Braj- The Divine Land

Barsana

The weather is very pleasant as rumbling clouds overcast the sky. Nature reflects the delights of Paradise onto the environs; with the peacocks dancing in ecstacy and birds singing passionately. Lost in a reverie, Shri Radha steps out of her bhavan and gazes at this scenario. The rustling breeze plays with her clothes and soaking in her fragrance, it crazily searches for Shyam Sundar in Nandgaon. The touch of this gentle wind captivates the Lord with its charm, tugging at his heart strings. He is sure the waft is from Vrashbhanupur as its makes Him divinely long forDivine consort  Shri Radha.

The site is extremely dear to the Vaishnava world since it weaves the leelas, the mysteries of Shri Radha-Krishna divine  dalliances, Their emotions and desires in its ROOT . The fields, forests and streams are resplendent with the dark-hued Krishna fluting in the blossoming pastures, an idyllic landscape where madhurya or sweet love unfolds. We can not savour the romantic sentiment as love requires not only the self but equally the object of love for its expression, which is Kishori Radha. Lord Krishna enchants the world but she enchants even him. Shri Radha-Krishna are in essence a single entity who manifest as two distinct individuals for the sake of interpersonal romantic exchange. Every site of Braj is related to some or the other leela of the Lord. Vrindavan, Madhupuri, Varsana and Nandgaon are the duo’s lovable sites.

Now doting mother Kirtida and Vrashbhanu Baba are delighted by Her prattle and tinkling of Her anklets, the sweet sound of her dangling earrings as She roams in their courtyard and now She is the Godhead in female form, with Her DIVINE  counterpart being Nand Nandan who rules Her heart. Several times over Shri Radha interacts with Her sakhis and bursts out laughing. At times She waves the end of Her saree and attracted by the glittering work on Her lehenga is delighted. Brajwasis dote on Her and child Radha is radiant as She cuddles in the lap of Her parents. Shri Krishna often ventures from Nandgaon to Vrashbhanupur, Kirtidaji fusses over Him and soon enough both Shri Radha-Krishna are engrossed in love sports. Vrashbhanupur resounds with the innocent prattle of Shri Radha and on growing up She romantically dallies with Her beloved Brajraj Nandnandan in Gaharvan, Sankrikhor, Vilasgarh, Mangarh, Dangarh and other sites Villages of eight primary sakhis namely Shri Lalita, Vishakha, Chitra, Indulekha, Champaklata, Tungavidya,Rangadevi and Sudevi are located around.


Brahmagiri:
Towards the end of the Treta Yuga Brahmaji requested Shri Krishna to view the divine dalliance of the Lord with the Braj Gopikas. Shri Hari asked him to proceed to Vrashbhanupur and remain there in the form of a mountain, enabling him to savour the land’s rainy season and festivities of Holi. Brahmaji followed the instructions and thus fulfilled his wish. Shri Radha is said to stay here and bless the site.

Shri Vishnu and Brahma Mounts face each other. On the south side is Brahma Mountain and opposite to it is Mount Vishnu. Radha Krishna temple is on top of the Brahma Mount. The Vrashbhanu temple below enshrines the idols of Vrashbhanuji, Kirtidaji and Shridama. Close to it is the temple of Shri Priyaji along with Shri Lalitaji. Dan Mandir, Hindola Sthan, Mayur Kuti and Raas Mandala are on Mount Brahma.The site of Sankhri Khor is nestled between both the mountains. Shri Radha Mandir is on Mount Brahma with the site of Leela Nritya Mandal ahead. Vilas Mandir is close by, with Gahvar Van next to it. The region below has the Raas Mandala, Shri Radha Sarovar and Dohni Kund. Mayur Sarovar created by Shri Chitralekhaji is near it. Herein we have Bhanu Sarovar, Brajeshwari the idol of Maha Rudra and opposite is Kirti Sarovar.

As of now the region’s name is Barsana.Shri Bhanusur in its eastern portion, Kirtida Kund in the northern corner, Vihar Kund is in its south-western corner. Chaksauli Village and other pilgrimage sites are near the Sankhri Khor.



