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All glories to Shri Gaura Govinda, the Lord of all! All glories to Lord Nityananda, Haladhara! All glories to Shri Advaita Prabhu, the foremost distributor of devotion! All glories to Shri Gadadhara Pandita, the reservoir of love! All glories to Shrivasa Pandita, the friend of the poor! All glories to Sanatana and Rupa Gosvamis, who are oceans of mercy! All glories to the merciful devotees of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! Have mercy on us, as we are completely dependent on your grace. All glories to the listeners of Bhakti-ratnakara, who possess all devotional qualities! Kindly hear my story.
I have been discussing the affectionate behavior of Shri Jiva Gosvami toward Shrinivasa Acarya and Narottama Mahashaya. One day Shri Jiva Gosvami decided to send Shrinivasa and Narottama to tour all of the holy places of Vraja. As he wondered who should guide them, Raghava Gosvami arrived from Govardhana. Shri Jiva was very glad to see him and, after seating him, inquired about his well being. Raghava told Shri Jiva, “I have decided to tour Vraja, and for that purpose I will very soon leave.” Shri Jiva was quite happy to hear that and asked Raghava to take Shrinivasa and Narottama along with him. Raghava was pleased with the idea.
Meanwhile, Shrinivasa and Narottama arrived there and bowed at the feet of Shri Jiva and Raghava. Raghava embraced Shrinivasa and Narottama very affectionately, making them ecstatic. Shri Jiva Gosvami informed them about the tour of the holy places in Vraja. Overwhelmed with joy, they asked permission to leave immediately. In great satisfaction Shri Jiva Gosvami then bid farewell to Shrinivasa and Narottama.
Shrinivasa and Narottama Tour Vrindavana With Raghava Pandita
Shri Raghava happily led Shrinivasa and Narottama to Mathura. They first went to the temple of Shri Keshavadeva where Subuddhi Raya had once stayed. They glorified the qualities of Shri Subuddhi Raya and in the evening they began nama-sankirtana. Raghava Gosvami was always intoxicated in ecstatic love. There is no end to the descriptions of his character.
The Glories of Shri Raghava Gosvami
Who can describe the activities of such an exalted Vaishnava as Shri Raghava Pandita? He belonged to a Kulina brahmana family of South India, and he always showed extreme favor to the poor. He has written various books like Bhakti-ratna-prakasha. Raghava Gosvami was an authority in all shastras. He always lived at Govardhana, the place which was all and all for him.
It is stated in Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika: “That person who was Sakhi Campakalata, the life of Shrimati Radharani in Vraja, has appeared as Shri Raghava Gosvami, the resident of Govardhana, in gaura-lila. He has written a book called Bhakti-ratna-prakasha.”
From time to time Raghava Pandita would visit the various places in Vrindavana, and at other times he stayed with Shri Dasa Gosvami [Raghunatha dasa]. Sometimes both of them would come to Vrindavana to meet the other devotees. Raghava always chanted the glories of Radha-Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and floated in his own tears. He used to roll in the dust of Vrindavana, and he never felt the urge of hunger. Who can understand the depths of his detachment from worldly pleasures? Shri Raghava knew that Shrinivasa and Narottama were of the same mentality—full of love and devotion—and therefore he loved them intensely.
At dawn, in a solitary place, Shri Raghava began to describe the innumerable pastimes of Shri Krishna in Mathura-mandala. King Vajranabha of Mathura-mandala established many villages which he named after Krishna's various pastimes. By installing many Deities of Krishna and revealing many kundas, King Vajranabha satisfied his own long-cherished desires. [Vajranabha was the great grandson of Krishna. He was the son of Aniruddha, the son of Pradyumna.] After some time, however, the locations of those holy places were almost lost. No one cared to discuss or remember those holy places or the Lord's pastimes there.
Much later, Shri Krishna Chaitanya, Vrajendra-kumara Himself, came to Mathura and indicated the locations of those lost holy places. He described everything about those places to Sanatana and Rupa. Although Rupa and Sanatana were familiar with the places and their importance, nevertheless they sought evidence from the scriptures.
After collecting scriptural references, they travelled to each of the holy places in Vraja. With utmost care they reestablished many of the lost holy places. They also revealed the glories of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna and the essence of Their divine love. Rupa and Sanatana were very dear to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Because of their sincere endeavor to reveal the holy places, people can now know the glories of Mathura.
Raghava Pandita Describes the Glories of Mathura
Mathura-mandala covers twenty yojanas [160 miles] of land. One who bathes anywhere in Mathura is freed from his sins. Adi-varaha Purana confirms this in the following statement: “As darkness is vanquished by the sunrise, as mountains tremble in fear of thunder, as snakes fear Garuda, as clouds are removed by the blowing wind, as miseries are destroyed through the cultivation of knowledge, and as deer tremble in fear of lions, so are sins destroyed by the sight of Mathura.”
In the conversation of Hara-Gauri in the Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, the same information has been given: “As heaps of grass are burnt by fire, so all the greatest sins of men can be destroyed by seeing all the places of Mathura.”
In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “Every step taken within the twenty yojanas of Mathura gives the same virtuous results as an ashvamedha-yajna. If anyone commits a sin—either intentionally or unintentionally—he can be freed from that sin by visiting any place within Mathura.”
According to the Vayu Purana: “Any sin committed in Mathura is destroyed in Mathura itself. By living in Mathura one can attain the four goals of human life namely; dharma, artha, kama, and moksha [religiosity, wealth, sense gratification, and salvation].”
The Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, also states: “O Mahadevi, the result of whatever sin forces a man to suffer for ten years outside of Mathura can be destroyed within ten days by living in Mathura.”
In the Adi-varaha Purana, Lord Varaha narrates the glories of Mathura to the deity of the earth: “Hey Vasundhare! In the three worlds there is no place more dear to Me than Mathura.”
Narada Muni speaks the following words in the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda: “The results one gets by living in Bharata-varsha [India] for thirty-three thousand years are easily attained simply by remembering the glories of Mathura.”
In Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, it is stated: “If someone cherishes the hope of visiting Mathura, but never gets the opportunity; or if someone dies outside Mathura cherishing that hope of visiting Mathura, he will attain a birth in Mathura.”
Mathura is the best of all tirthas and shelter of many holy sites, the number of which can not be counted.
In Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “Hey Vasundhare! I have indicated 660 billion holy places in Mathura-mandala.” From the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda, it is stated: “O King, in the course of time it may be possible to count the particles of dust on the earth, but the number of holy places in Mathura cannot be counted.”
Then in the Patala-khanda of Skanda Purana: “Dear man, just live in Mathura Puri where Govinda, the creator of the three worlds, and His gopis reside eternally. O lovers of worldly affairs, do take a lesson. If you want to get eternal happiness, simply live in Mathura!”
Another quote from Adi-varaha Purana says: “The person who rejects Mathura and lives in any other holy place or even expresses his love for living outside of Mathura is a foolish person. By My illusory potency that man will pass life after life within this material world.” A similar verse is found in the Skanda Purana.
The Adi-varaha Purana also says: “Madhu-puri is the refuge of those who have been rejected by friends and family and have no other shelter. Mathura is the essence and most secret of all holy tirthas and the ultimate goal of all those who are searching for the Absolute Truth.”
Again in the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “O Devi, within the three worlds there is certainly no place superior to Mathura. I live there throughout the ages.”
In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (4.8.42), Narada says to Dhruva: “My dear boy, I therefore wish all good fortune for you. You should go to the bank of the Yamuna, where there is a virtuous forest named Madhuvana, and there be purified. Just by going there, one draws nearer the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who always lives there.”
A verse in the Vishnu Purana says: “Shatrughna founded Mathura after killing the powerful demon Lavana, the son of Madhu. Mathura is the abode of Mahadeva, the deity of all deities and great devotee of Hari. Mahadeva executed his austerities in Mathura, the place which can destroy all sins.”
In Vayu Purana there is a verse: “Mathura may be extended up to forty yojanas [320 miles]. Lord Hari Himself remains there eternally.”
It is stated by Lord Varaha in the Adi Purana: “The opportunity to live in Mathura cannot be gained by different types of pious activities, different types of charities, austerities, chanting of mantras or various sacrifices, but can only be attained by My mercy. Living in Mathura is made possible by the grace of Lord Krishna, and without that grace one cannot remain in Mathura for even a second.”
In the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, there is the statement: “Attachment for Mathura is aroused only in those fortunate persons who have firm devotion to Shri Hari and have achieved His grace.”
Again in the Padma Purana, Nirvana-khanda: “O best of the brahmanas, when a person becomes purified through meditation, pious activities, and austerities, only then can he attain the darshana of My auspicious Mathura Puri. Others cannot see Mathura in thousands of kalpas.”
It is well known and confirmed in the Puranas, Mathura is the bestower of liberation in every respect.
The Adi-varaha Purana further states: “The ultimate goal of one who practices yoga, one who knows Brahma, or one who is a thoughtful philosopher is easily attained by one who dies in Mathura. O Devi, any person who dies in any place within Mathura—a holy place, a home, or even a courtyard—certainly attains salvation. In this world Mathura is the best of all holy places beginning with Kashi. Whoever sincerely maintains brahmacarya, dies, and is cremated there will attain the four types of salvation. That same salvation is awarded to worms, insects, birds, and other creatures who die there or even trees which fall on the bank of Yamuna.”
Another verse in the Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, states: “If the ceremony of Pindadana [offering homage to dead souls] is performed for low-caste people like candalas, shudras, women, and animal killers in Mathura, those people will be relieved of repeated birth. O Devi, if any being dies in a drain, on bricks, in the crematorium, in the sky, or on any platform of any house in Mathura, he can surely attain salvation.”
A verse in the Saura Purana states: “Here is the place named Mathura, famous in the three worlds. Its pathways are purified by the dust from the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. Simply by its touch people can attain salvation from the miseries and bondage of the material world.”
In Mathura-khanda it is stated: “Thoughts such as `I shall live in Mathura' or `I shall go to Mathura' are also sufficient to guarantee liberation from the material world.”
A verse in the Brahmanda Purana states: “Those who get the darshana of Acyuta, the son of Devaki, can attain Vishnuloka and never fall back to the material world. A person who celebrates the festivals of Lord Krishna with full faith becomes free of all sins and goes to Vishnuloka.”
Another verse in the Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, says: “Women, untouchables, shudras, animals, birds, deer, etc. can attain salvation if they die in Mathura. Those who die in Mathura by snake bite, by the attack of wild animals, from fire, water, or any other sort of unnatural death are transferred to Vaikunthaloka, the abode of Hari.”
A verse in the Brahmanda Purana says: “O great sage, I promise you that there is no other place in this world like Mathura. It can fulfill all the desires of all living beings.”
In the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda, it is said: “Is there any type of result which cannot be attained in Mathura, where Kshetrapala Mahadeva exists eternally and where there are holy places like Vishrama-ghata? Mathura gives the three goals of human life [religion, wealth, and sense gratification] to those who wish to enjoy sensual and earthly pleasures. It grants salvation to those who seek it and bestows devotional qualities on the devotees. Wise men should take shelter of Mathura.”
The Adi-varaha Purana states: “As even the Lord Himself cannot describe all the spiritual qualities of Mathura, Mathura must be a special creation of Providence.”
The Mathura-khanda states: “O King, this eternal place, Mathura, is shaped like a lotus situated on the cakra of Vishnu, and it shall never perish.”
The Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, again states: “The name Mathura is equal to the sound of aum [omkara]. As Mathura contains the letters Ma, u, and a, so does the word aum. These three syllables make up the name of Mathura. Ma represents Maharudra Shiva; thu represents Vishnu; and ra represents Brahma. In this way Mathura is the topmost abode. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva always reside in Mathura in the form of deities.”
The fact that devotion to Vishnu can be obtained in Mathura is explained in different ways in various Puranas. In the Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, it is stated: “Liberation is the wonderful result obtainable by those who visit other holy places. However, devotion to Hari, which even liberated souls desire, can be obtained in Mathura. O great sage, if anyone spends even three days in Mathura, Hari grants that which even the liberated souls cannot attain.”
From the Brahmanda Purana there is the following verse: “The precious attainment of ecstatic love, which is rarely obtained by serving all the holy places of the three worlds, can easily be attained simply by touching the dust of Mathura.”
The Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda, states: “O King, those who constantly remember Mathura and the King of Mathura [Krishna] attain devotional service at the feet of Lord Hari, which is the result of visiting all the holy places.”
In the Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, it states: “Mathura is more glorious than the Vaikuntha-dhama of Narayana. Anyone who spends even one day in Mathura will become devoted to the lotus feet of Shri Hari.”
A verse in the Adi-varaha Purana says: “If anyone desires freedom from material bondage and attainment of love of God, he should glorify Mathura with his body, mind, and words.”
The enchanting abode of Krishna, Mathura-mandala, the topmost abode, covers twenty yojanas [160 miles].
According to the scriptures, the boundary of Mathura-mandala extends from Yayavara to Shaukari Vateshvara. The name Yayavara comes from the name of a brahmana, and Shaukari comes from Adi Shukara [Varaha]. Vateshvara Shiva is worshiped by everyone, and the kingdom of Shri Shurasena is known to all. People call this place Varahadasana-hrada. Yayavara and Saukari are famous in the Puranas.
The Padma Purana, Yamuna Mahatmya, states: “Long ago in this beautiful place of the Apsaras, there lived an ascetic brahmana named Yayavara. Becoming overwhelmed by sensual pleasures that brahmana offended Lord Indra and was thus cursed. After suffering a long time from the fire of Indra's curse, in spite of performing severe austerities to get relief, he eventually got freed from his sin simply by touching a drop of water here. That brahmana then travelled east till he reached Shaukara-puri where Lord Varahadeva had previously manifest Himself to rescue the earth when it had sunk in the ocean of universal devastation.”
Just as the boundary of Mathura-mandala extends from Yayavara to Shaukari, in this way all the directions are extended upto twenty yojanas. There are many holy places within Mathura-mandalas twenty yojanas. The Puranas classified these holy places within Mathura-mandala where Krishna and Balarama used to play, stating that these holy places covered twelve yojanas. This is also confirmed in the Mathura-khanda.
A verse in the Adi-varaha Purana states: “Mathura-mandala extends throughout twenty-four kroshas and is decorated with dvadashavanas [twelve forests] where Mathuradevi, the bestower of all accomplishments, resides. Hey Vasundhare! The lotuslike Mathura is the giver of salvation to all. Within the seed-pod of Mathura exists Adi Keshavadeva, man's deliverer from the miseries and agonies of life. Those who die within this seed-pod as well as those who die on its petals can attain salvation.”
Again from the Adi-varaha Purana comes: “O mind, why do you lament after seeing Harideva, the worshipable Lord of Mahadeva, the Deity of Deities who is seated on the western petal of this lotus? If anyone gets the darshana of Govindadeva, seated on the northern petal, he will not fall again into the material world upto the time of the universal devastation. Lord Vishranti is situated on the eastern petal. By seeing Him, one is liberated from this miserable world, of this there is no doubt. On the southern petal, Shri Varahadeva is situated. By His mercy, man achieves all perfection. By seeing Him, one becomes worshipable on Brahmaloka.”
Also: “After controlling his senses and taking bath at Mathura, one who has darshana of Keshavadeva on the twelfth day of the waxing moon in the month of Jaishtha will obtain the supreme destination. Hey Vasundhare! When I lie down, all the holy places, oceans, and kundas of the world come to Mathura.” In the same way the Puranas state that Janmashtami in the month of Bhadra is also most glorious.
The Skanda Purana states: “Originally Mathura Puri was the forest of the demon Madhu who was slain by the almighty Shri Hari. O King, nothing is impossible within this Madhuvana of Shri Hari. I am not capable of naming all the holy places situated here.”
Explaining the glories of Mathura through these references from the Puranas, Raghava Pandita was overwhelmed by jubilation and could not remain patient. After finishing the required morning duties, Raghava Pandita with Shrinivasa Acarya and Narottama began their tour of Mathura. They went first to the house of the Sanodiya brahmana where Shri Krishna Chaitanya used to beg alms. The brahmana was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri Gosvami and had witnessed Lord Chaitanya's transcendental pastimes.
Shri Raghava Pandita said to Shrinivasa, “Gaurachandra used to dance here in ecstasy. Many people came to see His dancing, and they all became intoxicated by shri-nama-sankirtana. They cried as they realized Mahaprabhu was Vrajendra-nandana Himself. They would not leave His association for even a moment and swam in an ocean of love. Those were the wonderful pastimes of Mahaprabhu here.”
Raghava Pandita sighed deeply while remembering the pastimes of Gaurachandra, while Narottama and Shrinivasa cried in ecstasy. They rolled on the ground as they cried, and their bodies became covered with dust. After a long time, they regained control of themselves.
Raghava Pandita continued, “A wise person once told me that Advaita Gosvami stayed in Mathura during His pilgrimage because of the beauty here. At that time there was a worthless brahmana in Mathura who invariably spoke ill of the Vaishnavas. That was his worst habit. He was a proud scholar and a wicked man, so the inhabitants of Mathura feared him.
“Once he spoke harshly about the Vaishnavas in front of Shri Advaita Prabhu. Advaita became so furious that His lips began to tremble and His eyes grew red. He shouted at the brahmana, `O wicked man, today you will not escape from Me. I shall sever your head from your body with this cakra.' Advaita assumed a four-armed figure, and the brahmana began to tremble in fear. He folded his hands and tried to pacify Advaita by saying, `O Lord, punish me as You like. Unfortunately, I have lost my good intelligence, and not understanding vaishnava-tattva, I have committed unlimited sins. Please be kind to me and save me from these sins.'
“The brahmana began to cry helplessly, and Advaita concealed his four-armed form. Seeing the wretched condition of the brahmana, Advaita felt pity for him and decided to bless him. Advaita spoke in sweet words, `The sins which you have committed will send you to hell, but I will tell you what you must do now. Admit your guilty mentality, give up all pleasures, and engage yourself in nama-sankirtana. Serve the Vaishnavas with your heart and soul and be very cautious in your dealings with them. Engage yourself in worship according to the standards of pure devotion and do not tell anyone what you have seen today.'
“After advising the brahmana, Advaita Prabhu left on pilgrimage. The brahmana absorbed himself in nama-sankirtana and proved himself humble by visiting every house in Mathura with tears in his eyes. Seeing his sincere efforts, the Vaishnavas became satisfied and wished him well. The Vaishnavas wondered what had caused the change in his behavior. One man knew the reason. `A brahmana once came to Mathura whose effulgence was as bright as the sun. Most likely He was the Lord in a human form. He has changed the brahmana.'
“O Shrinivasa, see how beautifully situated this place is! The glories of a bath at this half moon-shaped section of the Yamuna are well known.”
In the Adi-varaha Purana this area is glorified in these words: “Those who live in this half moon-shaped place undoubtedly attain liberation. One who controls his eating and baths here achieves the imperishable abode. Of this there is no doubt. Hey Devi! Those who leave their body at this crescent moon-shaped region reach My abode, Vaikuntha. Those who take bath or perform other pious activity here, even if they die at another place without proper funeral ceremony, still they are eligible for liberation. One who dies here, although sinful, is worshipable in Brahmaloka for as long as his bones remain at this place.”
After narrating these descriptions Raghava held Shrinivasa's hand and, with a blissful heart, slowly began speaking again. “Within Madhuvana, Mathura is gloriously situated. By performing parikrama at special times one achieves extraordinary fruits.”
Again in the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “If the killer of a brahmana, a drunkard, a killer of cows, or any person who violates brahmacarya circumambulates Mathura, he will be freed from the results of his sins. A pilgrim who comes from a far away country and circumambulates Mathura purifies whoever sees him and relieves them of their sins.”
“This is the room of Devaki and Vasudeva where Krishna, the Supreme Lord, took His birth. According to the Skanda Purana, a person who fasts, chants japa, and then takes darshana of this birthplace of Krishna is freed from all sins and is liberated. Also in the Padma Purana it is stated that anyone who once enters the janma-griha [birthplace] of Keshava during the month of Kartika achieves the eternal Absolute Truth, Shri Krishna.
“O Shrinivasa, look at Keshavadeva. In this place Shri Chaitanya once danced in ecstasy. Those who saw Him dance thought that He was Shri Keshava Raya Himself. Who can describe Keshavadeva's glories? Whoever circumambulates Keshava in Mathura attains the virtue of circumambulating the earth with its seven islands. Singing Keshava Raya's glories will destroy sins committed in this age and in ages to come.”
In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated, “Look at beautiful Mathura, where the Deities of Dirgha Vishnu, Padmanabha, and Svayambhuva are situated. The darshana of these Deities fulfills the desires of all mankind.”
“O Shrinivasa, taking darshana of the relatives of Krishna such as Ekanamshadevi [Yogamaya], Yashodadevi, Devakidevi, and Mahavidyeshvari can save a person from the sin of killing a brahmana. This is described in the Adi-varaha Purana.
“In Mathura lives the supremely merciful deity of Bhuteshvara. Taking darshana of Kshetrapala Mahadeva will help one reach the abode of Krishna. In the Adi-varaha Purana Lord Varaha says: `Lord Bhuteshvara, who grants liberation even to the sinful, resides in Mathura. He is very dear to Me. If anyone does not care for the worship of Shiva, My topmost devotee, how can that sinner attain devotion to Me? Only those who are the lowest of men and whose intelligence is bewildered will not offer obeisances and remember Bhuteshvara.'”
The Holy Places of Mathura
“See this great holy place named Shri Vishranti. It was here that Krishna took rest after killing Kamsa. O Shrinivasa, the jewel amongst sannyasis, Shri Chaitanya, also performed many transcendental activities here. All types of people—women, men, aged, youths, and even children—gathered to see the Lord. Hundreds of thousands came and everyone acknowledged that the best of all sannyasis had come to Mathura. Raising their arms in the air and crying, they shouted the name of Hari. Gaurachandra's beauty charmed the entire world, and people were unable to take their eyes off Him. The Lord fulfilled everyones' desires, and in this way He performed amazing pastimes at Vishranti. The glories of Vishranti-tirtha are famous in the world. One can achieve the most rare perfection by the grace of Vishranti.”
In the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda, it is stated: “The world-famous holy place, Shri Vishranti, is situated in Mathura. By visiting this place a traveller attains eternal rest. By bathing here and worshiping Acyuta, one attains immortality and is automatically freed from the miseries and agonies of the material world.”
In the Saura Purana it is said: “The holy Vishranti-tirtha destroys sins and gives relief to one who is suffering from wandering in the desertlike material existence of birth and death. A person who bathes here and worships Acyuta becomes free from the suffering of repeated birth and death and qualified for liberation.”
The Padma Purana, Yamuna Mahatmya, states: “The Kalindi flows from the mountain Kalinda and flows through Mathura. The Ganges at Shukaratala flows westwards. The confluence of the Yamuna and Bhagirathi is known as the sangam. By bathing at any of these places one achieves highly pious results. But by taking bath in the Yamuna one can achieve a hundred times these results and, according to scholars, Shri Vishranti-tirtha can bestow millions of times these results on people.”
Also in the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “Hey Devi! Vishranti-tirtha is renowned throughout the three worlds. A person becomes worshipable in Vaikuntha-dhama if he takes bath here. Lord Gatashrama is situated here at this beautiful place. By His darshana one achieves the results attained from visiting and taking bath at all other holy places.”
The Twenty-four Tirthas along Yamuna at Mathura
“O Shrinivasa, in this crescent moon-shaped place there are twenty-four tirthas along Shri Yamuna. This first one is called Avimukta-tirtha. In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated that one who bathes here is liberated, and one who dies here without a doubt goes to Vishnuloka.
“This next place is called Guhya-tirtha. Again in the Adi-varaha Purana it is said: `One who bathes at this place attains liberation from this material world and goes to Vishnuloka.' According to the Saura Purana, this next place, known as Prayaga-tirtha, is rarely attained even by the demigods. By bathing here one gets the same result as by the performance of an agnistoma-yajna. This holy place is called Kanakhala-tirtha. The Adi-varaha Purana says that by bathing here one attains supreme opulence and heavenly happiness. By bathing at this next place, called Tinduka-tirtha, one is promoted to Vishnuloka.
“This place called Surya-tirtha destroys all sins. It was here that Bali, the son of Virochana, performed his austerities. Bathing here during the lunar or solar eclipse, on Sankranti, or on Sunday will give one the same benefit as by performing the rajasuya-yajna. These statements are confirmed in the Adi-varaha Purana.
“In the Saura Purana it is stated: `This supreme place is called Vatasvami-tirtha. Vatasvami Surya has become famous here. Whoever serves this place with devotion on a Sunday will recover from disease, gain wealth in his life, and attain the ultimate goal after death.'
“This place is called Dhruva-tirtha. It was here that Dhruva did tapasya. The Adi-varaha Purana says that by bathing here one is certainly promoted to Dhruvaloka. Whoever performs the shraddha ceremony here, especially during the pitripaksha, will guarantee liberation for the ancestors on his father's side. [Pitripaksha is the dark fortnight of the month of Ashvina, mid-September to mid-October.] Then the Skanda Purana states, `Offering oblations to the forefathers at Dhruva-tirtha gives one a hundred times the results obtained by performing the same ceremony at Gaya. Whoever performs japa, homa, tapasya, dana, or puja here also attains one hundred times greater results as by performing the same activities in any other holy place.'
“This place south of Dhruva-tirtha called áshi-tirtha is very dear to Krishna. By bathing here one attains Vishnuloka and also krishna-bhakti, devotional service to the Lord. This is confirmed in the Adi-varaha Purana and in the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda.”
The Adi-varaha Purana gives the following descriptions:
“South of áshi-tirtha is Moksha-tirtha. A bath here guarantees liberation. Next comes Koti-tirtha, a place which is rarely attained even the by demigods. By bathing here and giving in charity here one becomes worshipable in Vishnuloka.
“By offering oblations at Bodhi-tirtha, which is rarely attained by the demigods, one attains Pitriloka. This Dvadasha-tirtha, south of Vishranti-tirtha, is seldom attained even by the demigods. Simply by remembering this place, people are freed from all types of sins. This supreme place called Nava-tirtha is north of Asi-kunda. Neither now nor in the future will there ever be a tirtha in the world like Nava-tirtha.
“By bathing at the next place, called Samyamana-tirtha, one attains Vishnuloka. This place is called Dharapatana-tirtha. By bathing here one attains happiness unavailable even in heaven, and by dying here one attains Vishnuloka.
“This exalted place is called Naga-tirtha, and it is the best of all holy tirthas. By bathing here one attains Svargaloka, and by dying here one is freed from rebirth.
“This place is called Ghantabharana-tirtha. By bathing here one's sins are destroyed and he is worshiped on Suryaloka.
“This place, called Brahma-tirtha, is very famous. Whoever takes bathe here, drinks the water, and sits here undisturbed with restrained senses, by the permission of Brahma, he will attain the abode of Vishnu.
“This holy place is called Soma-tirtha. If one who is properly situated in his varna and ashrama bathes here in the pure water of the Yamuna, he attains the happiness of Somaloka without doubt.
“This place is known as Sarasvati-patana-tirtha. By bathing here a person attains the qualities of a sannyasi, although he may have no right to be a sannyasi by the rules of varnashrama. After fasting for three days, one who bathes here, at Cakra-tirtha, becomes free from the sin of killing a brahmana and what to speak of other fruits.
“The place called Dashashvamedha-tirtha was formerly worshiped by the sages. If one bathes here in a contented mood, he easily obtains heaven.
“This place is known as Vighnaraja-tirtha. One who takes bath here attains all auspiciousness as well as freedom from sins and miseries.
“This place is called Koti-tirtha and it is always supremely pure and auspicious. One bath in this holy place delivers the same result as ten million baths in the Ganges.”
Then from the Mathura-khanda it is stated: “Hey Yudhishthira! On the northern and southern side of Shri Vishranti there are twenty-four tirthas. The twelve on the north extend up to Dashashvamedha and the twelve on the south extend to Moksha-tirtha.”
Other Tirthas of Mathura
“O Shrinivasa, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu happily bathed in all twenty-four ghatas of the Yamuna. To describe the pastimes which He performed at even one ghata is possible only for Ananta Shesha. Hundreds of thousands of people took their baths with the Lord and floated in the waves of love. All the demigods used to mingle with the common people to see the pastimes of Mahaprabhu. They all sang the glories of Shri Krishna Chaitanya. In this way He performed the most wonderful pastimes here in Mathura. Now, Shrinivasa, we will see some of these other holy places.”
In the Saura Purana it is stated: “This place of Vishvanatha [Mahadeva] is known as Gokarna-tirtha. It is famous throughout the worlds and is very dear to Vishnu.
“This place is known as Krishna-ganga. The Adi-varaha Purana states that whatever result one obtains by taking his bath in the five tirthas—Vishranti, Saukara, Naimisha, Prayaga, and Pushkara—one achieves ten times greater results every day by bathing at this Krishna-ganga.
“This holy place is called Vaikuntha-tirtha. By taking bath here one receives wonderful results, being freed from all sinful reactions. A bath here promotes one to Vishnuloka.
“O Shrinivasa, this holy place is called Asi-kunda. One who takes bath here gets many benefits as confirmed in the Adi-varaha Purana.”
“If anyone after taking a bath at this place takes darshana of the four deities, namely, Varaha, Narayani, Vamana, and the auspicious Langali [Balarama], then he gets the same result as obtained by circumambulating the earth with its four oceans. He attains the auspicious results of visiting all the holy places of Mathura.”
“This is a well named Catui-samudrika. By bathing here one enjoys pleasures with the demigods.
“O Shrinivasa, who can describe the numerous glories of Shri Yamuna? Bathing in the Yamuna at Mathura gives one a hundred times superior results to those obtained from bathing in the Ganga.
This is confirmed in the Adi-varaha Purana as follows: “Within My Mathura-mandala the famous Yamuna is one hundred times superior to the Ganga. One should not argue about this. O sinless goddess, I have many confidential sacred places along the Yamuna. Whoever takes bath there becomes worshipable in My abode.”
In the Matsya Purana, in a conversation between Yudhishthira and Narada, it is stated: “O Yudhishthira, a man becomes virtuous if he takes a bath in the Yamuna, drinks the pure water and sings her glories. Even the darshana of Yamuna gives auspicious results. One who takes bath in the Yamuna or drinks her water guarantees auspiciousness for seven generations of his family. Whoever dies on the bank of the Yamuna attains the eternal abode.”
