspicious function in all the temples of the world which belong to Ramanuja Sampradaya. The religious activities of the festival include the daily yajnas and processions for the utsava murti (movable deities) on different vahanas (vehicles) which are made of gold, silver, sandal wood etc. The Utsava deities are decorated with different ornaments. On the first day of the festival Lord Vaikunthanath mounted on ‘Purna Kothi’ and the procession passed through different markets of the town where the deovtees welcomed the God by offering bhog and performing arati. People made rangolis on the street through which the procession passed. The procession finally reached Gyan Gudri and stationed for an hour at the “Uddhav Gopi samvad sthal”. The Lord gave darshan to the devotees and then went back to the temple. The Lord mounts different vehilcles on these ten days and gives darshan to his devotees. Popular stories trace the origin of this celebration to Brahma, the creator God, who first conducted this festival to Sri Balaji at Tirupati. Brahma worshiped Sri Balaji on the banks of the holy Pushkarini in Tirupati as a way to give thanks for the Lord’s protection of mankind. Hence, this utsava bears his name as “Brahmotsavam,” which means the festival of Brahma. Every temple which has the Divyadesh has a water body (Pushkarini) and a garden. There are two temples of Vrindavan where the Brahmotsavam is celebrated. The most famous Brahmotsava festival of Vrindavan is celebrated in the Ranganath Mandir. The Rangnath Mandir’s Brahmotsava celebration is as old as 155 years, which will begin from 9th March. The British Collector F.S. Growse has mentioned it in his memorior. The Goda Hardev Mandir was built ten years back and it also celebrates the Brahmotsavam every year. It began on 22nd February in the Haridev Mandir. The temple president Tridandi Swami Devnarayan Acharya informed that the festival will continue for ten days and the utsava deitiy of Shri Vaikuntahanath will come out of the temple twice in a day in different chariots. Priests and Vedpathis have been called from South India to conduct the rituals. On the evening prior to the start of the first day, the rite of Ankurarpana is performed along with a festival for Sri vishaksena (the leader of Narayana’s retinue who removes obstacels and protects worship).” On the first day the main activity is the “Dhvajaorhana”the hoisting of the Garuda flag, which signifies the commencement of the Brahmotsava. It is believed that Garuda goes to Devalokam and invites the Devas to attend the festival. The celebration officially concludes with “Dhvajavarohanam,” the lowering of the Garuda flag. The priests pay respect to Gods and sages with the chanting of Vedic hymns and see them off on their return to Devaloka. Acharya Naresh Narayan a scholar from the Ramanuja Sampradaya said, “The Brahmotsavam celebration provides a unique opportunity for all devotees to participate in the festivity and utsavas and experience Vaikuntha in Vrindavan. Every year, thousands of devotees witness the processions, celebrations during the Annual Brahmotsavam of Shri Goda – Haridev ji. Everyday of the Brahmotsavam there is a feast for all the devotees.
  12. Vrindavan, February 18th 2015: Mahashivratri was observed in Vrindavan on Tuesday. The devotees of Lord Shiva celebrated the religious festival with great enthusiasm. The Shiva temples of Vrindavan were thronged by the devotees to offer prayer. The temples of Gopeshwar, Reteshwar, Gokuleshwar, Govindeshwar, Bankhandeshwar, Taleshwar were crowded by the devotees to worship their adored. The devotees remained on fast and performed spiritual meditation by following rituals to commemorate Mahashivratri and be blessed with grace. In the early morning, they began visiting the temples to offer water, milk and bel leaves on the Lingam. Thousands of devotees visited the most famous Gopeshwar Temple of Vrindavan. The temple of Bankhandi Mahadev also attracted a big number of crowds. Holy mantras were also recited and special puja ceremonies were held throughout the night