Now we are standing on the sacred and hallowed grounds of Seva kunja. Here on full moon night of the first day of Kartik, Krishna performs rasa lila with Srimati Radharani and his beloved sakhis, manjaris and gopis. Here every night the rasa dance is eternally being enacted, but unfortunately we are not able to perceive this with these mundane eyes and ears that we have. Would it not be wonderful to be able to walk by and hear the transcendentally mystifying sound of flute and vina and drum along with the elegant pattern of thousands of feet all moving elegantly with charm and grace in total harmony. But alas we are not eligible to hear about any of the super excellent and transcendentally esoteric intimate and confidential pastimes that undoubtedly must have occurred here. So without speaking any further let us circumambulate the temple here, called Ranga Mahal, and the kunda here called Lalita kunda which Krishna created with His flute when Lalita devi was thirsty. There is a very ancient tamal tree here where Krishna one time wiped the butter off His hands when a gopi chased him.
This tamarind tree that you see is called Imli Tala. It is very old, dating back 5,000 years ago to Lord Krishna’s time. Krisha use to meet with Srimati Radharani under this very same tree. Once when Krishna came to meet Her, She hid from Him and Krishna’s body changed from blackish to golden due to ecstatic feelings of acute separation from Her. Caitanya Mahaprabhu during His manifested pastimes would sit under this tree and chant the holy names of Krishna in total transcendental ecstasy but this time in the mood of Srimati Radharani, Lord Caitanya golden complexion would change to blackish due to feelings of acute separation from Krishna. Haribol!
Radha Damodara Mandir
Here we are now at Radha Damodara. Dama means rope and udara means belly. This refers to the time when Yashodamayi tied Krishna with rope around His belly when He was very young and very naughty. Since then another of Krishna’s names has been Damodara. Rupa Goswami installed the original deities in 1542. He then entrusted them to his nephew Jiva Goswami who eventually had this present temple built.
The founder of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami spent five years here before going to America in 1965. It was here that he finished his English commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam first canto that was so instrumental for the success of his preaching program in the west and beyond.
During rasa lila at Rasa Sthali, Srimati Radhika ran off in a huff. Here is the place where Krishna caught up with Her, pacified, and consoled Her. Shringar means to decorate and here Krishna with makeup decorated Srimati Radhika and made Her give up the mood of maan. Prabhu Nityananda also stayed here for some time during his sojourn in Vrindavan. Hare Krishna!
Radha Shyamasundara Mandir
Now we are at Radha Shyamasundara Mandir founded by Shyamananda Prabhu. Previously he lived in Bengal and was called Duhkhi Krishnadasa, but once he had the good fortune of meeting Jiva Goswami and taking shelter from him, he was instructed to go to Vrindavan and sweep the streets everyday keeping them neat and clean for the devotees of the Lord. Following the order of Sri Jiva, Duhkhi Krishnadas came here to Vrindavan and began rendering service to the Holy Dham by sweeping. He swept for many, many years having firm faith in the instructions of Jiva Goswami who he had accepted as his siksha guru. One day while he was sweeping the streets he found a beautiful golden anklet. He had never seen anything so beautiful before and he was wondering where it had come from. At that time a small girl came up to him and told him the anklet belonged to her sister and he should give it back. Duhkhi sensing something transcendental about the whole affair told her that he would only give it to the person who actually owned it. The girl who was actually Lalita devi returned shortly with Srimati Radharani. Duhkhi Krishnadasa realizing who he was standing before prostrated himself immediately in the dust rejoicing that he had faithfully followed the order that Sri Jiva had given to him. Upon rising he very humbly, with downcast eyes presented the golden anklet to Srimati Radhika who taking it pressed it against his forehead stamping it with a new style of tilak.
When Duldika Krishnadasa appeared before the other Vaisnavas wearing this new style of tilak he was criticized quite severely by them, but Srimati Radharani appeared to Jiva Goswami in a dream and revealed the story to him. The next day Sri Jiva Goswami had Duhkhi Krishnadasa brought to him and praising him in front of all the Vaisnavas gave him the name Shyamananda Prabhu. Now we shall give our obeisances to Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundara and then we shall go across the street and pay our respects to the samadhi shrine of Sri Shyamananda Prabhu. Afterwards we shall quickly make our way to the Shahji Mandir and take darshan of Chota Radha Ramana. Haribol!
Now we have come to a Chir ghat in Vrindavan. You remember we had darshan of another Chir ghat near Tapavan. There Krishna stole the saris of the gopis while they were bathing in preperation for worshipping Katyayani devi. Here in Vrindavan, Krishna stole the saris of the gopis when they were taking their bath preparing for the rasa dance. Gaura Premanandi!
