21 kms of dandavats: day 4

03:54.. Bandages applied in essential spots, heading to the temple for half an hour’s kirtan with Madhava and then in the car for Vasundhara at Govardhan. Please send blessings that this nearly 61-year old carcass will move and the evil mind which accompanies it will be fixed in divine aspiration. Hare Krishna !! Jai Radhe Shyam !! Jai Giriraja Maharaja Ki Jai !!
Blessed parikrama today. Started at Vasundhara and we have progressed beyond Govinda Kund on the inside dirt path. At the end of Aniyor Village, before Sankarshana Kund, I was lovingly kissed on the face by a Vraja Pooch! My great fortune, I was fully accepted as a true Vraja Houndawg. The Vrajavasis who saw cheered in approval. First three hours were very energised, but the sun was tapping our speed in the last stretch. Passing Govinda Kund, beneath the trees, was like passing through Goloka Vrindavan. We had the holy darshan of Bir Krishna Goswami, Niranjana Swami, Photo by Ananda CaitanyaDhanurdhara Swami, Harideva and Mahaprabhu from South Africa, who were all walking on parikrama. The association was blissful, Govardhan was blissful, the trees were blissful, Giriraja’s cool breezes were saving us and were very blissful. At the end we all lay beneath a tree full of very talkative green parrots and we listened to their Krishna Katha. Then, being inspired, we all spoke a few words of Krishna Katha. That was most blissful. Then into our car, stopping at Giriraja Sweet Shop for a cold lassi and a rasogulla, we headed to Kusum Sarovar for our bath. After bathing, many cups of cold sugarcane juice and back home to Vrindavan. For lunch I cooked oatmeal with a very strong cumin, green chili, fresh ginger, hing masala.. fresh lime juice sweetened with mishri. Vijay Radhika made a very tasty fresh green salad and pan-fried tofu. Soon we will go to the temple and chant as Madhava Prabhu leads kirtan. Bolo Giriraja Maharaja Ki Jai, Giriraja Dharan Ki Jai, Bolo Vamsi Walle Ki Jai.. Jai Jai Sri Radhe !!


21 kms of dandavats: day 3

Headlights show the lone form of a Vraja lady walking on the road, bright green skirt, head and face covered with a thin brilliant red dupatta, hands at her hips balancing 3 large multi-sized brass water pots above her head, the picture of feminine gracefulness and strength. In the dark we reach Manasi Ganga entrance at Govaradhan village, dandavats begin. Turning right, we pass Giriraja Sweet Shop and hear the voice of Deena Bandhu prabhu calling Radhe Shyam Baba. Placing my head on his feet, seeking blessings, then abusing my friendship and wiping my sweaty dusty face on his dhoti. Turning left at Dangati, a place where I have questioned the sanity of dandoti wallas for many years, the imperial pooch on the path won’t move, his eyes gazing into the distance like a sadhu immersed in nama japa, a cart carrying busa pulled by a horse wearing ankle bells and whose ears have been sculpted to be very small sharp points, banana carts on the left side luring buyers to purchase fruits as seva for my furry simian friends, stretching out in the midst of hundreds of the passionate rascals we keep the mind fixed on our sankalpa knowing that a single moment distraction will invoke Giriraja’s mercy in the form of ape bite. Dandavat down .. a beautiful brown heifer standing like a goddess, dandavat up, the heifer begins her run at high speed, leaping, twisting her body like a ballerina, kicking the air, being pursued by a stately white bull afflicted with amorous intent. Scooter rickshaws speeding surprisingly close to my head, funky Vraja tractor buses taking kids to school, turning on the inside path, shade, and soft cotton like Vraja dust has been ground and reground by the hooves of Shyam’s meandering Surabhi cows, Kadamba trees, the trees with the yellow blossoms, bougainvilla, the ever so soft dust, a 15 minute group break, all flat on our backs in the cool dust, a most blissful stretch of dandavats, Giriraja Govardhan always on our right, a very healthy young boy falsely cries that his very round and full belly is starving, silence, golden silence, sun rays slow us down, I stop cursing Suryadeva and request him to burn more and more, burn away all my desires, all false conceptions, and let a new spiritual person rise from the ashes, with only the desire to serve Radhe Shyam, we were all covered in soft dust, devotees walked by and did not recognize us, how wonderful, how nice, unknown, disguised in Vraja dust, the soul is disguised with the dust of countless births and material conceptions, O Giriraja, burn away the dirt of so many conceptions, so many hopes for material enjoyment, let us live the lives of souls surrendered to God, let us always dwell in the house of humility and let us have faith that in that house the Lord will create our special room of love. Vrajavasi boys play games with dandavatis, sometimes striking them with sticks or tossing dirt upon their bodies, testing if the dandavati keeps his mind fixed in the mood of humble yearning for spiritual attainment, Krishna is the most clever Vrajavasi boy, let Him arrange that our mind’s desire for fame, prestige, pride be beaten nicely, please Giriraja, let us keep our mind fixed upon the one thing we desire the most, Radha and Krishna’s pure devotional service. The hand pump near the gate of Vasundhara is our marker, 700 meters till Aniyor. Tomorrow at 05:30 we resume. O Vrindavan, my home, the land I love, please let me serve you.