Shri Radha Krishna Darshan:
The love of Shri Radha-Krishna is renowned the world over. Shri Vrashbhanujji and Kirtidaji coupled with Nand Baba and Yashodaji always participate in this divine tale. Occurring every day, the leela of the Lord and his beloved is eternal. Rasiks have expressed Shri Radha-Krishna as one soul and two bodies with Radhaji being compared to the moon beams and Krishnaji to the moon. Enraptured in their love the two of them meet daily. Sometimes Kishoriji venures to Nandgaon and at times Shr Krishna comes to Vrashbhanupur. Exquisite love makes the emptiness of separation unbearable. Once innocently Shri Radha requested her beloved Shri Krishna to stay on with her at her father’s town which would make the place lovable. Unable to refuse he gladly accepted her entreaty. The temple is resplendent with the idols of Shri Radha-Krishna. Another Shri Radha- Krishna temple made by a Jaipur King is close by.


Gahar Van:
The Divine Forest is located adjacent to Village Barsana of Mathura district is a dense forest well known as Gehvarvan. The bliss and ecstasy of the region cannot be spelled out in words. It can be only felt by a pure and divine heart. This sacred place has been remained the foremost witness of divine love tales of Lord Radha Krishna since time immemorial. It is mentioned in ancient texts that this forest has been developed by Shri Radha Rani by her own hand out of loving compassion towards Lord Krishna
Gahar Van as the name indicates is a dense forest. It is the idyllic landscape for the romantic escapades of Shri Radha-Krishna, the longing of the gopikas, and the unfolding of their madhurya or sweet love. Dearly loved by Shri Radha, a site where the gopikas giggle and which resonates with their tinkling anklets as they wander around the trees. Shri Hit Harivanshji Maharaj said that if Shri Radha is graceful in love’s fulfillment and dignified in love’s separation  the sakhi is the love messenger.The sakhi’s only concern is to see Shri Radha-Krishna united and joyous in love. Till date these divine dalliances are prevalent in Gahar Van. Only the very fortunate of devotees are able to sight them.

Shri Vallabhacharyaji’s Baithak:
Shri Manmahaprabhu Vallabhacharyaji came here and got the Bhagwat read. A python used to live in Gahar Van, who was troubled by ants. Seeing his anguish Manmahaprabhuji related his previous birth. He was a mahant of Vrindavan who would gather wealth in the name of Vaishnava Sewa but not putting it to good use, spent it lavishly on himself. After passing away, he was born as a python and his sewaks took birth as the ants who would sting him.Acharyaji gave him Prasad and thus he was freed from python yuni.



Shri Krishan Kund:
Shaded by trees, laden with creepers it is the beauty of Gahar Van and a revered site for all Vaishnavas. The primary site is significant for Shri Radha-Krishna frolicking in water.



Mayur Kuti:

Located in the upper segment of Brahmachal Mount the Mayur Kuti is an enchanting place.Belonging and longing are the essential parts of madhurya rasa. Belonging imparts pleasure and desire for more and more of the DIVINE , sweet love. The two who are one soul, one mind can not even dream of separation for a moment. Even so at times Shri Radha is somewhat offended and Lord Krishna applies all His skills to placate Her.Once when She was acting as  distraught , He had a difficult time in trying to please Her and came up with a new gimmick. Acquiring the form of a peacock He danced in ecstacy before Her. She could not make out it was the Lord and forgot about Her pride. In glee She called out ‘Mor Mor’ which also means ‘Mera’ in the Braj dialect. Hearing this Shri Krishna came close to Her and assuming His original form, exulted that He was forever Hers.Weaving this divine union in its ethereal evirons the site is famed as Mayur Kuti.

Dan Garh:
The tradition of selling milk and curd in Braj is prevalent since time immemorial. It is the daily regime of the Braj Gopikas or probably a pretext to meet their beloved Shri Krishna. When they ventured to sell the products, all of a sudden the adorable son of Nand Baba would block their path, which they secretly desired. Once these Braj Gopikas with pots precariously perched on their heads, were walking through this forest path; the longing to meet the Lord evident from their tinkling anklets. When the group was about to cross this secluded nikunja, coming upon Lork Krishna they were captivated by His loving tenderness. He inquired who they were and why they went through this forest path without paying toll or dan; ascertaining that.the God of love had deputed Him to do so. Turning a bit cautious they asserted that this was the domain of their beautiful Shri Radha and without Her permission the God Cupid could not enter here. Shunting Shri Radha to the front, the instant they were about to move on Lord Krishna blocked their path. Surdasji has expressed beautifully how their DIVINE  love rushed forth. Thus this ethereal site situated on Brahmachal Mountain was renowned as Dan Garh.