to celebrate the Shivratri. For women, Mahashivratri is an auspicious festival. They observed fast and offered prayers both to Lord Shiva and Parvati to shower their grace with a peaceful and blissful married life. During the day, Gopeshwar Mahadev appeared as a large Shiva lingam, and in the evening He was dressed as a gopi, with colorful sari and ornaments. On Maha Shivratri many thousands gathered to bath Gopeshwar Mahadve with milk and water, and make offering of bael leaves and flowers. The Shiva temples of Vrindavan were decorated with the colorful lights and flowers. Numerous interesting and intriguing mythological stories are believed pertaining to the celebration to Mahashivratri. In a version, devotees believe that Shivratri is auspicious because it marks the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and Parvati. However, many believe that Mahashivratri signifies the auspicious night when Lord Shiva performed the dance ‘Tandava’ that led to the creation, conservation and devastation of the universe. The Gopeshwar Mahadev has special significance with the pastime of Shri Krishna. It is said that, desiring to witness Krishna’s dance with the gopis (the Rasa –Lila), Lord Shiva approached Vrindavan, but was barred entrance by the gopi Vrinda Devi. She explained that Krishna was the only male allowed to enter the arena of the dance. But, seeing Shiva’s intensely heartfelt desire, he was instructed to bath in the Yamuna. He emerged from the Yamuna in a female form, that of a gopi, and was given the service of guardian of the dance. Since then, Gopishwar Mahadvev has been seen as the gatekeeper of Vrindavan. Those who seek to enter Vrindavan, not merely physically, but in spirit, approach him for blessings. In this mood, the Vaishnava saint Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakur prayed in his book Sankalpa Kalpadruma: Vrindavanvani-pate jaya soma soma maule sanandana-sanatana-naradeya gopishvara vraja-vilasi-yuganghri-padme prema prayaccha nirupadhi namo namas te “O Shiva, O gatekeeper of Vrindavan! O you who are accompanied by Uma (Parvati)! O you who carry the moon in your hair! O lord worshiped by Sananda-kumar, Sanat-Kumar and Narada Muni! O Gopishwara, the worshipable deity of the gopis! Desiring that you bestow upon me love for the divine couple, Sri Sri Radha Madhava, (Radha and Krishna) who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja, I offer my obeisances unto you again and again.” It is said that Shrila Sanatan Goswami used to visit Gopeshwar Temple every day. When he was old, it was difficult to walk that far. So Gopeshwar Mahadev came to the mid way to give him darshan. Gopeshwar Mahadev was renamed as Bankhadeshwar Mahadev. This temple is mostly visited by the local Brajwasis.
  13. Agra/Mathura, 2015.01.10 (Zee News, IANS): Green activists plan to stage protests in the Indian capital Feb 1 to demand that the Narendra Modi government act fast to clean up the highly polluted Yamuna river. The activists say that Modi government has given a lot of assurances but has failed to clean up the Yamuna despite being in office around eight months. According to them, the ghats in Mathura and Vrindavan, used by millions of pilgrims, stink. “They are not bothered about the Yamuna, the lifeline of cities down the line from Haryana to Agra,” lamented Vrindavan’s Yamuna activist Madhu Mangal Shukla. On Feb 1, thousands of activists and devotees will demonstrate in New Delhi to draw the government’s attention to the neglect of the Yamuna. The protest will be led by Swami Vigyanacharya, who has been campaigning for saving the Yamuna in the Braj area. The national president of the Yamuna Rakshak Dal, Jai Krishan Das, told IANS that the polluted Yamuna was a threat to the lives of millions living downstream of Delhi. The Yamuna, flowing through Mathura, Vrindavan and Agra, has been reduced to a sewer canal these days, choked with piles of accumulated garbage and industrial effluents. The pollutants are mostly discharged by industrial clusters upstream of Vrindavan, Delhi and Haryana.