21 kms of dandavats: day 2

Yesterday at noon our team happily finished day two of our dandavat Parikrama. We dipped in Kusum Sarovara and returned to Vraja. In the evening Madhava prabhu sang the Gratitude melody and the temple room exploded with harinama. Now it’s Friday 21 Oct 05:21 and I am out the door, into the dark, for a solitary Vrindavan Parikrama japa walk. If I chant my japa sincerely I may meet Radhe Shyam as They quickly run from Their kunjas to Their homes at Nandagaon and Varsana. With slightly nervous, dark darting eyes gazing into the Vraja night, They may ask me to help with some small service to get home. O Kabe habe bolo .. sei din amar ?? Oh when oh when will that day be mine ??


21 kms of dandavats: day 1

On Tuesday morning I left home at 05:00 accompanied by Madhava, Radha Mohan, Brajavasi Govinda and Bengali Gopinatha Bhadra. It was cool and very dark. Turning right at the Delhi highway we passed Chatikara and after a few kilometers turned left at Jait. The headlights cut the Vraja night and showed us red brick houses, blue doors, a saffron, white, green Indian flag painted on a boundary with a symbol of a hand instead of the dharma chakra, early risers squatting with fearful faces beneath hand pumps for their morning ablutions, shadows of large water buffaloes cast upon the walls, and small cow dung houses with ornamental design covering mounds of cooking patties. We arrived at the railway tracks waiting 15 minutes as two express train roared past one another. Returning to the Govardhan Road before Ral, we crossed the irrigation canal, passed Mukhara’s village, and slowly entered Radha Kund. When our driver parked in front of State Bank of India we left all inessentials and silently walked to Radha Kund. Moving down the steep ramp at the end of the Kund we performed acaman, offered obeisance, prayers, and were greeted by Sacinandan Swami and Sruta Kirti Prabhu. Maharaja reminded us that our parikrama was seva to please Radha and Krishna and that we should keep ourselves internally aligned with a fixed vow and prayer of divine aspiration. Hearing his deep instructions, sweetly spoken with a smile, we went the feet of Kundesavara Mahadeva and began the offering of our dandavats. Taking short breaks we concluded after 4.5 hours at Kusum Sarovar. Covered with a thick plaster of Vraja dust, mixed with perspiration, we took bath in the cool waters of Kusum Sarovara. I prayed that as the waters of the lake washed away the dust from our bodies, that our parikrama would wash away the dust of our hearts. Remembering Shyamsundar’s harassment of the Gopis collecting flowers at Kusum Sarovar we hoped for Giriraja Govardhan’s grace, to one day see these pastimes, and to become a flower-picking servant, protected by Sri Radha, as Krishna attempts to steal her flowers. O Vrindavan, my home, the land I love, please let me serve you.


Vrindavan Sounds

Sounds of Vrindavan is an audio recording made in Vrindavan, India, capturing the beauty and tranquility on the parikrama path in the early morning hours.

Click to listen:
      Vrindavan Sounds | download

Photo by Shyam Gopal




Stories of Ter Kadamba

This is the recording of the pastimes of Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatana Goswamis at Ter Kadamba, and of other wonderful things that take place there, as recounted by BB Govinda Swami and Hrishikesh Maharaja. It dates from Kartik 2008 and includes the Russian translation.
Click to listen:
      Ter Kadamba | downloadBB Govinda Swami

Hrishikesh Maharaja


No one goes hungry in Vrindavan

In December 2009, I was visiting a few temples in Vrindavan at around noon. While coming out of the Goswami Ghera of Sri Sri Radha Raman, I was in a dilemma about whether I should go to Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda temple or into Loi Bazaar to have something to eat because I was literally starving since morning and I had only had Krishna Balaram’s caranamrita…after a great hustling debate in my mind, I finally subdued the thought of going towards Loi Bazaar and decided to go to Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda.

Saveguarding my belongings from the sharp eyes of monkeys, I reached the temple just when the dieties were enjoying their Rajbhog Aarti. After the Aarti, the deities went for their afternoon rest and I prepared to set out of the complex. The instant I turned away from the temple, a great hand rested on my shoulder. I turned back again to find that the one who stopped me was Radha Gokulanand’s pujari with a plate full of Rajbhog prasadam in his other hand. He asked me to have some prasadam before leaving the temple premises. It came as a surprise since Krishna gave me what I was in need of, and that too without my even asking for it!! Then suddenly Srila Prabhupada’s quote that no one goes hungry in Krishna’ s Vrindavan crossed my mind.

I was amazed to experience how one’s desires are so quickly fulfilled in Sri Dham Vrindavan, and that too without one even asking for them!!

This was my Vrindavan experience..Sri Vrindavan Dham ki jai!!