Mangarh:
Reaching the zenith of love is easily attainable for the innocent Braj Gopikas and Shri Radha their swamini or devotional ideal because of their selfless devotion .Belonging and longing are two different aspects of  DIVINE love. Those gopikas who are always expressing and experiencing their love for Krishna can not possibly think of self gratification, always striving for the Lord’s joy but at times act  as if distraught by His disappearance.

Once Shri Radha sulked when Shri Krishna did not turn up even after assuring that He would. He tried hard to appease Her but in vain. The sakhis made an effort to placate Her but it was of no use. Finally Shri Krishna in connivance with the sakhis, disguised as one of them came close to Shri Radha. Observing a new sakhi She was amused and began questioning Her. The moment She knew that the sakhi was adept at singing She give her a warm hug. The touch enlightened Shri Radha that it was the Lord himself and She cooled down. In a unique manner Shri Krishna blessed the sight known as Mangarh, located on the top of Mount Brahmachal. It is picturesque during the rainy season. Hindola, Raas Mandala and Ratnakar Sarovar are close by.

His Holiness Shri Ramesh Baba ji Maharaaj, the most acclaimed saint of Braj Dhaam, is now residing here for last 65 years and bestowing his divine mercy & truly blissful association to the devotees of Radha Krishna. Under His guidance the whole braj areas which was almost looming to get devastated and devoid of its grandeur & topography, has been reinstated after a long struggle of 50 years.



Sankri Khor:
Situated between dark and pale boulders, the narrow lane used for going to and fro, is known as Sankhri Khor. The isolated site has been a witness to several amusing deeds of Lord Krishna. The Braj Gopikas tread on this path to sell milk and curd, their daily routine. An incident dates back to about fifty years. Once a cowherdess absorbed with Shri Krishna bhava and a pot resting on her head ventured to sell curd. Restless, Her eyes yearned for a glimpse of the Lord. Enraptured by his thoughts, the moment she was about to step out of Sankhri Khor, Nandlal jumped from the top and snatching curd from the pot, blessed her with the sight of his madhurya or loving tenderness. For years captivated by this miracle, she finally attained salvation.



Kirtida Kund:
Showering good fortune on Shri Vrashbhanu Baba and Brajwasis, Kirtida Kund is adjacent to Bhanu Sarovar. Shri Kirtidaji used to bathe here everyday.


Shri Radha Sarovar:
Kishori Shri Radhika along with Her sakhis used to frolick with water at this pond, resulting in its name. A fascinating place it gratifies all deities and grants moksha or salvation in the three worlds.



Brajeshwar Mahadev:
A form of Lord Shiva grants prosperity to all Brajwasis. Close to Bhanu Sarovar, it is enshrined by Vrasbhanu Baba and cowherds for Isth Sidhi. It is said that once the people wanted to shift the idol elsewhere. The deeper they dug the more the icon’s huge magnificence was apparent. Finally they gave up and let Him be where He was.

Vilas Garh:
Vilas Garh is a site of Shri Krishna’s romantic dalliance with the gopis. As Shri Radha and Lord Krishna’ sole purpose is to engage in a loving exchange the gopis, considered the kaya-vyuha of Shri Radha, exist to assist them in this love flowing in these isolated nikunjas. Though Shri-Radha Krishna meet daily, their longing and yearning always desires more and more of their union. Once all of a sudden, Shri Krishna with his beloved Shri Radha came to this isolated nikunja where the pathos of their longing and the pleasure of belonging converged. When the Braj Gopikas came by they saw the duo’s dishevelled appearance, ruffled hair, loose necklaces, clothes out of place, musky spots on their bodies and faces awash with languor. Situated on Mount Vishnu the site recounts their passionate love.



Vrashbhanu Sarovar:
Washing away all sins the site was created by Gopraj Vrashbhanu. His daughter Shri Radha and Shri Krishna dearly loved the place. Frolicking, the two of them were often enchanted with each other as they sported in its water. Situated in the east of Barsana is Vrashbhanu Sarovar. It is said that when Vrashbhanu Baba in the month of Bhadra on the eighth day of Shuklapaksh came here; he spotted a small girl cradled in a lotus flower swimming in this sarovar. Baba got her to the palace; she was Shri Radha, the Godhead in female form,DIVINE CONSORT of Lord Sri Krishna.