Radha Ramana Mandir
This temple was founded by Gopal Bhatta Goswami. When Lord Caitanya was traveling in south India for chaturmasya He stayed at the home of Gopal Bhatta’s father in Rangashetra Gopal Bhatta had the opportunity of serving Lord Caitanya and respect His remnants. Thus he became extremely attached to Krishna and the bhakti cult of loving devotional service. When his parents left this world, Gopal Bhatta came to Vrindavan and took shelter of Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan. Gopal Bhatta’s desire was to worship Krishna. He was already worshipping salagrama silas but in his heart he wanted to worship Krishna as he was in Vrindavan. By the mercy of Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan one-day his salagrama shila self manifested into Krishna’s tribhanga form holding a flute, thus was the appearance of Radha Ramana. As you can see there is no murti of Srimati Radharani here but there is a silver crown on a small asana that is reverentially worshipped symbolically in the same way we worship the Guru’s shoes as being the same as worshipping the guru. Now let us give our humble obeisances to Sri Radha Ramanaji and then we shall go and give our dandavats to the samadhi shrine of Gopal Bhatta Goswami which is here also. Haribol!!
Radha Gokulananda Mandir
Now we are at Radha Gokulananda. Lokanath Goswami who worshipped the small Radha Vinod deities you see founded this mandir. The large deities are Radha Vijaya Govinda of Baladeva Vidyabhusana. The small Krishna in front is Visvanatha Cakravarti’s Gokulananda and the murti of Lord Caitanya was in the care of Narottama das Thakura. Now let us give our humble obeisances to their Lordships and begging them for their mercy we shall go and pay further dandavats to the samadhi shrines of three great acaryas. Lokanath Goswami, Visvanatha Cakravarti and Narottama das Thakura. They were all fully steeped in the ecstatic mellows of devotional service and were all extremely expert in conveying these mellows poetically showing the most esoteric and sublimest states of realization. Gaura Premanandi! Hari! Haribol!
This place is where Banke Bihariji appeared from the earth, the place where he revealed himself to Haridas Kirtania. The deity in the Banke Bihari temple is the exact same murti tha Haridas discovered here. So let us give our dandavats to thi place and move onwards to Govindaji! Haribol!
Radha Govindaji Mandir
This temple is called Radha Govindaji. The deity of Govinda Dev was discovered by Rupa Goswami after a mysteriously beautiful young boy directed him to a hill called Goma Tila where a cow goes to a hole everyday and from her udders squirts milk into it. Sri Rupa upon going there found Govindaji buried. This temple was built in the exact same spot by a disciple of Raghunath Bhatta Goswami named Raja Man Singh, a general in the court of Akbar. The deity of Srimati Radharani use to be worshipped in Jagannath Puri. The son of King Prataparudra had Her transferred to Vrindavana where She was duly installed next to Govinda Dev.
Previously this temple use to be very high and very opulent with dozens of domes on top but due to the treachery of the mleccha mushir Aurangzeb, the top four floors were dismantled block by block and it remains at this height today. Hare Krishna!
Radha Gopinath Mandir
This is Radha Gopinath. Vajranath, Krishna’s great grandson, installed the original deity. 4,500 years later Gopinath was discovered by Paramananda Bhattacarya at Bansivat who entrusted the deity to his disciple Madhu Pandit, he had this mandir built. Now let us give ow humbles obeisances to Sri Sri Radha Gopinath and then we shall go to what is left of the Radha Sakshi Gopal Mandir. Haribol!
Radha Sakshi Gopal
These crumbling remains you see before you are all that is left of the Radha Sakshi Gopal temple. After being worshipped in Vrindavan for a very long time Gopalji walked over 1,000 miles to bear witness for a young brahmana. He never returned. Every true devotee of the Lord knows this story, it is very nicely explained in Sri Caitanya Charitamrta. So now let us give our obeisances to this place and then we shall go to Lala Babu’s Mandir and take darshan of La1ita devi, Srimati Radhika with Krishnacandra standing between them. Hari! Haribol!!
Here once Srimati Radhika and Krishna were playing and the wind which had been blowing fully became so enchanted by the sweet nectarean sound of Krishna’s flute that it could not go on its way but instead slowed down just so it could linger and stay with them. Dhire means slowly and so this place is called Dhir Samir. Hare Krishna!
The tree we are now observing is called Banshivat. As you may have realized by now, there are many Banshivats or tall trees in Vraja where Krishna would play the flute to summon his father’s 900,000 milking cows or to summon the gopis for rasa lila. This was the place where Krishna was playing his flute when the wind hearing the wonderful, melodious notes slowed down from a gentle breeze at Dhir Samir to not moving at all at this spot. Haribol!
Gopishwar Mahadev Mandir
This mandir is dedicated to Lord Shiva in his form as a gopi. Shiva being extremely elevated desired to participate in rasa lila at Bansivat; but because he was a male, he had no chance. Shiva then prayed to Yogamaya for the benediction to become a gopi. Yogamaya informed him to bathe in Mana Sarovara. So Shiva took bath at Mana Sarovara and changed his form to a female. After this he was accepted by the gopis, then Krishna blessed him with the benediction that he whould eternally guard the entrance to rasa lila and that no one may enter without his blessings. So now let us all pray to Lord Shiva as Gopishwar for his blessings and prostrating ourselve before him give our obeisances. Gaura Premanandi!
