Radhastami at Varsana, Part II

On one of the days of Radhastami festivities, the residents of Varsana run throughout the village, with young boys dressed as Radha and Krishna on their shoulders. This tradition originates from the pastime at Sankari Khor, when Krishna demanded taxes from Radharani and her girlfriends, who were carrying pots of yogurt. This video is available on Glimpses of Vraja DVD http://www.vrindavanexperience.com/shop/

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Radhastami at Varsana, Part I

The festival of Radhastami, the appearance of Radharani, is being celebrated at Varsana for almost a week. Crowds of people join to circumambulate the holy place and participate in the festival. This video is available on the Glimpses of Vraja DVD: http://www.vrindavanexperience.com/shop/

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Radhika Raman. The sacred journey.

The passing away of Sriman Radhika Raman Das Brahmacari, a true Vaisnava. On March 28, 2011 he left his body in the sacred Yamuna river in Vrindavan…

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Yamuna Jivana

photo by Govinda SwamiSpring time… by Aindra Prabhu’s mercy, I was in the 24-hour kirtan in Vrindavan. We had intense service everyday, which was full of nectar. Aindra Prabhu was inspiring me so much. He used to say: ‘The more you put energy in kirtan, the more you’ll get spiritual benefit!’ It was a simple sentence, but because he was saying that with such conviction and experience, it left a deep impression on me.  That was the day of the boat festival. The deities were going to swim in the Yamuna. photo by Govinda Swami

I decided to go a little before and take bath in the Yamuna. It is well known that Keshi Ghat is a very, very auspicious place to do so. I got there, contemplating the upcoming kirtan while putting on my gamcha and offering dandavats to Yamuna Devi. Those who have been in Keshi ghat know that the river there is very deep. I went into the water, held the last step with my outstretched arm, and dived three times. When I came up the third time, I was eye to eye with the two blazing eyes of a black snake, which was poised to bite me. In a second I realized that I might never get to be part of kirtan or eat Radha Shyamasundara’s maha cheese cake again in this life time! But Krishna gave me a chance. I dived deeply, swam some distance by stream and came out, like one newly-born.Photo by Govinda Swami

We can see the value of these opportunities to chant Hare Krishna, especially in Vraja dhama. There is the tendency to lose our Krishna consciousness, but all kinds of troubles are meant to wake us up and provoke a kind of “earthquake” in our consciousness.  So it is far better to keep ourselves alert in service to the Lord’s Holy Name, dhama and His devotees, as says Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

 

jamuna-jivana, keli-parayana,
manasa-candra-cakora
nama-sudha-rasa, gao krsna-jasa
rakho vacana mana mora

photo by Govinda Swami“Lord Krsna is the life of the River Yamuna. He is always absorbed in amorous pastimes, and He is the moon of the gopis’ minds, which are like the cakora birds that subsist only upon moonlight. O mind, obey these words of mine and sing the glories of Sri Krsna in the form of these holy names, which are full of nectarean mellows”.

Otherwise, we risk having meetings with snakes and facing other unwanted happenings.

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Govardhan

A morning at the holy Govardhan hill.
This video is available on Glimpses of Vraja DVD.

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Ter Kadamba

A quiet beautiful place on the way from Javat to Nandagoan.
This video is available on Glimpses of Vraja DVD.

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The cleaning of Radha Kund

The cleaning of the holy lake happens approximately once every 20 years and it turns into a festival. The last time this happened was 23 years ago. During the cleaning there is a unique chance to see the original lake named Kancan kund which is usually covered by water.
This video is available on Glimpses of Vraja DVD.

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Radha Raman temple

The celebration of the appearance of the Sri Sri Radha-Raman deity. According to tradition, young priests, the sons of the chief Goswamis, fetch water from the holy Yamuna river. The ceremony continues with the bathing of Sri Radha Raman with different liquids: saffron water, ghee, milk and yogurt. Crowds of visitors seize the opportunity to see Radha Raman on this special day.
This video is available on Glimpses of Vraja DVD.