  14. Vrindavan, December, 31st 2014: The Lord went on strike, while the devotees queued in waiting to have His darshan on Wednesday evening. Thakur Shri Radha Gokulananda Temple, one of the ‘Saptadevalayas’ kept the devotees waiting for darshan for two hours in a bid to protest the amalgamation of Mathura and Vrindavan. This was the second time after the Meera Bai Temple, when any temple has protested against the merger proposal by keeping the temple doors closed. According to Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami, the sevait of the temple, “People come to Vrindavan to find Divine Shelter in the temples. The merger of the civic bodies of Vrindavan and Mathura is a threat for the temple town of Vrindavan as well as the temples. The very essence of the pilgrimage town of Vrindavan will be lost with the merger. “The sevaits of the temples, Acharyas, saints, brajwasis all are disappointed with this decision of the government. Therefore we decided to close the temple for two hours as a symbolic protest”, Goswami ji added. Dr. Chandra Prakash Sharma said, “The Lord can’t be happy if His sevaits are disappointed. The temple town of Vrindavan will be infiltrated with vulgarity, non-vegetarianism, intoxication and everything which should be forbidden in a religious place.” Echoed the voice of Dr. Sharma, Shri Yogendra Brajwasi from the Tirth Purohit Panda Sabha said, “Instead of taking measures to declare it a ‘Tirtha Sthali’ the government is set to destroy the culture of Vrindavan. We shall not let it happen at any cost.” Tamal Krishna Brahmachari, the Mahant of the Imli Tala shrine said, “The bigger conspiracy can clearly be seen. The Municipal Corporation will establish guidelines for whole of its periphery. Whatever it decides it will apply to whole of the city. The smaller temples will be grabbed by the mafias and then transformed into high rise buildings. The temples of Vrindavan will be overshadowed by the high rise buildings.” It was decided that a group of four people of the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance will visit all the temples and convince them to join the group. The BVHA is in constant touch with all the groups including the Brahmin Sabha, Vyapar Mandal and the other groups to decide the future course of action. Dr. Laxmi Gautam, Devendra Dixit, Dhananjay Gautam, Pradyumna Pratap Maharaj, Ram Narayan Brajwasi, Go-Sevak Alok ji, Shrivas Pujari, Madhumangal Shukla, Bharat Lal Sharma, Navneet Agrawal and many others were present during the ‘temple closure protest’. On the other hands another group of saints staged ‘dharna’ at the gate of the Vrindavan Municipality. The growing rage among the residents may disrupt the peace of the town, if the government sticks to its decision for the amalgamation.
  15. Vrindavan, December, 28th 2014: The protest against the merger of Vrindavan in Mathura gained momentum when the residents of Vrindavan staged a ‘dharna’ at the Atalla Chungi parikrama crossing. Hundreds of people congregated to oppose the proposal of merging Vrindavan in Mathura by the state government. The ‘dharna’ was organized by the ‘Brahmin Seva Sangh’, a federation of Brahmins. . Fliers were distributed to the participants on why the ‘merger’ is not good for Vrindavan. Local leaders from different political parties also participated in the ‘dharna’. Various speakers termed it as a conspiracy against the temple town of Vrindavan. They warned that the amalgamation of the two towns will be responsible for the political murder of Vrindavan. The Chairman of Vrindavan Municipal Council Shri Mukesh Gautam along with some municipal ward members was also present on the stage to support the movement. Addressing the gathering Shri Mukesh Gautam said that he would lead a delegation to meet the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, once the appointment is fixed with him. Although the ‘dharna’ was organized under the banner of the Brahmin Seva Sangh, the members from several other organizations participated in the demonstration in support of their demand. The members of the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance were also invited for the ‘sit-in’. Shri Chandra Lal Sharma, the president of the ‘Brahmin Seva Sangh’ said that his organization will soon begin the relay fast so that the voice of their concern reaches to the Chief Minister. He said, ‘merging Vrindavan in Mathura is a political murder of this temple town’. “We shall not remain quiet on an issue which poses challenge to the existence of the holy dham”, added Sharma who is a retired teacher. “It is completely unconstitutional to merge the two towns with different cultures”, said Dr. Vinod Banerjee. Damodar Shashtri, the vice president of the Brahmin Seva Sangh said that he was persuing with the legal mesures through the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance. Shashtri who is also a senior member of the BVHA said that all the individuals and organization should work together for the cause of saving Vrindavan. Chhail Bihari Sharma, another brahmin leader said that there can’t be any bigger challenge than the merger of it in Mathura. He added that Vrindavan is a special place where all the gods seek shelter. It can’t be merged with any other town. Madhumangal Shukla said that none of the public representatives have given their consent for the merger. “It will be arbitrary action of the government if it merges the two towns against the wishes of its citizens.” Jagannath Poddar from Friends of Vrindavan said that if Vrindavan itself crossed the half million mark in population then it could be upgraded to a Municipal Corporation. But merging the two cities for the sake of reaching the population limit to upgrade into Municipal Corporation is ridiculous. Sourav Gaud, the president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Vrindavan branch demanded the ‘A’ grade status for the Vrindavan Municipality by expanding its boundaries to Chhatikara. Chandramani Pandey, Haribol Baba, Vijay Kishore Mishra, Guppu Swami, Mahesh Chandra Sharma, Prem Kishore Gautam, Sohan Singh Sisodia, Ramesh Pujari etc. addressed the gathering.