In the Vishnu Dharmottara it is stated: “O King, whoever performs the shraddha ceremony on the bank of the Yamuna attains immortal results and becomes happy in heaven.”
The Padma Purana, Patala-khanda, while describing the creation of Prajapati Marici states: “He who is the support of all existence, the cause of all causes, the eternal, omniscient blissful Lord, glorified as Brahma by the Upanishads, that Supreme Lord, the embodiment of transcendental mellows, Krishna, exists in the form of Yamuna.”
“According to the Puranas, one achieves superior fruits by taking bath in Yamuna at special times. O Shrinivasa, it is commonly known that by the mercy of Yamuna one can easily fulfill his desires. As iron becomes gold by the touch of the touchstone, so a sinful person become virtuous by the touch of the waters of the Yamuna.”
The Adi-varaha Purana states: “If there are two brahmanas—one living in Mathura with no knowledge of the Vedas and the other a scholar in all four Vedas who lives outside Mathura—you should abandon the scholar to feed the ignorant Mathura brahmana. Although a farmer of Mathura may be wicked and irreligious, nevertheless he is respectable to Me because a Mathura-vasi is always the extension of My form. Hey Vasundhare! All the residents of Mathura are personifications of Me. If you feed one brahmana of Mathura, you earn the same virtue of feeding millions of other brahmanas. The Mathura-vasis are certainly worshiped by Me as they are very dear to Me. When a resident of Mathura feels satisfied, then I also feel satisfied. There is no doubt of this. The places where they reside are certainly holy places, and their houses are full of auspiciousness.”
“O Shrinivasa, the glories of the residents of Mathura are described in many places in the Vedas and Puranas. In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: `The residents of Mathura attain the supreme destination by My mercy. Of this there is no doubt. In Mathura, the insects, worms, birds, animals, and other living beings are all eligible for liberation. Men who are unable to control their senses and who lust after other women are all demigods in the form of human beings.'
In the Padma Purana, Nirvana-khanda it is said: “Those sinful persons who find faults in the inhabitants of Mathura, are unable to detect their own faults which cause them to take thousands and thousands of births and deaths.”
“O Shrinivasa, just see the city of Mathura where Krishna enacted many pastimes. This is the house of the gardener, Sudama, who is very dear to Krishna. His activities are well known to all. Krishna killed Kamsa's washerman at this place, then Krishna and the cowherd boys dressed themselves attractively in his clothes. This is the road by which Krishna went to meet Kamsa while the residents of Mathura watched, overwhelmed by His beauty. Then Krishna broke the sacrificial bow in great sport. He and His friends moved about Mathura in a magnificent way. The elephant Kuvalayapida blocked Krishna's path here. Krishna killed him easily and then took his tusk.
“See this arena where the wrestling match took place. This is the raised platform where Kamsa sat. And here is where the cowherd men headed by Nanda sat watching Krishna's wrestling. In great fun Krishna took Kamsa's life here, therefore this place is known as Kamsa-khali, the place where Kamsa was delivered.
“The house of Kubja used to be at this place. See this Kubja-kupa, which is known to all. The wonderful pastimes of Krishna with Kubja are known throughout the three worlds. These next two places, Baladeva-kunda and Krishna-kupa, are the places where Krishna and Balarama sported with Their friends. O Shrinivasa and Narottama, the bliss they experienced here is beyond description!
“It was here that Shri Krishna Chaitanyacandra sat surrounded by people after His tour of Mathura. People were struck with wonder seeing the ecstatic condition of Mahaprabhu. The brahmana residents of Mathura spoke to one another, `This so-called sannyasi must certainly be Lord Krishna Himself. This is extraordinary! Who can understand His transcendental activities? He has concealed His real identity by accepting this golden form.' Someone said, `We are all very fortunate to see the Lord's visit to Mathura.'”
After speaking in this way, they all floated in waves of ecstasy gazing on the beautiful form of the Lord. While describing these pastimes Raghava Pandita became so overwhelmed remembering the glories of Shri Chaitanya that he could not control himself. Shrinivasa and Narottama, also greatly agitated, fell on the ground calling the name of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. After sometime they pacified themselves, and Raghava led them on to other holy places of Mathura.
Raghava Pandita spoke in sweet words to Shrinivasa, “This is the place where Gopala stayed for one month. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Shri Rupa Gosvami and his associates came here and were overwhelmed in ecstasy having darshana of Shri Gopala. Seeing the Gosvamis in their midst, the inhabitants of Mathura were so absorbed that they were unable to know night from day.
“Look Shrinivasa, this is the old tree under which the son of Rohini, Balarama, used to play. During His pilgrimage, Nityananda Prabhu, the same Lord, also came to Mathura and stayed here for sometime. He became filled with ecstasy seeing the land where He had previously appeared, and He roamed here and there in that state. The residents of Mathura forgot all their miseries and lamentation by seeing Avadhutacandra. By taking darshana of this place, one's distress will vanish and his devotion to the feet of Nityananda will increase. Those who hear this description will easily fulfill their desires.”
The Twelve Forests of Mathura-mandala
Raghava Pandita, feeling excessive joy, spoke softly to Shrinivasa, “This Mathura Puri is surrounded by twelve sacred forests which deliver one from sins. Keshava's beautiful dvadashavanas are auspicious and bestow virtues.”
On the western side of the Yamuna are: Madhu, Tala, Kumuda, Bahula, Kamya, Khadira, and Vrindavana. On the eastern side of the Yamuna are: Bhadra, Bhandira, Bilva, or Shri, Lauha, and Mahavana (Padma Purana and Skanda Purana)
“O Shrinivasa, this is Madhuvana. Its darshana will satisfy all desires. In this forest there is a kunda full of transparent water and blue lotuses. If anyone bathes in that water and gives in charity he will achieve the fulfillment of his desires.”
It is stated in the Skanda Purana: “For the benefit of the Yadavas and for His own pleasure Krishna killed the demon who was the protector of the tala fruit.”
In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “Hey Devi, this third forest, Kumudavana, is supreme. One who visits this place becomes worshipable in My abode.”
“O Shrinivasa, see this place on the west of Mathura where Krishna killed Dantavakra. Vajranabha named this place Datiha. In the Padma Purana it is known as Dati-upavana. I will tell you now one story related with Dantavakra. Hearing this narration frees one from all miseries.
“Once, the residents of Vrindavana headed by Nanda Maharaja went to see Krishna at Kurukshetra. Krishna met them and satisfied each person in every way. Krishna assured them that He would meet them in Vrindavana in a very short time. Fully satisfied hearing Krishna's nectarean words, they left there and came to the bank of the Yamuna waiting for His arrival. Everyone thought they would take Krishna home when He arrived.
“After seeing off the Vraja-vasis from Kurukshetra, Krishna felt great eagerness to return to Vrindavana. He went to Dvaraka to kill Shishupala and then went to Mathura on the pretext of killing Dantavakra. After that work was completed, He crossed the Yamuna River and quickly went to meet Nanda Maharaja and the others. On seeing Krishna, the cowherds ran forward shouting, `Welcome! Welcome!' Krishna returned to His own house in Vraja and enjoyed Himself with the gopis and gopas as He always had before. Because the villagers shouted, `Ayore! Ayore!' [Welcome!, Welcome!], the village is now known as Ayore.”
There is another village called Gauravai and Shri Raghava also told the story of that village. “There was a large village called Shhana wherein lived a distinguished Zamindara [landowner] who had a good friendship with Shri Nanda Maharaja. When Nanda returned from Kurukshetra, the Zamindara welcomed him in great joy. There was no limit to the honor, or gaurav, given by that landowner to Nanda as he arranged his stay. Therefore this village was named Gauravai, but presently it is known as Gaurai. It is nearby the villages of Shhana and Ayore.”
In Gopala-campu the story is told in this way: “Coming from Syamanta-pancaka in Kurukshetra, Vrajeshvara Shri Nanda and the cowherd men were returning to their houses in Gokula. When they arrived in Mathura, they felt no desire to return to their homes. They crossed the Yamuna and came to this famous place named Gaurai some distance from Gokula. That place, called `Gokulapati' in Sanskrit, is traditionally known as Gaurava, however the local people called it Gaurai. Just as the abode of Purushottama has become famous by the name Purushottama, so also the place of Gokulapati was named Gokulapati.”
“All these villages where Krishna performed His transcendental pastimes are seen in ecstasy by those people who are fortunate.” After narrating these topics, Raghava happily continued along the parikrama path as they wandered through Vraja. Raghava explained that the path they would follow was not exactly as prescribed in the Adi-varaha Purana.
For some time they followed the parikrama route, then Raghava decided to see the place named Shashthikaratavi. They left the parikrama path for another path and Raghava told Shrinivasa, “We have entered the place called Shashthikara. Although previously this was known as Shashthikaratavi, presently people call it by the name Shashthighara.”
“See here Shrinivasa, the place called Shakata Rohana. It is a beautiful pleasant place and very dear to Krishna. Bumblebees are always humming in the forest of flowers. By bathing in this kunda one will get supreme bliss.”
Shakata Rohana is described in the Adi-varaha Purana thus: “One half yojana [four miles] on the west side of Mathura is My supreme abode named Shakata Rohana. Many thousands of bumblebees live there. Whoever fasts for one night and then takes bath there is certain to attain the happiness of Vidyadharaloka.”
Raghava also pointed out a place known as Garuda-Govinda. Once, just in play, Shridhama transformed himself into Garuda, and Shri Krishna as four-armed Govinda mounted the shoulders of His bird-carrier. This place was thus named Garuda-Govinda after this most beautiful pastime. The same story is also given in Shri Laghu Bhagavatamrita.
As Raghava continued to describe the holy places, they returned to the parikrama path and walked until they reached a place called Gandheshvara-sthana. At this place Krishna applied scented oil, therefore this name was given. [gandha means scent or aroma]
Satona-grama is where Shantanu Muni performed austerity. The kunda here is full of clear water. As they left Satona, Raghava led Shrinivasa and Narottama on to various other beautiful places.
When they arrived in Bahulavana, Raghava Pandita told them that Shri Chaitanya had come here absorbed in transcendental love while on pilgrimage of the Vrindavana forests. Seeing Him, millions of cows surrounded Him and looked at Him lovingly. Then Gaura touched each one of them as He had touched them when He was in Vrindavana as Krishna. Various animals such as dear, peacocks, and cuckoos expressed their joy by flying over His head and running around Him. People were overwhelmed to see that even the trees showered flowers on Shri Mahaprabhu's head. All of them said, “He must be Shri Krishna assuming this form of a sannyasi. He has covered His beautiful dark complexion with a golden one in order to deceive people.” People spoke with agitated hearts while Gaura Raya fulfilled everyone's desires.
The Pandita then showed Shrinivasa and Narottama a beautiful lotus-filled pond named Sankarshana-kunda and one lake known as Mana-sarasi. According to the Puranas, seeing and bathing in these places gives many fruits such as the darshana of Lakshmi with Krishna.
According to the Adi-varaha Purana, Bahula is the best of all forests. Whoever enters this forest attains Agniloka after death. In the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda, it is also stated, “Bahula, the wife of Shri Hari always lives in this holy forest. O king, this place is auspicious because Shri Vishnu and Lakshmi reside here always. In Bahulavana there is Sankarshana-kunda and Mana-sarovara. By seeing the forest of lotuses here one obtains pious results. Whoever takes a bath here in the month of Caitra [March-April] is able to have darshana of Shri Hari with Lakshmi.”
The next place they visited was Mayura-grama where Krishna watched the dancing of the peacocks with His beloveds. It was an amazing sight to see thousands and thousands of dancing peacocks expand their plumage for Radha and Krishna. What wonderful happiness arose when Radha and Krishna also began dancing with the peacocks. The sakhis stood all around and clapped as they watched the wonderful scene which enchanted the world.
Raghava Pandita pointed out to Narottama and Shrinivasa the place called Dakshina-grama. Throughout this whole area Krishna enjoyed His amorous sports. In Dakshina-grama the mood of a dakshina nayika is very prominently manifest. [dakshina nayika is described in the Ujjvala-nilamani as follows: “A gopi who cannot tolerate womanly anger, who speaks suitable words to the hero and who is satisfied by His sweet words is called a dakshina, or right-wing gopi.”
There is another village called Vasati where King Vrishabhanu had once lived. Maharaja Nanda stayed up to the limits of Shashthighara and Raola. Presently Raola is called Ral. Thus, in great satisfaction near the town of Vasati, Krishna and Balarama passed Their lives in joyful play with Their friends.
Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda
See ahead the village named Arita. The pastime Krishna performed here is an enchanting story. Once Krishna killed a demon in the form of a bull [Arishtasura]. Afterwards when He wanted to touch Radharani She smilingly told Him, “Even though he was a demon, he had assumed the form of a bull, by killing him You have become very contaminated. If You take bath at all the holy places, then You will be relieved of the offense of killing him.”
Krishna very sweetly replied, “I shall bathe in the water of all the holy places by calling them all here.”
Speaking these words, He then stomped on the earth and created a depression which immediately filled up with the water of all the holy places. The personification of each holy place also appeared before Krishna, introduced himself, and offered prayers. In front of Radha and the gopis, Krishna then took a bath in the water, uttering the name of each holy place as He did. He finished His bath sometime before midnight. Even now people follow the same system of bathing in the holy kunda.
Hearing Krishna speak some boastful words, Radha with the help of Her sakhis quickly dug Her own kunda. The kunda dug by Radharani was most beautiful and the sight of it made Krishna feel very pleased. Radharani thought that She would fill Her kunda with the waters of the Manasa-ganga, which is the essence of all holy places. Understanding Radha's desire, Krishna gave His order and the holy tirthas entered Radha's kunda from Shyama-kunda. The personified holy places then glorified Radharani with many prayers and, considering themselves fortunate, they became very pleased. From that time on these two kundas, which are surrounded by beautiful trees and plants, became the site of Radha and Krishna's wonderful amorous sports.
In Stavavali, Vraja-vilasa, there is the following description: “I take shelter of the meeting place of Radha Madhava's beloved Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda, the site of Their amorous sports. It is most charming, being surrounded by kadamba, campaka, beautiful young ashoka, mango, punnaga [white lotus], and bakula trees, as well as lavanga and vasanti creepers.”
Radha-kunda is most beautifully surrounded by the kunjas of the eight sakhis beginning with Lalita's. Shyama-kunda is surrounded by the kundas of the eight sakhas beginning with Subala's. They are most beautiful and pleasant to see.
The following song describes the beauty of Radha-kunda: “Krishna is enjoying the beauty of Radha-kunda. The kunda is full of pure water and lotuses. The bumblebees hum amongst the lotuses, and the gentle wind causes small ripples in the water. Aquatics move pleasurably through the water. The banks of the kunda are decorated with different kinds of gems. The covered terrace on the bank is decorated with painted pictures. The abode of Cupid bows its head feeling inferior. The birds and peacocks sing and dance as Radha and Krishna swing on a golden gem-studded swing hanging from the tree.”
The Glories of Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda
Shyama-kunda is also known as Arishta-kunda. Whoever bathes in Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda gets the same results one achieves by the performance of a rajasuya and ashvamedha-yajna. This is confirmed in Adi-varaha Purana.
Raghava Pandita said that according to the Puranas there is no limit to the glories of Radha-kunda. In the Adi-varaha Purana, Mathura-khanda, it is stated that if a devotee of Vishnu offers a lamp to Radha-kunda during the month of Kartika, he will be able to see the entire universe.
In Padma Purana, Kartika Mahatmya, it is stated: “Radha-kunda is very dear to Shri Hari and is situated near Govardhana Hill. By taking bath in Radha-kunda on the eighth day of the waning moon in the month of Kartika [Bahulashtami], one can greatly please Lord Hari, who enjoys His pastimes there. This kunda is as dear to Krishna as Radha Herself. Amongst all the gopis, She is the most dear to Krishna. It is the duty of the devotees to bathe in the Radha-kunda during the month of Kartika and thereafter worship Lord Janardana. This simple worship pleases Krishna as much as one does by worshiping Janardana on the day of Uthana-ekadashi.”
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Discovers Shri Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda
“See these two kundas, Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda, which are surrounded by beautiful forests and which enchant the sages and demigods. After visiting the other forests of Vrindavana, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came here and sat under this tamala tree. He asked the residents of Arishta-grama where the two kundas were, but no one could answer. The brahmana accompanying Him from Mathura also did not know.
“Being the omniscient Personality of Godhead, Lord Chaitanya, carefully searched and discovered the two kundas in two paddy fields. He joyfully took a bath in whatever little water was there and glorified the kundas in various ways. Then He marked His forehead with mud from the kundas.
“The villagers were greatly startled by His behavior. One of them inquired, `From where has this sannyasi suddenly come?' Someone said, `O brother, by seeing Him I cannot understand what is happening in my body.' Another person said, `He cannot be a mortal sannyasi. Seeing Him I cannot explain what is happening in my mind.'
“Someone else said, `Who says He is a sannyasi? He is Krishna Himself appearing in this dress and form. Just see the proof. Different birds are all coming for His darshana. The cuckoos and parrots are happily addressing Him as Krishna, and the peacocks are dancing in jubilation. The different sounds of the birds is very pleasing to the ears. And see the wonderful blooming of the trees! O brother, just see the creepers showering flowers on this person, who is disguised as a sannyasi. The deer are coming near Him and staring undivertedly towards His face. All the cows are coming running from all sides with raised tails, and they also look at His face. By the tears of ecstasy falling from the eyes of these creatures we can understand that they are meeting Him after a long period of time.'
“`O brother, I repeatedly glorify the good fortune of these creatures, who are seeing Krishna in this form and dress. Dear brothers, let us offer obeisances unto the feet of the Lord, who has incarnated to distribute knowledge to the people. By His mercy we can now understand that these two paddy fields known as Kali and Gauri are actually holy kundas.' Speaking like this amongst themselves, they all became maddened by the nectarean sight of Mahaprabhu at this most holy site. Even Lord Brahma cannot describe a fragment of Mahaprabhu's ecstatic expression when He discovered these kundas.”
The Fulfillment of Shrila Dasa Gosvami's Desire
“O Shrinivasa, presently these paddy fields are seen as two kundas full of water. Please listen while I briefly describe the transformation of the two paddy fields into beautiful kundas.
“One day Raghunatha dasa Gosvami suddenly considered to himself that if these kundas were filled with water it would be very good. Considering that for this purpose money would be needed, Raghunatha dasa remained silent. He scolded himself again and again, thinking why he had desired such a thing. Solacing himself, he decided to stay alone and behave cautiously for sometime. However, when a devotee desires something, that cannot be denied, for Krishna always fulfills His devotees' desires.
“Meanwhile, one rich person had gone to Badarikashrama to get the Lord's darshana. He offered Lord Narayana a large sum of money. That night in a dream the Lord ordered the man, `Take this money to Arita-grama in Vraja. There you will find the best of the Vaishnavas, Raghunatha dasa. Give the money to him in My name. If Raghunatha does not agree to take the money, you should remind him about his desire to clean the two kundas for bathing and drinking water.'
“Speaking these words, the Lord disappeared, and that sincere devotee happily came here to Arita-grama. Going before Raghunatha dasa he fell to the ground, offered his obeisances, and then gave the money to Raghunatha. He explained the instruction given to him by the Lord in his dream. Raghunatha became stunned for some time. After some time he repeatedly praised his fortune and requested the rich man to excavate the two kundas without delay. Hearing this, that fortunate man was filled with ecstasy and proceeded to engage many people for the work. Very soon the kundas were dug out. Now hear why Shyama-kunda was dug in an irregular shape.
“Everyone decided that the following day a few old trees on the bank of Shyama-kunda should be cut. That night Raghunatha had a dream in which King Yudhishthira told him, `My brothers and I are living within those trees. Tomorrow morning go to Manasa-pavana-ghata, identify those five trees, and protect them from being cut.' After the dream, Raghunatha went early the next morning to identify the trees and order the people not to cut them. For that reason they could not make Shyama-kunda square. The two kundas were then filled with clear water and Shri Raghunatha became very satisfied.
Shri Raghunatha dasa Accepts a Bhajana Kutira
“Day and night Raghunatha dasa Gosvami would live under a tree. He had no desire for a kutira. One day Sanatana Gosvami came here from Vrindavana to visit Gopala Bhatöa's residence. Going to take bath in the Manasa-pavana-ghaöa, he saw a tiger coming to the ghaöa for drinking water. As the tiger was returning to the forest, it passed very close to Shri Raghunatha, who was sitting in meditation. After some time, when Raghunatha finished his meditation, he looked around and saw that Sanatana had come for bath.
“Raghunatha fell to the ground and paid his obeisances to Sanatana, who affectionately embraced him. In loving words Sanatana asked Raghunatha to give up living under the tree and live in a kuöira. After specifically instructing Raghunatha on this point, Sanatana went for his bath. From that very day work on Raghunatha's kuöira was begun. From then on, for the benefit of others, Raghunatha lived in a kuöira in obedience to the order of Sanatana Gosvami. O Shrinivasa, with one mouth how can I describe the activities of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami?
“Raghunatha dasa Gosvami had special affection for one Vraja-vasi named Dasa. One day this Dasa went to Sakhisthali village and got a large leaf of a palasha tree. He was thinking how Dasa Gosvami would not eat grains due to intense feelings of separation. Because Raghunatha's practice was to take only one leaf cup of buttermilk in a day, Dasa thought that with a bigger cup he would then have a little more. Considering this, Dasa went to his home, made a cup from this leaf, and brought the buttermilk to Raghunatha.
“On seeing the new leaf cup, the Gosvami inquired where the large leaf cup had come from. Dasa replied that he had gone herding cows at Sakhisthali, where he found the nice leaves which he brought back. Hearing the name `Sakhisthali' Raghunatha became full of anger and threw the cup along with the buttermilk far away. After some time when he became calm, Raghunatha ordered Dasa never to go again to Sakhisthali as it was the residence of Candravali. Hearing this, Dasa could then understand the spiritual activities of the pure devotees. They always remain fixed in their eternal spiritual form. Whoever doubts this is the most sinful man in the world.
“One day in his mind Raghunatha ate rice prasada with milk and afterwards felt very heavy with indigestion. No one was able to determine the reason for this. Hearing of his condition, Shri Viööhalanatha brought two doctors from Shri Vallabhapura. After taking his pulse, the doctor said again and again that the heaviness was caused by taking milk with rice. Astonished, Shri Viööhalanatha said that couldn't be possible as Raghunatha never takes milk and rice. Raghunatha replied saying, `That is certainly true, but in my mind I had eaten the milk and rice.' Hearing this everyone was struck with wonder. Such are the activities of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. What more can be said?”
Living in Radha-kunda Only by the Grace of Shrila Dasa Gosvami
“O Shrinivasa, know for certain that only by the grace of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami can one live at Radha-kunda. Raghunatha's service to Radha-kunda, the govardhana-shila, and the gunja-mala is very famous. [One may refer to Chaitanya-caritamrita, Antya-lila 6.287-307. Gunja is a small bright red and black seed of the gunja creeper found in Vraja.]
“See the trees and creepers surrounding the most enchanting Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda which are connected together. O Shrinivasa, at Malyahari-kunda wonderful pastimes took place connected with a pearl necklace. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has very mercifully described this incident in his book Shri Mukta Caritra. See here the two kundas, Shiva-khora and Bhanu-khora.” Saying this, Raghava Pandita became ecstatic.
After showing Shrinivasa and Narottama various other kundas and pastime places, he then took them to meet Shri Dasa Gosvami. Shri Raghava Pandita offered an account of all their activities to Dasa Gosvami, who felt delighted in his heart. With great respect Shrinivasa and Narottama both fell down on the ground and offered obeisances to Dasa Gosvami's feet. Dasa Gosvami was delighted to meet Shrinivasa and Narottama. Although he was weak with old age, he stood up to embrace them. He also spoke something very softly to Shrinivasa.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja also came there. Shrinivasa and Narottama offered their obeisances to him, and he reciprocated accordingly. Because of Shrinivasa's wonderful activities, Krishnadasa Kaviraja loved him as his very life. Dasa, the Vraja-vasi who was very dear to Dasa Gosvami, quickly came there to meet them. All the other Vaishnavas who lived on the banks of the kundas also came forward to meet Shrinivasa and Narottama. They all happily gave them permission to take bath and then quickly arranged various foodstuffs to be brought for them. Shrinivasa and Narottama went directly for their bath and their eyes were filled with the beauty of the kunda.
The kunja of Subala is on the north side of Shyama-kunda where Manasa-pavana-ghaöa is situated. This place, where the five Pandavas live in the form of trees, is very dear to Radhika. Shrinivasa and Narottama bathed there in ecstatic love and then returned to Shri Gopala Bhaööa's kuöira and took maha-prasada. They spent that day in great ecstasy and then continued their tour the next morning.
Raghava Pandita then took them to see Mukharai, a village to the south of Radha-kunda. Everyone knows this as the place where Radha's grandmother Mukhara lived. It was very amusing when Mukhara herself took pleasure arranging the meetings of Radha and Krishna.
The Places of Krishna's Lila Surrounding Govardhana
Shri Raghava took Shrinivasa and Narottama to see the places near Govardhana where Krishna had performed His pastimes, and he described them all one by one. The place known as Kusuma-sarovara is a famous pastime place of Radha-Krishna. In another place called Narada-kunda, Narada Muni fulfilled his desires by performing tapasya. In the Puranas it is written that Narada performed tapasya here on Vrinda's order.
At a place called Ratna-simhasana, Radha would sit on a throne. Also, the reason behind Krishna's killing Shankhacuda took place here. That story has been described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam.
Pali is a beautiful garden where Palita-yutheshvari used to stay. Shri Krishna also enjoyed Himself with His friends in the holy place called Ata-grama. In the place Indra-dhvaja-bedi, Nandaraja used to worship Indra. It was there that Shri Krishna used to tend His cows and call each one near by the sound of His flute.
ánmochana, also known as Papamochana, is famous for its sanctity. If a person bathes here he will be freed from all vices. This is Sankarshana-kunda. Whoever wants to fulfill his desires should take a bath here.
In Parasauli-grama Radha and Krishna enacted Their rasa-yatra during the season of Vasanta. At Candra-sarovara, Shri Krishna took rest in His rasa dress. Now, just see the beautiful Gandharva-kunda, where the Gandharvas became overwhelmed by Krishna's beautiful songs. No one can describe all of Radha and Krishna's pastimes during the Vasanta rasa at Govardhana.
In the Stavavali, Govardhana-ashrayadashaka, this description is given: “This is Rasa-sthali, where during the month of Vasanta, Shrimati Radharani, who is known as Madhava-priya, danced with Krishna. She was surrounded by beautiful sakhis, each worshiped by hundreds of Lakshmis, and Her neck was decorated by the sweetly fragrant hands of Krishna. Which fortunate person will not take shelter of this exalted Govardhana Rasa-sthali?”
There is another village called Paitha where Krishna once hid Himself from the gopis, who began searching here and there for Him. Krishna appeared before the gopis in His four-handed Vishnu form, but upon the arrival of Radharani, two of His hands disappeared. Radharani's love was so strong, that Krishna could not retain His four-armed form. This has been described in the Ujjvala-nilamani, Nayika Prakara.
After showing all these enchanting places beginning with Paitha, Shri Raghava returned to Gauri-tirtha with Shrinivasa and Narottama. “This place is called Nipa-kunda because it is surrounded by beautiful nipa, or kadamba, trees. Another holy place is called Aniyora. It was here that on Krishna's order, Nanda and the other gopas stopped their worship of Indra and started the worship of Govardhana by offering various kinds of foods. The voice of Govardhana resounded in the sky, `Ani aur! ani aur!' [Bring Me more! Bring Me more!]. For that reason this place is called Aniyora. By visiting Annakuöa-sthana all desires will be fulfilled.”
In Vraja-vilasa-stava it is written: “When the best of the cowherds, Nanda Maharaja, offered a large quantity of food to Govardhana, Shri Krishna, the killer of Agha, transformed Himself into a huge form, proclaiming that He Himself was Govardhana. Deceiving even Radharani, He ate all the offered food. Let me take shelter of this place known as Annakuöa-sthana.”
The place named Govinda-kunda has many glories because it was here that Indra performed the abhisheka of Krishna. Again in the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is said: “Out of fear of Lord Krishna, Indra, along with Surabhi, performed the abhisheka ceremony of Krishna by bringing the holy water of Mandakini. May Govinda-kunda, which was created from the water of this abhisheka be always manifest before my eyes.”
In Adi-varaha Purana it is said: “By bathing or performing austerity at Govinda-kunda one attains liberation on the virtues of performing one hundred yajnas.”
“See this dense forest near Govinda-kunda. It was here that Gopala hid. Here is the very confidential place known as Dana-nivartana-kunda. Besides the devotees, others cannot know this place.”
It is stated in Vraja-vilasa-stava: “The place known as Dana-nivartana-kunda is named after the dana-keli pastime which Krishna enjoyed there. This place is unknown to those persons who are averse to the mellows of devotional service, only those who are qualified in devotion can know it. I pray that I may reside at this kunda and also enjoy giving dana [dana in this pastime means taxes].”
“Madhavendra Puri stayed here under a tree, and Gopala gave darshana to him on the pretext of bringing him milk. Later, Gopala lived on the mountain and sometimes visited Ganöhuli. On the end of Govardhana is Apsara-kunda. People who take bath here are very fortunate. See here the old palasha trees. People call this very secluded place Shyama-dhaka.”
After describing all these places, Shri Raghava Pandita took his two followers to his own cave. He told them while he stayed here he felt great pleasure seeing always the enchanting Govardhana Hill. Radha and Krishna would always enjoy here.
As stated in Vraja-vilasa-stava: “Krishna and His affectionate friends, decorated with the colorful mineral pigments found there, enjoy pastimes at Govardhana Hill with a great festival of joking words. In the caves of this same hill, Krishna also enjoys many pastimes with Shrimati Radharani. Let me worship this best of hills.”
Raghava continued, “Just see here the footprint of Airavata. After being defeated, Indra described the glories of Lord Krishna's mercy here. This is Surabhi-kunda, which has unlimited glories. Who can possibly describe the various sports that took place here? In this beautiful secluded forest is Rudra-kunda, where Mahadeva sat in meditation on Krishna. In Kadamba-khandi, Shri Krishna watched the path which Radha travelled. In Dana-ghaöi, the King of rasa, Lord Krishna, took a share of the milk products from Radha while His friends blocked Her way.