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photo by Shyam GopalMy first time in Vrindavan was in 1995-1996, when together with my husband we went there to study and we had the experience that it is “an incredible India”. Although we were warned about the dirt, polluted water, difficult weather, etc, just by entering the outskirts of Vrindavan, I was literally transformed. There was something in the air that made me feel like I was in the holiest place in the world. People would greet each other saying “Jaya Radhe”, indicating who is ruling over this place. photo by Govinda SwamiThe cows were frolicking freely on the streets, not disturbed by people. The chirping of peacocks, parrots and millions of other birds and the ringing of bells, announcing temple worship, were heard from all directions.

Now, everytime I get a chance to go to this most amazing place, I just hanker to be immersed in the spiritual emotions which are so strong there that you can almost touch them with your hand.

Here is a story I’ve personally heard when I was in Vrindavan last November.

photo by Shyam GopalWe were walking on the path by the back fields, marveling at the beauty and serenity of the old Vrindavan, undisturbed by vehicles. On the way, we met a farmer who was beaming with a huge smile. We stopped to talk to him. He told us he has four daughters and a son, and that all his gardens had recently been destroyed by the heavy flood during the rainy season. He lost 200 000 rupees, which is a fortune not only for a poor farmer. When we heard that, we couldn’t help but ask him why he was so happy. After all, in our understanding he must have been suffering a lot of distress and anxiety. His answer shows the glory of a real devotee of the Lord: he said, “Happiness is the heart full of love”. He then walked on, while we stood staring at him in admiration, hoping to one day achieve that “heart full of love”.

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photo by Govinda SwamiBefore going to Vrindavan I heard so many times that this place is special. Before my trip I read so many books about this Holy Vrindavan. I thought I was ready for this special trip but … the adventures were coming….. 🙂
At Delhi airport my friend and I decided to go to Vrindavan not by taxi but by public transport (thinking we could manage it). That was our mistake, we underestimated this country. India is very extraordinary! It took us eight hours to get to Vrindavan (If you take a taxi, usually it takes  you about 3 hours…) photo by Govinda SwamiThere were so many adventures on our way: the bus got broken several times, I had to stop the bus because I didn’t feel well, we had to take different motor-rickshaws packed with a huge bunch of people. When we arrived at Krishna-Balaram Mandir (the ISKCON temple) we were sooooo happy to reach this special place finally!
photo by Shyam GopalOur friend found a very nice ashram for us.  Our room was simple and a little bit austere but we loved it. Our ashram was situated in a temple. Whenever we were going out of our room, immediately we could find ourselves in the temple room. Every morning we were woken up by sounds of indian musical instruments and sweet melodies of mantra Radhe Syam. This experience is unforgettable!
I liked to spend my mornings in different Vrindavan temples (by the way, there are more than 5000 temples in Vrindavan, that’s impressive, isn’t it..?) I was sitting in a temple, meditating, chanting the Maha-Mantra and watching the people in the temple. photo by Govinda SwamiI was very fascinated by how every early morning people would rush to one of their favorite temples and they would stand in a queue to buy a garland or sweets for the Lord, they would crowd the temple room, trying to pass their offerings to the temple pujari so that he could offer them to the Lord. And only after making these offerings would they go to work. This happens every morning!!! While I was watching the Vrindavan style of life I remembered Moscow mornings…people are rushing to their work, they are standing in a queue to buy cigarettes or newspapers,  then they are stuck in huge traffic jams. Everybody is aggressive and angry, all their thoughts are only about  work, money and (I hope) family…
photo by Govinda SwamiI love Vrindavan! God is in the centre of everybody’s life and the result is: Vrindavan inhabitants are peacefully happy!
I wish I could go to Vrindavan every year and experience this spiritual happiness. When you are surrounded by sadhus, spiritually happy people, you become happy as well, it’s contagious!!!

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