  16. Vrindavan, 2014.11.27 (VT): The heritage trees of Vrindavan are in grave danger of going extinct as a result of termite infestation. Although there are not all that many trees left in Vrindavan as they have been sacrificed to the so-called development and the greed of real estate speculators. A few ancient trees can be seen near the Vrindavan Research Institute and on the Vrindavan Parikrama Marg. The trees near the Vrindavan Research Institute are in great danger. Many of them have dried up. The environmental activists of Vrindavan claim that the concretization on the roots of the trees has done great injury to them. The concrete on the roots is choking the trees. Because of this, many lean towards the road trying to stand on their roots which struggle to get water or air. The concrete covering does not permit water percolation or aeration for the roots, resulting in the slow death of the trees. When water fails to percolate, the trees begin to dry up which makes them susceptible to termite infestation. These trees get hollowed out and unable to balance their weight, and are then easily uprooted in gusty winds. The trees in the Parikrama Marg are not safe either. They are facing a fate similar to that of the trees in Raman Reti. All was well with the full-grown heritage trees of Vrindavan standing on the roadside until the previous Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Sushri Mayawati, opened up the state coffers for her Vrindavan dream project in 2009-2010. Mayavati’s dream project became nightmare for Vrindavan as it had to compromise with Vrindavan’s rich heritage whether it was the picturesque Yamuna Ghats, holy dust of Vrindavan or the heritage trees which were 70 -100 years old. Several hundreds of trees were cut during that time in the name of road broadening and laying sewerage lines. Mostly all the trees on the Mathura-Vrindavan Road were cut down, as well as many on the Parikrama Marg and the Chhatikara-Vrindavan Road. Some trees were saved from the intervention of the court when it passed an interim order by banning any further cutting of the trees while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance. On Tuesday, Friends of Vrindavan began a project of administering pesticides to control the termites. The FOV staff was assisted by members of the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance. Most of the trees that are infested are neem, which are not less than 50-70 year old. Dhananjay Gautam, a senior BVHA member said that the negligence of the Forestry Department is responsible for the situation. “Protecting the old trees is more important than planting the new ones,” he said. Madhumangal Shukla, who was the petitioner in the High Court to stop the destruction of trees in Vrindavan, said the time has come to file fresh litigation in the National Green Tribunal, which has banned the cutting of trees across the country. Until there is a legal order the Forest Department will not give heed to the problems related to the afforestation. The Forest Department has not planted a single tree in those years in the Vrindavan municipal area.
  17. Vrindavan, 2014.11.25 (TOI): A helicopter service will be launched on December 4 to ferry pilgrims on a ” parikrama” (circle) of the holy town in just eight minutes. The Agra-based Jet Star Charter and Helicopter Services will use the helipad developed for President Pranab Mukherjee when he visited Vrindavan to lay the foundation stone of the world’s tallest Sri Krishna temple on the Akshay Patra campus. Yogesh Singh Choudhary, director of the company, said initially the chopper service would be available for a quick parikrama of the town but later, if the UP government permits, service to Agra could be extended. The fare fixed for a trip is Rs 2,700 per person for conducting a “parikrama” of the Panchkoshi. On foot, it takes about four hours to complete the 15-km “parikrama”. This is the second time the facility is being launched in the city. In November 2012, Pawan Hans had started a daily service from Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi to Vrindavan. Jayant Choudhary, then Mathura MP, had flagged off the service which could not run for long due to lack of patronage by “touch and go” pilgrims. The one-way fare from Delhi was then fixed at Rs 4,000. Meanwhile, residents besides “pandas” and conservationists are unhappy with the moves being made to “‘urbanize” Vrindavan. “Neither the move to make Vrindavan a tourist spot nor to change its original rustic flavor will succeed. The fervor of visiting temples cannot be matched with an aerial view. The numerous saints and ascetics living in Braj mandal are not too happy with the move to modernize the traditional landscape of the holy town,” said Dhananjay Gautam and Jagannath Poddar, social activists.