“When Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited here He inquired about this place from the Sanodiya brahmana. As He heard the description of the dana pastimes, He slightly smiled in delight. As Lord Chaitanya had darshana of Harideva, He danced wonderfully in ecstatic love. As everyone watched Gaurahari, they became filled with love and their eyes filled with tears of ecstasy. Some of the people who saw Him dance said He must be an incarnation of Harideva. Who can describe the pastimes the Lord performed at Govardhana?
“This secluded place is Dana-ghaöa, also known by some people as Krishna-bedi. In Vraja-vilasa a description is given as follows. `One day Lord Krishna, the youthful king of amorous heroes, became eager at heart to enjoy the dana-keli pastime. Blocking the path, He forbade Shrimati Radharani to pass, proclaiming Himself a toll collector appointed by the king of love and demanding that She pay a toll of the milk products She was carrying. I sing the glories of Shri Krishna-bedi, the place where the Lord enjoyed these pastimes.'
“This unique dana-lila is described by Shrila Rupa Gosvami in his book Dana-keli-kaumudi.
“Brahma-kunda is also situated at Govardhana and is described in the Mathura-khanda: `After bathing here, Brahma satisfied Lord Hari. Indra and the other planetary rulers created other lakes nearby.'
“Also in the Adi-varaha Purana: `O auspicious one, that lake is surrounded by groves of trees and vines as well as fourteen auspicious holy places. On the eastern side is Indra-tirtha, on the south is Yama-tirtha, on the west is Varuna-tirtha, and on the north is Kuvera-tirtha. In these places I will enjoy pastimes as I wish.'”
Raghava then pointed out Manasa-ganga. At this place Shri Krishna enjoyed ecstatic boat pastimes. There is a description of Manasa-ganga in the Vraja-vilasa-stava: “The waves of Manasa-ganga on the side of Govardhana Hill push the splendid rocks lining its shores. I pray that the Manasa-ganga, where Shri Shri Gandharvika-Murari enjoy jubilant boating pastimes, may give me shelter.”
“The waters of Manasa-ganga are supremely pure. Who can describe the wonderful results one achieves by bathing there.”
After glorifying Manasa-ganga, Raghava Pandita led them on for darshana of Harideva. In great happiness he then glorified Govardhana Hill as being full of transcendental bliss. Situated eight krosha [sixteen miles] west of Mathura, just the sight of Govardhana Hill relieves one of the miseries of material life. Anyone who bathes in Manasa-ganga, takes darshana of Harideva, and then circumambulates Govardhana Hill, no longer lives in the material world.
Govardhana Hill gives unlimited pleasure to Krishna, who lifted the hill with His left hand to curb the pride of Indra and protect the Vraja-vasis.
In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “Two yojanas [sixteen miles], west of Mathura, is the very rare place named Govardhana. A person who circumambulates this place named Annakuöa-tirtha does not return to this world. O goddess. I will now tell you everything about it. After bathing in the Manasa-ganga, seeing the Deity of Harideva on Govardhana Hill, and circumambulating Annakuöa-tirtha, what heart can remain unhappy? To protect the cows distressed by Indra's torrential rains, I lifted Govardhana Hill.”
In the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda, it is said: “Govardhana Hill is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the Lord lifted the hill, all the people of Vraja were saved from Indra's rains. Lord Vishnu stays eternally on Govardhana Hill. Brahma, Shiva, and Lakshmi also reside there. There is no doubt about this.”
Again from the Adi-varaha Purana: “After seeing the Deity of Harideva and circumambulating Govardhana Hill, one attains the result of having performed a rajasuya and ashvamedha-yajna. Of this there is no doubt.”
The Good Fortune of the Brahmana Devotee of Baladeva Who Lived at Govardhana
“O Shrinivasa, there was a rich brahmana everyone knew who lived near Govardhana. He was always overwhelmed in love for Balarama, and his mind was always absorbed in thoughts of His character. He was certain that one day Baladeva would kindly grant him darshana, and for that reason he always wandered around Govardhana. One cannot describe the fortune of that brahmana who one day received information that Baladeva would grant him darshana. In order to fulfill this devotee's desire, Nityananda Rama at that time went to Govardhana on pilgrimage. Nityananda remained in a lonely place, but whoever saw Him was bewildered by His celestial body, which bewilders even Cupid.
“When that brahmana saw Nityananda Prabhu in the distance, he wondered where this avadhuta had come from. Seeing the Lord's effulgence, he could understand that the Lord was not an ordinary person. The brahmana brought various items like yogurt, milk, cheese, and butter. He came before Nityananda, offered obeisances, and said, `O Avadhuta, please accept these gifts. I pray that you please show Your mercy to me so I may have darshana of Rohini-nandana.'
“Hearing these words, Nityananda smiled and in great fun accepted the offerings made by the brahmana. The brahmana then received the Lord's remnants and returned to his own place, where he honored the maha-prasada and became agitated in love.
“The brahmana was unable to return to meet Nityananda, and as evening arrived he fell asleep. At night, Lord Nityananda appeared to that fortunate brahmana in a dream. Seeing Nityananda, the brahmana was very pleased. The next moment Nityananda revealed His form as Baladeva, and the brahmana fell at His feet.
“What a wonderful form Baladeva exhibited—enchanting to the entire world! His limbs were glittering, being decorated with various ornaments. After blessing the brahmana, the Lord disappeared. On the Lord's disappearance, the brahmana's sleep broke. He became restless and started to return to where he had met Nityananda Prabhu. At that moment he heard a voice telling him to remain patient and wait till the morning. He considered that his desire was at last fulfilled. `Now I have achieved the Lord, I will not leave Him. I will fall down and surrender everything at His feet. When the night is over I will have a goldsmith make ornaments to offer to the Lord.' As he thought in this way sleep again came.
“Again in the brahmana's dream Nityananda appeared to him. Seeing the Lord decorated in wonderful ornaments, that best of the brahmanas offered many prayers. As before, upon the disappearance of the Lord, the brahmana's sleep broke.
Morning soon came and the brahmana came before Nityananda Prabhu and explained the previous nights dream. The Lord smiled slightly and holding the brahmana's hand instructed the brahmana in all truths. The brahmana inquired from the Lord, `Who has made those ornaments I saw in my dream?' The Lord, who is controlled by His devotees' desires, replied, `One day I will be decorated as you have seen. For now take this govardhana-shila and cover it in gold. I will then wear it on My neck.'
“The brahmana executed the order as given by the Lord. The best of the avadhutas then took the shila and wore it on His neck. Even for Lord Brahma, such pastimes are very rare. Nityananda forbid the brahmana to disclose this incident to anyone. However, out of His affection to His devotee, the Lord remained there for some days. This rare affection can be had by simply seeing this place.”
Sanatana Gosvami's Residence at Cakra-tirtha
“O Shrinivasa, see Cakra-tirtha, which can fulfill one's desires. In Govardhana, Cakra-tirtha is very famous. Radha and Krishna performed Their swing pastimes here.”
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is described: “Sankarshana-kunda, Brahma-kunda, Kadamba-khandi, Kusuma-sarovara, Rudra-kunda, Apsara-kunda, Gauri-tirtha, Candra-sarovara, the two ánpapa-mocana-kundas, Malyahara-kunda, Arishöa-kunda, and Indra-dhvaja-bedi are splendidly manifested along with many other famous holy sites such as Cakra-tirtha, Govardhana Hill, and Ratna-simhasana. Let me offer my obeisances to these places.
“During the spring season the gopis move Shri Shri Gandharva-Giridhari on a swing. The faces of the divine couple blossom with happiness by tasting the nectar of these swing pastimes. I worship Govinda-sthala, the famous place where the divine couple enjoys these pastimes.”
“O Shrinivasa, by the order of Cakra-tirtha, Sanatana Gosvami resided at this place. See his cottage in the forest. Everyday with determination he would perform the twelve krosha [twenty-four mile] parikrama of Govardhana Hill.
“Seeing the difficulty taken by Sanatana in his old age, Gopinatha appeared before him in the form of a cowherd boy. Sanatana, with tearful eyes, tried to conceal his fatigued condition from the boy. Gopinatha sweetly spoke to Sanatana, `In this old age you should not take so much endeavor. Dear Svamiji, please follow My advice.' Sanatana replied, `Whatever You say I will certainly follow.' Then the cowherd boy climbed Govardhana and brought one shila marked with His own footprint. In sweet words He requested Sanatana to accept the govardhana-shila marked with the footprint of Lord Krishna. `From today just circumambulate this shila and thus your vow of daily parikrama will be fulfilled.' Saying this He gave the shila to Sanatana in his cottage and disappeared.
“Sanatana became very anxious on not seeing the boy. Seeing Sanatana's condition Gopinatha affectionately revealed His identity. Wet with his own tears, Sanatana then repented why he did not recognize his Lord. In this way Sanatana remained under the influence of intense love for Shri Vrajendra-kumara, who sports in the flower groves of the Vrindavana forest.
“Also at this place Shrimati Radhika along with Her sakhis came and, taking the boat, She crossed Manasa-ganga from this ghaöa. In this way the desires of all the gopis headed by Lalita were satisfied by Shrimati Radharani.”
It is stated in Shri Stavavali, Shri Govardhana-ashrayadashaka: “Who will not take shelter of Govardhana Hill, where the divine couple enjoy Their boating pastimes in the Manasa-ganga? In the Manasa-ganga, Madhava, taking the role of a boatman, took the sweetly beautiful Radha on His boat. At that time, Radha became frightened by a great storm and prayed to Krishna to rescue Her, to which Krishna agreed, only after claiming the fee of the fulfillment of His amorous desires.”
“This is Sonkrai-grama, a most fascinating village where the sakhis made Krishna take a vow. After taking the vow, Krishna told again and again that without Shrimati Radhika He didn't know anything. And this, O Shrinivasa, is Sakhisthali-grama where Candravali stays. It is also called Sakhikhara. Uddhava sat at this place and told the gopis about Krishna's activities in Dvaraka. At this place near Govardhana Hill, Krishna in great fun played different pastimes with the cowherd boys. Just see, the two brothers Rama and Krishna sat here surrounded by Their friends.”
After speaking these words, Raghava Pandita, in a jubilant state of mind, took Shrinivasa and Narottama with him to the bank of Radha-kunda. After taking bath, Raghava declared that Govinda-ghaöa is very dear to Lord Govinda.
The Amazing Vision of Sanatana Gosvami at Govinda-ghaöa
“O Shrinivasa, now I will narrate the wonderful pastime that took place under this tree. One day Sanatana Gosvami came here from Govardhana to see Rupa and Raghunatha Gosvamis. Shrila Rupa Gosvami was composing a verse comparing the braided hair of Radharani to the hood of a black snake. When Sanatana Gosvami read his composition he inquired whether the comparison was proper or not. After expressing his doubt like this, he went for bath in the kunda. At that time Sanatana saw some girls playing under a tree nearby. Seeing the hair of one girl, he thought it was a snake climbing her back. In astonishment he cried out and tried to warn the unsuspecting girl. The girls, on seeing Sanatana's anxiety, smiled and then disappeared. Sanatana was overwhelmed from the incident. When he regained his composure he returned to Rupa Gosvami and exclaimed, `Whatever you have written is perfectly correct!' In this way Rupa Gosvami understood the heart of Sanatana. Feeling great ecstasy in his mind, Sanatana then returned to Govardhana.”
The Purpose of Rupa Gosvami's Visit to Radha-kunda
Raghava continued narrating, “Rupa Gosvami was staying at Vrindavana, but he came here for a reason I will now explain.
“One time Rupa Gosvami had given Lalita-Madhava to Raghunatha. This book describes the intense feelings of love in separation. After reading the book, Raghunatha cried day and night in agitation and became mad in distress. Sometimes he went far off to stay, leaving the book, and sometimes he fell to the ground keeping the book to his chest. People who saw the various states of Raghunatha's ecstasy as he lost consciousness became worried and struck with wonder. Thinking of a cure for Raghunatha's condition, Rupa Gosvami quickly finished writing Dana-keli-kaumudi. Shri Rupa then gave Raghunatha the new book and requested him to taste its contents and return Lalita-Madhava for editing. Although Raghunatha was reluctant to give up Lalita-Madhava, when he heard that Rupa wanted to edit it, he relented. Taking and reading Dana-keli-kaumudi, he tasted different ecstasies and thus merged in an ocean of happiness. O Shrinivasa, what can I say about the activities of Sanatana, Rupa, and Raghunatha?”
After finishing this narration, Raghava Pandita, feeling jubilation in his mind, led them on. Within a short time they visited all the places near Radha-kunda. Raghava Pandita then showed Shrinivasa and Narottama the place known as Nima-grama. Then, after leaving Govardhana, they all worshiped Lord Krishna, who they considered more dear than their own life.
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is stated: “Considering Him more dear than their own lives, out of intense parental love, the elderly gopis worship even a drop of perspiration from Krishna's lotus feet, and for a long time they kiss His head, decorated with handsome locks of hair. I worship the dust of these gopis feet.”
“This is Paöal-grama. In sport Radha and Her sakhis picked pinkish roses [paöal means pink] at this place. Here is Deravali-grama. Coming from Shashöhighara, Nanda stayed here on his way to Nandishvara. See in front, this kunja called Nava-grama. It is situated on the border of Radha-kunda. People presently call it Kunjara, and it is the site of Radha and Krishna's unparalleled pastimes. Here is Surya-kunda-grama. Just see the deity of Suryadeva situated in the Surya-mandira within this forest. In great happiness Radharani with Her sakhis came here to worship Suryadeva. Krishna Himself became the priest and enjoyed performing the puja. This deity of Suryadeva is very merciful and gives love of Krishna. Who can describe his glories and who will not worship him?
“I worship Suryadeva, who is the father of Yamuna and the destroyer of all diseases. He bestows attachment to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, therefore he is the basis of all auspiciousness.
“See in front the town called Kennai where Ghanashyama felt very impatient in Radha's absence. Krishna asked Radha's servant why She had not come [kenna ai], therefore this place was called Kennai and later it became known as Konai. See here Bhadayara-grama, where Bhadra-yutheshvari performed her pastimes. This is Magahera-grama. Here everyone sees the road Krishna travels by. These people were so intensely eager for His darshana it cannot be described. Presently it is known as Maghera.”
In this way, after visiting various other pastime places of the Lord, they returned to Radha-kunda in a joyful state. Whoever takes interest in hearing about or visiting these places is easily freed from any distressed condition. Raghava Pandita along with Shrinivasa and Narottama thus spent the night on the shores of Radha-kunda discussing krishna-katha till morning arrived.
The Source of Ganöhuli-grama's Name
As they continued parikrama of Govardhana they came to Ganöhuli-grama in a joyful mood. Raghava in loving words began to explain to Shrinivasa how Ganöhuli-grama was named. While playing Holi, Radha and Krishna were seated on a simhasana. The sakhis took the opportunity to secretly tie the divine couple's cloth together. When Radha and Krishna stood, They found Their cloth was tied together and felt embarrassed as all the sakhis smiled in great fun. After throwing colored dyes [playing Holi], the sakhis untied Their clothing. For this reason the town is named Ganöhuli. This red color is seen by the people in Vasant [springtime] in the water of Gulala-kunda. After Raghava narrated these stories, they went for darshana of Gopala. Upon seeing the form of Gopala, the devotees became impatient in ecstatic love.
The Appointment of Viööhala as Gopala's Servant
The worshipable Lord served by Viööhala is the same Gopala Deity Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was eager to see [see Cc. 2.18.23-43]. Viööhalanatha was the son of Vallabha Bhaööa. His loving sentiments were beyond description. Sometimes Gopala lived at Ganöhuli-grama and in this way Gopala fulfilled the devotees desires.
The crest jewel of sannyasis, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, glorified this earth by His pilgrimage to the holy places. Fortunate indeed are those who witnessed His pastimes as He visited all the tirthas of Mathura, Vrindavana, Govardhana, and Radha-kunda. The Lord had a great desire for the darshana of Gopala, however, in the mood of a devotee He felt He could not climb Govardhana. At that time on some pretext Gopala came to the village of Ganöhuli. Taking the opportunity to have Gopala's darshana, the Lord fully immersed Himself in ecstatic chanting and dancing. By seeing the Lord's wonderful manifestation of love, everyone lost their composure.
At that time Gopala's service was in the care of two brahmana disciples of Madhavendra Puri. Having received the mercy of Madhavendra Puri, these gaudiya brahmanas were fully renounced and always absorbed in love of Godhead. What can be said? After not seeing them for some days people wondered which fortunate person could perform their service to Gopala.
Consulting with Shri Dasa Gosvami and others, Shri Viööhala was given the charge to serve Gopala. After the demise of his father Shri Vallabha Bhaööa, Viööhala had spent some days in Mathura living in solitude. Overwhelmed by the pastimes of Gaurachandra, he always carefully engaged in serving Gopala. Raghava Pandita thus described the qualities of Gopala and they cheerfully continued on from Ganöhuli.
Going further, Raghava told Shrinivasa, “Here is the town of Reheja. At this place Indra felt great remorse after his offence and along with Surabhi approached Krishna. Another very potent pastime place named Devashirsha-sthana-kunda is beautifully situated here. The devatas joyfully offered their prayers to Lord Krishna here as He herded the cows with His friends. See here the most pleasant Munishirsha-sthana-kunda where the munis achieved Krishna by performing austerities. At these sites Krishna and Balarama performed various pastimes with Their friends as They tended their cows.
“This is Pramodana-grama where Krishna sportingly gave pleasure [pramoda] to the ladies of Vraja. For this reason the village was known as Pramodana, although people now call it Paramadana. This is Setukandara, a most enchanting place. See here the most merciful Adi Badri-Narayana. He is served in a most unique way by fragrant stones on this enchanting mountain within the forest. Krishna removed the lamentation of Nanda Maharaja and the other cowherd men by bringing them here for darshana of Narayana.
“See ahead the sacred Kadamba-kanana where Radha-Krishna happily enjoyed Their many different pastimes with the sakhis. During the month of Shravana They enjoyed Their swing pastimes here.
“This town is called Indroli. At this place Indra engaged in meditation on Lord Krishna. O Shrinivasa, see Kanoyaro-grama where Kanva Muni performed austerities. See now the best of all forests known as Kamyavana. One who goes there is worshiped in Vishnuloka.”
In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “The fourth forest is Kamyavana, the best of all. O goddess, a person who goes there is glorified in My abode.”
Kamyavana fulfills all desires. By bathing here one is freed from all distress.
In the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda it is said: “O king, next is Kamyavana, where Lord Hari stayed in His childhood. Simply by bathing here, any person will attain all his desires.”
“Krishna performed many wonderful pastimes here. Just see all the many kundas. O Shrinivasa, see Vishnu-simhasana and Shri Carana-kunda where Krishna washed His feet. How can I describe the glories of these places when even Lord Brahma cannot understand their unlimited glories.
“See the most powerful Shiva known as Kameshvara and the most beautiful sitting place of Garuda. This is Dharma-kunda where Narayana in the form of Dharma performs indescribable pastimes. Just see here this platform known as Vishoka. And see here is Panca-pandava-kunda.
“Everyone calls this place Mani-karnika, as Vishvanatha [Lord Shiva] has invested this place with his many various potencies. Look at Vimala-kunda. By taking bath here all one's sins are destroyed. One who leaves his body here goes to Vishnuloka.”
In the Adi-varaha Purana it is stated: “Bathing in Vimala-kunda, one becomes free from all sins and, leaving one's body here, he attains My abode.”
“The topics of Vimala-kunda cannot be described. Vimaladevi always resides here.
“Here is the supremely pure Yashoda-kunda where Krishna, in jubilation, herded His cows. See this Narada-kunda, where Narada Muni lost his patience while singing the pastimes of Lord Krishna. This Kamana-kunda is known by everyone and it fulfills all the desires in one's mind. Here is Setubandha-kunda, described in many ways, where Krishna enacted His pastime of bridging the ocean [as Lord Ramacandra].
“This place is called Luklukana-micali where Radha and Krishna performed many pastimes. Micali means closed eyes. As They would play hide and seek at this place Their happiness increased. Here the beautiful Luklukani-micali-kunda is situated within this very dense dark forest. See the secluded and beautifully situated Kashi-kunda, Gaya, Prayaga, Pushkara, Gomati and Dvaraka-kunda. At Tapa-kunda, munis performed their tapasya. At Dhyana-kunda, Krishna meditated on Radha. Also there is Shri Carana-cinha on top of the mountain. Here at Krida-kunda, Krishna played games [krida] in the water.
“Here are the five beautiful Gopa-kundas beginning with Shridama's. See also this very beautiful Ghosharani-kunda. Ghosharani is the daughter of Yashodara, a king of the cowherds. He arranged the marriage of his daughter here. Look at Vihvala-kunda, where Radha was overwhelmed hearing the sound of Krishna's flute. At Shyama-kunda Shyamasundara, the reservoir of pleasure, watched the path travelled by Radharani. Here is Lalita-kunda and Vishakha-kunda, where Lalita and Vishakha fully satisfied Krishna's desires. See here Mana-kunda. Krishna broke Radha's anger at this place with His joking words. Here is Mohini-kunda, where Krishna displayed the same form of Mohini as He had previously while distributing nectar to the devatas. See also this Mohini-kunda godohana-sthana [the place of milking the cows] and Balabhadra-kunda, which was created by Lord Brahma. See Surya-kunda near Krishna-kunda. Staying at this place Suryadeva offered his prayers to Lord Krishna.
“On Candrasena-parvata is Pichalini-shila. At this place Krishna plays along with His friends. Sitting in a bending form they slid down the rock again and again. See Gopikaramana Kama-sarovara. Who can describe this enchanting place of pastimes?”
“According to the Skanda Purana, Mathura-khanda: `In that place [Kamyavana] is Gopikaramana-sarovara, known as Kama-sarovara, as well as many other lakes and thousands of holy places.'
“Just see Surabhi-kunda where Krishna, along with His friends and cows, enjoyed pastimes. Here is Caturbhuja-kunda and see Bhojana-sthali where the Lord ate along with the cowherd boys. See the stone called Bajana-shila which when hit produces various sounds which everyone enjoys. This is the place of Parashurama where Narayana sits on a simhasana. Here is Santana-kunda, Veda-kunda, Damodara-kunda, Gandharva-kunda, Prithudaka-kunda and Ayodhya. Also here is Shri Nrisimha-kunda, Arghya-kunda and the glorious Madhusudana-kunda. See also Rohini-kunda, Gopala-kunda, Godhavari and the sweet Devaki-kunda. Caurshyakhela is the mountain where Vyomasura hid the cowherd boys and was then killed by Krishna. See Prahlada-kunda and Lakshmi-kunda. In Kamyavana there are so many holy places it is not possible to mention them all. The top of this mountain is the place of Krishna's sports. The view on all sides captivates one's mind.
“O Shrinivasa, see Dhulauda-grama where the sky became filled with the dust raised by the cows [dhula means dust and uda means flying]. This next village is called Udha-grama by everyone. Uddhava stayed here on his way to the house of Nanda Maharaja. This beautiful village Aöora-grama is very peaceful and secluded. Krishna became absorbed in play here for aöa praharas [eight praharas, or twenty-four hours]. See Kadamba-khandi, Svarnahara-grama, Ratna-kunda and Caturmukha the most excellent of places. Krishna had many pastimes at Svarnahara, which is also known both as Son ar and Sonhera. The happiness enjoyed by Krishna as He used to herd His cows around this mountain is impossible to describe.
“Here is Vrishabhanu-pura, also known as Barshana. Near this mountain is the residence of Vrishabhanu Maharaja. On this exotic mountain Vrajendra-kumara performs the dana-lila hidden from the view of others. Here Radharani's feigned anger was broken, and here Krishna became intoxicated by performing His various pastimes. The enjoyment They had on this narrow path between the two mountains is indescribable. This place is called Sankari-khora by all.
“Here you will find the three mountains, Dana, Mana, and Vilasa-parvata. O Shrinivasa, absorbed in Her childhood pastimes, Radharani played various games with Her sakhis here. She delighted in playing with Her friends here as She passed from childhood to adolescence.”
Raghava continued, “What can I say about this tamala-kunja. The sakhis arranged the meeting of Radha and Krishna here. This village, previously called Citrashali-grama, is now known as Cikasauli [adjacent to Barshana on the Barshana parikrama path]. Radharani expertly dressed Herself here in a wonderful way. See the dense forest on the mountain. It is justly known as Gahvaravana. Here is Shitala-kunda surrounded by many trees. At Dohani-kunda, the cows were milked. Dabhararo-grama is where Krishna's eyes filled with tears at the sight of Shrimati Radharani. Dabhararo means eyes filled with tears. Now the village is famous as Dabharo. See, here is Mukta-kunda, where Radhika Sundari planted Her pearls after quarrelling with Krishna.
“Situated on the eastern side of Vrishabhanu-pura is Bhanu-khora, which is filled with cool refreshing water. On the north side is Piyala-sarovara where Radha and Krishna performed various sports. At this place the divine couple along with Their associates became happy seeing the jiyala forest. This is Pilu-khora, where Rai and Kanu [Radha and Krishna] with the sakhis enjoyed sports picking the pilu fruits. Previously Bhanu-khora and Pilu-khora were known as Bhanu-sarovara and Pilu-sarovara.
“Near Barshana is the river Triveni where Krishna performed many pastimes that I can't describe. Just see the many beautiful places where Krishna performed His pastimes. Vajra established villages at the various places, however some are now forgotten.
“This is Prema-sarovara. O Shrinivasa, at this place prema-vaicittya-bhava was manifested. [Prema-vaicittya is a word used to indicate an abundance of love that brings about grief from fear of separation, although the lover is present.] See here Vihvala-kunda, where Krishna became overwhelmed by hearing Radha's name. This is Sanketa-kunja, where the gopis brought Radha and Krishna together using signals. At an auspicious time, Radha and Krishna secretly met here for a brief time in the state of purva-raga. Previously They developed attachment for each other by hearing about each other. This is called purva-raga and it is described in the Ujjvala-nilamani as follows:
“When attachment produced in both the lover and beloved before their meeting by seeing, hearing, and so on becomes very palatable by the mixture of four ingredients such as vibhava and anubhava, this is called purva-raga.”
“See here enchanting Krishna-kunda. Here in Sanketa innumerable pastimes were performed that no one could understand. The people of Nanda-grama and Barshana would pass by this road. This same road was used by Radharani to go to Her father-in-laws house at Yavaö. This forest is very pleasant and always pleasantly shaded. The various songs of the birds along with the humming sounds of the bumblebees can be heard here.
“O Shrinivasa, see the home of Nanda Maharaja called Nandishvara. Disguised as human beings, Balarama and Krishna enjoyed Their pastimes here.”
In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.44.13) it is stated: “How pious are the tracts of land in Vraja, for there the primeval Personality of Godhead, disguising Himself with human traits, wanders about, enacting His many pastimes! Adorned with wonderfully variegated forest garlands, He whose feet are worshiped by Lord Shiva and goddess Rama vibrates His flute as He tends the cows in the company of Balarama.”
“See here the boundary of Nanda Maharaja's residence. To the east of Nanda Bhavan is a wonderful garden. Coming from Yavaö, Radharani would come here along with Her friends. O Shrinivasa, a person who bathes in Pavana-sarovara and sees the deities of Krishna, Nanda, and Yashoda on Nandishvara Hill attains all his desires at that moment.”
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is stated: “On the pretext of going to fetch clear water, the lotus-eyed gopis again and again meet Krishna with great happiness and love at Pavana-sarovara. They delighted Krishna by various water sports in Pavana-sarovara, which is surrounded by many kadamba trees filled with the pleasant sound of many humming bees. May this Pavana-sarovara protect us.”
“Just see Nandishvara! In a cave on top of the mountain see Shri Nanda Maharaja and Yashodadevi with their child Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came here and entered the cave for darshana. With bright eyes He saw Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda Mayi with Krishnacandra between them. He offered prayers at the feet of Nanda and Yashoda and in ecstasy touched the limbs of Krishna. Then He began to dance and chant in ecstatic love. When people saw the ecstatic manifestations of Lord Chaitanya they were struck with wonder. Someone said, `He cannot be an ordinary man. How could such a display be possible for a human being?' Someone said, `He must be Narayana come from Vaikunöha to wander in Vraja in a human form.' Someone else said, `In my mind it appears He is the son of Nanda again manifest, otherwise how could He have such devotion for Nanda and Yashoda? Tears are flowing constantly from His lotus eyes. I cannot know what He is saying softly to Nanda and Yashoda with folded hands. What more can I say my dear brother, by seeing Him I am convinced He must be Krishna.' Speaking these words and chanting `Hari bol!' they all started dancing with the Lord and floated in the waves of krishna-prema.
“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the jewel of all sannyasis. I cannot describe the manifestation of His love at this place.
“Look here at Tadaga-tirtha, known to all. It is surrounded by beautiful trees and creepers. O Shrinivasa, I will say a little more about this place. The son of Devamidha, Parjanya, lived here. Narada Muni came to Nandishvara and bestowed his mercy by giving Parjanya the Lakshmi-Narayana mantra. Parjanya then performed austerities here at Tadaga-tirtha and his desire was fulfilled as he had five sons known as Upananda, Abhinanda, Nanda, Sananda, and Nandana. See that same place, Tadaga-tirtha, which is very dear to Lord Krishna and which the devotees always pray they can serve.”
It is stated in the Vraja-vilasa-stava: “Going to the shore of a certain lake, Parjanya Maharaja fasted, performed austerities, and worshiped Lord Narayana in order to obtain a worthy grandson. Partly for this reason Giridhari, the reservoir of all good qualities and the enemy of the demons, appeared as the son of Nanda, the King of Vraja and grandson of Parjanya Maharaja. The place where Parjanya Maharaja fasted is famous in this world as Kshunëahara-sarovara [the lake of fasting]. I pray that I may take shelter of this sacred place.”
“O Shrinivasa, what can I say? Here at Kshuëëahara-kuëda Krishëa performed His sports. Dhoyani-kuëda is situated on the north-east side of Nandishvara. This is where the yogurt pots were washed. See Krishëa-kuëda and Kadambavana where Vrajendra-nandana enjoyed His pastimes. At Lalita-kuëda, Lalita by some trick brought Radharaëi to meet Krishëa. At the most wonderful Surya-kuëda, Suryadeva became agitated in love by Krishëa's darshana.
“Here is Vishakha-kuëda where Rai and Kanu met in great joy. Just see here in this very secluded place is Paurëamasi-kuëda. Paurëamasi stays here in a hut thatched with tree leaves. She feels great happiness when Radha and Krishëa enjoy Their pastimes together. Who has the strength to understand her activities?”