Janmastami Celebration

For the last few days, Vrindavan has been celebrating Janmastami, the birthday of Krishna. We offer you our brief report of the event. Listen to the sounds and submerge yourself into the atmosphere of the festival:

Krishna-Balaram Mandir, evening kirtan by Govinda Swami on the day before the festival
      Kirtan on Janmastami Eve | download

Krishna Balaram Mandir, Mangala Arati early morning on Janmastami day, by Govinda Swami
      Mangala Arati | download

Roaring kirtan at Krishna Balaram Mandir on Janmastami night. Listen to the full length track below and check this short video we filmed on iPhone (sorry for the quality, but it was simply impossible to use any bigger camera in such a crowd 🙂 )


Janmastami night kirtan at Krishna Balaram temple in Vrindavan, full length soundtrack
      Janmastami Night Kirtan | download

photo by VishakhaThe appearance day of Srila Prabhupada, the very next day. Guru Puja performed by Govinda Swami
      Guru Puja to Prabhupad | download

The offering to Srila Prabhupada by Govinda Swami
      Offering to Prabhupad | download

Gurvastakam prayer sung by Govinda Swami
      Gurvastakam | download


Let me see Vrindavan

photo by Shyam GopalI remember my trip to Vraja last year in May/June. On my first day, I had a terrible experience! The road was being fixed with a new drainage system and that caused the Parikram Marg to be congested completely. So I prayed to Krishna Balarama. Well, I kind of pleaded to Them: “Krishna Balarama! photo by Govinda SwamiYou have brought me all the way here to Vrindavan. Now, please, let me see Vrindavan dhama as it is”. That evening, on the rickshaw, a monkey very elegantly took away my glasses. I was practically blind without it! And this all happened in the midst of a busy market! So my mum and I took shelter on the side of the road, while my dad purchased a banana. The monkey was still waiting on a roof for the barter to commence. photo by Govinda SwamiSuddenly, a local Brijwasi appeared on a motorbike, took the banana from my dad, and climbed up the roof! The monkey bitterly rejected the offer. He wanted something new. My father got a cucumber and the Brijwasi successfully got my glasses back. All the while, I was practically blind, looking around in a blurred world. All I could see was a greenish tree, and the dark blue sky. That was all I could see. Just the tree and sky. I could not hear anything either. And I realized that very moment, this is Vrindavan, the very same forest in which Radhe Syama would play. I got my glasses back in exceptional condition. Except… for the bite mark on its edge as prasadam from a Vrindavan monkey 🙂photo by Shyam Gopal


Home is Where the Heart is

This afternoon I went for a long japa walk. Returning, I was happy to see that Vijay Radhika had posted another inspirational album of photos from Vraja.

It has been said, “home is where the heart is.” Vraja is our home; the true residence of our heart, the realm that always resides within our heart.

We think of Vraja daily, and daily we desire to be there. I think it is similar to that feeling that a man feels for a woman, and vice versa, when they share love. They always desire to be together.

Srila Rupa Goswami has spoken about love. In a gist he has said that when there is every conceivable reason to stop a relationship, but the relationship is maintained, that is love.

And Srila Visvanatha has also touched on love. He has said that bad acts do not decrease it, and good things do not increase it, because it is causeless. That is love.

So despite scooter and car horns, loudspeakers, banging kitchen pots from Balaram Baba’s kitchen, the heat, the endless construction, the open drains, the malaria, the rickshaw wallas, the endlessly clever merchants in the market, the screaming pandits at the holy places, the thieves, the cattle rustlers, the dogs (who are quite cool), the monkeys (who are quite totally insane), actually, despite all the reasons our seemingly organized brain tells us we should avoid the place, we daily hanker to go there.

Maybe we do love Vraja … even just a little. Still, that is a good step in the direction of loving Krishna.

When you love a person you always think of that person. Then, if another person fills you with special remembrance of the person you love, that person is a dear and special friend.

Sri Krishna explained this to Narada after the Nava Vrindavan Lila in Dwaraka.

As He explained the glorious love of the Vraja Gopis to his queen Satyabhama, the fire-like moods of love in separation began to again rise within His heart. Uddhava, Satyabhama and Rohini saw these exquisite moods rising. In order to avoid another calamity they distracted the Lord’s mind by inviting Him to come take delicious food prepared for Him by Rohini.

As Sri Krishna prepared to leave His room He saw Narada Muni standing in the doorway. Narada was overwhelmed with ecstasy by everything that he had heard and seen. He could not speak and appeared to be in a stunned and fearful state.

The Lord immediately greeted Narada and asked him why he had not freely entered His room? He had entered the Lord’s palaces thousands of times before, why was he not entering now?

Uddhava responded by saying Narada was fearful that he had committed an offence by instigating the Nava Vrindavan Lila. After all, it was Narada’s curiosity to find the greatest recipient of the Lord’s mercy that had provoked the entire lila.

But the Lord told Narada that the situation was very much to the contrary.

Sri Krishna professed that His most profound mercy and love is with the ladies of Vraja. And loving them so intensely, in the mood of separation, His mind at every moment was with them.

And, as Narada had caused Him to remember the devotees that He loves the most, Narada was certainly not an offender. Rather, Narada was truly His best friend.

So my thanks to Vijay Radhika, Shyam Gopal, Radha Mohan, the small team at Vrindavan Experience. They are always reminding me, and many other friends, of the place we love the most, Sri Vrindavan Dham. You are all very dear friends. Thank you all very much.