  18. Mathura, 2014.11.15 (VT): All the exercise to merge Vrindavan in Mathura to form the Mathura Municipal Corporation seems to have gone in vain. Vrindavan may not be merged in Mathura anymore. The Government has sought the proposal to upgrade Vrindavan into the ‘A grade’ Municipality. The leader of the congress legislative party and the local member of the legislative assembly from Mathura Pradeep Mathur updated the Urban Development Minister Azam Khan about the objections being raised by the Vrindavan residents to merge it with Mathura. Mr. Mathur was supposed to put the proposal in Vidhan Sabha, but the minister accepted the proposal of upgrading the status of Vrindavan Municipality, therefore it was not necessary for him to table it in the Vidhan Sabha. The plan to merge the two twin cities were being planned for last four years. But many of the residents of Vrindavan were opposing the idea, as it was a threat for the religious nature of this pilgrimage town. The devotees were afraid if the merger is allowed then the alcohol and meat will be sold openly in this religious town. The Mathura Municipal Board has also passed the resolution to keep the status quo for the municipality till the end of its tenure. Two years and ten months are left to complete the tenure of the Mathura Municipal Board. The board’s decision was conveyed to the government. Due to uproar in the Vidhan Sabha on some issue, Mathur couldn’t table it with the speaker. But he managed to meet the Urban Development Minister Azam Khan in his chamber to brief him about the discontentment among the Vrindavan residents. He suggested that the status of the Vrindavan Municipality, which is presently a B grade Municipality, could be upgraded to A grade. It was reported that the minister has given green signal for the A grade Municipality for Vrindavan and the Municipal Corporation status for Mathura. He has sought the proposal afresh from the District Administration. One lakh population required for the A grade Municipality A population of one lakh is required to upgrade the Vrindavan Municipality. The current voting population of Vrindavan is sixty thousand only. The Vrindavan Municipality needs to expand its boundaries to meet the population requirement must for upgrading its status. Several villages which were earlier proposed to be merged in the Mathura Municipal Corporation will now be included in the Vrindavan Municipality. The villages of Chhatikara, Sunrakh, Akrur, Burja, Tehra etc. will be included in Vrindavan Municipality. New colonies and housing complexes have come up in many villages. No municipal facilities were availed in those colonies, which prompted the residents of these colonies to support the merger idea. But with the new option has brought relief for both the residents of those colonies and those who didn’t want to see the merger of Vrindavan in Mathura. Five lakh population required for the Muncipal Corporation Mathura has to find two lakh more population to get it declared as the Nagar Nigam. After the exclusion of Vrindavan from the Plan, it has to include the villages of Goverdhan and Baldeo, which seems to be a difficult task for the Mathura District Administration. The consent of the village panchayats will be necessary and the special laws entertained by the villages may become a problem to form a Municipal Corporation. Moreover the villages being suggested are far from Mathura. The villages adjoining to Vrindavan will not be included in the Mathura Municipal Corporation, as it was planned earlier. They will be merged in Vrindavan Municipality.
  19. Vrindavan, 2014.11.13 (VT): In a joint operation, police teams from Maant, Surir and Vrindavan seized 20 kg of ganja, 15 boxes of wine and 4 lakh 62 thousand cash from a house in Gaura Nagar Colony. They arrested four persons including a woman. The head of the gang managed to escape, however. The police is currently interrogating the people who were arrested. The Maant police caught a person named Ravi at the Daangloi crossing. He was found to be in possession of 400 gm ganja. The police brought him to the Maant police station where he was interrogated and revealed that he had obtained it from Vrindavan. Maant station officer Avdhesh Tripathi informed Shagun Gautam (SP-rural) about it, who in turn informed SP-city Manoj Sonkar and SP-crime Ashok Kumar Rai about the illegal sale of the intoxicants in Vrindavan. Then a police team from the three police stations jointly raided the house of Rakesh Yadav in Gaura Nagar Colony of Vrindavan. They arrested Yadav and his wife Sudha. The police also arrested Sunny, a resident of Kishor Pura, from Rangji’s bagicha. All were taken to the Maant police station where they were interrogated in length. The gang leader named Manoj who is running this illegal business in Vrindavan managed to abscond, however. The police is on the lookout for the others involved in this business. The Station Officer Maant claims only 13 kg ganja, 12 boxes of wine and Rs. 200 were recovered from the spot. While Vrindavan has been declared a dry area where the sale of the liquor is prohibited, consumption of illegal wine and intoxicants is on the rise. The excise department has not given any license to open a wine shop in Vrindavan, but alcohol is smuggled into Vrindavan from Haryana and Rajasthan. Consumers do not find it difficult to get access to liquor, which is mostly sold in the slum areas of Vrindavan. Residents have been complaining about the illegal sale of liquor, but no action is being taken. People allege that the wine mafias are bribing the police to turn a blind eye to its operations.