From the Vraja-vilasa-stava comes: “I worship the most fortunate Paurëamasi, who bestows all auspiciousness. She very expertly arranges the meetings of Shri Shri Radha and Krishëa and therefore she is worshipable by all. She repeatedly enjoys nectarean bliss by organizing the separation and reunion pastimes of Radha Madhava.”
“Here is the beautiful residence of Nandimukhi, where Radha and Krishëa always remain happy. The characteristics of Nandimukhi have previously been carefully described by the maha-bhagavatas.”
She is described in the Vraja-vilasa-stava as follows: “Nandimukhidevi always feels enchanted within by repeatedly hearing the glories of the divine couple and longing to meet Them. She left Avanti [Ujjain] and went to Vraja where she blissfully increases the happiness of Shri Shri Radha and Krishëa's loving pastimes. I eternally offer my respectful obeisances to Nandimukhidevi.”
“See these transcendental kunjas here and there. There is no end to Krishëa's pastimes in these places. Look here is Yashoda-kuëda where mother Yashoda watched Krishëa and Balarama play with Their cowherd boy friends. O Shrinivasa, Krishëa is the reservoir of transcendental bliss. He enjoys various pastimes here in His different ages.”
In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu Krishëa's different ages are described, “Krishëa's age is considered in three periods: from His appearance day to the end of His fifth year is called kaumara; from the beginning of the sixth year up to the end of the tenth year is called paugaëda; and from the eleventh to the end of the fifteenth year is called kaishora; after the beginning of the sixteenth year, Krishëa is called a yauvana or a youth, and this continues with no change.
“As far as Krishëa's transcendental pastimes are concerned, they are mostly executed during the kaumara, paugaëda, and kaishora periods. His affectionate pastimes with His parents are executed during His kaumara age. His friendship with the cowherd boys is exhibited during the paugaëda period. And His friendship with the gopis is exhibited during the age of kaishora. Krishëa's pastimes at Vrindavana are finished by the end of His fifteenth year, and then He is transferred to Mathura and Dvaraka, where all other pastimes are performed.”
“See Karela-kuëda in the forest of karela. Krishëa used to stay here observing the beauty of this place. On Nandishvara Hill is a footprint of Lord Krishëa. People have seen the great influence of this place since a very long time. At Madhusudana-kuëda in this forest of flowers, Krishëa became greatly pleased hearing the humming of the bumblebees. See the most pure Panihari-kuëda. Krishëa would drink its water while eating.
“O Shrinivasa, see here the randhanagara [kitchen] where Radharaëi would cook in great happiness with mother Rohini. At this place Krishëa with His friends would eat and then take rest one hundred steps from here. Shri Radhika would then take Krishëa's remnants and, going inside the house, She would sit comfortably. Secretly one sakhi would bring Krishëa to meet Radha. There is no end to the fun of Their pastimes! Here mother Yashoda would decorate Krishëa and Balarama, and her heart was pierced as she sent Them to the forest. Krishëa and Balarama with the cowherd boys would go to tend cows by this path. What can the beauty of this scene be compared to?
“At this place, mother Yashoda, after taking Radha on her lap would tearfully send Her back to Yavaö. Who can describe with one mouth the affection of mother Yashoda towards the sakhis headed by Lalita? Yashoda and Rohini could not remain patient after sending off Radharaëi and Her sakhis.
“See here the place called Dadhi-mantana [place of churning yogurt]. Also see this deity of Devi, who has great influence. Paurëamasi would come, and after speaking to Yashoda, would return to her house on this path.
“A little distance from this place, in a secluded spot, Vrindadevi would consider in her mind how to arrange the meeting of the divine couple. After arranging Their meeting, she would float in happiness. Who would not glorify the qualities of Vrindadevi?”
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is stated: “Filled with a great flood of love, Vrindadevi creates a festive atmosphere for Shri Shri Radha and Krishëa to enjoy transcendental pastimes with Their dear friends by decorating the ever-blossoming groves of Vrindavana with many fragrant flowers. Let me surrender unto Vrindadevi.”
“This is Sahasi-kuëda. At this place the sakhis bravely arranged the meeting of Radha and Krishëa. [Sahasi means brave or bold.] At this tree the sakhis made a wonderful swing and fully enjoyed the swing pastimes of Radha and Krishëa. This is Mukta-kuëda where the son of Nanda Maharaja in great sport planted a pearl garden.
“O Shrinivasa, this is the place of Akrura. Akrura was sent by Kamsa from Mathura to bring Krishëa back with him. He felt somewhat anxious in his mind because he was sent to bring Krishëa and Balarama to Mathura so Kamsa could try to kill them. Seeing the lotus footprints of Krishëa at this place, Akrura became overwhelmed in ecstatic love. This place, called Akrura-sthana, is known by people as Krura [cruel].
“See here Yogiya-sthana, where Uddhava explained the various yoga precepts. At Udho-kriya-sthana Uddhava felt fortunate to see the activities of the gopis. Uddhava, who came here to give consolation to the cowherds headed by Nanda, felt restless by seeing the wonderful display of their loving sentiments. By seeing this place one will achieve perfection in all his activities.
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is stated: “Leaving behind Lord Krishëa's lotus feet, which are millions of times more dear to him than his own life's breath, Uddhava, who is always filled with the nectar of pure devotional love, happily stayed in Vraja for ten months. Moment by moment he brought the residents of Vrindavana back to life by describing Krishëa's pastimes. He said to them, `Look! Krishëa has returned!' I carry Uddhava's feet upon my head.”
“O Shrinivasa, Krishëa used to herd His cows along with His friends here at Goshala-sthana. His mind filled with joy, Krishëa looked very beautiful as He proceeded along the path in the company of Subala and others on their way to the forest.
“See the stakes where Krishëa tied the calves. They are worshiped to this day by the ladies of Vraja. In Nandishvara there are many places where Krishëa performed His pastimes. Who has the ability to describe them all? On the left and right sides of this parikrama path there are innumerable places of Krishëa's pastimes. After visiting the various places around Nanda-grama we will return to this path again.”
Speaking these words they departed from Nanda-grama and their happiness increased as they looked around. Shrinivasa exclaimed that he had never seen such a beautiful place.
“Here in the north-west corner of Nandishvara is Gedukhora. Here Rama and Krishëa enjoyed playing ball with Their friends. Here see the beautiful Kadamba-kanana where Balarama engages in various sports. When Balarama laid down here, Krishëa massaged His feet.”
In the words of the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.15.14): “When His elder brother, fatigued from playing, would lie down with His head upon the lap of a cowherd boy, Lord Krishëa would help Him relax by personally massaging His feet and offering other services.”
“This is Gupta-kuëda [situated adjacent to Vrinda-kuëda on land entrusted to ISKCON], where Krishëa and His friends headed by Subala secretly played various games as they wandered through the forest. Next see Meherana-grama where the cowherd Abhinanda had his goshala.
“O Shrinivasa, see this enchanting Yao-grama known as Yavaö, where many pastimes were performed. This is the residence of Abhimanyu where Radharaëi enjoyed sports with Her friends.
“By the influence of Yogamaya, what to speak of Radharaëi Herself, Abhimanyu is not even able to touch the shadow of Radharaëi. He remains in the association of the cowherd men while Jaöila and Kuöila are always engaged in household work. The gopis cleverly bring Krishëa here, and their hearts fill with joy as they see the divine couple's pastimes. After Jaöila, Kuöila, and Abhimanyu have been deceived, Krishëa eagerly comes here to enjoy amorous sports with Radha. When Mukhara sees Radha, her grand-daughter, in happiness she whispers many confidential things to Jaöila. Here also Kuöila takes great pleasure finding faults with Radha's behavior. Radha goes on this path to worship Suryadeva, and She waits in this forest of kadamba trees to catch a glimpse of Her beloved, Krishëa. As Krishëa approaches He catches hold of Her cloth, and in this way They both enjoy great fun.
“Here is Krishëa-kuëda, surrounded by many vaöa [banyan] trees. Krishëa's pastimes here are especially sweet. In the summer, the sakhis decorate Radharaëi with pearl ornaments here at Mukta-kuëda. At Pibana-kuëda, within the forest of kadamba trees, Radha and Krishëa play in the company of Their sakhis. Taking a hint from the sakhis, the eager Krishëa becomes intoxicated by drinking the nectar of Radha's lips. Here is Ladili-kuëda where Lalita secretly arranges the meeting of Rai and Kanu.
“O Shrinivasa, just see Narada-kuëda. By taking bath here all one's desires are fulfilled. At this place one muni benedicted Shrimati Radhika that whatever She cooked would become nectar. Everyone came to know of this. Radha stands here in the company of Her sakhis and watches Krishëa as He goes to herd the cows. Enjoying great fun in the company of His friends, Krishëa plays the flute as He walks along this path. While proceeding along with the cowherd boys, Krishëa, who enchants the worlds, stealthily exchanges glances with Radharaëi.
“O Shrinivasa, this is the village of Yavaö where Krishëa meets with Radharaëi to enjoy amusement. Her sister-in-law, Kuöila, and mother-in-law, Jaöila, are not able to see Krishëa, who is extremely clever. There is no limit to the happiness of their pastimes! Those who are greatly fortunate relish these pastimes in various ways.
“O Shrinivasa and Narottama, what can I say? The enchanting pastimes of Krishëa are rare for even Lord Brahma. Krishëa, the embodiment of rasa, who can speak in all languages very expertly made the sound of the kokila bird as a signal to His beloved. But one day, by divine arrangement, He was unable to meet Her.”
From the Padyavali comes this description: “When Krishëa arrived in Radha's courtyard for Their rendezvous, His tinkling ornaments sounded as the cooing of cuckoos and other birds. He suddenly heard the door open, and He also heard the continual jingling sounds of conchshell bracelets. When He heard the arrogant Jaöila call out, `Who's there? Who's there?' He became pained at heart. He spent that entire night hiding in a tree in a corner of the courtyard.”
“To the west of Yavaö is a forest where one may hear hundreds of thousands of kokilas sing. One day Krishëa entered this forest and happily made a sound just like the kokila birds. In response all the birds began singing so loudly that the sound was heard in Yavaö. Hearing the sound of the kokilas, Jaöila told Vishakha that she had previously never heard such songs from the kokilas. Vishakha replied that if Jaöila would give permission they would go to see the kokilas in the forest. Jaöila told them to go and listen to the birds and thus Radharaëi with Her sakhis entered the forest. In unlimited happiness they all came and thus Radha was able to meet Krishëa, who was engaged in making sounds of the kokila bird. For this reason this forest is known as Kokilavana.
“O Shrinivasa, see here the village Anjanaka where Radha and Krishëa performed Their pastimes. One time Radha was dressing Herself in a secluded place. She decorated Herself with various jewels, tied Her hair, and as She was applying anjana [collyrium, an eye-salve] to Her eyes, suddenly the sound of Krishëa's flute entered Her ears. Immediately Radharaëi left and came here along with Her sakhis to meet Krishëa. As Radha came before Krishëa, He became overwhelmed. He made Radha sit on a flower-bedecked asana arranged by Vrindadevi. Looking at the beauty of Radha, Krishëa noticed that Her eyes were not decorated with anjana. When He inquired about the reason for this, the sakhis explained everything. Enjoying the opportunity, Krishëa brought anjana and applied it to Radha's eyes in great happiness. For this reason this place is called Anjanaka.
“This is Vidyudvari-grama also called Vijo-ari. Whose heart will not melt by hearing the description of this place? When Akrura came to Vraja the word spread around that he came to take away Rama and Krishëa. In ecstatic love he spent the night in the house of Nanda Maharaja. The next morning, Akrura along with Nanda and the others set out for Mathura and Vraja became void due to the departure of Rama and Krishëa.
“What can I say? Only those who saw the scene can understand. All the damsels of Vraja came running to see Krishëa with tears flowing like rivers from their eyes. Seeing that scene even wood and stone melted. No one could describe this even with millions of mouths.
“As Krishëa sat on the chariot, His beloved gopis were overwhelmed and surrounded the chariot. They surrendered their eyes to the lotus face of Krishëa and, as they cried out, `O Lord of my life!' they fell unconscious. Just as lightening bolts strike the ground, so the gopis similarly fell to the ground. Everyone then came to know how the bolt of lightening [vijuri] hits the ground, therefore this place is known as Vijo-ari.
“See here is Parasho-grama. As Krishëa rode in the chariot to Mathura, He became disturbed seeing the condition of the gopis. In order to pacify them He said, `Tomorrow or the day after [parashu means the day after tomorrow] I will return and meet you.' For this reason the town is called Parasho. Nearby Parasho is a town called Shi-grama. Let me describe briefly how it was named. Krishëa became impatient here seeing the condition of the gopis and He told them again and again that He would return quickly [Shi comes from shighra which means quickly] from Mathura.
“Krishëacandra then left for Mathura in the chariot, while the gopis, without Krishëa, were left as if dead. The tears of innumerable gopis mixed with the anjana from their eyes and flowed down their chests to the ground. The combined tears formed a river which everyone said looked just like the Yamuna. This is the place where the gopis cried in ecstatic love. Only the most fortunate persons see this place.
“See here the two villages Kamai and Karala. In Kamai, Vishakha was born and Karala is Lalita's town. Ludhauni-grama is the residence of various other Vraja-vasis and here at Karala-grama, Candravali stays with her husband Govardhana, the resident of Karala. Her father is Candrabhanu, her mother is Indumati and her elder sister is Radharaëi [It is still current practice to call one's cousin as sister or brother]. The father of Candravali is one of five brothers. The eldest of the five is King Vrishabhanu. There is also Candrabhanu, Ratnabhanu, Subhanu and Shribhanu. Their bodily effulgence is equal to the sun. Along with Govardhana Malla, Candravali sometimes stays at Sakhisthali and sometimes at Karala. The yutheshvaris headed by Padma stay at this place. There is no end to their enjoyment as they meet Krishëa.
“See here is Piyaso-grama where Krishëa became very thirsty. Baladeva brought water here and gave to Krishëa for drinking [piyasa means to thirst].”
Nanda's Friend and Minister Upananda
“This Sahara-grama is the residence of Upananda. He was very elderly and expert in giving guidance.”
Upananda is described in the Vraja-vilasa-stava in these words: “His face handsome with a white beard and his complexion dark, pious Upananda is expert in giving council to the Vraja-vasis. He is always situated in the council chambers of the King of Vraja. Considering Him millions of times more dear than his own life, Upananda delights his nephew Krishëa. I pray that Upananda, the resident of Sahara-grama, may always protect the land of Vraja.”
“The affectionate dealings of Upananda are wonderful. His son, Subhadra, is the elder brother of Krishëa. No one can describe the qualities of Subhadra, who was dear to Nanda, a learned scholar and very affectionate to Krishëa. He is described in the Vraja-vilasa-stava:
“Upananda's son, Subhadra, is dark complexioned, youthful, handsome, and intelligent. He is the best of astrologers. With his vast scholarship he has defeated even Brihaspati. He stays at the left hand of the King of Vraja. With good advice he protects Krishëa, who is millions of times more dear to him than his own life. With great pleasure let us glorify and offer our respectful obeisances to Subhadra.”
“Krishëa is the life and soul of Kuëdalata, the wife of Subhadra. She is also one of Radharaëi's associates.”
Again from Vraja-vilasa-stava: “Bringing Shrimati Radharaëi to cook by the order of the Queen of Vraja, charming Kuëdalatadevi is filled with happiness as she pleases Radha by affectionately and continually narrating the latest news of Lord Krishëa as they walk together on the path. I worship Kuëdalatadevi.”
“Who can describe the unlimited ecstasy, day and night, in this Sahara-grama.
“See here is Sankhi-grama, where Krishëa killed the demon Shankhacuda. Krishëa took the jewel from the head of Shankhacuda and happily gave it to Balarama. Balarama was staying at Rama talao which was previously known as Rama-kuëda. It is situated very near to this place. In great pleasure, Baladeva gave the jewel to Radharaëi through Madhumangala. O Shrinivasa and Narottama, in this place Radharaëi became overwhelmed in joy with Her sakhis.”
Pastimes at Chatravana and Umrao
“At Chatravana, Krishëa took the role of a king with his friends taking His orders and establishing His rule throughout the area. From one forest to the next the sakhas headed by Madhumangala boldly called for support of Krishëa's rule. `Krishëa, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is the king of this land. In this kingdom no one else has authority. Anyone picking flowers in His kingdom will be brought before the king and punished.'
“Lalita and the sakhis repeatedly replied in anger, `Who is it that dares claim authority in Radharaëi's kingdom?' Speaking in this way, Lalita and the sakhis at that moment established Radharaëi as umaraha [umaraha means a rich man or prince]. Sitting on a throne fit for a prince, Radharaëi then told Her sakhis, `That person who claims authority in My kingdom should be defeated and brought here immediately!' Hearing the instruction, the sakhis prepared for battle taking flower sticks made by Vrinda.
“From a distance, Subala and the other sakhas saw thousands and thousands of sakhis coming at them from all directions. As Madhumangala was trying to escape he was captured by one of the sakhis who tied his hands with a flower garland. He was quickly brought before Radharaëi. Seeing Madhumangala, Radharaëi repeatedly asked him, `Who has the authority to rule this kingdom? That ruler will punish all of you so that you will never again act in such a way.'
Hearing this, Madhumangala bent his head down and replied, `Give me such punishment that my belly will be filled.' Radharaëi replied, `Release this brahmaëa who is simply interested in filling his stomach. Let him go to his king.' The sakhis released Madhumangala, who ran off, hands still bound.
“Krishëa, who was arrogantly sitting on the throne as king, inquired from Madhumangala, `Why have you come in such a condition?'
“In distress, Madhumangala repeatedly replied, `This is the result I got by declaring You king. Radharaëi is the prince with unlimited power. What can You do against Her authority? The same Cupid who steals the composure of the world trembles at the movement of Her eyes. My advice to You is that You should recognize Her authority, surrender Yourself, and take Her shelter.'
“Krishëa said, `Whatever you say is all right Madhu, but I cannot bear to see you bound like this.'
“Madhu replied, `I'm not distressed even if I am insulted. I only care for Your well-being.' Speaking like this, he then took the hand of Krishëa and led Him to the place where Radha was.
“Seeing Her beloved coming, Radha, in happiness, became restless and unlimitedly embarrassed. Radharaëi wanted to give up the dress of a prince, however Her sakhi told Her, `Stay here in this dress.'
“Seeing from a distance Radhika in that dress, Krishëa became unsteady and could not remain patient. Madhumangala felt jubilant at heart to see Krishëa in that condition, and he quickly brought Him close to Radha. He made Krishëa sit on the right with Radharaëi on Krishëa's left. What a wonderfully beautiful scene!
“Madhumangala spoke again and again to Radharaëi, `Now take Krishëa and show Your authority. Krishëa will give You a gift of a jewel-like embrace. Please accept it with care.'
“Hearing these sweet words, Lalita happily smiled and put one sweet in the mouth of Madhumangala. Madhu said, `You did something wrong in binding me. If you feed me a hundred thousand ladòus you can be freed from this offense.' Having said this and looking on the magnificent beauty of the divine couple surrounded by the sakhis, Madhumangala made a funny posture while enjoying the laòòu. After enjoying the laòòu, Madhu said in the most sweet words, `I have a lot to do,' and happily departed.
“The Prince and King then both joyfully entered the forest abode, and, as They became fatigued in Their conjugal affairs, the sakhis relieved Them in various ways.
“O Shrinivasa, what more can I say of these pastimes? For this reason this town is named Umarao.”
The Renunciation and Service of Lokanatha Gosvami at Kishori-kuëòa
“This beautiful Kishori-kuëòa is very dear to Kishori, the daughter of Vrishabhanu. Seeing this wonderful place, Lokanatha Gosvami felt great pleasure within and resided here. There is no end to speaking of his renunciation. Shri Radha-Vinoda bestowed Their mercy on him here. Whenever he got fruits, roots, sak, or rice, Lokanatha Gosvami would offer it to Shri Radha-Vinoda with great devotion. During the rainy and winter seasons Lokanatha stayed under this tree with only an old quilt and very old outer cloth. During the rains, Lokanatha would keep his Lord within the hollow of a tree and he would remain outside getting wet. At other times, he would happily keep Radha-Vinoda in an old bag hanging on his chest. Remembering the pastimes of Shri Gaurachandra, he would become overwhelmed and cry at this place.”
After describing these topics Raghava became impatient and swam in his own tears. Shrinivasa and Narottama fell to ground and rolled in the dust. They sighed deeply and swam in their tears of ecstatic love. After some time Raghava Paëòita regained his composure and, taking Shrinivasa and Narottama along, they continued on their way.
Raghava Paëòita said, “This town is Narisemari, previously known as Shyamari-Kinnari. Seeing no way to break Radha's angry mood, Krishëa took the form of a sakhi, Shyamasakhi, here.
“While playing viëa, Krishëa as Shyamasakhi arrived here before Radharaëi, who exclaimed, `In every way she seems to be a Kinnari.' Hearing the sound of the viëa, Radha became overwhelmed and put Her jeweled necklace on the neck of Shyamasakhi. The Kinnari said, `Give Me the jewel of Your anger and accept Me as Your own.'
“Hearing these words, Radha gave up Her angry mood and slowly smiled as She became overwhelmed in delight. In this way the two towns are named. The influence of Devi at this place is very intense.
“O Shrinivasa, see in front is Chatravana. At this place the son of Nanda became king. A few days after Krishëa became king, Paurëamasi, floating in happiness, crowned Radharaëi the Queen of Vrindavana. Who can possibly describe the pastime of Radharaëi's abhisheka as the Queen of Vrindavana that was performed here at Radha-sthali?”
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is stated: “Ordered by Brahma, who spoke from the sky, Paurëamasidevi crowned Shrimati Radharaëi Queen of the beautiful forest of Vrindavana by jubilantly sprinkling the waters of the Manasa-ganga and other sacred rivers upon Her head in the company of Savitridevi and other delighted demigoddesses. I pray that the sacred place, known as Unmatta- Radha-sthali [the place where Shrimati Radharaëi became overwhelmed with happiness], may sprinkle some transcendental happiness upon me.”
The Adi-varaha Puraëa gives the following description: “The seventh forest is famous on the earth as Khadiravana. O auspicious one, any person who goes there will go to My abode.”
“O Shrinivasa, see this place where Krishëa with His friends played many games as they tended the cows. See here is a most enchanting place called Sangama-kuëòa [sangama means union] where Krishëa and the gopis happily met together. Being an especially secluded place, Lokanatha occasionally stayed here in great happiness with Bhugarbha Gosvami.
This is Kadamba-khaëòi, situated so beautifully. The son of Nanda performed amazing pastimes here.
“Near Yavaö is Bakathara, where Krishëa killed Bakasura. O Shrinivasa, this place is called Neochaka-sthana. Krishëa performed pastimes of eating here. In Vraja-dhama eatables are known as chaka. When Krishëa wants to eat, mother Yashoda sends the eatables. The other cowherd boys are also sent food by their mothers at this forest.
“See here is Bhaëòagora-grama. O Shrinivasa, Krishëa performed wonderful pastimes here. People now call this town Bhadali. One who takes bath here achieves all perfection.
In the Adi-varaha Puraëa it is stated, “Hey Bhumi! The place known as Bhaëòagora-tirtha is My confidential abode. People may without doubt attain perfection in Bhaëòagora-tirtha. O auspicious one, that lake is surrounded by groves of trees and vines. A person who fasts for a day and night and bathes there goes to Vidyadharaloka, where he enjoys great happiness. Hey Bhumi! I shall now tell you a wonderful secret. At this place, on Dvadashi, My devotees stay awake to the middle of the night hearing songs about Me which bring pleasure to the ears.'”
Speaking in this way, they continued visiting various other places and then returned to Nandishvara [Nanda-grama] in a blissful state. Glorifying the character of Nanda Maharaja and the other Vraja-vasis, they came to the shores of Pavana-sarovara.
Sanatana Gosvami's Stay at Pavana-sarovara
Just by seeing the bhajana kuöira of Sanatana Gosvami, they all became agitated in love and tears flowed from their eyes. Raghava Paëòita spoke to Shrinivasa. “Let me describe something now about the stay of Sanatana Gosvami at this place. Coming from Vrindavana to this secluded forest, he was overwhelmed in ecstatic love from always worshiping Lord Krishëa. Sanatana lived as a recluse, making no endeavor for his food. No one knew that he was staying at this place. Krishëa in the guise of a cowherd boy came happily before Sanatana with a pot of milk. Dressed as a cowherd boy with a turban on His head and the pot of milk in His hand, He spoke to Sanatana. `You live in this secluded place with no one knowing you are here. While I was tending the cows I happened to see you. Please listen to Me, drink this milk without hesitation. Leave the empty pot and I will return for it. If you stay here in a kuöira, we will all be very happy, but the Vraja-vasis will be distressed seeing you stay like this.'
“Speaking these words, Gopala left and the enchanted Sanatana drank the milk. Immediately after drinking the milk he became agitated in ecstasy. Wet with his tears, he lamented. The unseen Lord solaced Sanatana by having the Vraja-vasis build him a bhajana-kuöira. Like this, the kuöira of Sanatana Gosvami was built. Rupa Gosvami would also stay here from time to time.
“One day Shrila Rupa Gosvami was thinking he would like to offer some sweet rice to Sanatana Gosvami. Thinking like this he immediately hesitated, but Shrimati Radharaëi understood his mind. In the guise of a cowherd girl, She came there in a joyful mood with ghee, milk, sugar, etc. She said to Rupa Gosvami, `Please accept these items and cook an offering for Lord Krishëa after which you should accept the prasada. My mother asked Me to tell you this, so please don't feel embarrassed in your mind.' Speaking in this way, Radharaëi left in amusement.
“Rupa Gosvami then immediately started cooking. After making the offering to Krishëa, in great ecstasy Rupa served Sanatana Gosvami some of the prasada. Sanatana could not understand how he felt so much happiness in his heart just by smelling the fragrance of that prasada. After taking one or two morsels of the prasada, Sanatana became agitated and could not check his tears. Sanatana Gosvami then inquired from Rupa about the ingredients for the prasada, to which Rupa Gosvami narrated the whole incident. Hearing the story, Sanatana forbade him to endeavor for such things in the future. After speaking thus, he accepted the prasada. Rupa Gosvami, however, was regretful.
“Shrimati Radharaëi appeared to Shrila Rupa Gosvami in a dream and solaced him. Sanatana also came to know this. O Shrinivasa, in this way the wonderful qualities of Rupa Gosvami were made known to the Vaishëava community.
“One day while discussing Radha and Krishëa's pastimes in separation, all the Vaishëavas cried and fell to the ground unconscious. The heart of Rupa Gosvami was burning like a large fire, yet he did not disclose this fact. As Rupa Gosvami exhaled, his breath touched one devotee who was burned by the heat, and blisters formed on his body. Seeing this, everyone became astonished. Such are the activities of Shrila Rupa Gosvami. What more can I say? The unlimited happiness at Nandishvara is difficult to describe.”
After finishing this narration, they proceeded to Sanatana Gosvami's bhajana kuöira. At that place was the son of Sanatana Gosvami's priest named Gopala Mishra, who had all good qualities. He was the disciple of Sanatana Gosvami and was most handsome. Seeing him everyone became filled with joy. Shri Uddhava dasa, Madhava dasa and others who were there all experienced great ecstasy meeting each other. Immediately all the Vraja-vasis happily brought varieties of foodstuffs for them. That day the devotees had a grand festival. They spent the whole night chanting the holy name. Whoever hears of these wonderful pastimes very soon attains krishëa-prema. Shri Gopala dasa and all other learned personalities all became joyful at heart. In the morning, with Shri Raghava Paëòita leading Shrinivasa and Narottama, they continued on the parikrama path.
Raghava Paëòita spoke to Shrinivasa and Narottama. “See this village named Baiöhana. When the cowherd men had a conference, everyone came to this place and sat. Because they sat here, this place is known as Baiöhana. [Baiöhaka means a conference or sitting place.] Now people call the place Choöa [small] and Baòa [big]. Being bound by the Vraja-vasis' affection, Sanatana Gosvami happily stayed here. Let me describe for everyone's purification a little about the wonderful character of Sanatana Gosvami, who always considered the Vraja-vasis more dear than his own life. As Sanatana Gosvami performed Vraja parikrama he would stay in town after town and there was no limit to his happiness.”
The Vraja-vasis Behavior Towards Sanatana Gosvami From Town to Town
“After staying in one town, when Sanatana would go to another town, the people would follow behind him. Whether a young boy or old man, whoever it was, all would lose their patience and cry as the Gosvami would leave. Sanatana Gosvami himself would shed tears as he solaced them and sent them back to their own homes. Only after they all stopped crying and returned to their houses would Sanatana leave for the next village. As Sanatana approached the next village, the people would watch him coming from a distance. Whether young or old, man or women, everyone would say, `Here is Rupa, Sanatana.' The Vraja-vasis displayed wonderful affection.
“The villagers could not sit in one place, but went to welcome Sanatana. Just as a poor man experiences unlimited happiness if he suddenly obtains a valuable jewel, so the Vraja-vasis felt unlimited happiness by seeing Sanatana.
“The old and very old men and women, all treated Sanatana as their own son. Someone said, `My dear son, how did you pass so many days forgetting us? Thinking about you we were almost dead.' Speaking these words they all looked on the face of Sanatana Gosvami. Seeing the wonderful arrangements for his welcome, Sanatana was greatly pleased. The men, women, and youths who were born in that village all had brotherly affection for Sanatana. Someone said, `My dear brother, how are you? You must have forgotten us completely. Why have you become so cruel?' In this way they spoke with tears in their eyes. All the boys and girls came to touch the feet of Sanatana. Although he tried, he was unable to restrain them. Standing at a distant place out of shyness, the married ladies would take darshana of Sanatana.
“O Shrinivasa, just by seeing Sanatana Gosvami everyone forgot even to offer obeisances, etc. Whoever came rushing to welcome him would embrace him, take his hand, and lead him along. The villagers would jubilantly have him sit under a sacred tree, and everyone would sit around him. They would all bring yogurt, butter, and milk from their homes for Sanatana. After he finished eating, they would all sit happily with him.