Now we are at Brahma kunda. This is the place where Shiva prayed to Yogamaya to become a gopi, the story that we have just related. Also Sri Rupa Goswami discovered the deity of Vrinda devi here. Hare Krishna!
This place called Davanala kunda is where Krishna swallowed the forest fire and saved all the Vrajabhasis from danger. This incident occurred after Krishna had subdued Kaliya and should not be confused with the fire that Krishna swallowed in the Isikatava forest after Balaramji had slain the demon Pralambasura Haribol!
Radha Madhava Mandir
This temple we have just entered is part of the Nimbarka sampradaya coming from the four Kumaras. So let us offer our humble obeisances to Sri Sri Radha Madhava and then we shall go to our math to take maha prasad. Hare Krishna!
Now by the mercy of our beloved Srimati Radharani our Vraja Mandala Parikrama has been successfully completed. So let us all now give our most humble obeisances to Her and taking the dust from this place upon our heads earnestly pray for mercy. Tomorrow is full moon, the last day of Kartik. We will all celebrate our circumambulation with a big maha feast and then everyone may start returning to their different destinations and taking care of their different duties and services in the wor1d until we meet again next year during the month of Kartik to enjoy and relish the supremely ambrosial and nectarean taste of the Supreme Lord Krishna’s pastimes in Sri Vraja Mandala.
Everything has manifested itself wonderfully as you can see; but it is not due to our endeavors or to our hard work. It is just by the causeless mercy of my Guru Maharaja that all this was made possible. Most of you will be leaving Vrindavan soon to return to your different places of residence; but anyway remember if we cannot remain in Vrindavan in our physical bodies we must stay with our mind and heart and soul. With our meditation we must stay in Vrindavan. When I say Vrindavan I mean this as a non different expansion of Navadwip. Vrindavan Dham and Navadwip Dham are the same. Vrindavan is the essence of all religious principles, which means that although in any other place one can execute religious and spiritual activities, in Vrindavan, the holy dham inspires one to perform the highest form of loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord Krishna. This is Vrindavan Dham natural propensity, to bestow prema bhakti on the sincere devotee. Of all the many different kinds of bhajan, Vrindavan is the essence and what is the meaning of Vrindavan? Wherever Srimati Radharani and Krishna are performing their eternal pastimes, that place is Vrindavan. Prabodhananda Saraswati writes these very wonderful verses in praise of Vrindavan. He says...
"O legs if you have to go anywhere then make your way to Vrindavan; O eyes if you must see anything then see the beauty of Vrmdavan; O ears if you want to hear, hear the pastimes of Vrindavan; O tongue if you must say anything, speak the glories of Vrindavan; O nose if you want to smell, smell the sweet flowers in Vrindavan; O Vrindavan I am extremely fallen and wretched. I have no association, I have no direction, in this depraved condition please be my only shelter. Otherwise if you do not give me your mercy who else will? Actually you are the most opulent and the mos opulent must be the most compassionate to the fallen conditioned souls. You are the most opulent, even more so than Laksmi devi, nothing is more opulent than you because your riches are the rasa lila pastimes and all the other wonderful pastimes of Srimati Radharani and Krishna. You are more dear to me than my own life and I only want the opportunity to worship you."
"O Vrindavan you are completely transcendental whereas I am completely bound by ignorance and although it is not possible for a transcendental object to be perceived by the mundane senses of a conditioned soul, still you are my only shelter and my only hope."
"O Vrindavan I must come to you by any means without delay if I do not have any money to purchase my ticket I will sell my house and come to you. If nobody wishes to buy my house I will sell all my possessions and come to you. I will immediately sacrifice anything and everything, even my most desired and treasured material objects, to come to you. If people start talking about me saying, what a wretched fellow I am for selling my house and all my possessions let them talk. I have to come to you at last and you are my only shelter and my only destination."
"O Vrindavan, even if I do all this, will this by itself be enough to grant me entrance? Not just the physical entrance; but the transcendental entrance as well? I do not think so, for without sadhana and bhajan under the guidance of Sri Gurudev it is not possible to enter into the transcendentally esoteric and sublime mellows of Sri Sri Vraja Mandala."
This is why we must always humbly follow the instructions of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka. In order to approach Vrindavan we must always be more humble than a blade of grass, always be more tolerant than a tree, always be ready to offer our respects to all living beings without discrimination and vithout any sense of false prestige or pride. Just by humbly approaching Vrindavan in this way following in the footsteps of Sri gurudev and our Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas, assures us eligibility to enter Sri Sri Vraja Mandala and humbly seek the sanctifying shelter and all encompassing, compassionate mercy of Sri Sri Vraja Mandala. Hare Krishna! Jay Jay Sri Radhe! Jay Jay Sri Radhe! Jay Jay Sri Radhe! Shyam!! Hari! Haribol!! Gaura premanandi! !!