  20. Mathura, 2014.11.11 (Brij Khandelwal, TNN): The growing number of child beggars at Mathura and other religious shrines that draw hordes of pilgrims round the year is causing concern among police and the administration. What is worrying them is that many a time these children commit petty crimes like snatching purses or bags, pick-pocketing, and they often fight over division of loot. A few days ago, a child beggar ran away with the purse of a woman from Gujarat at Goverdhan. In another incident in Mathura, a kid lifted the mobile phone of a visitor from Chandigarh while he was having tea at a stall. Within seconds, the thief disappeared in the narrow lanes of the city. Such complaints are multiplying. While Mathura police do not have exact figures of missing children, they admit there has been a noticeable increase in the number of beggars not only in Mathura but also Goverdhan and Vrindavan. Rajendra Kumar Nagar, kotwal of Vrindavan, said, “The problem is there. The smaller kids are either locals or from nearby areas, but the older ones come from distant districts like Etah or Mainpuri. When they are caught for the first time, we call their parents and advise them to control their kids. If caught, they are sent to the reformatory. Now, the marriage season has started. We have to be extra cautious as these child gangs become more active.” A large number of child beggars are from outside the district. “Often they are part of a big gang headed by a goon who pulls the strings,” said activist Dhananjaya Gautam of Vrindavan. “Begging till some time ago was considered a part of the religious paraphernalia. Outside the temples in Vrindavan there were long queues of women beggars, mostly from Bengal, but now that institutionalized practice has taken a back seat, but the spurt in number of child beggars is surely an issue that we all should be seriously concerned about,” said author-activist of Mathura Ashok Bansal. On the parikrama route in Goverdhan, one sees numerous child beggars pestering the pilgrims. “Every day, you hear of a bag disappearing or a mobile and even laptops suddenly going missing. When a kid gets caught, he is let off after a few slaps. This emboldens him to graduate higher into the world of crime. Most of these kids are under the influence of some intoxicant or the other, cough syrup or some cheap chemicals,” adds Manju Sharma, a local. In Mathura, the railway stations provide the hordes of child beggars a comfortable shelter. Senior police officers, however, do not admit that it is such a big problem “In Mathura and all the nearby religious places, food is not a problem. They all get enough to eat from temples and ashrams which regularly hold bhandaras or mass distribution of prasad. But its the monetary support in terms of cash collection that is a big draw and sustains the local begging industry,” says social activist Jagannath Poddar. “The police should do something about this evil. If the children who are forced into this profession do not stop begging, they should all be rounded up and put in the reformatory where they can receive some education and security,” suggests pandit Ram Babu Sharma, a temple priest in Barsana.
  21. Vrindavan, 2014.11.10 (VT): Although the proposed merger of Mathura and Vrindavan along with some other surrounding villages into one municipal corporation is pending with the government, those who oppose it are relieved to find allies in the Vidhan Sabha. Feeling the mood of the Brajwasis, Pradeep Mathur, the local MLA, has decided to ask the Chief Minister not to include Vrindavan in the proposed Mathura Nagar Nigam. He opined that the villages of Gokul and Govardhan may be preferred over Vrindavan in order to attain the population requirements needed for legally forming a Municpal Corporation. In a media brief, he said that he will recommend upgrading the status of the Vrindavan Municipality to Grade A. Currently Vrindavan Municipality comes under the B grade municipalities. The saints, priests and the citizens expressed their contentment when they heard of Mathur’s stance. “We are happy that our local MLA has understood our concerns that merging Vrindavan in Mathura will hamper the religious significance of the land,” said Ful Dol Bihari Das, the Mahant of Chaitanya Kuti. “It is the duty of the public representative to understand the mood of the people. We welcome his initiative in suggesting that the status of the Vrindavan Municipality be upgraded. We also want the facilities availed under the Municipal Corporation, but the merging of Vrindavan into Mathura will not be accepted at any cost,” he specified. Acharya Badrish said that the government should feel the mood of the people. It shouldn’t go against their wishes. Vrindavan has become famous internationally by his religious nature. There shouldn’t be any compromise on changing its religious nature by merging it with Mathura, where wine and meat are openly sold. Another saint, Swami Maheshanand Saraswati, also welcomed the MLA statement. He said that the MLA should act quickly on this issue. The merger of these twin towns should be put on the back burner. The Vrindavan Municipality should be empowered to take strong and independent decisions in implementing the garbage and traffic management schemes. The Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance, which was first to oppose the merger plan, has kept silence on the statement. Madhumangal Shukla, the convener of the BVHA has said to the Vrindavan Today that the group will soon meet and is yet to take a stand on the MLA’s statement. “My personal opinion is that including Goverdhan and Gokul in the Nagar Nigam will also be disastrous. Urban development of a mega-city will simply kill the ecological and religious instinct of Vraja Bhoomi as an entity,” he said.