“Sanatana affectionately inquired from each person about their well-being. He inquired about how many children—daughters and sons—they had, whether they were married, where they were married, what were their names, and what was their education. He asked how many cows and bulls one had, how their agriculture was, how much grains they produced, and what was their daily routine. He also asked them how their health was and what was their state of mind.
“Hearing these inquiries, everyone felt happy. Gradually each one of them answered his questions. When Sanatana heard someone's distress, he also felt distressed. By Sanatana's solace they felt relief from their distressed condition. In this way they passed the whole night.
“Early in the morning, as soon as Sanatana Gosvami had finished his bath and other duties, everyone would come to see him. They would bring milk and yogurt and request Sanatana to accept it. After feeding others, Sanatana would also eat. By seeing others happy, Sanatana would also become happy. As described previously, when he would leave the village everyone would cry in agitation. Who can describe the affectionate dealings of Sanatana Gosvami? He would solace everyone in various ways. The people would follow Sanatana Gosvami for some distance until he would give his own vow to make them return to their homes.
“Sanatana would wander from town to town until he arrived at Baiöhana-grama. Seeing Sanatana, all the villagers felt so much joy it cannot be described. Sanatana Gosvami inquired about everyone's welfare and thus joyfully passed the day and night. Everyone knew that Sanatana would stay in a place for only one night, so they spoke to him in distress, `If you remain for a few days here it would be auspicious for everyone. Therefore please accept our plea and don't be cruel to us. Please give up your habit of leaving in the early morning and thus save our lives.' Speaking in this way all the villagers cried. In order to please everyone, Sanatana Gosvami agreed to stay. Thus the people of Baiöhana and the surrounding villages were always absorbed in his wonderful qualities.
“O Shrinivasa, see this Nipavana, the beauty of which enchants all. Here at Krishëa-kuëòa they enjoyed unending fun. At Kuëòala-kuëòa, Krishëa used to decorate His hair. In Beòokhora-kunja, Radha and Krishëa performed pastimes within the closed room of the kunja.
“At Caraëa-pahaòi Krishëa joyfully performed different pastimes. Once Krishëa and His cowherd boyfriends climbed this hill simply to see the beauty of the grazing cows. Dressed in attractive clothing, Krishëa stood beneath a tree while playing His flute, standing in His threefold bending form. As soon as the sound of His flute was heard, people from all directions gathered near Him and stood motionless as they heard the sweet music. Within this earth is there any comparison to that heavenly music? Even the mountains melted at the sound of His flute. The footprints of Shri Krishëa, as well as those who came to hear His flute, are on that mountain and therefore it is called Caraëa-pahaòi [caraëa means foot and pahaòi means hill or mountain].
“See here is Krishëa-kuëòa at Haroyala-grama, where Rai and Ghanashyama enjoyed Their pastimes. Being defeated here in a dice game with Radhika, Krishëa became greatly shamed. [Haroyala comes from hara, meaning defeat.] Lalita said to Radhika, `You have easily defeated the master of Your soul in this dice game and in every other way, but we shall see who wins in the game of love.' The friends of Radha then escorted the divine couple to the nikunja-mandira and secretly watched Them. Seeing this divine loving relationship between Radha and Krishëa, the sakhis felt themselves to be most fortunate.
“In Satona-grama Shri Shantanu Muni worshiped Krishëa. Krishëa used to roam freely at Surya-kuëòa, Nandana-kupa and Vadya-shila. It was in Pai-grama [pai means to obtain] where Shri Radhika and Her sakhis caught hold of Krishëa after searching for Him. In this place called Calana-shila [calana means motion], Krishëa sat down being unable to move out of a mood of love.
“In Kamari-grama [kama means lust or desire] Krishëa passionately waited for Radha. In Vichora-grama Candramukhi and Her friends met Krishëa. [Vichora comes from viccheda which means separation.] After They sported, They returned to Their own homes feeling separation from each other. Therefore this village is called Vichora.
“In Tiloyara-grama Krishëa would play without taking a moments rest [Tiloyara comes from tila meaning even one moment]. See this Shringara-vaöa where Krishëa decorated Radhika in different ways. Then see this beautiful place of Krishëa's pastimes. People presently call this place Lalapura. Here is Vasosi-grama, which is perfumed by the scent of Krishëa's body. [This name comes from vasa meaning fragrance.] What to speak of maddening the bumblebees, the composure of the entire world is destroyed by that scent. It was here that Radha and Krishëa played Holi with Their dear friends. In Paya-grama, Krishëa drank payai [milk] with His friends, and He snatched yogurt from the gopis in Dadhi-grama. He passed His time in merriment in Kotaravana which is now called Kotavana.”
Shri Mahaprabhu Visits Sheshashayi at the Border of Vraja
“Once Krishëa laid down on Ananta Shesha at Sheshashayi, Kshira-samudra, and Shri Radhika massaged His lotus feet. Their divine beauty cannot be described. The Vraja-vilasa-stava describes: `While Krishëa was lying down on Ananta Shesha, Radhika wanted to hold His soft lotus feet on Her chest, but considering that Her hard breasts might hurt His soft feet She restrained Herself. I pray to that Sheshashayi Krishëa to grant me a residence in this beautiful land of Vraja.'”
Raghava explained that Shri Krishëa Chaitanyacandra came here for darshana of Sheshashayi. Seeing the beauty of Sheshashayi, His ecstasy increased and in that state of love He became overwhelmed. Those fortunate persons who saw the effulgence of the Lord also became maddened in ecstasy and tears flowed from their eyes. They concluded that He could not be an ordinary human being, but must be Sheshashayi Bhagavan Himself in the dress of a sannyasi. While speaking, they looked continually at the moonlike face of Chaitanya.
“O Shrinivasa,” said Shri Raghava, “the character of Mahaprabhu is unfathomable, and only by His mercy is one able to understand Him.” Raghava then pointed to a kadamba tree garden where Krishëa used to roam. Then there was Khani-grama in Khambahara, where Krishëa and Balarama grazed their cattle. Khani-grama is on one boundary of Vraja and on another boundary there is Vanacari, which is also famous for the pastimes of Krishëa. In Khararo, Balarama inquired about the well-being of His cowherd boyfriends. In Ujani, [ujana means an upstream course] the Yamuna changed her course and flowed upstream while listening to the sweet music of Krishëa's flute. In Khelanavana, now called Khela-tirtha, Krishëa and Balarama played continually, forgetting even Their food until Their mothers came to feed Them.
Balarama's Rasa-lila at Rama-ghaöa
“O Shrinivasa, this is Rama-ghaöa. Balarama, the son of Rohini, performed His rasa-lila here. This place is situated quite a distance from where Krishëa had His rasa-lila.
“Balarama is the second body of Krishëa Himself—supremely gentle and forbearing. The depth of His real self is like that of ten million oceans. Anxious to meet the residents of Vrindavana, He came to Vraja from Dvaraka and stayed during the months of Caitra and Vaishakha [mid-March to mid-May] to console Shri Nanda, Yashoda, and the others. By His loving submissive dealings, the son of Rohini satisfied His friends in various ways.
“Here also, Balarama gave solace to all of Krishëa's beloved gopi friends and charmed His own dear and loving gopis with whom He had previously sported during spring. Who can possibly describe the great fun they enjoyed as they performed their pastimes. At that time Krishëa killed Sankhachuòa. Then Krishëa and Balarama both increased the ranga [ranga means fun and also color] with Their own beloveds by celebrating a festival of Holi [throwing colored dyes on one another]. The learned devotees have described the beauty of these pastimes.
“In Shri Krishëa Chaitanya Carita, Murari Gupta says: `Just see! At this place Rama and Krishëa, decorated with gold and jeweled ornaments and suitably dressed for spring, engaged in amorous pastimes in a merry mood each with His own beautiful gopis. They are overflowing with ecstatic mellows as They joined Their lovely gopi friends in dancing and singing.'
“The sporting activities of Lord Balarama are most wonderful and abounding with transcendental mellows. There is no limit to His dear beloveds. He increased the loving attachment of those gopis who were not fortunate enough due to their young age to associate with Krishëa when He performed His rasa-lila. How Balarama engaged in this pastime is beyond description.”
In Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.65.17), it is stated: “Lord Balarama, the Personality of Godhead, resided there for the two months of Madhu and Madhava, and during the nights He gave His cowherd girlfriends conjugal pleasure.”
Shri Raghava continued to describe the beauty of Balarama at the time of His rasa-lila. “O Shrinivasa, knowing that He would perform His rasa-lila with His dear lovers, Balarama happily came to this place. This pleasant spot, situated near the Yamuna River, was always filled with scented air. The flowers of the gardens were in full bloom and the sky was bright from the full moon. The humming of bumblebees and the sweet singing of various birds surcharged the atmosphere. Millions of male and female peacocks danced and many deer played in the garden. As Balarama relaxed beneath a tree, the gods in heaven sang the glories of Rohini-nandana whose beauty and posture fascinate the world.
“O Shrinivasa, who can keep his composure seeing the splendor of Baladeva? It was here that Rama sat on a jewelled throne in a festive dress. The beauty of Baladeva conquers that of millions of Kamadevas and every movement of His charms the munis and Indras. The glory of His body which brightens the three worlds can defeat the pride of a million moons. The silky black curly hair covering His head is decorated with a jewel-set crown and He wears a flower garland. His lips are as red as bimba fruit and His teeth sparkle like pearls. A garland of Vaijayanti dangles from His powerful neck.
“All glories to the powerful hero, Rohini-nandana. The white conch, kuëòa flowers, camphor, and the silver-white mountain, all bow down to Balarama's bright white complexion. The wavy locks of His lustrous hair, curling around His forehead and His bright tilaka steals the young maidens' hearts. His lotus eyes are restless and His eyebrows dance like black bumblebees near His bright earrings. With a pointed nose that defeats the beauty of Garuòa's beak and His face which conquers the splendor of the moon, it appears as though nectar pours from His body. His arms are decorated with bangles, and jewelled necklaces adorn His strong chest. His thin waist breaks the lion's pride. He is wearing an exquisite blue dress and His well-shaped knees are very pleasing to all who see Him.
“The reddish color of the souls of His feet defeat the sun and the brightness of His nails conquers the darkness. I am unable to describe the beauty of Baladeva as there is no comparison to Him in this world. In this way the Puraëas give Baladeva's descriptions which the fortunate must always see.
“In this place Rohini-nandana, Balarama, stood in a threefold bending form and blew joyfully on His horn, the sound of which moved the heart of Brahma and others. O Shrinivasa, with only one mouth how can I describe the beauty of Balai's pastimes? Here in this moon-lit Yamuna-upavana, Balarama engaged in pastimes surrounded by millions of gopis.”
This is described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.65.18-20) as follows: “In the company of numerous women, Lord Balarama enjoyed in a garden by the Yamuna River. This garden was bathed in the rays of the full moon and caressed by breezes bearing the fragrance of night-blooming lotuses.
“Sent by the demigod Varuëa, the divine Varuëi liquor flowed from a tree hollow and made the entire forest even more fragrant with its sweet aroma. The wind carried to Balarama the fragrance of that flood of sweet liquor, and when He smelled it He went [to the tree]. There He and His female companions drank.”
Raghava continued his story. “After drinking the liquor, Rohini-nandana became maddened as He began His rasa dance with His gopis. Some of the gopis played mridanga, pinaka, viëa, and other instruments, while other gopis sang Balarama's glories in melodious songs based on rhythmic tunes and beats. Lord Brahma and others were moved by the music. Shri Balarama Himself became overwhelmed by the dancing, singing, and music, and soon the rasa-mandira was filled with unlimited happiness. To enjoy water sports with His lovers, Balarama brought the Yamuna near by pulling her with His plough and then sported in her water. After bathing, Balarama changed His dress, drank honey and liquor and spent the night with His associates. In the early morning the gopis could not bear their separation from Balarama and did not want to return to their homes. Balarama consoled them in many ways and sent them to their houses. Out of fear of Balarama, the Yamuna offered Him prayers and, folding her hands, she threw herself at His feet.”
This description is found in the Vraja-vilasa-stava: “When by her own quiet nature, the Yamuna was flowing to the south ocean, she did not respond to the order of Balarama and thus He pulled her with His plough. In this place the Yamuna can be seen as she is. I sing the glories of this place with my devoted heart.”
Shri Raghava told his followers that Balarama's Rasa-sthali is famous throughout the world and devotees always offer their prayers at this beautiful place named Rama-ghaöa.
Nityananda Prabhu's Lila at Rama-ghaöa
“Whoever hears the glories of Rama-ghaöa can be easily freed from worldly life.
“During His pilgrimages, Shri Rasa-vilasi Rama, Nityananda Raya, passed some days here. He played with the cowherd boys and ate curd, milk, roots, and fruits whenever He felt hungry. He was perplexed, trying unsuccessfully to conceal His identity as Baladeva. The local people said, `This must be Rohini-nandana travelling in Vraja as an avadhuta.' Seeing Nityananda's divine performance, all people—young, old, and youths—were bewildered.”
Raghava showed the shakaöa tree whose wood Nityananda used to clean His teeth. At Rama-ghaöa there was a brahmaëa who could not live for a moment without the thought of Baladeva. To satisfy His devotee, Nityananda gave him darshana as Baladeva. Here also Kalindi prayed to Nityananda, Shri Rasa-vilasi Balarama. Even the demigods could not restrain their tears of ecstasy as they watched Nityananda sporting at this place.
“When Nityananda slept on a bed of dust beneath the trees He would call out again and again in His dream, `When will the emancipation of these wretched souls take place? When will the Lord of Navadvipa advent Himself? I will go and see Him with My own eyes.' No one could understand the meaning of His words.
“Kacchavana is a place near Rama-ghaöa where the children used to play as kacchapa [turtles]. In Bhushanavana, the sakhas dressed Krishëa in flower ornaments. All these places are famous for Krishëa's pastimes. Seeing these places relieves one from the blazing fire of material existence.”
While describing these holy places Shri Raghava and his followers passed through a forest whose beauty created restlessness within their minds. Travelling on the path to Bhaëòira they felt great happiness within. Presently people call this the place of the Akshaya-vaöa [a banyan tree]. Speaking in very sweet words Raghava told Shrinivasa, “Look at this beautiful place called Bhaëòira-vaöa. At this place Balarama and Krishëa enjoyed Their sports. As They played games with Their sakhas, Pralambhasura in disguise also joined them. Balarama in fun killed Pralambha and in this way enjoyed Krishëa's various pastimes with the sakhas here in Bhaëòira.
“One day as Krishëa sat beneath a tree in Bhaëòira, He played His flute in such an enchanting tone that it could drive the whole world mad. When Radha heard the sound of the flute She became agitated and ran to meet Krishëa along with Her friends. In great ecstasy They enjoyed various sporting pastimes here along with the sakhis.”
The Wrestling Sport of Radha-Krishëa
“Radha asked Krishëa in Her soft voice, `How do You play with Your friends at this place?' Krishëa answered, `I dress as a wrestler and I wrestle with My friends. No one knows wrestling like Me and I win very easily.' Lalita smiled and requested Krishëa again and again to show them His wrestling in His wrestler's dress. They all then changed into wrestler's costumes, but Krishëa was very proud of His dress. Radha smiled sweetly when She saw Krishëa's wrestling costume, and They both entered the wrestling arena. There was no question of winning or losing in that wrestling match and Kandarpa, the god of love, was satisfied to watch the game.
“This pastime is described in Vraja-vilasa-stava as follows: `I sing the glory of Bhaëòira, where charming Shri Radha, being eager to wrestle with Krishëa, dressed Herself and Her sakhis in wrestling costumes. For the pleasure of Madana, She then cheerfully wrestled with Bakari, the enemy of Bakasura, who was also dressed as a wrestler.'
“In this way, various wonderful pastimes were performed in Bhaëòiravana. Who can describe them all?
“Just see Ara-grama and Munjaöavi near Bhaëòira, where Krishëa swallowed the forest fire to rescue the cows and cowherd boys. Bhaëòari-grama is on the other side of the Yamuna. In Tapovana the daughters of the cowherd men performed tapasya. At Gopi-ghaöa they bathed in the Yamuna. The gopis joyfully worshiped Katyayanidevi at Cira-ghaöa. They put their clothes here on the bank of the Yamuna as they entered the water for bath. Krishëa secretly stole their clothes and climbed into a kadamba tree to see the fun. When the gopis realized they had no clothes, they were greatly ashamed and bade Krishëa to return their clothes while remaining in the water. After revealing His mind, Krishëa jubilantly returned their clothes. The gopis then dressed themselves, but only after they had dedicated themselves to Krishëa.
Here at Nanda-ghaöa Nanda and the other cowherd men took their bath in the Yamuna River. After fasting on the Ekadashi, Nanda was entering the Kalindi to take his bath on the Dvadashi. While bathing, a servant of Varuëa abducted Nanda, but Krishëa easily rescued him. As Nanda had become afraid in this place, Krishëa's great grandson, Vajra, the son of Aniruddha, named this place Bhaya. Leaving Bhaya behind, Shri Raghava continued his tour of the holy places around Mathura.
“See here Vatsavana where Brahma stole the calves. The Vraja-vilasa-stava gives this description: `I sing the glories of Vatsa-harana-sthali where Brahma, being inquisitive about the glories of Lord Krishëa, stole the calves and cowherd boys. To satisfy the long cherished desire of the mothers of the calves and cowherd boys, Krishëa then manifested Himself as calves and cowherd boys to eat the food given by their mothers.'
“In Unai, Krishëa and His boyfriends ate all sorts of food. In Balahara, Brahma felt delighted as he stole all the cowherd boys. [Balahara comes from: bala, meaning boys and hara, meaning stolen]. In Parikhama, Brahma wanted to test [pariksha] the power of Krishëa. At this place, Sei [sei means that] which is known by all, Brahma was bewildered by Krishëa's maya. After stealing the cowherd boys and calves, Brahma kept them hidden. But when he returned to Krishëa, he saw those same boys and calves. Being overwhelmed he repeatedly said, `Those are these, or these are those?' That is why the name of this place is Sei. In Comuha-grama Brahma approached Krishëa and, repenting his audacity, offered prayers to the Lord.”
The Vraja-vilasa-stava describes: “I sing the glories of the place called Bhirucaturmukha. It was here that Brahma repented for his offense of stealing the cows and cowherd boys and fell on the ground at the feet of Mukunda, the gently smiling son of Maharaja Nanda. With his eyes filled with tears, he sang the glories of the Lord.”
“In Aghavana Krishëa killed Aghasura, but people now call the place Sapauli [Sapauli means the place of snakes].”
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is stated: “May Sarpa-sthali be my protector, for it was here that the powerful Murari watched as His friends entered into the burning, poisonous stomach of the sinful Aghasura. He followed His friends, who are more dear to Him than His own life, and being angry at the demon, killed the giant snake in order to rescue them.”
“In Jayeta-grama the demigods glorified Krishëa, `Jaya! Jaya! All glories to the Supreme Personality of Godhead!' and then showered Him with flowers. Krishëa killed Aghasura in a clever [siyana] way, therefore this village was given the name Soyano or sometimes Sehona. See the two villages Taroli and Varoli which were named by the gopas.”
Then Raghava took Narottama and Shrinivasa up a small hill called Krishëa-kuëòa öila and as they looked in all directions they felt intense pleasure. Raghava showed them Maghera village, which was previously called Maghahera and the tamala forest where Radha and Krishëa used to meet.
“In Aöasu-grama, the saint Ashöavakra performed austerities. Shakrasthana was later named Shakaroya. This place is famous because it was here that Shakra [Indra] became afraid after causing the terrible rain in Vraja. In Varahara village Krishëa played with His friends by assuming the form of Varaha. See Harasali-grama where Krishëa performed His rasa.”
From Vraja-vilasa-stava comes this description: “May that Rasa-sthali, which is the precious gem of the three worlds, be our protector. While dancing with the radiantly beautiful wives of the cowherd men, Krishëa left them and went with Radha to a solitary place to decorate Her with flower ornaments and engage in divine loving play with Her.”
After describing the various holy places, Shri Raghava returned to Nanda-ghaöa with Shrinivasa and Narottama.
Shri Jiva Gosvami's Residence at Nanda-ghaöa
Shri Raghava said that in a lonely place at Nanda-ghaöa, Jiva Gosvami lived in seclusion for sometime.
Once Shri Rupa was writing a book in a quiet place in Vrindavana. It was a hot day, and to dry the sweat from Rupa's body Shri Jiva would stand nearby fanning him. The beauty of both Shri Rupa and Shri Jiva was effulgent. At that time Shri Vallabha came to visit Rupa. When he saw the mangalacaraëa [introductory prayers] of Rupa's Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, he told Rupa, “I shall edit it.” When he went to bathe in the Yamuna, Shri Jiva followed on the pretext of taking water from the Yamuna.
Although he did not know Shri Vallabha personally, Jiva asked him, “What is the flaw in the mangalacaraëa?”
As Vallabha mentioned each point he felt required correction, Jiva refuted the point by his knowledge of the scriptures. Unable to defeat Shri Jiva in a discussion, Vallabha went to Shri Rupa to inquire about the identity of Jiva. Rupa told Vallabha that the young Vaishëava was his nephew, and that he had arrived from his village only a few days before. Vallabha Bhaööa praised Jiva Gosvami and told Rupa the details of their discussion on the book. Then Vallabha left that place.
When Shri Jiva returned from the river, Shri Rupa scolded him in a very quiet voice, “It was very kind of Bhaööa to visit me, and for my own benefit he wanted to edit my book. This much you could not tolerate by your Vaishëava grace? Go back to your home and return to Vrindavana when you will be able to be patient.”
At once Shri Jiva left the place and headed east towards his home. When his mind became peaceful, he decided to remain in a solitary place in the forest as he did not have permission to return to the association of Rupa Gosvami. He lived here in a hut made of leaves; sometimes he ate a little and sometimes he ate nothing while he passed his time in great distress and lamentation. He thought that if he gave up his life he would be able to obtain the lotus feet of his Lord.
In the course of his travels, Sanatana Gosvami came to that village. The villagers came forward to welcome him and ask about his well being. They informed him that one beautiful young sannyasi had been living in the forest for a long time, eating only a small quantity of fruits or roots or drinking water mixed with atta [flour].
Knowing that this sannyasi must be Shri Jiva, Sanatana went to see him in great affection. Seeing Sanatana within his patched hut, Shri Jiva could not control himself and fell flat on the ground at Sanatana's feet. The villagers were quite astonished. Sanatana asked Shri Jiva to explain his difficulty and Jiva very lovingly explained everything. After consoling the villagers, Sanatana left Shri Jiva in his hut and went to see Rupa in Vrindavana.
Hearing of Shri Sanatana's arrival in Vrindavana, Shri Rupa went out to meet him. Sanatana asked about the book Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu and Rupa said that he had finished writing the book but the editing was incomplete because of Shri Jiva's absence.
Sanatana explained the situation to Shri Rupa, “Jiva is alive, but he is so weak that even the breeze can rock his body.” At once Shri Rupa brought Jiva back to Vrindavana and nursed him affectionately. Everyone was happy with Shri Jiva's recovery and Rupa-Sanatana bestowed all responsibility on him. By their mercy the greatness of Shri Jiva's knowledge spread throughout the world.
A Digvijayi [world conquering scholar] once came to Vrindavana and challenged Jiva, “If you will not compete with me in debate, then sign my jayapatri [a written paper acknowledging defeat].” Shri Jiva sent him back the jayapatri, but the Digvijayi accepted defeat after reading it. The glories of Shrila Jiva Gosvami are beyond description. Shri Raghava then showed them Jiva Gosvami's hut.
After that, they crossed the Yamuna River and passed the night in Surukhuru village. Narottama and Shrinivasa learned that Krishëa was pleased with the demigods at this place. From here Raghava pointed out some far away villages and briefly explained the pastimes that were performed in those places.
Leaving Surukhuru in the morning, they came to Bhadravana. In Adi-varaha Puraëa it is written that whoever goes to Bhadravana, the sixth forest, becomes a single-minded devotee of Lord Krishëa. By the grace of this forest he goes to the heaven planets.
It was here that Rama and Krishëa used to play various games with Their friends.
In the Adi-varaha Puraëa it is stated: “The eleventh forest is Bhaëòiravana. It is a beautiful place which is dear to the yogis. Simply glancing at the forest saves one from taking another birth. Getting darshana of Vasudeva in this forest, the best forest of all, also saves one from another birth. Any person who takes bath here, fasts and controls his senses becomes freed from all sins and goes to Indraloka.”
In Bhaëòiravana, Krishëa and His friends, after playing, enjoyed various foods while sitting in the shade. This town is therefore named Chaheri after this pastime of the Lord. [The name comes from chaya meaning shade].
In Maöha-grama, Rama and Krishëa used to play with Their friends. The huge earthen vessel of the name `maöha,' which the Vraja-vasis used to make maöha [buttermilk] from curd, is the source of the name of this holy place, Maöha.
“It was here that Balarama and Krishëa ate ripe bael fruits [bilva is another name for bael].
“According to the Adi-varaha Puraëa, this forest, Bilvavana, is worshiped by all the demigods and whoever visits it will also be worshiped in Brahmaloka.
“In Bilvavana a man can be freed from his vices by bathing in Krishëa-kuëòa. Previously the Yamuna flowed in a single course and Manasa-sarovara was on the other side of the river. Now the Yamuna has divided herself into two and meets again at another point to create a circle around Manasa-sarovara. All of these places are sites of Krishëa's pastimes.” [Bilvavana is also known as Shrivana, as Lakshmi performed austerities here.]
At Lohavana, Lord Krishëa used to tend the cows. The demon named Lohajangha was killed at this place. The Adi-varaha Puraëa says that this ninth forest, Lohavana, which was protected by the demon Lohajangha, is the destroyer of all vices.
Raghava showed his followers the pleasant places where Nanda-kumara had roamed. After seeing the Deities of Krishëa and Balarama, Nrisimha and others, Raghava took them near the Yamuna where Radha-Krishëa's nauka [boat] pastime was performed.
“Once Radha and Her friends came here to cross the Yamuna with their milk vessels. Their beauty overwhelmed Krishëa, who had been waiting for them with a broken boat to help them cross the river. When Radha saw Krishëa, who was pretending to be asleep, She called again and again to have Him take them to the other side of the river. After some time Krishëa took them in His boat and went a short distance with great ecstasy in His heart. The fun which ensued is not possible for me to describe, but it has been described beautifully by the poets in their writings.”
The following description is from Padyavali: “Radha anxiously told Krishëa, `This boat is broken and the river is very deep here. We are only young girls and this situation is not in our favor. The only way we will be saved is with You as our boatman. O Yadu-nandana, on Your suggestion I have thrown away My milk vessels, My necklace, and also My scarf, yet the other bank is not even in sight. This boat is filling with water and at any moment it will sink, being caught by a storming whirlpool. Alas, what an unforeseen calamity! Despite this, Krishëa, You are clapping joyfully. My hands cannot stop bailing out water from the boat and You cannot stop making jokes. O Krishëa, if I save Myself this time, I will never again set foot in Your boat.'”
Upon arriving in Mahavana, Shri Raghava Paëòita in great ecstasy spoke sweetly to Shrinivasa and Narottama. “See the house of Nanda and Yashoda! Who can describe the glories of this place? See the birthplace of Lord Krishëa! Seeing the face of his son, Nanda and others became overwhelmed with joy. The cowherd men and women also came to see Him and Nanda celebrated the birth of his son by distributing many things to the people. At that time the whole world was filled with the most wonderful happiness.”
In Vraja-vilasa-stava the following description is found: “I offer my obeisances to Mahavana, where Vrajaraja Nanda celebrated the birth of Krishëa by distributing eighteen lakha cows, each wearing a large pearl necklace and golden ornaments. He also gave the brahmaëas a tremendous quantity of jewelry and grains.”
In the first song of Nandottsava in the Stava-mala, Gitavali, it is written; “Yashoda gave birth to a beautiful son, so the gopas were overwhelmed with joy. Some cowherd men presented gifts, others danced continuously, while others sang sweet songs. Some of them distributed yogurt and butter, some satisfied the desires of others and some simply took darshana of Krishëa's eternal transcendental form.”
In another song from the same Gitavali, it is said: “The brahmaëas have been fully satisfied by gifts of cows. O Vrajeshvara, please quickly satisfy the singers. O Nandaraja, you have got a beautiful son, so please satisfy the requests of the cowherds with suitable gifts for your celebration. My heart is filled with joy seeing the face of your son and it desires something which no one else has got. Let me be absorbed in your son who is like a sporting black swan in the reservoir of Shri Sanatana's mind.”
Shri Raghava continued his description of the holy places. “It was here that Nanda performed all the rituals to celebrate the birth of Krishëa. In a goshala, Nanda divulged his mind to Gargacarya and admitted his fear of Kamsa. Garga performed the name giving ceremony of Rama and Krishëa very secretly in a goshala.
“Vrajendra-kumara Krishëa killed Putana and the cremation was done here. Krishëa once broke a chariot here while lying on the ground.
“In Padyavali there is the following description of Krishëa's childhood: `See the glory of that baby, Shri Krishëa, who has bright red palms and feet and is decorated with beautiful gorocana tilaka. While lying on His back, He broke the chariot.'
“Here Krishëa used to lie in His mother's lap to suck her breast milk. Being overwhelmed by the beauty of her son's face, Yashoda happily fed Him. Again from Padyavali: `Lying in His mother's lap with half-closed eyes, Krishëa is sucking one breast and caressing the other which is also filled with milk. His mother also caresses Him with her fingers. Krishëa smiles continually showing His bright teeth which are whitened by the milk. May all of these teeth protect you.'”
Raghava pointed out the place where Krishëa used to give pleasure to Yashoda by crawling. This is described in the following verses from Padyavali. “Attentive to the worries of Vrajeshvari, Krishëa, with restless eyes, would crawl across the ground showing His sweet lips in a nectarean smile. His glittering complexion was like a dark tamala leaf. I pray to this boy.
“When the gopis would ask Krishëa to find His eyes, ears, nose, face, and tuft of hair, the Lord would point with His little finger and give them great pleasure. It was here that Krishëa would smear dust on His body. Mother Yashoda would then admonish Him, `I have just bathed and perfumed You, and You have immediately covered Yourself with dust!'”
It was here that beautiful Krishëa used to turn to His mother for milk. Once Triëavarta carried Krishëa high in the sky where Krishëa enjoyed the view. Then He killed Triëavarta here within Kamsa's kingdom. Krishëa once ate earth and showed Vrajeshvari the whole brahmaëòa within His mouth. Therefore this place is called Brahmaëòa-ghaöa. It was here that Yashoda and the other gopis enjoyed the beauty of her son as they sat in the compound of the house.