Peeli Pokhar:
Shri Vallabharyaji visited this place also known as Priya Kund.surrounded by peelu trees.Shri Radha applied ubtan (paste) and bathed here, which led to the water turning yellow, resulting in its name. The dongi leela or boat race held on Shrivaman Dwadashi is worth watching. Till now we were hovering around the pilgrimage sites of Vrashbhanupur. Now let us savour the other neighbouring sites.



Chaksauli:
The gopikas expert at doing shringara, beautifully adorned Shri Radha for a dalliance with the Lord and brought Her to Chaksauli. It is the village of Chitra Sakhi, adjacent to Sankri Khor.

Once Shri Krishna along with his sakhas came to a field to thieve hare chane.When He broke the chanas the woman on guard came to know and ran to catch hold of Him. The Lord fled with the loot hidden beneath His arm pit and stopped only at Gahar Van. The other gopas sqatting there, roasted the booty and relished it. The cowherdess finally caught up but on sighting the loving tenderness of the Lord, overwhelmed with maternal tenderness She ended up feeding him the shelled chane instead. Shri Nagridasji Maharaj has perfectly expressed this interesting incidence.


 

Dohini Kund:
Milking more than 20,00,000 red, blue, white, black and yellow cows by Shri Vrashbhanu Baba has virtually made this a pilgrimage site. I make obeisance to you; kindly be pleased with me. Currently in this landscape about 50,000 cows are being nurtured by Shri Mata ji Gaushala which is established under divine blessings of His Holiness Shri Ramesh Baba Maharaj ji.



Mayur Sarovar:

Showing the path to the three worlds the site blesses us with moksha. The dancing of peacocks is very dear to Shri Chitraji who ventures here daily. Flocks of peacocks inevitably swarm the place. She plays with them as they surround her at times. Flirtatiously loitering around, occasionally Shri-Radha Krishna arrive and are welcomed by the peacocks’ delighted cries. Forever dancing in ecstacy the birds are drawn to Shri Radha and at times surround Shri Krishna. Shri Chitraji is also joyous as she observes their madhurya. The site has carefully treasured the mysterious dalliances for its devotees.



Mukta Kund:
Shri Krishna and Shri Radha had an amusing argument once. Whereas Lord Krishna is Divine Incarnate, his beloved Shri Radha is the emobodiment of Shakti and the gratifier of his love. During this dispute Shri Radha sowed some pearls in a field and they blossomed. Both the lover and his beloved adorned themselves with these gems, which resulted in its name.



Sunehra Gram (Swaran Haar) and Kadamba Khandi:
Shri Vallabhacharyaji also ventured to the golden mountain and the ethereal Kadamba khandi, a site of Raas embellished with swings and an expanse of water. The isolated place of Raas is surrounded by kadamba trees wherein its cool environs incapacitate the sweltering heat. The fragrance of its flowers bathed in rain; enchant us as they blossom with the touch of madhurya or sweet love. The trees form a sort of canopy beneath which Shri Radha-Krishna fix their tryst. The Ratan Kund is nearby. Sunehra Gram is the birthplace of both the sakhis, Sudevi and Rangdevi. Sudevi is adept at applying mahavar (a scarlet dye used by married women to stain their feet) on Shri Radha’s feet and Rangdevi is skilled at decking Shri Radha’s hair with veni or a string of flowers.



Shri Nagaji (Chatur Chintamani):
He was born in Pay village of Vrindavan and stayed as a recluse in Kadamba khandi near it. Always eager to travel in Braj, he became engrossed in the joys of Shri Radha-Krishna. Once when journeying, his matted hair which were long and unruly got entangled in the branch of a tree. Entranced, he stood in a trance for three days at a stretch. Shri Krishna came himself to unravel his ruffled hair. A great devotee of Radhaji, on inquiring who it was, Shri Radha manifested Herself as She always accompanies the Lord. Blessed with the madhur or sweet perception of their forms, Nagaji came to Vrindavan and resided at Vihar Ghat.