  22. Vrindavan, 2014.11.07 (VT): The fifth centenary year celebration of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s first time arrival in Vrindavan formally begun in the Swami Vivekananda Auditorium in the Ram Krishna Mission Sevashrama. Saints, mahants, and intellectuals presented their views on Chaitanya Mahaprabhus coming to Vrindavan. The youths performed the Harinam Sankirtan during the event. Prem Das Shastri, the working president of the 5th Centenary Celebration Committee, said in his welcome address that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rediscovered Shri Dham Vrindavan five hundred years ago. Shastri said, “It was his mercy that we all are here today. We have decided to build a huge gate in the entrance of Vrindavan in Akrur.” “This is the 499th year of Mahaprabhu’s arrival in Vrindavan. We enter in the 500th year of his arrival from today. Nagar Sankirtan, Preaching on Chaitanya’s life and works, Nam Sankirtan, padavali kirtans, procession etc. will be organized throughout the year, which will end in next Kartik Purnima,” informed Shashtri. Pradeep Mathur, the representative for Mathura in the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly, announced a contribution of five lakh rupees for the construction of the gate from his discretionary fund. Rajendra Das ji Maharaj said that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu didn’t belong to Gaudiyas only, but his life is an example for the devotees of all the sampradayas. Sadhvi Ritambhara said that Mahaprabhu was the source of bhakti in his contemporary time. Vineet Narain, President of the Braj Foundation declared that his NGO will spend Rupees ten crores to build a ghat on Yamuna in front of Imli Tala in the name of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Madhu Pandit Das, Chairman of the Akshay Patra Foundation said that without Mahaprabhu’s mercy we wouldn’t know about Vrindavan Dham. Swami B.A. Paramadvaiti from the Vrinda Mission said that the best way to pay our respect to Mahaprabhu is to preserve the Dham which his followers six Goswami’s left for us. Vrindavan Municipal Chairman Mukesh Gautam, Baba Chaitanya Charan Das, Mahant Sutikshan Maharaj, Baba Haribol Das, Fuldol Bihari Das, Nirmal Chandra Goswami, Smt. Krishna Goswami, Tamal Krishna Das, Mahant Sacchidananda Das, Jagannathananda Das, Bihari Lal Bashishtha addressed the event. Girraj Nangia, Vinod Banerjee, Madhumangal Shukla, Mridul Kant Shashtri, Jagannath Poddar, Bal Krishna Gautam, Ramesh Chandra Vidhi Shashtri etc. were present in this occasion.
  23. On, October 20, 2014; Jaya Varusha Aippasi Pooram, HH 46th Srimath Azhagiyasingar, Srivan Sathakopa Sri Ranganatha Yathindra Maha Desikan Performed Vijaya Yathirai to Vrindavan.On this occasion Srimath Azhagiyasingar had Poorna Kumbha Mariyadhai on Her Deve Mandhir and On October 21 Srimath Azhagiyasingar performed Abhigamanam Aardhanam where Theertham Sri Satari Prasada Vinyogam taken place systamatically Theertham Sri Satari Prasada Vinyogam taken place systamatically after that Srimath Azhagiyasingar performed Mangalasasanam in Srimath Srirangam Andavan Ashramam Sri Srinivasa Perumal Sannidhi followed by Srimath Azhagiyasingar performed Mangalasasanam in Keshi ghat Janaki Vallabh Mandhir and then Srimath Azhagiyasingar made Vijayam to NidhiVanam its the place where where Sri Krishna performed the Rasalila with Radharani decorating her hair with flowers and her lotus feet. Radha and Krishna would sometimes spend the night here.Lot of Sishyas took part in the Srimath Azhagiyasingar Mangalasasanam and received the blessings of Srimath Azhagiyasingar and Divya Dampathis. These are the some of the photos taken on this occasion..
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