The following descriptions are also taken from Padyavali: “When Nanda-nandana was five years old, He was very restless as He played in the compound of Nanda. His eyes were covered by tufts of curly hair, and He was decorated with bangles, nupura [ankle bells], and necklaces.
“The gopis would try to stop His crying by kissing His lips, pressing their necks on His, looking into His beautiful eyes, touching their foreheads to His, and then eagerly holding Him to their breasts for a long time. May that Lord Krishëa, who in this situation was absorbed in the mood of Cupid, His body motionless, covered with goosebumps, and decorated with a gentle smile, be our protector.
“Vanamali Krishëa used to give pleasure to the newly wedded gopis while playing on His father's lap. When Yashoda asked Him, `How much fresh butter have You taken today?' Krishëa held the breast of Dhanishöha while saying, `This much!' May that Krishëa be our protector.
“`Hey cauri [thief]! Where are you going? We can easily see what an ecstatic mood you are in. You are trying to take away My ball by hiding it in your blouse. Come on, give it back!' Saying this He would forcefully massage the breasts of the newly married gopi girls. That Lord Keshava, whose body looks very charming decorated with His hairs standing on end, is conquering Gokula in this way.
“I sing the glories of Lord Krishëa's childhood pastimes. While crawling toward a vessel full of cream, He continually turned His face looking here and there, fearful of being caught by His mother.
“During His sleep Krishëa used to call the demigods which made Yashoda very anxious. `O Shiva, welcome! Please sit down here. O Brahma, please sit on My left side. O Kartikeya, are you well? O Indra, are you happy? Where have you been Kuvera? I have not seen you here.' When mother Yashoda heard her child speaking like this in His sleep she said, `My dear child, why are You saying all these unearthly things?' Then to free Him from evil spirits, she put saliva on the child.
“It was here that Yashoda used to tell the story of Rama to Krishëa while she put Him to sleep. Yashoda said, `There was a king named Rama.' `Yes,' said Krishëa eagerly. `The name of His wife was Sita,' Mother Yashoda continued. `When He went to the forest of Panchvati on His father's order, Ravaëa kidnapped His wife.'
“Hearing the stories of His previous pastimes, Krishëa became restless and said, `O Lakshmaëa, where are My bow and arrows?' May these excited words of Krishëa protect you.
“When Krishëa was still awake, mother Yashoda said, `The evening is coming to an end now dear. Why are You not sleeping?' `O mother, I cannot sleep,' replied Krishëa. `All right dear, listen to another wonderful story which will make You sleep,' said Yashoda. `Yes, please tell Me,' answered Krishëa.
“Yashoda continued, `...then Nrisimhadeva appeared from a pillar to kill the demon Hiranyakasipu.' When He heard this wonderful story Devaki-nandana's face brightened with a sweet smile.”
“Here mother Yashoda tied Krishëa to a grinding mortar which He accepted as great fun. This sacred place is called Yamalarjuna-bhanjana-tirtha. The wonderful kuëòa situated here has very pure water. By fasting and taking bath in this kuëòa one accrues unlimited fruits and becomes worshipable on Indraloka. This is the temple of Gopishvara whose darshana will destroy the most heinous types of sins. This Mahavana is very dear to Krishëa, who performed many pastimes here. See here the Sapta-samudra-kupas. In the Puraëas it is described that the performance of piëòa here gives one his desired results.”
In the Adi-varaha Puraëa it is stated: “The eighth forest, Mahavana, is always My favorite. A man who visits here can be worshiped in the abode of Indra. Yamalarjuna-tirtha and kuëòa are in Mahavana. At this holy tirtha, Krishëa, as a little boy, toppled a cart, breaking the vessels of milk and curd. Fasting and bathing here gives unlimited results. Gopishvara Mahadeva, the destroyer of all sins, resides here in Mahavana.”
Shri Shri Mahaprabhu in Mahavana
Shri Raghava said, “O Shrinivasa, it was here that Shri Chaitanya became overwhelmed in ecstatic joy upon seeing the place of Krishëa's birth festival. In great love the Lord became absorbed in dancing and singing. And by distributing His mercy, He captivated the hearts of all. People came from all directions and chanted the name of Hari in ecstasy upon seeing Mahaprabhu. Everyone's eyes shed tears as they exclaimed that this man was not a sannyasi, but Krishëa Himself. By the influence of the Lord's love, people became mad and fell to the ground in ecstasy. Who has the power to understand the activities of Shri Gaurachandra? Mahavana thus became a vast ocean of bliss. Shri Chaitanya remained here agitated in love while seeing the Deity of Madana-gopala. Who can describe the supernatural and divine pastimes of Mahaprabhu?”
Shri Sanatana's Darshana of Madana-gopala's Pastimes in Mahavana
Then Raghava took his two followers to the holy place where Sanatana Gosvami had once stayed. The residents of Mahavana felt very fortunate to have Sanatana amongst them. While Sanatana stayed at Mahavana he obtained great happiness from the daily darshana of Madana-gopala. Madana-gopala used to play in Ramaëaka, the sandy beach of the Yamuna. One day Madana-gopala came to play just like a cowherd boy with the other boys of Mahavana. As Sanatana watched the boys play various games, he thought that this cowherd boy could not be an ordinary child. When the boys finished playing, Sanatana followed that boy home. He saw the boy enter the temple, but by the time Sanatana entered he saw only the Madana-mohana Deity, instead of the cowherd boy. Sanatana bowed before the Deity and returned to his own place without speaking to anyone. This Madana-gopala was completely controlled by the devotional love of Sanatana.
“See this well which everyone calls Gopa-kupa. This place, Shri Gokula, and Mahavana are one and the same. The beauty of this place is so enchanting that gradually Upananda and other cowherd men settled here. The many childhood pastimes Krishëa performed here gladdened the hearts of the cowherd men and women. O Shrinivasa, see this old tree, the beauty of which is beyond description.”
Mahaprabhu's Arrival in Gokula
“The inhabitants of Gokula would relieve their fatigue under this tree. Lord Gauranga also sat here. Who can describe in detail the arrival of Lord Chaitanya at this place. Mahaprabhu came to Agravana [known as Agra] from Prayaga and then went to see the ashrama of Jamadagni Muni. The Lord visited Reëuka-grama which was named after Jamadagni's wife, Reëuka. It is the birthplace of Parashurama. Mahaprabhu came to Gokula from Reëuka via Raja-grama and sat under this tree.
“The arrival of Lord Chaitanya in Gokula is described in the Chaitanya-carita as follows: `Mahaprabhu had darshana of Shri Madhavadeva in Prayaga and then danced with His followers in ecstatic devotional love. After taking darshana of Akshaya-vaöa, He bathed in the Triveni like a mad elephant. His eyes filled with tears of love, the hairs of His body stood on end and He gravely shouted in ecstasy as He moved from there. In due course, He crossed the River Yamuna and came to Agravana, where Reëuka-grama, the birthplace of the great warrior Parashurama, is situated. After taking darshana of the Yamuna, which always flows towards Vrindavana, Mahaprabhu went to Raja-grama. At last Mahaprabhu entered Gokula and became overwhelmed with ecstatic love.'
“Arriving here, Lord Chaitanya became maddened with ecstatic love while performing sankirtana. As He went to see Krishëa's birthplace, large crowds followed Him. O Shrinivasa, this place, where Krishëa's birth ceremony was performed according to tradition, is the abode of the greatest happiness. All the elderly gopis would sing auspicious songs in great happiness here for the well-being of Krishëa. Nanda Maharaja and other cowherd men would sit here and discuss various topics. After numerous disturbances occurred here, however, they all decided to shift to Vrindavana.”
Raghava then pointed out the path by which the cowherd men from Gokula and Ravala used to go to Vrindavana. During their journey they had great fun crossing the Yamuna near Bhaëòiravana. In Sakarauli-grama they collected the cows and calves and brought them together.
“O Shrinivasa see Ravala, the village where Vrishabhanu used to live happily. Shri Radhika appeared here, and by Her auspicious appearance the whole world was filled with joy.”
In the Vraja-vilasa-stava there is the following prayer: “May I be filled with love for Ravala in Vrishabhanupura. The precious gem, Shri Radha, appeared there in the mine of Kirtida's womb, which is praised by the demigods, rishis, and human beings.”
“Who can understand the great joy in Vrishabhanu's house when Radhika appeared from the womb of Kirtida. Shri Radha's effulgent form illuminated the ten directions. Whoever sees Radha once is freed from the threefold miseries. Her body is extremely soft and Her complexion is like molten gold. Alas! How is it possible to describe the exquisite movements of Her limbs? Seeing Her beauty Her parents could not control their excitement and repeatedly looked at Her moonlike face. All the elderly gopis sang auspicious songs, and the entire universe was filled with the sound of `Jaya! Jaya!' The sounds of various instruments enchanted all, and they began dancing as they exclaimed, `Very good!' Tumeric, yogurt, and milk was scattered in the courtyard for the occasion, and the cowherd men laughed and made others laugh with their gestures. The brahmaëas and the singers were offered valuable gifts and Ghanashyama [another name of Narahari Cakravarti who has written this song], although seeing this scene is unable to relish its happiness.”
“Seeing Radha's beauty on the occasion of Her appearance, Her parents became agitated in love and were unable to take their minds away from Her. They gave various gifts in charity for the auspiciousness of their daughter. Who can describe that scene? Only the fortunate souls can see this. Shri Radha would wander around with many other girls, and Her mother felt joyful watching Her. Vrishabhanu with his associates would sit at one place and, like this, there is no limit to the fun in Ravala.
“O Shrinivasa, after coming from Gokula, Gaurachandra and His associates stayed here for sometime. He became overwhelmed with ecstatic love when He saw Ravala. What to speak of others, even Ananta Shesha cannot describe His feelings of love. People came running from all directions chanting the name of Hari and exclaiming, `O brother, see this jewel amongst sannyasis!' Everyone became maddened drinking the nectar of the Lord's moonlike face. Being greatly happy, they spoke to one another, `I have concluded that He is definitely Krishëa. By His own will He is wandering throughout Vraja in this form.' Someone else said, `By seeing this golden complexioned form of the Lord, I am unable to speak although I wish to.'
“After speaking in this way, by Lord Chaitanya's mercy the people became agitated in love and tears flowed from their eyes. After manifesting His transcendental pastimes here, the Lord along with the Sanoòiya brahmaëa went on to Mathura. O Shrinivasa, this place, where Radhika performed Her enchanting childhood pastimes, is most secluded.”
Discussing in this way they passed the night in Ravala enjoying the nectarean glories of Lord Krishëa. Who can describe the ecstatic feelings of love Shri Raghava Paëòita, Shrinivasa, and Narottama experienced? Whoever hears this story attentively will attain the lotus feet of Shri Radha-Krishëa and Shri Chaitanya.
In the morning they crossed the Yamuna River and entered Mathura. There they saw the residence of Vasudeva, Ugrasena, and Kamsa, where Kamsa had snatched the daughter of Yashoda. He had attempted to kill the daughter in the prison cell where Vasudeva had been imprisoned. They saw a place where Vasudeva had passed urine on a stone, the path by which Vasudeva carried Krishëa towards Gokula, and the way he had returned after keeping Krishëa safely in Gokula. After showing Shrinivasa and Narottama these different places, Raghava explained them in detail.
Sudarshana-Vidyadhara at Ambika-kanana
After bathing in Vishrama-tirtha, they joyfully came to Ambika-kanana on the bank of the Krishëa-ganga. Seeing Shri Ambikadevi and Gokarëakhya Shiva, Shrinivasa and Narottama became filled with ecstasy.
Raghava Paëòita spoke softly and pointed out a beautiful place on the bank of the River Krishëa-ganga. “It was here that Nanda and other cowherd men came nicely dressed on pilgrimage to have darshana of the deities. Nanda and the other cowherds offered various kinds of worship to Gokarëakhya Mahadeva and Ambika. Nanda Maharaja was taking rest at this beautiful place when suddenly a large black snake began to swallow him. Seeing His father being swallowed by the snake, Krishëa slightly smiled and touched the snake with His foot. By the touch of Lord Krishëa's lotus foot, the body of the snake vanished and a divine form appeared in its place. That person explained to the Lord that previously he was a Vidyadhara named Sudarshana but he was cursed by a brahmaëa to become a snake. Sudarshana then offered prayers at the lotus feet of Krishëa and returned to his own abode. The cowherd men headed by Nanda became overwhelmed in great affection for Krishëa and, along with the sakhas, they brought Krishëa and Balarama to their home.”
“O Shrinivasa, see the best of all holy places, Shri Akrura-tirtha. This well known place is very dear to Krishëa. By taking bath here on purëima, especially during Kartika, one is liberated from this material world. Whatever result one can achieve by bathing in all the holy places can be attained by taking bath here. Whoever takes bath at this place on the day of a solar eclipse gets the benefit of performing a rajasuya or ashvamedha-yajna. These statements are confirmed in the Saura and Adi-varaha Puraëas.”
Krishëa Begs Food in Akrura-grama
“O Shrinivasa, Shri Krishëa Chaitanya came to stay in a solitary place here in Akrura-grama. In order to avoid the crowds in Vrindavana He would come here to eat. Lord Shri Krishëa Chaitanya is the deliverer of the whole world, who can understand His mentality?
“See this enchanting place Shrinivasa, where the munis headed by Angira were performing a sacrifice. Krishëa sent His sakhas here for food, but the brahmaëas became angry by the boy's requests. When the boys returned to Krishëa and explained what had happened, Krishëa sent them to the wives of those munis. Happy for the opportunity, the wives brought food to this place and offered it to Krishëa and His friends. Krishëa and His friends then ate here and enjoyed unending bliss in this pastime. Everyone felt greatly satisfied in their hearts, and therefore this place became known as Bhojana-sthala.”
From the Vraja-vilasa-stava comes this description: “This is the place where the beautiful wives of the yajnic brahmaëas fed various types of fine food to Krishëa and Balarama with great love and devotion. I sing the glories of this place and those brahmaëas' wives.”
Shri Raghava described the glories of Vrindavana to Shrinivasa and Narottama. In the Adi-varaha Puraëa it is stated: “O Prithivi, this twelfth forest, Vrindavana, is the destroyer of all vices and is protected by Vrindadevi. It is certainly My favorite place. Here I will perform pastimes with My gopas and gopis in the famous beautiful places which are beyond the attainment of the demigods.”
Vrindavana is described in the Skanda Puraëa, Mathura-khaëòa, as follows: “Vrindavana is completely under Vrindadevi's grace. Shri Hari Himself lives in this splendid, incomprehensible place, which is served by the demigods headed by Brahma and Shiva. Extending over a wide area, Vrindavana is decorated with forests of tulasi and the ashramas of saints. Vrindavana is as dear to Govinda as Lakshmi is to Vishëu. Surrounded by His cowherd boys and cows, Madhava sports in Vrindavana with Balarama. O what a beautiful place is Vrindavana where Govardhana mountain along with many other holy places created by Lord Vishëu are situated.”
Then in the Padma Puraëa it is stated: “Vrindavana is filled with transcendental bliss. It destroys the greatest sins and miseries. Simply by living there one is awarded liberation.”
Vrindavana is also described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.11.28) in the following words: “Between Nandeshvara and Mahavana is a place named Vrindavana. This place is very suitable because it is lush with grass, plants, and creepers for the cows and other animals. It has nice gardens and tall mountains and is full of facilities for the happiness of all the gopas and gopis and our animals.”
There is another verse in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.21.10) in which one gopi says: “O friend, Vrindavana is spreading the glory of the earth, having obtained the treasure of the lotus feet of Krishëa, the son of Devaki. The peacocks dance madly when they hear Govinda's flute, and when other creatures see them from the hilltops, they all become stunned.”
Raghava then told his followers a passage from the Gautamiya-tantra where Krishëa says to Narada: “Every part of this beautiful Vrindavana is My abode. Every creature or demigod who lives in this place will attain Goloka-dhama after death. The cowherd girls who live in My abode are yoginis. The five yojanas of Vrindavana forest are like My body and the spinal cord of the body is the Kalindi River, which flows with nectarean water. Deities and other spirits live here in invisible bodies. And I, living within every being, never leave this place. My appearance and disappearance has been enacted in every age. The divine and glorious illumination of this place is beyond worldly vision. The glories of Vrindavana are beyond anyone's calculation. People say Vrindavana covers sixteen krosha, and in the shastra it is said Vrindavana extends five yojanas. Whoever has darshana of Govinda in Vrindavana never goes to Yamalaya, but attains the destination of pious persons. The temple of Shri Govindadeva is situated in Vrindavana and is surrounded by devotees. A fortunate person can have His darshana.”
In the Skanda Puraëa, Narada Muni says, “In Vrindavana the temple of Govindadeva is surrounded by devoted worshipers. I prefer to live there. O king, in this world Vrindavana is the Vaikuëöha of Govinda. Vrinda and other female devotees of Krishëa also remain there. O Mahapala, those great souls who get darshana of Govinda in Vrindavana are the most glorified persons in this world.”
Shri Govindadeva and His Worship
Vrajendra's son Himself, in the form of the Deity, Shri Govindadeva, performed His pastimes in various ways according to His own desires. Worldly persons see Him as an idol, but His devotees see Him as Govinda Himself. Although as a Deity He has accepted silence, He nevertheless bestows waves of transcendental mellows upon His associates. In Vrindavana He enjoys Himself with His beloved gopis within the karëika of an eight-petaled lotus. [karëika means the seed-pod of the lotus].
In the Atharva Veda, Gopala-tapani Govinda is described: “The dark complexioned, yellow-robed, two-armed Govindadeva, His head adorned with a peacock comb, holds a flute and stick in His hands. He is nirguëa [without material attributes], but simultaneously saguëa [endowed with transcendental attributes]. He is nirakara [without material form], but simultaneously sakara [possessing a spiritual form of eternity, bliss, and knowledge]. He is niriha [without material activities], but simultaneously saceshta [engaged in transcendental pastimes]. In Gokula, within Mathura-maëòala, is Vrindavana, where Govinda stands in the center of a thousand-petaled lotus, which has sixteen clustered petals around Him with eight clustered kesara [pollen tube]. On either side stands Radha and Candravali.”
The Sanmohana Tantravakya states: “I eternally bow to the feet of Shrimati Radharaëi, the Goddess of the Yogapiöha, who with Her wonderful gestures and postures stands alongside Govinda.”
The Yogapiöha in Vrindavana is supremely wonderful. Govinda's beauty is astonishing at this place.
In the Padma Puraëa, Vrindavana Mahatmya, Parvati asks Lord Shiva, “O ocean of mercy, please describe the extraordinary nectarean beauty of Govinda. I want to hear of it.”
Lord Mahadeva answers, “There is a place in the center of Vrindavana which is decorated with mandara trees. The branches and leaves of those trees cover one yojana. This place is the abode of happiness. Bumblebees hum there being maddened by the sweet scent of the flowers. The eternal place of Govinda is that Siddhapiöha, which is covered by seven veils. It is glorified eternally by the shrutis, the personified Vedas. At that place is a jewel-studded golden pavilion. Within the center of the golden pavilion, the bright and beautiful Yogapiöha is situated. This octagonal piöha is lusterous and enchanting. A golden throne bedecked with bright jewels is situated there. On the throne is an eight-petaled lotus. The middle of this lotus is the favorite place of Shri Govindadeva. How can I sufficiently glorify this place? I pray to Govinda, who remains within the center of that lotus, who is always served by the gopis, and is very sweet due to His blooming youth. He is the Lord of Vrindavana, Gokulapati, and He expands His opulence unlimitedly. Lord Govinda is young and beautiful, the dearmost associate of the maidens of Vraja.”
The Lord of Vrindavana, Shri Govindadeva, who is the abode of transcendental love, eternally enjoys with Radharaëi on that simhasana. The eight-sided Yogapiöha is surrounded by natural beauty, and the jeweled simhasana situated there is beyond compare.
“Within the karëika [seed-pod] of the lotus, Shri Krishëa performs His maha-lila. What can be said about the maha-lila? Krishëa, the eternal master of Vrindavana assumed His form as a cowherd on that mountain of maha-lila-rasa. The charming third petal of the lotus is the brightest and best amongst all desirable objects.
In the Varaha-tantra it is said: “That karëika is the favorite place of Lord Govindadeva. What can I say of its glories? I offer my obeisances to Govindadeva, who is very dear to the gopis and who is splendidly beautiful with His youthful age and charming gait. He always increases the love of the gopis and although He is the Lord of Gokula, He carefully hides His Lordly opulences there.”
Also in the Varaha-tantra, Prithivi inquires about the real identity of Krishëa who is the cause of all causes, the absolute entity, the everlasting master of Vrindavana, and the source of nirguëa Brahma. He is known as Govinda.
Lord Varaha replied, “I offer My obeisances to Govinda, who sits on a golden throne with Radha and is most beautifully bedecked in divine ornaments. He is very soft and is the cynosure of the gopis' eyes as He stands in His threefold bending posture. Within this Yogapiöha with its golden throne, reside Lord Krishëa's divinely dressed beloveds such as His main prakritis headed by Lalita and His original prakriti, Shri Radhika. Lalitadevi is in front, Shyamala is positioned in the northwest, Shri Madhumati in the north, Dhanya in the northeast, Krishëa's beloved Vishakha in the east, Shaibya in the southeast, Padma in the south, and Bhadra in the southwest. In the corner stands the beautiful Candravali. These eight main prakritis are the dearest of Krishëa, but Radha is the Supreme Goddess, the sum prakriti of Krishëa. Citravesha, Vrinda, Candra, Madana Sundari, Supriya, Madhumati, Shashirekha, and Hari Priya are also there, surrounding the Yogapiöha. Vrindavaneshvari, Radha, is the head of all sixteen prakritis. Lalita is also as dear to Krishëa as Radha.”
In the Gautamiya-tantra a devotee prays: “I offer my prayers to Lord Krishëa, who sits on a jeweled simhasana on top of a golden pavilion surrounded by kalpa-vrikshas [desire trees].”
Shri Raghava Paëòita said the whole world becomes mad by the beauty of Govindadeva. Whoever sees Him even once becomes stunned and forgets everything else.
Shrila Rupa Gosvami writes in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu: “My dear friends, if you still have any desire to enjoy the company of your friends within this material world, then don't look upon the form of Krishëa, who is standing on the bank of Keshi-ghaöa. He is known as Govinda, and His eyes are very enchanting. He is playing upon His flute, and on His head there is a peacock feather. And His whole body is illuminated by the moonlight in the sky.”
Shri Govindadeva has an eternal form of full knowledge and bliss. His form with two arms is so enchanting that everyones' heart is attracted.
In the Gopala-tapani it is stated: “A man can free himself from worldly entanglement if he meditates on Krishëa within his heart. Krishëa is worshiped by the sweet cool breezes created by the waves of the Yamuna. He is situated in the center of a jewelled lotus and is adorned with divine ornaments as He stands at the base of a kalpa-vriksha surrounded by cows and gopis. Dressed in clothes as bright as lightning, the two-armed Vanamali [one who wears a garland of forest flowers], who has beautiful lotus eyes and complexion like a dark rain cloud, is the master of everything.”
“O Shrinivasa, who would not offer respects at the feet of Shri Govinda, Gopinatha, and Madana-mohana in Vrindavana? The lotus feet of these three Deities are the life and soul of everyone in Vrindavana. Madana-gopala has become famous in this world as Madana-mohana.”
Shri Parvati asked Mahadeva to explain the glories and transcendental nature of Govindadeva. Shri Mahadeva said, “Gopala Himself is Govinda, and He eternally performs prakaöa [manifest] and aprakaöa [unmanifest] pastimes. He exists eternally at Yogapiöha in Vrindavana and is the only Lord of Vrindavana throughout the four yugas. He is worshiped by Nanda and the cowherd men in vatsalya-rasa. Even Krishëa Himself is overwhelmed by attraction and glorifies His own sweet form as Govinda. He stole the garments of the gopis and thus fulfilled the goal of their vows. He is the abode of spiritual bliss, and He always resides in Vrindavana in the form of a blooming youth. He is the life and soul of Shri Radhika. His mouth is reddened by betel leaf.”
There is a kuëòa called Brahma-kuëòa which is full of swans and lotuses and adorned on all sides by jewels. On the south there is a jewelled pavilion surrounded by mandara trees. That topmost place, Yogapiöha, is situated in the center of that pavilion. In that place Krishëa is fully enchanted by the love of the proudly smiling Shri Radhika, Vrindavaneshvari, and is completely under Her control.
Shri Vrindadevi is the embodiment of Krishëa's beauty. She is a great heroine and is expert in making arrangements to please Krishëa. She is known as Lilavati and remains forever on the east of Yogapiöha. On the south stays Krishëa-keli-vinodini, Shyama, [she who relishes the pastimes of Krishëa]. On the west and north, Baginidevi and Siddheshidevi are respectively situated. Also on the east is the five-headed Lord [Shiva]; on the south, Sankarshaëa, who incarnates in ten forms; on the west, the four-faced Brahma; and on the north the thousand-headed Lord Anantadeva.
Radhika's dear friend, Madana-unmadini, who always carries a golden stick and expertly manages affairs, takes Krishëa, who is overwhelmed in love, under the kalpataru. Madana-unmadini, who increases the loving feelings of Cupid, builds a love mansion, the pride of Cupid, with the bright blue effulgence of Lord Hari. That effulgence, similar to that of the blue sapphire, increases the lust of Madana, the god of love.
The dvadasakshara-mantra [twelve-syllable mantra] of Shri Govinda in the course of time bestows the greatest feeling of love. The first two syllables are the kama-bija and then shri-krishnaya. Next comes govindaya and then last, svaha. Gradually by chanting this great dvadasakshara-mantra one will achieve realization of love of God. Then I will describe the yugalatmaka-govinda-mantra. First of all comes the lakshmi-bija, then kama-bija, and then radha govindabhyam namai. By the knowledge of this yugala-mantra one can please Shri Shri Radha and Krishëa. The six elements of these two mantras are: the rishi—Kamadeva; the chanda [poetical metre]—viraöa; the devata—Govinda and Radha-Govinda; the shakti—Radha, the Goddess of Yogapiöha; and kama-bija.
Meditation on Govinda is as follows: “Glories to Govinda, who is as beautiful as a new flower, the performer of immortal pastimes who wears the dress of a wrestler. Glories to Govinda who holds the flute in one hand and a jewelled stick in the other. His beautiful and broad shoulders are covered by a pure bright piece of yellow silk and He charms the world. He places His left leg over His right leg while standing in His threefold bending posture.”
Having finished this silent meditation one should recite the name of Hari four lakha times. Then after performing ajyahoma obligations [fire sacrifice] with tila [sesame seeds], one should offer flowers like campaka, ashoka, tulasi, kahlara, and lotus in worship to Shri Shri Radha-Govinda. By these practices one will get the darshana of Radha-Govinda.
Shriman Madana-gopala also exists within Vrindavana. Gopala exists eternally as a boy and Govindadeva exists as a matured youth. In comparison to these two Deities, Gopinatha is the most beautiful. Gopala is a dhiroddhata hero [“A person who is very envious, proud, easily angered, restless, and complacent...”]; Govinda is a dhirodatta hero [“...naturally very grave, gentle, forgiving, merciful, determined, humble, highly qualified, chivalrous, and bodily attractive.”] and Gopinatha is a dhira-lalita hero [“...naturally very funny, always in full youthfulness, expert in joking, and free from all anxieties.”]. Gopala is lion-necked, while Govinda stands in a threefold posture, and Gopinatha is a debauchee with a broad chest. Gopinatha, who is just emerging from childhood and decorated with flowers, resides in a cave at the border of Govardhana Hill where He sports during the three periods of the evening. After that, Shri Govinda, who was matured and had been struck by Madana, enjoyed the pleasure of this splendidly decorated Yogapiöha. The virtues achieved after many years in different piöhas can be attained at Yogapiöha in Vrindavana in one day.
Yogapiöha looks like the rising sun in the morning while during the next three muhurtas it shines bright white. At noon it is like the dazzling midday sun, in the afternoon it resembles the leaf of a lotus, and in the evening it appears like the reddish glow of heaps of sindhura [vermilion]. On the full moon night Yogapiöha looks like the cool full moon, and in the dark moon night it glows blackish like the dark blue sapphire. In the rainy season it looks like green grass glowing like a jewel, in the autumn it resembles the glow of ruby, and in the winter like the glow of a diamond. In the spring it sparkles like new leaves and in the summer like the flow of nectar. In all seasons Yogapiöha is filled with unlimited sweetness. It is surrounded by ashoka and other trees and decorated by various types of beautiful jewels.
In the hrdhvamnaya-tantra it is stated: “Hey Parvati! These are the eight names of the Yogapiöha: Candravali-duradharsha, Radha-saubhagya-mandira, Shri Ratna Maëòapa, Sringara Maëòapa, Saubhagya Maëòapa, Maha-madhurya Maëòapa, Samrajya Maëòapa, and Surata Maëòapa. Whoever recites the Namashöaka of the Yogapiöha in the morning will attract Govindadeva and attain love of Krishëa.”
After discussing these intimate topics, Shri Paëòita joyfully took Shrinivasa and Narottama gradually on to other holy places, leaving Bhojana-öila behind. He pointed out the place called Sanorakha where Saubhari Muni performed austerities. Coming to Kaliya hrada, Shri Raghava told Shrinivasa that Krishëa had performed one of His wonderful pastimes in that place. Climbing up a kadamba tree, He dove into the water of the Kalindi and defeated the serpent Kaliya. Everyone enjoyed Krishëa's dance on the expanded hoods of Kaliya after which Krishëa bestowed His mercy on the serpent and sent him to Ramaëaka island. Whoever bathes in this lake can be freed from all vices and will attain the abode of Vishëuloka if he dies there. That is confirmed in Adi-varaha Puraëa.
In the Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.16.62 it is stated: “If one bathes in this place of My pastimes and offers the water of this lake to the demigods and other worshipable personalities, or if one observes a fast and duly worships and remembers Me, he is sure to become free from sinful reactions.”
The beauty of the kadamba tree from which Krishëa dove into the lake is described in scriptures such as the Adi-varaha Puraëa wherein it is said: “O Vishalakshi, the paëòitas have visualized many transcendental things in this place. That kadamba tree which is situated on the eastern side of the Kaliya Lake has many scented branches. O Vishalakshi, this charming and auspicious tree blooms throughout the twelve months of the year and brightens the whole world.”
And the Saura Puraëa says: “This sin destroying holy place named Kaliya-tirtha is where Krishëa danced on Kaliya's heads. Whoever takes a bath and worships Vasudeva in this holy place achieves the service of Lord Krishëa, which is completely unobtainable by vile persons.”
Raghava then pointed out Dvadashaditya-tirtha, which according to the Puraëas fulfills the desires of all men. In the Adi-varaha Puraëa it is stated: “Hey Vasundhare! Whoever takes a bath at Surya-tirtha gets the darshana of Aditya and goes to Suryaloka having had all his desires fulfilled. There is no doubt, whoever takes a bath in this holy place on a Sunday, which is the last day of the month, gets the satisfaction of having his desires fulfilled.”
Pointing out one hill, Shri Raghava told Shrinivasa that after chastising Kaliya in the Kaliya Lake, Krishëa came to that place. When the sun-gods understood that Krishëa was very cold they increased their heat to warm the Lord.
“The Vraja-vilasa-stava describes this pastime in these words: `I eternally take shelter of this holy place, Dvadashasurya, where magnanimous Murari was stricken with cold. He who is always engaged in wonderful pastimes, surrounded by affectionate men, women, and lowing cows, was then served by twelve suns, who with great devotional love and ecstasy gave intense heat to warm the Lord.'”
Sanatana Gosvami Receives Lord Chaitanya's Mercy in a Dream
“O Shrinivasa, by the order of Mahaprabhu, Sanatana Gosvami came here to Vrindavana to stay. When Sanatana heard that Lord Chaitanya would come, he arranged a secluded place for the Lord to stay. Understanding Sanatana Gosvami's anxiety, Gaurahari appeared to him in a dream at this place. Lord Chaitanya was sitting on a wonderful asana. Seeing the Lord, Sanatana fell at His feet. The Lord then tightly embraced Sanatana and after comforting him in every way, He disappeared. Who can understand the Lord's wonderful pastimes? By His own will He always enjoys in Vrindavana.
“See here is Praskandana-kshetra. By taking bath here one is freed of his sins, and by giving up one's life here he attains Vishëuloka.”
The Adi-varaha Puraëa says: “O Vasundhare! Please hear about another holy place. There is an auspicious abode named Praskandana-kshetra, which is the destroyer of all sins. Whoever takes bath there is delivered from all sins, and whoever leaves his body there surely attains My abode.”
“O Shrinivasa, due to the heat from twelve suns, the Lord's cold body became warm and began to perspire. The perspiration entered the Yamuna River and therefore this place is called Praskandana-tirtha.”
The Vraja-vilasa-stava gives this description: “This great tirtha was born from the perspiration of Govinda's body due to the excess heat of the twelve suns. I offer my respectful prayers unto Praskandana-kshetra, which is filled with the fragrant water that emanated from the soft beautiful body of the Lord.”
After showing this Praskandana-tirtha to Shrinivasa, Raghava Paëòita continued to speak very sweetly.
Shrila Advaita Prabhu's Appearance and Activities
“Shrila Advaita Prabhu, who is nondifferent from Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, stayed here in this forest for some days. He used to worship Lord Krishëa under this vaöa tree. Who can understand His inner desire? Please listen and I will describe briefly the appearance and activities of Shrila Advaita Prabhu.
“Madhavendra Puri, Ishvara Puri, Shacimata, and Jagannatha Mishra appeared along with Advaita Acarya. Shrila Advaita Prabhu is unlimitedly merciful to the living entities. The whole of Bengal was glorified by His appearance there.
“In Bengal there is a village near Shrihatta named Nava-grama where Kuvera Paëòita, the son of Nrisimha lived. Kuvera Paëòita was exalted on the path of devotion. He knew nothing except the lotus feet of Lord Krishëa. On the same standard of devotion was his chaste wife Nabhadevi, the mother of Advaita, who was worshipable by all. They settled in Shantipura near the Ganges and were always absorbed in discussing krishëa-katha.
“One day Shri Kuvera Paëòita and his wife wanted to die after hearing Vaishëava blasphemy. Seeing their state, one fortunate soul pacified them by the desire of Lord Krishëa. Even though they were still unhappy, they both fell asleep. After a short time, they both had a wonderful dream. A beautiful effulgent person, whose bodily luster defeated the beauty of a mountain of molten gold, appeared before them. This person was holding the hand of another exceedingly beautiful person and in sweet words said to Him: `You should quickly incarnate to relieve the unhappiness of the living entities who are suffering under the onslaughts of Kali-yuga. By Your loving invitation, I will be unable to remain here. I will quickly appear along with My elder brother.'
“Hearing these words, the second person became very happy and at an auspicious moment He entered the womb of Nabhadevi. Seeing this, Kuvera Paëòita became very blissful and, as he awoke, his heart became overwhelmed.
“Kuvera Paëòita, who was a learned scholar in all the shastras, considered in his mind that the Supreme Lord would appear in Kali-yuga in the form of guru. Thinking this way along with his wife, he again became overwhelmed and could not check his tears.
“From that day on, Nabhadevi manifested signs of pregnancy and she therefore returned to Nava-grama. Soon the whole world became joyful as Advaita Prabhu appeared in the village of Nava-grama.
“Suddenly a voice arose from Him, `Shri Krishëa Chaitanya will appear in this world along with Shri Nityananda Rama. Together with Their associates, They will enjoy wonderful pastimes. They will distribute loving devotional service in each and every house, thereby destroying the unhappiness and lamentation of the living entities. The ocean of bliss arising from the sankirtana movement will overflow and inundate everyone without exception. This Kali-yuga is so glorious!'
“Hearing this voice, everyone became joyful. The house of Kuvera Paëòita became filled with auspiciousness. Fortunate people who witnessed Advaita Acarya grow day by day were filled with jubilation. Advaita would sometimes hide Himself, and only by the will of Shri Chaitanya was He found. Having Advaita in their village, the residents of Nava-grama floated in bliss forgetting all unhappiness and lamentation.
Although the Lord had two names—Kamalaksha and Advaita, everyone called Him Advaita. The childhood pastimes of Advaita were very wonderful, only fortunate persons were able to witness them. Who has the power to describe them? Shri Advaita Prabhu was like the pupil of everyone's eyes. They glorified Him in lying down and in their dreams. Again and again I say that all His associates were glorious as is the land of Bengal by the Lord's incarnation there.
“Shri Kuvera Paëòita, who was most sober and full of loving devotion told everyone, `We will move to the banks of the Ganges.' Then along with his friends and other villagers, they all came to Shantipura from Nava-grama. Staying with a happy heart in Shantipura, sometimes he would go to Navadvipa to meet his friends. Kuvera Paëòita carefully arranged for the Lord to study the shastras. Within a short time the Lord, the deliverer of the fallen, also became known as a paëòita for His learning.
“Although the mother and father of Advaita knew the truth about Him, still they forgot everything due to their parental affection. All the learned people of Shantipura were astonished seeing the activities of Advaita. Someone said, `Advaita Acarya could not be a human for, how could a human being attract the heart of everyone the way He does? Kuvera Paëòita is a glorious personality because he had such a son by whom everyone is benefited.'
“In this way the people spoke as Advaita became the life and soul of everyone. Who can understand the desire of Advaita Prabhu, who gave His parents so much happiness in various ways?
“After some time the Lord's mother and father disappeared and Advaita went to Gaya to offer shraddha. Taking the opportunity He visited all the holy places along the way. At that time He took mantra diksha from Madhavendra Puri. Who has the power to understand the activities of Advaita, who travelled always filled with ecstatic love of God?
“While traveling thus, Advaita Prabhu arrived at Mathura-maëòala. Seeing the beauty of Vraja, He became overwhelmed in ecstasy. After seeing all the places, He came to Vrindavana, whereupon all the Vraja-vasis carefully arranged His stay. Eating only some fruits, roots, and milk, people were astonished seeing His luster. Mad in ecstatic love, the Lord roared and cried out, `Will I see Krishëa?'
“In this way Advaita Acarya would feel various ecstatic moods at different times. The Lord would worship Krishëa near the Yamuna. Then, knowing that the time had come for the appearance of Lord Chaitanya, He left Vrindavana and returned to Bengal. The pastimes of Advaita Acarya are like nectar, but only the fortunate can taste them.
“O Shrinivasa, the tree under which Advaita Acarya used to stay became well known as Advaita-vaöa. Just by seeing this Advaita-vaöa one's sinful reactions are mitigated and the very rare gift of devotional love is obtained.
“See the plants and creepers on the bank of Kalindi which are always fresh and beautiful. This is the very old tintidi tree [tamarind tree known as Amli-tala] where Radha and Krishëa enjoyed Their pastimes with Their associates. Remembering His previous activities, Lord Chaitanya came here and sat in unlimited happiness.”
The Glories of Shri Gaurasundara
Overwhelmed in ecstatic love, Raghava Paëòita began to narrate the characteristics of Lord Chaitanya to Shrinivasa: “Lord Chaitanya is the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, param brahma. He is the Lord of Navadvipa, and He is Vrajendra-nandana, the son of Nanda Maharaja. He appeared in Navadvipa in the house of Shaci and Jagannatha Mishra due to the loud calling of Advaita Acarya. The wonderful pastimes of Lord Gauranga cannot be described even by Ananta-Shesha with His thousand mouths.
“A few days after the disappearance of His father, the Lord went to Gaya to perform shraddha. At that time the most fortunate Ishvara Puri regained his life by seeing Gaurachandra. Gaurasundara is the life of the devotees, thus He offered the greatest affection to Ishvara Puri. Lord Chaitanya spoke His initiation mantra in Ishvara Puri's ear and then, receiving the mantra back from Ishvara Puri, He fell on the ground offering His obeisances. After accepting Ishvara Puri as His guru, Lord Chaitanya always floated in His own tears. And Ishvara Puri became mad with ecstasy after accepting the deliverer of the universe, Lord Vishvambhara, as his disciple.
“You may say that Lord Chaitanya is the guru of the entire universe—yet He accepted a guru. This is certainly puzzling. Therefore I say that to instruct the people in general the Lord established the principles of religion by His own example. Who can understand this transcendental pastime of the Lord? He Himself thus glorified the Madhva-sampradaya.
“By accepting mantra from a bona fide sampradaya one becomes successful. If one receives mantra from an unauthorized source that will certainly be fruitless. In Kali-yuga there are four authorized sampradayas mentioned as: Shri, Brahma, Rudra, and Sanaka [Kumara]. This is all elaborately described in the Puraëas.”
The Origin of the Sampradaya's Names
“These four sampradayas are the authorities on the science of bhakti. I will now describe briefly how the sampradayas were named.
“Shri Krishëa Chaitanya is like a desire tree, and in the form of Narayaëa, He is the original guru of the four sampradayas. Shri is the beloved of Narayaëa. She is His disciple as well. Her wonderful activities are elaborately described in all the shastras. Shri is another name of Lakshmi. Her disciplic succession has unlimited branches and sub-branches. Who can write them all? In Her sampradaya, Ramanuja became the acarya and from His time the sampradaya was called the Ramanuja-sampradaya. Previously He was known as Lakshmanacarya, then later everyone called Him Ramanujacarya. He is the author of the Ramanuja-bhasya. The branches and sub-branches of His disciplic succession filled the whole world.
“O Shrinivasa, please hear now about the Madhva-sampradaya. The merciful Lord Brahma was the disciple of Lord Narayaëa. His disciples and grand-disciples spread throughout the world. In his sampradaya, Shri Madhva became a disciple. His first work was to write a commentary on the Brahma-sutras, and for this reason he was known as Madhvacarya and the sampradaya became known as the Madhvacarya-sampradaya.
Lord Narayaëa also has the merciful Rudra as His disciple. There is no end to his disciples and grand-disciples. Vishëusvami became a disciple in this line and he became mad in ecstatic devotional love along with his disciple. Vishëusvami was very influential and a learned scholar of all the scriptures. From him the disciplic succession was known as the Vishëusvami-sampradaya.
“Hear now Shrinivasa, about the Sanaka-sampradaya. From Narayaëa appeared the Hamsa-avatara. His disciples were the four Kumaras headed by Sanaka Kumara. Their disciples and grand-disciples cannot be counted. In this line Nimbaditya became a disciple. From him it is known as the Nimbaditya-sampradaya [known also as Nimbarka-sampradaya]. The influence of Nimbarka was very wonderful. His disciples and grand-disciples filled the world.
“The Shri, Brahma, Rudra, and Sanaka sampradayas spread their influence by dividing into other sampradayas. In the Ramanuja-sampradaya, Shri Ramanandacarya was highly respected. He had many disciples and grand-disciples. Therefore his branch of the disciplic succession is known as the Ramananda-sampradaya. Similarly Shri Vallabhacarya appeared in the Vishëusvami-sampradaya. He wrote a commentary named Anubhasya, which is highly respected. His disciplic succession is known as the Vallabhi-sampradaya. What can I say about the other sampradayas and their activities?”
The Madhvacarya Sampradaya
“Lord Chaitanya made the Madhva-sampradaya glorious in this Kali-yuga. I will now narrate to you the names of the gurus and acaryas in this line.
“In the very beginning there was Narayaëa, the Lord of the spiritual world. His disciple was Brahma, the lord of Brahmaloka. Brahma's disciple was Narada, who is always full of love of God. The spiritual master of Shukadeva, Vyasa, became the disciple of Narada and the magnanimous Madhvacarya became the disciple of Vyasa. He wrote the glorious commentary on the Vedanta-sutras named after himself. From him the sampradaya was called the Madhvacarya-sampradaya.
“Madhvacarya's disciple was Shri Padmanabhacarya, whose disciple was Narahari. Narahari's disciple was Shri Madhava, whose disciple was the celebrated Akshobhya. Akshobhya's disciple was Jayatirtha, whose disciple was Jnanasindhu. The disciple of Jnanasindhu was Mahanidhi, the friend of the poor. He had a disciple named Vidyanidhi. Vidyanidhi's disciple was Rajendra, whose disciple was Jayadharma Muni, who had wonderful characteristics. Among Jayadharma's disciples was Shriman Vishëu Puri, the famous author of the book Bhakti-ratnavali. Another disciple of Jayadharma was Brahmaëa Purushottama, whose disciple was the greatly learned Vyasatirtha, who wrote the famous book Shri Vishëu-samhita.
“The disciple of Vyasatirtha, Shriman Lakshmipati, was like a great storehouse of transcendental qualities. Lakshmipati's disciple was Madhavendra Puri, a rising moon of devotional service. Madhavendra Puri's disciple was Shri Ishvara Puri, the ocean of mercy. Ishvara Puri's disciple was Shri Gaurachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“Lord Gaura Raya became the disciple of Shri Ishvara Puri. With His own mouth the Lord glorified Ishvara Puri. Who can understand the wonderful love displayed by the Lord? From Him the sampradaya was called the Nimananda-sampradaya [known also as the Gaudiya-sampradaya]. Nimai Paëòita is the principal name of the Lord, this name is also very dear to Nityananda. Seeing the Vaishëava devotees of Lord Chaitanya in Bengal, people used to say they were from the Nimai-sampradaya. Because Nimai distributed ananda throughout the world, His sampradaya was known as Nimananda. As I described previously about how the other sampradayas became famous, similarly the Lord Himself glorified the Madhva-sampradaya.
“O Shrinivasa, after bestowing His mercy on Shri Ishvara Puri, Gaurahari departed from Gaya. Previously the Lord used to hide from the devotees in Navadvipa, however, when He returned from Gaya He was unable to hide from them, although He wanted to. After a few days, upon returning to Nadiya, Gaurachandra manifested Himself by the desire of the devotees. All the devotees, headed by Advaita, felt most cheerful within. By meeting Nityananda that happiness increased. Who can describe it even with millions of mouths?
“Lord Chaitanya along with Nityananda and Advaita were always immersed in sankirtana in Nadiya. Performing the most wonderful activities day after day, the Lord then decided to leave home. The Lord and enchanter of the universe, Gauranga, took to the renounced order of life in order to bestow mercy upon all living entities. After taking sannyasa, the Lord became overwhelmed. Lord Nityananda therefore took the Lord to the house of Advaita.
“Unable to remain tranquil, people came rushing from all directions to see that jewel amongst sannyasis, Lord Gaurachandra. Demigods along with human beings, together in the millions, they came to see the Lord at Advaita Prabhu's house. The residents of the upper, middle, and lower planets became astonished as everyone chanted, `Hari, Hari!' The jewel of the renounced order, Shri Krishëa Chaitanya, made everyone glorious by giving them His darshana.
“His sweet limbs decorated with sandalwood, Gaurahari danced in the sankirtana. All the devotees performed the most pleasing kirtana on all sides of the Lord. Nityananda, Advaita, Shrivasa, and Gadadhara, felt delighted within and were unable to leave the side of the Lord. Raising His arms, the Lord chanted loudly, `Hari, Hari!' as He floated in His tears during the ecstatic kirtana.
“The people were overwhelmed and forgot themselves by seeing the Lord in this state. In a secluded place someone said, `The Lord's incarnation in the form of a brahmaëa has been ascertained in the Vedas.'
It is stated in the Muëòaka Upanishad of the Atharva Veda: “When the sadhaka [worshiper] sees that the Supreme Controller, the sovereign Lord of all potencies and cause of Brahma, in His golden form as the topmost Supreme Being is the cause of all good fortune, then, becoming fully realized he casts far off the reactions to his past pious and sinful activities. Free from all designations, he then attains to the stage of equal vision.”
“Someone else remarked, `Mishra Vishvambhara in the form of a devotee is endowed with all auspicious signs. No one is equal to Him or greater.'”
After the section dealing with Brahma in the third chapter of the Upanishad within the branch of the Atharva Veda it is stated: “I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Being summoned by the incarnation of Maha-Vishëu, Advaita Acarya, I will descend from Goloka-dhama and appear on the earth planet during the first sandhya of Kali-yuga—after four thousand and before five thousand years have passed—in Navadvipa, Mayapura-dhama on the banks of the Ganges. I will appear in the form of a brahmaëa with a large golden complexioned body measuring four hands, endowed with the thirty-two signs of a maha-purusha, and bearing the title Mishra. Then, decorated with all of the auspicious qualities of a maha-bhagavat, endowed with renunciation, devoid of worldly desires, and learned in the science of pure devotional service, I will accept sannyasa, as a devotee relishing the mellows of ecstatic love for Krishëa.”
“Someone said, `See His very smooth, golden limbs! O, what excellent sandal decorations!'”
In the Mahabharata it is said, “In His early pastimes He appears as a householder with a golden complexion. His limbs are beautiful, and His body, smeared with the pulp of sandalwood, seems like molten gold.”
“Someone said, `This golden Lord steals the hearts of all. The three worlds become astounded by His character. Taking this yellow complexion in Kali-yuga, He has previously taken white, red, and black color in Satya, Treta, and Dvapara yugas.'”
From the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.8.13) comes the statement, “This boy [Krishëa] has three other colors—white, red and yellow—as He appears in different ages. Now He has appeared in a transcendental blackish color.”
“Someone said, `Internally He is blackish and externally He exhibits an enchanting golden complexion. He performs His pastimes along with Nityananda, Advaita, and others. He can be attained by the performance of sankirtana.'”
As also stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.5.32): “In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krishëa. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishëa Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.”
“Someone said, `This Lord is the deliverer of all. There will never by one more merciful than Him. The yuga-dharma for this age is the congregational chanting of the holy names. By His incarnation, He has happily established this principle of religion.'”
In the Bhagavad-gita (4.8), Krishëa declares, “To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.”
“Someone said, `Who can describe the pastimes of the Lord? By accepting sannyasa, He has glorified this age of Kali.'”
From the Mahabharata comes: “In His later pastimes He accepts the sannyasa order, and He is equipoised and peaceful. He is the highest abode of peace and devotion, for He silences the impersonalist nondevotees.”
“Someone said, `The people of Kali-yuga are very fortunate, for the Lord, by taking the renounced order of life, has destroyed their ignorance.'”
In the Upa-Puraëas it is stated: “O learned brahmaëa, sometimes I accept the renounced order of life to induce the fallen people of the age of Kali to accept devotional service to the Lord.”
“Someone said, `By distributing the maha-mantra the terrible miseries of the conditioned souls are automatically vanquished.'”
Hare Krishëa, Hare Krishëa, Krishëa Krishëa, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
“Someone then said, `The names; Hari, Krishëa, and Rama have wonderful meanings which are relished by the learned devotees.'”
Shri Gopala Guru Gosvami has given the following description: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is eternal, full of knowledge, and bliss. He teaches the truth to the living entities thereby destroying their nescience along with their sinful reactions, therefore He is known as `Hari'. The personification of the hladini potency [pleasure potency] of Krishëa, attracts the mind of Krishëa, therefore She is known as `Hara,' who is none other than Shri Radha. The name `Krishëa' indicates the Lord of all transcendental mellows, who has shyama varëa [blackish complexion] and lotus eyes, who is the Lord of the bliss of Gokula and the son of Nanda Maharaja. He who is the embodiment of transcendental mellows, the primary cause of all pastime manifestations, who enjoys eternally with Shri Radhika [as Radhikaramaëa] is known as `Rama.'”
“After discussing these topics, everyone surrendered at the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya.
“The jewel of the sannyasa order, Lord Gaurachandra, thus spent His days happily at the house of Advaita Acarya. The Lord satisfied in various ways the desires of everyone who came to Shantipura from Navadvipa. After solacing Shacimata in many ways, the Lord took the dust of her feet on His head. Shacimata became overwhelmed with affection and instructed the Lord to stay at Nilacala [Jagannatha Puri]. Thus by the order of His mother, the Lord went to Puri. Who can describe the condition of the devotees thereafter?
“After wandering throughout India, the Lord entered Mathura-maëòala in the guise of a sannyasi. Taking the Sanoòiya brahmaëa of Mathura along with Him, the Lord wandered in the form of a devotee throughout Mathura-maëòala in great sport. The Lord inquired from the people about whatever pastimes He Himself performed in His previous incarnation as if it were unknown to Him. Hearing about those pastimes from the people exceedingly delighted the Lord. In this way the son of Shaci enjoyed His pastimes.
“Gradually after visiting the forests and sub-forests of Vraja-maëòala He arrived at Vrindavana via Mathura. I could not describe the Lord's ecstatic feelings as He travelled the bank of the Yamuna even if I had a million mouths. Innumerable people came from all sides and became mad in love by seeing and glorifying the Lord. Disturbed by the large crowds, the Lord went to the secluded Akrura-ghaöa for His meals. Sometimes He would sit under the tintidi tree [Amli-tala] and float in His tears of ecstasy. A place of transcendental bliss, this Amli-tala is where the Lord bestowed His mercy on Krishëadasa Rajputa.
O Shrinivasa, from here the Lord departed for Nilacala to satisfy the devotees desire. Anyone who takes darshana of this Amli-tala certainly has his aspirations fulfilled.”
Lord Nityananda's Pastimes at Shringara-vaöa
“Look at this wonderful vaöa tree on the bank of the Yamuna. Everyone calls it Shriëgara-vaöa. At this place Lord Krishëa would enjoy Himself by dressing in various ways for the pleasure of Subala and the others. Some other people call this place Nityananda-vaöa. This is also correct. Please listen while I explain briefly how Lord Nityananda came to this place.
“Nityananda Ram and Lord Chaitanya are one and the same body. Lord Nityananda was born in Raòha-desha in the village of Ekacakra-grama. His father's name was Haòai Paëòita and mother's was Padmavati. To describe their affection for their son is beyond the power of my words. The son of Padmavati, who is always filled with the greatest ecstasy, manifested various pastimes at Ekacakra. He displayed for everyone the pastimes of the various incarnations in Their different moods. The residents of Ekacakra were most fortunate as they accepted Nityanandacandra as their life and soul.
“Lord Nityananda remained at home for twelve years, during which everyone's affection for Him increased. However, who can understand the mind of Nityananda? He could not remain peaceful without Lord Chaitanya.
“One day He considered in His mind, `It is not proper for Me to go to Navadvipa just now. Lord Chaitanya has appeared there and presently is hiding Himself as a child. When He discloses His identity to His devotees, then I will go to meet Him. At present I will go on pilgrimage.' Thinking like this, Nityananda Prabhu smiled to Himself.
“At that time one sannyasi came to the village. He inquired from the people about where Haòai Paëòita lives. On understanding the location of Haòai Paëòita's house, the sannyasi went there. Seeing the sannyasi, Haòai Paëòita became very happy. He immediately brought many eatables and offered them to the sannyasi. The sannyasi however said, `I have one request from you. If you accept my request then only I will eat.' Haòai Paëòita vowed to accept the sannyasi's request and proceeded to feed him. As the sannyasi was about to leave he asked for Nityananda to accompany him. Nityananda, remaining peaceful at heart, solaced His parents and left with the sannyasi. In this way He was able to leave His home. Who can understand His wonderful pastimes?
“Whoever sees the youthful Nityananda, whose beauty attracts the whole world, feels his eyes coolly refreshed. Wherever Lord Nityananda went people came rushing to see Him with agitated hearts. Majestically walking like the best of elephants, Nityananda distributed the Lord's mercy to everyone. Just as He travelled in Dvapara-yuga in the form of Baladeva, now He travelled in the same way to all the holy tirthas.
“While travelling to the south, He went to Paëòrapura where He saw the Deity of Viööhalanatha. In that village lived one sober brahmaëa who was a Godbrother of Madhavendra Puri. That brahmaëa took Lord Nityananda to his house and offered Him fruits and milk. The people of Paëòrapura where greatly fortunate. By seeing Nityananda, their lives became successful. Who can understand the Lord's mind? Seeing Viööhalanatha, Nitai remained there in seclusion.
“Then one day by the invitation of the brahmaëa, his guru, Lakshmipati, came there from a distant place. Lakshmipati was expert in all the shastras and he had many disciples with him. Who can describe the loving affection he had for his disciples, just as parents have for their child. Performing the most ancient rituals which cannot be described in words, he was a well known saint in the devotional path. Who can describe the glories of Lakshmipati, whose disciple was Madhavendra Puri?
“Madhavendra Puri was full of ecstatic loving devotion. Whoever remembers his name achieves all success. Ishvara Puri, Ranga Puri, and many others where his disciples. All of the disciples of Madhavendra Puri in Bengal and Orissa were devotees of Lord Krishëa, attached in pure love. Madhavendra was well known in the Madhva-sampradaya. He was an ocean of transcendental qualities, being very dear to Lakshmipati.
“This Lakshmipati stayed at the house of his brahmaëa disciple and, accepting his food there, he passed his time in krishëa-katha. Repeatedly Lakshmipati told his disciple, `There is some special auspiciousness in your house. I have come many times to your house, but I have never felt such happiness in my mind. I think there is some great devotee here.' The brahmaëa replied, `Your mercy is very strong.' By the desire of the Lord, the brahmaëa did not reveal His presence. In this way they spent the day in different topics.
“In the evening, while sitting in a secluded place, Lakshmipati sang the glories of Lord Balarama. With unflinching devotion he prayed to Baladeva with tears in his eyes, `O Lord, I am the lowest, sinful person. Please be merciful to me. By so doing, Your fame will spread throughout the universe.' After he offered these prayers, he fell to the ground, tears streaming from his eyes. The state of Lakshmipati cannot be properly described. He was very old, and in intense lamentation he fell unconscious. He was unable to remain steady due to his profound loving ecstasy.
“Suddenly, by the will of the Lord, he fell asleep. Lord Nityananda, in the form of Balarama, appeared in a dream before the sannyasi. What wonderful beauty, defeating that of Cupid! His limbs defeated the beauty of a mountain of silver. His arms extended to His knees, His chest was broad and His lotus eyes extended to His ears. His earrings attracted the minds of the whole universe and at the left side of His waist He kept a beautiful buffalo horn. His body was decorated with various ornaments. Indeed, nothing within the universe can be compared to His beauty. His face defeats the beauty of the full moon. While speaking, unlimited nectar flowed from His mouth.
“Speaking slowly He said, `My dear Lakshmipati, My heart breaks hearing your lamentation. O Lakshmipati, Krishëa is the Lord of My life and you are His servant life after life.'
Lakshmipati, holding the lotus feet of Baladeva replied, `I pray that I will not have any differentiation like this in my mind.'
Hearing these words of Lakshmipati, Lord Balarama smiled and said, `In this village one brahmaëa's son has come in the dress of an avadhuta. He will become your disciple. With this mantra you initiate Him as your disciple.' Lord Balarama then uttered the mantra in the ear of Lakshmipati who, on receiving that mantra, became ecstatic. After thus bestowing His mercy, Lord Balarama disappeared.
“After rising in the morning, as the sannyasi was remembering the dream, Nityananda Prabhu appeared before him. Seeing the luster of Nityananda, Lakshmipati considered, `What a wonderful bodily effulgence! He cannot be a human being!' Thinking like this, the learned sannyasi looked on Lord Nityananda's beautiful face with unblinking eyes.
“Falling on the ground, Nityananda offered His obeisances to the sannyasi, who quickly picked up the Lord and took Him on his lap. Nityananda said to Lakshmipati again and again, `Please initiate Me and deliver Me.'
“Hearing Nityananda's sweet words, the sannyasi was agitated and began to float in his own tears. Unable to disobey the order of Lord Balarama, Lakshmipati on that very day gave initiation to Lord Nityananda. After giving Him the mantra, the sannyasi took the Lord on his lap and, becoming overwhelmed, his body trembled in ecstasy.
“The most merciful Lord Nityananda is very dear to Lakshmipati. What is there He cannot do? He is Himself the fully independent Supreme Lord. In this way, Lord Nityananda, the reservoir of love and well-wisher of the devotees, increased the ecstasy of the whole Madhva-sampradaya. By becoming a disciple of Shri Lakshmipati, Lord Nityananda increased the ecstasy of His guru.
“Very soon after this, Lord Nityananda went to another place. Others are unable to understand the Lord's pastimes. Being bereft of Nityananda's association, that sannyasi became greatly agitated. Without speaking to anyone, he thought deeply to himself.
“As night was ending Lakshmipati fell asleep. In a dream, Lord Nityananda appeared before him. Seeing the Lord, the most sober Lakshmipati could not check his tears. Then Nityananda manifested His form of Lord Balarama before Lakshmipati. Seeing this, the sannyasi fell at His feet. Wet with his tears, the sannyasi said again and again, `You have incarnated just to bewilder me. Lord Brahma does not know You, others cannot know You, only those whom You desire can know You. Why are You tricking me? I am a most insignificant insect, a fool. Please show mercy on me for I am surrendered to You.'
“Hearing the words of Shri Lakshmipati, the Lord again appeared as Lord Nityananda. The form of the Lord was more enchanting than a flashing bolt of lightening. Seeing such beauty, Lakshmipati became agitated in love. Lord Nityananda then bestowed His mercy and fulfilled Shri Lakshmipati's desire. The Lord forbade Lakshmipati to disclose this incident, and after solacing him, He disappeared.
“Lakshmipati became greatly distressed upon losing the Lord's darshana. He woke from his sleep and saw that night had passed. He was unable to speak to anyone and could not remain patient. From that day his condition was wonderful. Seeing his state all his disciples became worried. Then suddenly Lakshmipati left their association [went back to Godhead].
“What do I know of the character of Shri Lakshmipati? He is very dear to Lord Nityananda and is well known in the world.
The devotion of the residents of Paëòrapura cannot be described. Even today they have very strong devotion by the mercy of Lord Nityananda.
“According to His own desires, the Lord then travelled to different holy places in great joy. After some days He met Shrila Madhavendra Puri near Pratici-tirtha. Who can describe the manifestation of love when they met? Only one who has seen can know. Madhavendra Puri accepted Nityananda as his friend, but Nityananda accepted Madhavendra Puri as His guru.
“In the Chaitanya-bhagavata, Madhavendra Puri states: `Because Lord Krishëa has special love for me, therefore I have obtained a friend such as Nityananda.'
“Ishvara Puri and others were all astonished seeing their relationship and they all developed deep love for Nityananda. Nityananda and Madhavendra drowned in the nectar of Krishëa consciousness and for some time they discussed both day and night together.
“Lord Nityananda took leave of Madhavendra Puri and went to Setubandha [Rameshvara] for darshana. Shri Madhavendra Puri took his disciples headed by Ishvara Puri and went to Sarayu-tirtha. Both Lord Nityananda and Madhavendra Puri nearly died feeling separation for each other, but due to their love for Krishëa, they somehow survived. Although Lord Nityananda is most sober, still He travelled everywhere.
“In a few days Lord Nityananda reached Mathura and enjoyed sporting in the mood of a child with the young boys there. Whoever saw Lord Nityananda just once could not leave His association for a moment. Lord Nityananda is the supreme personification of sweetness. Innumerable people came to see Him. Lord Nityananda, however, did not remain in one place, but wandered throughout Vraja in great ecstasy. Sometimes He would go to Gokula in Mahavana and see Madana-gopala and stay there for some time. When He saw the house of Nanda Maharaja, He would shed tears as He remembered His previous pastimes. He then departed for further pilgrimage.
The Lord offered obeisances to Madana-gopala and departed for Hastinapura, where the Pandavas once resided. He then returned to the forests of Vraja and performed amazing pastimes on the bank of the Yamuna. Sometimes He would sit under this beautiful vaöa tree and sometimes He would roll in the dust. Sometimes He would decorate Himself with various flowers and sometimes He would call out, `Where is Kanai, the Lord of My life?' Filled with ecstatic feelings, the body of Lord Nityananda would tremble and His long lotus eyes would fill with tears. Thus the Lord enjoyed His pastimes in Vrindavana. Who has the power to understand His activities?
“Lord Nityananda could understand that Lord Chaitanya was secretly enjoying His pastimes at Navadvipa. Lord Nityananda, the wielder of the plow, smiled and in ecstasy the hairs of His body constantly stood on end. The Lord thus became impatient due to attraction to Lord Chaitanya and He departed for Navadvipa from here.
“For twenty years Lord Nityananda travelled to the holy places. Who can describe all the pastimes He performed during that time? This is the pastime place of Lord Nityananda. Whoever sees this place is most fortunate.
“O Shrinivasa, this is Cira-ghaöa, also called Cayana-ghaöa by some people. One day after performing rasa-lila, Radha and Krishëa along with the sakhis came to take bath at this place.
“Keeping their clothes and ornaments under this nipa tree, they entered the waters of the Yamuna wearing only their undergarments. They had became tired due to their various sporting activities, but by the touch of the waters of the Yamuna their fatigue vanquished and they became refreshed. Enjoying great fun from their water sports, they entered a cluster of lotuses. Then Krishëa, unnoticed by the gopis, returned to the shore, hid the gopi's clothes, and returned to the water. After finishing their water sports they returned to shore and became worried on not seeing their clothes. At that time, Krishëa seeing the wonderfully beautiful scene, returned the gopi's clothes after joking with them.
“At this place Krishëa stole the gopi's dresses, relieved His fatigue, and enjoyed many other pastimes. Radha and Krishëa along with the gopis enjoyed various pastimes here at Nidhuvana.
“See here is Keshi-tirtha. The glories of this place are described in the Puraëas. The Adi-varaha Puraëa says: `Keshi-tirtha, the place where Keshi died, is a hundred times more sacred than the Ganges. By offering piëòa in Keshi-tirtha, one attains the result of offering piëòa in Gaya.'
And in the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is stated: “With his mad neighing Keshi made the three worlds tremble, and with the wild rolling of his eyes he set the entire universe in flames. Krishëa killed this demon as easily as one splits a blade of grass and then washed the blood from His hands at a place now known as Keshi-tirtha. I worship that sacred place.”
“O Shrinivasa, at this place, Dhira-samira, Krishëa performed endless pastimes in the forest groves. The wonderful meeting of Radha and Krishëa at this place is relished by Their dear associates.
“O Shrinivasa, see here is Maëikarëika. In this forest Krishëa had many pastimes. At this place Krishëa pacified Radharaëi when She was in an angry mood.
“Please see now this wonderfully beautiful Vamshi-vaöa on the bank of the Yamuna. The shade of the Vamshi-vaöa tree removes the distress of the world. Lord Gopinatha eternally enjoys His pastimes here. His attractive dress enchants the world and His movements are flawless as the sound of His flute attracts the gopis.”
In the Chaitanya-caritamrita it is stated: “Shri Shrila Gopinatha, who originated the transcendental mellow of the rasa dance, stands on the shore in Vamshi-vaöa and attracts the attention of the cowherd damsels with the sound of His celebrated flute. May they all confer upon us their benediction.”
“This place, Vamshi-vaöa, was flooded and disappeared in the waters of the Yamuna. The Gosvami collected one branch from the original tree and replanted that branch next to the original place. O Shrinivasa, this place is supremely enchanting and cool breezes slowly blow here.
“After leaving behind everything, in great agitation from the sound of the flute, the gopis came here to meet Lord Krishëa. They swam in the ocean of Krishëa's beauty, and Krishëa, seeing their love, could not remain steady. Who can understand how Krishëa calmly inquired about the gopis' welfare in a happy mood? In this way, Krishëa tested the love of the gopis at this place, as He instructed them in various ways to return to their homes.
“As the rasa dance began, Krishëa observed the different grades of gopis and decided to leave them, taking Radharaëi alone with Him. Hiding at this place, Krishëa happily heard the gopis' lamentation. Left alone by Krishëa, the gopis inquired from the trees and creepers about His whereabouts. The gopis began imitating Krishëa's pastimes, and they glorified Shrimati Radharaëi's fortunate position.
“After fulfilling the desires of Radharaëi, Krishëa left Her also at this place. Seeing Radharaëi in this state, the other gopis, agitated at heart, tried to pacify Her in many ways. They all assembled together, eagerly desirous to see Krishëa, they began to endlessly glorify His transcendental qualities.
“At this place [known as Govinda-ghaöa], Krishëa reappeared before the gopis and they became absorbed in transcendental bliss. The gopis carefully sat Krishëa at this place and they discussed at great length amongst themselves.
“O Shrinivasa, see the bank of the Yamuna here. At this place Lord Krishëa began His maha-rasa. Surrounded by millions of gopis, Krishëa eagerly enjoyed His pastimes of rasa dance. As they enjoyed the rasa dance, the whole night expanded to one kalpa. This has been vividly described by Vyasa and other poets. Surrounded by the jewels amongst women, the topmost expert at transcendental mellows, Lord Krishëa, who attracts the minds of everyone, expertly enjoyed the rasa dance.”
The following verses describing the rasa dance are from the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.33.2-9). “There on the Yamuna's banks Lord Govinda then began the pastime of the rasa dance in the company of those jewels among women, the faithful gopis, who joyfully linked their arms together.
“The festive rasa dance commenced with the gopis arrayed in a circle. Lord Krishëa expanded Himself and entered between each pair of gopis, and as that master of mystic power placed His arms around their necks, each girl thought He was standing next to her alone. The demigods and their wives were overwhelmed with eagerness to witness the rasa dance, and they soon crowded the sky with their hundreds of celestial airplanes.
“Kettledrums then resounded in the sky while flowers rained down and the chief Gandharvas and their wives sang Lord Krishëa's spotless glories.
“A tumultuous sound arose from the armlets, ankle bells and waist bells of the gopis as they sported with their beloved Krishëa in the circle of the rasa dance.
“In the midst of the dancing gopis, Lord Krishëa appeared most brilliant, like an exquisite sapphire in the midst of golden ornaments.
“As the gopis sang in praise of Krishëa, their feet moved charmingly as they danced, their arms swayed gracefully, and their eyebrows moved as they smiled playfully. Their hair loosened and as they bent, their waists appeared ready to break. As their faces perspired, the garments on their breasts moved this way and that, and their earrings swung across their cheeks, Lord Krishëa's young consorts shone like streaks of lightning in a mass of clouds.
“Eager to enjoy conjugal love, their throats colored with various pigments, the gopis sang loudly and danced. They were overjoyed by Krishëa's touch, and they sang songs that filled the entire universe.
“One gopi, joining Lord Mukunda in His singing, sang pure melodious tones that rose harmoniously above His. Krishëa was pleased and showed great appreciation for her performance, saying `Excellent! Excellent!' Then another gopi repeated the same melody, but in a special metrical pattern, and Krishëa praised her also.”
“Shri Vrajendra-kumara fulfilled all the desires of the gopis by performing the rasa dance. The rasa-lila pastimes are the abode of great happiness, just hearing about these pastimes will fulfill one's desires.
“O Shrinivasa, Krishëa is the enchanter of the whole world, the life and soul of Shri Radhika and the enjoyer of the rasa dance. Shri Radhika is the enchantress of the whole world, the life and soul of Lord Krishëa and the jewel amongst the gopis. Her only engagement is to give pleasure to Krishëa, nothing else. Radharaëi along with the sakhis are always overwhelmed enjoying the rasa dance in Vrindavana.
“One day at this place some wonderful pastimes took place which I am eager to describe. Vrindadevi thought how she would somehow or other like to see the pastimes of Radha and Krishëa. Thinking in this way, Vrindadevi along with her followers began to make arrangements for the rasa dance. The wonderful arrangements they made are unknown even to the Naöya-shastras.
“The dance arena was made extremely enchanting, effulgent as the bright moonshine. The surrounding gardens were also further beautified by the rays of the moon. Many sitting places, decorated with white flowers, were situated in the four directions and in the middle a white simhasana was carefully arranged. Pan, betel, and other spices kept on a jeweled tray attracted everyone's mind by the wonderful fragrance. The fragrance of the various flower decorations, sandalwood, and other items cannot be described.
“They kept there millions of camaras, which attracted the mind. Mridangas and other musical instruments were kept in orderly rows. Parrots and kokilas were instructed to sing the glories of Radha and Krishëa. Peacocks were instructed to dance and bumblebees to hum.
“At that time one of Vrindadevi's followers softly spoke to her, `Following your instructions I have gone to see why Their Lordships were delayed. Paurëamasi had instructed Krishëa to wait for Radha at Pushpavana. Shri Radhika, coming from Her home along with Her sakhis then met Krishëa at that place. Paurëamasi became pleased seeing Their meeting and informed Them about your arrangements. Upon hearing from Paurëamasi, Radha and Krishëa left there on Their way here.'
“How attractive was the poise of Their lotus feet as They placed Their arms on each other's shoulders and proceeded along. They gazed at each other filled with intense feelings of love. There was no limit to the beauty of that enchanting scene. Seeing it caused one's eyelids to resist blinking.
“Krishëa resembled the rain-filled monsoon cloud, and Radha resembled a flashing bolt of lightening. The brightness of Their beauty illuminated the three worlds. They were surrounded by Lalita and the sakhis and the combined bodily radiance of all present was indeed enchanting. With wonderful poses They thus entered the forest grove with the sound of the ankle bells continually tinkling.
“Seeing the arrangements made by Vrindadevi, Radha and Krishëa, along with the sakhis became overjoyed. Sitting on that excellent simhasana in the middle of the arena, They remained smiling in great satisfaction. All around the sakhis forgot themselves in great happiness.
“Millions of maidservants fanned Their Lordships with the camaras. The parrots and kokilas sang Their glories, bumblebees sweetly hummed, and the peacocks danced. They all performed their respective services according to Vrindadevi's instructions, and in this way Vrindadevi disclosed her heart's desire. Krishëa, the personification of ecstatic love, smilingly cast a sidelong glance and spoke something to Vrinda.
“Who can describe the ever increasing joy felt by Vrindadevi while offering flowers and sandalwood pulp to Krishëa? Lalita took the tray of pan spices and happily placed it in the hand of Radharaëi, who took the pan, and in great pleasure, placed it in Krishëa's mouth. Manifesting His pastimes, Krishëa slowly smiled while chewing the pan, His heart agitated in love. Thinking to enjoy rasa dance He lovingly gazed into the face of Radharaëi.
“Lord Krishëa is the personification of bliss and the abode of spiritual mellows. Millions of Cupids are conquered by Him. With His flute to His lips, wearing an enchanting dress and decorated with a peacock's feather, His beauty increased unlimitedly. Thereafter, to fulfill the desires of Vrindadevi, Lord Krishëa enjoyed His pastimes of rasa dance at this place.
“Amongst innumerable gopis, Shri Radhika is the topmost. She alone can fulfill all of Lord Krishëa's desires. Who can describe the beauty of Her decorations? The beauty of the other gopis, headed by Lalita, is similarly incomparable. There is no end to the associates of Shri Radhika and similarly the associates of Lalita and the associates of Vishakha are also countless.
“Surrounded by millions of gopis, Lord Krishëa enjoys placing His hands on the shoulder of Radha. The beauty of the rasa-lila expands and fills the entire world as everyone became fully absorbed in the musical vibrations. What can I say about that enchanting music which steals the hearts of all?
“All the various musical instruments were greatly fortunate to be engaged in the rasa dance. O Shrinivasa, what a wonderful arrangement! Various musical instruments were played in the rasa-lila which attract all living entities beginning with Lord Brahma.
“Always surrounded by loving associates, the son of Maharaja Nanda attracts millions of Cupids. He is the most expert in playing all kinds of musical instruments. In the three worlds there is no comparison to the enchanting way in which He plays the flute. Hearing the sound of Krishëa's flute, Lord Shiva becomes overwhelmed.
“The personification of transcendental mellows, the enchanter of Govinda, Shri Radhika perfectly plays the instrument known as alavani [similar to the tambura]. She vibrates both vocally and instrumentally the three meters; saòja, madhyama, and gandhara [see Bhag. 1.6.32].
“Shri Lalita very expertly plays the brahma viëa, beginning with the sounds of the shrutis [22 different tones]. The beautiful Vishakha plays the kacchapi viëa in various sweet ways. The rudra viëa is played by the beautiful Sucitra, who is expert in manifesting the difference in svara, jati, and prabheda [varieties of melodies]. Campakalata plays the vipani [a type of viëa] in different murchanas and talas [modulations and rhythms]. Rangadevi plays the vilasa [also a viëa] manifesting different gamaka [vibrating notes]. Beautiful Sudevi plays the sarangi in different ragas. Tungavidya playing the kinnari viëa showers nectar on the rasa-maëòala. Indulekha plays the svara-maëòala [similar to the santoor] and easily manifests the different svaras.
“The sakhis of Radhika and their followers engage in this way playing various musical instruments. Someone plays mardala [a type of drum] and someone the mridanga, which produces wonderful talas [rhythms] not heard in this world. Someone plays the muraja [resembling a large flute] and someone the upanga [percussion instrument], hearing which one loses his composure. Someone expertly plays the damaru, which is very dear to Lord Shiva. Others play various instruments begining with karatalas and in this way the rasa-maëòala is filled with the sounds of various musical instruments. Who can properly describe the exquisite sounds of the musical instruments played by Shri Radhika and Her sakhis?
“The sounds of the various musical instruments blend together and appear to shower nectar within the rasa-maëòala. Vrindadevi introduces wonderful musical instruments unknown to the shastras. Radha and Krishëa, being completely absorbed in the mellows produced by the music, joyfully begin dancing. Similarly, the sakhis headed by Lalita, feeling great jubilation also join in the dance.
“O Shrinivasa, Radharaëi with Her associates, enters the forest cottage by this path. There is no end to the followers of Shrimati Radharaëi. Amongst Her associates, headed by Lalita, Radha looks wonderfully beautiful. Lalita-sakhi is filled with all transcendental qualities. She is surrounded by eight intimate followers headed by Ratnaprabha. They are described along with the followers of the other sakhis in the Brihat-krishëa-ganoddesha-dipika as follows: `Ratnaprabha, Ratikala, Subhadra, Bhadrarekhika, Sumukhi, Dhanishöha, Kalahamsi, and Kalapini are the eight followers of Lalita.'
“There is no comparison to the beauty of Vishakha, surrounded by her eight intimate followers headed by Madhavi. `Madhavi, Malati, Candrarekhika, Kunjari, Hariëi, Capala, Surabhi, and Subhanana are the eight followers of Vishakha.'
“Sucitra is very expert in all respects. She has good character and is surrounded by eight intimate followers. `Kurangakshi, Sucarita, Maëòali, Maëikuëòala, Candrika, Candralatika, Kundakakshi, and Sumandira are the eight followers of Sucitra.'
“The loving affairs of Campakalata are wonderful. She is surrounded by eight followers: `Rasalika, Tilakini, Sauraseni, Sugandhika, Ramini, Kamanagari, Nagari, and Nagareëika are the eight followers of Campakalata.'
“Who can remain patient seeing the beautiful form of Rangadevi? Her eight followers headed by Manjumedha steal the hearts of all. `Manjumedha, Sumadhura, Sumadhya, Madhurekshaëa, Tanumadhya, Madhusandra, Guëacuòa, and Varangada are the eight followers of Rangadevi.'
“Sudevi is always joyful due to her love for Radhika. Her eight followers are well known. `Tungabhadra, Rasottunga, Rangavaöi, Susangata, Citralekha, Vicitrangi, Medini, and Madanalasa are the eight followers of Sudevi.'
“Tungavidya is most beautiful. Her eight followers are headed by Kalakaëöhi. `Kalakaëöhi, Shashikala, Kamala, Madhura, Indira, Kandarpa Sundari, Kamalatika, and Prema-manjari are the eight followers of Tungavidya.'
“Indulekha expertly attracts the hearts of all. Her eight followers are headed by Kaveri. `Kaveri, Carukavara, Sukeshi, Manjukeshika, Harahira, Mahahira, Harakaëöhi, and Manohara are the eight followers of Indulekha.'
“O Shrinivasa, as Lalita-sakhi along with the other sakhis and their associates watch the meeting of the divine couple in this kunja, their happiness increases at every moment. The activities of the sakhis headed by Lalita are most wonderful.
“The activities performed by the sakhis for the service of Radha-Krishëa are described in the Ujjvala-nilamaëi as follows: `(1) Glorify the transcendental love and qualities of the Hero to the Heroine and vice versa. (2) Increase the attachment of one for the other. (3) Arranging the meeting at the previously appointed time [at some distant place]. (4) Engage the other sakhis in service. (5) Joke or ridicule (6) Solace one lover or the other. (7) Dressing the Heroine and Hero. (8) Expertly helping fulfill Their inner desires. (9) Hiding the Heroine's dosha [offense, crime, flaw]. (10) Cheating the husbands in order to meet Krishëa. (11) Give instructions. (12) Bring Them together at the proper time [when They are willing]. (13) Offer service with camara etc. (14/15) Chastise Hero or Heroine according to time and situation. (16) Relay messages. (17) Protect the life of the Heroine. These are the seventeen different services performed by the sakhis.'
“O Shrinivasa, I find no means to possibly describe the flower house made here for the pleasure of Lord Krishëa. See how very attractive this forest is! Here is situated Gopishvara Mahadeva, who is transcendental to the modes of nature. By worshiping Lord Sadashiva, who maintains all the residents of Vrindavana, one becomes successful in all his activities. All the gopis always worship him with various articles to obtain the association of Krishëa. I cannot describe the unlimited glories of Gopishvara. He is worshiped by the gopis, therefore he is known as Gopishvara. He is always offered prayers by the demigods, headed by Indra, for by his mercy one's love for Krishëa in Vrindavana is increased.
“I worship Gopishvara Mahadeva, who is most merciful. He takes away everyone's miseries and awards attachment to Krishëa.
“See this Brahma-kuëòa, which is very secluded and beautified by many creepers and plants. The glories of Brahma-kuëòa are described in the Puraëas.”
The Varaha Puraëa says: “A person who fasts thru the night and bathes in beautiful Brahma-kuëòa, which is surrounded by many trees and vines, enjoys pastimes with the Gandharvas and Apsaras. Leaving ones body here, he goes to My abode. North of this place is a white ashoka tree that in the month of Vaishakha [April-May], on the shukla Dvadashi, at noon, suddenly bursts into full bloom. Except My pure devotee, no one can understand how this happens.”
“At this place, Vrindadevi disclosed her mind and fulfilled the desires of Narada Muni. O Shrinivasa, this is Venu-kupa. Lord Krishëacandra had so much fun at this place. Knowing that His friends were thirsty, Krishëa looked at the ground and took His flute in hand. Upon playing on His flute, the sound entered Patalaloka and suddenly there manifested a well filled with water. Krishëa's friends all drank that water and then praised Him. Therefore this place is famous in the world as Venu-kupa.
“O Shrinivasa, the same day after chastizing Kaliya, Krishëa swallowed the forest fire here. Whoever sees this place, known as Davanala-kuëòa, is relieved from the fire of material life.”
It is stated in the Saura Puraëa: “See this Govinda-svami-tirtha, the best of all holy places. The wonderful beauty of this place has no comparison. By taking bath at this place, all one's desires are fulfilled. Govindadeva performs His pastimes here.”
The following statements are from the Vraja-vilasa-stava: “Neither Brahma, Narada, Shiva, or the great devotees filled with pure love of Krishëa are able to properly or completely understand the sweetness of the land of Vraja. Only Lord Balarama and His mother Rohini, both filled with transcendental love, are able to understand the land of Vraja. How is it possible for me to describe the land of Vraja?
“Filled with many large lakes, hills, and rivers, with many desire trees and desire creepers, and with many flowers invaded by a large army of bumblebees intoxicated by the sweet aroma, the twelve forests of Vrindavana are splendidly beautiful. I bow down to offer my respects at every moment to these twelve forests, which are very dear to Lord Krishëa.
“Even if I am able to bathe in the nectarean ocean of pure love of Krishëa, and even if I have the pure devotees of the infallible Supreme Personality of Godhead as my associates, I will not consent to live even for a moment in any sacred place other than Vrajabhumi. Even if the residents of Vraja appear to be ordinary, and even if they fill my ears with useless gossip, I pray that I remain among them, eternally residing here in Vraja.”
“With great humility let me offer my respectful obeisances to the supremely pious dear devotees of the Lord who reside in Vraja. Even though Lord Brahma is a great demigod entrusted with many weighty duties, he sincerely yearns to take birth among the bushes and blades of grass in Vraja.
“The grass, bushes, insects, and other creatures in Vraja are all very dear to Lord Krishëa. They assist the Lord in His pastimes. They are full of transcendental bliss. Again and again the scriptures recount the earnest request of Brahma and others to reside in Vraja. For these reasons I bow down to offer my respects to all the creatures who reside in Vraja.
“Aimlessly wandering around Govardhana Hill, madly calling again and again, `Hey Radhe! Hey Krishëa!' and stumbling as I walk, when will I sprinkle the places of the Lord's pastimes with tears from my eyes?”
“O Shrinivasa, I desire to always fill my eyes with the sweetness of Vrindavana. Taking you both on tour of Vraja has been very ecstatic. I think this will not be possible again. Birth after birth you two are servants of the Lord.”
Saying this, Raghava Paëòita became agitated. Narottama and Shrinivasa Acarya also floated in their tears and lost their composure. They fell at Raghava's feet, and he soaked them in his tears as he took them on his lap. They all forgot themselves as they became absorbed in chanting the glories of Lord Chaitanya and Radha-Krishëa. Then they repeatedly offered obeisances to the land of Vrindavana and offered prayers as could not be described.
In this way the three sat in a secluded place and gradually became pacified. Then they all went to see Shri Govindadeva whose beauty, sweetness, etc. are described by the learned.
In the Chaitanya-caritamrita (1.8.50/1), Shri Krishëadasa Kaviraja has given this description: `In Vrindavana, in a great place of pilgrimage underneath the desire trees, is a golden throne bedecked with jewels. On that throne sits the son of Nanda Maharaja, Shri Govindadeva, the transcendental Cupid.'
Those who sit in padmasana meditate on Govinda and worship Him by chanting the eighteen syllable mantra. There is no doubt—Govinda is directly the son of Maharaja Nanda. Whoever considers Him a statue is a fool. Such a person is never delivered from such an offense. He falls into a horrible hell. What more can I say?
In the Brahma-vaivarta it is stated: “After attaining the rare body of a human being, which is desired by the demigods, if one does not take shelter of Govinda, he is certainly deceiving himself. Those who are averse to the lotus feet of Shri Govinda are the lowest in the three worlds, and one should not see or talk with such a person.”
And again: “Whoever sees Govinda on His swing (during Jhula-yatra), whoever sees Madhusudana on the dola platform (during Holi festival), and whoever sees Vamana on His ratha will never take another birth.”
After taking darshana of Shri Govinda, the three devotees became filled with ecstasy and their eyes and minds were fully satiated. On seeing the three devotees, Shri Krishëa Paëòita became jubilant. He gave them garlands and prasada and inquired about their well-being. In ecstasy, Shri Raghava Paëòita gradually explained everything about their darshana of the sites of Vraja. They then hurried to the residence of Shri Jiva Gosvami and found him there in great ecstasy. Raghava Paëòita then narrated their experiences to Jiva Gosvami who was very pleased hearing the description. After staying for a day or two in Vrindavana, Raghava Paëòita then promptly returned to Govardhana.
O listeners, I have thus briefly described the wonderful glories of Mathura-maëòala parikrama. Whoever carefully reads or hears these glories achieves the supreme destination and delivers his forefathers.
This is confirmed in the Adi-varaha Puraëa, where it is said: “O fortunate one, those who read or hear of the glories of Mathura go to the supreme destination. By hearing the glories of Mathura, the listeners liberate two hundred relatives on both sides of their families. Of this there is no doubt.”
The unlimited happiness of Vraja-maëòala parikrama can only be known, however, by one who is devoted to the holy dhama. Therefore, please chant the glories of the pastime places of Vraja-dhama and all your desires will be easily fulfilled.
Relish these pastimes in the association of devotees and by their mercy you will achieve pure devotional service. While associating with the devotees, always be careful and never create any ill feelings in their hearts. By creating ill feelings with the devotees one will experience only impediments on his path. In this regard I will descibe one incident.
One day in Vrindavana, as Rupa Gosvami was thinking in a happy mood, he saw Radharaëi being dressed by Her sakhis. At that time Krishëa was hiding behind Radharaëi watching. Although Radharaëi was unaware of Krishëa's presence, the sakhis knew and were very eager to disclose the fact to Her. After finishing decorating Radha's hair very nicely, they held a mirror in front of Her. As Shrimati Radharaëi looked upon the beauty of Her face, She also saw the moonlike face of Krishëa in the mirror.
Radharaëi, feeling embarrassed and somewhat perplexed, immediately covered Herself with Her cloth. All the sakhis began laughing, and Rupa Gosvami also joined them in laughter.
At that time one Vaishëava arrived there in great eagerness to see Rupa Gosvami. Seeing Rupa Gosvami laugh broke the Vaishëava's heart, so without speaking, he went to see Sanatana. That Vaishëava said to Sanatana, “When I went to see Rupa Gosvami, he started laughing upon seeing me. Being distressed in my mind, I did not say anything, but came to inquire from you.”
Sanatana explained to the Vaishëava the reason behind Rupa Gosvami's laughter, and the Vaishëava felt repentant on hearing the explanation. He lamented, “Why I have gone at that time? Without knowing Rupa Gosvami's mind, I have offended him.” Thinking in this way, that Vaishëava was disturbed. Sanatana Gosvami, however, pacified him.
Meanwhile, Rupa Gosvami, who was absorbed in those pastimes, suddenly lost his feelings of ecstasy. Being very disturbed, Rupa Gosvami looked around understanding that someone had come there. “I have committed an offense by not showing someone proper respect.” Thinking like this, he went to see Sanatana Gosvami.
Seeing Rupa Gosvami coming, that Vaishëava went ahead to greet him and offered his obeisances by falling on the ground. With great humility, he said to Rupa Gosvami, “I have committed an offense, therefore please forgive me. A short time ago I came to see you, and without understanding your actions some doubts came in my mind. Therefore I came here to Sanatana Gosvami who mercifully cleared my doubts. Now if you kindly show your mercy on me then my mind will be pacified.”
Hearing these words, Rupa Gosvami felt grief stricken and with folded hands fell to the ground offering obeisances. “I cannot describe how much I have offended you. Please forgive me.” In this way with humility and devotion they forgave each other and thus felt pacified. Returning to Sanatana they absorbed themselves in topics of Krishëa for a long time. When everyone heard about this incident of Rupa Gosvami, they were struck with wonder.
My dear brothers, be very careful with the Vaishëavas. Beg their forgiveness from any offense with your heart and soul. Be careful not to find faults in the Vaishëavas and always chant their glories. All the previous acaryas say that even a learned person cannot understand the behaviour of a Vaishëava. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed these things through His dear devotees. Holding the lotus feet of the devotees on your head always drown yourself in the ocean of devotional mellows.
Remembering the lotus feet of Shrinivasa Acarya, Narahari dasa thus describes this Bhakti-ratnakara.